The problem is not just the lavish salaries and benefits these multilateral “diplomats” enjoy, though these do tend to be plush. The deeper problem is that diplomatic immunity means that international civil servants are shielded from the effects of the endless rules and guidelines they love to crank out. Staff of the IMF dispense tax prescriptions hither and yon, but they themselves are exempt from the pinch. Lagarde has a point, that a great many Greeks have been ducking their responsibilities. But the IMF has a long record of favoring “austerity” policies, including tax hikes, which too often further damage the economies they are meant to fix, and inflict the most pain on the people who can least afford it. The collapse of the Indonesian economy, in 1997-1998, comes to mind.
Likewise, UN legions of international planners have made stock practice of enjoying privileges they keep trying to deny to the common folk. It is by now a classic of the genre that UN climate-crats jet around the globe for conferences in Bali, Durban, and — coming up, again, next month — Rio, at which they prescribe a lot less travel, to be enforced by de facto taxes, for everyone else.
Systems in which rule-makers are exempt from the rules have a built-in problem for those who live under them. In a democracy, there is the vital feedback of elections, in which the mightiest can be held to account. But the UN, and its affiliates, are not democracies; they are collectives, populated by governments and staffed by diplomatically immune bureaucrats who are increasingly in the business of inventing rules, taxes, and costly self-serving programs for people who have no clear way to vote them out. That is the real cost of the UN elite, exempt from taxes but chronically seeking ways these days to tax the rest of us — Lagarde and the IMF being the least of it, as Fox’s George Russell recently chronicled in his article on the potential multi-trillion-dollar tab for the UN’s imminent Rio summit.