Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Obama Compromise

This past week, President Obama and the Republican congressional leaders reached a compromise on the Bush tax cut extensions. The Republicans were successful in extending tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires; and, Obama was successful in extending tax cuts for the middle-class, extending unemployment benefits for another 13 months and lowering social security tax for middle-class workers.

As predicted, the progressive and liberal base of the Democratic party, already feeling uneasy about previous Obama compromises to the non-reciprocating Republicans, are outraged and feel betrayed.

On the purity of ideology and fairness, I understand their frustration. But step back from the vacuum of ideology and it becomes abundantly clear, the compromise was wise.

One, the tax cuts were about to expire for the middle-class and economist overwhelmingly believe that a higher tax rate would severely damage our tenuous recovery from the worst economic melt-down since the Great Depression.

Second, with unemployment at 9.8%, the continuation of unemployment insurance is vital for struggling, under-employed and unemployed American families - it's the humane thing to do.

Third, the Republicans were threatening to hold up all other legislation if no tax agreement was reached. With this lame duck session winding down and a new Republican majority House of Representatives (not to mention greater Republican Senate numbers) taking control in the new year, Obama and the Democrats' window of opportunity to effectively legislate is rapidly closing.

In a more perfect political environment, I too think the deal/compromise stinks. The income and wage divide between the wealthy and middle-class/working class is arguably the largest in the history of America. The corporate elites show only allegiance and patriotism to maximized profits, even at the expense of the American worker and economy. To add insult to injury, they want even more money at the least time our country can afford it.

On the other hand, as famed New York Time editorial writer, Frank Rich stated, the emotional outrage by the Democratic congressional leaders is a bit hypocritical. He further explains, the Dems had a pre-midterm election opportunity to push a middle-class only tax cut and campaign on how the Republicans were pushing tax cuts for the super rich. They didn't. Instead the Dems punted away this issue and now are angry that Obama - caught between a rock and a hard spot- made the best deal left on the table.

It is, what it is...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

KFC and the Emerging African Middle Class

(Wall Street Journal) — After spending two decades introducing fried chicken and pizza to Chinese consumers, Yum Brands Inc. now sees Africa as its next international jewel. By 2014, the Louisville, Ky., restaurant-holding company expects to double its number of KFC outlets in Africa to 1,200. In the next four years, it aims to more than double its revenue on the continent to $2 billion. “Africa wasn’t even on our radar screen 10 years ago, but now we see it exploding with opportunity,” says David Novak, Yum’s chairman and chief executive officer. The improved political stability of various African governments, the region’s vast population and a growing middle class in Africa—where chicken is a dietary staple—led Yum to set its sights on the continent.