Should There Be a Minimum Wage? Please Join Us on December 20th

What is a fair wage? What is a living wage? What is a just wage? Why work at all? “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs,” reasoned Karl Marx in 1875.

But who gets to decide my ability and who gets to decide my needs? Me, perhaps, or you?

The threat to employment coming from Artificial Intelligence, automation and robotics has many proposing a universal basic income to carry us through the ups and downs of life. The St. Paul City Council just voted to use municipal police powers to mandate hourly wages for certain employees, seeking to give those who work more money for the exercise of their abilities in order to help them meet their needs.

Is this a good idea? Is it a slippery slope leading us to the embrace of Marxist doctrine? Who will pay and in what ways when certain prices rise?

Please join us for a round table discussion of work and wages at 9:00 am on Thursday, December 20th at the University Club of St. Paul.

Registration and a light breakfast will begin at 8:30 am and the event at 9:00 am.

Cost to attend is $15 for Business and Public Policy Round Table members and $35 for non-members. Payment will be accepted at the door.

Space is limited.

To register, please contact Jed at jed@cauxroundtable.net or (651) 223-2863 (email preferred).

The University Club is located at 420 Summit Ave in St. Paul.

Parking will be available along Summit Ave.

The event will conclude at 11:00 am.

Ancient Wisdom Still True Today

Since the dawn of the industrial age, critics of its reliance on capitalism for continuous innovation and growth have pointed accusing fingers at systemic aspects of private property, free markets and limited government regulation for capitalism’s many unequal outcomes and power imbalances.

But what if the root cause of the shortcomings of capitalism are not in its architecture but in the minds and hearts of those who make use of its structure for their own purposes?

Recently, I read an essay on Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War. Two insights from that first Western historian would incline us not to blame systems but rather look for causes and offsetting remedies elsewhere.

Thucydides thought that “…the usual thing among men is that when they want something, they will, without any reflection, leave that to hope, while they will employ the full force of reason in rejecting what they find unpalatable.”

Markets generate wants, as honey draws flies. Is it any surprise, then, that people in markets cling to hope when they should not and rationalize away what is inconvenient or unsettling in their transactions, especially any personal responsibility for doing good to others?

Thucydides also said: “War is a stern teacher … it brings most peoples’ minds down to the level of their actual circumstances.” War throws “the ordinary conditions of civilized life into confusion; human nature, always ready to offend even where laws exist, show[s] itself proudly as something incapable of controlling true passions, insubordinate to the idea of justice, the enemy of anything superior to itself.”

Many have pointed out the supposed similarities between war and markets: dog eat dog competition; to the victor belong the spoils; survival of the fittest; no empathy for losers. So markets, like war, expose the rawness of human nature, bloody red in tooth and claw.

There is something to the comparison. People do not lose their human natures when they go to market. So when market realities – no free lunch, prices too low or too high – bring them down to actual circumstances and sow confusion in their framing of expectations and aspirations, their passions take over and become insubordinate to justice. They consider their own interests paramount and not subordinate to the concerns of others.

So in a sense, it is a system that creates our disappointments, a natural system, if you will. But the market system of our own devising for production, finance and consumption, at times, brings forward human nature in the raw – untrammeled, unpolished, un-burdened by virtuous sentiments, unadorned by beauty.

The solution: reform the market system or change our natures?

CRT Responds to Australian Royal Commission on Banking

The Interim Australian Royal Commission report on abuse of marketing by financial firms was released last month. The executive summary of the report can be found here.

The techniques for enhancing firm revenues brought under scrutiny do not measure up to standards of moral capitalism. Once again. I s such taking advantages of customers inescapable in capitalism as a function of a human nature which is programmed to deviate towards selfishness or can market incentives be arranged to offset that propensity with more ethical fidelity?

Noel Purcell, Chairman emeritus of the Caux Round Table for Moral Capitalism who worked on CSR for WestPac Bank in Sydney, has submitted a response to the Royal Commission’s interim report, which can be found here.

In Noel’s distinctive and distinguished fashion, his response is short and forceful. I urge you to read it and let me know your thoughts.

Please Give to The Max!

This Thursday, November 15th, is Give to the Max Day here in Minnesota, where the Caux Round Table for Moral Capitalism (CRT) is based, and I write to ask for your support.

We are very efficient in punching globally way above our weight for a small, non-profit and as proof, in 2018, we:

-Held our 2018 Global Dialogue at St. Petersburg University’s Graduate School of Management in St. Petersburg, Russia on the current growing tension between humanism and tribalism.

-Convened a workshop in Kyoto, Japan on mutuality in ethics between Japanese and Chinese moral traditions, integrating the insights of two great East Asian peoples for collaboration in support of global sustainability.

-Cosponsored a workshop in Beijing on the jurisprudence of an ancient Chinese statesman, MoZi, and on the contemporary usefulness of the ancient Chinese text, the Yi Jing as guideposts for the constructive integration of the official Chinese approach to government and markets with global standards.

-Initiated organization of a 2019 workshop at the Vatican on the Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with Christian communities as appropriate contemporary social teachings on respect and collaboration between Christians and Muslims for the common good of humankind.

-Cosponsored a conference in Bangkok on Buddhism and sustainability.

-Commissioned a unique, pioneering study of enterprise valuation methodology with Oxford Analytica.

-Initiated a new CRT book series with the publication on Amazon Kindle of collected essays on ethics.

– Convened two public office/public trust workshops for political candidates and elected officials on the CRT’s Principles for Government.

-Held the 10th annual Celebration of John Brandl & His Uncommon Quest for Common Ground in partnership with several local policy organizations.

-Held several round table discussions on relevant and timely topics.

-Published 12 monthly issues of our newsletter Pegasus.

We need your help now to continue this work and more importantly, to expand it. With your help, we can reach out to more countries, convene more workshops of thought-leaders, publish more books, train more people, create more unique management guidelines and metrics for sustainability, help implement the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals and showcase practical steps towards robust outcomes advancing the common good.

Anything you can give would be most appreciated.

You can contribute here.

The Consequences of World War I

One hundred years ago today, the fighting in World War I ended in an armistice agreement. An old order disappeared and our modern era began. The work of our Caux Round Table for Moral Capitalism (CRT) has evolved to challenge the darker sides of our modern temperament by providing ideals and standards for constructive globalism and just social orders.

Thanks to World War I, an imperial age evaporated. Russian, Ottoman, German and Hapsburg empires collapsed. The British Empire, though triumphant on the battlefields of Europe and the Middle East, was financially wounded and spiritually subverted. The 2,000 year Chinese empire in Beijing, in the process of collapse, would be replaced first by warlordism, then by civil war and then by an ideological, one-party dictatorship. The Japanese attempt to create a new empire in East Asia and the attempt by Hitler to build a similar empire in Europe would both fail. The United States emerged as a first among equals with a determining role to play in building a new international political and economic order.

The new norm for the global community became the self determination of peoples. Each “people” was thereafter entitled to a sovereign nation state, a legal order derived from the 1648 European Westphalian compromise between church and secular powers. To protect nation states, aggressive war was outlawed. This norm was incorporated into the League of Nations and today’s United Nations. To check the powers of such national sovereignties, international law on human rights was created and multilateral organizations were established.

But the definition of who a people entitled to its own state might be was left vague. Today, conflicts among “peoples” are a source of contention and violence. What is the proper status of the Scots, Catalans, Palestinians, North and South Koreans, Uighurs, Tibetans, Kurds and the Ukrainians? What is the proper balance of power between the peoples of the European Union and the Union’s central administration? Does China have sovereign territorial rights over the South China Sea or the Senkaku Islands? Are the Taiwanese a “people?”

The end of World War I ushered in modern culture with its angst and distempers of nihilism and narcissism. In Europe, history was abandoned as having led to failure of systems. Architecture abandoned classicism and turned to modernism with its clean horizontal and vertical lines and its ideal that form should follow function. Philosophy under Dewey and Wittgenstein embraced rational skepticism. Law turned more and more to legal positivism and instrumental response to contemporary values and policy needs. Music replaced symphonies with Jazz and syncopation. In literature, Joyce, Proust, Kafka and Hemingway set forth new modes of writing and chose new subjects for reflection. Innovation, embracing whatever was not old, became the common currency of culture. The marginalization of religion began. The spirit of the age became what Pope Francis calls “anthropocentrism” – humankind taking over from both God and nature.

Modernity was thus unsettling and still is. Reaction set in, perhaps most importantly under Hitler in Nazi Germany.

In economics, after World War I, socialism took on new power to displace capitalists as a ruling elite. Our economic order is still unsettled by the conflicting claims of capital and labor. Governments evolved a welfare state ideology to balance and compromise the respective interests of finance, production, workers and communities. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the shift to “socialism with Chinese characteristics” in China under Deng Xiaoping solidified a modern approach to economic growth and social justice which blends private goods and the common good on terms mediated by the state.

Thus, the CRT’s principles for business, ethical government and ownership of wealth address the central problem of our time.

Our need to move beyond the fears and power imbalances of today can be met by finding common cause in fundamentals so that the “upsettingness” of modernity becomes both constructive and comfortable for all.

Inscribed on his grave is Karl Marx’s Thesis Eleven on the philosopher Feuerbach: “The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point, however, is to change it.“ And on David Livingston’s burial market in Westminster Cathedral are his last written words: “All I can add in my solitude, is, may Heaven’s rich blessing come down on everyone, American, English, or Turk, who will help to heal this open sore of the world.”

As I stood on the back of our Capital in Washington, D.C. on Friday, January 20th, 1961, I heard our new President John F. Kennedy urge: “Don’t ask what your country can do for you. Ask rather what you can do for your country.” Today, I would amend that to replace country with “world.”

One hundred years after the Great War – the War to end all wars, the War to make the world safe for democracy – ended, our task remains to act to ensure that modernity reflects the better angels of our nature.

Please Join Us: 10th Annual Celebration of John Brandl & His Uncommon Quest for Common Ground

And what about the poor?

Can there be a moral capitalism if people are poor?

Whose fault is it that people are poor – the system or theirs?

Superficially speaking, the left blames the system and wants redistribution of wealth from rich to poor while the right “blames” the poor for not doing more to get up and go after jobs, education, self-discipline.

But what if each side is narrowly focused in their analysis of causes of poverty and so also in its advocacy of what might really change circumstances for those in poverty?

What if each side understands some but not all of the truth about poverty?

Last year, the Caux Round Table for Moral Capitalism (CRT) and other organizations brought to Minnesota for our annual John Brandl Program to continue John’s “uncommon quest for common ground” Robert Doar of the American Enterprise Institute and Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution to speak on blending ideas from the right and the left seeking to reduce poverty.

Inspired by common sense virtue supporting their collaboration, the Brandl Program organizers – the CRT, Center of the American Experiment, Citizens League, Growth & Justice and the Humphrey School – agreed last year on collaboration around the challenge of reducing poverty in Minnesota. We decided that our first step should be setting forth our separate ideas and concerns about how to do this. Each group wrote an essay on poverty and Dean Laura Bloomberg of the Humphrey School wrote an introduction. We will release these essays at this year’s Brandl Program.

This year’s program marks the 10th anniversary of our joint continuation of John Brandl’s uncommon quest for common ground. We are proud to mark this milestone for a country so divided in its politics and its cultures with a major collaborative effort seeking the common good for our state.

To mark the release of our essays, Robert and Ron are returning to Minnesota for the 2018 Brandl Program scheduled for 4:30 pm on Monday, November 26th at the Humphrey School in Cowles Auditorium and you are invited to join us.

The keynote speaker for the program will be Tonya Allen, President & CEO of the Skillman Foundation in Detroit. The Skillman Foundation works to ensure that Detroit youth have access to high-quality educational and economic opportunities and a strong, broad network of champions that work on behalf of young people’s interests.

The event is free and open to the public.

For additional information or to register, please click here.

Please Join Us, AEI and Brookings for a Discussion about Poverty in Minnesota on the 26th

In June of last year, we cosponsored an event with Robert Doar of the American Enterprise Institute and Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution to discuss their joint AEI/Brookings Working Group on Poverty and Opportunity report titled “Opportunity, Responsibility, and Security: A Consensus Plan for Reducing Poverty and Restoring the American Dream”. 

This report is most notable for its success in bringing together a common goal – reducing poverty – advocates from different policy perspectives.  Reading the report is like turning the clock back to when America worked reasonably well for the common good.

We are very excited to announce that Ron and Robert will return to Minnesota on Monday, November 26th to discuss what has happened since their initial visit and where they see things going forward.

We will also be releasing our own local, joint report on recommended steps to reduce poverty in Minnesota.  These recommendations will come from the Caux Round Table for Moral Capitalism, Center of the American Experiment, Growth & Justice and the Citizens League.  Ron and Robert will respond to the range of our suggestions.

Please join us for a very special round table discussion with Robert and Ron at 7:30 am on the 26th at the Minneapolis Club. 

Registration and a light breakfast will begin at 7:00 am and the event at 7:30 am. 

Cost to attend is $15 for Business and Public Policy Round Table members and $35 for non-members.  Payment will be accepted at the door.

Copies of the report will be available at the event.

To register, please contact Jed at jed@cauxroundtable.net or (651) 223-2863 (email preferred).

The Minneapolis Club is located at 729 2nd Ave South in downtown Minneapolis. 

Parking will be available in the Minneapolis Club’s parking ramp.

The event will conclude at 9:30 am.

New CRT E-Book Now Available on Kindle!

To help the Caux Round Table for Moral Capitalism advocate its Principles for Business, publications are a basic tool for the dissemination of our ideas and practical ways to implement them.

We have been fortunate to have published Moral Capitalism (2004) and The Road to Moral Capitalism (2014). We have now published our monthly newsletter Pegasus for 7 1/2 years.

This week, we are delighted to announce a new publishing format: e-book and print-on-demand on Amazon.

We find that there are many important and thoughtful contributions to new ways of thinking about capitalism which fit neither academic publishers or peer-reviewed journals, nor commercial houses. Thus, we want to fill a void with our own use of new technology of digital and print-on-demand and bring to public consideration worthy ideas and recommendations.

We have just posted on Amazon for downloading on Kindle an e-book: Ethics – Collected Works.

You may purchase the book here.

If you purchase the book and enjoy it, I would be very grateful if you left a review on Amazon. Reviews really do help give the book better visibility for those searching on Amazon for books on these subjects.

I am grateful for the assistance of my colleagues Erik Sande and Patrick Rhone in making the essays included in this book available to the global public.

Please forward this email to those whom you think might want to consider reading these essays on moral capitalism.

We have two additional collections of essays we will be publishing in the coming months.

In addition, we now want to reach out and provide publication for commentaries, essays and manuscripts which fall between the stools of academic presses and journals and commercial houses. Please get in touch with me if you have thoughts and comments you would like us to consider for publication under our brand.

Special Round Table with American Enterprise Institute and Brookings Institution on Reducing Poverty in Minnesota

In June of last year, we cosponsored an event with Robert Doar of the American Enterprise Institute and Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution to discuss their joint AEI/Brookings Working Group on Poverty and Opportunity report titled “Opportunity, Responsibility, and Security: A Consensus Plan for Reducing Poverty and Restoring the American Dream”. 

This report is most notable for its success in bringing together a common goal – reducing poverty – advocates from different policy perspectives.  Reading the report is like turning the clock back to when America worked reasonably well for the common good.

We are very excited to announce that Ron and Robert will return to Minnesota on Monday, November 26th to discuss what has happened since their initial visit and where they see things going forward.

We will also be releasing our own local, joint report on recommended steps to reduce poverty in Minnesota.  These recommendations will come from the Caux Round Table for Moral Capitalism, Center of the American Experiment, Growth & Justice and the Citizens League.  Ron and Robert will respond to the range of our suggestions.

Please join us for a very special round table discussion with Robert and Ron at 7:30 am on the 26th at the Minneapolis Club. 

Registration and a light breakfast will begin at 7:00 am and the event at 7:30 am.

Cost to attend is $15 for Business and Public Policy Round Table members and $35 for non-members.  Payment will be accepted at the door.

Copies of the report will be available at the event.

To register, please contact Jed at jed@cauxroundtable.net or (651) 223-2863 (email preferred).

The Minneapolis Club is located at 729 2nd Ave South in downtown Minneapolis. 

Parking will be available in the Minneapolis Club’s parking ramp.

The event will conclude at 9:30 am.

The Fruits of Modern Capitalism

Swiss bank UBS just released its 2018 report on the world’s billionaires. A few factual highlights I thought would be of interest to you:

  • Globally, billionaire wealth increased by USD 1.4 trillion to USD 8.9 trillion in 2017, its greatest absolute growth ever, with China minting 2 billionaires a week.
  • Billionaires have driven almost 80% of the 40 main breakthrough innovations over the last 40 years. Approximately 70% are technology-related and 80% of the companies behind them are based in the Americas.
  • A new cohort of Chinese entrepreneurs is challenging Silicon Valley amid rising tensions over trade and intellectual property. With 50 unicorns produced in China and 62 in the U.S., the Chinese are proving restless innovators and disruptors.