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2021 Alexander Hamilton Awards: Salam and Singer

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2021 Alexander Hamilton Awards: Salam and Singer

September 10, 2021

The following is a transcript of remarks delivered by Manhattan Institute President Reihan Salam and Chairman Paul Singer at the 2021 Hamilton Award Dinner.

Reihan Salam: Good evening. Hello everyone. I'm Reihan Salam, President of the Manhattan Institute and it is my distinct pleasure to welcome you all to the 21st annual Alexandra Hamilton award ceremony. It is a real joy to be celebrating tonight's honorees among so many good friends and back in person in the heart of our home city. Tonight, we'll be honoring the work and example of two outstanding Americans, United States Senator, Tim Scott and the investor and philanthropist John Paulson.

Through their work, both men have embodied the vision set up by Alexander Hamilton of an America that is both enriched and ennobled by commerce, where children are able to go as far as their gifts and their grit will take them. And where America's one united nation stronger than the many forces that would fracture it. These are also the ideals of the Manhattan Institute. So on behalf of everyone at MI, I would like to congratulate Senator Tim Scott and John Paulson on this well-deserved honor.

Also with us tonight on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks on this city, we are privileged to welcome several current and retired members of the NYPD, including officers who were on duty that fateful day and others who've spent much of the past year and a half protecting our city's most vulnerable communities, including synagogues that have faced vandalism and threats of violence. In their selflessness and bravery, these women and men represent the best our city has to offer. Please join me in a round of applause.

We're now trying to turn the page on what has been a very challenging 18 months for our country and our city and we'll hear about some of those challenges tonight. I must say, though these challenges are formidable, I'm optimistic. I'm optimistic because I get to work alongside an unusually talented, scrappy, energetic, and creative group of colleagues who never failed to follow the evidence and speak the truth about the most important issues of our time, even when that means going against the grain.

And have worked long hours to make this evening possible. And I'm optimistic because of all of you. Your support and friendship has allowed us to reach an audience of millions over the past year to effect real policy change that's going to make life better in our cities, across our country. And I'm confident that there's much more to come. Thank you all for joining us tonight, for supporting our shared work and for helping us honor two exceptional people. Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming the chairman of the Manhattan Institute's board, a tireless champion of MI and the cause of freedom, limited government and the rule of law, Paul Singer.

Paul Singer: Thanks Reihan. Good evening, and welcome to everyone. As chairman, I'm pleased to report, proud to report that we've raised more than $2 million tonight. That's in actual money, not cryptocurrency. Thank you to our donors for your generosity, and importantly, for your resolute commitment to our work. A special word of thanks to our platinum patron supporters, including Ravenel Curry, Tim and Julie Dalton, Marilyn and Michael Fedak, Michael and Kristen Kaufman, Dan Loeb, the O'Neill Family Foundation, Tom and Diane Smith, and two gracious anonymous donors.

Normally this is where I would demonstrate my witty and hilarious inner self, but the gravity of the moment precludes that. This is a critical moment in the history of our city and our country. In important ways, the present is the time for which the Manhattan Institute was built. Violent crime is surging in cities across the country. Public school systems are failing our children. The criminal justice system and our prisons are failing both our citizens and those incarcerated.

And woke insanity is threatening our constitution and fundamental freedoms. MI has exceptional scholars who are addressing each of these issues in sophisticated, nuanced, and actionable ways. Policies matter. And MI scholars have developed relationships to influence policy makers and politicians. As part of MI's New York Reborn Project, experts from the Institute have exchanged policy views with mayoral candidates and created an intelligent guide, a pro growth practical playbook to inform the next mayor's agenda. Judging by the condition in which the current mayor is leaving the city, the next mayor will certainly need it. It is among other things, a how-to guide for city officials to get the city's finances in check, embrace educational pluralism, and remove barriers to our community of small businesses. In Eric Adams and Curtis Sliwa, we have two mayoral candidates who are open to our advice and share many of our priorities. Whoever wins, this will be quite a change from the de Blasio years.

Faced with a public school system that too often seems to be run for the benefit of administrators and union officials rather than students, a dynamic which has been worsened by the pandemic, MI is advancing specific reforms, including more charter schools to unleash the potential of every child. As race relations have descended to multi-decade lows, MI scholars are promoting a colorblind vision of individual liberty, educational excellence, and opportunity for all, a vision that is resonating with Americans of every background. And as much of our nation's political and intellectual establishment have embraced never-ending bailouts and unlimited deficit spending, MI has never wavered from promoting and articulating sane and sustainable fiscal policies at every level of government. Tonight, we're privileged to recognize Reihan Salam, the President of the Institute and Ilana Golant, the Institute's executive vice president for their tremendous leadership.

In the past year, the Institute's publication, City Journal, marked its 30th anniversary with more than 11 million readers. This was up 32% from last year. On topics such as the ideological takeover of our schools, how to save the New York City transit system and how to fix public housing, City Journal has informed members of Congress and local politicians on both sides of the aisle, driving public discourse and public policy in so many positive ways.

Also during the past year, MI has endowed important new projects with exceptionally bright scholars, including Rafael Mangual, and the team working on MI's policing and public safety initiative. Brian Riedl is working on the profligate spending in Washington, which has exceeded even his pessimistic expectations. Heather McDonald is addressing the ideological revolution that's doing such damage to America's premier cultural institutions. And Jason Riley is focused on the most contentious debates relating to critical race theory and the quality of opportunity rather than outcomes. With tomorrow marking 20 years since September 11th, 2001, we're reminded that New Yorkers are a resilient and tough bunch, but we all must remain vigilant. We must not take as a given the relative safety and prosperity of the last 20 years. We are blessed by the heroism of our first responders.

As Reihan mentioned, of course, we're joined tonight by a number of heroes, members of the police force who have spent the past year protecting Jewish institutions, as well as current and former New York Police Department officers, some of whom were on duty on that dark day 20 years ago. Thank you.

As you know, at the Hamilton dinner, we recognize leaders who embody the values that Alexander Hamilton championed. A principle belief in free enterprise and equal opportunity for all. I'd like to take this opportunity to share a word about the many achievements of tonight's honorees. Let me begin with Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina. He has been a strong advocate for opportunity where it's needed most, as well as a voice of reason during divisive national debates throughout his time in public service. Senator Scott has demonstrated a mastery of the intricacies of policy and has done the hard work of shepherding bills to the Byzantine legislative process, seeking out common ground where possible. In an era without shared political heroes, Senator Scott is a figure whose patriotism and honesty is respected on both sides of the political divide. It's no exaggeration to say that John Paulson, our other honoree, is one of the best investors of our time.

But we're honoring him tonight, not for his success as an investor, but for how his generosity and public devotion are changing our cities for the better. John's philanthropy spans a number of causes. In 2012, John gave the Central Park Conservancy a gift, which is still the largest single gift in its history. He's also been a steadfast and generous supporter of educational pluralism, providing the funding for new success academy schools to open their doors in Manhattan and Queens. This is an example of philanthropy at its best, using private capital, independent thinking and creativity to conserve what has been given to us by prior generations and help build new institutions to better serve the generations to come. We were pleased to welcome John to MI's board recently. As I'm sure he'll attest, it's one of the most engaged boards of all out there. Lastly, we have put pledge cards on your table. Please consider digging a little more deeply where you can join me in supporting the courageous work of the Manhattan Institute. Thank you.

Editor’s note: In the interest of time, this transcript has received only minimal editing for length and clarity. Please email for any corrections.