Please Join Us November 10 on Zoom to Honor Former Co-Chairman, Bob MacGregor

Please join us at 9:00 am (CST) on Thursday, November 10 on Zoom to thank Bob MacGregor, former Co-Chairman of the Caux Round Table, for his life of dedication and service, in particular, for his leadership in coordinating the drafting and publication of the Caux Round Table’s Principles for Business.

Bob recently turned 90 years old.

He trained for the Presbyterian clergy at Princeton Seminary.  Servant leadership as held up by John Calvin came naturally to him.  His resolve is every day to say “Onward and upward” and then to follow his own admonition.  With this spirit, Bob does not see obstacles, only opportunities to do better.

His sense of stewardship enabled him to blend Japanese ethics, Catholic Social Teachings and his own Protestant sense of worldly ministry into an international team of Caux Round Table leaders, with much help from stalwart Moral Re-Armament activists.

Earlier in his life, Bob served as Vice President and Executive Director of the Dayton Hudson Foundation (now Target); President of Chicago United, the top business group in Chicago in the 1970s; President of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce; and President of the Center for Ethical Business Cultures, affiliated with the University of St. Thomas.  He also served four terms on the Minneapolis City Council and was initially recruited to run by the business community.

He is the author of Leadership: A Team Sport…Surrounded by Saints and CEOs.

To register, please email jed@cauxroundtable.net.

The event is free and will last about an hour.

I hope you can join us in honoring Bob.

Why Can’t We Talk to Each Other? Thursday, October 13

Why can’t we talk to each other?

Am I the problem, or are you?

Is it us or is it them?

It is a problem of talking or listening.  I talk; do you want to hear me out?  You talk; do I want to hear you out?

The Caux Round Table has asserted that discourse is best for moral governance, which implies both quality talking and quality listening.

Quite overlooked these days, as we grow more and more dismissive of others, are the advantages and ideals put forth by Aristotle and Cicero on friendship, on sociability as a profound human good, as at the core of ethics and morality, not to mention peace and prosperity.

Or what about old social expectations of being gracious and polite to those who are different or who don’t see things our way?  Emily Post, anyone?

Is discourse a skill we must learn? If so, where can we find teachers?

Aristotle and Cicero also left us wonderful treatises on rhetoric – the art of getting others to listen to us.  Both affirmed that in persuasion, the first step is to listen to the other and speak to their concerns and narratives, whatever they might be.

Please join us in-person at 9:00 am on Thursday, October 13, at the Landmark Center in downtown St. Paul for a round table discussion of why we just can’t get along with one another.  Where is the way forward?  Or, is it back to the mores and habits before the metastasizing of social media?

Perhaps a public statement should be drafted and circulated this election season?

Registration and a light breakfast will begin at 8:30 am.

Cost to attend is $10, which you can pay at the door.

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

The event will last about an hour and a half.

Banana Republics: Worthy of Note These Days? – Tuesday, September 20

Please join us at 9:00 am (CDT) on Tuesday, September 20 for a Zoom round table on “banana republics.”

An immediate reaction from many Americans shocked over a presidential administration using its security service to “harass” an extroverted and obstreperous political rival was that America’s constitutional republic was in danger.

That republic is 246 years old.  John Glubb, the English pro-consul in the Middle East after World War I, once wrote that the arc of history gives dynasties and great powers roughly 250 years of sway before they decline and then collapse.

Banana republics are usually considered as a peculiar form of government in Central and South America, where the state apparatus is captured by rent seekers profiting from the exploitation of natural resources.  Thus, banana republics have been considered as a pre-capitalist political order.

Yet, perhaps there can also be a post-industrial elitist political order of highly educated, technically proficient, knowledge workers, who extract rents from finance, high tech and “grifting,” with the help of their friends.

What, do you suppose, creates the conditions for banana republics to thrive and what measures could restrain their emergence and undermine their exercise of dominion over society and the economy?

I have long thought after close-up examination of cultures in Mexico, El Salvador and the Philippines that 400 years of Spanish colonialism after the Council of Trent could explain a lot about the politics of those “banana republics.”

The event is free, but space is limited.

To register, please email jed@cauxroundtable.net.

Your Help is Requested – Thursday, August 4

We have recently been discussing the need to have high expectations of individuals in business and finance, as well as firms if a moral capitalism is to become successful in the real economy.

The July issue of our newsletter, Pegasus, will have a presentation of what might make for moral “capitalists,” in addition to the organizational parameters of moral “capitalism.”

We are devising a self-assessment along the lines of the Gallup StrengthsFinder and the Myers-Briggs categories of personality dispositions so that individuals can consider which of their abilities might be those of a moral “capitalist.”

You may recall our self-assessment for decision-making, the Decision Style Inventory.  We want to create something similar as a product for use by individuals and companies in self-improvement commitments.

We plan to present at this round table our list of attributes relevant to being a moral “capitalist” and get your help in thinking it through, adding new dimensions and revising what we have down on paper.

Please join us in-person at 9:00 am on Thursday, August 4 at Landmark Center to share your thoughts with us.

Registration and a light breakfast will begin at 8:30 am.

Because we are asking for your advice and guidance, there will be no charge to attend this round table.

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

The event will last about an hour and a half.

ESG – Salvation or Wishful Thinking? Monday, July 18

I sense a shift in the geist where ESG is concerned.  What just a few years ago was touted as the way forward for capitalism is more and more moving to the margins.  Please join us at 9:00 am (CST) on Monday, July 18th for a Zoom round table on ESG – what does it really mean and what can it accomplish?

From my perspective, ESG is just the most current mantra for finding a way to have capitalism without negative side-effects.

As the industrial age emerged in the early 19th century, the common law of England and America responded by creating the law of negligence – taking responsibility for the harm you cause when you fail to use due care.  Later came causes of action in warranty and strict liability for defective products.  Statutes were enacted to enhance the contract rights of workers and to protect consumers and to limit the market power of monopolies.  In the 1930s in the U.S., financial capitalism was required to truthfully disclose all facts supporting or reducing the value of securities.

In the 1970s, investors were prodded by social activists to direct their capital away from firms which were not socially responsible and consumers were encouraged to take their trade elsewhere.  In the 1980s, the quality movement here taught companies how to give better value for money to customers and engage employees to become more proficient in creating such value. In a re-emphasis, companies were encouraged to see the intangible ways of enhancing financial value by taking better care of stakeholders.

In the early 1990s, the need for ethics was introduced in business schools to reframe the culture of decision-making in for-profit firms.  Then came advocacy of the strategy of corporate social responsibility.  In the early 2000s, the approach to changing the outcomes of capitalism looked at measuring and reporting impacts – the Global Reporting Initiative.  The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board was formed.  Then, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals were promulgated to induce private firms to devise and deploy business models which both satisfied consumer needs and provided public goods in addition.

In 2019, we were advised that private firms needed a purpose, other than just making a profit.  We heard of conscious capitalism, common good capitalism, inclusive capitalism and the economics of mutuality.

The latest iteration is ESG – environment, society and governance.  What is meant by society and governance is none too specific.

What, then, is the role of ESG investing and reporting?  Please help us understand what is going on.

To register, please email jed@cauxroundtable.net.

The event is free and will last about an hour.

Checks and Balances: 50 Years after Watergate – Tuesday, June 28

Please join us for an in-person round table at 9:00 am on Tuesday, June 28, at Landmark Center to consider the state of our constitutional republic.  Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives allege an unconstitutional insurrection occurred on January 6, 2021; Dinesh D’Souza alleges in his new documentary, 2,000 Mules, an unconstitutional stuffing of ballot boxes funded by plutocrats to steal the presidency in 2020.

Fifty years ago, the break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters by agents of the executive branch took place on June 17.  As a result, President Nixon resigned from office after the constitutional process of impeachment for abuse of power exposed his personal involvement in a cover-up of that burglary.  Was that extra-constitutional political act of seeking electoral advantage the beginning of the erosion of our constitutional democracy?

The issues we face today were clearly and precisely foreseen in the Federalist Papers.

Madison wrote that a well-constructed republic has a “tendency to break and control the violence of faction.”  Faction, he said, introduces into public councils “instability, injustice and confusion.”  Sounds like the USA of our time.

Federalist 51 advises that a republic must be so contrived that the interior structure of the government and its several constituent parts may, by their mutual relations, be the means of keeping each other in their proper places.  “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition;” “… the constant aim is to divide and arrange the several offices in such a manner as that each may be a check on the other – that the private interest of every individual may be a sentinel over the public rights.”

“If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”

When a jury in Washington, D.C. condones lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, can federal courts ply their proper role in providing a check on the police power of the federal government?  If law is not enforced, of what use is a constitution to check the corrupting vice and destructive power of faction?

In his written Farewell Address to the American people, Washington wrote:

“All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and associations under whatever plausible character with the real design to direct, control, counteract or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle and of fatal tendency.  They serve to organize faction; to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community.

However, combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines by which cunning, ambitious and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.

Let me now take a more comprehensive view and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party, generally.

It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government.”

So, right now, in our time, what is the role for morality in our republic?  Or rather, whose morality?

Cost to attend is $10 per person.

A light breakfast will be served beginning at 8:30 am.

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

The event will last about an hour and a half.

Please Join Us for Zoom Round Table on Ukraine – May 24

Recently in Russia, there was a commemoration of victory over the German National Socialist Regime in World War II.  In his speech, President Putin spoke more pointedly, if vaguely, about his intentions with the invasion of Ukraine.

That invasion has brought attention to big questions: Has the post WWII international order come to an end?  Has the Enlightenment run out of gas?  How successful will Russia and China be in their new alliance with a new vision of our world in deference to ethnic theocracies?  Will there be famine among the poor and the innocent?  What is the meaning of Europe?  Are Russians part of Europe?  Do we need ethical principles?  What of global capitalism with inflation and supply chain dysfunctions?

Please join us at 9:00 am (CST) on Tuesday, May 24, for a Zoom round table on these questions and other relevant points.

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

The event is free and will last about an hour.

Please Join Us for the Presentation of the 2021 Dayton Awards – Friday, May 6

The Caux Round Table for Moral Capitalism will present its 2021 Dayton Awards at 8:30 am on Friday, May 6 at the Landmark Center in St. Paul and you are invited to join us. Please register here.

The 2021 Dayton Awards will be presented to Medaria Arradondo, former Chief of Police for the City of Minneapolis, and Todd Axtell, retiring Chief of Police for the City of St. Paul, for their upholding the demanding fiduciary responsibility of public office as a public trust.

The Caux Round Table’s Principles for Government affirm that:

  • Power brings responsibility. Power is a necessary moral circumstance in that it binds the actions of one to the welfare of others.
  • Therefore, the power given by public office is held in trust for the benefit of the community and its citizens. Officials are custodians only of the powers they hold. They have no personal entitlement to office or the prerogatives thereof.
  • The state is the servant and agent of higher ends. It is subordinate to society. Public power is to be exercised within a framework of moral responsibility for the welfare of others.

The Caux Round Table was founded to celebrate that legacy and promote its principles, which are universal, of social responsibility in business and public trust in government. We seek to recognize those Minnesotans who today, in this time of crisis, carry forward that legacy and those ideals – no matter what their power or position.

The event is free and will last about an hour.

Space is limited. Please register.

The Landmark Center is located at 75 West Fifth Street in downtown St. Paul.

We’ll be in room 326.

The recipient of the 2019 Dayton Award was Douglas M. Baker Jr., then CEO of Ecolab and the recipients of the 2020 Dayton Award were Andrew Cecere, CEO of USBank and Don and Sondra Samuels.

What is a Civic Business? Please Join Us at Kowalski’s Markets on April 26

Please join us for a special round table event with Mary Kowalski, owner of Kowalski’s Markets, and Kris Kowalski Christiansen, CEO of Kowalski’s Markets, at 9:30 am on Tuesday, April 26, at their headquarters in Woodbury.

Mary and Kris will discuss with us the concept of a civic business – what it is, how it works and how their employees contribute – and how other businesses can adopt this model.

Here’s a short video of Mary and Kris discussing a civic business.

Coincidentally, we will be including an article by Mary on this very issue in this month’s edition of Pegasus.

The event is free and refreshments will be served.

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

Kowalski’s is located at 8505 Valley Creek Road in Woodbury.

The event will conclude at 11:00 am.

In-person Round Table on Ukraine on Wednesday, April 6

Please join us for an in-person round table on the Russian invasion of Ukraine at 9:00 am on Wednesday, April 6 at Landmark Center in St. Paul.

T.S. Eliot said that April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain.  And here we are, in April.

But we are not in Ukraine, where the spring thaw has bogged down Russian tanks.

Have we entered a new age?  A darker one, with more intolerance and less freedom?  An age of elites imposing their ways on the “deplorables”?

In our aspirations, have we overlooked the insight of Thomas Hobbes and Herbert Spencer that power, not love, is the foundation of life?

Registration and a light breakfast will begin at 8:30 am.

The cost to attend is $10.00 per person.

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

On a related note, you may find it of interest to read Vladimir Putin’s article on the Rus of July 2021, where he makes his case for the invasion.  You can read it here.