Why Wal-Mart Embraced Obamacare

There's a school of thought that says when enemies suddenly become friends -- watch out!

Senate Democrats have announced their proposal for a health insurance plan -- and Wal-Mart is endorsing it. To hear the Left tell the story these last few years, Wal-Mart is the Great Satan of American commerce, abusing its employees with substandard working conditions, and crushing small, local businesses out of existence. So why are they suddenly on the same side?

First of all, let me emphasize that our current health care system is a mess, but not for the reason that most people assume.  What makes it a disaster isn't the 46 million uninsured. The vast majority of them, if something bad happens, will get medical care. It may be in an emergency room (which is expensive). It may drive them into bankruptcy (bad for them, and not good for the insured patients on whom the hospital will eventually shift the unrecoverable costs). But few people are actually dying in America because they don't get medical care. It's just a profoundly inefficient system.

Right now, I'm on a COBRA continuation health insurance plan. But by May of 2010, that's going to expire, and I have no expectation of ever finding a permanent job with benefits. (I'm over 50, and because I make my living as a software engineer, that means I can only work contract jobs. No permanent jobs are available.)

Not surprisingly, I think that there is going to be a need for the government to be an insurer of last resort, for those who are unemployed and those who, like myself, are unable to find permanent employment.

What concerns me about Wal-Mart's endorsement of a plan that requires employers to provide "affordable" health insurance coverage is that it will do something that Wal-Mart would never directly admit to doing. It will drive their smaller, less efficient competitors out of business.  There are a lot of mom and pop operations -- and some that are their own small, regional chain stores -- that are struggling to stay afloat right now. This new requirement will cause at least some of them to throw in the towel.

The Democrats are fast turning into the party of Birkenstock-wearing fascism, pretending to be concerned for the little guy, while consolidating small and medium business into a small number of large, politically connected mega-corporations.  (And yes, Mussolini's Fascist Party and Hitler's National Socialist Party used the excuse of helping the little guy to justify consolidation. It is no coincidence that the 1932 Nazi Party campaign slogan was "Common needs before individual needs.")