Monday, March 13, 2006

Bruno Posted on Wal-Mart

The NY Post is at the defense of the Walmonster once again. This time it is in the context of an attack on Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno for his favorable response to legislation that would force a company like Wal-Mart to take care of its worker's health care costs.

What's particularly fascinating in this diatribe is the Post's defense of Wal-Mart's workers utilizing public health care benefits. As the paper says, "If a state health plan is available, why shouldn't workers partake of it?" Is this the same newspaper that inveighs regularly against welfare abuse?

So let's get this straight. If, in the Post's view, a poor black women is accessing too many public benefits that is somehow scandalous, but the richest corporation in the world is training its employees to obtain public benefits that the company itself should provide, and that is somehow OK.

It's more than just OK, however. In one of the most ridiculous passages in yesterday's editorial the Post actually says, "And if workers choose the state plan over Wal-Mart's, why blame the store for offering poor benefits; why not blame the state for being too generous?" This is plain silly. The workers go to the state because, on a Wal-Mart salary, they can't afford to both eat and pay for health care.

And what about the fact that Wal-Mart provides so many jobs? ("...which is why job applicants line up for blocks every time a new store opens"). The reality is that low paying retail, driven by WalMartization, has replaced the high paying, good benefit manufacturing jobs that we have exported overseas. It is a process that Wal-Mart itself aids and abets in its own lucrative outsourcing of the manufacturing goods that it is able to sell so cheaply at retail precisely because they have been made so cheaply overseas.

So when the Post says, "These stores are doing nothing wrong", it lays bare the bankruptcy of its own ethical standards. Maybe Lee Scott of Wal-Mart is right when he says that we as a country needs to do something about the rising costs of health care. But it is clear from Wal-Mart's record in this area and the Post's moral obtuseness that neither of these worthies are part of the solution.