Category: Monthly Memos
Bill Bockelman may be onto something. The retired--but hardly retiring--Lutheran minister and former editor at Augsburg Publishing wants us to tell each other stories, and he’s invented a board game to help us do it. It’s called Life Stories and it requires players to tell each other stories about themselves and their lives.
While our economy seems to go “cookin’ along,” as one CEO recently expressed it, our society continues to behave more like a pot about to boil over, and our politics resemble nothing so much as a badly made mud pie.
“Cynic: someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.”
In the past two decades, the Middle-American family has been through a revolution, incited and sustained to a large extent by the way we do business. The emergence of a service economy has facilitated—indeed relied upon—the entry of large numbers of women into our work force. Figures from the U.S. Department of Education document the magnitude of change
“A stable, healthy community is not just good for the bottom line; it is the bottom line.” William Andres, former CEO of the Dayton Hudson Corporation, said that. The Minnesota Center for Corporate Responsibility was established by a group of business leaders who assumed an essential, insoluble connection between business and community.
Education is a societal problem, not a school problem. If our schools do not graduate prepared and motivated people, all other institutions—including and especially business—will very soon suffer.
Members of the MCCR Work & Family Task Force do not believe in sugar coating. The guidelines they are developing constitute a sobering challenge to any company that would call itself “family friendly.” Of course, there is always some risk in clear statement.
There wasn’t much good news at this year’s Stakeholder Dialogue, an annual evening for thought sponsored by the Koch Chair in Business Ethics at the University of St. Thomas and co-sponsored by MCCR. But Juliet Schor, this year’s principal speaker and author of The Overworked American, did make one observation that holds out a glimmer of hope.
The South Shore Bank in Chicago has demonstrated virtually beyond dispute that community-development banking can make things happen. The bank is credited with turning around an entire neighborhood that was clearly headed for slumland.
“East St. Louis is where cities go to die.” This is the apocalyptic vision of urban expert David Rusk, who came to town at the height of the Christmas shopping season to poke around in the statistical underbrush beneath the Twin Cities’ glittering seasonal canopy of bright lights and warm, fuzzy media features.
Martin Luther King once looked forward to the day when we would judge each other “not by the color of our skin but by the content of our character.” When we set about to judge the content of our character, we are soon dependent on words like “honesty,” “faithfulness,” “integrity,” and “civility.”
Social problems in our metropolitan area are increasing at an alarming rate. Families are in disarray across the entire socio-economic spectrum. Middle-class people of all ethnic groups are fleeing to the suburbs or thinking about doing so, leaving our core cities with increasing poverty, deteriorating housing, rising crime and shrinking pride.
In The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism, Prof. Michael Novak builds a strong case for the middle-class family. As our “primary institution of realism,” the middle-class family has taught us discipline, self-control, humility, and how to use and accept authority.
Economic activity is the dominant cultural force in modern society. Other forces--various forms of religious fundamentalism and “new age” ideologies--vie for influence, but it is the various forms of capitalist economy that are carrying the century.
“The body politic” was once a fashionable notion. The expression now strikes us as pretentious or, at best, arcane. Nonetheless, “the body” for centuries provided a useful metaphor for theological as well as social thinkers trying to examine and express the interconnectedness of things.