Tag Archives: Health

Walmart And The Healthy Free Market

In case you had trouble guessing: I like businesses.

If there weren’t business there wouldn’t be internet, iphones, cars, bicycles, buildings, tents, sleeping bags, fresh produce in the middle of winter, heat and A/C, in cars too, hospitals, medication, surgery…

You get the picture.

We’ve had government since the beginning of time, and it hasn’t done a thing directly to benefit or develop beneficent products and services (except nuclear energy and other war-related items).

We’ve also had businesses since the first person decided he’d rather spread and grow his wealth instead of laboring over the same rows in the same farm for his own families sustenance.

Chipotle is an excellent example of a good business.

Our wealth allows us to pay premium price for food raised and prepared in a reasonably environmentally conscious and sustainable manner.

And it tastes good, too.

Walmart is not too different from Chipotle.

The monstrous store chain that’s easy to hate until we need cheap razer blades and jeans and socks and hand towels and garbage can liners. Then everybody loves it.

Except the unions, who are never going to love Walmart until it caves to their regressive and stiflingly stupid and anti free market strong man tactics and effects.

I pray Walmart never does, and for good reason.

When Walmart enters an area, consumers win as the often cheaper prices at Walmart “encourage” the other stores to moderate their own prices.

The prices are not always better, but they are better enough of the time and for enough products to justify the crowds you normally find at these supercenters.

Does Walmart Save You Money? (read the comments, many people report savings in the $1000’s each year while others disagree with their perception of the business practices)

But enough about prices already, Walmart benefits your health!

Huh?

Indeed, studies are showing that people living near a Walmart or “club store” (Costco, Sam’s Club, etc) are lighter on average.

But don’t all the fat and ugly people shop at Walmart? No, it’s just the ugly people and me.

In an article published in Forbes Magazine, Art Carden, an Professor of Economics at Rhodes College in Memphis TN, reports on studies showing that the increased buying power people experience when benefiting from the Walmart effect has a direct and close correlation to the health of those people.

There are several reasons this may be, and the why or how is always a bit murkier than fact of correlation, but all of the possibilities enjoy sound economic sense.

Those benefiting most from the Walmart affect are…

…women, the poor, African-Americans and people who live in urban areas.

The arguments as to why and how and many, as I noted earlier, and some may find them difficult. Read it a few times if necessary.

Our evidence is indirect, but we think it shows that price changes can have subtle and sometimes hard-to-detect consequences. Any change in price results in two phenomena. The first is the substitution effect: a change in consumption mix due to a change in relative prices. If a bag of salad is $2 and a bag of potato chips is $1, then the price of salad in terms of chips is two bags and the price of a bag of chips is half a bag of salad. If a Wal-Mart opens and reduces the price of salad to $1 a bag and the price of chips to 75 cents a bag, the “salad price” of chips has risen (from 1TK2 bag to 3TK4 bag) and the “chip price” of salad has fallen from 2 bags to 4TK3 bags. In short, salad has become cheaper relative to chips.

This argument is based on basic price comparison. If the salad cost 2 times what chips cost before Walmart,  Jack and Jill are more likely to buy the salad now because it only costs 1.3 times more than the chips now.

Then there is the income effect:

If Wal-Mart sells food at lower prices–even if our incomes don’t change–every dollar can buy more. Therefore, we’re richer.

The crux of their findings is that people, when given a choice and a suitable price range, will purchase healthier foods.

Our data suggest that we buy healthier food when our purchasing power increases. There is a small increase in consumption of fruit and vegetables in places where Wal-Mart does a lot of business and a decrease–or smaller increase–in fatty food consumption relative to places where Wal-Mart doesn’t do business. That is, people might consume more fatty foods, but consumption of those unhealthy goods increases more slowly than it does for the rest of the population.

There are other facts, findings, and arguments in the article. I urge you to read the whole thing: Wal-Mart’s Weight Effect.

The point is, don’t be too quick to denigrate or disparage the current state of our free martket system.

It’s not always pretty, and it’s easy to find fault.

However, compared with any other system out there, capitalism and the free market are the best at providing escalating levels of service and product to the most people most equitably and with the least amount of downside.

It’s been proven time and again, yet we in America now are dangerously close to forgetting completely, if we haven’t already.

The free market and capitalism isn’t about the blind, mindless pursuit of money at all costs, that’s anarchy.

Free markets and capitalism are about working in tandem with those around us to maximize our return by providing the best service or product to others. It’s a mutually beneficial system.

And we’re in danger of throwing it away.

Big Brother Knows Best

The true solution is revealed in the nice lady who says that some bakeries have noted some demand for this healthier fare.
So then why do we not simply allow the market to work? If there is demand for healthier fare, bakeries will take advantage of that demand and work to supply product to meet the demand.

No fines or fees or arm-twisting needed.

No, it is just so obvious that the real reason the city of New York has made this a legal issue is that there are people who believe they know best how we ought to live. And they view themselves are caretakers of the general populace, protecting the idiot rest of us from our own carnal desires. These kinds of people tend to congregate in government, and they find each other.

For their own good, we should outlaw them.

Dead Sexy

In a previous article, Priorities Of Preservation, I discussed the importance Christianity puts on the entirety of an person: body, mind, and spirit.

While the world, in a misguided and myopic view constrained by sin, only really cares for the preservation of the body. And through ignorance, loses the whole person.

In a report released last week which most have already heard of or commented on, it was noted that 1/4 of the US Teenage Female population is infected with one of several Sexually Transmitted Diseases.

The immediate cry was that Abstinence Education must be completely abandoned and further explanation of the ins and outs of safe sex be taught to every child.

I find those making that argument to be their own worst enemies, and I am determined to sit and watch them tear themselves apart trying to make sense of what they’ve said.

Better have a good belt to hold these sides in. The problem is, this is no laughing matter: peoples lives are at stake.
At the blog dbTechno (“Providing Science And Technology News Since 1996”) under the headline “Teens Having Sex, Getting STD’s Due To Lack Of Knowledge” (strongly caution) there is a small picture of three bikini-clad young women shaking their derri√®res before the camera. This was the picture Google had selected on it’s news aggregator to highlight the several articles on this topic this morning.

In our sexified culture it is considered “emancipated” for a woman to be so “comfortable” with her sexuality that she feels willing to flaunt her body either scantily clothed or free of clothes before the whole world.

I don’t think that it is a sign of a healthy self-image that women are willing and even choose to clothe themselves that way.

I am not for arbitrary requirements in clothing, but it is saddening that, younger and younger, we are compelling out daughters and sisters to choose between frumpy and scandalous.

Removing their modesty with bits of lycra and spandex.

Revealing their bodies for the eyes of all the world.

And then we worry that too many of them are having sex.

I think a healthy self image will result in true self-worth, where the woman will not feel compelled to dress “sexy” to get the approval and acceptance of others.

When a woman is dressing revealingly they are revealing their insecurity, not their assuredness.

The Florida Sun-Sentinel Editorial Board this morning published an article titled “Abstinence-Only Education Needs To Go” (no scandalous images here) in which they completely demolish their own claims, twice.

First, early in the article they lay claim to the moral high ground:

From here, it would be easy to play the blame game. But that would be unproductive. It doesn’t matter if you’re the pro-sex education or abstinence-only type, the statistics speak for themselves, and what matters most is that something be done to make our children more sexually responsible and safe.

And then, in the very next paragraph:

Let’s start with re-tooling the failed abstinence-only approach backed by the Bush administration. Let’s teach teenagers about contraceptives and other precautions that could help protect them if they are sexually active.

Yes, lets avoid the blame game, and lets look at the facts. The Bush Administration has indeed backed and supported an abstinence-only education approach, because no one who practices abstinence contracts an STD, no one. It make sense to back a winner. But how many education programs has the Bush Administrations policy actually affected? Good question.

I would be willing to bet that with state policy, and NEA policy, and DoE policy, there is precious little abstinence-only education going on in the public schools of America.

The article then goes on to make an astounding statement. I very nearly cheered, at work, when I read this:

Abstinence teaching has its merits. It not only promotes a sure-proof defense against STDs and unwanted pregnancies, but also the idea that sexual activity requires a high level of maturity and understanding. An adolescent who engages in “protected” sex prematurely may not run the risk of physical infections, but could be exposed to long-term emotional and psychological damage.

And then gets to the…

BOTTOM LINE: Place more emphasis on contraceptives and STDs in sex-education classes.

And they reached that how?

With this simple caveat they have attempted to justify their entire tortured argument, and by extension, rationalize their continued support for the torture of young minds and bodies with illness both physical and psychological:

Like it or not, half of the teenage girls in this country are already sexually active, according to the study. Something has to be done to make them wiser in their choices, or we soon could have an even bigger public health crisis on our hands.

Do they not see the cruel irony?

Because we’re a bunch hapless, helpless dolts who’ve bought the lie that children are capable of making their own informed decisions regarding sex and mature relationships.

Because we’re a bunch of laissez-faire non-present parental units who feel no particular responsibility to counter the culture’s claims that boys are animals and girls are meat.

Because we’re a bunch of lazy do-gooders who value intentions over actions and outcomes and are willing to allow our children to do whatever they please so long as it makes them feel good.

We will complete ignore what we already know to be true: that premature involvement in adult relationships, emotional and physical, will not only harm the body but will also damage the mind.

So long as we tell enough of them to use condoms, we are perfectly willing to let them hop into bed with any yahoo or floozy who comes along.

Yea, that’s advanced society and parental love for you.

See also:

The Condom Conspiracy: Sex, Lies, STIs and Teenage Girls – the evangelical outpost

While we have Planned Parenthood and sex educators claiming that condoms can “offer effective protection against most serious sexually transmitted infections” the report finds there’s no scientific basis for that claim.

STD Data Comes As No Surprise, Area Teenagers Say – Laura Sessions Stepp and Katherine Shaver in the Washington Post

The Marrow girls offered several reasons why teenagers have sex.

“It’s to fit in, peer pressure,” Christine said, noting that virgins are often mocked. Also, “sex sells on TV.”

Khadijah chimed in that some young girls found their inspiration in the popular R&B singer Rihanna, whose latest album is titled “Good Girl Gone Bad.”

But Christina suggested something closer to home. “Write this down,” she said. “Bad parenting.”

Predicted: Spectacular Failure

In the Cleveland Plain Dealer Blog, V. David Sartin lays out differences in the two Democrat candidates health-care plans.

Can two practical failures, moral evils, and spectacularly bad ideas be compared?

Hillary Clinton and Barak Hussein Obama can claim as many times as she pleases that their plan will only cost X, but when the plan is applied, there is no telling how high the actual cost will go.

A key fact of every other socialized health-care plan across the globe is that the actual costs far exceed the proposed cost.

And is it really going to be cheaper? In my current insurance setup I (a single, healthy person) am paying about $40 from each paycheck of $1200 (or 3.5%) every two weeks. Meanwhile I am paying about 15-20% in taxes from that same paycheck.

The most conservative estimates of the increase in fees due completely to taxes will be about double, with an expected load of 30-40% in taxes alone, most of this going to pay for the increased costs involved in Government shouldering the burden for health insurance.

Government is not efficient, it is really the antithesis of efficiency. If you were to give the government and a private company each a dollar, the private company will accomplish more with their dollar than the government. Much more, even with the corporate salaries and such. A business which does not use it’s dollars well fails.

Government has no such check. It can use it’s dollars as wastefully as it pleases and there is nothing to stop it besides oversight by you and I. And government does not like us watching it, despite it’s own desire to watch us and our business more and more closely.

Even beyond the obvious efficiency issues though, is a constitutional and moral issue: Is it the governments responsibility to provide health-care to each and every one of it’s citizens.

Individually we are each very much for personal freedom: allow us to do as we please, please.

If we surrender control of our health choices to the government, are we not giving an extremely powerful entity control over our lives to an unprecedented extent?

A private health insurance company can ask us to live more healthily, can raise our rates based on our risk factors and history. But it cannot compel us with force of law and punishment besides increased costs and denied service.

The government can.

And as the government seeks always to expand it’s grasp in every way: say as much as you like that it will not abuse it’s power. Government will compel us, with force of law and real punishment, to live according to it’s ideal of health.

Now is that freedom?

Or is having universal, expensive health-care really worth that cost?

Ynnuf Ffuts

Anybody else think the average IQ of people in the news is falling faster than the thermostat in Chicago this winter?

In case you still think they actually have anything to add to any debate anywhere, these juicy tidbits ought to rearrange your thinking:

  • Healthy Lifestyle Is the Secret to Longer Life, Researchers Say

    Not smoking, regular exercise, maintaining normal weight, and avoiding diabetes and high blood pressure seem to be the secrets of living to age 90, researchers say.

    No! Really?

  • Some with chronic illnesses function as well as healthy peers

    Even people who develop heart disease or diabetes late in life have a decent shot at living to 100, according to a study published Monday.

    “You don’t necessarily have to be in good health for all of your life to attain age 100,” said Dellara Terry, the study’s lead author and an assistant professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine.

    It’s a choice. It is always a choice. Humans are moral directors: we decide. When faced with a challenge, true strength tries harder.

I laugh.