July Pegasus Now Available!

Here is the July edition of Pegasus.

This issue contains a very detailed and comprehensive study of the history of slavery and its continuing effects on contemporary political, social and economic structures, from its origins in the ancient world right up to today’s precarious state of affairs.  Its author is our Global Executive Director, Steve Young.

Even though the sources used are in the public domain, a lot of this information is not widely known and may be surprising to you.

We would be most interested in your thoughts and feedback.

Podcast with Mexican Ambassador Francisco Suarez Davila

We have posted a podcast discussion with former Mexican Ambassador to Canada, Francisco Suarez Davila.

You can watch it here.

Amb. Suarez was introduced by our good friend Nicolas Mariscal of the Mexican business coordinating committee for social responsibility – Aliarse. Amb. Suarez is an economist by training and was with the Central Bank of Mexico and the IMF.

We discuss the fundamental need for trust for any social exchange in order for people to benefit from others and to feel confident about themselves. In Mexico, Amb. Suarez sadly notes the trust between government and business has collapsed, making it more worrisome to think about how Mexico can recover from the pandemic quickly and efficiently.

Amb. Suarez is not optimistic about this. He has been through many crises, but never one where health and economics were both negatively affected at the same time.

Michael Wright noted that if we close our fist to others, but expect to get something from them, we can’t receive it – our fingers are closed. To get, you must open your hand to give.

Born April 20, 1943 in Mexico City, Francisco Suárez holds a law degree from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and a master’s degree from the University of Cambridge, King’s College.

During President Peña Nieto’s electoral campaign and until very recently, he served as Secretary General of the Colosio Foundation, the think tank of the PRI. He also held the post of Vice President of the Mexican Council on Foreign Relations (COMEXI) (2008-2011).

He began his career at the Bank of Mexico where he became the General Manager of International Economic Affairs (1976-1980). He was an Executive Director on the Executive Board of the IMF (1972-1976); Financial Director at Nacional Financiera, Mexico’s industrial development bank (1980-1982); Undersecretary of Finance and Public Credit (1982-1988); and Director General of Banco Mexicano Somex, now Banco Santander (1988-1992).

For two periods, he served as a Federal Congressman (Député) and chaired the Finance Committee (1994-1997). Later, he was Ambassador of Mexico to the OECD (1997-2000), where he headed the Budget Committee.

Francisco Suárez’s extensive academic career includes teaching economic policy and international relations at the UNAM, Iberoamericana University and at the Colegio de México.

He has published numerous articles and co-authored several books. He has written a biweekly opinion column in the newspaper El Universal and served as both a member and Chairman of the Board of Trustees the UNAM.

With my colleagues Devry Boughner Vorwerk and Michael Wright, we discussed the impact of the pandemic on Mexico and the importance of collaboration between Mexico, the U.S and Canada, in line with the Caux Round Table Principles for Business on robust participation in international trade to make optimal contributions to wellbeing.

If Discourse is Morality in Action, What is Moral Discourse?

I ran across two insightful turns of phrase over the weekend in editorial commentaries – one in our local paper, the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the other in the Wall Street Journal – which illuminated for me the fundamental soundness of one of our ethical principles for government.

We propose that in politics and government, as a recognition of the dignity of all, discourse ethics should determine the use of public power – not arms, not the corruption of money or unjustified preference, not intolerance, not ideology or racism, not any repression of thought or insight, nor of the spirit, which seeks truth and justice in humility and through curiosity of mind with open heart. This Caux Round Table Principle holds that:

Discourse ethics should guide application of public power.

Public power, however allocated by constitutions, referendums or laws, shall rest its legitimacy in processes of communication and discourse among autonomous moral agents who constitute the community to be served by the government. Free and open discourse, embracing independent media, shall not be curtailed except to protect legitimate expectations of personal privacy, sustain the confidentiality needed for the proper separation of powers or for the most dire of reasons relating to national security.

In a defense of free thought, the Star Tribune held up as a problem “deluminating” – the bringing of darkness through the extinguishing of light. This idea was borrowed from the Harry Potter novels and very appropriately applied to currents running strongly in America just now (and not only in my country) which would shut down thinking and speech which is not culturally or politically approved by the self-righteous, self-appointed adjudicators of justice.

In Harry Potter, the wizard Dumbledore had a device – a deluminator – which would suppress light.

The Washington Post imperiously, but rightfully proclaims that “Democracy dies in darkness.”

Secondly, Gerard Baker in the Wall Street Journal also wrote in defense of free expression. He acutely illuminated the harm that poor use of language can inflict on discourse and the search for justice and the common good. He spoke of demagogues and sophists who manipulate and twist emotions, prejudices, ignorance and meanness of soul and spirit. He called out President Trump for aggressive misuse of words.

Bakers’ warning is that “careless rhetoric needlessly undermines the trust necessary for a healthy democracy.”

The moral quality protected by discourse ethics is trust, the basis for social good and personal wellbeing.

A Practical Plan from The Netherlands

Herman Mulder of the Impact Institute in Amsterdam has just sent me a very thoughtful and practical plan for a more intentional and more moral collaborative engagement of business and government to put in place after the pandemic.

Herman proposed this for his country, The Netherlands, but it applies in my mind to our global community.

You may read his recommendations here.

I would appreciate learning your reactions to his recommendations.

Hagia Sophia and the Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad – Informing the Pope and the Eastern Orthodox Patriarch

The decision by the Turkish government to convert the status of Hagia Sophia into a mosque brings to our immediate attention the contemporary legacy of the Prophet Muhammad’s covenants with Christian communities.

As I have reported to you previously, the Caux Round Table has used its good offices to facilitate the study of those covenants, coordinating three workshops among remarkable Christian and Muslim scholars and thought leaders.

To bring to the attention of both Pope Francis and the Eastern Orthodox Patriarch, Bartholomew, the terms of the Prophet’s covenants protecting Christian churches, I have sent each of them a letter on the subject.

You may find a copy of my letter to the Pope here.

And a copy of my letter to the Patriarch here.

In reacting to the decision of the Turkish government, I find myself ever more appreciative of the Prophet’s vision and grace in giving such covenants of respect and protection to Christian communities.

CRT Study of Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with Christian Communities

The Caux Round Table for Moral Capitalism has provided its good offices to coordinate three workshops to learn more about covenants made by the Prophet Muhammad with Christian communities. These covenants expressed respect for and promised protection of Christian communities, the Monastery of St. Catherine in Sinai and in the city of Najran, among them.

Our most recent workshop was a webinar convened by Hamad Bin Khalifa University in Doha. Professor Ibrahim Zein, with whom we first worked in 2006 on a study of Quranic principles of good governance at the International Islamic University Malaysia, and his Dean, Dr. Emad Shahin, hosted the workshop.

Subsequently, the university released a press statement on the workshop. The Gulf Times published this article on the workshop:

I am honored by the opportunity to bring forward new research on the Prophet Muhammad’s solicitous concern for Christians in collaboration with colleges from Christian and Muslim faiths.

Podcast with Entrepreneur John Puckett

We recently had a very stimulating and insightful discussion with entrepreneur John Puckett. You can see the podcast here.

With his wife, John started Caribou Coffee, a chain of coffee shops which were and are quite competitive with Starbucks. The Pucketts, both with MBA degrees, turned their vocations away from large firms to start their own business. As they grew, they accepted minority investors, but later found a divergence of priorities between the investors and themselves. They sold the company to start another.

Their new company is Punch Pizza here in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

John joked with us that both companies grew out of determined entrepreneurs in Naples, Italy, to overcome constraints imposed by living in a poorer part of the country. Finding Arabica coffee beans too expensive, they invented the expresso process to get quality flavor from the cheaper Robusta beans. With pizza, they invented a satisfactory food from cheap ingredients: flour, water and yeast.

What impressed me about John’s approach to capitalism was his intuitive regard for employees as an important capital asset.

Please do watch our discussion.

American Crisis Zoom Round Table – Friday, July 31

How has a society and culture so remarkable in the scope of human history for creating wealth and opportunity and maintaining ever expanding enjoyment of political and civil rights and entitlements under a constitutional democracy without relapsing into either anarchy or tyranny come to such a circumstance of division, polarization and crisis over racism – even after the Civil War, Civil Rights Movement and the emergence of middle classes in all ethnic demographics?

Have we failed in something profound so that John Locke’s optimism about human nature is being eclipsed by the pessimism of Thomas Hobbes and Sigmund Freud that society is only a veneer of repression of the urge to engage willingly in a war of all against all?

Here are some thoughts of Thomas Paine when the country was founded:

“These are the times that try men’s souls.”
– The American Crisis

“The mind once enlightened cannot again become dark.”
– A Letter Addressed to the Abbe Raynal on the Affairs of North America

“To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead or endeavoring to convert an atheist by scripture.”
– The American Crisis

“Whatever is my right as a man is also the right of another; and it becomes my duty to guarantee as well as to possess.”
– Rights of Man

“What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.”
– The American Crisis

Please join us at 9:00 am on Friday, July 31, on Zoom to discuss the crisis we face.

To register, please email Jed at jed@cauxroundtable.net.

Space is limited to 25 attendees.

June Pegasus Now Available!

Here is the June edition of Pegasus.

In this issue, we include country rankings for accumulation of social capital.

We also have two pieces from our editor, Rich Broderick, on how the Caux Round Table principles can help us recover from the coronavirus and a reflection on the insights of Hannah Arendt on the 1930s and 1940s.

I would be most interested in your thoughts and feedback.