Wal-Mart’s Good For The Health

Capitalism, Economy, Free Markets, Labor

To ameliorate the effects of the Obamacare wrecking ball, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., is venturing into the business of providing primary health care. For $40, the price of a copay (mine are way more), “you can walk into a Wal-Mart clinic and see a doctor.” It’s “just $4 for Walmart U.S. employees and family members.”

Sandra Fluke: You can have a pregnancy test at Wal-Mart for … $3.00.

Via MarketWatch:

On Friday, a Walmart Care Clinic opened in Dalton, Ga., six months after Walmart U.S., the retailer’s biggest unit, entered the business of providing primary health care. It now operates a dozen clinics in rural Texas, South Carolina and Georgia and has increased its target for openings this year to 17. A … cholesterol test [will cost] $8. A typical retail clinic offers acute care only. But a Walmart Care Clinic also treats chronic conditions such as diabetes. (Walmart U.S. also leases space in its stores to 94 clinics owned by others that set their own pricing.)
“It was very important to us that we establish a retail price in the health-care industry because price leadership matters to us,” said Jennifer LaPerre, a Walmart U.S. senior director responsible for health and wellness, in an interview.

Let the anti-Wal Mart jousting begin.

Typically, critics of Wal Mart—for example, Marian Kester Coombs, writing for The American Conservative—will do nothing to trace the mysterious mechanism by which Wal-Mart is said to impoverish. By offering “the lowest possible prices all the time, not just during sales”? What precisely is the economic process that accounts for Wal-Mart’s ability to “expel jobs and technology from our own country”? Competition? Offering a product people choose to buy?

“Protecting the home market,” which is what TAC writer advocates, is to the detriment of consumers. It forces them to subsidize less efficient local industries, making them the poorer for it. To keep inefficient industries in the lap of luxury, hundreds of others are doomed to shrink or go under.

The writer aforementioned also froths at the mouth over “the teenage girl in Bangladesh … forced to sew pocket flaps onto 120 pairs of pants per hour for 13 cents per hour.” It sounds dreadful. However, the economic reality is this: Wal-Mart is either offering higher, the same or lower wages than the wages workers were earning before its arrival in Bangladesh. The company would find it hard to attract workers if it was paying less, or the same as other companies. Ergo, Wal-Mart is a benefactor that pays the kind of wage unavailable prior to its arrival. More material, if the entrepreneur were forced to pay workers in excess of their productivity, he would eventually have to disinvest. What will the Bangladeshi teenage girl do when that happens?

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Tasteful Vs. Teletart

Aesthetics, Gender, Pop-Culture

When everywhere, on TV and in real life, badly dressed, over-exposed women and girls assault the eye—it doesn’t hurt to be reminded what class looks like. Fifty three seconds into this touching interview conducted with Kim Campbell, wife of Alzheimer’s-stricken musician Glenn Cambell, the camera pans out to reveal Mrs. Campbell’s elegant attire. She is wearing black, knee-high boots, and a long, grey, well-tailored skirt nipped in high at the waist.

Opposite Mrs. Campbell sits Fox News’ coarse-looking Gretchen Carlson. She is dressed in a cheap-looking turquoise slip hitched almost as high as her thighs. This is the standard-issue outfit (and behavior) on Fox News. Too awful.

On BBC News and RT one can still find the odd intellectual, who knows a thing or two about a topic. But in markets catering to American tastes—that includes Al Jazeera America—it’s teletarts all the way.

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Ashoka (And Mother) Mukpo’s Quest For Exotica

Africa, Canada, Critique, Healthcare, Left-Liberalism, Multiculturalism

OK, I’ll say it. He’s a lily white Canadian-American with the name Ashoka Mukpo. Mr. Mukpo loves Liberia almost more than life itself. This is how his family aggrandized Ashoka’s Liberian pursuits:

Mukpo was a researcher for the Sustainable Development Institute, a Liberia-based nonprofit shining light on concerns of workers in mining camps outside Monrovia. And “was into the culture. … He seemed to have a lot of passion for it.”


Days before his infection with Ebola became public, Mukpo was hired by NBC as a cameraman in that country. (Wasn’t he a “researcher” of sorts?)

Instead of assuming the name of his “birth father, a prominent Rhode Island doctor,” Ashoka and brother “took the name of his mother’s first husband, who founded the Shambhala Buddhism community”—upon a cursory read of this Wiki entry, Shambhala seems like a cult of sort, primed to ensnare a certain type of westerner.

The quest for exotica trumps honoring thy father.

Throughout the interview this married couple gave Sean Hannity, Mother Mukpo came across as pretentious, uppity and worse. Ashoka’s stepfather, Mitchell Levy, seemed perfectly nice; an affable fellow.

Still, Ashoka’s mother was referred to as Diana Mukpo, and not Diana Levy. The infected cameraman’s sullen mom clearly preferred to take on the name of her former husband than assume the name of the man at her side: Dr. Levy, “director of intensive care at Rhode Island Hospital.”

Oh, Ashoka Mukpo is said by the faithful to be “a tulku, the reincarnation of a Buddhist master teacher.”

“Ashoka Mukpo (center) with his mother, Diana (third from left) and birth father Mitchell Levy (far right) during a visit to Tibet in 2002. (Konchok.org)”

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The D’oh* Factor In D.C. & ‘The Washington Compost’

Barack Obama, Intelligence, Left-Liberalism

OMG, Dana Milbank of “the Washington Compost” (radio Mouth Mark Levine’s apt moniker) has written a column titled “Obama, the Pariah President.” Not that you’d know it from this column, but it would appear that the love-fest is over. Paraded under the “opinion banner,” the Milbank column is a simple report, the sum total of which is, “Obama went here to campaign and then this bad thing happened to him, and then he went to another place where more shit happened, and ‘people began to trickle out’ on him, but this could have been because they were running to catch a shuttle.”

Pretty much.

The news here is not the diminishing support for the president, which is, presumably, the veiled message embedded in Milbank’s unprepossessing piffle, but, rather, it is that a prestigious newspaper not only mislabels Milbank as an “opinion” writer, when he writes reportage festooned with a suggestion or two.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is a tad more creative on Twitter, following the New York Times’ report today “that Obama is seething about the Ebola response.” What Jindal calls the Barack Obama School of Crisis Management is better termed BHO’s Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), because the president’s pattern is all sleight of hand; nothing but a self-serving production.

Stage 1: Don’t worry, I got this.
Stage 2: I’m so mad.
Stage 3: More money will fix it.
Stage 4: Republicans are obstructing.

* “Doh is an exclamation popularized by the fictional character Homer Simpson.” (Wikipedia)

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Bob & Carol Dawson’s Parrot Paradise

Environmentalism & Animal Rights, Ethics, Human Accomplishment, Morality

An uplifting couple of hours were spent today, Sunday, at the “Macaw Rescue and Sanctuary,” a magical parrot oasis, built and operated by the best of Western Washington, Bob and Carol Dawson. (Make that the best of the best.) Not since Sean and I visited Christy Hensrude’s Zazu’s House Parrot Sanctuary have we been so inspired. (We endorse both rescues unequivocally.)

In preparation for the first of many such future volunteer visits, we made toys galore from non-toxic wood Sean had cut in the garage. (Reluctantly, Oscar-Wood donated some of his colorful stash of beads.) Mounds of fresh, organic greens, assorted vegetables and fruits were washed (very thoroughly) and tossed with organic seed (pumpkin, sunflower, hemp and flax) as well as nuts, smashed in-shell with a meat pounder, so that the smaller birds could enjoy Brazil, pecan and walnut.

The food we served in Bob’s high-quality dishes, which required hardly any scrubbing. Yes, down to the smallest detail, these people are driven by devotion. So too were the toys hung. But most inspiring was taking in the totality of Bob and Carol’s creation, all 22 acres of it. Situated in beautiful rural western Washington and ranked #16 of 290 charities in the region; “Macaw Rescue and Sanctuary” is a glorious, well-kept and smartly run haven—a home to hundreds upon hundreds of free-flying flocks of happy, thriving parrots.

“Macaw Rescue and Sanctuary” is truly a labor of love.


With Bob Dawson in front of the small-bird enclosure:


The same enormous enclosure snapped from the outside:

This man is the real deal:

From The Parrot Archive:

“Oscar-Wood, Non-Stop Naughty”
“‘Dead Birds Flying’: Help Steve Boyes Help The Cape Parrot”
Precious Oscar-Wood Pacifies Himself

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Sobering Look At The Threat Of Ebola

Healthcare, IMMIGRATION, Science

“Six Reasons to Panic,” at the Weekly Standard, offers a sobering, scientific look at the threat of Ebola:

1. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, … this Ebola is related to, but genetically distinct from, previous known strains, and thus may have distinct mechanisms of transmission. … Not everyone is convinced that this Ebola isn’t airborne. Last month, the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy published an article arguing that the current Ebola has “unclear modes of transmission” and that “there is scientific and epidemiologic evidence that Ebola virus has the potential to be transmitted via infectious aerosol particles … even if this Ebola isn’t airborne right now, it might become so in the future. Viruses mutate and evolve in the wild, and the population of infected Ebola carriers is now bigger than it has been at any point in history—meaning that the pool for potential mutations is larger than it has ever been.

2. General infection rates are terrifying, too. … despite the fact that Duncan was a lone man under scrupulous, first-world care, with the eyes of the entire nation on him, his R0 ["'reproduction number' ... how many new infections each infected person causes"] was 2, just like that of your average Liberian Ebola victim. One carrier; two infections.

4. … The worst-case scenario envisioned by the [CDC] model is anywhere from 537,000 to 1,367,000 cases by January. Just in Liberia. With the fever [is] still raging out of control. …

5. … Marine Corps General John F. Kelly talked about Ebola at the National Defense University two weeks ago and mused about what would happen if Ebola reached Haiti or Central America, which have relatively easy access to America. “If it breaks out, it’s literally ‘Katie bar the door,’ and there will be mass migration into the United States,” Kelly said. “They will run away from Ebola, or if they suspect they are infected, they will try to get to the United States for treatment.” …

6. … it’s a straw-man argument to say that a flight ban wouldn’t keep Ebola fully contained. No one says it would. But by definition, it would help slow the spread of the virus. If there had been a travel ban in place, Thomas Duncan would have likely reached the same sad fate—but without infecting two Americans and setting the virus loose in North America. … Ebola has the potential to reshuffle American attitudes to immigration. If you agree to seal the borders to mitigate the risks from Ebola, you’re implicitly rejecting the “open borders” mindset and admitting that there are cases in which government has a duty to protect citizens from outsiders …

It is quite something when an “elite institution” like the Weekly Standard concedes that, “We have arrived at a moment with our elite institutions where it is impossible to distinguish incompetence from willful misdirection.”

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