Your morning jolt: Coke chief says U.S. becoming more hostile to business than China

Coca-Cola’s top dog on Monday told the Financial Times that, thanks to an antique tax code and political infighting, the United States is becoming a more hostile place to do business than China:

Muhtar Kent, Coke’s chief executive, said “in many respects” it was easier doing business in China, which he likened to a well-managed company. “You have a one-stop shop in terms of the Chinese foreign investment agency and local governments are fighting for investment with each other,” he [said].

And Washington gridlock? “There’s too much comfort. We need more needles to stick in politicians.”

Kent made his remarks at the Clinton Global Initiative conference. See the FT video here.

***
Apparently, a certain former political figure has no plans to return to elective office. Bloomberg reports that former Democratic attorney general Thurbert Baker has been hired by the debt collection industry to help fight new restrictions in several states:

DBA International, the debt-buying industry’s trade association, hired Baker, the former Georgia attorney general, to cultivate relationships with key regulators in advance of state legislative sessions in early 2013. That way, Baker said in an interview, the industry will be “at the table to help draft legislation, if it comes to that.”

***
The legislative committee that oversees MARTA held a friendly meeting with transit officials on Monday. From my AJC colleague Aaron Gould Sheinin:

Rep. Mike Jacobs, R-Atlanta, the chairman of the MARTOC Committee, said consensus is building among lawmakers in favor of a major change in MARTA funding.

The meeting was a far cry from the days when the committee was run by a more confrontational Rep. Jill Chambers, R-Atlanta, who lost a re-election contest last year.

But by coincidence, while her old committee was holding forth, Chambers sent out an e-mail advertising her new services as a private investigator – looking through court records, conducting background searches and locating witnesses. Her fee:

$25 per hour + expenses (database fees, parking, copy costs, mileage @ $0.50/mile)

Which is a bargain. Jim Rockford was charging $200 a day plus expenses 20 years ago.

***
Over at the Athens Banner-Herald, Blake Aued says U.S. Rep. Paul Broun’s Republican primary opponent has surfaced:

Mac Collins said there is a better-than-even chance he’ll run against Broun in a radically redrawn 10th District. He said he expects to make a final decision by the end of October.

Collins, 67, served 12 years in Congress from 1993 to 2005. He said he’s more experienced than Broun, who’s served four years.

“I’ve been there at these tough times like we’re having today,” he said.

But in order to run against Broun, Collins will have to concede that Democrat Jim Marshall beat him in 2006 – something that Collins has yet to do.

***
The AJC’s Politifact Georgia today examines U.S. Rep. Paul Broun’s claim that federal stimulus cash used to cut down on childhood obesity is killing jobs.

***
State Sen. Doug Stoner, D-Smyrna, is making the case that his newly re-drawn Senate district is just as important to Georgia Democrats as U.S. Rep. John Barrow’s stand in east Georgia. From an analysis by the Marietta Daily Journal triumvirate:

“It’s one of the key races Republicans are hoping to flip to their column — it would help them gain a supermajority and also help them gain a majority in the Fulton County legislative delegation,” said Dr. Kerwin Swint, a political science professor at Kennesaw State University. “It’s also a textbook case of gerrymandering, taking a district that was completely in Cobb, and stretching it far into north Fulton County, making it a majority Republican district.”

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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155 comments Add your comment

Darwin

September 27th, 2011
9:39 am

Does that make him a Communist?

detritusUSA

September 27th, 2011
9:40 am

Well, Mr Kent you go ahead and do business with the communists, I’ll not buy another one of your products. You and your company are un-American!

Centrist

September 27th, 2011
9:42 am

“It’s also a textbook case of gerrymandering”

What goes around, comes around – payback is a b**** – to the victor, go the spoils.

lem

September 27th, 2011
9:46 am

Broun is an embarrassment to this state.

Songbird

September 27th, 2011
9:48 am

Did either of you two actually read what he said. He said an antiquated tax code and political infighting are making it harder to run a business in this country. I don’t think he would be alone in making that statement. China is going to pass us by if we don’t get our act together. We are screwing ourselves and people who make dumb comments like you two aren’t helping.

Billy Sherman

September 27th, 2011
9:49 am

So we should strive to be more like China?

Maybe we’d be better off without Coca-Cola and their diabetes-inducing fructose water.

Michael Marr

September 27th, 2011
9:49 am

I see Mr. Baker has taken his Consumer Protection Division playbook over to the debt collectors. Nice move.

les

September 27th, 2011
9:50 am

It’s becoming easier to do business in a lot of countries other than the United States.

Coke does business in over 200 countries. I have heard that people in Iran don’t want to drink Coke because it is sold in Iraq. And people in Iraq don’t want to drink Coke because it is sold in Iran. And some Syrians don’t want to drink Coke because it is sold in Israel.

I guess now there will be some Americans who don’t want to drink Coke because it is sold in China.

greg

September 27th, 2011
9:51 am

This is why we don’t have more jobs in this country. The big business owners have placed money ahead of the everyday citizens and workers . These big business/corporate elite folks will sell their mother to make a dollar.

TaxWatch

September 27th, 2011
9:52 am

The Coke Board of Directors don’t care about whether a country is red or blue. They only care about is GREEN!

The exodus of American Corporations will continue unabated until we address our repressive tax structure.

findog

September 27th, 2011
9:54 am

well of course dealing with an autocratic communist regime is easier than a republic
coke would have never had made it to where anyone would care what their ceo said had it origionated in China
I am no longer drinking Coke

Billy Sherman

September 27th, 2011
9:54 am

China is merely a convenient scapegoat; private enterprise is who really sold us out.

*watches the invisible hand of the free market hand out more pink slips*

Road Scholar

September 27th, 2011
9:56 am

Songbird; Since Big Business controls our politicians, who then is to blame? Can you say “Pepsi”?

jackie

September 27th, 2011
10:00 am

All right Greg, I suppose that business should just give away their products. That should turn a nice profit and keep them operating, right? You are also probably one of the wealth envy non producers that want to confiscate and redistribute the wealth from the “evil” rich because they don’t deserve to have more than you no matter how hard they worked, or how many risks they took to achieve their “evil” rich status.

well'swell

September 27th, 2011
10:00 am

The truth of the matter is, this is the same “antiquated tax code and political infighting” that has been with us for generations now. so that’s a bunch of BS. Call it what it really is. The U.S. is struggling so bad financially, people simply are not spending the $s because they do not have them. Just like any good w@@re, she (Coke) goes to the side of the room where the money is flowing. There is no business like “Ho” bizness!

Billy Sherman

September 27th, 2011
10:00 am

lol go back to posting school, jackie

Centrist

September 27th, 2011
10:01 am

Galloway and the AJC must be proud of how many socialists and communists they attract who so dislike our capitalistic free enterprise system.

At least the AJC and so many minority viewpoints have a single place to unite.

DannyX

September 27th, 2011
10:01 am

“What goes around, comes around – payback is a b**** – to the victor, go the spoils.”

Lets face facts. The Republicans have been so bad they can’t run on merit. They don’t trust the public to keep them in power. Republicans know they have to manipulate the maps.

Republicans have been a disaster. Just look at the damage done by Tom Graves, Chip Rogers, Sonny Perdue, Nathan “Show Me the Government Money” Deal, Linda Schrenko, Oxendine, Glenn Richardson, and of course Beth Merkleson.

We had the Georgia Power give-a-way, pray for rain, Oakey Woods, port pork, lobby scandals, huge transportation tax increase proposal, huge property tax increases, failed tax plan, failed DOT, failed banks, toll road lies, and our Governor spends a lot of time in DC begging for more deficit spending.

Of course the Republicans are forced to gerrymander, that or run on their record.

Billy Sherman

September 27th, 2011
10:03 am

I just love corporations

Laurie

September 27th, 2011
10:05 am

In other words, Muhtar Kent thinks it’s easier to take advantage of the everyday worker and consummer in China than in the States, as China doesn’t make him do silly stuff like pay a fair wage and make sure his product doesn’t make a bunch of people sick. Yes, I would say that’s a fair statement Mr. Kent.

well'swell

September 27th, 2011
10:06 am

…,and I guess Neal Boortz is posting under the name “Jackie” today, because that post is VERBATIM from his radio show transcripts. ‘She’ is what is wrong with the U.S. today – no original thought or real intellect. Just wind her up using that little key in her back. Just sad. By the way, I “produce” to the tune of 120…K, that is.

Ol' Timer

September 27th, 2011
10:06 am

They’ll be singing a different tune if China decides to nationalize their businesses. It has happened before and could happen again. But that’s the risk they’re willing to take for .75 cent a hour labor.

Ratkum Tnek

September 27th, 2011
10:08 am

This is what happens when a fine American company puts some mud country beige savage in charge. Who will they bring in after Mukky vacates the job, someone named Mahmoud with a turban on his head?

Steve W

September 27th, 2011
10:09 am

So it’s easier to do business in a country with less regulation…..SHOCKING! Coca-Cola would have never become what it is now in any other country than the U.S.

LMAO

September 27th, 2011
10:10 am

Is it possible corporations are funding the gridlock in Washington? Quick look up the financial disclosure reports for all the leading naysayers on both sides. You will see my point.

Sick to death of reactionaries...

September 27th, 2011
10:10 am

For all of you who want to boycott one of the state’s biggest companies because he said dealing with China was less difficult than the US, please realize you’d rather not support one of Georgia’s biggest money makers and job creators because he said a simple truth. That’s really well thought out. Stop being so reactionary. It’s embarrassing and foolish.

james j andrews

September 27th, 2011
10:11 am

@Danny X

Speaking of Shady, has the purchaser of his defunct business gotten his peep shows up and running yet?

Ol' Timer

September 27th, 2011
10:11 am

@Jackie — There’s no envy. I just think big business should play by the same rules everyone else does — including paying their fair share of taxes.

A working class stiff paid more taxes than Exxon in 2009 and GE in 2010. And Apple Computer sitting on billions of offshore dollars paid ZERO in taxes in 2010.

Now, I don’t thing it’s wealth envy to expect these highly profitable companies to pay their fair share by plugging the loopholes that the average working class stiff doesn’t have.

james j andrews

September 27th, 2011
10:13 am

@LMAO

You can’t look them up.

Billy Sherman

September 27th, 2011
10:14 am

“…you’d rather not support one of Georgia’s biggest money makers and job creators because he said a simple truth. That’s really well thought out. Stop being so reactionary…”

Yeah Enron was one of the biggest employers in Texas too

Chuck

September 27th, 2011
10:15 am

Songbird, your observation is correct….these folks can’t read. The fact that it has become easier to do business with China than the USA pretty much says all you need to know about our current lack of leadership. We have become more socialist than China in many respects.

RAMZAD

September 27th, 2011
10:15 am

Muhtar Kent had been eating too much Chinese baby food and munching on too much Chinese sheet rock and playing with too much lead laced Chinese toys.

Heaven help him had his predecessors imported Chinese contractors to build the Coke tower on North Avenue. He would do better keeping his mouth shut or move to China and stay there.

OutsideAJCLookingIn

September 27th, 2011
10:16 am

It’s amazing how stupid some — strike that — most of the AJC readers are. There’s too much regulation and tax policy that make it difficult for a business to compete in the global economy. Of course, liberals read into everything what they want, so it doesn’t matter what I, or anyone else, points out to them. They are ruining this country, step by step, liberal idea by liberal idea.

boomhauer

September 27th, 2011
10:16 am

good article, dumb comments. calling this guy a commie because he is trying to warn our beloved country that we need to fix our problems? seriously.

Billy Sherman

September 27th, 2011
10:18 am

Haha it’s fun to watch people defend globalization to the death and blame those darn libs for job losses, but not the companies that sent jobs overseas in the first place.

Accelerationism ftw

November 6, 2012

September 27th, 2011
10:20 am

Thurbert Baker has been hired by the debt collection industry

Their LOSS, our GAIN :)

Harley

September 27th, 2011
10:21 am

The Coke chief tells it like it is. Tells the truth about our over regulation that is stifling business development in this country, and people get all “USA” about it. Well, people, keep your heads in the sand and all of our manufacturing and other companies will be doing business outside the U.S. We need less regulation, and a more educated electorate, and more honest politicians. The tea partier types are doing what they can to cut the “crap” in government, but liberals don’t make it easy.

GaBlue

September 27th, 2011
10:22 am

Do the Chinese consumers get sugar in their coke, or the nasty, tasteless corn syrup we get? Or perhaps there’s a different sort of weird, toxic, industrial by-product sweetening their bottles of fizzie? No EPA to stand in the way there. Hmmm…

I stopped drinking coke when they took Coca Cola Black away from me, after briefly making my life complete with a sumptuous mix of cola and instant coffee, the likes of which could keep a tired working mom on the dancefloor until 2 a.m. Saturday after a long, exhausting work week. Give me happiness and hope for a brief time, then yank it away? Find forgiveness somewhere else. When I walk away, I never look back.

Jill Chambers

September 27th, 2011
10:23 am

HI Jim
Thanks for the nice mention this morning!

btw, I am not working as a licensed private investigator. But I have friends that can do that work – and they do it very well.

It was fascinating to “follow the money” in the Legislature – I’m glad I can continue to use those skills in the real world.

There are many people out there who did not appreciate my research on government waste – but there were very few who could dispute the results of my research.

Fraud examination is now my favorite type of work.

Just wait – soon I’ll be able to tell you an interesting story about some politically-related fraud that may have created unintended tax consquences for a lot of politicians….

Billy Sherman

September 27th, 2011
10:24 am

Can conservatives go one paragraph without using “regulation” in a sentence? C’mon yall there has been regulation since day one, tell me something I can believe

mum

September 27th, 2011
10:24 am

I guess a country that pays their average worker $10 per week, let you work ’til you collapse, and let you visit your family a couple of times per year, is a superb place to do business. We are happily helping China to return to world dominance, a history that most people seem unaware of. They are greasing the wheels by giving loans and investing in every country that has a resource they know they will need in the future, and all of this is controled by their central government.

We on the other hand are giving our children’s future to China running after the cheap labor so corporations can continue to reap historic profits by making products for next to nothing, and selling them back to us at the same high cost. Those job creators will bring the jobs back when US workers agree to work for the same wages as the Chinese do.

td

September 27th, 2011
10:25 am

Ol’ Timer

September 27th, 2011
10:11 am

You pick and choose data to use as left wing propaganda. Corporations get to write off their loses and their equipment purchases before they pay taxes on their actual profits. This is just like you and I do personally. If you have a bad year that you go to the doctor, hospital, surgeries ect then you get to itemize those expenses and write them off before you pay your taxes.

BTW: Corporations really do not pay taxes. These are expenses that they pass off to the customers in higher prices.

Martin the Calvinist

September 27th, 2011
10:25 am

I’d like to ask who made the tax code, if you are worried that someone isn’t paying their fair share (I’d love to see a definition of fair share btw) how about screaming for tax reform! Lower rates and eliminate deductions! All of them! Make it harder, extremely harder to evade.

Fred

September 27th, 2011
10:26 am

“in many respects” it was easier doing business in China, which he likened to a well-managed company
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Of course it’s easier to do business in a Country with slave labor where all one has to do is bribe the politicians. Come to think of it that IS like a well run company…………

Billy Sherman

September 27th, 2011
10:28 am

“…Corporations really do not pay taxes. These are expenses that they pass off to the customers in higher prices.”

You fail Econ 1101

neal kelley

September 27th, 2011
10:30 am

We buy goods from china.. does that make us Communist?…

Slow down ...

September 27th, 2011
10:31 am

To “detritus” – if you’re going to boycott all US companies doing business in China, be prepared to say NO to:

Dell, Apple, Coke, Pepsi, GM, Volkswagen, Ford, McDonalds, Home Depot, Walmart, Nike, Starbucks, Heinz, The Gap, Coors, Caterpillar, 3M, American Express, AT&T … I’m just barely getting started.

The reality is – this is a global economy. Businesses go where they can make money … period. You can close your eyes and hold your breath until people stop doing business in China all you want – but the reality is, I’ll bet that 90% of the stuff in your house is from a company that has investments in China.

Devil's Advocate

September 27th, 2011
10:35 am

So the same people bashing Coke and Kent for pointing out the obvious are probably the same people who turn around and complain that our tax code is outdated and too many labor unions ruin the US economy. Two faced Americans only playing every topic to their own angle.

GaBlue

September 27th, 2011
10:35 am

Chuck has a point: “The fact that it has become easier to do business with China than the USA pretty much says all you need to know about our current lack of leadership.”

A good leader would convince American middle-class workers that their time should be worth a dollar an hour or less, and that benefits and safety regulations are for weaklings, and that it’s nobody’s business if a manufacturing facility dumps its toxic by products into the surrounding environment, poisoning the water and killing the fish (So don’t dare report it!) Clean air? I thought we were strong! What kind of lazy God-hating communist complains about air pollution! REAL leadership would steer us away from our soft, self-destructive ideals and into the world of reality and strength. Then WE could eat fish heads and live nine to an apartment too. That will show them!

td

September 27th, 2011
10:37 am

Billy Sherman

September 27th, 2011
10:28 am
“…Corporations really do not pay taxes. These are expenses that they pass off to the customers in higher prices.”

You fail Econ 1101

Really? How do you figure? What is the first general rule of any company in business? MAKE A PROFIT. If paying taxes prevents a company from making a profit then that cost has to be passed onto the consumer. This is the same principle as when the cost of goods prevents a company from making a profit then the price of the good or service must be raised to cover those increased expenses.

I guess you took ECON 101 for socialist and not for capitalist?