Conventional economic theory
is based on the assumption that resources are scarce. Therefore, it makes increasing production in the private sector
and limiting interference and regulation
from the government a priority. In Galbraith's affluent society, this priority is misplaced because scarcity is not predominant. The continued pursuit of conventional economic objectives in an affluent society leads to the conditions Galbraith observed in postwar America: private-sector affluence and public-sector squalor. For example, affluence in the private sector led to the mass availability of automobiles. Because public-sector interference (in the form of regulation and taxation
) was discouraged, however, governments could not afford to build adequate roadways to accommodate those automobiles.