Exclusive interview with Justin Owen of the Beacon Center of Tennessee

by Dave Carew

What impact are free-market, limited-government solutions having—right now—in Tennessee?  How would the political and cultural landscape shift if even MORE of these solutions were enacted?  In this exclusive interview with Justin Owen, President and CEO of the Beacon Center of Tennessee, Underground Nashville probes these and other questions:

UNDERGROUND NASHVILLE: Your web sites states, “The Beacon Center of Tennessee promotes personal freedom and limited government . . . The mission of the [Center] is to change lives through public policy.”  So far, what do you feel have been the Center’s two greatest accomplishments? How have these accomplishments benefited the average Tennessean?

JUSTIN OWEN: Our two greatest accomplishments thus far have been the enactment of tort reform and the repeal of our death tax, both of which Beacon played a crucial role in achieving. Lawsuit abuse and high taxes have hampered our state’s economy, keeping many Tennesseans out of work. By enacting tort reform, small businesses can prosper without the fear of being shut down by frivolous lawsuits. The repeal of the death tax will keep retirees and investors in Tennessee, which will spur job growth. The benefits of these public policy changes will impact every Tennessean looking for a good job in a stable economy.

UN:  If you and the Center could enact a wholesale reform of TennCare, what would that reform look like?

JO: We need reform that gives beneficiaries and doctors control over healthcare decisions while protecting taxpayers from unsustainable burdens. Congress should emulate the block grant welfare reforms of the 1990’s, allowing Tennessee to make TennCare more consumer-driven. This incentivizes more efficient use of funds, reducing the burden on taxpayers and making TennCare sustainable. In 2011, 40 percent of Tennessee’s primary care physicians refused any new TennCare patients because of the bureaucratic costs of participation. The current system, consuming nearly one-quarter of the state budget, is not only unsustainable; it increasingly fails to deliver the very care it is designed to provide.

UN:  Many Democrats and/or liberals argue that cutting state spending significantly—as you advocate—would, at least in the short term, make the jobs crisis even worse. How do you respond?

JO: Government “job creation,” while well-received in campaign speeches, is simply not a long-term solution to our problems. All government spending originates from productive enterprises. This often becomes the difference between an entrepreneurial success story and a failure. The long-run effect is to discourage many from starting or growing a business, hampering job growth. Only by cutting government spending and taxes can we maximize job creation. It’s not the perceived “wisdom” of politicians, but the power of free enterprise that—if unrestrained by high taxes and burdensome regulation—will resuscitate the fledgling economy in the short term and provide long-term viability.

For more information about the BeaconCenter of Tennessee, please visit BeaconTN.org. 

NOTE TO READERS:  “Underground Nashville” is not now—and shall not become—a political blog. We do, however, occasionally welcome the thoughts of local citizens of ALL political persuasions regarding how they believe we can make our community a better place. 

David M. (Dave) Carew is writer/editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter.” He also is a freelance book editor, publicist, seminar and workshop leader, journalist, and advertising/marketing/public relations writer.


Do you want to help homeless people in Nashville learn culinary arts and other employment skills that provide a specific, effective path off the streets? Please visit Lambscroft.org and consider making a financial contribution. Any amount is very helpful and appreciated. Thank you.


Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective, offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.”

Dave Carew




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