Posted by Peter Lawler
Wal-Mart slashes prices on generic prescription drugs. Is this a real prescription drug benefit? Just asking. Im no expert.
Without a doubt, WalMart is good for American consumers. I would argue that it is NOT good for American workers, or for American capitalism in general. This corporation is simply a conduit for goods, but one that exerts enormous influence on where those goods come from and how those goods are produced. WalMart is eviscerating American industry, and thats a simple fact.
Whatever you say, comrade.
Isnt American capitalism based on supply and demand (the consumer)? If the prescription drugs can be provided at a lower cost to consumers without injuring Walmarts profits, what is the problem? Havent drug companies made enough profit yet (oh, right, somehow this is all Walmarts fault) from the other high-dollar drugs required to literally fight death? Why shouldnt SOMEBODY do SOMETHING about the high cost of prescriptions? Whether generic or brand name?
Actually, now that I think about it, its logical. Pharmaceuticals is one of the last great industries that operates at home...time for WalMart to squeeze them, too. Now, heres the question: To what degree can the pharmaceutical companies offshore their operations? If they cant, then WalMart is a needed check on their profit margins (and I would endorse it). If they CAN offshore a significant part of their R&D and production, well...itll mean good (short-term) news for the consumer but really lousy (long-term) news for the hundreds of thousands of American workers who earn their living in this industry.
You know, the sad thing is, WalMart has the monopoly power to "discipline" oligopolic industries like Big Oil, pharmaceuticals, and medicine, but all I see it accomplishing is the deindustrialization of America. Folks at WalMart need to start taking their patriotism and their power more seriously. They could so easily be a force for good in our country.
dain, You make some provocative and not implausible claims. Can we really expect Wal-Mart to put anything above profit?
Well, they are Americans for the most part. If they can put aside the ballbusting libertarianism for a bit and really think about what they are doing, maybe they could manage to make money and help our people at the same time.
Like you, however, I am not optimistic. Squeezing pennies has been the extent of their religion and their patriotism.
If squeezing pennies makes one less than fully American, then I doubt you can find an "American" Corporation. Peter, Dain please read this article that I blogged on elsewhere. It puts some numbers to your concerns and calculates them in Wal-Marts favor.
Yea, read it...Im not impressed. Foremost, there is not a single word about WalMarts most pernicious practice...squeezing suppliers for cost reductions and encouraging them to offshore their production processes in order to meet the price "point." This is documented. WalMart has become a conduit for Chinese goods that completely undercut domestic competitors...and WalMart doesnt give the domestics even the luxury of setting their own prices. Again, documented.
As for failing to find an "American" corporation thats not obsessed with penny-pinching, well...possibly. Thats what the Left claims every day, and it would explain why capitalism fails to build the kind of ideological loyalty one would expect such a obviously successful "ism" to garner over time. A world of "Mr. Potters," oh joy!
The kind of hardball capitalism the libertarians are so in love with (you know, the Randian version of capitalism) has never been loved by most Americans. Its selfish, pitiless, and anti-social. Americans, on the other hand, love the capitalism that is run by human beings...the kind that understands that its a part of the community, that it has obligations beyond the bottom line, and that it has more than customers and suppliers...it has neighbors.
Seems to me that capitalism is killing America, then. We cant move production out of the country to reduce costs or it affects unemployment. So, desperate patients resort to crossing the borders to the north and south to buy unregulated but cheaper "medications" containing God-knows-what... If insurance pays for every medication that every person wants to purchase, insurance rates goes up.
My question is, why are drug costs so high? Really? If so much drug research is government funded (i.e. lets tax the people), then why are we also stuck with paying the higher price for groundbreaking & lifesaving medications?
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