Walmart

Wal-Mart and the Employer Mandate: Ezra Klein Misses the Point

|

In a post about Wal-Mart signing on to an employer mandate for health insurance, Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein says he was initially skeptical, but then read the joint letter between Wal-Mart, the Service Employees Union International, and the Center for American Progress, and pronounces himself convinced.

He notes, though, that Wal-Mart isn't doing this for altruistic reasons, and in doing so Klein comes perilously close to grasping the concept of rent seeking and regulatory capture. But then he whiffs.

This isn't, of course, a story of altruism. By being of use to the administration, Wal-Mart ensures that its concerns will be heard and heeded. By publicly associating itself with health reform, the company repairs some of the damage SEIU and others have done to its reputation in recent years. And, in a more macro sense, by throwing its weight behind strict cost controls, Wal-Mart makes it likelier that it gets the largest of all possible benefits: an eventual slowing in the double-time march of health-care costs.

Klein then again almost stumbles onto the point. But again he misses.

But health reform isn't supposed to be about altruism. And that's arguably the most important message of this letter. Reforming health reform [sic] isn't just some liberal president's agenda item. It's good business.

Supporting new regulations is usually good business if your company is big enough to absorb compliance costs that could slow down or cripple your competitors. Even better if can you sign on early and win over a few influential opinion makers, interest groups, and politicians so you'll have some pull over how the regulations are written.

Michael Moynihan on Wal-Mart's money connection to the Center for American Progress here. Peter Suderman wrote on Wal-Mart's support for the mandate here.

Advertisement

NEXT: Gay Sex is Now Legal in New Delhi

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Don’t you just love it when the government is the weapon of choice for one corporation to use against others? I’ve got no problem with Walmart beating every other retailer silly through the free market. What I do have a problem with is when they try and push through regulations that will ultimately hurt smaller businesses, primarily because it will hurt smaller businesses.

    Of course, they’re not alone in that. Phillip Morris did the same thing with tobacco just a few weeks ago. Hardly groundbreaking unfortunately.

  2. Ezra Klein is a goddamn retard.

  3. Klein then again almost stumbles onto the point. But again (s)he misses.

    I think this might hold true for all Kleins. Perhaps it’s genetic.

  4. “I supported it for good reasons! I didn’t know that there would be unintended consequences!”

    Summary of a future blog post of Ezra’s.

  5. You give Klein way too much credit: he doesn’t fail to miss the point, he intentionally veers away from it at the last second in order to make the bad thoughts go away.

  6. Corporations aren’t altruistic the way GOVERNMENT is! At least, now that we’ve got the right people in charge!

    Reading even just these little excerpts o’ Klein kill off thousands of my brain cells, and with all the drinking i’m planning to do this weekend, i can’t afford that. Shut the fuck up, Ezra Klein.

  7. Unfortunately very few people understand how regulations are bad for business in general, but very good for big business. This causes them to support programs that help the companies that they hate the most.

  8. Jaybird | July 2, 2009, 12:33pm “I supported it for good reasons! I didn’t know that there would be unintended consequences!”

    Summary of a future blog post of Ezra’s.
    ——————

    Bingo.

    Klein would studiously miss the point if he was shooting at the ocean from the beach.

    When his pet progressive paradigm shits the bed, he’ll just double down on the government interventionism. He’ll never see that it was his nonsense agenda that caused the problem in the first place.

    Amazing, really.

  9. The only points Klein gets are the one on the top of his head and the tip of Obama’s dick (which rests against his tonsils).

  10. This guy, Dr Mercola, gets it too. He’s alternative medicine. He seems generally leftish in tone but understands its about the Bigs trying to squash the competition. He links to a video by Ron Paul.

    “One of the problems in our current system, he says, is the lack of competition, partly due to too much government intervention.

    I would agree with that sentiment, and add that not only do we lack competition within the allopathic field, but we also lack true competition between the allopathic and alternative medicine fields. True competition will only occur once alternative medicine is embraced and fully allowed to BE an officially viable alternative to conventional treatments.”

  11. “Ezra Klein Misses the Point”

    This is a given in any article about Ezra Klein.

  12. Again, fuck Walmart, fuck anyone who works there, and fuck anyone who shops there.

    1. go to hell I work at WalMart because its a fucking job and I wont just pull unemployment like a self centered dumb shit.

  13. “once alternative medicine is embraced and fully allowed to BE an officially viable alternative to conventional treatments.”

    Which it isn’t. But, that can’t ever be proven, once and for all and beyond a shadow of a doubt, until the allopaths stop giving conspiritards reason to believe in the power of these “alternative” quack therapies like homeopathy, by trying so hard to squash them through government regulation. They don’t realize that for a significant minority, the mere fact of being something “they don’t want you to know about” is proof enough of a treatment’s effectiveness and validity for them to embrace it wholeheartedly. Look at all the morons who turn themselves blue with colloidal silver every day.

  14. “Barriers to Entry” and “Market Incumbent” aren’t just porno titles.

    That someone can write about politics for a living without knowing about these simple concepts is… predictable

  15. make that “Market Incumbent Erects Barrier to Entry”

  16. I totally used to hate Wal-Mart because whenever I went there, I was constantly blocked in any given aisle by a morbidly obese person on oxygen (who, if female, was wearing a Looney Toons t-shirt).

    Whenever I found myself needing to go there between 9-10PM in the middle of the week, I found myself also wondering why so many kids were there and wanting to ask them if they knew it was a school night.

    Now I find myself hating Wal-Mart because it carries stuff that other stores in town don’t and so I find myself there more and more often… and the same people are blocking the aisles.

  17. “I totally used to hate Wal-Mart because whenever I went there, I was constantly blocked in any given aisle by a morbidly obese person on oxygen (who, if female, was wearing a Looney Toons t-shirt).”

    See? Wal Mart is on the front lines! They serve the very people that NEED to have government-run healthcare! They’re just trying to HELP!

    And thanks for the visual by the way. I was just heading to lunch. Bastard.

  18. To all Wal-Mart haters:

    Fuck you, mofos! Price is a significant hurdle for me. I’m not rich goddammit! They’re cheap and they offer stuff I want. Case closed! Everyone fuck off with your bullshit.

    That is all.

  19. @Jaybird | July 2, 2009, 12:33pm and 2:19pm

    Two winners on 1 thread.

    I wonder if the women with oxygen are store security. They are at all the stores and you would never suspect them. When I worked at a department store years ago, the best security person was a middle aged lady dressed in outlandishly colorful clothes. Nobody gave her a second look, it was too painful.

  20. …and they offer stuff I want.

    We know, Jaybird already mentioned the obese women on oxygen.

  21. Naga Sadow,

    It’s good to know you are a whore and your price is cheap.

    I’ve defended Walmart for a long time, but this is a step too far. Walmart has now signed up for fucking over America along with Obama and the Dems. Fuck them all.

  22. True competition will only occur once alternative medicine is embraced and fully allowed to BE an officially viable alternative to conventional treatments.”

    Alternative medicine that works is no longer alternative. It’s medicine.

  23. Alternative medicine that works is no longer alternative. It’s medicine.

    How about this: people choose whatever treatments they want to for their own selves. Does that work for everybody here?

  24. Isn’t Ezra Klein the bozo that can’t even manage his netflix account?

    Why would anyone think he was capable of a valid opinion on anything?

  25. JB you ignorant slut. What are you doing on the tubez anyway? Don’t you know the government is keeping tabs on everything you write or look at here? You need to shut off the power to your shack in the woods and throw that tin foil hat on. Right now. Before black helicopters arrive filled with government thugs.

  26. I thought Lee Scott was bad; the new guy might be worse.

  27. How about this: people choose whatever treatments they want to for their own selves. Does that work for everybody here?

    In the words of Tim Minchin,

    “…If you show me
    That, say, homeopathy works,
    Then I will change my mind
    I’ll spin on a fucking dime
    I’ll be embarrassed as hell,
    But I will run through the streets yelling
    It’s a miracle! Take physics and bin it!
    Water has memory!
    And while it’s memory of a long lost drop of onion juice is Infinite
    It somehow forgets all the poo it’s had in it!

    You show me that it works and how it works
    And when I’ve recovered from the shock
    I will take a compass and carve Fancy That on the side of my cock.”

    That said if you want to suck down drops of water with 1/100000000 of a drop of orange juice and buffalo shit in it to cure a cold, go for it.

    If you want to attack big pharmaceuticals for their failings, and there are lots, I’d say take the route that is proven and not the one that requires a tin foil hat. There are enough proven and obvious failings to generate good arguments that resorting to unproven or disproved theories to make your point is stupid at best and more than likely just self serving. A good start would be marijuana as a remedy and not homeopathy.

  28. I’d be more inclined to think that Klein intentionally avoided the point.

  29. Klein then again almost stumbles onto the point. But again he misses.

    That’s kinda the story of his life, isn’t it? Except for Netflix, where he’s nowhere near the point.

  30. All i’m saying, hmm, is that i don’t give a fuck what other people choose to believe in, and i would like others to extend me the courtesy of not limiting my choices in return. I think modern medicine is great; i’ve also had chiropractic adjustments to fix the effects of whiplash, and the only thing that has ever relieved my utterly fucked up sinus situation is acupuncture. I guess i’m more libertarian than you neener neener

  31. If Wal-Mart is so on board with health care, then they should stop selling tobacco in any form and test all employees for tobacco abuse like they do to the evil cannabis fiends.

  32. Xeones,

    If so then shoot me an email. I know a site you would like. RyanCC84@gmail.com

  33. Naga, I don’t know if Xeones is “ready” 😛 Did you get the llamas?

  34. Goats aren’t llamas, TAO. YOU of all people should remember the lesson.

  35. He’s elusive, TAO. Even Dagny admitted as much.

  36. I don’t trust your links, Naga. I don’t trust your links at all.

  37. Meijer in talks to open Detroit store

    Meijer is in negotiations to open its first store in Detroit, at Woodward and Eight Mile next to the Michigan State Fairgrounds, to anchor the long-awaited Shoppes at Gateway Park development.

    An attorney for Meijer, Stephen Palms of Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone, P.L.C. in Ann Arbor, confirmed in a letter to the city of Detroit General Retirement System that the company is in discussions to locate a store at the $80 million open-air mall. The retirement system is financing the project.

    The opening of a Meijer would mark the return of a major grocer to the city — Farmer Jack was the last big chain in Detroit, closing in 2007. City residents have long complained about the lack of grocers and shopping options; Detroit has no supercenters such as Wal-Mart or Target.

    For the record, Meijer is the Michigan competitor to Wal-mart. Huge stores that sell everygoddamthing.

    xeones – if you don’t trust Naga, try minarchistmouse@gmail.com

  38. Anyway, the reason I posted that is Detroiters would fucking love a Meijer or Wal-Mart in the city limits. Hate all you want, but you should try grocery shopping at a Chaldean owned Spartan Foods outlet before you start ragging on the giant fucking megastore chains.

  39. Alternative medicine that works is no longer alternative. It’s medicine.

    I know that sounds clever on the surface, and probably felt pretty clever when your brain stumbled onto it, but no.

    “Alternative medicine” doesn’t stop being alternative merely because it works. And the “medicine” half of the phrase already covers the whole, you know, medicine aspect. So good try and all, but bzzzzt.

  40. For the alternative medicine aficianados –

    Go for it. Less demand on the system that actually works lowers the prices that intelligent people have to pay.

    Thanks.

  41. All i’m saying, hmm, is that i don’t give a fuck what other people choose to believe in, and i would like others to extend me the courtesy of not limiting my choices in return.
    I didn’t mean to come off angry or not agreeing. I agree to using whatever you want. The use of something unproven in an argument against pharmaceutical companies just struck me as silly.

    I know that sounds clever on the surface, and probably felt pretty clever when your brain stumbled onto it, but no.

    “Alternative medicine” doesn’t stop being alternative merely because it works. And the “medicine” half of the phrase already covers the whole, you know, medicine aspect. So good try and all, but bzzzzt.

    I didn’t stumble upon it. The phrase has been used in at least 3 other places that I have seen. No need to credit me with it.

    Medicine is something that heals or effects a person curing or elevating an ill. What exactly is alternative medicine? Something that doesn’t heal? The things that heal and help are medicine, the alternative things are just that, an alternative to the known thing that heals. You can argue what does and doesn’t heal or make you feel better and that is fine, but there are means to measure the effectiveness of medicines. Those that prove effective are considered medicine. Those that don’t are alternative. There is a gray are, some studies lend some credence to such practices as mentioned before, chiropractics and acupuncture. Others like homeopathy and massaging auras are bullshit and there is a body of evidence to back that up.

    Your buzzer sucks. Might want to get a gong.

  42. Medicine is something that heals or effects a person curing or elevating an ill. What exactly is alternative medicine? Something that doesn’t heal?

    No. Giving a noun a modifier doesn’t eliminate that noun’s essential meaning. You’re letting the adjective “alternative” do something to the noun “medicine” that it’s not intended to do.

    “Alternative music” is still music. An “alternate route” is still a route.

    Note that I’m not making an actual substantive judgment here for or against alternative medicine. (I frankly couldn’t care less about it either way.) I’m just addressing semantics.

  43. It looks a lot like you’re making a semantic argument to remove the context of the argument or discussion. Which begs the question; do you even have an argument worth addressing other than an your grammar discussion?

  44. Which begs the question; do you even have an argument worth addressing other than an your grammar discussion?

    No, not really. (And that’s not what “begs the question” means…)

  45. Naga Sadow, so you mean Obama hasn’t quadrupled the previous largest deficit?

    Keep sucking on the statist tit because you like the milk. Again, it’s good to know you will sell out your principles for peanuts.

  46. Anyway, the reason I posted that is Detroiters would fucking love a Meijer or Wal-Mart in the city limits.

    I’m curious, is the lack of Wal Mart in Detroit due to Wal Mart’s choice or the city blocking such an evil corporation from opening a store there?

  47. JB,

    Why the hell are you using the government-created Internet instead of a private network like AOL or Compuserve?

  48. Tulpa,

    Deep in the woods, far from society, hidden from EEEEEVVVVVVIILLLLLLLLL government, JB lives in a shack run by the cold fusion generaator he developed. From this shack he fights! Nay! He battles coercive government oppression . . . by telling me I’m a sell out for not hating Wal-Mart. JB smells victory in the air.

  49. I don’t hate Wal-Mart, in general… but this backdoor, competition crushing, freedom inhibiting bullshit gives them a giant black-eye in my opinion.

    It’s one thing to compete legitimately and earn your successes by having a smart supply chain and being a better negotiator with your suppliers/buying in massive quantities… BUT it’s another entirely to use government to fuck over potential competitors, and so… for me, as of right now Wal-Mart is now “too big”.

  50. So you’re telling me that after years of getting knocked on for health care nonsense, I’m supposed to regard Wal Mart as evil for backing a plan that will eliminate that PR black eye?

  51. No… I just felt like they were, at least at a corporate level, more on the right side of the non-initiation of force thing. But…… Now. Not so much.

    I get that it’s a PR boon for them and they have been beaten up about it forever, but now they’re supporting a mandated thing – which isn’t about providing health care, but instead is about stifling their potential competition. that’s just not cool.

  52. Naga Sadow, I live in the DC area so I know what evil looks like from up close.

    Walmart has now joined their club.

  53. Tulpa, the internet might have been created long before if the government took much less in taxes. Who knows what we would have had by now with flat 10% taxes?

  54. Why the hell are you using the government-created Internet instead of a private network like AOL or Compuserve?

    The Internet isn’t a network. The Internet is a whole bunch of networks (public and private, for-profit and non-profit) all over the world that use the same protocol (TCP/IP) to communicate.

    Essentially, using “The Internet” is like using a common unit of measure (like the metric system), or using a language (like English). He is very likely using a network that was part of AOL or CompuServe. AOL and CompuServe where not alternatives to the internet, they merged with the internet by adopting a common standard (TCP/IP).

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.