Because you can never blog about Wal-Mart enough...
As you have probably seen on TV and elsewhere, in September 2006, Wal-Mart launched its $4 prescription program. Now, 18 months later, it reports that it has saved consumers over $1 billion (yes, billion) as a result of that program. That's $1 billion that poorer consumers have to spend elsewhere on the things they need (or that is reducing insurance costs and premiums), not to mention they can now buy prescriptions they might not have been able to afford before or not have to cut pills in half to save money. Moreover, that program prompted Wal-Mart's competition to create similar programs, the benefits of which can be placed on top of that $1 billion. For some strange reason, the major media didn't cover this story when Wal-Mart's press release went out last Friday.
Is Wal-Mart my favorite place to shop? Nope. But then for me, price isn't the key variable. For many Americans it is. And it continues to astound me how so many on the left, who claim to be so concerned about the plight of lower-income families (the "working poor" included) nonetheless have no hesitation in turning Wal-Mart into the Great Satan of the 21st century economy. (UPDATE: Oh, say, like the Reverend Jeremiah Wright.) It's all about intentions vs. consequences: you don't have to "like" Wal-Mart to realize the ways in which it has both dramatically increased the productivity of the US economy (and contributed to higher wages in the process) and reduced the cost of food and other basics for the people who need it most. Then you can tack on the over 1 million jobs it's created and the legions of folks in the Third World it has enabled to escape poverty.
If Wal-Mart were a government program that created that many jobs, lifted that many out of poverty through higher wages, and gave poor folks back a billion dollars to spend while providing them needed prescriptions, you better believe the left would call it the greatest anti-poverty and healthcare program ever. But when the suppliers profit from it, the consequences take a back seat to the intentions.
And folks on the left have the chutzpah to say conservatives and libertarians are uncaring and blinded by their ideology?
(See my earlier post on Wal-Mart and the Nobel prize here.)