Friday, February 13, 2009

It's not their job

Ezra Klein asks the right questions here. The basic point is that we shouldn't be bashing WalMart for not offering its employees sufficient health care benefits. WalMart is a business. It's their job to make money. Employee health plans cost money. It makes perfect sense for them to offer the minimum that the law will allow and that their relatively low-skilled employees will tolerate. As Ezra states, "Workers should not have to rely on employer goodwill or business strategy for medical care."

The puzzle is that large companies like WalMart aren't demanding that the federal government take this responsibility off their hands. American companies pay enormous premiums for employee health insurance, an operating expense that most of their foreign competitors do not have. If the larger business community demanded single payer health care in the U.S., we'd have it by next year. And it would probably be good for them to have it. Why do they not clamor for something that would benefit them? Is it pure ideology? Are America's business leaders, in a sense, voting against their interests?


Anonymous said...

They are.

I've read a more recent article on this, too, but that's the one that came up.

Anonymous said...

Well, for Wally World, the answer is simple.

In our current system, they can pay $Zilch for health care and $Zip for taxes that support health care. Why would they want a switch to, maybe, a system with a payroll tax that supports health care, especially when they can't reduce the pay of much of their staff because it's already at or near minimum wage?

But in the larger picture I think we'll see some manner of single-payer care exactly because IBM and Ford and GM and Boeing and Citibank demand it.