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Opinion Letters The Company We Keep

It is totally reprehensible to use the United Nations as a fearmongering tool in Macon County political discourse.  I write as a person with some knowledge.  While I have never been a UN employee, I have on occasion collaborated on UN-supported programs – not in this country, but in Costa Rica and Panama.  One of them specifically supported private property rights by assisting small landholders to acquire legal title to farms they had worked for many years.  That some of the beneficiaries reacted to enhanced property value by selling their properties was not the intended result, but it certainly gives the lie to the image of the UN as anti-private property zealots.

Based on my experience, here is what I think of the UN.  It is a huge, bloated, often inefficient, sometimes corrupt bureaucracy, similar to any large government.  Within that bureaucracy there are many excellent programs and dedicated civil servants, along with the usual mix of power seekers, crooks, incompetents and loafers.  Where the UN differs from the government of a large nation is in being powerless.  Of course the normal employer-employee model obtains; if the UN funds something they rightfully expect their contractors to live up to the terms of their contract.  Except in that special case, national and local governments, and the rest of us as individuals, are absolutely free to ignore the UN – and in the US we usually do.

The other “power” the UN has as a large and highly visible organization is to publish information, ideas and suggestions in print or electronic media.  In this respect they are no different from thousands of other organizations – government agencies, political parties, for-profit businesses, non-profits and special interest groups, not to mention wealthy individuals, who choose to exercise their freedom of speech. 

Based on what I read in the press, and what I hear on the street, the majority of people in Macon County who have ever read any UN documents are those individuals who wish to present us with a bogey man.  While I of course can’t be sure of each and every case, I would be surprised if anything published by the UN had ever materially affected so much as one vote or decision within Macon County government.

Everyone is welcome to their personal opinions about the UN (mine are mixed), but that should have nothing to do with local political discourse.  We have enough real issues to discuss without adding bogus ones.


Bill McLarney, Glenville, NC

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