‘Case of the Week’ 7 (NCFCA): Budget Voting

Important Disclaimer: We pretty much just throw these together over the weekend, and don’t put a lot of work into them. Case of the Week cases are not subject to the same editorial process and stringent quality standards as the COG 2012 sourcebook, and are frequently contributed by non-COG authors. You may find material and sources in these cases that would not appear in the sourcebook. That said, we hope these cases will be useful to you; enjoy!

About the Author: Alex Macdonald participated in NCFCA Team Policy debate for several years, during which he was a finalist at the largest tournament of the 2009-2010 season and a qualifier to the NCFCA National Championship. He currently studies history and international studies at the University of Dallas. This past summer he was a National Security intern at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. Alex is a COG author.

1AC: Proportional Budget Voting

By Alex Macdonald

As the global economy plummets and the debts of the US and other nations soar, the world is struggling to come to grips with a reality in which austerity and reductions in the costs of government programs are essential in order to return to an era of prosperity. One entity for which this reality is still terra incognito is the United Nations. With budgets that keep growing as the General Assembly continues to indiscriminately spend the money of a small minority of its members, the UN is following a path of fiscal injustice and irresponsibility. For this reason we are Resolved: That the United Nations should be significantly reformed or abolished.

Part 1: Definitions

Before we outline the current problems and delve into our plan, we would like to define the word:

Reform: According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Reform means: “to put or change into an improved form or condition.” (Merriam-Webster Online, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/reform)

Now let’s look at the Status Quo of the United Nations budget system, in…

Part 2: Inherency

Dr Kim Holmes writes, discussing problems with the current budget approval system, that…

A few countries provide most UN funding

Dr. Kim R. Holmes (PhD from Georgetown University, Director of the Davis Institute for International Studies at the Heritage Foundation, former Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs), 2008, The Heritage Foundation, “Liberty’s Best Hope: American Leadership for the 21st century”, accessed August 15, 2012

“Under the current system, the U.S. pays the largest share (22 percent) of the regular budget, while the 128 lowest paying members pay less than 1 percent combined. Even worse, those 128, which benefit a great deal from U.N. activities, are able as a group to approve increases in the U.N. budget, under U.N. rules. The U.S. has only one vote out of 192 when it comes to approving U.N. activities and budgets, and it is thus distinctly disadvantaged in provoking lasting reform and eliminating waste and fraud while preventing the budget from growing exorbitantly.”

This leads us to…

Part 3: Harms

Our first harm is…

1. Rampant Spending

In addition to the fact that the current system is simply unjust due to unfair representation, it actually creates incentives for most countries in the UN to spend without limits, since they are spending other nations’ money. Despite efforts of the Obama Administration to cut back on UN spending, the UN budget continues to grow and with it the burden the taxpayers of the US and other major funding nation. Brett Schaeffer of the Heritage Foundation documents this stunning growth in UN budgets:

Brett Schaefer (Masters in International Development from American University, fellow for International Regulatory Affairs at the Heritage Foundation focusing on the UN), April 20, 2011, Heritage Foundation, “Cuts in U.S. Contributions Necessitate Budget Austerity at the U.N.”, accessed August 21, 2012, www.heritage.org/research/reports/2011/04/cuts-in-us-contributions-necessitate-budget-austerity-at-the-un?lfa=American-Leadership

The U.S. is the largest contributor to the U.N. The past decade has seen unprecedented growth in U.N. budgets and, as a result, U.S. contributions to the U.N. and its affiliated organizations: The U.N. regular budget has more than doubled from $2.49 billion approved for the 2000-2001 biennial budget to $5.16 billion under the 2010-2011 biennial budget approved by the General Assembly in December 2009. The U.N. peacekeeping budget increased more than threefold from $1.7 billion in 2000-2001 to $7.2 billion in 2010-2011. Excluding contributions to the U.N. regular budget, U.S. funding for U.N.-affiliated organizations through the Contributions to International Organizations account were estimated in 2000 to be $375 million in FY 2000 and $645.5 million in FY 2010. The U.S. also provides billions in voluntary contributions to U.N. programs, funds, and other entities through the State Department and other parts of the U.S. government. It is difficult to obtain a definitive figure on these contributions, but it is clear that U.S. voluntary contributions to U.N. organizations have increased sharply over the past decade. According to reports from the Office of Management and Budget in 2006 and 2010, total U.S. contributions to the U.N. system were $6.347 billion in FY 2009-the last year for which such information is available-compared to contributions totaling just $3.183 billion in FY 2001.”

Not only does spending get out of hand as small countries paying minimal UN dues get away with charging the US exorbitant amounts of money for pet projects, but many of these funds go to implement policies and organizations which are antithetical to interests and values of the US and other major donors. This leads to our second harm…

2. Taxation Without Benefit

Robert F. Sanchez (Director of Public Policy at the James Madison Institute, former assistant professor of English and journalism at Florida A&M University), August 2012, “Trimming U.N. Fat & Focus « James Madison Institute”, accessed August 21, 2012, www.jamesmadison.org/blog/trimming-u-n-fat-focus.html

“Granted, some U.N. agencies, despite an admixture of bureaucratic waste, do perform some useful work – especially those agencies devoted to combating epidemics, resettling refugees, feeding hungry people, and dispensing aid in places where the U.N. flag is more welcome than the national flags associated with the local populace’s former colonial rulers. Unfortunately, other U.N. agencies are pushing radical agendas – censorship; constant condemnation of Israel; climate change orthodoxy; imposing worldwide standards for curricula in government schools; and centralized planning with extreme forms of population control to achieve “sustainability.” These kinds of initiatives ought to be worrisome to all liberty-loving people. Then there are the U.N.’s laughably hypocritical activities. For instance, the new President of the United Nations Conference on Disarmament is …North Korea. Members of the United Nations Human Rights Council include a roster of noted abusers of human rights – among them, China, Congo, Cuba, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Nigeria, Russia, and Saudi Arabia. In a token show of selectivity, Libya has been temporarily suspended from this council pending a determination of which kind of oppressive regime will emerge from the chaos in Tripoli.”

Funding causes counter our nation’s interests and propping up laughable organizations are not things that the United States or other major funding nations should be forced to do by nations who spend next to nothing on any of these initiatives yet dictate their budgets.

This brings us to…

Part 4: Our Plan

Agency and Enforcement: shall be the United Nations.

Mandate: When voting on budget approval, nations in the General Assembly will have votes proportional to the percentage of the UN budget which they fund.

Timeline: As soon as possible.

Funding: Since this plan merely changes voting procedures, no additional funding is necessary. Should member nations wish to change how much funding they provide, that’s their problem, not ours.

Part 5: Advantages

1. Regulate Budget Growth and Content

Since funding decisions are made by the people who actually provide the funding, there will be an incentive to spend responsibly and on projects which are successful. This encourages reining in budget bloat, as well as helping ensure that U.S. tax dollars are only spent on projects the U.S. approves – rather than on censorship and hypocritical initiatives which are contrary to American values and interests.

2. Fairness

No more taxation without representation. Those nations whose taxpayers are laying out money to fund UN projects will now have some say as to what those projects are and how they are funded.

A UN budget system under our plan will bring an end to a tyrannical system in which nations on a kind of globalized “welfare” program determine how responsible nations spend their cash. Gone will be the days in which Americans pay Castro to oversee the world’s human rights abuses.

Backup: Budget Voting

The strategy behind this case is a little interesting, because you can design it to so you hold back on your exact position until the 2AC. For example:

  1. If the Negative argues that this will collapse the UN budget, you can argue in the 2AC that less funding is good because the UN does too much anyway – and the cuts would just make it more efficient.
  2. If the Negative argues that this will bloat the UN budget (i.e. nations would provide more funding so they can make sure their pet projects don’t get cut), you can argue in the 2AC that more funding is good (provide various examples of underfunded-but-good programs, etc.)

Making this strategy effective might require changing up the case quite a bit, but you should probably do that anyway!

A problem right now is the lack of an explicit advocate. Do some research.

Note that this case does NOT change voting procedures for sanctions, General Assembly resolutions, forming committees, etc. It only concerns votes on how budgets are allocated – so you’re not messing with international politics too much here.

Need a leaner, tighter UN

January 20, 2012, United States Mission to the United Nations, “Leading for Reform at the United Nations”, accessed August 21, 2012, usun.state.gov/briefing/statements/182296.htm

“Every dollar sent to the UN represents the hard work of a taxpayer somewhere, and any dollar wasted at the UN is a wasted opportunity to build a better, freer, more prosperous world. The United Nations should face these tough economic times by tightening its belt and doing more with less.”

US pay a quarter of budget but has only 1 vote (of 192) on how it’s spent

August 31, 2011, National Review, “U.S. Money, U.N. Budgets – The Editors – National Review Online”, accessed August 21, 2012, www.nationalreview.com/articles/275930/us-money-un-budgets-editors

“The United States contributes a quarter of the U.N.’s budget but is entitled to only one vote on how it is spent. It is thus unsurprising both that budget constraint and management reforms are of more interest to the United States than to most other members, and that withholding funds is our strongest leverage in forcing structural change at Turtle Bay.”

US pay a quarter of budget but has only 1 vote (of 192) on how it’s spent

August 31, 2011, National Review, “U.S. Money, U.N. Budgets – The Editors – National Review Online”, accessed August 21, 2012, www.nationalreview.com/articles/275930/us-money-un-budgets-editors

“Under the one-country, one-vote procedures at the United Nations, the United States has no more say over the budget than does tiny Tuvalu. The budget can be passed by two-thirds of the U.N. General Assembly (129 nations) that collectively could pay less than 1 percent of all dues over the objection of the United States, which pays 22 times that amount.”

UN spending growing faster than US

August 31, 2011, National Review, “U.S. Money, U.N. Budgets – The Editors – National Review Online”, accessed August 21, 2012, www.nationalreview.com/articles/275930/us-money-un-budgets-editors

“On Monday, a U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Joseph M. Torsella, complained that plans to increase the salaries of U.N. employees by 3 percent were “inappropriate at this time of fiscal austerity.” Apparently, no one at the United Nations understands the meaning of the word “austerity.” Incredibly, the U.N.’s budget has increased faster than the federal government’s in the last ten years, despite the United States’ bearing the majority of the cost for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

A/T “UN budget insignificant compared to US debt”

Brett Schaefer (Masters in International Development from American University, fellow for International Regulatory Affairs at the Heritage Foundation focusing on the UN), April 20, 2011, Heritage Foundation, “Cuts in U.S. Contributions Necessitate Budget Austerity at the U.N.”, accessed August 21, 2012, www.heritage.org/research/reports/2011/04/cuts-in-us-contributions-necessitate-budget-austerity-at-the-un?lfa=American-Leadership

“Although contributions to the United Nations are not a large part of the U.S. budget, there is no reason to exclude those contributions from the effort to identify areas where taxpayer dollars could be better spent. Indeed, U.N. budgets have grown even faster than the U.S. budget over the past decade.”

A/T “UN budget insignificant compared to US debt”

Brett Schaefer (Masters in International Development from American University, fellow for International Regulatory Affairs at the Heritage Foundation focusing on the UN), April 20, 2011, Heritage Foundation, “Cuts in U.S. Contributions Necessitate Budget Austerity at the U.N.”, accessed August 21, 2012, www.heritage.org/research/reports/2011/04/cuts-in-us-contributions-necessitate-budget-austerity-at-the-un?lfa=American-Leadership

“Congress is correct to include contributions to the U.N. in its efforts to rein in spending. While it represents a small portion of the U.S. budget, the expansion of U.N. budgets over the past decade has been enormous and subject to insufficient oversight and prioritization. When the U.S. is forced to tighten its belt, it is reasonable to expect the U.N. and its affiliated organizations to similarly trim their budgets to emphasize priorities. U.S. budget cuts will shock the U.N. system, which has become accustomed to regular, large increases in funding. To minimize U.S. arrears and the disruption to U.N. activities, U.S. officials should inform the U.N. of anticipated reductions in U.S. contributions and suggest budgetary changes and reforms.”

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: