Paul Jacob

Secretary-General Ban and those running the United Nations continue to push for increased wealth transfers from richer to poorer nations. In 2010, wealthier countries gave $129 billion in aid. The MDG report argues this is far short of the money that should be shifted each year from rich to poor nations.

If those making a lifelong living off redistributing wealth can so cavalierly ignore their own statistics, they'll have little trouble ignoring a lifetime of work by Peter Bauer in development economics. Bauer argued that legitimate investment, rather than foreign aid, would flow in ample amounts to countries with a safe and productive climate for business.

"Development aid is . . . not necessary to rescue poor societies from a vicious circle of poverty," Bauer found. "Indeed it is far more likely to keep them in that state."

Still, another UN report issued last week provides a different rationale for taking money from rich countries to give to poor ones. The World Economic and Social Survey 2011 called for "investment" of $72 trillion over the next four decades, much of it in green technology, with most of it going to developing countries. That's five times the U.S. annual GDP of $14.7 trillion.

Animating this report is the convenient notion that the world's wealthier, industrialized nations owe a "climate debt" to less developed nations. Ottmar Edenhofer, the German co-chair of one of the working groups of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, explained:

[D]eveloped countries have basically expropriated the atmosphere of the world community. But one must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world's wealth by climate policy. Obviously, the owners of coal and oil will not be enthusiastic about this.

Neither should buyers of coal and oil. Or anyone else, since these two energy sources undergird so much of modern life and progress.

And progress -- material progress -- matters. Poverty is reduced through economic growth, not through redistributing wealth from rich to poor countries.

So of course the United Nations intends to ignore the policies that lead to economic expansion -- stable rule of law, property rights, minimal government interference in normal work and trade -- and concentrate, instead, on dramatically increasing redistribution.


Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.