Human Events Blog

U.N. calls for global “billionaire tax”

On Thursday, the United Nations issued one of its periodic reminders that Americans are wasting a huge amount of money by funding it.  The latest product of the U.N. brain trust is a “World Economic and Social Survey” that called for a global tax on billionaires – oh, say, about one percent of their income, payable as an annual lump sum – because “wealthy nations” are “breaking promises to step up aid for the less fortunate,” as AFP reports.

The U.N. reasons there are about 1,226 people in the world worth at least a billion dollars – 425 of them in the United States – and “together they own an estimated $4.6 trillion so a one percent tax on their wealth would raise more than $46 billion.”

This money would, of course, immediately vanish into the hugely corrupt U.N. bureaucracy, and most of the remainder would be seized by the very same authoritarian and socialist regimes that have created the poverty our aspiring planetary parliament decries.

According to AFP, the authors of the World Economic and Social Survey “acknowledged that the idea is unlikely to get widespread support from the target group, saying that for now its tax on the unimaginably wealthy remains ‘an intriguing possibility.’”  It’s not “intriguing,” it’s stupid and counter-productive, because it distracts attention from the true cause of poverty: the loss of economic freedom.  Nothing correlates with general prosperity better than freedom, as the Charles Koch Foundation pointed out last year in a superb video:

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.

Where would a citizen of the United States go to register his opposition to the inevitable increase in the “billionaire tax,” mindful that America’s bloated, confiscatory income tax began as a tiny little levy upon the super-rich?  How would we hold the United Nations Bureau of Global Wealth Redistribution accountable for corruption?  How would we vote its ministers out of office, if we disapprove of their policies?  Of course, that would be impossible – even if a thin veil of democracy were draped over planetary socialism, it would swiftly devolve into the exact same death spiral killing the European Union, in which the recipients of global welfare eagerly vote down every objection from the providers.

The U.N. report actually asks, regarding the targets of its proposed billionaire tax, “Would this hurt them?”  Merely asking that question is a betrayal of economic liberty, as respect for property rights should not be based upon whether officials decide violating them would not be unduly painful.  That’s another poisonous idea helping to keep too much of the human race buried in economic quicksand.  Furthermore, it never seems to occur to socialists to ask about all the other people hurt by redistributive taxation, as funds are dragged out of productive activity and flung into pits of dependency, in this case located across national borders.  Rest assured that the ministers of the U.N. Bureau of Global Wealth Distribution would not lose a moment’s sleep worrying about jobs destroyed in prosperous countries by their “billionaire tax.”

The U.N. report had plenty of other bad ideas for sucking blood out of international commerce, to fund more luxury villas and limousines for the authoritarian rulers of impoverished nations, and the corrupt trans-national bureaucrats who love them: more “carbon taxes,” taxes on currency transactions, taxes on international investment, and even taxes on international air travel.  Rest assured that if the power to levy any of these taxes was ever foolishly surrendered by our national governments, we would soon be paying all of them, and they would increase with dizzying speed.

The so-called “wealthy” nations, including the United States, are facing serious economic problems, caused or exacerbated by bloated government spending.  We should not surrender one more nickel to fund the United Nations, which wastes our money manufacturing nook-nooks and teddy bears for socialists to clutch as they cry themselves to sleep by contemplating their own virtue, and the heartless greed of their preferred revenue targets.  Worse, their redistributionist fantasies provide support and validation for those who would impose the same stupid ideas within national boundaries.  De-funding the U.N. would both save taxpayer money, and strike an important blow for economic freedom, which is the only real hope for alleviating global poverty.

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