May 26, 2006
In spite of some pretty torrid scandals in recent years, the United
Nations (U.N.) is far from finished. In fact, Kofi Annan, Secretary
General of the U.N., is leading the gambit for perhaps its biggest
power-grab yet – independent tax-raising powers or globo-taxation.
In fact, the U.N. is deeply committed to establishing this ‘sovereign’
power for itself – independent of the scrutiny and direction of its
large aid donors (namely the United States). It wraps this concept up
in the intentionally boring globo-speak of ‘enhanced dialogues on tax
co-operation’ and ‘new innovative funding mechanisms,’ but that is just
intended to put a pretty bow on top of a very ugly concept – the
removal of the exclusive sovereign power of nation states to levy taxes
on its citizenry.
Cliff Kincaid, President of America’s Survival, Inc., has just
published a devastating chronology of the U.N.’s sustained campaign for
global taxes, noting the 2001 High Level Panel on Financing for
Development as a turning-point in the debate. Not only did that meeting
call for the establishment of an International Tax Organization, it
blatantly outlined two major areas where globotaxation might easily be
levied – a currency transactions tax and a carbon tax – both of which
would disproportionately hit the U.S.
Since then, a succession of high-level meetings, summits and
conferences have been busy gathering steam for this concept: the
Millennium Development Goals, the 2005 World Economic and Social
Survey, the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the World
Commission Report on the Social Dimension of Globalization and so on
and so on; they all share this notion that globotaxation is the most
‘innovative’ solution to long-term funding for the U.N. They propose
globotaxes on everything from air transportation to aviation fuel, from
airline tickets to carbon emissions, from currency transactions to
arms. The list is as ambitious as it is scary. The long arm of the
U.N.’s IRS could be in your pocket soon.
One of the U.N.’s more fruitful attempts at global taxation is the
formal plan to levy a tax on airline tickets. In November 2005, Brazil,
Chile, France, Germany, and Spain issued a joint statement calling for
a ‘nationally applied, internationally coordinated’ tax to be levied on
air transport travels. The French government has been the first one to
bite the bullet, and from July onward, passengers will pay between one
and 40 euros on all flights taking off in France. With enthusiastic
U.N. support and much back-slapping for President Chirac, Chile has
undertaken plans to do the same, with Belgium and Germany currently
hovering in the wings to do so. Luckily, both Great Britain and the
U.S. have resisted Mr. Annan’s calls for others to follow suit. But
make no mistake: the rot has started. Britain’s Liberal Democrats are
openly advocating for taxation on aviation fuel as a way of reducing
climate change, and with the current spin-over-substance streak running
through the Conservative Party, anything is possible from our normally
reliable British partners.
Of course, France’s projected annual revenue of $248 million is not
nearly enough for the U.N.’s aspirations and the finger-pointing –
largely toward to U.S. – is really gathering steam now. Dr. Jeffrey
Sachs, special adviser to Secretary General Annan on the Millennium
Development Goals, has gone as far as to say that the U.S. is coming up
short in its global aid commitments to the tune of $65 billion a year.
Of course, Dr. Sachs is a vocal proponent of globo-taxation to make up
the difference. At the 2002 International Conference on Financing for
Development, Dr. Sachs helpfully points out that: “A global tax on
carbon-emitting fossil fuels might be the way to begin”.
The undercurrent of this debate should not be ignored – any global tax
will not be a tax on income, at least not at first; there wouldf be
riots in the streets if that happened. Any global tax will stealthy
enacted and will have to be far-removed from the scrutiny of ordinary
taxpayers. So, what better way to circumvent the problem than to tax
corporate America, especially the energy companies who both the U.N.
and the European Union have been collectively obsessed with since
President Bush refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. Feeding on media
hysteria about imminent global disaster and excessive corporate
profits, the proposition seems easier and easier to sell from a public
There is maybe a glimmer of hope though. John Bolton, the ever-sensible
U.S. ambassador to the U.N., has flat-out said that the United States
accepts neither global aid targets nor global taxes, and President Bush
has backed him. But it cannot always be assumed that the White House
will be this sensible. Indeed, Bill Clinton told the Millennium Summit
in 2000 that national sovereignty needed to be put aside for the sake
of a more active U.N.. And for activism you can read – more of the
same, with a tax raising platform to boot.
Sally McNamara is the Director of International Relations at the
American Legislative Exchange Council.