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Sovereignty or subjugation: Tacking on an international tax

By Paul M. Weyrich
web posted October 10, 2005

The United States government is sovereignty. Thus, we Americans legislate, administer and adjudicate our own laws. Challenges to our sovereignty are emanating from the United Nations, the bureaucrats of which are interested in promoting a transfer of income and resources from the Developed World to the Third World. Difficult as it may be for Americans to imagine, unless our politicians have the courage to defend our national sovereignty, we may be shelling out tax money to satiate Big Blue's voracious appetite for revenue.

Imagine paying an "international" tax on your airline ticket? Or on your Internet service? What sounds unthinkable now is very much on the minds of the UN bureaucrats and the intellectuals who advise on its policies. Neither group believes in capitalism and dismisses its proven ability to bring progress to rich and poor. Instead, they favor schemes, such as international taxation to transfer wealth.

The drive within the United States to institute a regime of international taxation has been documented by Cliff Kincaid, President of America's Survival, Inc. Kincaid recently issued a report called Smoking Gun: Shocking Truth Uncovered about U.N. Taxation Plan. (PDF format) Kincaid's well-researched study warns Americans that "Powerful international organizations and personalities…are promoting global taxes that would extract trillions of dollars from the American people."

The intellectual groundwork for this movement was laid by economists, such as the late James Tobin and the late Jan Tinbergen.

Tobin, an economist at Yale, issued a proposal in 1978 for what is sometimes known as the Tobin Tax. Tobin wrote in the UN's Human Development Report 1994 that a world currency would be ideal but unlikely to come to fruition in the next few decades. The "realistic second-best option" would be a tax on international currency transactions. "It is appropriate that the proceeds of an international tax be devoted to international purposes and be placed at the disposal of international institutions. This was my suggestion in 1978," wrote Tobin.

Tobin argued in an interview published in the March 1999 edition of Social Development Review that he never proposed that the UN levy taxes but assumed it would be the "national governments" according to a formula worked out among them. (One could presume the forum to determine the taxes each nation would contribute would be the UN.) Tobin disclaimed that his primary proposal was to advance world government but then added, "If you were going to have international taxation for international purposes, I think there are many other international activities that could be taxed, such as taxes on airline tickets or fishing in the oceans, that are much more reasonable activities for raising international revenue given the internationalism of the activity itself."

The Tobin Tax Initiative, located in Arcata, California, lists "innovative approaches to revenue" on its webpage because despite our "globalized economy" there is a "lack of adequate funding for worthy projects." The answer is "Sizable amounts of additional revenue for local projects around the world [that] could help turn the tide towards global solutions in the 21st Century."

Carbon/Green taxes are one idea promoted by the Tobin Tax Initiative. So are "fees for international postal services, global security, international airline flights, and other such services which benefit citizens beyond single borders."

Tinbergen was a Dutch economist who had worked for the League of Nations and later served as Director of the Central Planbureau, a Dutch think-tank on economic policies. The Tinbergen Institute identifies the economist as a "socialist" who "firmly believed that optimal economic and social conditions can be achieved by rational government policies. In later years - after 1960 - he applied these ideas to the economic world order, but to his disappointment his proposals met with little success." Tinbergen argued that the UN representation needed to better reflect a nation's contribution to it, something many Americans, including conservatives, argue. Tinbergen takes this view further because he clearly expected greater obligations on the part of developed countries. Michel Schooyans, Professor Emeritus at Louvain University, quoted Tinbergen in his September 2001 paper on The United Nations and Globalization:

"Mankind's problems can no longer be solved by national governments. What is needed is a World Government. This can best be achieved by strengthening the United Nations system. In some cases, this would mean changing the role of UN agencies from advice-giving to implementation."

Tinbergen, in his book Warfare and Welfare: Integrating Security Policy Into Socio-Economic Policy, co-authored by Dietrich Fischer, was an enthusiastic proponent of forming a World Treasury, which would collect revenue from national governments. Tinbergen and Fischer wrote: "On the revenue side a Treasury levies taxes and this implies that a system of contributing to the UN budget takes the place of voluntary contributions – or rather of voluntary non-contributions. Contributions should be legally defined and not depend on changes in governments…" In otherwords, a system of worldwide revenue collection would be instituted.

Tinbergen and Fischer clearly see a role for a strong UN, advocating creation of a UN Police Force and strengthening the power of the International Court of Justice, which would be empowered to create new international laws. The Law of the Sea Treaty in their view represents "a masterpiece of inventiveness and imaginative new principles." Why stop at regulating the oceans? asked Tinbergen and Fischer. Why not regulate space and the atmosphere, too?

The thinking of Tobin and Tinbergen is intoxicating to the UN bureaucracy. Stick their thoughts in front of a UN official and what else could that bureaucrat do but think "world government" and "international taxation?" Plus the UN officials have plenty of allies in the environmental and "social justice" organizations urging an expanded role for world government financed by taxing richer nations and transferring the wealth – via the UN and the regulatory organizations it has spawned – to the Third World. It is a trickle-down system because as the recent reports of UN corruption demonstrate a great deal of the wealth collected by the UN is consumed by the bureaucracy with little reaching the people it is supposed to help.

Tinbergen did not foresee cyberspace but UN officials know a revenue opportunity when they see it.

Thanks to the inventiveness of Silicon Valley, millions of people throughout the world are able to ride the Information Highway without paying tolls. That may change in a few years, particularly after the 2008 election if a new administration with a globalist ideology is elected.

The Clinton Administration spearheaded the World Summit on the Information Society ("WSIS") to address issues involving technology and computers from a global perspective. WSIS developed a report based upon its 2003 summit called the Working Group on Internet Governance ("WGIG").

WGIG's report in Section 78 includes this statement:

Encourage donor programmes and other developmental financing mechanisms to take note of the need to provide funding for initiatives that advance connectivity, Internet exchange points (IXPs) and local content for developing countries.

The euphemism "developmental financing mechanisms" can be taken to mean taxes. Fortunately, the State Department has stood tall in defending the right to keep the Internet free from UN control. The State Department Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs in its August 15, 2005 "Comments of the United States of America on Internet Governance" stated that the "The United States remains open to discussing with all stakeholders ways to improve the technical efficiency as well as the transparency and openness of existing governance structures. However, it is important that the global community recognize that the existing structures have worked effectively to make the Internet the highly robust and geographically diverse medium that it is today."

The statement concluded:

While the United States recognizes that the current Internet system is working, we encourage an ongoing dialogue with all stakeholders around the world in the various fora as a way to facilitate discussion and to advance our shared interest in the ongoing robustness and dynamism of the Internet. The focus of these discussions should be on how all stakeholders can continue to collaborate in addressing Internet-related issues. In these fora, the United States will continue to support market-based approaches and private sector leadership in Internet development broadly.

The next WGIG meeting will be in Tunis next month. Let's hope the State Department holds firm in defending the freedom of the Internet from UN control and taxes.

Dr. Richard Lessner of the newly formed GIGAlliance points out that UN control of the Internet not only poses a threat to our pocketbooks but also to our freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Countries such as China, Saudi Arabia and Cuba, all represented on the WGIG, will be seeking cover for their repressive policies.

Whether it's Kyoto, the Law of the Sea Treaty or WGIG, the UN is seeking new ways to pick our pockets under the guise of charging for "international activities." We do not need the UN bureaucrats with their socialistic philosophy to foist agreements upon our country regarding the Internet, the seas or the atmosphere but they will do so unless Americans make clear that we will not stand for world governance. Never believe that the UN grasp to set policies and to collect revenue will stop at the edges of our border or be confined to "international activities." They want control – period. They cannot accept the United States as a world leader – they want us, willingly, to fall in line with the rest of the world.

The statement that Tinbergen had little success in having his philosophy of centralized planning implemented is incorrect because there is a ready-made international pressure group that steadily is making progress in achieving his vision.

Candidates for political office need to be pressed where they stand on sovereignty. Do they want us to give in to the UN – paying taxes on the Internet? Do they want us to surrender our sovereignty when it comes to our atmosphere, our water, even cyberspace? Are they willing to defend American sovereignty? If the answer is "no" or "maybe" then that is a candidate not worth supporting.

The United States succeeded because we have made it a point to not participate in the groupthink of other nations. Socialism, communism, fascism were faddishly adapted by other countries. We retained our belief in democratic-republican principles of governance and in capitalism as an economic system. We succeeded where other countries failed. Having US leaders cede authority to UN governance means giving in to what the world, particularly the Saudi Arabias, the Cubas, the Chinas want us to be – just like them. It's a formula for less freedom, a lower standard of living, American mediocrity. That's why we simply cannot afford to surrender our liberties and our money to world government – whether it's the UN itself, the International Seabed Authority and all the other alphabet agencies that will be spawned by advocates of world governance and taxation.

Paul M. Weyrich is Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation.

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