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Fri Jan 11, 2013, 05:21 AM

 

About that "lead exposure caused the youth violence of the 70s-90s" research... [View all]

Interest in this theory was recently sparked by a Mother Jones article written by Kevin Drum:

http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/01/lead-crime-link-gasoline

But that wasn't the first article on the topic, there were earlier ones in other venues as well...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/07/AR2007070701073.html
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=16034271

All made substantial use of work done by Rick Nevin; in fact, most of the information came from Rick Nevin. And who is Rick Nevin, an epidemiologist? A health researcher?

No, he's a "Fairfax economist."

Rick Nevin is a Senior Project Manager/ Industrial Economist with Solutions. He has over 30 years' experience conducting financial, economic, housing, and environmental analyses. Mr. Nevin has a combined 22 years of experience serving as Assistant Vice President and Project Manager for Mellon Bank of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and ICF Consulting of Fairfax, Virginia.

Over the last four years, He has worked as an independent consultant. His policy, regulatory, and research experience includes the following: project manager and principal author of the Economic Analysis of the HUD rule on lead paint hazard evaluation and reduction in federally assisted housing. Mr. Nevin developed original methodology to estimate costs and benefits per housing unit for specific types of hazard evaluation and reduction activities, and designed spreadsheet model to calculate and present regulatory costs and benefits by HUD program and age of housing unit. He designed and wrote technical appendix to proposed Federal Strategy for Eliminating Childhood Lead Poisoning for the Presidentís Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children. Mr. Nevin also developed a model to forecast housing units with lead hazards and number of children with elevated blood lead through 2020, integrating data from several housing and health surveys. He managed a strategic analysis and program evaluation for the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH) initiative led by HUD; specific issues addressed included potential benefits of coordinated strategies for HUD lead hazard reduction efforts, EPA Energy Star Homes, and DOE weatherization assistance.

Additionally, Mr. Nevin particapated in several peer-reviewed studies on how trends in lead exposure have affected trends in crime and education, and how a lead-safe window replacement strategy can leverage funding for neighborhood stabilization, home energy efficiency, and lead hazard reduction to achieve multiple benefits with shared costs. Mr. Nevin holds a Masters in Finance, Managerial Economics, and Strategy from Northwestern University and a Masters in Economics and Bachelors in Economics and Mathematics from Boston University.

http://www.healthyhousingsolutions.com/AboutUs/OurStaff/RickNevin.aspx



Mellon Bank needs no introduction. ICF International is less well known and its "About" section doesn't make things any clearer (amazing how these business types can write pages of bullshit and not say anything at all):

http://www.icfi.com/about/our-purpose-and-vision

...but it appears to be a government/business consulting service, & though the specifics aren't clear, government contracts seem to figure into it:

http://investor.icfi.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=201331&p=irol-IRHome


The MJ article on lead & violence struck me as problematic in lots of ways, but the first thing that set off my bullshit detector was that the rise in violence circa 1970-1990 was significantly urban, inner-city, black, & male; so though Drum didn't mention it, that's the population mainly under discussion. Something about it reminded me of the history & racist premises of such 'research' into black males' supposedly higher predilection to violence, such as the search for genetic causes...

When I started looking at Nevin's work, I wasn't reassured: The Bell Curve is an often-cited work in all Nevin's papers on lead, & Nevin starts from the position that it's a reputable work, e.g.:

http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/36569/1/Nevin_Lead_Poisoning_and_The_Bell_Curve.pdf

The Bell Curve is a *racist* book, & I'm not going to bother to debate that here, only to say that any purported 'science' that cites it is suspect.

And that's not the only thing that bothers me about Nevin. Here's the project he's currently pumping up enthusiasm for:

The Healthy Housing Strategy is designed to stabilize neighborhood home values by converting upgraded REO housing to rental units. The required upgrade - lead-safe window replacement - would increase home value, lower energy bills and related emissions, and prevent childhood lead poisoning. Some variation of the lease-to-own financing arrangements suggested in the NSHHC submission could also leverage low mortgage interest rates to provide safe and affordable rental housing with a lease-to-own option that could rapidly build home equity.

http://www.ricknevin.com/Partner_Perspectives.html


What are REO properties? Bank-owned properties. So what Nevin wants is to use public financing to replace the windows in these bank-owned properties that the banks (or the financiers currently buying up in big lots) will be renting out.

Larger Wall Street investors rushing into the REO market have raised between $6 billion and $8 billion for acquisitions, according to analysts at investment bank Keefe, Bruyette & Woods...

Jim Previti, CEO of the private real estate investment firm Frontier Enterprises, said institutional investors buying properties in bulk are beginning to crowd out the smaller "mom and pop" firms.

http://www.housingwire.com/news/2012/09/21/investors-raise-8-billion-reo



There is something that smells bad about this.




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