A federal program, Ronald Reagan used to say, is the closest thing to eternal life here on earth. Even the Gipper conceded he failed to get control of the federal behemoth.
At least he tried. But what can be said for the conservative movement today, as one witnesses the Wall Street Journal battle to save the $400,000-a-year tax-free sinecure of World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, imperiled because Wolfie parked his World Bank squeeze over at State at a fatter salary than Condi Rice's?
There was a time when the Republican Party would have seized on this scandal to try to defund this 63-year-old relic. No more.
Yet, what is the purpose of keeping the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, the United Nations and its agencies, and NATO, all of which date to an era long gone?
The World Bank and IMF were created when the United States was the greatest creditor on earth. The bank was to lend for the reconstruction and development of Europe and Asia. The IMF was to provide loans to help members with balance of payments problems.
When Europe and Asia recovered, the need for the World Bank came to an end. By 1971, when the United States closed the gold window and let the dollar float, the need for an IMF to maintain fixed rates of exchange, in a world of floating rates, disappeared.
Yet both institutions reinvented themselves as lenders of last resort to bankrupt Third World regimes, and Republican presidents and a Republican Congress went along. Why?
Why should the United States, now the world's largest debtor nation, go out into the capital markets and borrow billions, so the World Bank and IMF can continue to subsidize the most corrupt and least competent regimes on earth? Does this make sense?
Between them, the Japanese and Chinese have amassed $2 trillion -- two thousand billion dollars -- in reserves. Why not turn the IMF and World Bank playpens over to them?
Though the soft-loan window of the World Bank, the Institutional Development Fund, was created to help "the poorest of the poor," 8,000 of the 10,000 World Bank employees live and work in the Washington area, where "World Bank neighborhood" is a realtor's way of saying, "You can't afford it."The United Nations is another case in point. American kids were once taught that it was the "last best hope of Earth." Now, the thing is a source of comic relief. Last year, Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was bested for top honors in the elocution contest when Hugo Chavez had the General Assembly in foot-stomping hilarity with his remarks about having been preceded on the podium by "El Diablo," the Devil -- George Bush -- who had left the stench of sulfur from hell.
This weekend, we learned the chairmanship of the U.N. Committee on Sustainable Development will be going to Zimbabwe, "Comrade Bob" Mugabe's African paradise. Four years ago, Khadafi's Libya, which was behind the air massacre of our college kids on Pan Am 103, was elected to chair the U.N. Human Rights Commission.
Ought not a self-respecting nation, as we once were, laugh at these antics, get up, pay our share of the tab, walk out and let the nutballs have the asylum? What is the matter with us?
As for NATO, it was indeed the most successful alliance in history. The United States and its partners stood guard on the Elbe until the Cold War came to an end. But what is the need for a NATO to defend Europe against the Soviet Empire and Soviet Union, when both ceased to exist more than 15 years ago?
Why, when the defense of Europe is done, cannot we celebrate with champagne, close up shop and go home? Why can we never let go? Why must we retain all these relics at immense cost to American taxpayers?
In the IMF, World Bank and United Nations, we are talking about scores of thousands of the highest-paid government bureaucrats around. The money we could save by ceding NATO to Europe, bringing the troops home, letting Europe pay for its own defense and using the funds saved to rebuild our armed forces would be immense.
At least Ronald Reagan said goodbye to a corrupt UNESCO, walked out, and killed the U.N. power grab of the world's oceans and their resources by refusing even to consider the Law of the Sea Treaty.
And President Bush? He has rejoined UNESCO, started paying dues again and, says WorldNetDaily, is about to push to have Congress bring the United States under the Law of the Sea Treaty.
Fortunately, the election is only 18 months off.