Wal-Mart’s healthcare statism

8 Aug

As the debate over healthcare reform dominates the headlines and the halls of Congress, America’s largest employer is now getting involved in the action. Wal-Mart has bought airtime and a full-page ad in the DC daily Roll Call declaring their support for nationalized healthcare. Wal-Mart has been advocating the complete government takeover of the healthcare industry for years, and now that the issue is at the top of the President’s agenda, it can now effetively rally support for health care corporatism.

Wal-Mart’s urge to see new healthcare legislation passed resembles the ugly two-headed monster of state capitalism dressed in altruism. This push for “every person in America [to] have quality, affordable health insurance” is another attempt by Wal-Mart to use the power of the state to crush competitors and burden smaller businesses with increased taxation.

Since the beginning of the corporate giant’s existence, this tool has been part of its predatory repertoire. When it began to expand vigorously just a few decades ago, it frequently joined hands with state and local governments to use the “eminent domain” clause to steal locally owned private property, arguing that the increased sales tax revenue that would inevitably ensue was the “public use” that the 5th Amendment requires for land takings. Governments, who are always looking to loot and pillage the citizenry, see a golden opportunity to consolidate power and increase their revenue, while Wal-Mart (and those hideous strip malls and shopping centers) see a way to unfairly snuff out their competitors.

Wal-Mart has also been one of the biggest proponents of increasing the minimum wage for the exact same reasons. Minimum wage laws are one of the most misguided attempts at alleviating poverty since they increase unemployment and make it more difficult for businesses to hire the poor (Apartheid South Africa used them to push black Africans out of the workforce as well). Naturally, Wal-Mart has supported increasing the minimum wage for the same reason it supports the nationalization of health care: to stifle competition by putting smaller retailers at an economic disadvantage.

The fact that Wal-Mart favors socialized medicine should make liberal supporters of single-payer health care very uneasy. The Left has criticized Wal-Mart for its unfair business practices and mistreatment of employees, but ignores the reality that it is only able to do this with the helping hand of the state. Wal-Mart resembles free and disciplined market economics about as much as the health care industry does; both are recipients of state protection, state management, and state-granted monopolies.

It is a myth that we have a “free market” healthcare system, and Americans haven’t known free-market healthcare since at least the 1960s, when the crooked LBJ nearly took it over. Since then, government intervention has sickened our health care system with infinite paperwork, mandates, and the tyranny of licensing, like government quotas imposed by the American Medical Association cartel that limit the amount of doctors that are “allowed” to practice. Americans used to enjoy privatized healthcare that was the envy of the world, where routine visits were paid in cash and insurance was only for catastrophic events like floods, earthquakes, or serious illness.

Today, most Americans get their healthcare through top-heavy managed-care organizations, like HMOs, Medicare, or Medicaid. These institutions routinely deny payment for various “unapproved” drugs and procedures because us serfs can’t possibly be trusted to make our own responsible decisions.  Since they also represent a third party that is bearing the cost, doctors have no incentive to charge the minimum and every incentive to maximize costs. Healthcare providers are nothing more than bureaucratic middlemen that drive up the costs, and simultaneously lower the quality, of our care. In every other industry, the advancement of technology has led to lower prices; not so with a healthcare system 70% controlled by the  predatory hands of the state.

The “evils” and “excesses” of capitalism makes an easy scapegoat for power-hungry politicians to gain more power and control of industries that barely resemble market-based enterprises. Until the government removes its iron fisted grip over the American economy, Wal-Marts will continue to monopolize towns and health care costs will continue to skyrocket.

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