Sunday, January 22, 2006

Wal-Mart Redux

Seems the Wal-Mart saga is just getting under way. The Maryland legislature overrode Gov. Erhlich's veto, so as it now stands, Wal-Mart will be subject to the new law requiring employers of a certain size to pony up for health care benefits.

If this quote is any indication, Wal-Mart presumably will fight the law in the court of public opinion and in the judicial system. From the article we find the following "Wal-Mart notes that Maryland has 786,000 uninsured people, ''and less than one-half of 1 percent work for Wal-Mart.''

So all of this energy, and taxpayer money, is being spent in a manner that will have little or no effect on the number of uninsured in Maryland. Of course it may be that Wal-Mart reacts by reducing the work force, or cutting hours, which may lead to higher unemployment and higher numbers of people who are uninsured.

So if the Maryland legislature really want to make this stick they need to also force Wal-Mart to maintain payroll and employment levels, and forbid them to raise prices or shutter stores or withdraw from the state. While they are at it, they should probably put an addendum in their bill that makes it illegal for Wal-Mart to challenge the law in court.

What is really surprising (to me at least) is the mention of 33 states who are considering similar legislation . . . even before the law is in effect, and before it's legality is tested in the courts.

So what has happened to spur this activity?

Oh yeah, it's an election year . . .
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