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Notice of Caux Round Table 2022 Global Dialogue at Mountain House in Caux, Switzerland

In partnership with the Initiatives of Change Business and Economy Program, we are planning on a Global Dialogue at Mountain House in Caux, Switzerland, for July 30 and 31, 2022.  Most participants have, in the past, arrived on Friday before the meeting and then leave the following Monday.

If you have never been to Mountain House, travel is quite easy.  At the Geneva Airport, (or train station if you arrive by train) you buy a train ticket for Caux and then catch a train for Montreux. The trip is about an hour, as I remember, or less.  Once at the Montreux station, you walk via an underpass to another platform to catch a cog wheeled train up the mountainside to Caux, a small hamlet.  Then, you walk 2 minutes to Mountain House.

Alternatively, the drive from Geneva to Caux is easy and well-marked.

Mountain House has been the setting for many sessions on reconciliation since opening as a conference center after WWII.  The first sessions brought former enemies from France and Germany together and laid a moral foundation for the European Union.  In 1986, Mountain House welcomed business leaders from Japan, Europe and the U.S. to confront and rise above trade rivalries in the first gathering of the Caux Round Table.

Today, as we shift from one era – the post-WWII order seeking international comity and peaceful idealism – to something, as yet, undefined, but, perhaps, a return to the realpolitik of nation state willful self-assertion and geo-political rivalries among economies and cultures – dialogue and reconciliation is still most needed.

Please join us to make your personal contribution to the legacy of Mountain House.  You may find the proposed agenda for the Global Dialogue here.

We will confirm the agenda, conference fee and accommodation costs later.

Please do save the date.

Christmas Stockings and the Morality of Capitalism

A somewhat off the wall article in the Wall Street Journal makes a case, by accident, for the value of capitalism.

The article was a short note on the history of Christmas stockings, part of the Christmas holiday ritual developed in the 19th century in Europe, especially in England.

One part of the innovative middle class celebration of Christmas was for children – Santa Claus, who brought gifts to children who had been nice, not naughty, during the year, then ending. Small gifts were put in stockings, hung from a mantle over the fireplace.

Stockings used for that special purpose evolved from stockings made for daily wear.

The first modern stockings were knitted by hand and by a machine invented in 1589 called a stocking frame. Foot-powered stocking frames evolved over time. By the mid-18th century, England had some 14,000 stocking frames. Stockings were no longer only for the aristocracy. Very ordinary people could acquire such status coverings for their legs.

In mercantilist France, stocking frames were restricted to protect hand workers.

In 1758, Jedediah Strutt invented a way of incorporating the purl stitch into the making of the fabric, resulting in ribbed stockings. With his profits, Strutt financed the first spinning mills built by Richard Arkwright, whose invention of the water frame transformed cloth making from a low-productivity craft to an industrial product. Arkwright’s invention took only minutes to make enough wool yarn to make a pair of knee socks, when previously that task would have taken five hours.

Cotton hosiery, more desirable than wool, was one of the first consumer products made from the newly abundant thread. What could be produced in quantity could profitably be sold at lower prices and so could become more affordable to more people and so also more abundant in the lives of the many.

And Christmas stockings, too, could become part of most every English family’s Christmas celebration.

Thanks to the capacity of capitalism to evolve technology, expand and expand productivity, new wealth, including ownership of stockings, was created, which could more inclusively devolve to the people.

Your Support is Most Appreciated

Our thanks to those of you who recently contributed to the work of the Caux Round Table during the Give to the Max special day of fundraising for non-profits here in Minnesota.

During the last two weeks, I have surprisingly received many emails from all kinds of organizations asking me for a personal contribution.  These requests seem here in the U.S. to be a new part of our holiday season, perhaps encouraged by increased use of Zoom and internet relationships over these past 18 months.

It is the end of our fiscal year and so I presume on your goodwill and concern to ask again for your financial support, particularly to defray the costs of our monthly newsletter, Pegasus.

From its inception in 1986, the Caux Round Table has provided its thoughts, reflections, principles, metrics and commentaries to the global public domain without charge.

We rely upon donors to contribute with hope and courage in the midst of trials and disappointments.

You can contribute by PayPal, check or wire transfer (for wire transfer instructions, please respond to this message).

Our mailing address is 75 West Fifth Street, Suite 219, St. Paul, MN 55102.

I wish you all the best in the New Year.

John Brandl’s Uncommon Quest for Common Ground: Please Join Us for a Zoom Round Table on December 28

he Caux Round Table for Moral Capitalism, with support from the Citizens League, Growth & Justice, Center of the American Experiment and Humphrey School of Public Affairs, invites you to a special Zoom round table on John Brandl’s “uncommon quest for common ground” at 9:00 am on Tuesday, December 28.

Mitch Pearlstein, whose initiative launched the Brandl program in 2008, will join us to recall his personal experience with John.

Our combined efforts reflect the leadership of John Brandl, former state legislator and Dean of the Humphrey Institute (now School).  John, a life-long Democrat, took, as his True North, the “uncommon quest for common ground.”  John was loath to “dis-include” anyone or their personal truths and narratives.  But he quietly and engagingly sought to find the harmonies and goodness which can affirm our common humanity.

This past July, the Pew Research Center surveyed 10,221 American adults.  Recently, it released a report categorizing all Americans as belonging to one or another of nine “tribes” in our politics.  These rivalrous tribes are: 1) faith and flag conservatives; 2) committed conservatives; 3) populist right; 4) ambivalent right; 5) stressed sideliners; 6) outsider left; 7) Democrat mainstays; 8) establishment liberals; 9) and progressive left.

For two decades, other commentators and analysts of our culture and politics have proposed that we Americans, in our culture and politics, have taken on a bimodal distribution of dispositions as follows:

In contrast to the bimodal distribution of political beliefs and agendas, past understandings of the American democracy (such as Louis Hartz, The Liberal Tradition in America) were more in line with a normal gaussian distribution of individual orientations as follows:

The urgent question is whether the American experiment in ordered liberty is collapsing, whether there is any common good left, but only various factional interests and ideologies, just as Madison feared might happen.

Knowing that most great nations and powers lasted about 250 years before disintegrating or collapsing, what kind of program might be most effective at this point in our nation’s history to improve our prospects?

To register, please click here.

The event is free and will last about an hour.

The Zoom link will be emailed to registrants the day before the event.

Please Join Us for a Zoom Round Table with Klaus Leisinger on His New Book, Integrity in Business and Society

Please join us for a special Zoom round table at 9:00 am (CST) on Thursday, December 9, with our colleague, Klaus Leisinger, on the release of his new book, Integrity in Business and Society.

Today, every self-respecting company has a mission statement assuring that the integrity of its actions is one of its highest values. Nevertheless, the limits of legality are often tested in everyday life, “service by the book” is merely provided in the environmental area, although proactive action would be necessary and inhumane working conditions are made possible, again and again, with legal tricks.

How can this be? Are these one-off lapses on the part of individual managers and thus, the exception to an otherwise upright rule? In this book, Klaus Leisinger shows that integrity is, above all, a personal responsibility: Integre leaders look closely, act to the best of their knowledge and conscience and lead by example. When they make promises, they keep them. When they make mistakes, they stand up for them and correct them. They motivate the people working in the company through fairness and recognition and convey to them that they are part of something they can stand up for with pride. With a minimum of academic theory, the author presents practical insights and tools that help deal with moral dilemmas in everyday business life and develop solutions based on universally valid values.

To register, please click here.

This is the second in a series of Zoom round table events with authors, business leaders and think tank leaders.

The event is free and will last about an hour.

Caux Round Table Publishes Very Timely and Important Book on Integrity and Leadership in Business

I am very excited to announce that the Caux Round Table has just published on Amazon a new book, Integrity in Business and Society, authored by our colleague, Klaus Leisinger.  We are especially honored that Klaus gave us permission to publish his book.  Integrity in Business and Society is one of the very best books I have read on business ethics.  It provides an intellectually astute and experientially confirmed theoretical foundation for moral capitalism.

To make Klaus’ ideas available to readers around the world, especially students in business programs and line managers, we have priced it at $15.00 (USD), while the Kindle version is $9.99 (USD).  Most business books and especially academic books on ethics are much more expensive.  I am trusting that many potential readers are price sensitive and so will be eager to buy Klaus’s book.

You can buy the book here.

Since the age of 14, Klaus has worked, first as an unskilled helper in a mail-order house and later as an unskilled laborer in a house building.  He later worked in soap production and road construction and then as a truck driver.  It was all heavy and partly dirty work and always poorly paid.  But then, how else could he pay his way in life?

Klaus told me he learned one important lesson: whenever a supervisor was kind and respected the dignity of the employees and workmen, they were happier doing their work and time passed faster than under conditions where the bosses were rude, abusing their power to press out the last drop of energy.

Later, when a student, Klaus, by chance, met Samuel Koechlin, the CEO of Geigy.  Koechlin was an enlightened, open-minded person and asked that Klaus come by his office.  Koechlin told him that a good company needs unorthodox thinking and gave him the task for his next semester holidays to write a business policy for Africa.  Next, Koechlin asked Klaus to write a corporate policy for the developing world.  In 1974, the board of the now-merged Ciba-Geigy, accepted a “third world policy” stipulating a special responsibility of those who have broader shoulders and deeper knowledge.

For Ciba-Geigy, Klaus chose pharmaceuticals and spent 4 years as CEO of the regional pharma office in Nairobi, being responsible for Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi and Mauritius.  Daily, he confronted absolute poverty, unnecessary sickness and human misery, but also the absolute necessity to earn a profit for his employer.  Working under those conditions taught Klaus that business enterprises can do much more than being financially successful if and when corporate leaders want to.  Businesses can be a force for good for the poorest half of the world’s population and for sustainable development.

With some emotion, Klaus once told me that if there is a will of enlightened business leaders to use corporate knowledge, skills, as well as products and services also for those being left behind, if those leaders are willing to build bridges across to people of goodwill closeted in other societal silos, then business can help solve complex problems we are faced with.

Here are my thoughts on why you should buy Klaus’ book:

Klaus Leisinger’s book is for you, personally.  Klaus makes operational high concepts and deep wisdom.  Perhaps his most important contribution to our finding success and meaning in life is “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”  As Shakespeare put it: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that ….”

Here is what you can learn from his book:

Chapter 1: Trust

Lack of trust leads to troubles and losses.  Building trust leads to success and well-being.  Creating trust is how you stand up to volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA).

Chapter 2: Semantic Clarity

Where do morals start and ethics begin?   Morality can be mapped as the norms we follow or don’t follow.  What are the norms of your communities: family, religious congregation, workplace, political party, ethnic heritage, nation?

Ethics is how we think about norms – indifferently, badly, or with excellence. And who does your thinking about ethics – you or those you follow?
And where are values?  What are the specific ideas and ideals which guide your behaviors and shape decisions?

Chapter 3: The Question of Ethics

This chapter is one-stop shopping to learn about ethics.

Ethics is the bridge between the ideal and the real.  It demands knowledge of facts, good judgment about the future and an understanding of causation – what will happen if I do “x?”

Great thinkers have given advice on how to cross this bridge and unite the real with an ideal – Aristotle; Immanuel Kant; Adam Smith; the Catholic Church in its social teachings; Karl Jaspers; Hans Kung; Jurgen Habermas; John Rawls; and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

There are bridge crossings seeking to do one’s duty or seeking to make the world better, arising from our personal character or just trying to be a good person, responding to the immediate, in all its complexity and uncertainty.

We need ethics at the level of action – do it now – and at the level of order – systems and institutions – that attempt to screen out the unethical and draw their members closer to the ethical.

The best way forward is for you to get to the heart of the matter: treat others decently, respectfully and mindfully, just as you expect to be treated by them.

Chapter 4: Division of Labor

Think intentionally about who has what responsibilities, rights and duties.  An organization is an arrangement of offices – positions of trust, not a gaggle of self-seeking opportunists.  Every office has ethical responsibilities.  What you might ask is is the “office” of a company or of the state?  Do individuals, by the way, have their own “offices?”  Fairness in the creation and arrangement of offices leads to greater success in collaboration and getting good results.  This is where governance has its place.

Chapter 5: Levels of Responsibility

Priorities must be set – some things are more important than others.  Some things “must” be done.  Others “should” be done and still other matters “can” be done if we really want to or just act on a whim or with very good intentions to go above and beyond the call of duty. Achievement must follow from purpose and some purposes are better than others.  You need a warm heart and a cool head.

Chapter 6: Relationships with Stakeholders

Dialogue ethics and discourse drive win/win relationships with stakeholders.  Enlightened people talk with others about differing perceptions of reality, different value hierarchies and different interests.  Dialogue and engagement provide intelligence as to what the future has in store for you.  Who are your primary stakeholders?  Who is secondary?  Who is tertiary?  Are claimants for company attention and solicitude legitimate stakeholders or are they just making waves?

Chapter 7: Character and Personality

People decide what is right, so the character of those who hold office drives the course of events. Character is the arena wherein ethics lives or dies.  The character of being able to trust and, in turn, of being trustworthy; the character to assume responsibility and not pass the buck; and the character to care and show respect brings ethics into its proper place in decision-making and policy.  Character builds culture and culture builds character.  You can’t have one without the other.

Chapter 8: The Business Case

Go beyond the legal minimum.  Think big and reach out to others.  Show goodwill.  In business, being good does not bring market success if it is not aware of and responsive to conditions and to reality.  Integrity is holistic.  Its ethical stance finds a fitness for good intentions with the environment.  However, raising the ethical quality of business decisions does, on the whole, have positive effects on sales and profits; scandals are avoided; returns are reliable.  Employee commitment seems directly correlated to the company’s ethical culture, its purpose and the values it rewards.

Please buy Klaus’s book and then, after you’ve read it, let Klaus and I know what you think.

Again, you can purchase it here.

Is the World Turning Towards Nuclear Power at Last?

One of the surprises to me about the otherwise predictable and pedestrian meeting of leaders to “save” the world from global warming was the emergence of a new alternative or rather, the coming in from the cold of a well-known, but controversial technology for generating electricity.

As I have written, humanity’s mastery of technological innovation to generate power has brought about our current climate challenge and so reverse technological innovation is needed to get us out of the difficulties we are in, so I’m open to consideration of all new technologies, even those using nuclear fission.

Dan Byers, Vice President for Policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Energy Institute, recently wrote for the Real Clear Energy website:

Walking the halls of COP26, one can’t go far without bumping into young activists in bright blue shirts emblazoned with a simple request: “Let’s Talk About Nuclear.”  Their accompanying social media hashtag—#NetZeroNeedsNuclear—speaks for itself and is indisputable: achieving net-zero global emissions is simply not realistic without significant deployment of expanded nuclear generation.  The activists and their allies seem to be getting their message across.  As the conference winds down and we take stock of the most meaningful outcomes, strengthened support for nuclear energy is likely to emerge as a major COP26 success story.

This stands in sharp contrast to prior meetings, where nuclear has long been ostracized, despite its role as the world’s leading source of emissions-free energy.

“This COP is perhaps the first where nuclear energy has a chair at the table, where it has been considered and has been able to exchange without the ideological burden that existed before,” according to Rafael Mariano Grossi, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, a U.N.-affiliated body responsible for promoting nuclear generation and safety.  Just two years ago in Madrid, Grossi attended the annual COP (Conference of the Parties) “in spite of the general assumption that nuclear would not be welcome,” but now he says the tide is clearly turning.

Enthusiastic support from the Biden Administration has provided a major boost.  Here in Glasgow, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm has evangelized for nuclear at event after event, describing nuclear as a “holy grail” climate solution thanks to its ability to provide dispatchable, clean power around the clock.

The bullish rhetoric has been accompanied by numerous announcements, such as the Nuclear Futures Package, under which the State Department will partner with Poland, Kenya, Ukraine, Brazil, Indonesia and other countries to support capacity building for expansion of nuclear power.  

In another important announcement, Oregon-based NuScale signed an agreement with Romania’s Nuclearelectrica to help deploy the first small modular reactors (SMR) in Europe.  The State Department hailed the agreement as a “pioneering step” that “will build significant momentum for reducing emissions across Europe.”  They continued, “with 30 coal power plants in the region, including seven in Romania, SMRs are ideally suited to replace this baseload power and employ many of the same workforce.”

In addition, on November 9th, the U.K. awarded Rolls Royce 210 million pounds to pursue design and regulatory approval of SMRs in the U.K.  SMRs offer unique features and design advantages relative to traditional multi-billion-dollar, gigawatt-plus size light water reactors and efforts by the U.S. and U.K. governments to promote the technology represent the next step in the intensifying global race to deploy nuclear to advance climate and energy goals. Competition from Russia and China is significant—both have numerous SMR facilities under development, while China has announced plans to build at least 150 new reactors (both large and small) in the next 15 years—more than the rest of the world has built in the past 35 years, according to Bloomberg.

Elsewhere in Europe, a coalition of 12 countries are calling for nuclear to receive a “green” designation under the continent’s forthcoming sustainable finance taxonomy, thereby enabling cheaper build costs and E.U. economic support.

While Germany continues to oppose the designation as it inexplicably works to close its remaining reactors over the next year, advocates remain optimistic.  An E.U. industry representative recently commented that … “we have more and more member states recognizing that, in order to achieve the decarbonization goals, we need nuclear in the mix…But also [because of] the recent energy crisis, I think more and more people are starting to recognize the risk of depending on imports.”

Add it all up and the conclusion is clear: while the case for nuclear power has always been strong, growing political support from governments, businesses and environmental interests alike is making it stronger.  To reach our ambitious global climate objectives, we need every tool in the toolbox to reduce emissions and including nuclear energy needs to be a priority.  Of course, COP26 is just a brief moment in time and momentum will need to be sustained.  So, pass it on: #NetZeroNeedsNuclear. 

His report deserves our attention.