Friday, January 31, 2003

A Glorious 25th for the Manhattan Institute
Read Tom Wolfe's Revolutionaries "on how the Manhattan Institute changed New York City and America". A brief excerpt:
"Losing Ground" was the Manhattan Institute's first triumph. But the triumph of all triumphs was the now-famous "Broken Windows" strategy for reducing crime in big cities by first cracking down on the quality-of-life misdemeanors that create an atmosphere of lawlessness.

Criminologist George Kelling and the famous political scientist James Q. Wilson introduced the concept in an article in the March 1982 Atlantic Monthly. It went relatively unnoticed until Hammett's second-in-command, Lawrence Mone, came across it while doing some research on urban crime in 1989. He invited Kelling to become a contributing editor of the soon-to-be launched City Journal.

The quarterly's Summer 1992 issue ran an interview by Kelling with New York's young Transit Police Chief William J. Bratton about putting Broken Windows to the test in New York's subways. That followed a forum called "Rethinking New York," starring Kelling.

At that moment the conventional wisdom among those second-hand idea salesmen, the intellectuals, was that "America's large cities are ungovernable." Hammett and Mone, who would succeed Hammett as the Institute's president in 1995, used the forum to kick off their campaign to prove otherwise. Rudy Giuliani came early, stayed late and took notes. He wanted to run for mayor in 1993.

As soon as he was elected, he appointed Bratton as Police Commissioner. The breathtaking decline in the crime rate that followed has become legend.