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A Development Bank for The Commonwealth

by John Brian Shannon | October 27, 2016

The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Kuwait Fund, the African Development Bank Group, the Grameen Bank, and more recently, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank are all highly respected development banking institutions — but not one of them are dedicated to the improvement and well-being of the nation states that make up The Commonwealth of Nations.

And that’s a shame. The Commonwealth of Nations spans the globe, it encompasses nation states with tiny populations measured in thousands, to India with 2.2 billion citizens (consumers) by 2025, and nations that range from the 5th-largest economy in the world (Britain) to the tiniest economies in the world — and everything in between. Huge resource wealth, almost boundless agricultural opportunity, ocean access, tourism, and many other benefits await for development banks, corporate financial institutions, and private investors.

Wealthy Commonwealth nations can find much to like about investing in other nations that lie within the Commonwealth organization, in resources, in agriculture, in reasonable labour costs, in tourism, and more.

Such an institution could pool funds, create a bank, get some immediate projects rolling, and quickly generate some bank profits — profits that will simply be re-invested in the next project somewhere within the Commonwealth.

For a relatively small investment relative to the total Commonwealth GDP, come outsized gains in involvement by other members of that organization, a greater level of economic success among and between member nations, and much gain to offer banks, infrastructure construction companies and their supplier corporations.

Each development loan between Commonwealth nations further strengthens the Commonwealth and thereby, all of the nations in the group are strengthened.

If ever there were a textbook case upon which to base a successful development bank, The Commonwealth nations are it.

Development bank hydro-electric dam

Hydro-electric dams in developing nations are highly valued by government, corporations, and citizens alike — and represent low risk and steady income for development banks and private investors. Image courtesy of pluginindia.com

Whether in the energy sector, agriculture, tourism, and in other segments of the developing economy, having a Commonwealth-only development bank distinctly geared towards financing and providing design and engineering expertise will benefit investor nations, commercial banks, and private investors — and provide a double benefit for those developing nations growing their economies while trying to provide better services for citizens.

How can Britain Afford This?

Britain is one of the most generous donor nations in the world, paying out some .71% of GDP in foreign aid annually. Few countries surpass this (Norway pays out 1% of GDP to foreign aid) but most fall well-short of Britain’s foreign aid commitment.

Canada, for instance pays .20% of GDP (and its total GDP is much smaller than the UK) and EU foreign aid spending averages .45% of GDP.

Instead of directing .71% of it’s GDP to non-Commonwealth nations, Britain should continue to pay .71% of GDP towards development aid, but spend it within the Commonwealth bloc exclusively.

In that way, billions of pounds sterling can immediately begin to strengthen Commonwealth economies, with two-way trade becoming dramatically enhanced between Britain and member nations.

Building a new hydro-electric dam, a major bridge, or a superhighway system in a Commonwealth nation?

Please source as much steel, hardware, and expertise, etc. as you can from the UK. And for developing nations without major construction firms large enough to take on megaprojects, please allow British firms to bid on your construction project.

Seems reasonable, doesn’t it?

Summary

By redirecting all of Britain’s foreign aid to Commonwealth of Nations countries exclusively, the UK will strengthen ties between Britain and all of those nations.

It will also serve to increase GDP of those nations, while British construction firms and their infrastructure hardware suppliers would get a welcome boost. As GDP growth leaps forward in member nations, demand for goods, skilled labour, and interim project financing from Britain will increase at a linear pace.

For developing nations within the Commonwealth, it’s the fast-track to developed nation status, higher GDP growth, better and sooner services for citizens, and (typically) a more stable economic and political situation.

And that’s better for everyone in this world, Commonwealth citizen, or not.

The Anglosphere Revisited

by John Brian Shannon | July 29, 2016

Britain survived the 20th century despite two British-economy-wrecking wars (WWI and WWII) and the follow-up to those wars, the Cold War.

But imagine all that Britain could’ve become by now if it wasn’t required to wage World War I, World War II, and the Cold War in the first half of the 20th century. Great Britain would’ve been equal in economic and military power with the United States, and humanity would have completely missed two hot wars and one cold war.

The Anglosphere would’ve held dominion over the Earth — and let’s hope they would’ve had enlightened and moderate leaders.

There would’ve been no need for some of the overcompensating behaviors we witnessed in the 20th century.

The excesses thrust upon the world by continental Europeans in the 20th century are 100% responsible for the creation of two classes of overcompensators; The neocons and the terrorists — both of whom are engaged in a non-virtuous and negative relationship that could still destroy all life on the planet.

That is a scenario of if not when, unless we can completely overcome the three speedbumps in our civilizational development, recover, and get back on track — the track we were originally on until continental Europe changed history three times for the worse.

It could still be the end of us all. But only if we let them.

Not that I wish the continental Europeans one second of harm, it’s just that they’ve wreaked enough havoc. In fact, ‘I wish you the best, and have a beautiful day!’

It’s time to put Britain back together — and in tandem with a politically-moderate United States (and without prejudice to any other country or bloc) to recreate the Anglosphere as it was intended to be prior to the change in the world order made by 20th-century Europeans.

The time of war followed by plenty of overcompensating must now be over, or humanity won’t survive it.

Any nation that wishes to join the Anglosphere need only pass legislation that English is one of their official languages and have a politically-moderate foreign policy, then I would consider them eligible to join The Commonwealth of Nations, which is the umbrella organization of Anglosphere nations.

In that way, I would hope to (eventually) win over every nation. Yes, every one.

No more war. Peace and prosperity. Peace, Order, and Good Government.

That was the path that Great Britain, the United States, and other Anglo nations were on before three wars were thrown at us by continental Europe. (WWI, WWII and the Cold War)

As bad as those wars were, the two overcompensating responses (the neocons and the terrorists) may yet turn out to be even worse. Those two groups may ultimately spell the end of humankind.

And that’s what I’m trying to prevent.

In North America, we say; “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Well, the continental Europeans of the previous century broke the working model.

Now we need to get it back.

Brexit and Enhanced Commonwealth

by John Brian Shannon | June 25, 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

Scary statistics were trotted out in order to push UK citizens into voting to stay in the European Union, but when analyzed turned 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 inviting like-minded nations to join The Commonwealth with the goal of increasing economic and social integration with those sovereign northern European nations. (Norway never joined the EU, Switzerland recently left the EU, and the Scandinavian nations are gone as soon as the first opportunity appears that meets optics standards)

If the UK, the Scandinavian countries and Ireland form a loose economic and social cooperative union (or even better, 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.


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 made the case for the UK to leave the EU. As there’s no precedent, it could now become anything the UK government wants it to become.

How about this?

  1. The UK adopts a similar relationship to the EU as Norway and Switzerland.
  2. The UK invites 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 on 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 a trillion pounds of Tobin Tax revenue would accrue rather quickly — and be available to each Commonwealth nation to spend in any other Commonwealth nation. (Need a new SASOL headquarters in London? 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 soon contributing their own Tobin Tax revenue to the special IMF account used (only) to strengthen trade links with other Commonwealth economies.
  7. The ultimate goal, would be for the entire Commonwealth to copy the Norwegian economic model (as much as is reasonably 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 and (related to that) among the lowest crime rate in the world, and so much more. Keep in mind Norway’s very high ranking on the Social Progress Index and on the UN Happiness Index (free PDF downloads for both) And remember, all positive economic indicators flow from those statistics — 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

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 an economy car on the M6 motorway.


Who Should Lead an Empowered Commonwealth?

Whomever is the most recently dismissed Prime Minister of any Commonwealth country should (within 180 days of losing office) be appointed to 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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