One of my very faithful readers asked me to give "an insider's" opinion on the Diplomatic parking issue. All sorts of grumbles and gripes have surfaced, as well as whole research papers on "the Culture of Corruption", of which the parking issue is but one manifestation. First of all, check out the following stats, taken from the World Bank PSD blog:
A certain amount of corruption is grounded in culture and immune to carrots and sticks.
Scandinavian countries, which perennially rank among the least corrupt in the corruption index, had the fewest unpaid tickets. There were just 12 from the 66 diplomats from Finland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden. Almost all of these tickets went to one bad Finn.
Chad and Bangladesh, at the bottom of the corruption index, were among the worst scofflaws. They shirked 1,243 and 1,319 tickets, respectively, in spite of the fact that their UN missions were many times smaller than those of the Scandinavians.
But the above facts should be balanced with this, part of an article from CNN:
"After two hours, I come back to find a ticket on my car and another diplomatic car, but not on a nondiplomatic car," said Emilia Castro de Barish, the U.N. delegate from Costa Rica.
Let's consider that the City is taking unofficial revenge for this drama. A host of New Yorkers, liberal as they claim to be, want to see the UN leave New York. In other words, they are all for its existence, but not in their back yard, which sounds quite familiar, given that some who clamor for solar and wind power then don't want to have the solar panels or the windmills installed anywhere near their houses. Let us also consider the possibility that if/when the UN goes, a little bit of NYC's rep as the cosmopolitan center of the universe might go with it, seeing as the UN has been in and around NYC since its beginnings in 1947. In my opinion, the UN should stay in NYC, but if it does go, I'm certainly not going with it. I'm staying right here. Now if another RepubliCON usurps the presidency, that's another story.
I heard on NY1 that the Egyptians are among the worst offenders, or "scofflaws", as they say, and the Russians are the worst. Those Russians have this weird devil-may-care kind of mentality. They smoke on the conference room floor of the UN building and they have this non-chalant thing, like they take bong hits and drink vodka all day. And then all of a sudden we hear of one of them banging a shoe on his table at the General Assembly (I'm not necessarily talking about Kruschev, another Russian did that just recently). And let me just mention here, I looooove hearing them speak. They could be talking about their bouts with diarrhea and it still sounds romantic! I'm surprised that diplomats from the poorer African and Asian countries can afford to have fleets of diplomatic cars. I take comfort in the fact that most Latin American mission personnel take the subway/commuter train, I see more than a few every morning, so this parking ticket issue ain't our fault.
Of course these missions should pay up. After all, diplomats get the big bucks, especially when compared to workers in their own countries. Plus, they have all kinds of access to government money. I know the actual UN building is considered international territory, as are the missions (each one is apparently considered national territory, despite the fact that they are located in and are property of the City). That doesn't mean that their cars are also international territory. I realize diplomats are supposed to have all sorts of immunities, but the fact that they live here must be considered, and as they are adults, or reasonable facsimiles thereof, they should show more respect for their host city. In any case, I'm sure this problem exists everywhere there are diplomats, especially in DC, and as always, the UN is singled out simply because it is the UN and it is everyone's favorite scapegoat. That's not to say that the City should let the tickets slide. Giuliani, in his day, was busy showing us just how big his dick was and saying "I'm not a mayor who is easily threatened," and if the UN wanted to leave because of parking tickets (just a stupid thing to even think), he could easily come up with other uses for the land. But Bloomberg is a lap dog who likes to run around with a big stick in his mouth, playing fetch with Washington and barking tough, so I'm anxious to see if he does anything at all, which he most probably will not unless Bush tells him to.