Zelensky demands $55 billion more from American public to fund his bureaucrats

Seems it's pretty easy for Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to shake out more cash from the Uncle Sam money tree, what with Joe Biden in the White House ready to accommodate.

So he's gone bold now, calling on Uncle Sugar to provide him with another $55 billion, on top of the $90 billion already earmarked for Ukraine by Congress, $13 billion of which he's already gotten for budget needs.  High as that is, it's even more outrageous than it looks, which we will get to in a minute.

First, Tucker Carlson's observations:

Conservative Treehouse has more here.

Here's some of the original reportage from Reuters last month:

WASHINGTON, Oct 12 (Reuters) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Wednesday appealed to international donors to increase their financial support, saying more money was needed to rebuild schools and homes destroyed by months of Russian bombardment.

Zelenskiy, speaking by video link to finance ministers at the World Bank and International Monetary Fund annual meetings in Washington, said Ukraine needed about $55 billion — $38 billion to cover next year's estimated budget deficit, and another $17 billion to start to rebuild critical infrastructure, including schools, housing and energy facilities.

"The more assistance Ukraine gets now, the sooner we'll come to an end to the Russian war, and the sooner and more reliably we will guarantee that such a cruel war will not spread into other countries," Zelenskiy said.

Well, no, Vlodko.  That's not how these things work.  Extended wars create entire consultant classes of special interests, intent on keeping the war fires burning, the budgets expanding, and the salaries rising.  More money, longer war.  Or, to paraphrase Thomas Sowell, you can have all the Ukraine war you'd like to pay for.  (In the original, he said "poverty," in criticism of huge expanding government poverty programs.)  Just ask what happened in Afghanistan and Vietnam.

Ukraine may have a sympathetic cause, given that it was invaded, but it's also a nation that didn't prepare for its own defense.  It's had plenty of money, but it's one of the most corrupt places on Earth, according to Transparency International and other watchdogs of corruption and waste.  In 2021, Transparency found that Zambia, Algeria, and the Philippines were less corrupt places.  The corruption is so bad that Ukraine is a poorer nation than most of its Western neighbors, such as economically flourishing Poland and Hungary.

Is anyone asking where this money is going?  Back when the last big tranche of federal cash was dispatched by the Senate to Ukraine, Sen. Rand Paul called for an auditing amendment to watch where that money was going.  His amendment was turned down by a Democrat-led Senate, and Zelensky, whose nation is not a NATO ally, got what he wanted.

Well, he's spent that, and now he wants us to fill the budget hole in his government operations to the tune of $55 billion, some $38 billion for government operations and $17 billion for reconstruction of the country, showing that constructing roads and bridges is no match in terms of cost for government salaries and pensions.  He asks this as if the place were still operating normally, as if the country were incapable of cutting the size of its government, freeing its citizens of all its oppressive regulations, and growing its economy on its own without the gigantic government apparatus of pre-war times.  It could be argued that Ukraine spent so much on government bureaucrats and bureaucrat pensions that it didn't have much left for its national defense.

Here are some of the problems with that one.

Why does Zelensky want $38 billion for government operations when, according to the Reuters report, the IMF, which does demand conditions for aid, says it needs $3 billion per month, which would be $36 billion, not $38 billion?  That needs a little explaining right there.

Second, what do these bureaucrats do that creates this $38 billion in "value" to justify the expense?  Why can't they just be laid off as useless fixtures during a hot war and be done with it?

On the matter of pensions, note that pensions in Ukraine are a big cost indeed, given that so many young people have fled the country even in the pre-war era.  It's expected that about a quarter of the population is going to be on government pensions by 2024, according to Wikipedia.  Maybe they can try to bring some of the young people back by freeing their economy for entrepreneurship so they can get a tax base?

Here are some other problems cited in Wikipedia's entry, emphasis mine:

Pension expenditures in 2017 amounted to 284 billion UAH. representing approximately one-third of total spending. The government covered 141 billion UAH of pension spending while the rest was funded by Single Social Contribution.[12]

Capital residents received the highest average pension in 2017, 2408.02 UAH, while the lowest was in Sumy Oblast, 1560.95 UAH.

Nearly half of retirees (5.6 million) received the minimal pension.

Pensions of public servants, judges, prosecutors, and educators received multiples of the average. According to the State Statistic Service, payments over 10,000 UAH (312 EUR) were received by only 15.5 thousand pensioners.

Six million workers pay Single Social Contribution from which 12 million pensions are funded, which means that each contributor supports two retirees.

So these bureaucrats whom Zelensky expects Uncle Sam to bankroll make many times as much in terms of average pensions paid out compared to ordinary Ukrainians.  Seems they can't be asked to make any wartime sacrifices, and with Joe Biden in the saddle ready to sign off on another tranche of free money to them, why would they?  They can continue to live high on the hog compared to other Ukrainians, with many reports out there of them buying second and third properties for themselves in other countries.  Can't interrupt that, now, can we?  Zelensky himself is believed to be worth upwards of $20 million, according to Forbes.  What's his wartime contribution?

Note also from the Wikipedia report that the latest they retire is at age 65.  Over here in the states, they just raised that age to 70.  Ukraine, which is the land of long-lived people who drink their yoghurt, can't raise their full retirement age to 70, too, so they can pay out less?

It's conditions like these that make that $55-billion demand to fund Ukraine's government seem so skeevy.  It raises obvious questions about why there isn't an auditor for these gargantuan amounts, as well as a free-market policeman demanding reforms as conditionality, the way the IMF does, and why the IMF amounts and the contributions from Europe are so small, while the demands on the U.S. are so big.  The top question it raises is whether Zelensky "has something" on Joe Biden, given the revelations of corruption between the Biden family and Ukraine's oligarchs, as seen from the contents of the abandoned Hunter Biden laptops.  What does Zelensky indeed have on Biden?

But sure enough, Zelensky feels comfortable enough to get away with making these extraordinary demands, which seem to propel Ukraine into a fantasyland of permanent war and raining money.  "Show leadership," he implored the U.S. by means of flattery.  What he really meant was "show money."

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