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Richard W. Rahn

Richard W. Rahn

Richard W. Rahn is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and chairman of the Institute for Global Economic Growth.

Articles by Richard W. Rahn

The Temperature Over Time Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

The real deniers

No one knows what is going to happen 100 years from now -- what problems human beings will face and what advances they'll make. Are you willing to double your electrical bill -- to European rates -- to reduce global temperatures by two-tenths of 1 degree 100 years from now? Published June 5, 2017

Chart to accompany Rahn article of May 30, 2017

Wrong questions, wrong measures

Which portion of government spending provides little or no value? The president just released his budget proposal, and the predictable chorus of complaints immediately began from those who want more spending for "whatever." Published May 29, 2017

Chart to accompany Rahn article of May 23, 2017

Population death spiral

It is hard to succeed if everyone is leaving. Some of the former communist countries are suffering from a population death spiral, with double-digit population declines over the last 25 years, as can be seen in the enclosed table. Published May 22, 2017

Chart to accompany Rahn article of May 16, 2017

The problem of European divergence

Despite the attempts to unify Europe into an economic and partial political whole over the past 70 years, the grand experiment is unraveling, and it increasingly looks like the Humpty Dumpty we call Europe cannot be put back together again. Parts of Europe are enjoying unparalleled freedom and prosperity, but other parts are sinking both economically and politically. What explains the growing divergence? Published May 15, 2017

Illustration on the Korean economic miracle by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

Korea's economic miracle

By the time you read this, South Korea will have just elected a new president. There will be a peaceful transfer of power, coming after the previous president was impeached for corruption, but all done in proper democratic way. Few would have bet after the end of the Korean War, more than 60 years ago, that South Korea would now be a rich, developed, democratic country. Published May 8, 2017

Pizza Slice Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

Why the revenuers are always wrong

If you were really hungry and given the choice of half of an eight-inch pizza or a third of a twelve-inch pizza, which would you choose? Already, the normal group of know-nothings among the political class and the press are proclaiming that President Trump's proposed reduction in the corporate tax rate will only benefit the rich. The safe bet is all those folks are wrong, once again. Published May 1, 2017

Illustration on the consequences of questioning current conventional wisdom by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

Shut up and go away

Columbia University, from which I have a degree, has set aside rooms where straight white males -- like me -- are told they are unwelcome. How should I respond to their annual fund drives? Published April 24, 2017

Illustration on the wonders of incentivization by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

In praise of the price system

Kinder and gentler governments use market-based price incentives and less coercion. But all too many government officials forget about the superiority of the price system, and resort to the threat of or actual violence to get the people to do what they want. Business people use the price system to attract customers with lower prices and good employees by offering higher wages (the price of work) rather than coercion. Published April 17, 2017

Congress' Failure to Do Its Job Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

Falling down on the legislative job

The administrative state began in earnest 130 years ago with the creation of the Interstate Commerce Commission in 1883, which was a major power giveaway by Congress to an independent agency. Published April 10, 2017

Chart to accompany Rahn article of April 4, 2017

Thoughtless actions that provoke terrible consequences

April 6 marks the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entry into World War I -- a war that claimed the lives of about 38 million people. It is correctly known as the "war about nothing," so why was it fought? The United States entered the war near the end, after much of Europe had been bled into exhaustion. Relatively speaking, U.S. deaths were few, about 118,000 from all causes, but a great tragedy for each of the families that suffered a loss (see enclosed chart). Published April 3, 2017

Tax Reform for Economic Growth Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

Thinking clearly about tax reform

President Trump has said he is going to move on to tax reform after the debacle with Obamacare repeal. Is there any reason that we can expect greater success with the tax reform effort? I argue no, unless the rules in the House and Senate are modified, and those in Congress, whose brains are connected enough to distinguish between tax rates and tax revenues, take control. Published March 27, 2017

Illustration on Federal subsidies for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting by Linas GArsys/The Washington Times

Testing for turncoats

Do you think the federal government spends too much? Taxes too much? And should reduce the deficit? Most Americans agree except when it comes to specific spending programs they like. The people "hire" members of Congress to make these difficult choices. Much of what the federal government does is not authorized by the Constitution or justified by proper cost-benefit analysis, so is without merit. Published March 20, 2017

Illustration on Hillary's history of actions in favor of Russia   The Washington Times

Gauging who would gain from Russian interference

Are you shocked that the Russians might have had an interest in who won the U.S. presidential election? Nations have always had an interest in who rules the nations they deal with -- both opponents and friends -- and that they often try to influence the outcomes should come as no surprise. Published March 13, 2017

President Donald Trump walks with his grandchildren Arabella Kushner and Joseph Kushner across the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Friday, March 3, 2017, before boarding Marine One helicopter for the short flight to nearby Andrews Air Force Base, Friday, March 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Aim higher

What changes in government policy should be made to achieve an annual average of 4 percent economic growth? That is the question President Trump and his team should be asking if they are serious about achieving a lower deficit while increasing spending on defense and the infrastructure. Published March 6, 2017

Failure to Maintain the Oroville Dam Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

Hype-driven disasters

It can be dangerous to believe one's own or others' hype. A couple of weeks ago, 180,000 people living downstream from the nation's highest dam, the Oroville Dam in California, had to be evacuated because the dam's main and emergency spillways were damaged due to heavy rainfall and runoff. Published February 27, 2017

Chart to accompany Rahn article of Feb 21, 2017

Prosperous Panama

Panama has come a long way in a short time, more than doubling its per capita gross domestic product in the past decade. At the end of June 2016, it opened the new canal next to the old one that could no longer accommodate the current generation of post-Panamax ships. Published February 20, 2017

Chart to accompany Rahn article of Feb. 14, 2017

States that work for business

If you were going to start a new business in the United States that was not location dependent, what state would choose? Countries, states and cities all compete to attract businesses -- both large and small. More businesses mean more jobs and usually greater prosperity. Published February 13, 2017

Illustration on the value of the dollar and its alternatives by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

Private money-like products gain traction amid mistrust of government

We all think we know what money is, but economists have many different definitions of money (e.g., M1, M2, M4, and others) -- and the problem is getting worse. Is the U.S. paper dollar you have in your wallet money? How about a one-ounce gold $50 coin minted by the U.S. government, which has a current market value of roughly $1,200? Or digital "bitcoins" in your computer? Published February 6, 2017

Illustration on loosening anti-laundering regulations by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

Useless anti-money laundering laws

Governments occasionally pass laws with good intent but which backfire because they were poorly thought out and created perverse incentives, making the situation far worse. Published January 30, 2017

Here Come the Robots Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

Looking ahead to 2024

Most new cars sold in 2024 will have self-driving capabilities so that the number of auto fatalities will be falling rapidly. That is an easy prediction, because the technologies have already been developed and roll-outs of the new cars are being planned and, in some cases, are underway. Published January 23, 2017