Sunday, May 11, 2014

Crime Prevention Research Center's Fundraising Efforts

Some of you are probably aware that there is a lot of anti-gun research work published on a regular basis -- and that is likely to increase, even though Congress some years ago wisely shut off taxpayer funding of what was grossly one-sided research.  President Obama has been going to his billionaire buddies, asking them to fund these research studies.

Don't get me wrong.  There are people who are generally on the anti-gun side who publish research that actually demolishes anti-gun claims.  A few years back, this paper on the relationship between gun shows, homicide rates, and suicide rates found that there was no evidence that gun shows had a statistically significant influence on either homicide or suicide rates.  Mark Duggan's prior work would indicate that he is definitely not pro-gun, but nonetheless, his paper followed the evidence to a conclusion.  I can't say the same for some of the other "scholarly work" that has been published.

What can we do in response?  Sheer volume of published work makes a difference when courts and legislatures are trying to decide how to respond to public policy questions.  The only pro-gun organization that funds any significant research in this area is the Cato Institute.  While they do fund work, gun rights is necessarily only a small part of what they do.  If we want research published that is at least fair, we need to be funding it.

Dr. John Lott is busily trying to raise funding for the Crime Prevention Research Center, with the goal of counteracting the highly tendentious stuff that people like Michael Bloomberg and friends are funding or encouraging to be funded.  He is currently using indieagogo.com to crowdfund enough money for the Crime Prevention Research Center to start up and run.  Currently, the fundraising is not going terribly well, but then again, I can hope that my readers will recognize what an enormous impact the scholarly work that Dr. Lott has had, and see the advantage of helping to get the Crime Prevention Research Center going.  (And yes, I just kicked in some money to the campaign, too.)

Part of why I hope that the Crime Prevention Research Center gets off the ground, and in a big way, is not just for the reasons above -- the need to counterbalance a lot of agenda-driven research -- but I would dearly love to see this model work for selfish reasons.  Our side doesn't have the billionaires, or even the multimillionaires, and I have been tempted by this same model myself: set a 501(c)(3) educational institution to raise money so that I can work full-time on the issues of violence, mental health, and gun regulation.  That way contributions are tax-deductible on your Schedule A (which means a $500 contribution really only costs most people about $350 net taxes), and I could get started working full-time on something which I am good at doing, and where I have managed to get a bit accomplished even doing it part-time.

My current aortic valve is supposed to be good for another 14-19 years (so until age 71 to 76).  When this valve starts to go, I will have to make the decision about whether to have it replaced.  This is going to be dependent on:

1. What is the state of my health other than the valve?  I would like to think it will be good enough to justify going through this incredibly unpleasant experience again.  On the other hand, if I had expected last year to be doing my current day job another twenty years, based on how awful the post-op experience was, I would have had to really, really consider whether staying alive was worth it.

2. Has the TAVR procedure (where they install the new aortic valve through an artery) reached a sufficiently low risk to use that instead of cutting me open?  My heart surgeon indicated that it is currently three times as risky as the keyhole procedure that he did, but that by the time this valve needs replacing, it may be equivalent risk.

3. Will this sort of expensive procedure still be allowed, or will the government decide that I am like the milk cow that has ceased to produce, and therefore gets turned into canner's grade beef?  At age 71 to 76, I will not be producing enough tax revenue.  Will it make sense to spend money keeping me alive?

If I could get enough funding for a 501(c)(3) to fund the sort of research that I like to do, and that I am good at doing, it would only need to be operational for about two to three years.  By that point, I will be able to reach into my 401(k) and be self-supporting.

These are the things that I am pondering.

UPDATE: Some of you may be wondering why I am whining.  I get to do stuff that's important after hours, and I have a day job that pays okay.  I suppose that I should explain that right now I work forty hours per week at my day job; six hours per week commuting to that day job; about five hours a week for ScopeRoller; about three hours per week writing articles for which I actually get paid;  and during the spring and fall semesters about ten hours per week teaching and grading papers.  That's about sixty-four hours a week during the semesters.  I guess that I am just getting old, and the old labor union song "Eight Hours For Work" which included the lyrics:

Eight hours for work, eight hours for sleep, eight hours for what we wish.

is becoming increasingly important to me. 

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