Module 1 – The Common Good

The first CST principle referring to The Common Good speaks to the need of reworking our existing system.  Our current system has a great deal of positive attributes that unleash human ingenuity and competitive spirits. However, that system is flawed in how many people get left behind.  Far too many people lack basic security, nutrition, housing, healthcare and education, opportunities for decent and rewarding work, and a sustainable environment.  The prevailing approach, focusing solely on maximizing shareholder value ultimately creates a Tragedy of the Commons — not only in the overexploitation of natural resources, but the heartless exploitation of other economic inputs such as labor.  Maximizing shareholder value almost implies minimizing value for other stakeholders. As asset allocators there must be ways to enhance our existing models to incorporate CST values into our decision-making process.

The world of investing is by design a very contentious place.  Many exchanges are simply zero-sum games meant to reward one group at the expense of another.  But why?  Our current system does not need to be constructed this way.  Many examples suggest great outcomes arise from fairer practices, while still unleashing human ingenuity. Ford’s efficiency wages come to mind as just one example, where employees were given livable wages and the company flourished as a result.

What contributions can I make, sitting here in St. Louis to reduce the contentiousness in the marketplace? I do not personally own a personal business with employees. I try to be a good environmental steward in my day-to-day life. So, what can I actually do to support an integral ecology and integral human development?  I believe the answer lies in translating the frameworks we will learn in these modules into working investment models.  Groups like ILPA and PRI inform the marketplace of allocator preferences and demands.  Why not do the same with a CST framework, telegraphing to the marketplace our desire for change?

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