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Monday, November 16, 2009

Trusteeship Institute

CSR: The Trusteeship Institute - Creating Common Good Corporations

About Trusteeship Institute

The Trusteeship Institute, Inc. (TI) was founded in 1973 by Terry
Mollner for the purpose of furthering economic development based on
Mohandas Gandhi’s theory of “trusteeship.” From the beginning the
mission of TI has been to further this worldview both with innovative
projects of its own and by participating in and supporting the
projects of others.


Gandhi believed that the universe is one indivisible whole. He also
recognized that we are each alive for only a short period of time.
Therefore, he concluded that we are each the “trustees” of our wealth
and talents not the “owners” of them. As trustees we would naturally
mature to where we would give highest priority to the good of us all,
the one indivisible universe.

He didn’t speak to it in terms of “layers of maturity,” but this is
what Terry Mollner believed was implicit in his view of human

Gandhi also believed that individual freedom must be honored: it was
only through the exercise of individual freedom that one would
discover the greater joy of being a trustee rather than being an

Therefore, he believed that each person must choose how much wealth to
keep for one’s self and how much to allocate to the common good. If
force was used the natural and healthy reaction would be to give
priority to regaining freedom before attention could be turned back to
maturation. Gandhi was confident from his own experience and what he
had observed in others that as people matured they would freely choose
to give highest priority to the common good and only keep for
themselves what was necessary.

When Terry Mollner was in India in 1979 he had the privilege to travel
the entire country and interview the people still alive who had worked
closely with Mahatma Gandhi. An old man told him this story. He was
never able to collaborate it as true. So the old man may have been
making it up to make his point.

He said Gandhi had an exchange with Mao Zedong, the founder of
Communist China. He wrote Mao and said that his system would not work.
Mao wrote back and said, “What do you mean? I am giving priority to
the good of all the people.”

Gandhi wrote back and said, “Yes, it is very good that you are giving
priority to the good of all the people. However you are having one
group decide what is best for all the people. The next stage of human
development will build on individual freedom, not take it away.”

Terry Mollner believes that this will eventually take the form of
people freely choosing to set up corporations in the private sector
where the highest priority is the common good instead of the interests
of a few, usually called “the shareholders.” Besides being a socially
responsible company in all of its activities, it will also have a cap
on the return to equity investors based on what is necessary to
acquire the needed equity. The excess each year will be permanently
set aside and managed by the company from that point forward for the
common good. This will mainly take the form of investment in “common
good investment funds” that will solely purchase successful companies
and convert them to “common good corporations” so this movement can

As this movement expands for the first time in the history of the
planet there will be many investment funds that all have the exact
same highest priority: the common good. They will associate together
and do joint ventures to buy multinational corporations.

The multinational community has discovered that it is best to be
number one or two in market share in each product sector. It is then
easy to coordinate their activities to dominate that market without
ever having to speak to each other. They can also buy any new
successful products or copy them before they are able to gain
significant market share. For instance, Coca Cola and Pepsi control
more than 75% of the soft drink market and Odwalla and Honest Tea had
little choice but to be bought by them to survive.

This has been leading to there being fewer and fewer multinationals in
each sector: duopolies, triploids, etc. which is legal whereas
monopolies are not legal. Thus, when one of these is bought it will be
in the best interests of the shareholders of each remaining company to
not be the last company bought by the common good investment funds.
Through a natural free market process all the multinationals will
eventually become common good corporations or have extremely stiff
competition as customer, employee and government preference turns
toward the common good corporation.

Terry Mollner also believes that this will be fueled by the
investments of individuals and institutions. Financial planners around
the world tell their clients that they will try to achieve an 8 to 11%
return for them each year. If the mature common good corporations are
able to provide a consistent 12% return, much of this capital will
prefer the safety of common good corporations for portions of their
investment portfolios. In addition, foundations can provide endowment
programs where the capital will only be invested in common good
corporations, creating a more positive future for human society and
the planet. In these and other ways capital will continue to flow into
supporting the development of the common good corporate sector.

Finally, while the common good corporations will compete in the free
market and welcome its discipline, their priority is cooperation for
the common good. Therefore, they will overtly cooperate to identify
best practices, synergies, greater efficiencies through common
designs, etc. Their association will become the equivalent of a nation
by agreement rather than by geography. They will also see all the
citizens of the planet and the planet itself as part of their
responsibility in operating for the common good. Thus, through this
private sector activity many of the problems on Earth will be able to
be solved through cooperation with governments, non-profits, and all
other organizations.

Their chosen "nation by agreement" will become more important to many
than their "nation by geography."

Just as we are currently members of many governments, i.e. town,
county, state, nation, etc., many will continue to be members of those
governments but give priority to their membership in the “nations by
agreement” that will emerge where the common good of all is the
highest priority. Of course, other nations by agreement will also
emerge and operate on a more mature form of democracy also pioneered
by Mohandas Gandhi in the last years of his life (consensus building
democracy through cooperation rather than competition at the ballot
boxes). Anyone on the planet will be free to join them. The common
good corporations will work with them for the common good. Eventually
taxation could also not be necessary because the excess profits of the
common good corporations would be donated to the “consensus building
nations by agreement.”

You will be able to learn more about all of the above in a book by
Terry Mollner soon to be published entitled The Love Skill: It
Determines How We Experience Everything Else…Welcome to the
Relationship Age. Also, under Articles by Terry Mollner [ABOUT TI
Menu], you will find articles about some of the issues mentioned
Terry Mollner, Founder and President

To further this in economics, business, and finance, Terry Mollner was
one of the earliest pioneers in the field of socially responsible
investing. In the mid-1970s, Robert Swann and he founded the Institute
for Community Economics, Inc. that created the first modern think tank
on socially responsible investing. Terry led a group of fifteen
leaders from around the country in writing the social screens which
are one of the basis for all progressive social screens to this day
and which also led to the creation of the Calvert Family of Social
Investment Funds of which Terry was also one of the founders and is
still a board member.

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