Q&A with Dr. Scott Beaulier, executive director
of the Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy
Dr. Scott Beaulier has been named executive director for the newly formed Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy University and will also serve as an associate professor of economics.
Before coming to TROY, Dr. Beaulier was Department Chair of Economics and the BB&T Distinguished Professor of Capitalism at Mercer University. He completed his doctoral degree at George Mason University in 2004, and is the author of several academic articles that focus on issues in applied microeconomics, public choice economics, and development economics.
Q: What attracted you to the position of director of the Johnson Center?
A: The resources and the administrative support for the Center. In higher education, it’s tough to find opportunities where there are both the resources available to succeed and the administrators in place wanting a transformation to take place. The Johnson Center provided both – $3.6 million in initial support – and an entrepreneurial administration headed by Dr. Jack Hawkins.
Q: It seems that central to the mission of the Johnson Center is the concept of economic freedom. How do you define “economic freedom?”
A: Economic freedom means that markets are open and free from excessive government interference. It means that people are free to make personal choices for themselves and that they are free to exchange freely with others. In places where people are economically free, such as the United States, economies flourish. In places like North Korea, where economic freedom is choked, economies stagnate and people suffer.
Q: What are some local, state or regional issues that you expect the Center will explore in its research?
A: Just as we are interested in economic freedom at the international level, economic freedom plays a crucial role in development at the state and local level. The Center will support state policy studies that examine the consequences of different tax changes on economic growth. For example, could Alabama benefit from spending cuts and tax simplification?
Another state-level project I’d like to see the Center focus on will involve a “costs of doing business” study for the state of Alabama. The study would examine the key business impediments in Alabama and offer reform recommendations.
Q: What first sparked your interest in economics? What do you think it takes to get today’s students more interested in economic issues?
A: I fell in love with economics in my first course, EC 101. I had a great professor who loved what he was doing and really took me under his wing. I feel like I owe him a debt that I can never repay, for it was his course that helped me find my calling in life. I think the key to teaching economics is to be passionate about it. Conveying to students that the economic way of thinking, when used properly, can be a wonderful lens to see the world through is something a person should be excited about.