How to Make The U.N. Great Again…For the First Time

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For years, I lived across the street from the United Nations. The only real power I knew it had was clogging traffic. Then, I dug deeper… President Obama’s support of the U.N.’s latest condemnation of Israel – and President-Elect Trump’s response (calling the U.N. a good time club) – are NOT the real story. For once, Trump is under-stating the problem. So, let’s all channel our inner Trump and grab the truth by the p***y: The U.N. is a disaster. It’s slipped into dangerous self-parody while we Netflixed. Only one thing might save it – Amazon Prime. I’ll explain…


Nothing conjures the aura of respectability more than the words ‘United Nations’. It sounds almost regal. And for good reason. Only 89 of the UN’s 193 member nations are democracies. The other 104 – yes, 54% – are monarchies, tyrannies, autocracies and other zany, fun-loving regimes. A great way to know how much your government sucks is when everyone calls it a “regime”. So it’s ironic whenever these esteemed diplomats vote on a resolution. Any resolution. They’re performing a feat – voting – that none of their countries’ citizens ever could. Not without a beat-down or a gentle (…or genital) mutilation.

The irony doesn’t stop there. The UN has become a toothless bureaucracy riddled with bribery, corruption, more corruption, scandals, aid-for-votes, and moral relativism. And naturally, a chronic denial of its failures. Is it any surprise that a building full of lackeys from corrupt regimes is, uh, under-performing?

The last bit of black comedy is Saudi Arabia chairs the Human Rights Council!  Yes, the country whose religious police let schoolgirls burn to death, jails and murders reformers, oppresses women, and stones homosexuals to death – is lighting our path to human progress.

Fuck us.

It’s not all bad news. The UN has a very nice building. They let you wear cool hats indoors. (If your culture mandates it…or you have a zit to hide.) And of course, you can kill anyone you like. You know, diplomatic immunity, from every 80’s movie with Dolph Lundgren.

In principle, the UN is tasked with a lot. Here’s a list it tweeted to Donald Trump:

It reads like the self-assessment on a slacker’s performance review. Long on activities, short on accomplishments. From aid to peacekeeping, results range from inefficient to deadly.

So, what would you pay for this Democracy of Despots?

The US pays $2.9 to $8B of the UN’s $5.6B-13.9B budget (including peacekeeping missions and Cupcake Wednesdays). Our share is about 25% – more than 185 other member countries combined.


You’d think I’d be for dismantling the whole thing and piling our savings into a giant peacekeeping robot with a laser codpiece. Not so. I like robots as much as any average Japanese boy. But I share the original vision for a league of nations: to resolve international conflicts and provide essential aid. Even with tyrants, I prefer “keeping our friends close and enemies closer.” We should try fixing the U.N. before starting over…with Optimus Subprime.

If there’s anything I’ve learned from leading and advising large organizations, it’s that the whole can never be great, if the parts are rotten.

ideafaktory UNPrime - steve faktor

A good, or (gulp) great League of Nations demands just one ingredient: better fucking nations.

You might say, “Why Steve, how dare you suggest some nations are better than others! And even if such witchcraft existed, we have no power to change them.”

After pummeling you with your worthless liberal arts diploma, I’d respond thusly: YES. WE. CAN. times 1,000,000,000,000,000,000!

There are dozens of country rankings that track everything from how long citizens live…to how long reporters do. Some examples:

Rankings of Countries

In other words, we have the tools to judge the living shit out of your country…and ours.


Now, the hard part. How do we get some God-forsaken trash pile of a government to climb those charts? It’s the same dilemma that plagues Nicki Minaj’s manager. It’s all about leadership…and carrots.

Yes, that’s a real lyric


Historically, most of our international “leadership” has been punitive:

  • Attack your neighbor, we send troops.
  • Seize Crimea, we impose trade sanctions.
  • Get nukes, we send inspectors and freeze your bank accounts.

What’s a horsie gotta do to get some carrots ‘round here? We’re 96% sticks!

There are two organizations that get this right, mostly.


The European Union (EU), for all its faults and Brexits, is a club built on carrots, not sticks. If your country meets certain criteria – having a democracy, a market economy, and at least one signature pastry – you can enjoy tangible benefits, like free trade across a vast single market, free movement of labor and tourism, and unlimited selfies with Gérard Depardieu.

The EU is not the only great club in town. There’s also the remarkable Amazon Prime. Instead of marking up merchandise, like every other merchant, Amazon could sell everything at cost – as long as you join Prime. Prime started with faster shipping, but soon added music and movie streaming, original series, photo storage, and much more. Before long, they’ll have flying warehouses and store your dead relatives in the cloud. As addiction and dependency set in, Amazon can nudge the price higher and higher. Brilliant.


So, what can save the U.N.? U.N. Prime.

I have a dream that one day U.N. votes will not be allotted by the size of a nation’s missiles, but by the prosperity of its people.

UN Prime - - steve faktor

Anything less would be as stupid as grouping all students by age and not ability.  Wait a minute…

This new UN Prime program needs two main ingredients:

  • Lustworthy benefits
  • Membership requirements to earn those benefits. (We can use some of the indexes above.)

And we can start slow (e.g. free shipping). Then, add benefits and requirements as we go. Here’s how that might look:

UN Membership LevelsRequirements
1. Prime
  • Free democratic elections with term limits
  • Free press
  • Minimum level of human rights
  • Minimum standard education levels (literacy, math, science)
  • Aid
  • Low tariff/access to trade and development
  • Training (Agricultural, industrial, entrepreneurial, teachers, etc)
2. Super Prime
  • Unrestricted internet
  • Equal treatment of women & minorities
  • Secular education
  • Economic Freedom
  • Military defense (a la NATO)
  • Access to loans/ growth capital
  • Direct investment
3. Optimus Prime
  • STEM Education
  • Healthcare
  • Sustainability
  • Quality of Life
  • Unrestricted travel & movement of labor
  • Additional UN voting rights (like entry into G20)
  • Date with Rihanna or Leo Dicaprio

This puts every bloated tyrant in military garb on notice. Without a single threat. Eventually, he’ll have to explain to his people why they’re not reaping all the benefits of Prime membership. Why they’re eating slop from UNICEF crates instead of organic kale, poolside with the Kardashians.

The greatest threat to tyranny isn’t an invading army, it’s informed citizens who understand the bounty within their reach.

tyranny - make the UN great again - - steve faktor

Now if that doesn’t work, the U.N. building will make for some beautiful condominiums.

Further reading:

  1. Believe it or not, a more brutal take on the UN from National Review
  2. The toothless United Nations must seize this last chance to save itself
  3. The United Nations Today: A Case Study in Failure
  4. Corruption at the heart of the United Nations (Economist)
  5. The U.N.’s Parade of Dictators
  6. Perverse Chart of UN Condemnations
  7. Saudi Arabia, Humanitarian
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Provocative predictions & prescriptions on where innovation, economics & culture will take us. Fearless. Funny.