Accuracy in Media

Elizabeth MacDonald, Forbes Senior Editor, commented on the Fox News Channel that if we want to generate alternative energy, we should put a wind farm outside the United Nations in New York to capture everything coming out of the mouths of blowhards like Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Comedian Andy Borowitz reports that, as Ahmadinejad gave his anti-American speech to the General Assembly, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton used a “matter transporter beam” to fulfill his longstanding dream of removing ten floors (14-23) from the U.N. building in New York but that U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan demanded their return “at once.” Annan said that “the storage closet where my son hides his cash kickbacks is on 16.” Kofi Annan’s son Kojo was implicated in the U.N.’s oil-for-food scandal.

What was happening at the U.N. behind-the-scenes, however, was deadly serious, as the world body moved ahead on September 19 with a plan for global taxes to generate more foreign aid. This new scheme could make the oil-for-food scandal look penny-ante.

There was a minor media breakthrough on this matter, with the New York Times noting, “A group of countries led by France plan to raise at least $300 million next year, mostly through taxes on airline tickets, to help pay for the treatment of children with AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, a senior French official said yesterday. The countries, acting through a new Geneva-based organization called UNITAID, plan to pool their buying power and have asked former President Bill Clinton’s foundation to negotiate with drug companies for volume discounts.” Some reports say the plan envisions spending of $450 million.

The Times was careful not to describe these as international or global taxes. But the taxes are designed to go for global purposes and finance international agencies.

In an official press release, the U.N. announced, “UNITAID will be funded by innovative financing mechanisms such as a contribution on air tickets…and the Secretary-General congratulated the Governments of France, Brazil, Chile, Norway, and the United Kingdom for leading the way in developing the initiative.”

The phrase, “innovative financing mechanisms,” is a euphemism for global taxes. By insisting the money will go to fight deadly diseases, the U.N. hopes that opposition to global taxes can be overcome and that, in the future, the money can go for other purposes, such as creating a standing U.N. army. Such a proposal may strike some as fanciful but increasing international pressure to send U.N. “blue helmets” to places like Darfur will give Kofi Annan and U.N. apologists another reason to argue for more reliable and independent sources of revenue for the world body. That means global taxes.

On the matter of UNITAID, Annan said its formation was “encouraging news in the world of financing for development. This international facility for the purchase of drugs is a shining example of an innovative source of funding that can help us reach the Millennium Development Goals.”

Once again, this requires translation. Under the so-called Millennium Development Goals, according to Annan adviser Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, the U.S. owes an additional $845 billion in foreign aid. Sachs has suggested a global tax on energy to generate this money. The U.N. has even studied the feasibility of a 35 cent-per-gallon global gas tax.

Continuing with his comments on UNITAID, Annan added, “Let me congratulate the Governments of France, Brazil, Chile, Norway and the United Kingdom on their leadership in developing this initiative, and in advancing similar innovative financing mechanisms, such as the International Financing Facility."

The International Finance Facility (IFF) is another new international agency that would allow greater sums of foreign aid money “to be delivered today and paid for tomorrow,” as supporters put it. Taxpayers of various countries would be on the hook for the additional money promised in advance by their governments. The IFF could also receive global tax revenue from other sources. The Bush Administration has refused so far to participate in this scheme.

While the Bush Administration is said to be opposed to global taxes in general, it has failed to follow through with vigorous opposition to proposals like UNITAID. Indeed, some fear that First Lady Laura Bush could be roped into supporting such a proposal through her involvement in the Clinton Global Initiative, which was being held in New York at the same time as the U.N. General Assembly. Mrs. Bush appeared with Bill Clinton himself to announce a clean water initiative for Africa. It might look equally compassionate to endorse UNITAID.

But UNITAID deserves serious scrutiny for several reasons. First, it is now conceded that estimates of AIDS cases have been greatly exaggerated by the U.N., especially in Africa. It is not clear what kind of problem we are really facing worldwide. Second, anti-AIDS drugs, which can be toxic to the body and possibly cause the AIDS virus to mutate, are not seen by all experts as a panacea. And third, Ira Magaziner, who runs the Clinton Foundation’s HIV/AIDS initiative and is a key player in UNITAID, doesn’t have a good track record on health care issues. He is the same Ira Magaziner who was behind Hillary Clinton’s disastrous national health care plan when she was First Lady. That plan, rejected by Congress as government-driven and socialist-oriented, was developed in secret by a health care task force under Mrs. Clinton’s supervision. When the operations of this task force were challenged in court by the National Legal and Policy Center, a federal judge ruled that Magaziner had lied about how the plan had been conceived by special interest groups.

Having been absent from the political scene for years, Magaziner, with the help of Bill Clinton and the U.N., has now emerged to try to achieve globally what he failed to do domestically in the U.S.

The unveiling of UNITAID demonstrates that while the U.N. is increasingly perceived as a joke, corrupt, or worse, it nevertheless continues expanding its authority and influence throughout the world. Curiously, every failure seems to make the U.N. stronger.

Senator James Inhofe is worried about these trends and is concerned that global taxes will make the U.N. even less accountable than it already is. That is why he has introduced (S.3633), “The Protection Against United Nations Taxation Act,” to cut U.S. funding to the U.N. if it continues to promote or advocate global tax schemes. But it was sent to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, whose chairman, Senator Richard Lugar, opposes restrictions on U.S. funding of the U.N. and accepts campaign contributions from Citizens for Global Solutions, a group in favor of world government financed by global taxes. That is why supporters of Inhofe’s “No Global Taxes” measure are asking Senator Mitch McConnell to attach the Inhofe legislation to the Foreign Operations appropriations bill. Then it can be adopted by the full Senate and the Congress.

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