Brundidge Rotary recognizes Johnson Center
Published 3:00 am Friday, September 18, 2015
The Brundidge Rotarians heard some “heady” talk from two professors at the Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy, Troy University at their Wednesday meeting.
Dr. Stephen Miller, executive director and Adams-Bibby Chair of Free Enterprise, and Dr. Daniel J. Smith, assistant professor of economics, were the program guests of Rotarian Chip Wallace.
Miller said, although, the eight professors at the Johnson Center don’t agree on everything, they are always in “the pursuit of truth.”
He acknowledged Troy native Manuel H. Johnson’s influence in the business world and how the Johnson Center faculty subscribes to his economic way of thinking.
Miller said the Johnson Center for Political Economy recognizes the value the free market capitalism system.
Capitalism is an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit rather than by the sate, Miller said.
“The people own the capital,” he said. “The capital is the land and the goods such as the machinery and an even a car. And, those “goods” can be owned or leased. The system is built on private ownership of the capital.”
Miller said the goal of the Johnson Center is to bring the world into focus — into the economic way of thinking. And, the center has been successful in doing so.
“The economic major at Troy University had gone away,” Miller said. “There was no economic major for a time. Now, we have 100 economic majors and a master’s program. Not only do we want to educate students in the classroom, we want to reach out to the public.”
Miller addressed the growing cost of health care in Alabama and said Medicaid is driving the cost up. He compared Medicaid to a gifted baby elephant that was given to the state. As the baby elephant grew so did the cost of caring for the elephant and it got bigger and bigger until it’s now a financial burden on the state.
He discussed the state’s financial woes, which pit the General Fund against the Educational Trust Fund.
Revenues for the General Fund come from small use taxes while the Educational Trust Fund, which is the largest operating fund of the state, benefits from personal income taxes, corporate taxes, sales taxes and utility taxes.
The General Fund expenditures include public health and safety, mental health, Medicaid, criminal justice, child development and protection, legislative activities and the court system.
Expenditures from the Educational Trust Fund include the maintenance and development of public education, debt service and capital improvement to educational facilities, public libraries, the performing and fine arts and two- and four-year colleges and universities.
Miller said moving some of the growth taxes from the ETF to the General Fund could be a solution to the state’s budget woes.
When asked if a state lottery could be an answer to the state’s financial situation, he said a lottery could possibly contribute to the shortfall in the General Fund.