Green Room

Are U.S. taxpayers about to eat the costs of a new U.N. building?

posted at 3:57 pm on September 26, 2011 by

The plot of land being eyed for a new high-rise addition to the United Nations is currently occupied by swings and slides. But if plans go forward with construction of a new U.N. office building on Manhattan’s East Side, the cost—a hefty chunk of which could be passed along to U.S. taxpayers—will be anything but fun and games.

The site near the U.N. headquarters is currently home to the Robert Moses Playground, which has been a fixture in Midtown for the past 70 years. The Daily Caller reports that the international body is in the final stages of obtaining approval for the project, which, independent of the cost of the land and security, carries an estimated price tag of between $350 million and $475 million.

U.S. taxpayers are already responsible for 22% of the U.N.’s budget, but Heritage Foundation fellow Brett Schaefer is quoted as saying that taxpayers could be responsible for a much larger cut of the expense:

[C]onstructing a second U.N. building would likely have significant financial implications for the U.S. federal government, which … would likely shoulder increased payments to the U.N. in future years resulting from costs associated with the project. Congress has yet either to hold hearings on or to examine the details of this plan. Nor is it clear that the Obama Administration has asked for or been provided detailed information on this project.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature have already given their seal of approval to the project. The final hurdle comes on October 10 when the city and the state need to agree on a final deal.

Daily Caller writer Caroline May also quotes Meghan Clyne, managing editor of National Affairs, who wrote in a New York Post editorial last week:

The question … is why US taxpayers would pay a dime toward this project. At a time when we’re hugely in debt, and the United Nations is busy pushing Palestinian statehood and fêting Iranian nut-job Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, why should we fork over millions of dollars—and a city park—to make the United Nations’ dream of nicer, more convenient offices come true?

Former Arkansas governor and current FOX News Channel host Mike Huckabee has his own dreams for the U.N. Much to the chagrin of the Daily Kos and other left-leaning blogs, Huckabee wants to “take a jackhammer to U.N. Headquarters, kick the UN out of the US and save American taxpayers $3 billion annually.”

I think the governor is on to something (and I say this not because I sat motionless in traffic on the FDR Drive last Monday for 42 minutes, during the General Assembly’s first day of meetings). My main grievance with the U.N. has been its increasing irrelevance over the past several decades. Then there is the deaf ear its so-called Human Rights Commission has turned on victims of tyrannical regimes the world over.

I’m sure there are plenty of other cities that would be happy to play host to the U.N. Geneva springs to mind. Eliminating all the diplomat parking and freeing up spaces on the East Side of Manhattan wouldn’t be a bad thing either. Maybe the city could then recoup some of the $17.2 million it loses annually by U.N. diplomats’ refusal to pay their parking fines.

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Geneva wouldn’t help much.

One essential problem with the United Nations is that it’s a Third World institution hosted in a First World environment. This leads a majority of the assembled nations to chant in unison, “gimme, gimme, gimme”, and the diplomats quartered there increasingly become disconnected with the realities faced outside their bubble.

The UN should be headquartered someplace like Haiti, Bangladesh, or Eritrea.

cthulhu on September 26, 2011 at 4:17 PM

Well, guess that means our chances of kicking the UN out of the United States are diminished.

Skandia Recluse on September 26, 2011 at 4:20 PM

What a useless bunch of o2 sucking people in the un! If I was in charge, that building would be torn down and all those American hating members would have to find a new home to suck off the country they are in. Let that country have millions of un-paid fines to write off.

letget on September 26, 2011 at 4:22 PM

The plot of land being eyed for a new high-rise addition to the United Nations is currently occupied by swings and slides.

Why does the UN hate children?

rbj on September 26, 2011 at 4:30 PM

The playground used to have a great roller hockey area along First Avenue back in the 1960s and 1970s. Far more efficient use of precious Midtown Manhattan real estate than another U.N. building.

jon1979 on September 26, 2011 at 5:21 PM

Let’s move the UN HQ to Texas.

J.E. Dyer on September 26, 2011 at 8:38 PM

As Nancy Pelosi famously asked, “Are you serious?”.

countrybumpkin on September 26, 2011 at 9:00 PM

The real question is WHY does the UN need more office space? We need to be cutting the UN back to the simple place for nations to meet and talk about issues to avoid war. We need to reduce the funding of the UN to this basic concept which will allow those children to play in peace!

Freddy on September 27, 2011 at 1:19 AM

The real question is WHY does the UN need more office space?

It’s not adding more office space. It is consolidating offices, which are currently scattered all over NY.

But you are right. The U.N. needs to be cut back—preferably to zero members.

Howard Portnoy on September 27, 2011 at 9:09 AM

There has been political talk for decades about ‘getting us out of the UN’. It’s like reforming the tax code or doing something about SS & MC. Talk, just talk. Maybe Zero should go over the UN budget line by line and eliminate waste & fraud.

Kissmygrits on September 27, 2011 at 9:36 AM

The core problem of the UN is it’s over emphasis on empowering democracy of thugs over the democracy of promoting economic prosperity. The movement of money thru the world’s economy is perhaps the ultimate democracy as it’s based upon the exchange of goods and services for something of like value.

In all too many cases, the progress and growth of economic democracy is stifled by thugs of one sort or another who pinch off the free flow of economic democracy and redirect whatever survives into establishing and maintaining their own power bases.

And it’s these thugs who comprise the majority of members in the UN. Go figure why it’s such a dysfunctional organization. If instead, the UN’s focus were to promote economic democracy and prosperity, soon the thugs might find themselves penniless and powerless, while the people’s of these repressed nations would be increasingly self sufficient and prosperous.

The reality that too many folks tend to overlook about Democracy is how there must be significant constraints on those in power coupled with significant empowerment of the rights of individuals to prevent mob rule. This was well understood by the Founding Fathers of the US Constitution, but apparently not so well understood by those who set up the UN. Ever since it’s start, the UN has been floundering in a downhill spiral towards more and more rule by thuggery, with the only thing preventing it being the veto power of the US. One might project that without the US Constitution to guide the US in the UN matters, that veto power might have been subjugated to mob interests inside and outside the US.

In other words, if the UN wants to move, let it move outside the US where it can decay out of function, perhaps to be followed by some sort of organization that promotes freedom thru economic growth and individual rights.

drfredc on September 27, 2011 at 12:13 PM