The Obama Presidency: A Case of Double Standards

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Article written for ByBlacks.com

As then President-Elect Obama planned his transition to the White House, the challenges facing the United States were overwhelming. 800,000 jobs were being lost per month with an unemployment rate approaching 10%.

The Auto Sector, which employs thousands – was facing a dire financial situation. The Finance and Banking sectors were dealing with the consequences of sub-prime lending. In addition to the economic recession, the United States was involved in two wars that cost thousands of lives and and billions of dollars. Welcome to the Whitehouse, Barack Obama.
While no leader is perfect, it is hard to deny that America and the world economy has improved from the Great Recession of 2008. The American economy has produced over 75 consecutive months of job growth. Obama led many reforms on Wall Street, small business financing, and investments in new industries while increasing America’s energy independence.
20 million Americans now have access to health care due to the Affordable Health Care Act (known as ObamaCare). This has helped stabilized Medicare funding for years to come.
However, if you listen to much of the debate across North America (including Canada) – you’d think nothing has changed since 2008. The key question normally asked after any political leader serves out their term is: “Are we better now than we were 8 years ago?”By all measures, America is better. Not perfect, yet it is better. But Mr. Obama’s legacy is already being attacked by many as if they forgot about 2008.
Let’s go back to 2008. If Mr. Obama was the CEO of a Fortune 500 company that was losing market share, with revenues decreasing rapidly, no innovation agency and profitability shrinking – he would be under constant pressure from shareholders. Now fast forward to 2016. If that same company under his watch improved market share, increased sales, invested in R&D/innovation, and increased profitability by almost 70% – he would be hailed as a brilliant CEO. Mr. Obama would be in line for massive stock options and bonuses. Mr. Obama would be a compared to similar CEOs who turned struggling companies around.
Yet, so many continually attack him. Right wing/conservatives have a list of complaints about Mr. Obama. And many on the left would have liked to see more aggression towards Wall Street and some more drastic shifts in foreign policy.
But the double standard that Mr. Obama has had to deal with is all too familiar to many Black Canadians and Americans. How many times are we put in a near impossible situation, deliver positive results yet are still criticized? How many times have we been punished for taking risks where many of our colleagues are rewarded? How many times are we labelled as rude, arrogant, cocky when we speak of our accomplishments, whereas our colleagues are viewed as confident. And yes, Canadians – we are talking about our experiences in Canada as well.
The difference in how many view President Obama vs. President-Elect Trump – is proof of this double standard. The fact that the President of the United States receives little credit for getting America out of the worse economic crisis since the 1930’s – is a reflection of the double standard many Black Canadians/Americans face in their day to day lives.
Despite this constant double standard, Mr. Obama has continually demonstrated class, elegance and a sense of humour. For that, both he and Mrs. Obama deserve respect and admiration from all of us

 

Are Canadian firms afraid of BRICS, MINT?

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Forbes has spoken about itThe Agenda has spoken about.   M.I.N.T is the next hot thing in global business.  Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey are considered to be nations full of great opportunity while having particular risk factors.

The question we have to ask ourselves in Canada is, are we afraid of emerging, non traditional markets?   One of the guest on The Agenda seems to imply that Canadian businesses should only invest in nations where Canada has agreements with.  There is some validity in this opinion.   Every organization has to protect its interest and try its best to reduce risk.

However, we do need more Canadian firms to take on emerging markets, even in places that we wouldn’t consider.   Canada has an array of expertise in natural resources, construction, logistics/shipping, agriculture, finance/banking, information technology and mining that could be used to expand revenue growth.

In turn, the knowledge transfer that Canadian firms can bring to an array of markets could great help bridge the digital divide and assist with many Social Responsibility issues.

It is time for many Canadian firms to look at M.I.N.T, BRICS and others as growth markets.  Of course, we will need our investors and banks to also open up to the reality that the best opportunities out there, may not be in your traditional comfort zone!

 

 

Blog by Radcliffe Dockery

The Left and the Right need to get out of their ideological comfort zones

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Taken from the Toronto Star...

CCPAOntario has an economic problem, which is leading to great social problems due to financial stress.  And no amount of rhetoric from the left or the right will change this.  What is required is for all stakeholders in our economy from educators, unions, investors, entrepreneurs and politicians to get together and develop practical solutions.

First step, as a service driven economy our education system needs to staffed with educators who have real world experience.   This has to start in high school.  Teachers should be in more intense training or job placements for the subjects they teach whether it be arts, sciences, business and technology.  Our students use smartphones and the interest, they can see through BS quickly – thus our educators must be on prepared with real work knowledge.

Second, the private sector must start telling the truth about the skills shortage.  I know first hand what it is like when you are unemployed and have the skills/experience for 90% of the jobs in your field.  However, it seems as if many companies are posting jobs just to fill their databases with resumes.      Even worse, we often see that a company will post a job, reject all candidates then within 2 months re post the same job again – and continue the cycle over and over again.  We need to stop the hype about skills shortages and ensure that the the shortage is REAL.   Sadly, too many Canadians are spending money on training courses only to remain unemployed. Good for training schools, bad for families.

Third, Ontario has to embrace trade more aggressively.   Recently on The Agenda, there had a a great discussion about foreign markets.   BRICS (Brazil, Russia, Indian, China, South Africa) and MINT (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, Turkey).    Lawyer Mark Warner made the key point on the show when he stated “When entering an emerging market, businesses have to be prepared for the unexpected… it won’t be smooth, but the opportunities are there”.   Companies, investors and academic thought leaders have to embrace emerging markets more aggressively.   Export Development Bank of Canada can provide lots of support for companies entering these markets.

Fourth, Ontario has to start investing in the RIGHT sectors.   Yes, the Auto Sector is important to the economy.   However, the attitude of Ford Canada and UNIFOR towards the South Korean Free Trade Agreement is a concern.   While Ford USA embraced the deal, Ford Canada did not.   UNIFOR compared imports/exports of cars between Canada and South Korea as proof of this being a bad deal for Canada.   The focus instead should be about how Ontario plants can 1) Attract more investment from VW, BMW, Audi etc into Canada  2)  making cars that foreign markets would want.

While Ontario continues to invest money in the Auto Sector, even when they don’t want it.    – The information technology, entertainment, logistics and infrastructure sectors do not get enough attention.   Ontario needs to focus more funds on industries that will lead to great exports for our companies.

In Ontario, we are no longer a manufacturing hot bed.  Tim Hudak has a plan however it sounds more rhetorical than practical.  Premier Wynne, speaks in platitudes and Andrea Horvarth doesn’t give us much detail.

The left and the right need to stop sitting in their ideological comfort zones and start focusing on practical solutions to our economic problems.   While both sides continue their rhetoric, way too many Ontario families continue to struggle.   Stop the noise and start getting to work!

blog post by Radcliffe Dockery

 

M.I.N.T – the next frontier for Business & Policy Makers

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As many small business owners still cannot wrap their heads around BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), here comes another frontier for business and investors – M.I.N.T.

BBC News has been paying attention to the M.I.N.T. Economies.    These M.I.N.T. nations include:

Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey

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 The term MINT was coined by Economist Jim O’Neill of Goldman Sachs.  Click here to view his comments.

These nations represent higher than normal risk however also demonstrate tremendous opportunity.   For Canadian and American businesses, it only makes sense to look at Mexico seriously.   There is some concern about Canada’s relationship with Mexico.   The need for Mexican’s to have Visa’s to enter Canada is one reason for this concern.   Canada has focused most of its activity within NAFTA on the USA.  However, we now see that Mexico is surpassing Canada in Auto Production.  And despite many internal issues the economy is showing signs of improvement.   Canada has no excuse not to increase it trade relationship with Mexico.

The biggest surprise here would be Nigeria.  While known for the various email scams, Nigeria is on the verge of becoming Africa’s largest economy.  Canada’s current trade with Nigeria.   Export Development Canada states:

Canada has a well established and growing trade relationship with Nigeria. The country represents an important trade partner for Canada in Sub-Saharan Africa. Trade is of high importance to the Nigerian economy which relies heavily upon the oil sector. A strong emphasis also exists on the infrastructure sector, which requires modernization.

This information may come as a shock to the average person, however an array of organizations in Oil Gas, Information Technology, Finance and Mining are paying more attention to Nigeria.

Indonesia has a population in the range of 250 Million with a fast growing middle class.  Turkey continues to be of high interest to many investors and businesses worldwide.

The focus on MINT nations in early 2014 should shift any small business owners Sales & Marketing strategy.  Or at a minimum, many small businesses should consider conducting some exploratory research in these markets.

Who within your organization is looking at the next emerging markets to tackle?   Are your suppliers able to adapt and move into new markets quickly?

Are policy makers in Canada providing enough support to help small businesses explore new markets?    Just a couple of questions we need to ask ourselves.

Opportunity is Everywhere, and it is time to look at M.I.N.T as potential new destinations.

Blog by Radcliffe Dockery

Chinese students love luxury cars, What about students in N. America?

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(Photo: Clayton Cotterell | Bloomberg Businessweek)

(Photo: Clayton Cotterell | Bloomberg Businessweek)

Interesting article posted by Yahoo Business surrounding Chinese students and Luxury cars!  Where is North America there is concern about young people buying cars, we are seeing the opposite in China where luxury brands such as Audi, Mercedes Benz,BMW surge.

China’s economic growth over the past 10 years has certainly contributed to this.   This leaves us with some challenges in North America:

A)  How do we ensure auto sector demand among young people with such high rates of Youth Unemployment?

B)  How do we justify continued government backed loans, grants in a sector that is facing a generation that is not interested in cars?

C)  What can jurisdictions in North America do to attract more investment from luxury auto brands?

Quick Primer about what the auto sector means to the Province of Ontario, http://www.investinontario.com/en/Pages/OS_automotive.aspx

Do you respect Nesta Robert Marley at work or only while on Vacation?

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images (1)Not much of an introduction needed here.   Bob Marley is an world icon.   While known for his music, one of his biggest contributions to society was the message of justice, unity and equality.   So while many will play his famous hit, let’s hope that the same people will accept individuals who look like Bob Marley in fields outside of music!

As a Black Male with “Dread Locs” over the past 12 years, I find it troubling that while many will have no problem dancing to Bob Marley’s music, they have a problem treating someone who looks like him fairly in places of commerce.    It is time to heed Mr. Marley’s words, and respect our diversity in all aspects of life – just not when you are on a Jamaican vacation!

 

 

Blog post by Radcliffe Dockery

Is Our Education System failing us?

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Is Education failing us?

Fortunately, I had a fantastic teacher in Grade 11 who taught me how to think, challenge authority and focus on critical analysis. Our Education System needs to be reformed!  Click on the picture of an interview we conducted with a student in 2010 about her challenges with the education system!

 

Blog post by Radcliffe Dockery