Wal-Mart’s Bad For Your Health…

21 Oct

The fabulous perks and prestige associated with working at Wal-Mart have been reduced, as the world’s 18th largest public corporation announced on Friday that it was scaling back its employees’ health benefits package:

Wal-Mart Stores Inc will no longer offer health insurance to new part-time U.S. employees who work fewer than 24 hours a week and will charge workers who use tobacco more for coverage as healthcare costs rise.

I’m sure moving foward Wal-Mart would never cynically hire predominately part-time workers and actively keep them below 24 hours a week, and the tobacco penalty probably makes sense — even if it’s a bit shady given Wal-Mart’s relationship with the tobacco industry.

Wal-Mart, the largest U.S. retailer and the nation’s largest private employer, is also slashing the amount that it puts in employees’ healthcare expense accounts by 50 percent.

OK, that’s a lot. However, Wal-Mart’s a struggling small business that only cleared a quarterly profit of $3.4 billion. Still, that wasn’t enough to calm Wal-Mart’s nerves:

The poorer customers who shop at the nation’s biggest retailers are still on tight budgets. They wait inside the store at the end of each month with full shopping carts until the clock strikes midnight. Then, their electronic-benefit transfers from the government go through, and they pay for their groceries and other staples. They buy items in small packages, which cost less than big ones.

See, poor people insist on ruining things for large corporations. If they weren’t so broke, they could buy more cheap crap and make Wal-Mart even richer but they insist on not doing their fair share so Wal-Mart has no choice but to cut costs where it can — not in the DWI bail fund for its billionaire heiress but in the health coverage for its employees.

If I understand trickle-down economics and “job creation” correctly, it is lunacy to raise taxes on millionaires and billionaires because they create jobs but it’s a reasonable business practice to effectively reduce the income of the people who are most likely to shop at Wal-Mart. Perhaps they’re gambling on the employees who are no longer covered (because they don’t work enough hours and don’t have much money anyway) playing Russian Roulette with six bullets and going without insurance.

But no one regrets this more than Wal-Mart:

“The current healthcare system is unsustainable for everyone and like other businesses we’ve had to make choices we wish we didn’t have to make,” said Wal-Mart spokesman Greg Rossiter. “Our country needs to find a way to reduce the cost of healthcare, particularly in this economy.”

A sound argument backed up by Wal-Mart’s PAC and the Walton family’s choosing to make political contributions predominately to the GOP, which openly states its intentions to repeal President Obama’s health reform legislation and replace it with a brand-spanking new nothing.

No, really:

Hermain Cain is basically only alive now because he’s wealthy and connected. His position is basically you should be, too, silly poor person. Romeny is busy running away from the fact that he ever at one point cared whether U.S. citizens had access to affordable health care, which is kind of depressing if you think about it.

Wal-Mart CEO Mike Duke earned $18.7 million in 2010 — basically taking home more in an hour than the average associate makes in a year —  but his employees will see their health care diminished during a time when they are least likely to afford it and — strictly coincidentally – least likely to find better options elsewhere. It’s the plantation owner’s market.

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Posted by on October 21, 2011 in Capitalism


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