Claudia Rosett, in a facetious commentary on why the United Nations should move to Elkhart, Indiana, seems to demonstrate a command of the facts that could politely be described as tenuous.

She cites the cost of the UN Headquarters renovation (known in UN circles as the Capital Master Plan) at $2 billion. It is actually $1.88 billion, but I won’t nitpick over an error of $120 million. The more egregious error is the insinuation first, that the U.S. is paying the entire bill, and second, that all expenditure on this renovation is a waste of taxpayer money.

In fact, the U.S. share of the renovation costs is the same percentage it pays for the UN’s regular budget: 22%. Now that is a large percentage, and comes out to roughly $414 million for the entire project. But consider that nearly every single contract and every single purchase related to the renovation has gone to an American company, and you’ll see that more than $610 million have already gone into the American economy as a direct result of this project—and the project will continue until 2013. That’s nearly a 68% return on investment for U.S. taxpayers with still more to come.

In other words, it’s a stimulus!

All of this information is readily available, along with cost details for each expenditure, on the UN’s Procurement website. Have a look yourself.

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