Bill Simon`s Time For Reflection
William E. Simon was an
important public figure during the turbulent 1970s,
serving as Energy Czar and Secretary of the Treasury. In
the 1980s he took the lead with Raymond Chambers in
developing a new financial device known as leveraged
buyouts, simultaneously serving as president of the US
passed away in 2000, he left behind five daughters,
two sons, a fortune for
philanthropy, and an almost finished autobiography
giving his perspective on two presidents and the
important events in which he was a major
Simon was a hard charger, a man
prepared to make decisions and to take the heat. He was
truly an unusual figure among Washington policymakers.
Despite the target his clarity of purpose offered, Simon
prevailed over the difficult challenges during his
Simon unraveled the energy
allocation program, which was tying the country into
knots, by over-allocating oil and gas to every area of
the country, flooding the market, ending the panic, and
terminating the Arab oil embargo.
When New York bankruptcy loomed,
faced down New York Mayor Abraham Beame and in
exchange for federal loans to a broke city, repaid with
interest, forced New York to clean up its financial act
and adopt responsible budgeting.
When Great Britain`s
bankrupt socialist government came to Washington
begging for a bailout, Simon insisted on stringent
financial concessions. The State Department, always
prepared to give away taxpayers` money for diplomatic
reasons, was prepared to subsidize socialist follies.
Journalists regarded big spending
socialists as “compassionate,” and people with
budgetary standards as mean-spirited. Simon fell into
the latter category, which meant open season on the
Two reporters spread the rumor by
word of mouth, without actually writing it, that Simon
had engaged in laundering drug money while senior
partner at Salomon Brothers. Confronted by Simon, the
unethical journalists defended themselves by claiming
that floating stories was a way to get people to come
forward with information!
Here was Simon sacrificing his
family to serve his country and Newsweek`s bureau
chief trying to destroy Simon`s reputation.
People who knew Simon well and
worked closely with him found him to be a loyal and
jovial friend. Others who had run-ins with his
principles might see Simon as harsh and overbearing.
Perhaps with these different perceptions in mind,
Simon`s autobiography is interposed with testimonials
from his family and leading figures with whom he had
close working association.
Simon was a voice for freedom, both
as a public policymaker and as president of the John M.
Simon felt the need to prove
himself again and again, and in so doing spent much of
his life in service to country,
philanthropy, and church.
His autobiography may inspire
Craig Roberts was Associate Editor of the WSJ editorial
page, 1978-80, and columnist for “Political Economy.”
During 1981-82 he was Assistant Secretary of the
Treasury for Economic Policy. He is the author of
Supply-Side Revolution: An Insider`s Account of
Policymaking in Washington.