“If the United Nations tries to impose a global carbon tax or a tax on international currency transactions or any other tax that bypasses payments voted by the national legislatures of member countries, that is the day the United States should pull out of the U.N.” –Phyllis Schlafly
At it’s founding almost 70 years ago, the United Nations’ goals included promoting world peace, economic development, international cooperation and human rights around the world. But with their latest proposition—global taxes—the U.N. has appeared to overstep its welcome boundaries to those who value national sovereignty and common sense.
Last week, the U.N.’s World Economic and Social Survey released a 26 page report, “In Search of New Development Finance,” that outlines their search for “innovative sources of financing” to finance global development and to combat “climate change.” In this dense report, the U.N. proposes several new global taxes on carbon emissions, billionaires, and international currency transactions. In the report Summary, the U.N. acknowledges the potential these taxes have (it’s estimated they’d bring in about $400 billion a year) but that they will “require new types of international agreements and changes in global governance.” These taxes are not only unsound in logic, but a threat to American sovereignty—and the sovereignty of all member countries, for that matter.
Myron Ebell, director of energy and global warming policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, sees these taxes as “dangerous” and believes they should be opposed by “anyone who believes in our national sovereignty and opposes global governance.” Ebell also notes that, disturbingly, “…such a taxing authority would thus be totally unaccountable to elected officials” in both the United States and other member countries. If the United States agrees to an international agreement implementing these global taxes, we sacrifice our sovereignty as a nation and the worth of our laws. Plus, we’d be paying taxes to a bureaucratic organization that answers to no one, with a reputation for “under-qualified, overstretched, inexperienced” internal and external auditors that supposedly—and often selectively—audit organizations of the United Nations for waste and accountability. (American politicians are often unaccountable and wasteful…but at least we have the opportunity to vote them out.) And the United States helps to fund the United Nations with millions of dollars each year—we’d basically be “paying the U.N. to tax us.”
The specific taxes themselves are, as I said, unsound in logic; taxes like these might sound great at first—more money to combat poverty around the world, help developing nations, and combat “climate change”—but do they really reach the root of the problem and offer cogent solutions that will encourage prosperity and freedom in nations around the world? I question the common sense and effectiveness of the concept of global taxes in general.
One tax that the U.N. proposes is a carbon emissions tax: a tax of $25 per ton of CO2 in developed countries. According to the U.N.’s report, this tax would be the “most straightforward approach to reducing emissions through financial incentives” and would aim to “encourage economic actors to reduce the emissions under their control through shifting to less carbon emitting activities and energy sources.” Is a carbon tax really the best way to combat climate change? Is a tax really going to go to the root of the problem? Why must a tax be the answer to every problem the world faces?
Whether you buy into “climate change/global warming” or not, it cannot be disputed that it’s crucial we as citizens of the world take responsibility for our communities and ourselves and be aware of our impact on the environment. I don’t disagree with that—but I disagree with the U.N.’s idea of taxing people into submission to reduce carbon emissions. Why don’t we first raise awareness and empower individuals, communities, cities, and nations with knowledge of how their actions impact the environment? Why don’t we strive to instill in our communities and ourselves a sense of personal responsibility to consider what we put into the earth and into the air? The solution begins with the individual—slapping a tax on the world to curb carbon emissions is only putting a Band-Aid on a chronic problem.
More importantly, rather than taxing carbon emissions, why don’t we as sovereign nations in developed countries promote private sector innovation and entrepreneurship and encourage the brilliant minds of our societies to innovate a solution for cleaner energy? Free markets and the private sector breed innovation, and innovation makes life better for ALL—not just for those in developed nations.
And further, I do wonder what right the United Nations has to tax carbon, an inherently natural substance. Does the United Nations claim ownership of the world’s carbon dioxide? When we pay state taxes for, say, public schools, roads, public services, etc., the government has some directive responsibilities and authority over those taxed services (hiring teachers to teach in public schools, maintaining roads/bridges), though they are inevitably accountable to the taxpayer. To whom is the United Nations accountable, and where does this organization glean the authority to tax the world’s carbon dioxide? This fact alone reveals that, if these proposed taxes are accepted by nations of the world, we give unprecedented power to this bureaucratic organization.
Two other proposed taxes are a currency transaction tax, and a billionaire’s tax. The currency transaction tax would be a tax of 0.005 percent on all trading in the U.S dollar, the euro, the yen, and pound sterling. CNSNews reports that this is often called a “Robin Hood tax, since it supposedly taxes rich nations to benefit poor ones.” The world’s billionaires would be taxed around 1 percent of their individual wealth, “with the revenue destined to finance internationally agreed global development purposes.” These taxes would assist in financing the U.N.’s global agenda in developing nations, as the World Economic and Social Survey says this revenue will make up for the loss of revenue from financially struggling donor countries.
I take equal issue with these taxes as I do with the carbon emissions tax. Let me preface by saying that I understand that many developing nations around the world need help. I get it, and I don’t deny those nations that help; but not at the expense of others around the world.
I’m not heartless, but the “Robin Hood” mindset of taking from those who have and giving to those who have not isn’t right. Granted, a 1 percent tax on the world’s billionaires probably adds up to a small amount that said billionaires could get by without. But why should the financially successful have to float the rest of the world? What incentive does that give individuals to become that financially successful? We encourage success and financial prosperity, but then discourage it by punishing it with a tax.
I’m 100% in favor of serving others who need help, of donating time and money to those around the world in a less fortunate situation than I am. I admire those who make it their life’s work traveling the world to bring light to dark places. But the United Nation’s taxes are forced charity. If we truly want to help developing nations, we will not falsely attempt to lift them up by bringing developed countries down. We will help empower those nations with knowledge and with free markets so that they, too, can be as developed and as financially successful as other parts of the world.
I hold the belief that charity comes not from government or bureaucratic organizations, but from the individual, and from charitable organizations dedicated to serving a specific humanitarian purpose. It is theft for governments and bureaucratic organizations to forcibly take from those who have to give to those who have not.
John Hayward says it best in his article from Human Events:
“Fantasies about a global tax authority “fixing” poverty by transcending national sovereignty to seize assets from billionaires are actively harmful, because they reinforce the destructive notion that “social justice” can be achieved by empowering authoritarian government to shower money upon those it finds “deserving,” while asserting an increasing level of control over those it deems too successful. If the United Nations were given such a power, the world itself would become poorer, because vast amounts of precious economic freedom would be sacrificed.”
According to these taxes, the United Nations gives itself the power to deem who is “too successful” and where money is best spent. I ask again, from where does the United Nations glean such authority?
I will give the United Nations credit in one area, though—their “Product Red” campaign. Companies use the brand for products like t-shirts, and donate a portion of the profits to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. Product Red raised $190 million within the first five years it existed. Voluntary charity makes a difference—forced charity is wrong.
I will gladly give all that I have in service to those who are in need. This brings to mind the verse Luke 12:48; “…to whom much is given, much is required in return.” We in developed nations are blessed to have been born in such developed nations. It entreats us—it obliges us—it gives us a responsibility to help those less fortunate than we. But that does not entitle the United Nations to collect from what we have earned to give to distribute as they see fit. We as Americans, specifically, cannot be charitable to our fellow countrymen or to organizations that serve others abroad if we have the IRS breathing down our necks here at home, and the U.N. draining our coffers at the same time.
Though these global taxes are only proposals, we run the risk of entangling ourselves in a debilitating international agreement with the United Nations. We as a sovereign nation need to distance ourselves from the U.N.’s idea of global taxes before we wake up and find ourselves taxpayers to a bureaucratic organization we have no power over.
Sarah Hinds | Webster University | @Sarah_Hinds76