UN taxation - A dangerous precedent

Paul  Weyrich
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Posted: Sep 19, 2006 12:01 AM
UN taxation - A dangerous precedent

Too often voters in an election year wait to be asked by candidates for Congress for support. It should be the voters who put the candidates on the spot. This election is no exception. Conservatives have been fortunate during the past twelve years in having the numbers to influence the legislative process. The House and Senate leadership has learned to ignore at its peril the thinking of the conservative contingents. In this election we must make assure that the grassroots conservative viewpoint is not only heard but heeded if we are to continue wielding influence in Congress.

An important issue that many in Washington would prefer to ignore is our role in the United Nations (UN). This issue hits the bullseye with the conservative base, particularly those activists who realize the interest expressed by the UN's bureaucrats in international taxation.

Cliff Kincaid, the relentless researcher who is President of the pro-sovereignty America's Survival, details the UN's bureaucrats' interest in taxing America and the world for more revenue. His latest paper, "Growing Pressure for Global Taxes," is well worth reading this election year. Kincaid's meticulous research turned up a paper written by Peter Wahl, "From Concept to Reality: On the Present State of the Debate on International Taxes." Wahl, an official with a German nongovernmental organization (NGO), World Economy, Ecology & Development (WEED), writes:

"In 1996, a number of UN Development Programme staff members published a book...in which they proposed an international tax on currency transactions (the so-called Tobin tax.) The publication may be said to have opened the discussion on international taxes. Since then the debate has grown in intensity. This is not at all surprising. After all, taxes are not simply one economic variable among others.

"With their dual function - generating financial resources and serving as a means to achieve regulatory effects - taxes are a key instrument involved in giving shape to social processes."

Wahl notes that, in 2004, 115 countries supported a resolution before the United Nations General Assembly to study international taxes to finance development. France already has instituted an international tax on air travel and nine other countries expressed similar interest at a conference this year on "Innovative Development Financing." Many other countries are expressing interest in similar measures. Wahl writes, "...[T]he French initiative has now sparked a new dynamic. A strategy based on a plurilateral approach is proving successful: starting out with a 'coalition of the willing,' a lead group is paving the way for and promoting the project, without first waiting for a universal consensus to emerge."

While there is a drive for international taxation to finance international development goals, it's worth asking just how well the UN is managing the money it now has.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has been critical of the lack of transparency and adherence to sound management principles at the UN. Thomas Melito, Director of International Affairs and Trade at GAO, testified earlier this year before the Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, chaired by Senator Thomas Coburn, M.D. (R-OK). Melito stated that "experts have called on the UN to correct serious weaknesses in its procurement process for more than a decade, including the lack of an independent process for considering vendor protests and ensuring selection of qualified vendors. However, recent audits and investigations have uncovered evidence of corruption and mismanagement in the UN's procurement activities."

Senator Coburn recently addressed a conference on UN Reform. He said our country's most important leverage with the UN is our annual contribution. "It is time that Congress get serious about using that leverage," demanded Coburn. He was talking about having the United States forego loaning the UN funds to renovate UN headquarters in New York City until it instituted transparency in its financial affairs. That would be a good start at exerting our country's leverage. It must be taken further given the UN's interest in international taxation.

Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) recognizes the dangerous folly of international taxation. Fortunately, Inhofe, like Coburn, dares to take action when others simply sit back. Inhofe has introduced S. 3633, the "Protection against United Nations Taxation Act of 2006" (PUNT Act). It would "...require the withholding of United States contributions to the United Nations until the President certifies that the United Nations is not engaged in global taxation schemes." Thirty-two United States Senators are co-sponsors, including leading conservatives Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Coburn, as well as a leading moderate, Olympia P. Snowe (R-ME). Ben Nelson (D-NE), a moderate Democrat, also is a co-sponsor.

Wahl contends the United States is a leading opponent of international taxation. He sees it as a disgrace. Most Americans view such a scheme as grandiose utopianism. We see the folly of sending hard-earned income to Washington via our income taxes, only to see it wasted and squandered by the Federal Government. Now are we supposed to send money to the United Nations, to a bureaucracy over which we have even less say and which has proven itself to be even more unaccountable and inefficient than the Federal Government? Now are we supposed to send our money to an international organization to which we already contribute 22% of the UN's regular biennial budget but in which we are regularly outvoted on the floor of the General Assembly?

The idea that UN officials expect to be rewarded for their incompetent fiscal stewardship with more money from taxpayers is certainly good material for the comedy writers of the Letterman and Leno late night talk shows. Unfortunately, what would appear to be a laughing proposition is indeed a serious one.

Grassroots conservatives need to start raising the alarm about the UN and its international taxation schemes. There is no better time to start than now. Ask your candidates for Congress where they stand on the issue of international taxation. Would they support legislation to withhold our contributions to the United Nations until the President has certified the UN has abandoned any thought of instituting global taxation? The sooner Americans make clear to politicians that their knowledge - and vehement disapproval - of UN taxation schemes the better.

Presidential candidates also need to be grilled about the issue of international taxation. UN officials have no real regard for our nation's sovereignty or the concept of "No taxation without representation." Our American heritage of remaining distant from the fanciful philosophies and ideas that have wreaked havoc on the rest of the world -- such as Communism and multiculturalism - is taken by UN officials as our backwardness rather than our prudence.

If anyone does not think international taxation is indeed viewed seriously, consider how Wahl concludes "From Concept to Reality":

"Schopenhauer once said: Every good idea goes through three phases. In the first it is declared to be idiotic; in the second it is bitterly opposed; in the third it is implemented. As far as international taxes are concerned, we are presently somewhere between phases two and three."

What Wahl sees as a "good idea" is recognized by many Americans as just plain wrong. It's really about picking the pockets of American taxpayers - not to mention those of many other countries - to finance the grand schemes of UN officials. If the UN is squandering the money it has now, why should we trust it to spend wisely our dollars collected through international taxes? Contrary to Wahl, the idea of international taxation to this American is still in the first stage and will remain stuck there forever. The way to ensure that it never achieves "phase three" is to motivate right-thinking Americans to "phase two."

This election year conservatives are dead-right in making clear they want our borders protected and the Federal Budget balanced. Our sovereignty is a sleeping issue. There should be no Law of the Sea Treaty and no international taxation. The UN should reform itself, not find ways to pick our pockets for more revenue. Let's hope our country is blessed with leaders who have a similar realization. Otherwise, it won't only be Washington that causes Americans to complain how their tax dollars are being wasted as we cede our sovereignty to Big Blue.