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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

Illustration on the attractiveness of Socialism by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

The unthinking and the unobservant

This past week, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a self-proclaimed socialist, won the Democratic primary for a congressional seat in New York. Why would a sane person advocate a political movement that was responsible for well over a hundred million deaths in the last century, as well as untold misery? By her comments, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez revealed a couple of things about herself. The first is an ignorance of history — because it is unlikely that she really meant to be an advocate for a cause that often results in mass death and destruction — and that she is unable to think beyond stage 1, or the first order effect of a policy. Published July 2, 2018

Illustration on improving Central American economies by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

Fixing Central America

Most Central Americans are poor because many of the people who run their governments are corrupt and/or incompetent. And that basic fact will continue to overwhelm efforts to stop the illegal migration into the U.S. Published June 25, 2018

More Jobs Available Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

Weighing whether there are too many or too few jobs

Will there be too few or too many jobs in the future? We are told as a result of the artificial intelligence (AI) revolution with endless robots, autonomous vehicles, etc. that there will be far fewer jobs. Yet last week, despite record levels of automation, the Department of Labor announced that the country had reached the point where there were more jobs available than people seeking work. Published June 18, 2018

Russian Money Funneled to the Democrats Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

Taking aim at the real polluters

Two of the world's biggest polluters are China and Russia. You would think that U.S. environmental groups would be major critics of these countries; yet, the reality is some take money from entities controlled by these governments and disseminate their propaganda. Published June 11, 2018

Illustration on the similarities between Watergate and Hillary Clinton's actions surrounding the 2016 election campaign by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

Watergate redux

Was Watergate worse than the present scandal? Do you know what the crime was in Watergate? Published June 4, 2018

Outline of Switzerland mashed up with Swiss flag design. Image via Wikimedia Commons. Accessed June 29, 2016.

A skilled hand with the U.S.-Swiss mix

This past week, with the passing of Faith Ryan Whittlesey, America lost the best example of what an ambassador should be. By happenstance, Ambassador Whittlesey also served twice in, perhaps, the best example of what a country ought to be — Switzerland. Published May 28, 2018

Illustration on the increasing viability of cryptocurrencies by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

Toward a better cryptocurrency

Why do people want "money?" Obviously, so they can buy goods and services now or in the future. But, in actuality, it is not money people want, but purchasing power. Is it necessary to have a stock of money to have purchasing power? Well no, provided people have credit or wealth that can be turned into a transferable unit of account in close to real time. Published May 21, 2018

Illustration on the economies of Iran, Russia and North Korea by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

A bet on economic pygmies

The GDP of North Korea is less than half that of Fairfax County, Virginia, and only a little more than half of Vermont's, which has less than 3 percent of the population of North Korea. Honduras is the second-poorest county in the Americas but it has a larger GDP than North Korea, despite having only one-third the population and more than three-and-a-half times the per capita income. Published May 14, 2018

Illustration on Rod Rosenstein's current strange influence over Washington by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

Conspiracy or incompetence

Many apparent Washington conspiracies are nothing more than sheer incompetence — or a combination of attempted conspiracy coupled with a high degree of incompetence. The investigation into the alleged interference by the Russians into the 2016 election is looking more like a farce than an unbiased, competent, serious undertaking. Published May 7, 2018

Allocating global capital

People are more careful in spending their own money than they are in spending other people's. Published April 30, 2018

Media Casting Votes Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

Abolishing campaign contribution limits

President Trump and Amazon's Jeff Bezos dislike each other. The Washington Post, owned by Mr. Bezos, runs many stories each day attacking the president. Some are fair and about real issues. But many are petty or just plain wrong. Even The Post's alleged "conservative" writers appear to have a weekly quota of "why Donald Trump is awful" stories. Published April 23, 2018

Chart to accompany Rahn article of April 17, 2108.

Problems in protecting intellectual property rights

Prague is a glorious city with many beautiful and historic buildings going back nearly a thousand years. It managed to escape almost all bombing during WWII, and thus was able to preserve the best of its past -- to the delight of both citizens and tourists. I am here at the European Resource Bank for a discussion of the problems in protecting intellectual property (more on that below). Published April 16, 2018

Illustration on taxing capital gains with no reference to losses from inflation by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

Capital gains must be protected from inflation

If your employer gives you a 2 percent wage increase, and inflation is 3 percent, has your real income increased or decreased? Assume you bought a horse barn and 40 acres of land for $200,000 in 1988 for a riding school you operated. You have just retired from your business and sold the land and barn for $360,000. In the 30 years from the time you originally bought the property, the value of the dollar has fallen by about one-half due to inflation — so, rather than having a $160,000 gain from the sale of your property — in real (inflation-adjusted) dollars, you suffered a $40,000 loss. Published April 9, 2018

Then and Now Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

Most everything is better than you think

In 1914, just over a century ago, the average worker had to work about three hours to buy a bushel of wheat. Today it takes five minutes for the average American worker to buy that same bushel of wheat. The real (inflation-adjusted) price of aluminum is now about one-fifth of what it was in 1914. These ongoing, real price declines are characteristic of almost every agricultural and industrial commodity. Published April 2, 2018

Chart to accompany Rahn article of March 27, 2018.

Destructive information

There is some information that the government should never publish because it is so little understood by the political class and the media. A prime example is the trade deficit number. The trade deficit is of little importance, but as we now see, a focus on that number is causing the president and others to impose destructive tariffs and other harmful trade restrictions. The trade deficit, which is officially known as the "current account balance," is merely the residual of many other policies by both the U.S. and foreign governments. Published March 26, 2018

Andrew McCabe    Associated Press photo

Who is corrupt?

Is the just-fired Andrew McCabe (former number two and, at one point, acting director of the FBI) corrupt? I would argue yes, even though we do not know the full extent of his alleged transgressions. Published March 19, 2018

Illustration on U.S. government obsession with prosecuting money-laundering by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

More meanness from government

"Name the person and I will find the crime" is a statement attributed to Lavrentiy Beria, Stalin's head of the Soviet secret police. There are more than 4,000 federal felonies on the books of the U.S. government, not counting all of the felonies created by regulatory agencies and state and local governments. Few Americans or citizens of other countries now go for appreciable periods of time without committing a felony, most often without intent or knowledge. Published March 12, 2018

Chart to accompany Rahn article of March 6, 2018.

Trump's really bad idea

Why does Virginia import oranges from Florida rather than grow its own? Why does the U.S. import almost all of its coffee and cocoa beans from countries in tropical climates rather than grow its own? Why does the U.S. import most of its primary aluminum rather than produce its own? Published March 5, 2018

Illustration on the rising tyranny of emotional reaction in creating public policy by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

Fact-free zones in the public square

Fuzzy and fact-free thinking are too kind as definitions for much of what has passed as public policy analysis this past week. The discussions regarding the Parkland school shooting, the Russian political investigation and the immigration debate illustrate the problem. Published February 26, 2018

Shooter Warning Sign Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

Accountability and willful blindness

Those who serve in the military know they will be held accountable when they are irresponsible or reckless because the lives of their fellow warriors are at stake. In contrast, there is often little accountability in much of non-military government civil service, which often results in sloppy work practices. Published February 19, 2018