Friday, November 04, 2005

Walmart, Alito, Michael Cullen & other bad things

A couple of weeks ago there was a New York Times article about Walmart's plans to cut the amount they spend on employee health insurance. To the surprise of no-one they're evil. Part of their plan appears is make sure all jobs involve some physical labour, in the hope that this will mean that they will mainly hire people who won't use their health insurance, and then Walmart can save millions. Walmart particularly plans to target obese employees. There's an interesting discussion about this on Alas from a fat-acceptance activist. He focused on the fact that the proof of causation between and fat and ill health is most notable for its non-existance.

But someone else pointed out that there is a flaw to this logic, if you say "if you want to save money on health care you shouldn't discriminate against fat people because they're not unhealthy", then you're kind of conceeding that discriminating against people who will actually require more health treatment is a-ok. It's an important lesson in not getting so active around one issue that you ignore the implications for other people. If you're interested I recommend the whole discussion.

Of course the only solution to this problem is universal health care (and/or getting rid of capitalism).

Scott Lemieux has a very good article on Alito and abortion law. He explains why appointing Alito now would have such a disastorous effect on abortion rights in America. It's similar to the point I was making about the difference between abortion law and abortion practice - and he knows more about it than I do.

And to prove that I haven't moved to America since yesterday: Michael Cullen is a moron. He gave a speech as minister of Tertiary Education criticising Universities for spending advertising.

Now I also criticise universities for advertising, but I haven't been in government for 6 years. The reason universities advertise is because of changes to the funding of tertiary education made in 1998, which created a market-like situation for education. Every crappy thing that has happened at universities since then is an inevitable result of the commodification of tertiary education.

I can whine about that, Labour (or National or NZ First) MPs cannot.

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