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Pedaling Furiously to get Nowhere

Globally over the past decade, we’ve experienced a wide range of serious issues. Some have undermined our economic stability others threatened our safety and security. Some were the result of natural disasters; others were man-made. But regardless of the nature of the issue, they all shared one thing in common. They seemed to have caught our global leaders totally by surprise and unprepared.

How is that possible considering the unbelievable amount of time and money these folks put into meeting and discussing and preparing for situations that may confront us?

Consider, for example, the number of international organizations that meet regularly on everything from the economy to the environment; from crime to national security.

un logoThe United Nations – NATO – NORAD – Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) – The British Commonwealth (now just The Commonwealth – the Organization of American States – The European Union – INTERPOL – World Health Organization – World Bank – African Development Bank – African Union – Arctic Council – Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation – Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons – Arctic Monitoring and Assessment  Program – Commission for Labour Cooperation

Hold on for a moment; I’m getting writer’s cramp. . . Ok, I’m ready again. Let’s continue.


Organisation Internationale de La Francophonie summit

G7 – G20 – (there is also a G77 but damned if I can figure out why) – Commonwealth of Independent States – Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora Secretariat (or CITESWFFS for short) Convention on Biological Diversity – Council of Europe (not to be confused with the European Union) – Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering – World Agricultural Information Centre (WAICENT) – Organisation Internationale de La Francophonie – Global Environment Facility Secretariat. . .

Pee break. Everybody take five and we’ll meet back here in a few minutes. Bring coffee.

IATTC_logoInteraction Council (on what exactly is not specified until you get to the small print) – Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (not just any tuna, mind you; just tropical tuna) – International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (this is starting to be like an ear, nose and throat doctor specializing only in the left nostril)Intergovernmental Authority on Development – International Atomic Energy Agency – International Bureau of Education – International Bureau of Weights and Measures – International Coffee Organization (sponsored by Starbucks no doubt) – International Council for the Exploration of the Sea – International Finance Corporation – International Fund for Agricultural Development

Hang in, we’re half way through.

migrationInternational Labour Organization – International Maritime Organization – International Monetary Fund – International Organization for Migration (for what; Canada geese, elk, people?) – International Trade Centre – International Seabed Authority (if you have to be an authority on something, you might as well pick something obscure and relatively easy) – International Whaling Commission – Inter-Parliamentary Union – North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization (not to be confused with tuna; they have their own organizations)

I promise that we’re getting there, the end is in sight.

The Northern Forum – Nuclear Energy Agency – Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) – Pacific Salmon Commission – Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) – South Centre (An Intergovernmental Organization of Developing Countries)

There are more, lots more but I’m tired.

Added to this are a myriad of continental, regional, national and local organizations but you can relax, I’m not going to list them. There are thousands of them and my brain is already threatening to explode just writing the majority of the global international list.

Here’s the thing.

Clearly our governments spend billions, maybe even trillions supporting and participating in these organizations and that doesn’t even include former Alberta Premier Allison Redford’s travel expenses to take part in some of the meetings. You would think that level of expense and participation would provide us with a fair bit of expertise when it comes to preparing for (if not anticipating) and dealing with things like war, terrorism, international crime, poverty, the global economy, energy, the environment and the plight of Tropical Tuna.

You might think that – but – you’d be wrong.

It appears that all that time, money and effort hasn’t allowed our leaders to be prepared for much of anything which is a bit disconcerting when you add in the trillions they spend on intelligence gathering. It is why I believe, that when it comes to information gathering by government, intelligence would seem to be a bit of a misnomer.

The 2008 global recession came as a complete surprise to world leaders. They had no clue that an economic meltdown was around the corner. Indeed, in Canada, the government was spending every nickel of its budget surplus because there was no need to put money aside for a rainy day. None of the international organizations had identified that a rainy day was around the corner.

The good news is that the Harper government only had to borrow $160 billion to crawl out from under that oops.

ISIS, Ukraine, Libya, Syria and a host of others completely caught them off guard and the Ebola outbreak in Africa was a disaster for which they were completely unprepared. Watching the leaders of the EU scramble after the 2008 recession was like watching a flock of harried geese running around the barnyard after a fox has been seen. It was controlled panic that produced a flood of government spending and a considerable amount of squawking and honking that signified pretty much – nothing.

Hello? Is anybody home?

How is it possible for so many to meet so often and spend so much of our money for so little result? What are these folks talking about when they meet? What are the paid staff of these organizations doing in between meetings besides requesting more funding and producing reports that apparently our governments neither read nor consider?

The United Nations employs more than 40,000 full-time staff and NATO another 1,000.

According to the EU’s “establishment plans” for 2007 there are 42,548 temporary and permanent employees. It also lists 8,123 “external” Commission staff, giving a total of over 50,000. No doubt there are a few more today, seven years later.

Those three organizations alone employ around  100,000 people.

Are you kidding me?

This is on top of the public sector employees every country, province/state and municipality already employs.  More than 3.5 million Canadians work in the public sector and almost 1 in 6 Americans work for some level of government. I don’t want to think of how many work in the public sector in countries like China or India.

What  I would really like to know is how is it possible for unemployment to be so high around the world when so many positions have been created by world governments to do – nothing? I would gladly do nothing for one of the salaries our tax dollars pay for these folks. In fact, I would do nothing for half any one of them is paid – I’m very patriotic that way.

It’s busy work – the appearance of doing something while accomplishing next to nothing of value whatsoever. I believe in international cooperation but this is absurd. There are hundreds, if not thousands of organizations, councils and unions spending billions to accomplish what can only be described as a mystery.

It is a black hole down which billions of dollars are thrown only to emerge in some alternate universe (Stephen Hawking was right, there are other dimensions and government in all its forms has proven that. It is a dimension  unto itself).

If these organizations cannot improve our ability to meet the challenges our nations and the world face; if they are incapable of anticipating things like war; are unable to properly prepare for natural disasters (all of which we have seen countless times before and which ancient societies anticipated more accurately); if they can’t overcome poverty, unemployment, famine, disease control or economic instability; what use are they to us and why are we spending billions supporting them?

It’s just one more example that government is really only good at wasting time and money. Government – be it democratic, totalitarian, theocracy or monarchy – is only accomplished at providing jobs for itself and really has only two solutions for every challenge: throw money at it or form some kind of group to meet, study and talk about it.

In the end, it comes down to the same thing. It is the illusion of doing something to move us forward when, in fact, we are like someone on a stationary exercise bike. We’re pedaling furiously but going nowhere.

I don’t know about you but I’m of the opinion that if we’re not actually going anywhere, we shouldn’t have to pay to get there.


© 2014 Maggie’s Bear

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Twitter: @maggsbear – Facebook: Maggie’s Bear  – ivmaki@sympatico.ca


  • I hate liberals

    you seem to have left out the climate change scam. Do not forget the hundreds of billions being extracted from us tax payers unwillingly to fund the biggest racket in history

  • morri

    tens of millions of people paid tens of billions of dollars to nothing except figure out ways to extract tens of billions more.

    • MaggiesBear

      It is the one thing they are good at.

  • dance…dancetotheradio

    Anyone with any sense could see the 2008 financial crisis coming way before anyone else cottoned onto it.
    The housing bubble blogs in the States were screaming about it.
    When Peter Schiff appeared on a TV panel that included Ben Stein, he was mocked.
    To this day Ben Stein’s opinion means nothing to me.
    Of the myriad organizations that you mention two stand out for me.
    I like NATO even though I think the Europeans should pay more instead of funding their unsustainable welfare states.
    I hate the UN.
    In it’s place I want a United Nations of Democracies that sets benchmarks for membership.
    And Jack Layton’s vision of Canada as a UN peacekeeping nation has been proven time and again that UN troops are castrati.

    • MaggiesBear

      I’m kind of partial to the Inter-America Tropical Tuna Commission myself. I suspect they might be more effective at whatever it is they do than the UN.

  • CanadaGoose1

    It sounds like middle class families – pedaling furiously to get nowhere after all this money is wasted and more and more taxes, direct and indirect, are imposed. You didn’t even mention the environmental industry – I asked my brother who is a prof of Environmental Sciences how come you didn’t attend a recent Montreal conference on climate change. He said: “I can’t tell you the number of climate change conferences I’ve missed.

    • MaggiesBear

      I didn’t mention the environmental industry because there are just too many organizations to mention. The list is virtually endless. When one is closed, two more open. There are 35 million people in Canada and just slightly more than half are employed. Of that number 3.6 million work in the public sector. I have no issue with teachers, doctors, nurses and first responders but just how many clerks and bureaucrats do we need. It seems like no matter how hard people work to get ahead, some branch of government is watching like vultures ready to swoop down and take a chunk of whatever advancement they make. Christ in Heaven, Even the mob is less greedy.

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