New book outlines path to freedom & prosperity in Tennessee

December 5, 2012 10:50AM

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 5, 2012 NASHVILLE, TN – While Tennessee frequently ranks favorably as a good place to do business and raise a family, lawmakers should not rest on their laurels, as neighboring states continue their focus on policies that further promote economic growth and personal prosperity. This is the conclusion of a new book, Freedom and Prosperity in Tennessee, recently published by a compilation of economists, researchers and professors, comparing states across the country to determine what policies are most conducive to economic growth and why some policies result in greater wealth and opportunities for citizens. The project was spearheaded by the Scott L. Probasco Jr. Chair of Free Enterprise at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and co-published by the Beacon Center of Tennessee. “Economic growth directly leads to human well-being, including better health, lower divorce rates, reduced crime, and better education,” said Dr. J.R. Clark, the book’s editor. “History and evidence, as explained in the book, repeatedly show that prosperity is based on state policies that support entrepreneurship and private sector growth while diminishing government control. Without question, good public policy translates into economic growth, which results in prosperity for all citizens.” Tennessee’s average annual income is $34,955, making it 37th in the nation, combined with the 10th worst economic growth of just 0.9 percent. The state is at a competitive disadvantage when compared to neighboring states—prosperity does indeed cease at the border. For example, border county citizens in Virginia earn $2,361 more each year; in Alabama, it’s $5,747 more. Considering the similarities in demographics and geography, the higher wages reflect better functioning public policy in Tennessee’s neighboring states. Specifically, key state policies that hinder, if not reverse, economic growth in Tennessee include:

  • Taxes – From the Hall Income Tax and investment taxes to property taxes and those on capital investments, numerous taxes keep prosperity at bay.
  • Regulations – Costly occupational licensing and tax breaks for large corporations create favoritism and harm Tennesseans.
  • Property Rights – The growing use and abuse of eminent domain inhibits economic growth.
  • School Choice – Despite countless dollars spent on education, student achievement continues to wane. Allowing parents to choose their kids school has shown to make a meaningful difference, leading to greater prosperity.
  • Minimum Wage – While well-intentioned, the policy actually hurts those most in need because fewer workers are hired, particularly those on the lower end of the pay scale.

“Every Tennessean should know more about the state policies that affect his or her quality of life. This book, which is based on science and not politics, is the single best objective resource for that purpose. We also believe this information can serve as a solid foundation for discussing what policies work and don’t work,” said Beacon Center of Tennessee CEO Justin Owen, a contributing author to the chapters on court and legal reform. The Beacon Center of Tennessee, in conjunction with book editors, will be sharing more details about how what policies should be considered or reformed by lawmakers via an upcoming media tour in major Tennessee markets. For more information, visit To order a copy of the book, visit About The Scott L. Probasco Jr. Chair of Free Enterprise The Scott L. Probasco Jr. Chair of Free Enterprise was established by an initial bequest from the estate of Mr. Burkett Miller in 1977 to help citizens understand the principles that form the foundation of the American economic system. The chair’s mission is to develop, through the educational field, the type of political, social and economic environment that will permit private enterprise to achieve its proper perspective in American economic life. About the Beacon Center of Tennessee The Beacon Center of Tennessee is an independent, nonprofit, and nonpartisan research organization committed to achieving a freer, more prosperous Tennessee. The Beacon Center’s mission is to change lives through public policy by advancing the principles of free markets, individual liberty, and limited government.

# # #