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A Modest Proposal for Giving You Your Very Own UN Staffer

Don't panic. This is hypothetical. But I've been thinking about those recent comments by the U.S. envoy for United Nations management and reform, Joseph Torsella, in his effort to illustrate the profligacy of the UN's soaring core budget. Torsella just told the UN General Assembly's budget committee that while the UN may regard $100,000 as a mere rounding error in a core budget now topping $5 billion per year, a big chunk of that money comes from U.S. taxpayers. According to Torsella, $100,000 represents the total federal taxes paid on average by 16 hard-working American families, laboring for a full year.

Torsella also said that for the more than 10,000 UN staffers paid out of the UN's core budget, total compensation now averages $119,000 per staffer. At the UN, that kind of thing is tax-free.

So, let's do a bit of arithmetic. U.S. taxes provide the funds for 22% of the UN's core budget. So, out of a total of more than 10,000 UN staffers now making an average of $119,000 per year, the U.S. supports more than 2,200. Using Torsella's ratios, for the U.S. to cover the salaries of each of these more than 2,200 staffers requires the total federal taxes paid over a full year by almost 20 average American working families. In round numbers, this means that roughly 44,000 average American working families toil for a full year to provide America's share of the salaries paid to UN staff, over that same interval, out of the UN's core budget.

Of course, one reason the UN gets away with its profligate, sky-rocketing budgets, staff numbers, and pay hikes for personnel is that the money from U.S. taxes is not collected from 44,000 specific working families. Instead, the bill is spread as a lesser-ticket item among millions of tax-paying Americans, most of whom are chiefly busy earning a living (and paying taxes), and don't have time to focus on how the UN spends its share of the swag.