Boundaries Against Weapons Of Human Destruction

Yesterday was Father’s Day. It always elicits a plethora of feelings, some that are self-condemning, while others involve pride. Generically, Father’s Day has always been a little different than Mother’s Day. I think that Mother’s, generally speaking, deserve the adulation a bit more than Father’s. However, that may be just my experience. These ponderings has led to this posting.

I am a firm believer in the importance of humanity in business. I believe that business has the power to create positive social change, and the organization is the place where humanity can be expressed in meaningful ways. In other words, there are boundaries that control how we interact with each other. Social Media has no such boundaries, which leads to dysfunctional events. The reason I am thinking about this is threefold: the visit of Bishop Curry to Vancouver, WA, Jonathan Haidt’s organization Heterodox Academy, and the weaponization of children at the border. I know this is a bit removed from the purpose of this blog, but I think the discussion is important.

The Columbian, our local newspaper, reported that Bishop Curry, the person who presided over the wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, was in Vancouver preaching at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. The heading of the article was “Bishop Curry: Love is the Cure.” A quote they attribute to Curry was, “If it’s not about love, it’s not about God. Period.” As I read that article I was troubled. The uneasiness I was feeling was also a result of a conversation I had yesterday about the children being removed from their parents at the border, which I think is completely wrong. What is it that troubles me about these events?

As I was reading my Bible this morning 2 Corinthians chapter 4 helped clarify why I was troubled. The last verse of chapter four states, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” The newspaper was not giving the whole story when it reported on Curry. I was not at the meeting, but having watched his sermon at the wedding, I can assume that he does not separate this love from the person of Jesus Christ. Love of neighbor is critical, but I am not loving just for love’s sake, I am loving because Christ’s love compels me to do this very thing. Sometimes I worry about the youth of the church because it seems like they are separating this love from Jesus and attaching it to a political movement. However, who am I to judge their motives?

The second part of my ruminations this morning was a result of learning about the Heterodox Academy. In the article “A Movement Rises to Take Back Higher Education,” Emily Esfahani Smith describes how Jonathan Haidt, who wrote “The Righteous Mind, Why Good People Are Divided By Politics and Religion,” feels that “current collegians are more apt to be threatened by words and ideas. . . These students, many of whose parents protected them from the ordinary adversities of daily life, [are] psychologically fragile and unprepared for the challenges of a college education.” This has led to “trigger warnings,” “safe spaces,” and “speech codes” on campuses around the United States. Smith describes this using a Crimson poll which stated, “The censorious climate of higher education has predictably created a culture of self-censorship. Two-thirds of this year’s graduating seniors at Harvard said, ‘they had at some point chosen not to express an opinion in an academic setting during their time at Harvard out of fear that it would offend others.”

As a result of this unhealthy environment, the Heterodox Academy was created. It is “an organization founded in 2015 to promote viewpoint diversity on campus.” Its members include 2,000 professors and graduate students in the United States and around the world. They are in favor of free speech and inquiry. They believe “that the purpose of a university is to teach students how to think, which entails disturbing their psychological equilibrium from time to time by exposing them to ideas that contradict their current beliefs.”

I think this is why I am concerned for our country right now. There is a move to demonize the other. If you don’t agree with the current understanding of reality and culture, then you are a hater, homophobic, or some other horrendous thing. In this type of environment an “exchange of ideas” becomes impossible. This is my concern for our country.

This leads me to my last point, the weaponization of various events in our society, specifically the children at the border. Laura Bush wrote about this today. She stated, “I live in a border state. I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart.” There is no doubt that our immigration system is broken. It is time to fix it. She argued, “I moved away from Washington almost a decade ago, but I know there are good people at all levels of government who can do better to fix this.” I agree!

I will not argue for American exceptionalism, and I will not argue that America is a God chosen country, and I will not argue that we have always chosen the higher path. But I agree with Bush when she states, “Americans pride themselves on being a moral nation, on being the nation that sends humanitarian relief to places devastated by natural disasters or famine or war. We pride ourselves on believing that people should be seen for the content of their character, not the color of their skin.”

I do think that part of the problem is identity politics, “the tendency for people of a particular religion, race, social background, etc. to form exclusive political alliances, moving away from traditional broad-based party politics.” If we don’t change our mentality we will continue to hate the other. As Ms. Smith ably ends her article with, “there’s a more fundamental shift that needs to take place – a rethinking of identity politics. ‘Rather than promoting a common-enemy identity politics that admonishes white people and others with privilege,’ Mr Haidt said Friday, ‘professors and administrators should embrace a common humanity identity politics.”

I think this “common-enemy identity politics” is what occurs in the workspace. All of us have boundaries that keep us from hating out loud. It is my opinion that Bishop Curry was trying to take us back to the social boundaries once created by our Judeo-Christian moral foundations, not its imperfections, but its boundaries. Although organizations wouldn’t describe their boundaries in this way, it is similar. There needs to be external rules for us to operate well, it is time to reclaim them.

What are weapons of human destruction? They are those elements of our interaction used to demonize the other, while looking past them. It is time to see one another, listen, and thrive. Can we do it? That is a subject for another posting.

And that is my thought for the day!


Business A Power For Good

If you have spent any time reading my blog, you know that I love to read. Earlier this week I wrote about Ronald Reagan, as a result of reading a book about Reagan. Somebody asked me yesterday if I liked Reagan? It was a political question, one that I answered thoughtfully. When I was younger, and Reagan was Governor of California, I did not care for him. In fact, I chose not to pay my state income taxes to resist. Later, I paid those taxes and the subsequent penalties, declaring “boy I showed him.” Today I reflect back on just how naïve I was.
I told the person, asking me the question about Reagan, that I did not like his closure of mental hospitals because it put many people on the streets that really needed help, but I also said I appreciated his leadership in a time when our country needed leadership. He was able to get two sides to work together for the good of the people. Something that our current President is struggling with, and the previous one was not able to do.

Enough of Reagan, today I’d like to write about the power of business. On May 14th Seattle levied a tax against businesses, with $20 million or more in annual revenue, of $275 per employee to help deal with the city’s homeless problem. According to the WSJ, “It was projected to raise about $47 million a year, to be spent on affordable housing and homeless services.” Originally the tax was going to be $500 per employee, but Starbucks and Amazon pushed back, resulting in the $275 compromise. Yesterday, the city council in Seattle voted to repeal the tax. This demonstrated how business can be a force to change things.

I know the homeless situation is dire, but I have talked to people who are working with homeless people, and they often tell me the state, in this case a city council, does not want to do the right thing. The state usually wants to take money and throw it at the problem and not look at the systemic elements of the problem. The state typically looks at short term wins for political gains.

The young in Seattle, and in Portland for that matter, think business is an enemy. Often business leaders see Millennials as the problem. Ken Langone, founder of Home Depot, once said, “In 2016 I saw Bernie Sanders and the kids around him. I thought: This is the antichrist.” I think that both sides should take an enlightened look at just what business can do.

In the editorial where I read that quote, Peggy Noonan stated, “An occasional preoccupation in this space is that young people have no particular affection for capitalism, the economic system that made America a great thing in history and a magnet for the world.” She then went on to describe two reasons for this lack of fondness, the 2008 crash of the market and the levels of inequality in our country, and they’ve never heard capitalism defended. The reason for this is the educational system in our country leans left even more than the leaning tower of Pisa.

I have taught in the academic environment, and I saw young people who wanted to do good things, rightfully so, but they wanted to start non-profit organizations or do social work. Don’t get me wrong those things are good, but how do you pay for them? There has to be surplus value, profit, left over. It is when the economy is healthy that people are able to provide the resources needed to help others. The combination between wealth generation and a right-sized tax system would provide strong social systems to help people who are hurt by the evolving economic system.

Many of the young today look to socialism as the answer. Even some of my colleagues think socialism is the answer. However, as Paul Kengor stated in his May 4th editorial, “May 5th marks the bicentennial of Karl Marx, who set the stage with his philosophy for the greatest ideological massacres in history.” His ideas have, and continue, to kill millions of people throughout the world. The foundation of his ideology is the elimination of private property. The freedom of owning your own private property is the foundation of capitalism. Kengor states, “In the Communist Manifesto, he and Fredrich Engels were quite clear that the theory of Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: abolition of private property.”

Young people today may not understand the implication of this and its impact on freedom. If that is not enough to convince you of the issues with socialism/communism, then how about Marx’ s ten-point program: 1) abolition of private property, 2) a heavy progressive income tax, 3) abolition of the right of inheritance, 4) confiscation of all property of all emigrants and rebels, 5) centralization of credit in the hands of the state, 6) centralization of the means of communication in the hands of the state, 7) all production of goods will be a part of a common plan, 8) Equal liability of label and creation of agricultural armies, 9) gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equitable distribution of the population over the country, 10) Free education for all children in public schools. Everything is controlled by the state with a complete elimination of individual freedom. And for those who say, we are not talking about communism but socialism, remember Marx always argued that socialism was part one and full-blown communism the ultimate goal.

I am not a proponent of McCarthyism, looking for communists under every rock, but I do think that we need to pay attention. Especially those who have more resources than others. The non-idiot billionaire, Ken Langone, “worries about the future of economic freedom and sees the selfishness of some of the successful as an impediment.” He argued there are some who are greedy and evil, and he rightfully argued don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

So, what is the point with all of this? I think that Democracy and economic freedom work well together. However, our economic system works best when those who have resources share with those who don’t. What I mean is, instead of relying on government to help people develop the work skills needed to provide for their families in an evolving world, wealthy people should create systems to help people develop needed work skills and the opportunities to exercise those skills. Like Langone states, “Home Depot has changed lives. We have 400,000 people who work there, and we’ve never once paid anyone minimum wage.”

I know it is not business’s core mission to create social change, but it does have the power to do that very thing. We have seen this power throughout the world. Through globalization a billion people have been lifted out of extreme poverty. This could be the start. But it will take forward thinking business people like Ken Langone to accomplish this.

And that is my thought for the day!

Reagan, Trolling, and the Future

I am now retired and hopefully will find more time to write. In order to re-energize my desire to write I am going to just jump right in and start writing. The theme of my blog has not changed, it is still focused on doing business while recognizing the importance of people. However, there now will be elements of stewardship and servant leadership permeating my thoughts. The emphasis of my life will be in those areas, helping me continue developing my thoughts on Social Entrepreneurship and Business As Mission. So, enough preamble, it is now time to begin discussing my topic for this week.

Way back in May, Roger Kimball wrote an editorial describing when Reagan met Lenin. Obviously, this was hyperbolic, but through this description Kimball was able to make an excellent point. The event the writer was describing occurred on May 31st, 1988. Reagan was in the Soviet capital meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev, the fourth in a series of meetings used to “work out arms-control agreements.” Eventually this work would lead to the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. However, the criticality of this editorial was not in this series of meetings, but in the ultimate goal Reagan was pursuing.

Bret Baier traces the development of Ronald Reagan’s relationship with Russia from his “evil empire” picture to his ultimate work of diplomacy. Kimball adds to Baier’s description of Reagan’s evolution, “In 1977, noting to a friend that ‘a lot of complex things are very simple if you think them through,’ Reagan crisply summed up his theory on the cold war: ‘We win, they lose.'” However, this victory must be recognized, not as one country over another, but of freedom over totalitarianism. This is symbolically illustrated by the picture of Reagan addressing Moscow State University standing in front of a “gigantic scowling bust of Lenin and a mural of the Russian revolution.” As an actor, Reagan knew the power if visual representation.

Reagan would bring these objects into his speech, “Standing here before a mural of your revolution, I want to talk about a very different revolution, a technological and informational revolution that is transforming the world. How much progress had already been realized! But progress is not foreordained. The key, is freedom – freedom of thought, freedom of information, freedom of communication.” Although these words were given to illustrate a very different situation, I think we can apply them to today.

In the world of social media there is so much promise. Events are announced, ideas are shared, and past connections renewed. However, the world of social media is filled with trolling and others attempting to shout down the other.

Trolling involves “the process of making deliberately offensive or provocative online posts with the aim of upsetting someone or eliciting an angry response from them.” On the other side we have the process of attacking or shaming someone who has a different opinion than we do.

Freedom is a very difficult thing to maintain. I think those of us who were born in the United States often take this for granted. It might be good to remember the words of Reagan once again. Reagan’s understood what freedom and democracy is and described this as “less a system of government, than a system to keep government limited, unintrusive: a system of constraints on power to keep politics and government secondary to the important things in life, the true sources of value found only in family and faith.” I would also like to add to this friendship with the people around us.

Many people have written about the messiness of freedom and democracy and the difficulty of keeping them in place. Nelson Mandela is quoted as stating, “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” In 1787 someone asked Benjamin Franklin, “well, Doctor, what have we got – a Republic or a Monarchy?” Benjamin Franklin’s response is well known, “A Republic, if you can keep it.” His words are just as true today.

We live in very confusing times. I hope we don’t let the trolls of social media kill what was created on 1776. Instead of yelling at each other, let’s learn from each other and maintain the Republic for our children and grandchildren.

And that is my thought for the day!

Business As Mission, Poverty, and Epistrepho!

Even though this work week was a short one, I experienced many different events that continues to demonstrate to me that I am moving in the right direction. I made mistakes, had some victories, but all-in-all I learned several life lessons. I was telling someone the other day my story. In 1977 I had a very clear call to move to the Pacific Northwest. In 2008, I had a very clear call to retire from the Boeing Company and begin teaching fulltime at Warner Pacific. However, when it comes to my upcoming retirement, 5/31/2018, I did not have a clear sense of call or direction. I know myself well enough that I did not want to just play golf, travel, and get fat. I know I need something a bit more academic and mission oriented to give my final years on this earth meaning. Every day the next call gets a little clearer.

I would like to share with you the Kingdom Impact Statement for the Epistrepho Business Group. The name of my activity is a work in progress. I am not totally satisfied with this title. The kingdom impact statement states that “we support for-profit business and economic development internationally, for-profit small business development nationally, and locally we will work for the development of individual skills to improve employment opportunity. All this will be done under the umbrella of Business As Mission. The question is why do I want to do this?

I have had the opportunity to travel around the United States and Internationally. Every place I go I see the need for business development that will employ people at a fair wage, therefore helping them have a flourishing life. In the United States many jobs go unfilled because people do not have basic, or advanced, skills that will help people attain the careers needed for a full life.

I have traveled to Russia, Kazakhstan, Mexico and Honduras and observed first hand the need for for-profit economic development. In Kazakhstan I was able to observe the hangover of decades of Communist rule that continues to impact the people’s innovative and entrepreneurial spirit therefore hindering the country from advancing at a faster pace. In Honduras I saw a desire, but the lack of resources due to many different issues such as corruption, greed, and selfishness. However, I saw a wonderful spirit in the hearts of people who want to be productive. Somehow I want to support that.

To prepare for whatever comes my way, I am reading and planning. I am also listening to my wife. I truly believe without for-profit businesses there would be no ability to help people in need. This is why I want to focus strictly on for-profit endeavors. Venezuela is a public laboratory where we can observe the effects of a command economy which adheres to a socialist political system. Many people in that country do not like what the government is doing, but the government is starving its people in a way that “Food is controlled and votes are bought, food is used as a political weapon and is at the center of the hurricane” (Mary Anastasia O’Grady, WSJ). Through for-profit businesses we can fight corrupt governments and poverty in a way that can give people hope for the future.

Another way that I want to provide hope is by addressing the two Americas. According to Angus Deaton and Anne Case, who were both interviewed at a recent WSJ CEO Council their research has demonstrated that people with at least a Bachelor’s degree are doing well, while those without are not thriving. According to Anne Case, drug overdoses, suicide, and alcoholism is increasing for people without bachelor degrees, and the continued decrease of heart disease has stagnated. All of this, in my way of thinking, can be connected to the inability to have a good paying job. I want to impact that, and to do that I will be using the umbrella of Business As Mission (BAM).

BAM adopts a holistic development approach. In a paper from BAM is described as a “sustainable holistic approach by mission agencies, development agencies, and business.” It also operates on a premise of business being a force for good. Even Henry Ford once said “A business that only makes money is a poor kind of business.” My experience tells me that people who work in business want to do good, but sometimes the drive to make money gets in the way. Therefore, the motive needs to change. Practice wealth creation, but use that wealth creation to deal with the many social issues facing our society. As Lausanne states, “Economics is a fundamental sphere in the process of social development and without it human existence could not be feasible. From a scriptural perspective, human life should be oriented by specific values, the values of the kingdom of God. Therefore, any aspect of social life must be evaluated in the light of such criteria.”

I don’t know where this goes from here. I know that through my future endeavors I want to provide individuals with the skills they need to work and be employable, I want to help create for-profit kingdom businesses in the United States, and I want to do the same internationally. I think that will make for a fulfilling retirement.

And that is my thought for the day!

The Holy Calling Of Business

Every morning I have a ritual. I make my pot of coffee, sick my bread in the toaster, get the peanut butter and jelly ready (with a knife), and get my newspapers from the front porch, so when the toast is done and I coat it with PB & J, I can poor my coffee and sit down to read the local paper and the Wall Street Journal. After I read the local paper, I check my email, Facebook, Instagram, and other news feeds. Then I read the Wall Street Journal. I know it seems boring, but it is what I do every morning, along with my devotions.

This morning I saw something on Facebook that was pretty cool. Several of my previous students thanked their professors for helping them to think, so they could do good in the community. I was one of those professors they acknowledged. I have to say it made my morning. Therefore, it go me thinking about my phase three strategy. I am working on trying to clarify my actions after retirement. Although I don’t want to do phase three fulltime, I do want to have some fun, I want to continue making a difference in people’s lives so they can go out and change the world. I want to do that through Business As Mission.

Today though I want to focus on four traits of a strong BAM endeavor. I am basing my thoughts on a great book, Business As Mission: The Power of Business in the Kingdom of God by Michael Baer. I agree with him that there are four traits associated with a strong business. First, seeing your business as a high and holy calling. Second, to be great you must discover and execute the purpose of your business. Third, you must have a set of vital relationships. And fourth, you must run your business with operational excellence. Let me break those down a bit.

It seems sacrilegious to say that your business is the result of a high and holy call, but if we are called to a vocation of some sort, then doing that vocation as service to God somehow sanctifies it. The word I keep coming back to is stewardship. As a steward I have been given the responsibility to properly use whatever resources I have to the glory of God. My life, and everything I do with it, is a gift. As a gift, I am responsible to do with it whatever I can to make a difference. Thus, if I own a business, or if I am an intrapreneur, then I must do my best to complete the task. Thus it is a high and holy calling.

Jeremiah 29:11 is a well known Old Testament verse. It states, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and hope.” This is one of those promises we hold on to when times are rough. There is some question to what this verse is referring to, but for the purposes of this paper, I am using it to make the point that if God has a purpose for each of us, then finding this purpose through inquiry and then executing a plan in line with the purpose is as point one states, a high and holy calling. The Alchemist said, “And when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” Although this may not be completely true, I think it is important for us to find our purpose, but not just dream about it but do it. Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan told us years ago that it takes discipline to get things done (Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done), therefore if we are true stewards we will fulfill our purpose.

As I stated a couple of blogs ago, I don’t think that anyone can make it alone. None of us is an island. Therefore, our success as Business people (wanting to make a difference in this world) is correlated with the number of strong relationships we have developed. There is an old Native American saying that we have two wolves warring within us. The one that we feed will be the strongest. This is true with our external relationships too. If we have strong ethical business people around us, we will be ethical businessmen and women, but if we have people around us that we don’t value and can’t trust that will detract from good business practices.

Lastly, if we want to create value in our communities as business people, then we need to run our businesses well. This means we practice proven business steps, treat our employees well, and remember that the customer is important. Whenever I think of operational excellence I think of Johnson and Johnson. In J&J’s company credo, which has served the company well since 1943, we see that J&J believes its first responsibility is to its customers, doctors, nurses, patients, mothers and fathers who use J&J’s products. Its second responsibility is to its employees, “the men and women who work with us throughout the world. . . We must respect their dignity and recognize their merit. They must have a sense of security in their jobs. Compensation must be fair and adequate and working conditions clean, orderly and safe.” The credo goes on to mention how it is the company’s responsibility to listen to its employees.

I also think that operational excellence involves loyalty to the community in which the company is located. Hershey’s is an excellent example of operational excellence. However, it is because of its operational excellence it can give back to the community. In 2015 alone Hershey’s employees volunteered for more than “98,000 hours at local non-profits, raised over $400,000 for Children’s Miracle Network and donated another $1.3 million to the United Way.” They would not be able to do this without operational excellence.

I used a phrase earlier, value creation. I’d like to define it. Value creation is first relational. It involves people working together to improve how we interact. Second, it is about having money left over to be able to do something good with. People are paid enough money to take care of their families, who in turn take care of their communities, who in turn take care of those who don’t have the same opportunities. What I am describing is in part what Business As Mission is all about. I am sold on Business As Mission, and I believe that as a Christian it is my responsibility to recognize my high and holy calling, to execute the purpose I have found, develop the best relationships I can, and do everything to the best of my ability. I intend to accomplish this, and I hope you will too.

And that is my thought for the day!

Arjay Miller, Businessman And Do-gooder!

Over the last few months I have been developing the foundation of what I want to do during retirement. I am not one to sit around and watch Game of Thrones over and over, and I can only play so much golf, so I have been thinking about what I am passionate about, and how I would like to use that to keep myself busy during my senior years. I have been in business for forty-eight years, and enjoy being able to create successful and productive outcomes for the good of people and the community. I am also passionate about my faith in Jesus Christ. So I have been thinking about how I can combine those two passions and do something memorable while I am retired.

Business As Mission is that thing I have been looking for. There are many implications associated with this concept. I think of the family that owns Chik-Fil-A, and how they express their faith in the way they run their business. They treat their employees with respect, close on Sundays, and make sure their restaurants are clean. There are many other examples too of Christians who run their business in a way that demonstrates that it is a kingdom business.

In today’s Wall Street Journal William Galston pontificated about a previous CEO of Ford Motor Company, Arjay Miller, who ran the business in a way that exemplified the concepts I have been writing about. Arjay, who recently died at 101 years old, ran Ford from 1963 to 1968, after which he moved on to be the dean of the business program at Stanford Business School. At Stanford he created a world-class business program, which now has a Masters in Social Impact. The business school was known for its diverse faculty and student body, and how it expanded the curriculum to include ethics and public policy.

I do not know Arjay Miller, and I certainly don’t know if he is a Christian, but I do know he thought that business could create positive social change as evidenced by his actions. The question is what did he Do?

During his reign at Ford, the management system was modernized. I can only guess what William Galston meant by that comment in his editorial today, but I would guess that this means that Miller helped move the Ford management style for coercive to participative, less autocratic to more democratic, and less task focused and more people focused. Miller also introduced the Mustang. However, what is most interesting to me is Miller’s emphasis on vehicle safety. He was the first to introduce safety belts, which “he defended as the right thing to do.”

This emphasis on the right thing to do was also demonstrated by his founding of the Economic Development Corporation of Detroit created to help the revitalization of the city of Detroit. Miller also support “black-owned and operated businesses, and backed a negative income tax to reduce poverty.” I do like this quote that was attributed to him, “Making money is the easy part, making the world a better place is the hard part.” You see, there are business people out there that use their platform to do good!

Galston does a good job of prescriptively exploring what business should do in this current environment. As I look at his points, I would have to say I agree. You see, I think that people in business should take the high road in their endeavors. This means instead of just focusing on maximizing shareholder value, this includes social value as well. I think all of us are concerned with stagnant wages. I truly believe that a workman is worthy of a livable wage. I also think using creative accounting to steal from the tax official is not worthy of the noble businessperson.

I was trying to find who made the statement about the sound of guillotines getting closer, but was unable to find who said it. This person who said it was wealthy and was worried that every time the stock market ticked up, they could hear the sound of guillotines moving closer. The time for using business to create positive social change is now.

Bottom line, I think business is a calling, and the best way to look at is as being a steward over resources given to the business person to not only make a living, but to do good in your community. After reading Galston this morning I am convinced that wealth creation through business can create positive social change. But I also am convinced there are many people out there that wants to “get er done.”

And that is my thought for the day!

Without For-Profits There Would Be No Non-Profits

This morning someone posted a comment on Facebook that got me thinking about the relationship between Non-profit organizations and For-Profit organizations. I came to the conclusion that without for-profit organizations that create wealth, there would be nothing left for non-profits. For good to happen in our communities, there needs to be abundance, wealth, that will allow people to have something left over to help others. Even as I write this I think of the woman that gave two mites and how Jesus commended her because she gave all she had, while others gave from their abundance. But the fact is, because there is wealth there is something left over to help those who have need.

In 2012 President Obama stated that there was no such thing as the self-made person. “If you were successful, someone along the line gave you help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” Although I disagree with his premise, he did have a point that there is a relationship between the individual and collective that demonstrates the importance of wealth and care for the other. As John Donne once said, “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”

Just as the previous paragraph is true so is my point, without for-profit organizations there would be no non-profit ones, and as they say without margin there is no mission. This illustrates what I have thinking and writing about lately, wealth creation. As the Lausanne Movement states, “Wealth creation is not a Western or rich-world phenomenon. Many men and women are making a difference through businesses on all continents.”
According to Philanthropy Roundtable “of the $358 billion that Americans gave to charity in 2014, only 14% came from foundation grants, and 5% from corporations. The rest, 81%, came from individuals.” These individuals are both wealthy and not so wealthy. In the section “Giving by Income Level” the Roundtable states, “People with means, as you might expect, are substantial givers. Middle class Americans donate a little less. But the lower-income population surprises by giving more than the middle – and in some measures even more than the top (as a percentage of available income).” However, in “absolute dollars, those in higher income groups give much, much more money.”

Philanthropy Roundtable identifies the reason behind Americans giving more than any other industrialized nation is our religious back ground, “Religion motivates more than any other factor.” De Tocqueville, who wrote Democracy in America, also noted second reason for our giving, our tradition of mutual aid. But there is a third reason that relates to this blog. It is the “potent entrepreneurial impulse in the U.S. which generates overflowing wealth that can be shared.”

The Lausanne Movement, and BAM Global, has captured this spirit in their Wealth Manifesto. “Wealth creation is rooted in God the creator, who created a world that flourishes in abundance and diversity. We are created in God’s image, to co-create with Him and for Him, to create products and services for the common good. Wealth creation is a holy calling, and a God-give gift, which is commended in the Bible.” This is not what was recently called a prosperity doctrine, this is focused on the ability to be efficient, entrepreneurial, and self-responsible. Through my blog, I am focusing on this to identify how we can be stewards of what God has given us and called us to use.

I believe the reason people give to charity is because it is the right thing to do, but I also believe they give because it is their choice. It is a personal decision to help those who need help and help them weather the difficult times they are in. I think this is what Pope John Paul II was referring to in Sollicitudo Rei Socialis when he stated, “In place of creative initiative there appears passivity, dependence and submission to the bureaucratic apparatus which, as the only ordering and decision-making body – if not also the owner – of the entire totality of goods and the means of production, puts everyone in a position of almost absolute dependence. . . which provokes a sense of frustration and desperation. . .” He also states this is also an illustration of the exploitation of the worker-proletarian by the capitalist. However, his point is because we are free, and partakers of a system that can create wealth, we can choose to use that wealth for the common good, everyone is better off. His emphasis was our ability to choose.

Because we have free choice, own the means of production, and can benefit from the fruit of our labor, we are free to choose to share out of our abundance. This means that non-profits can thrive and help people who are in need. Thus without for-profits, wealth creation, there would be no non-profits.

And that is my thought for the day!