Milton Friedman Was a “Formative Intellectual Influence” to George Shultz

(p. A13) [George] Shultz, an unflamboyant personality once described by a college classmate as a “steady, plodding intellect,” reached the commanding heights of American government, holding four cabinet posts over his career from secretary of the Treasury to state. Shultz died in 2021 at the age of 100.

. . .

For a time Shultz was on track for a career in academia, working in the economics department at MIT and later the University of Chicago. “Chicago is what started me,” Shultz said. Milton Friedman, a formative intellectual influence and enduring friend, methodically deepened Shultz’s faith in free markets and his skepticism of government intervention in the economy. “Milton didn’t hit the tennis ball hard but it always came back,” Shultz once remarked, “which was reflective of the way he argued, too.”

. . .

. . . Shultz was hardly immune from being wrong. For example: Along with the rest of the State Department, he tried to talk Reagan out of using the line “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” Shultz worried it was too provocative.

The cautionary tale is that many know Shultz from perhaps the biggest error in judgment he ever made, some 90 years into his life. That’s his association with Elizabeth Holmes, the Silicon Valley founder convicted of fraud in federal court. Shultz was one of Ms. Holmes’s first marks, and he helped her assemble a board for her blood-testing company from his Rolodex. Among the wreckage was Shultz’s relationship with his own grandson, Tyler, who early on discovered the company’s misrepresentations.

For the full review, see:

Kate Bachelder Odell. “BOOKSHELF; Subsume the Ego And Stay Loyal.” The Wall Street Journal (Tuesday, March 7, 2023): A13.

(Note: ellipses, and bracketed name, added.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date March 6, 2023, and has the title “BOOKSHELF; ‘In the Nation’s Service’ Review: George Shultz’s Quiet Strength.”)

The book under review is:

Taubman, Philip. In the Nation’s Service: The Life and Times of George P. Shultz. Stanford, Cal.: Stanford University Press, 2023.

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