What creates prosperity? Why are some states rich and others poor? Why does Mississippi consistently rank as one of the poorest states in the nation? Can anything be done to move Mississippi ‘out of last place’? These questions are often raised by our students and fellow Mississippians. This book addresses each of these questions by identifying areas in which Mississippi can improve its economic conditions.
In this book, we identify key areas for Mississippi economic policy reform. Twenty-one scholars, ten of which are from or work in Mississippi, have contributed original policy research. All twenty chapters were written specifically for Mississippi with a shared goal to promote prosperity in the state. While some of the chapters contain complex policy reforms, we have made every effort to present the concepts and ideas in a way that is understandable to the average citizen, the person who can benefit the most from this information.
The first three chapters of the text summarize the basic economic principles necessary to achieve economic prosperity. These three chapters present the principles behind the reforms proposed in the subsequent seventeen chapters. Each chapter was written independently and offers unique insight into different areas of state policy reform. While the topics covered range from tax reform, education reform, healthcare, corporate welfare, occupational licensing and business regulatory reform to criminal justice reform, and natural disaster recovery efforts, there is a clear unifying framework underlying the conclusions reached in each chapter. The theme throughout is that economic growth is best achieved through free market policies, policies which are based on limited government, lower regulations, lower taxes, minimal infringement on contracting and labor markets, secure private property rights, low subsidies, and privatization. Policy based on these principles allows Mississippians to have more rights and more choices in their lives.
We hope that readers come away with a better understanding of capitalism’s true potential to generate the long-run economic growth necessary to make Mississippi more prosperous, as well as ideas for policy reforms that could accomplish it in our lifetimes. This book illustrates that if Mississippi embraces economic freedom, the state will experience more entrepreneurship, increased business and capital formation, higher labor productivity and wages, and overall economic growth. Our main goal is to provide the scholarly, academic research that can inform state policy decisions and open a much needed dialogue on growth-oriented policy reform in Mississippi.
We focus on long-run policy improvements. Thus, the analysis is not an assessment of any particular administration or political party. Instead, this book can be thought of as a blueprint of possible economic reform proposals that use scientific evidence as a guiding principle. We emphasize that our unifying framework, which shapes the conclusions drawn in each chapter, is based on economic science, not politics. All authors address their respective topics by relying on academic research. Topics and policy conclusions were not based on any particular political agenda, political party, or political expediency. Instead, the authors relied on cold, hard facts and data with references to published academic literature to develop policy reform suggestions specific for Mississippi. In fact, many reforms suggested may not be politically possible.
The inspiration for this book came from Unleashing Capitalism, a series of books using economic logic to improve state policy in West Virginia, South Carolina, and Tennessee. We owe thanks to more people than we could possibly list. We are indebted to our colleagues and the Finance and Economics advisory board at Mississippi State University who helped review chapters and provide invaluable feedback. We thank Ken and Randy Kendrick, Earnest W. and Mary Ann Deavenport, and the Pure Water Foundation for the funding necessary to embark on a project of this magnitude. We also thank our friends and family for their support, and for putting up with the long working hours that went into conducting this research. Most importantly, we would like to thank the staff and supporters of the Institute for Market Studies at Mississippi State University for publishing this book. Without their support, this book would not have been possible.
Let’s start promoting prosperity in Mississippi!
Brandon N. Cline, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Finance
Mississippi State University
Russell S. Sobel, Ph.D.
Professor of Economics and Entrepreneurship
Claudia R. Williamson, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Economics
Mississippi State University
PDF's of Individual Chapters
Part 1: Introduction: The Role of Government and Economic Growth Russel S. Sobel, The Citadel, and J. Brandon Bolen, Mississippi State University
Part 2: Promoting Prosperity One Issue at a Time
Why Are Taxes So Taxing? Brandon N. Cline and Claudia R. Williamson, Mississippi State University
Make Business Taxes More Competitive Brandon N. Cline and Claudia R. Williamson, Mississippi State University
"Selective Incentives" Crony Capitalism and Economic Development Thomas A. Garrett, University of Mississippi and William F. Shughart II, Utah State University
Incentive-Based Compensation and Economic Growth Brandon N. Cline and Claudia R. Williamson, Mississippi State University
Mississippi Shadow Economies: A Symptom of Over Regulated Markets and Measure of Missed Opportunities Travis Wiseman, Mississippi State University
Occupational Licensing in Mississippi Daniel J. Smith, Troy University
Prosperity Districts: A Ladder Out of Last Place Trey Goff, Out of Last Place Alliance
Promoting Prosperity in Mississippi Through Investing in Communities Ken B. Cyree, University of Mississippi and Jon Maynard, Oxford Economic Development Foundation
Local Governments Run Amok? A Guide for State Officials Considering Local Preemption Michael D. Farren, George Mason University and Adam A. Millsap, Florida State University
School Choice: How to Unleash the Market in Education Brett Kittredge, Empower Mississippi
Medicaid: A Government Monopoly That Hurts the Poor Jameson Taylor, MS Center for Public Policy
Tipping the Scales: Curbing Mississippi's Obesity Problem Raymond J. March, San Jose State University
Criminal Justice Reform in Mississippi Trey Goff, Out of Last Place Alliance
Property Takings: Eminent Domain and Civil Asset Forfeiture Carrie B. Kerekes, Florida Gulf Coast University
The Small-Dollar Loan Landscape in Mississippi: Products, Regulations, Examples, and Research Findings on Interest Rate Caps Thomas William Miller Jr. Mississippi State University
Natural Disasters and Prosperity in Mississippi Daniel Sutter, Troy University
Learning from Disasters in Mississippi Stefanie Haeffele and Virgil Henry Storr, George Mason University