By William Shughart • Tuesday October 17, 2017 1:23 PM PST •
I first met Fred S. McChesney (1948–2017) at the Federal Trade Commission in the early 1980s. Ronald Reagan had just been elected to the presidency and had appointed James C. Miller III as the FTC’s chairman. Robert D. Tollison had been confirmed as the Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Economics. I am not sure how Fred ended up on the FTC’s professional staff after having practiced law in the D.C. area, but he was serving as the Bureau of Consumer Protection’s Associate Director for Policy and Planning when I interviewed for a position in his “shop.” That interview did not turn into a job offer from Fred, which was a blessing in disguise because I ended up working instead for Bob Tollison. Fortunately, that near-miss did not preclude our future friendship.
Being nearly the same age and with similar doctoral training in economics, Fred at the University of Virginia (UVA), me at Texas A&M, we later became intellectual soulmates, although I hasten to emphasize that I am not a lawyer. Fred was: He held a Juris Doctorate from the University of Miami’s Law School and had been counted among the first generation of students to graduate from the program created by then-Dean Henry Manne to produce lawyers with Ph.D.-level knowledge of microeconomic theory. Joint economics Ph.D.-J.D. degree programs are now thriving at George Mason University, New York University, and other schools, but Fred was on the leading edge of Henry Manne’s curricular innovation.