The $14 trillion U.S. debt has American taxpayers asking, how did this happen? Where’s the money? Taxpayer money, that is – American money spent by federal politicians and bureaucrats with little or no oversight or review.
Let’s explore one prime example of total waste: the United Nations.
The United States pays 22 percent of the U.N. Operating “core or regular” Budget. But there are dozens of other ratholes built into the U.N. that suck up American dollars. For instance: Peacekeeping, the Tax Equalization Fund, the High Commissioner for Refugees, the World Food Program and other voluntary contributions.
The U.S. paid $5.2 billion for the U.N.s’ regular budget and the U.N. requested an additional $9.4 billion in “extra-budgetary” or voluntary funding for other projects. The U.S. contribution to that fund is hard to pin down since it is a variable.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees grew its budget by about 90 percent between 2008 and 2010, to $3.3 billion. The U.S. share of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in 2010 was $712 million, bigger than the next eight contributors combined.
Even though it is not planning on helping any more refugees than it did in 2009, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the world body’s front-line humanitarian agency, has increased its planned spending to a little over $3 billion for next year — a 36 percent hike.
The spending increase for 2010 comes atop another whopping increase of 38.4 percent this year, a total jump of 88.2 percent. The combined hikes mean that UNHCR has virtually doubled its budget since 2008 — and intends to keep spending at roughly similar levels in 2011, unless additional refugee emergencies drive the price tag still higher.
IT GETS WORSE
Along the way, the agency hopes to add an additional 3,000 people to its payroll, raising the total number of staff from 4,824 in 2009 to 7,782 in 2010. Virtually all of these new positions, the agency says, will be located in the field, where UNHR does its relief work, rather than in its administrative headquarters. UNHCR will be a lot more expensive, but it claims it will also be a lot more efficient.
The spending spiral for UNHCR, which is funded by voluntary pledges, is bound to mean that the U.S., by far the refugee agency’s biggest funder, will be writing even bigger checks — as it’s already doing. So far this year, the U.S. had contributed about $639.8 million to UNHCR — up by about $129.6 million over 2008.
To put that number in perspective, the hike in the U.S. contribution this year was bigger than the full contribution for the entire period of the next largest funder of UNHCR, the European Commission, which had kicked in $120.4 million. Indeed, U.S. funding for UNHCR in 2009 has been substantially more than that of the next eight contributors combined.
But even if the U.S. payout for 2010 stays proportionately in line with the contribution so far for 2009, the U.S. would be shelling out another $230.9 million extra — bringing the total to about $870.7 million. That number would be about 250 percent of what the U.S. was contributing to UNHCR just five years ago.
In an unbelievable turn of events, an exclusive article series by Fox News the week of April 20, 2011, revealed the U.S. has actually OVERPAID its financial obligations to the U.N. by millions of dollars, possibly even billions if anyone is capable of finding his way through the jumble of interlocking agencies, bureaus and programs.
Even so, supporters of congressional belt-tightening are hailing the U.N. spending reduction as an important first move in restraining the steep climb in U.S. spending to support the global organization, where the U.S. is far and away the biggest contributor—and also an important restraint on the Obama Administration’s open-handed generosity.
How generous? The U.N. savings figures offer an interesting example, especially in peacekeeping, where the U.S. already picks up $2.1 billion– 27 percent of a tab that is expected to reach $7.8 billion– in the 12 months ending in June, 2011.
About $156.8 million of the congressional cutbacks are actually the return of overpayments made to current peacekeeping accounts. Another $86 million is money due back to the U.S. from peacekeeping operations that have already gone out of business. The remainder of that sub-total comes from U.S. overpayments for U.N. peacekeeping stockpiles that are largely kept in Brindisi, Italy.
The peacekeeping surpluses are not the only wads of loose cash that the U.S. has allowed to accumulate in its U.N. accounts. The Obama Administration last summer was suddenly able to allow the use of $100 million, part of the surplus in another U.N. account, to upgrade security at the U.N. headquarters complex in New York City, currently under renovation. We were only liable for about $20 million of that upgrade, but the Obama administration decided to pick up the entire tab. That money should be immediately returned to U.S. taxpayers.
When the percentages the U.N. operates on were instituted the U.S. was the world’s leading economy. That is no longer true and the U.N.‘s budget figures should reflect that fact. China, for example, which held foreign exchange reserves of $2.62 trillion in December, 2010, contributes 4 percent to U.N. peacekeeping, vs. 27 percent for the U.S. India, with a quarter-trillion in foreign exchange reserves, contributes 0.1 percent. Saudi Arabia, you know, the country we buy part of our oil from, contributes less than 0.5 percent—the same level as near bankrupt Ireland.
The same goes for the “regular” U.N. Secretariat budget, where China pays a little more than 3 percent, vs. the U.S. 22 percent, India pays 0.5 percent, Russia pays 1.6 percent, and Saudi Arabia 0.83 percent (this time, ahead of Ireland, which is just under 0.5 percent.)
If we stay in the U.N., and I really think we should get out, the budget assessments in all areas must be changed. Let the bulk of the funding for the U.N. come from Russia, China, India, the Arab states and Japan.
One last thing. The U.S. contributes military muscle for peacekeeping on the American taxpayer’s seemingly endless credit card while China, Japan, India, Russia and Saudi Arabia contribute no troops at all.
Click HERE to see the abject failure of the U.N. to keep the peace
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