Accuracy in Media

In looking at the substance, rather than the style, of the first presidential debate, clear differences emerged between the two candidates. One was the “global test” that John Kerry proposed for U.S. military action. Another distinction came on the issue of U.S. membership in the International Criminal Court. Bush said he would not sign the International Criminal Court treaty because it could prosecute U.S. citizens. He said that Kerry favors participation in the court. Kerry did not rebut the President.

With the exception of the oil-for-food scandal, the major media have failed to examine the U.N. track record and the ramifications of giving it an increased role in global affairs. One of the most amazing lapses has come in the lack of attention given to a U.N. report urging global taxes on the American people and the rest of the world.

Earlier this year a U.N. body known as the “World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization” issued a report on “Fair Globalization.” The report was the subject of a debate at the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York in September, where the Associated Press reported that, “The presidents of Brazil and France inspired 110 countries to back a new declaration to fight hunger and poverty and to increase funds for development, but the United States was not among them.”

That lead paragraph of the story made it seem like the U.S. was greedy and selfish. But later in the story it was noted that “U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman said?that her government objected to proposals for international taxes, saying that they would be inherently undemocratic and impossible to implement.” Global taxes? Why wasn’t that crucial piece of information included in the first and most important paragraph in the story?

We couldn’t find any stories about this report that actually quoted from it. The report declared that, “There is also a variety of proposals for new taxes at the global level, many of them controversial. Probably the best known is the Tobin tax, designed to tax speculative capital flows, but there are a number of others. One proposal which has been suggested is to tax the use of global resources, in particular the global commons. That is the rationale of a carbon tax, which would thereby contribute to environmental sustainability.” The report then quoted French President Jacques Chirac as calling for “new sources of financing” and a new “levy” or tax for the benefit of international organizations. 

The best story we could find on this global tax initiative came in an obscure online publication known as “Business Report,” which mentioned that Chirac wants the tax to generate at least $50 billion a year. Chirac said that, “I believe taxation is a necessity,” and that the large number of supporters of the measure creates “a new political situation” for the United States. Chirac said, “You can’t oppose that forever.” That amounts to a threat to the United States?to capitulate to the will of the international community. Here’s a real issue in the presidential campaign. The Bush Administration opposes the global tax. Where does Kerry stand?

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