The War for Living Space

The Manhattan Institute
The Manhattan Institute (MI), founded in 1978 by William Casey, former CIA head under Ronald Reagan (NYT 12/31/93), was originally called the International Center for Economic Policy Studies (ICEPS), and became the Manhattan Institute for Policy Studies in 1981. Sitting on the ICEPS board of directors in 1981 was J. Peter Grace, President of W.R. Grace and Co. At the time, Grace headed the "National Committee for a Free Europe," a conduit for clandestine US "private-sector" funding of "anti-communist" enterprises. Recall, among other crimes, Casey's 1945, postwar role in operation "Paperclip," the protecting and shepherding of senior level Nazi war criminals (e.g. Reinhard Gehlen) into the US prior to the creation in 1947 of the "anti-communist" CIA. Other founding MI board members included A. Wright Elliot, head of Chase Bank Public Affairs Department; Ed Feulner, president of the Heritage Foundation; and William E. Simon, former Treasury Secretary. "Chase Manhattan Bank is a proud sponsor of the Manhattan Institute" blares a recent (Fall '95) edition of City Journal, MI's quarterly propaganda magazine. Early funders of MI's $5 million budget (not including private donations) include the Chase Manhattan Bank and the "conservative" Scaife, Bradley and Smith Richardson foundations.

The "Manhattan Report Annual Summary" of December, 1981, published by ICEPS, features a photo of Grace standing alongside of William Hammett, until recently (1995) president of the Manhattan Institute since its founding. Economist Robert LeKachman called him a "thrusting yuppie on the make." A man who believes that "the legislative era has run its course," former MI president Hammett spent his childhood in Germany and Taiwan, son of a US "foreign service officer." After military service Hammett spent some time at the University of Chicago, then, in 1980, on to the Manhattan Institute. MI's current president is Laurence J. Mone.

It was during this period that "the conservative policy research group" (NYT 11/30/90) was home to $100,000 a year "senior research fellow" Charles Murray, co-author of the racist best-seller The Bell Curve, pseudo-science in the cause of white supremacy and eugenics. In fact, Murray was eased out of the Institute in 1990, after eight years, due to the "adverse publicity" generated by the book, but not before he was able to represent the Manhattan Institute at the June 20, 1985 War on Poverty--Victory or Defeat? Congressional hearings sponsored by Al D'Amato. Murray "testified" a year after he published his book Losing Ground, which argued for the abolition of all "social programs." In fact, sponsoring Murray's and George Gilder's Wealth and Poverty helped to push the Institute and these ideas into the center of New York City politics. And then came Rudy...

"With Rudolph Giuliani about to become mayor, the conservative Manhattan Institute should be riding high." (NYT 12/31/93) And so it should. Anti-democratic, police-state enforcement of policies generated by Manhattan Institute "scholars" is in full swing. Corporate-fascism with footnotes is on the rise. "It's Now Their City Hall" gloats "the paper of record," a "city hall" with the "fortitude to carry out far reaching overhaul of city government," despite "the pain required to tame the fiscal crisis." In fact, "Mayor Giuliani has done as much as any politician to move its ideas from the margin to the mainstream," because he feels that the Institute produces "provocative and good ideas." (NYT 5/12/97) Richard J. Schwartz, a former senior advisor to Mayor Giuliani and now an Institute "fellow," called the Manhattan Institute an "integral part of the new urban agenda for the 1990s." (NYT 12/31/93) In addition, Schwartz is "the architect of the city's workfare program." (NYT 5/12/97)

"Its critique of rent control is helping to inform State Senator Joseph L. Bruno's move to phase out rent regulations." (NYT 5/12/97)

So, it's 1997. NYC Mayor Giuliani's "think tank," the Manhattan Institute, is located at 52 Vanderbilt Avenue. Question: Who is the Institute affiliated "scholar" whose "expertise" is "stratification of housing markets by race and class"? Or more to the point: Who has published a flurry of studies attacking legal "rent regulations"? A recent 3/21/91 New York Times "attack" in which he blames rent controls for "adverse housing conditions" of "low income households"? A report to the Rent Stabilization Association, the biggest landlord lobby in the city, in a book entitled A Re-evaluation of Residential Rent Controls-1997? You guessed it. Mr. Anthony Downs. Nearly three decades of spatial deconcentration. The 90's variant: ongoing, yet more insidious attacks on homeless (displaced) people; new efforts to "un-cap" rents in the projects; the "Lazio Bill" on the federal level (NYT 5/15/97); massive city/HPD property sell-off and demolition frenzy (5/7/97 NY Daily News: 13,000 buildings listed for "notice of intended sale"); and, of course, recent moves to do away with any limits to landlord greed and evictions of poor and working people, and those on fixed incomes, through the elimination of rent controls. Remember, "nearly half the city's renters live in apartments that rent for $500 or less a month" (Peter Marcuse, City Limits; March 96). In fact, 3/4 live in apartments under $700 per month.

Anthony Downs younger protege at the Manhattan Institute is Peter D. Salins, currently interim provost at the State University of New York. Salin's 1980 book entitled The Ecology of Housing Destruction echoes the theme of spatial deconcentration, although Salins, writing in an era more comfortable with racist analogy, is permitted, like Murray, et al., to pull less punches. Salins states that New York City's "raging," "destructive," "inferior surplus housing stock" should be "retired." According to the professor, "housing destruction is simply the housing market's way of ridding itself of the most unsatisfactory component of the housing stock." This "raging destruction seems to spread in contagious waves from the original epicenters of devastation, in a path quite analogous to the spread of contagious diseases." Even "good housing" can succumb to the "forces of destruction," at the mercy of "the rapidly moving slum that razes buildings and neighborhoods in its path." The "cancer will continue to spread" unless the "ecology of housing destruction" can be "arrested." He realizes these will be "hard" and "painful choices," which are bound to be "controversial, unpopular and fraught with peril." Nonetheless, the time has come to bite the bullet.

Salins states that we should begin with cutting off all "rent specific housing allowances" for people on welfare, while "all forms of rent regulation must be eliminated." Meanwhile, the courts must "insure that all proven rent delinquent tenants can be evicted." This can be accomplished, advises Salins, by "unlinking" code enforcement with rent delinquency. Recently, Salins again called for "ending rent regulations and easing zoning restrictions" (NYT 10/26/96). And why not? According to his own "recent report for the Manhattan Institute," these "regulations" are "intrusions...[which] thwart a vital housing market." (NYT Sunday Magazine 5/4/97)

In fact, this Sunday NY Times Magazine cover story, entitled "Why It's So Hard to Rent an Apartment," even features "Anthony Downs, an economist at the Brookings Institution...and a prominent advocate of low income housing," [!] stating that "rent control is basically immoral and unjustified because it imposes a social burden on landlords..."! [italics added] Finally, Salins affirms (Manhattan Report 1984) that, "Housing in a high income society is more a consumer good than a basic staple... For those small number of families who inhabit truly inadequate housing, housing is often the least of their needs. Public policy would prove more helpful if it moved away from housing programs per se to address the more fundamental causes of the poor's social and economic distress."[italics added]

It is not without significance that Salins and Murray appear in the same issue of the Institute's 1984 Report. In fact, the functional relationship between eugenics, social darwinism, biological determinism, and issues of housing and poverty are at the heart of the eugenicist policy "recommendations" put forth by the Manhattan Institute. Murray states, in this very same issue, after calling for the abolishment of all "welfare," that "supporting an underclass may well turn out to be politically preferable to taking on a potentially explosive topic, which leads to...the issue of race."

What is he alluding to? Perceptive fascist intellectuals and the corporate elite know what the author of The Bell Curve is getting at, namely, eugenicist/white supremacist, MI sponsored "thought experiments," focused on selective extermination, de-education, detention, etc., propagandized by "social policy research," implemented by corporate fascism and its militarized police state.

In short, nazi-like race theory is in the driver's seat at the Manhattan Institute. Like their 1960s predecessors in the southern White Citizen's Councils, the corporate fascism of the MI tries to keep its distance from the nazi Pioneer Fund (founded in 1937 and located here in New York at 267 Fifth Avenue) that funded Murray's Bell Curve "study" while he was a Manhattan Institute fellow. In fact, Murray's eight years at the MI coincide with the period in which he was directly affiliated with the Pioneer Fund. Further, a number of MI "scholars," participants in MI "roundtables" and "thought experiments" are funded by the nazi Pioneer Fund, the most active and important financial supporter of "research" concerning "race" and heredity in the US. For example, Michael Levin, last holed up at the City University of New York, is a regular attendee at MI sponsored "roundtables." In fact, professor Levin has received at least $140,500 from the Pioneer Fund "for research on the philosophical implications of human group preferences." Eugenics permeates all aspects of MI "policy research." Whether it's issues of police, prisons, schools, hospitals, universal privatization, welfare, drug and criminal justice "reforms," or housing and homeless issues, much of the current behavior of the puppets in power can be traced to the corporatist/fascist ideological packaging these issues receive from the Manhattan Institute, and its shadow partner in crime, The Pioneer Fund.