Westley Seeks to Support the "Productive Class"

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Westley Seeks to Support the “Productive Class”

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Florida’s Business Observer reports on one of our top scholars, Chris Westley

It’s only been a year since Florida Gulf Coast University tapped Christopher Westley to lead the Regional Economic Research Institute, but he’s blunt about the organization’s mission. “I want it to support the productive class of society,” he says. “The Regional Economic Research Institute should never be used to implicitly raise taxes.”

That means, for example, that any economic impact study the institute publishes will also include a caveat that money spent for one purpose might mean forgoing a better alternative. It’s what economists like to call the opportunity cost. The institute was established about a decade ago to track key data for the region stretching from Sarasota to Naples. It tracks and shares data on economic gauges such as airport passenger traffic and housing permits. It also conducts a business-climate survey in Lee County that measures executives’ current and future sentiments.

But as its new director, Westley is determined to make it even more useful for companies and entrepreneurs. Westley doesn’t mince words: “If it’s not adding value, it’s parasitic.”

To see where he’s coming from, it helps to understand Westley’s underlying economic philosophy. As a fellow and one of the most prolific authors with the Mises Institute, Westley hails from the Austrian school of economics that advocates free markets. “My bias is to create a resource that will make the local markets more efficient,” Westley says. For example, at last count there are 13 chambers of commerce in Lee County, plus government economic development groups. Westley hopes his organization’s research can help them better allocate their resources. “A lot of them are doing the exact same thing,” Westley says.

Speaking with Westley, you quickly know whose side he’s on. “We need to support wealth creation, and you don’t support that by raising taxes,” he says. 

Read the full article. 

46 min ago

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