Most Americans are against welfare, and most corporations are against socialism. Except, of course, when it comes to themselves.
For example, most middle-class people, including me, get a form of welfare called the mortgage interest deduction.
And in Michigan, some large corporations like Wal-Mart have signed on for their form of socialism by making the state pay for their health care costs. That is to say, Wal-Mart, which employs more than a million Americans, doesn’t provide any health care for most of its full-time “associates,” who make, on average, less than $10 an hour.
What happens is that when workers without health care do get deathly sick, as everyone eventually does, they have no recourse except to turn to Medicaid, which is funded by the state.
Which means, funded by us. You and me. According to State Sen. Ray Basham, we and the laid-off GM workers and all the other Michigan taxpayers are paying $46 million in extra taxes a year to provide Medicaid coverage for Wal-Mart workers.
Wal-Mart, by the way, is one of the world’s largest and richest corporations, with profits of more than $10 billion a year.
Put together, Ford and General Motors lost more than $10 billion last year. And they aren’t trying to pass their health care costs on to Michigan taxpayers. State Sen, Ray Basham wants to do something to right the balance. He wants to make large companies stop sponging off the rest of us and pay their fair share.
Basham has introduced a bill in the legislature requiring any company with at least 10,000 workers to either provide some kind of minimal health care, or pay into a fund to reimburse the state.
That makes sense. So much sense that you can bet his bill isn’t going anywhere. The leadership won’t even schedule a hearing. If they did, the capitol would be so packed with lobbyists for greedy corporations, the senators might not be able to get into the chamber.
The Detroit News even ran a column by a right-wing sports announcer who claimed that the government had no business coming between an employer and his employees. Bet that will reassure those worried about child labor laws.
What this really is about is socialized medicine – but not in the way you think. Franklin D. Roosevelt was vilified by idiots who thought he was a socialist. In fact, his reforms saved capitalism.
Ray Basham’s reforms would allow companies like WalMart to avoid having to insure their employees if they don’t want to, and allow our present Rube Goldberg system to keep creaking along. Otherwise, thanks to corporate greed and rising costs, I think the pressure for universal health care will steadily increase.
Wouldn’t it be something if on the day every American gets their universal health coverage card, we all smile, look off in the general direction of Sam Walton’s Arkansas, and murmur “Thank you, Wal-Mart.”