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Commentary By Manhattan Institute

2022 Alexander Hamilton Awards: Paul Singer

The following is a transcript of remarks delivered by MI chairman Paul Singer at the 2022 Hamilton Award Dinner.

Paul E. Singer:

Thank you, Reihan. Good evening and welcome. My job tonight is to warm up the audience. I think it's going to be a challenge, but I'm going to try.  But it's a good evening because we've raised over 3 million dollars tonight. That's the best ever Hamilton haul. And many thanks to our donors for your generosity. I'm not going to rename the donors, and thanks again to John Paulson for his truly transformative gift.

At last year's dinner, the city's mayor was a socialist Red Sox fan, and the governor had just resigned in disgrace. This year, the mayor is a vegan, Mets fan, and the Lieutenant Governor has just resigned in disgrace.

This is not progress.

When my generation was having babies, we played music to them in utero, Beethoven and the collected speeches of Winston Churchill. It was thought to have imprinted in them culture, refinement, and the emanations for the classic part of Western civilization. Who would've known that just a generation later that same impulse to get to impressionable minds early would lead today's educated class to play to babies in utero the collected works of superwoke leaders, Ibram X. Kendi and Robin DiAngelo? I got to work on that one.

It's amazing that the lessons of the cultural slide from the 1960s to the 1990s need to be revisited and relearned today:  crime, the demotivating impact of welfare, the destruction caused by chasing away achievers and job providers rather than figuring out how to create an attractive environment for people all across the economic spectrum. MI fought some of the same battles in the dark pre-Rudy days, but it is much worse today, much more dangerous, the levels of government so infused with ideologically rigid idiocies.

I really don't understand how the greatest city in the world got to be so one-sided politically, but actually, this creates an efficiency. The entire right of center population of the greatest city in the world is right here tonight in this room, and I have all of your emails.

Most of us in this room may be well over the draft age for this battle. We may not be able to roam the battlefield with the same agility of the 1960s and 1970s. We might not even fit into the battle outfits of that hopeful period, but what we have on our side is common sense and the inheritance of the framers of the institutions and values that have made America a beacon of freedom and hope, a magnet for people seeking freedom and opportunity from all over the world.

In this battle, we're aided in two big ways. One way is that we're actually right. America is worthy and unique, and we have the right solutions. Two is that the opponents of freedom, the adherence of today's version of Mao's Little Red Book just can't help themselves. They're out of touch with reality. While they obsess over the alleged evils of capitalism and their ever-expanding list of grievances, the level of violent crime in cities across America reaches new heights, and public school systems are failing children across the country, especially the kids who are most in need of a decent education.

MI scholars have been way ahead of the curve in identifying these problems and devising actionable solutions. In City Journal and other media outlets and in briefings with lawmakers from both parties and at all levels of government, the unmatched team of MI continues to drive the national debate. It's no surprise that the demand for our scholars' expertise is higher than ever as the boneheaded decisions of policymakers across the globe come home to roost, but under the energetic and brilliant leadership of Reihan Salam and Ilana Golant, MI and our supporters here tonight have dusted off the playbook for saving civil society, freedom and the meritocracy.

And we are certainly up for the struggle. MI has not lost a step in the ability to push back eloquently, intelligently, and passionately against bad ideas and bad people. We have our wonderful friends, donors, who have been with us through the wars for the soul of New York City and cities across America, and we have new friends, including refugees from the left, today's version of huddled masses yearning to breathe free in the framing of Emma Lazarus.

As you know at the Hamilton dinner, we honor Americans who are active in public life and use their station to promote freedom. It would not be an overstatement to say that Ken Griffin is one of the sharpest and most innovative investors in the history of financial markets, but his influence ranges far beyond his business skills. Armed with the courage of his convictions, Ken has become a leader in a range of conservative causes around the country. In his home city of Chicago, Ken matches a clear and crisp articulation of urban decay with the generosity and ingenuity needed to arrest its decline. Ken loves this country and puts his money where his mouth is.

Our next Hamilton award recipient, Paul Gigot, runs the indispensable editorial page of our time. To make this personal, when I read Paul's page, I can tell there's an adult in-charge. Since taking over the page in 2001, Paul has suffused the section with wisdom and humor. Paul doesn't simply comment on the issues of the day from behind the comfort of the keyboard. He reports out each editorial, talking sometimes to dozens of officials, policymakers, experts, and others in formulating the paper's institutional views. In doing so, he sets the standard for journalistic practice at a moment so desperately in need of it. Tonight, we honor him for his courageous commitment to the cause of free people and free markets

This year truly has been a year of outstanding achievements at MI. In Reihan's words, the Institute pursues "a more practical results-oriented approach that focuses on core quality of life questions, a belief in the potential of urban life, an unapologetic defense of educational excellence in public order, and a healthy skepticism towards centralized power." I hope you'll join me this year in supporting this critical mission. Thank you.

Editor’s note: This transcript has been edited for length and clarity. Please email for any corrections.