August 10, 2004
Wal-Mart Bashing

Wal-Mart is in the crosshairs and all sorts of silly attacks are being aimed at it. For example, the Atlanta Journal Constitution editorialized (June 1) against it because some 10,261 children of Wal-Mart employees are enrolled in Georgia's PeachCare program for kids.

I responded--and, surprisingly, the AJC printed--that such a number tells us nothing about how Wal-Mart treats its employees. After all, those kids parents might be unemployed if they were not working for Wal-Mart--would having unemployed parents make it less likely that the kids would be in a government medical program? I think not.

Moreover, one should not discount the possibility that the PeachCare program "crowds out" private insurance. That is, some parents who might have paid premiums to purchase insurance coverage for their kids might instead enroll the kids in PeachCare and save the premiums. The savings might amount to $1,800 per year (I base this estimate on what I pay for my son's coverage); this is not a neglible sum for low-income workers. (For evidence of this type of crowding out effect, see the Cutler and Gruber paper on the 1987-92 expansions of Medicaid.)

Michael Munger has a similar posting; it is also linked on Newmark's Door. Munger rebuts an anti-Wal-Mart "study" done in California; it is so similar to the GA attacks on Wal-Mart that I sniff a coordinated anti-Wal-Mart campaign.

By the way, I wonder if any AJC employees have kids enrolled in PeachCare?

UPDATE: Co-blogger Bob pointed me to a Wal-Mart blog. The site claims to present "the best and the worst about Wal-Mart." It certainly does seem to be of two minds--there is a favorable posting on Thomas Sowell but a link to a "boycott Wal-Mart" article by populist twit Jim Hightower.

ANOTHER UPDATE: George Leef has a nice take on the anti-Wal-Mart crusade.

Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 11:04 AM  ·  TrackBack (112)

The statesman who should attempt to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals would not only load himself with a most unnecessary attention, but assume an authority which could safely be trusted, not only to no single person, but to no council or senate whatever, and which would nowhere be so dangerous as in the hands of a man who had folly and presumption enough to fancy himself fit to exercise it. -Adam Smith

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