Back in college where I was a poli sci major (fewest number of requirements, no hard math) I was taught that in the US you have Socialism for the really big companies and then capitalism for the rest of us. By that my professors meant that huge companies get bail outs, subsidies, tax deals, free sports stadia and other sorts of corporate welfare that us normal folks wouldn’t even dream we could get for ourselves. Currently the ever-benevolent folks at Wal-Mart are asking that some of that Socialism be extended to the rest of us. Yes, the company which made a miniscule profit (when compared to Exxon) profit of $10 billion last year says the only way it can maintain its competitive advantage is if the government starts paying for health care.
Speaking to National Governors Association, Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott asked for the governor’s help to make health care more affordable and accessible for the retail giant’s 1.3 million U.S. employees. Scott said the company’s health care costs have risen 19% in each of the last three years and that that is unsustainable for them and other businesses. He then added, “If you think we’re going to spend some of our profits on this then you need a better mental-health care plan.” No, wait. I made that last part up.
If you don’t think that this is a call for A Health Care System That Dare Not Speak Its Name, consider this comment by Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine of Virginia: I am “intrigued by [Scott’s] discussion about the weaknesses of the employer-based health care model in this country and sort of wondered what his thought about the alternative would be.”
Of course, for political reasons no CEO is actually going to come out and ask for a nationalized health care system but they are hinting at it a lot. The major automakers are practically begging for this. They point out that along with the cost of pensions — which they are also trying to dump on the Feds — health care adds an alleged $1K to the cost of their cars. Which, I’m certain, is why the all the top picks in Consumer Reports’ annual vehicle guide are from Japanese-owned companies. Yep, it’s health care costs that prevent them from making an inexpensive, non-gas-guzzling auto that doesn’t suck. No doubt about it.
It really is quite fascinating to watch all these CEOs hint at nationalized health care without actually saying that’s what they want.
Having basically said Wal-Mart wasn’t really going to do anything more than the barest of minimums about this, Lee Scott then proceeded to blame the workers for their bad health. Quoth the AP:
He said improving the company’s wellness program — encouraging employees to eat right and take care of their bodies — is [Wal-Mart’s] biggest challenge and the area where it has performed the poorest.
In other words, if only these people to weren’t such fat slobs than their health wouldn’t be so bad and it wouldn’t cost us so much money. Except that we aren’t paying for their health care anyway.