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Brexit? Or Brexit + Enhanced Commonwealth?

by John Brian Shannon | April 22, 2016

When a thing isn’t working, it’s time to quit. Whether it’s a marriage or a political union there comes a time to say a respectful ‘goodbye’.

And it appears howevermuch joining the EU has propelled the UK economy, the social cost of millions of eastern European economic migrants and Levant refugees streaming into the UK is higher than British citizens are comfortable with.

The raison d’être for the creation of the EU is quite wonderful — inspired even. But there can be a difference between the theory of a thing and what has actually occurred.

Sir Winston Churchill information courtesy of Gov. UK

Sir Winston S. Churchill was an inspirational statesman, writer, orator and leader who led Britain to victory in World War II. He served as Conservative Prime Minister twice – from 1940 to 1945 and from 1951 to 1955. Gov.uk

Scary statistics have been trotted out in order to push Brit citizens into voting to stay in the EU, but when analyzed turn out to be speculative at best.

It looks like the EU project is in trouble. I wish them well, and I hope they solve their problems.

In the meantime, the UK must do what is best for the UK. And in my opinion, that means they should get out now, and invite the Scandinavian nations and Ireland to join The Commonwealth with the goal of increasing economic and social integration with those sovereign northern European nations. (The Scandinavian nations are gone anyway as far as EU membership is concerned. As soon as the first opportunity appears that meets optics standards, they’ll quit the EU)

If the UK, the Scandinavian countries, and Ireland form a loose economic and social cooperative union (or become members of a re-energized Commonwealth) it will immediately boost economic and social metrics across those nations, without the downsides of EU membership.

Without wishing any harm to the EU; The European Union can better concentrate on southern European issues with Germany and France leading the way, and without northern European concerns to complicate things.

I wouldn’t rule out a future UK/Scandinavian nations/Ireland bid (as one bloc) to accede to the EU once things have stabilized there.

But for now, the United Kingdom and northern European countries can do better by joining The Commonwealth and working towards interdependent socio-economic success.

The question is; Do we choose ‘safe’ or do we choose ‘Carpe Diem’?

The European Union is deep in it’s own problems for the foreseeable future, and in that context I make the case for the UK to leave the EU. As there’s no precedent for the Brexit situation it could now become anything the UK government wants it to become.

How about this?

  1. The UK leaves the EU and adopts a similar relationship to the EU, as Norway presently enjoys.
  2. The UK invites all Scandinavian nations and Ireland to become part of The Commonwealth.
  3. The UK institutes a 1% Tobin Tax, keeping one-quarter of one percent for administrative purposes, and remits the remaining three-quarters of one percent to the IMF — to be held in a special account that only the UK government can spend on the UK and other Commonwealth nations.
  4. Every Commonwealth nation should phase-in a 1% Tobin Tax over a 5-year period. And just as in the UK, one-quarter of one percent would be retained by each Commonwealth nation to cover collection and administration costs of the Tobin Tax.
  5. It’s obvious that perhaps a trillion pounds of Tobin Tax revenue would accrue quickly — and be available to each Commonwealth nation to spend in any other Commonwealth nation. (Need a new SASOL headquarters with a London address? Perhaps you need to double the export capacity in the port of Accra? Or, with the proper funding you can finally build that 1 GigaWatt wind farm and export billions of dollars/pounds/rands worth of electricity to neighbouring countries. Now you have instant funding!)
  6. If you’re the UK there’s one thing you want, countries lining up to join The Commonwealth! And within 5-years of joining The Commonwealth, beginning to contribute their own Tobin Tax revenue to the special IMF account which is only used to strengthen trade links with other Commonwealth economies.
  7. The ultimate goal of course, would be for the entire Commonwealth to copy the Norwegian economic model (as uniformly as possible) in order to attain Norway’s enviable statistics — such as the world’s highest per capita income, among the world’s highest productivity, free university for all citizens and residents, free universal healthcare ranked almost as highly as the UK healthcare system, and so much more. (Keep in mind Norway’s #1 ranking on the Social Progress Index (SPI) and very high ranking on the UN Happiness Index. And remember, all positive indicators flow from those two stats, not the other way around)

The question would then become; “Which country wouldn’t want to join The Commonwealth?”

Commonwealth countries, plus Scandinavian countries 2016

A UK exit (Brexit) from the European Union could now become anything the UK wants it to become. Commonwealth countries (in green colour) plus Scandinavian countries and Ireland (in blue colour) Image courtesy of maproom.org

In this, the 21st-century, it should never be a case of looking at a glass, half-full. It should always be about creating a massively better system; One that is a whole order of magnitude better than the presently sputtering economic model.

Previous generations of politicians rose to meet the challenges of their time, and likewise the UK government must also rise to the so-called challenges of our time.

But meeting the challenges of our time must be considered passé as the UK is sufficiently advanced that it should blow past the challenges of our time — in the same way a Bentley Mulsanne Speed blows past a Trabant on the M6 motorway.

Who Should Lead an Economically-Empowered Commonwealth?

Whomever is the most recently dismissed Prime Minister of any Commonwealth country should (within 180 days of losing office) be given the top job — Secretary General of The Commonwealth.

In that way, a flow of different approaches from highly empowered and knowledgeable people will lead The Commonwealth of Nations and each former PM will undoubtedly leave their stamp on the broad policies of that organization.

A former Indian Prime Minister sitting as Secretary General might advance the cause of microgrid power generation across all developing Commonwealth nations, while the next SecGen (from the UK for example) might take up the cause of getting resources from all Commonwealth nations to China and other major markets. And during the time of an African Secretary General of The Commonwealth, the preferred cause might be improvement of all Commonwealth port facilities in order to dramatically expedite trade — getting Commonwealth goods to every market, faster, fresher, and better.

What matters to me, is that each Secretary General leaves a positive impact on The Commonwealth using his or her unique worldview, experience, contacts, and ability.

It will be this synergy that will make The Commonwealth all that it can and should be.

The Commonwealth of Nations is a group of interdependent countries.

“The Commonwealth is a name for countries which were part of the British Empire before they became independent. This group of states works together on many important matters, like business, health and the fight against poverty.” — Wikipedia

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Reforming the IMF: One Order of Magnitude

by John Brian Shannon | April 10, 2016

Recently, it has been posited that the IMF needs structural reforms to make it more responsive to the needs of developing nations, by removing the (de facto) prominent position held by the International Monetary Fund’s major shareholders.

“For their own sake – and that of an institution that is needed today more than ever – the Fund’s major shareholders must leave the building.” — Professor Ashoka Mody in Project Syndicate

In the absence of a better IMF vision that would surely be the plan. Everything is right about it, there is nothing better to be done.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF)

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) logo.

But in the presence of a visionary plan for the IMF and a ramping-up of it’s mission by one order of magnitude, depowering the Fund’s major shareholders from their overarching role must be considered ‘Plan B’.

Meaningful IMF Reform

If IMF benefactors, supporters and beneficiaries can agree to implement a 1% Tobin Tax within their respective jurisdictions with the proceeds used to fund IMF operations, then the International Monetary Fund will become one order of magnitude more effective, and this must become our logical ‘Plan A’.

Nations contributing their quarterly Tobin Tax proceeds (minus fair and uniformly applied administration fees) would thenceforth receive robust support including proactive advice, IMF expertise, and economic assistance designed to improve and strengthen their economy. (Think: ‘Someone to Watch Over Me’)

Both minor and major shareholders would remain within the International Monetary Fund membership via their respective Tobin Tax contributions.

By displacing the present funding scheme with a (universal, among members-only) Tobin Tax funding scheme the IMF would suddenly have single-digit trillions of dollars available to help it advance member economies.

Yes, it is bold and daring. And yes, a lot of money could accrue. And on account of that, the International Monetary Fund would need to become proactive, sending targeted assistance on a ‘just-in-time delivery’ basis, with easy repayment terms for developing nations.

If generous IMF funding for job creation exists, national economies will suddenly find themselves structurally sound in months instead of decades, and therefore, require lower levels of future assistance.

I’m not for a minute suggesting, throwing shiploads of money at problems in an effort to make them disappear because we suddenly have shiploads of money available; Rather, I’m suggesting that such a lucrative funding mechanism could finally allow the IMF to become all that it can and should be, and should have been all along.

Instead of pushing major donor nations away in an attempt to lessen their powerful influence on today’s finite IMF funding — why not change the entire conversation to one that is an ‘all-IMF-members-contribute-to-the-IMF-via-a-1%-Tobin-Tax’ conversation and are ‘thereby generously and proactively assisted’ by the International Monetary Fund.

The question; How can we afford to fund what needs to be done?’ need never be considered again.

Bonus Graphic

What is the IMF?

What is the IMF presently? And what could the IMF become with robust funding?

Note about Non-Participant IMF Members:

Nations that decide against contributing to the IMF via a national Tobin Tax contribution programme would lose the ability to benefit from the IMF — except in the case where ‘country A’ would hire the IMF directly on an ad-hoc basis, to ‘survey’ or ‘comment’ or ‘create a report on’ the economy or prospects of ‘country A’.

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