Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Post Toasties

In what has become a particularly knee-jerk reaction in matters like this, the New York Post rails this morning against the Health Care Security Act a bill that would, by forcing recalcitrant employers to provide adequate health benefits to their workers, create a level playing field in NYC's grocery business. The editors do so, they say, in defense of lower grocery prices.

In mounting their attack on the bill the editors cite a report that says that Wal-Mart's entry into an area leads to a 15% reduction of the region's grocery prices. Ergo: anyone who supports the legislation is supporting higher food costs for Newyorkers.

As we have pointed out elsewhere the Post has a point. 60% of a supermarket's overhead resides in its labor costs. Wal-Mart, by lowballing its workers on base pay and too-often stiffing them on health benefits finds itself in a understandably competitive position. So if, using the Post's phrase, we rely on "Economics 101" we can readily understand why the retail giant's entry into groceries has led to the closure of 13,000, mostly unionuzed supermarkets in the last ten years.

What the Post leaves out, however, is egregious considering its conservative position on welfare. The fact that Wal-Mart doesn't adequtely take care of the health benefits of its workers leads to the situation of the company becoming the largest recipient of public health care benefits in this country. This is precisely the outrage that the HCSA seeks to rectify. There is no reason why New York's taxpayers should be subsidizing anyone's grocery bills.