The UN Tax Grab
April 15th is coming, and you're getting ready to file your tax return. Throughout the year you paid federal taxes through withholding, including Social Security payroll taxes. You also paid state income taxes, unless you're fortunate enough to live in Texas or another state without an income tax. You paid local property taxes. You paid local sales taxes every time you bought something, and you paid numerous miscellaneous taxes such as vehicle license fees and federal gas taxes. Like most people, you probably feel taxed to death by all these city, county, state, and federal taxes. Well, hold on to your wallets, because the United Nations now wants to impose a whole new level of global taxes on us.
The UN is meeting this week in Monterrey, Mexico to discuss exactly such a tax. The meeting is billed as a "Conference on Financing for Development," which is a nice way of saying it's a conference to consider the best ways to shake down rich nations for money.
UN bureaucrats think rich nations like America ought to give more money to poor nations — a lot more — simply because we're rich. Never mind the billions of foreign aid tax dollars we send overseas every year; never mind the billions donated to overseas charities by Americans, the most charitable people on earth. The UN mindset blames the western world for poverty everywhere, assuming that our relative wealth must have come at the expense of the third world. The poor countries themselves are never deemed responsible for their own predicaments, despite their often corrupt governments, lack of property rights, and hostility toward wealth-producing capitalism. Somehow, it's always our fault. So the UN holds conferences to talk about how we should pay to make things right, and the idea of a UN tax naturally arises.
Understand that the UN views itself as the emerging global government, and like all governments, it needs money to operate. The goal, which the UN readily admits, is to impose a comprehensive set of global laws on all of us — laws that supersede sovereign national governments. To do this, the UN needs a global military, a global police force, international courts, offices around the globe, and plenty of highly-paid international bureaucrats. All of this costs money.
Rest assured that the UN is absolutely serious about imposing a global tax. In fact, it has been discussing a global currency tax for years. The "Tobin tax," named after the Yale professor who proposed it, would be imposed on all worldwide currency transactions. Such a tax could prove quite lucrative for the UN, given the vast amount of currency that trades hands at certain times. It also might be a politically acceptable starting point, because most average people do not engage in cross-border currency transactions. A dangerous precedent would be set, however: the idea that the UN possesses legitimate taxing authority to fund its operations.
The Tobin tax is not the only idea being considered. Some have suggested taxing all airline travel or carbon emissions. The ultimate goal is an income tax, which will be imposed after we've all swallowed the concept of UN taxing authority.
The Bush administration thus far has been firmly opposed to any global UN taxes, and the State department has officially voiced our opposition. We should all be very thankful for that, because another administration might not have had the same response. It would be a mistake, however, to think the UN tax idea will go away. Some usually sensible nations like Britain and Germany support the concept, and the drumbeat for global government in general has been growing louder since September 11th. Hopefully, this latest bogus UN conference will make more Americans aware of exactly what the organization really intends, which is the imposition of worldwide income taxes. We need to focus the nation on how truly anti-American the UN is, to generate public support for a complete U.S. withdrawal from the organization. The history of the past 50 years clearly shows that our national sovereignty is incompatible with participation in the UN.
March 28, 2002
Dr. Ron Paul is a Republican member of Congress from Texas.