After seeing yesterday’s White House “listening session” and watching the constantly escalating debate on guns, violence, and school shootings go totally viral the thought occurred to me that maybe we can solve a huge portion of this problem without government. A second later, it hit me. We can.
For those of you who have seen my take on this in other places you know I am in favor of hardening schools as targets to include multiple (and anonymous) armed staff within each school and controlled access points among other things. My belief is that, besides providing a last line of defense for our kids, it becomes a huge deterrent for a bad guy to know that there are armed people within the building who will oppose and kill him. I often remember a security expert who was on TV after 9/11 saying that the strongest security is sometimes just the appearance of security. A “gun free zone” and armed security are totally different incentive sets.There was, however, an article in this morning’s American Thinker which said that the cost of providing armed security would be prohibitive. Considering the total number of schools in the U.S., to provide the all with armed security guards it said. “If you pay them around $36,000 per year in salary, that yields a new annual cost of $9 billion.” My response is “OK, let’s do it.”
It probably would be a “prohibitive cost” if we asked the federal government to provide it. It would again become a political football with the “my team – your team” battles paralyzing everything over the $9 billion cost and political positioning. It’s about time we realized that our government is not able to do much of anything except try to get reelected. I suggest cutting the government out of the picture and taking care of it ourselves. How could the private sector possibly provide $9 billion per year, you ask? That’s crazy. Is it, really?
Let’s work backwards to get to that number. Allow me to point out that several universities have endowment funds with billions in assets. The most famous is the Harvard University endowment which has assets of $37 billion. Last year Harvard earned 8% on their money from that fund. M.I.T. earned 13% on theirs. These are funds that actually have grown over the years while earning millions in interest. Sounds like a good idea to me.
I propose the creation of a permanent non-revocable trust/endowment for the purpose of funding armed security guards for local school districts as well as arming and training school staff who volunteer to serve. Simply because it comes at this time in history let’s call it the “Parkland Fund.” How much would the fund need to “throw off” $9 billion per year? The fund could earn as much as 13% as M.I.T.’s did but let’s just say we could get a 10% return. That would require $90 billion in the fund. Can that even be done?! Well…….
To begin, we would have to ask some of the ultra-rich to help us out with some large numbers. We hear all the time about how folks like Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Warren Buffett are looking for ways to “give back.” They always tell us they are looking for “worthy causes.” Here’s a list of the 29 richest people in the U.S.: http://www.businessinsider.com/richest-people-in-the-us-2016-1#2-warren-buffett-26 . I’m all about freedom and all of these people are totally free to do with their money as they see fit. It’s their money. But…. wouldn’t it be cool if Jeff Bezos kicked in a billion? In a practical sense he would never miss it. A billion maybe from Bill Gates? Half a billion here, half a billion there from some others? Toss in a few million from those who could part with a little less? There are loads of very wealthy folks in Hollywood and Silicon Valley who tell us every day they want to “give back.” There’s also LeBron James and the sporting world’s ultra-rich. And could there ever be a more worthy cause? Hey, we’re off to a good start.
How about the corporate side? With the recent tax cuts many corporations are absolutely flush with cash and should be making even higher profits for the next few years. What if they made some large donations to the fund? Wouldn’t it be great PR for Disney to invest in the safety of the children who make their movies so successful? What about Wal-Mart? Johnson & Johnson? General Mills? Verizon? We have seen the bandwagon effect with corporations jumping on the “green” movement. Let’s create a bandwagon for them to jump on for the “safe” movement.
Finally, there is us. Using the number of U.S. schools from the American Thinker article and ball-parking the rest of it, if less than half of the parents gave an average of $100 I come up with $700 million. There are also lots of retired folks and grandparents who might be willing to donate significantly more. I know I would. As you can see, we can seed a fund from several different sources that would be there to help provide security for our children permanently.
Well, what if we fall short? If we only make it halfway to our goal in 2018 that means that for 2019 we will only generate $4.5 billion for security in our schools. That is not a bad thing and the principal would stay intact. The fund can continue to grow over the years. And remember, what I have proposed here would pay for the entire $9 billion. Local school boards, cities, and counties, could modestly increase real estate taxes to cover parts of the cost as well. I don’t think there would be much objection to that.
We. Can. Do. This.