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UN Don'ts and Dues

By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.

A new piece of legislation came out of the House of Representatives last week that was vaunted as an accommodation to social conservatives. To the dismay and disappointment of many concerned citizens, a sizeable bonus had been added to the bill. Contrary to the wishes of numerous constituents, a controversial offering to the United Nations was attached to the legislation.

A ban on providing financing to international "family-planning" organizations was included and consequently had already elicited the threat of a presidential veto. Normally anxious to go on record to garner the appropriate credit from constituents, Republican members of Congress followed the lead of Representative Tom Delay. They gave only a voice vote so that evidence in the form of a written account would not be available to the public, just in case someone actually wanted to know whose fingerprints were on this misguided payment.

Maybe they thought this would persuade the president to change his mind about vetoing the bill. Or maybe they were lobbied heavily from the powerful and influential pro-UN forces. Regardless of the rationale of the congressional members in question, they apparently were seeking anonymity for one very important reason. This legislation would authorize the payment of nearly one billion dollars in alleged back dues to the United Nations.

Rather than hiding behind an unrecorded voice vote, Congress should have been serving the interests of the American taxpayers by proudly and openly voting against this international larceny. The one billion dollars in supposed debt to the UN is nothing but a fiction. In actuality, we should be sending the UN a substantial invoice. The American people have been providing twenty-five percent or more of the UN budget for many years now. America's share of UN expenses has always been far greater than other member nations. Our twenty-five percent is twice that of Japan, more than three times that of Britain and a hundred times more than most other countries.

The UN "peacekeeping" budget has expanded from 700 million dollars in 1990 to the current 3.5 billion dollars. The UN has assessed the United States at thirty-two percent of the so-called "peacekeeping" budget. U.S. law now caps this expense at 25%. Other nations such as the United Kingdom, Russia and France pay less than one-fourth of what the United States has paid.

The UN points the finger of blame at the U.S. for its own presumed financial difficulties. But how is this international bureaucracy being managed? The UN's annual expenditures were approximately twenty million dollars in 1945. They have now ballooned to over four billion dollars per year. They employ over 50,000 people and administer a pension plan worth approximately fifteen billion dollars. The U.S. has no voice in how money is spent due to a lack of representation on the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions which prepares the UN budgets.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has recently threatened to remove the right of the U.S. to vote in the General Assembly if we do not pay this phony bill. Congress should threaten to withdraw all financial support for the UN unless and until significant reductions are made in the unbridled and ever-burgeoning UN bureaucracy.

Meanwhile the Senate, displaying more of Congress's unique brand of courage, voted 84-16 to attach the 18 billion dollar IMF bailout package to a military support and disaster relief bill. The IMF likewise has a terrible track record when it comes to dealing with financial matters. The IMF creates more crises than it prevents because governments have an incentive to take inordinate risks and avoid sound economic and financial policies. This is because they know that the IMF's free insurance will always be there in the event that their economic strategies backfire.

Not only should this preposterous bailout be rejected, but Congress should take the next step and terminate funding for the IMF altogether. This would finally do away with an outmoded and ineffective institution and put an end to the leeching of American goodwill.

The people of America have been taken advantage of for so long they seem to be used to it. We cannot allow our hard-earned currency to be used by the IMF as an insurance policy for foreign despots and their lenders. Furthermore, we must not pay a spurious debt to the UN, a wasteful international bureaucracy that neither deserves our support nor merits our generosity.

Copyright © 1999 -
James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.

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