passengers in handbasket fight back

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006
I don't know about you, but when times are grim (and it's pretty grim on planet earth right now) and things seem bleak, I look around and try to find something -- anything -- to cast a little light, to be a beacon of hope.

Recently two seemingly unrelated things floated up in front of my eyes and held out a little encouragement for humanity.

First of all, and I never thought I would be saying this, huzzah for Walmart! We live in a country where a lot of people have to make a choice between FOOD and the medicine that keeps them alive. This is such a repugnant notion to me -- we are the richest nation on earth, yet many of our citizens are either cutting pills in half or forgoing them altogether so they can, you know, pay rent and EAT. How people can get their panties in a twist over swearing on television and movies when this kind of real obscenity is going on all around them, I'll never understand. Anyway, Walmart has taken the bold step of using its not inconsiderable bullying buying power, for GOOD. They are rolling out a program for four dollar generic prescriptions. That's 4 dollars for a month's supply -- currently that price is anywhere between 10 and 30 dollars. To people on a limited fixed income, this is HUGE. The program will also be available to the uninsured. And in another little spot of sunshine (and in the spirit of capitalist competition), Target is following suit.

In oddly related news, Harvard has ceased its early admissions program. I don't have a full understanding of how it worked, but it seemed to give a leg up to those who already had a leg up (the wealthy), while putting those prospective students who required financial assistance at a disadvantage. Princeton quickly did the same.

I know as good news goes it's not much, but these days I'll take what I can find. What caught my eye with these examples is the pairing. Walmart:Target Harvard:Princeton -- all powerhouses in their respective fields (discount shopping and elite education), all putting the brakes on situations that were spinning wildly out of control.

It's an illustration of doing something, instead of just letting circumstances roll right over you. I'm not saying that any of these companies or institutions aren't also acting in their own self-interest, for they most certainly are. (after all, Walmart got a huzzah from me! I'm sure that was their ultimate goal.) But, I think it's a good reminder that thinking you can either only do good for others, or you can only do good for yourself is a false dichotomy.

Anyway, it's weird times when THE MAN is fighting THE MAN, but when the result is something more equitable, I'll take it.

In much happier and completely unrelated news, here is a charming interview with my favorite pusher of fake facts, John Hodgman.
1 comment on "passengers in handbasket fight back"
  1. I was just talking to Erich about Walmart and their business practices. I should mention that they have also changed their tune regarding "the Gays" and they support helping people fight a constitutional ban on gay marriage...I know why Walmart is bad for people, but the fact that they want us poor people to be able to buy organic and get married, well...that is something, although thosse 2 things do NOT appeal to me...


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