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The Housing Commissioner of New York City (the head of HUD) in 1976 was a neoconservative named Roger Starr. It might seem odd that a neo-conservative would want to work in the heart of a social services organization, bur Starr aimed to fight the system from the inside out. In response to the urban decay that plagued many areas on NYC (such as The South Bronx and Harlem) Starr proposed a policy known as Planned Shrinkage.

Simply put: Planned Shrinkage is a policy of withdrawing essential city services--police patrols, garbage removal, street repairs, and fire services--from neighborhoods suffering from urban decay, crime and poverty. Once the services are gone the neighborhood falls in to rapid disintegration and may be reclaimed for new development.


Another way to think of it is "if you don't help the needy then maybe they'll just go away*"

*or die

Where did Starr get this idea? In the early 70s the RAND Corporation (a military think tank) created a set of computer models that showed how city services might effect population in a large city. They concluded that when you withdraw services like police protection and fire services the population in that area will go down (why they needed a computer to figure this out is a whole separate question)

Starr was not the only person influenced by the RAND study. In 1970 Daniel Patrick Moynihan saw the study then proposed a policy of “benign neglect” to President Nixon. The idea was that because most of the fires in poor neighborhoods were caused by arson the people there must be crazy so there was no sense in improving fire services to combat the problem. (the real causes of arson in impoverished neighborhoods is much more complex than this-- Many of the fires that would ravage the Bronx were set by landlords who didn't even live in the area-- they wanted the insurance.)

By the mid 70s the Bronx had 12,000 fires per a year. 40 percent of the housing was destroyed. The population plummeted.

So I guess "Planned Shrinkage" works.

Why eat the rich when you can burn the poor?

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