The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

23 November 2003

Cleanup on aisle nine

Kevin Drum's Calpundit is running a statement from Barbara Maynard, who represents the two UFCW locals striking Los Angeles-area grocery stores, and she's got a question that deserves an answer:

Would you rather that these 70,000 middle class jobs become poverty level jobs filled by workers who have to turn to the taxpayer for healthcare and food stamps? That's what the [three supermarket chains] are proposing because that's what Wal-Mart has.

I've been to one Wal-Mart Supercenter, and while it was fairly sanitary — people are always telling me how grubby Wal-Mart stores are, for some reason — it had the general ambiance of a bus station, and I didn't feel compelled to go back again; well, yeah, I might save a couple of bucks on a basket, but do I really want to put myself through that again?

Maybe this is another case of "maybe it's just me." I've been on Poverty Row before, and it's a genuinely lousy place to live, but the experience did not instill in me a desire to squeeze every last dime until FDR screams in pain; it may be important for some people's sense of self — and, for that matter, for the Wal-Mart business model — to believe that they've paid the absolute lowest possible price for something, but it doesn't do a thing for me. I bought my last car from one of those "no-haggle" dealerships, and while I might have been able to save a couple hundred bucks somewhere else in the state — Oklahoma is not exactly overrun with Mazda stores — what's the point on a $20,000 car? It's like driving 30 miles to save two cents a gallon on gas.

And sometimes there are intangibles involved. For the new house, I'm buying a truckload of appliances, and there was never any question where I was going to get them: I haven't had that many dealings with Sears in recent years, but they've always treated me well, and as a former Reservist, I appreciate what they're doing for present Reservists.

There is little doubt that the arrival of that first Wal-Mart strikes fear into the hearts of local retailers, and not everyone welcomes them with open arms. I rather think the trend will last a while: Wal-Mart will continue to grow, and a substantial number of people, whatever their reasons, will continue to refuse to set foot in the place. Whether that number is substantial enough to keep UFCW grocery personnel from taking what they see as a giant step backwards, I can't say, but I'm rather hoping it is, if only because, well, I'm not the sort of person who roots for Godzilla and Goliath, even if that is the way to bet.

Posted at 2:21 PM to Political Science Fiction

The fallacy in Ms. Maynards argument is she assumes government funded healthcare and widely available foodstamps are proper things for the taxpayer to provide. They are not.

Posted by: Ralph Gizzip at 4:00 PM on 23 November 2003

To Ralph Gizzip - So I'm unclear (and curious). Would you take the safety net away entirely? If so, what would happen to the people (3 million in L.A., for example) who work for employers that either don't provide health insurance or provide it but the premiums are too high for the worker to afford? Would they simply be allowed to get sick and die? What about those (lots) that handle your food, work at minimum wage to support their family (i.e., have no money left over at the end of the day), but don't have insurance? Should they just get sicker and sicker, perhaps with communicable diseases? Don't misunderstand my statements of yesterday. I don't think that taxpayers like me should have to foot the bill. I would rather that ALL workers be covered by affordable health insurance and make enough money to buy food for their family.

Posted by: Barbara at 9:39 PM on 23 November 2003

After 70 years of FDR's "New Deal" and 40 years of LBJ's "Great Society" it would be ludicrous to eliminate these programs in one fell swoop. After all, people that have come to depend on the dole haven't seen fit to make any other plans. As far as they're concerned it's always been there and it always WILL be there. It will take almost as long to roll these programs back to nonexistance, where they belong, so people can adjust their lives accordingly.

Now you decry unaffordable health insurance but I ask you, "How much coverage do you really need?" People have come to expect their health insurance to cover every single thing from cancer treatments to a doctor's visit for the sniffles. Emergency rooms are full of people that have no business being there but just want to see a doctor. And don't kid yourself, that happens all the time. That type of coverage is very expensive because of the expected outlays while major medical insurance is quite affordable. You're also dollars ahead by paying an office visit out of pocket than ponying up the premiums for full coverage. It's just like your auto insurance. If all you carry is Liability, it's not too bad (unless you're a lousy driver) but when you add Collision and Comprensive it gets pretty pricey.

So what's driven up the cost of healthcare is demand. Demand is up because people don't know the true cost of their healthcare. Everybody wants to see the doctor for every little thing because they think insurance will cover it. Insurance companies are nogotiating rates. Malpractice insurance is through the roof. And doctors set their "retail" fees accordingly. Government run healthcare would be a disaster. Just look around the world. It doesn't work nearly as well as the system we've got here and our system isn't that great. Something else I've NEVER understood is why people who rail against the Patriot Act as a violation of their privacy would want that same government to have unfettered access to the most intimate details of their medical history?

If you really want to see people better off then work to get government off our backs, out of our pockets, and out of our lives. Let me keep what I earn and I'll make my own arrangements, thank you very much.

Posted by: Ralph Gizzip at 7:01 PM on 24 November 2003

A WalMart on every corner and a chicken in every pot. Let them (all the people) eat cake. Buy it cheap here. The Future is comin' and it has Greeters!

Posted by: Doe, John at 10:43 PM on 28 November 2003