Thursday, July 07, 2005

Bashing the Smiley Face

National Review, July 18th issue: Wal-Mart is American liberalism’s favorite corporate punching bag, and the pugilists of the day are Sens. Ted Kennedy and Jon Corzine and Rep. Anthony D. Weiner. This trio has introduced a bill that would require states to report the names of large companies whose employees receive government-funded health care. Here’s Weiner: “Part of the plan is to embarrass companies like Wal-Mart.” And Kennedy: “Every worker in America is paying a part of their taxes to pay for Wal-Mart” (the idea being that, if Wal-Mart provided more benefits, its employees wouldn’t rely on government programs). Now the issue is not whether Wal-Mart offers health insurance; it does— but not on terms Kennedy approves of. Suppose Wal-Mart agreed to such terms. When the corresponding decline in its profits required it to lay off employees, and these employees filed for welfare, Kennedy could say, “Every worker in America is paying a part of their taxes to pay for Wal-Mart.” Let us debate the wisdom of emulating the welfare-state economics that has brought Western Europe its famous growth of late. But don’t let’s pretend, like Kennedy, that there are no tradeoffs.

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