Friday, January 30, 2009

Leagues of Nations

There are two amazingly similar organizations headquartered in New York City.

They are both inefficient, ineffective, rendered powerless by their members and their structure, subsidized by governments, and over-subsidized by the United States.

And for some odd reason, when things get really screwed up both organizations call in former Sen. George Mitchell.

Of course, we are discussing the United Nations and Major League Baseball.

In order for an organization to be effective, it must have a clear mission supported by all of its members.

Well, lets start with Major League Baseball. MLB is the organization that is supposed to set the rules, promote the game, and keep the teams and players playing Major League Baseball in line. It has become an international organization now with teams in Canada, season openers in Tokyo, and a farm team called Cuba.

MLB is owned by the owners of the teams. The owners appoint the Commissioner. The owners make the rules. And for years, MLB has been an example of wild West capitalism which means the MLB is a joke.

Unlike the NFL, the team owners in MLB never agreed to play by the same rules either on the field or in the business of running their teams.

The NFL is a lot like Marin County. We believe in socialism, so long as we are all rich and this socialism stuff will make us richer and won’t interfere with our lifestyle. Like, we will send money to Habitat for Humanity, but don’t think of building one of your places in our neighborhood. Like, what do you mean a black owner?

Anyway, MLB doesn’t buy that NFL crap. Dog eat dog. The big dogs do what they damn well please. The small dogs beg for fairness and subsidies. So, the big dogs have made sure that the MLB commissioner will be a meaningless figurehead. No power.

And to make sure that’s the case, the owners have learned that the best kind of commissioner is one of their own small dogs. This is akin to Spike appointing Chester commissioner of the backyard. Like Spike isn’t going to lift his leg where and when he wants to without fear of punishment.

MLB can’t even make sure that their two leagues play the same game. One league has something called a designated hitter. The umpires have made up their own rules including different strike zones. Puhleaze.

The United Nations got its start as the League of Nations. The League of Nations was formed at the end of World War I. Its task was pure and simple. To make sure that war never broke out again.

A couple of little problems. The League of Nations had no power. No peacekeeping force. Germany, who started WWI, wasn’t allowed to join. And the United States refused to join. Oh, Woodrow, where are you when we need you.

So, after WWII, which seemed to indicate that the League of Nations wasn’t cutting it, the idea for the United Nations came about.

The original United Nations sort of made sense. It was formed by the Allied Powers (the good guys) to make sure the Axis Powers (the bad guys) would never be allowed to be bad again.

Rules for membership are clearly spelled out in the UN Charter:

"Membership in the United Nations is open to all other peace-loving states which accept the obligations contained in the present Charter and, in the judgment of the Organization, are able and willing to carry out these obligations.

The admission of any such state to membership in the United Nations will be effected by a decision of the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council."

Somewhere along the way, it turned into a bad joke. “All other peace-loving states” now includes Iran, Burma/Myanmar, Cuba, Sudan, Afghanistan and North Korea. Every nation on earth is now a member of the UN. The good, the bad, the inconsequential.

Every nation is supposed to contribute on a fair “tax” basis (what a novel idea) to the UN fund. Supposed being the key word.

The UN annual budget is around $20 billion. The United States pays 22% of that. China pays 2%. Yet China has just as much say as the United States on UN decisions and policy. What? If you don’t pay your fair share of your PTA dues you don’t get to be a member and you are held up for public scorn. Not so at the UN.

As for the Secretary General, well s/he is selected by the member states. And since the member states don’t agree on much of anything, they are surely not going to allow someone from a big dog state to be Secretary General. So, we have Secretary Generals from South Korea, Ghana, etc. They strike as much fear as the robins-egg-blue helmeted UN peacekeeping force.

Here are a couple of thoughts on how to improve the effectiveness of the UN.

1. Get rid of the permanent headquarters. Move the meetings around to where the problems are you are trying to solve. There isn’t all that much poverty and violence on the East side of Manhattan. Why not move your meetings around between Mogadishu, Peshawar, Rangoon, Kabul, and other such places that most of the UN ambassadors have never visited. We know. The restaurants and the shopping won’t be quite as good as New York. But you will learn to love the taste of terrier.

2. The only real thing of value at the UN is that 18 acres of prime New York real estate that was donated by John D. Rockefeller. That land is not part of the United States. It is international territory. So sign a 99-year deal with Steve Wynn and let him turn it into Macau. Complete with the global array of prostitution and drugs. Then, the UN collects a big annual fee from this activity to go out and try to stop the prostitution and the flow of drugs in the real world.

Sen. Mitchell, if you need some help, give me a call.

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