Walmart Is Still Walmart

We’ve managed to get through the week, so far, without a news story about somebody pulling a gun at a WalMart after being asked to wear a mask. The last person to do so was just charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and improper exhibition of a firearm. But the incident took place on July 12, before WalMart announced its mask mandate.

No guns drawn, but there have been some tense incidents, such as this one in Georgia —

CNN reported today that the rules aren’t being enforced all that stringently.

Walmart and other major retailers made headlines last week with a new requirement for customers to wear masks in its US stores. But the new rules only go so far.

Walmart (WMT), Home Depot (HD), Lowe’s (LOW), Walgreens (WBA), CVS (CVS) and others say they still won’t prohibit customers who refuse to wear a mask from shopping in stores. The issue, they say, is they want to avoid confrontations between angry customers and employees.

So if you threaten to shoot somebody, they let you in without the mask?

Retailers and their employees are finding themselves playing the uncomfortable role of mask police. The increase in coronavirus cases is prompting concern over how to protect both customers and workers in crowded stores from infecting each other.

Especially in places where state and local government hasn’t mandated mask wearing, there’s only so much a retailer can do. If enforcement is left up to store clerks who, understandably, don’t want to be beaten or shot over a mask, enforcement is not going to be all that consistent.

A security guard at a Family Dollar store in Michigan was shot and killed in May after he told a customer to wear a mask.

Yeah, it’s happened. But see also this op ed by Bill Saporito at the New York Times. Apparently this concern for employee and customer health is part of WalMart’s move into health care, of which I was unaware:

Walmart, like other large corporations, is wading deeper into health care and health care policy. With more than a million employees, it probably buys more health care than many cities. For serious procedures such as heart surgery, for instance, the company has made deals with “Centers of Excellence” such as Cleveland Clinic where employees can get better outcomes at a lower cost over many local practitioners. Other companies have underwritten medical tourism to Mexico or Europe (pre-pandemic) for the same reason.

The company has also opened Walmart Health centers, which offer customers discount doctoring and dentistry, including $30 checkups and mental health counseling at $1 per minute. True to its operating philosophy, Walmart said it has cut the cost of basic health care delivery by some 40 percent compared with conventional practices.

Walmart is also moving directly into selling health insurance to the public. And why not? It sees a huge market opportunity in the fat profit margins and diffident service of the current players. And because we’ll all be dead before the Republican Party delivers the affordable health care insurance it has promised will replace Obamacare.

While such efforts by Walmart and other big payers help to restrain health care costs, the larger problem is that we’ve been abdicating health care policy to profit-seeking corporations.

And as long as we abdicate health care, not to mention pandemic policy, to profit-seeking corporations, we’re still screwed.

Rather than use policy to help corporations get a better handle on Covid-19 safety, the Trump administration is instead focused on absolving them of liability if they don’t act to keep employees and customers safe. Perversely, when the airline industry begged the Federal Aviation Administration to impose a mandatory mask rule for passengers, it got shot down. The F.A.A.’s intransigence is now threatening thousands of airline jobs, if not the carriers themselves, because consumers don’t have enough confidence that flying is safe.

I have less sympathy for the airlines, because over the years they’ve managed to make flying a horrible experience as they thought up more ways to squeeze profits out of the customers. Any excuse not to fly is a good excuse, I say. I’d like to see air travel nationalized, frankly. If the for-profit airlines can’t function without huge government subsidies, miserable flights, and terrible service generally, then nationalize ’em. We can look into that after we fix healthcare.

It is this vacuum of responsibility that is compelling the businesses that are expert at selling coffee, underwear and groceries to manage the pandemic across their swath of the economy. That they are doing a better job than the Trump administration is beyond pathetic.

Well, yeah.

7 thoughts on “Walmart Is Still Walmart

  1. This is why Mayor Bottoms in Atlanta wanted to issue a mask order.  Contrary to what Gov. Kemp said, businesses in ATL wanted the mask order, because its good for business when customers feel safe.  Which is going to be very important headsing into the fall and the second wave of the virus expected.  Customers are more apt to comply when its a state or local mandate and a sign can be posted to that effect.  Otherwise employees are put at risk from crazed anti-maskers coming into their stores when they have to enforce the mask orders.  

    Just like with no shirt, no shoes, no service, businesses are well within their rights to refuse service to someone not wearing a mask.  Unfortunately anti-masking has become a cause celebre of Trumpism, replete with all its attendant nastiness and violence.  Everything about Trumpism is stupid and downright ugly.



  2. I am attempting to practice compassion and in my heart recognize that people  who throw tantrums in public places are suffering on some level.  That said, I do not believe that we have to tolerate their behavior.  Being 81, retired and with a heart condition, there is not much I can do physically so I talk to my Quan Yin statue and the teddy bears that are propped up in front of my TV.  Guess that is  my way of praying although at times it seems as if I am regressing to a childlike state mentally and emotionally.  Perhaps that is what happens with aging.  I do not live with another human and my dog doesn't  seem to mind.  As for mask wearing, I remember my mother saying: " It's better to be safe than sorry."  And since I was a nurse, I am aware of the science behind the practice.  So I recommend wearing a mask ( even though they are uncomfortable and annoying) as well as social distancing and lots of hand washing.

    I believe our only hope is a vaccine as the virus is not going to go away.  It will just hide somewhere and if opportunity presents, it will rear its ugly head.  After all, isn't that what happens with herpes zoster which is responsible for chickenpox and shingles?  Most children have chickenpox at some point, get over it and do not die.  However, the virus does not leave the body but lies dormant in the nerve cells and can re-emerge later on as shingles.  As I've said before, viruses are weird.  All the protests over personal freedoms and temper tantrums are not going to change the facts.  So, my plea to everyone is stay home if possible, wear a mask, practice social distancing and wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands.  Stay safe!!!

  3. grannyeagle,

    In my opinion, as we all age, we all regress.

    If we're lucky, we regress back into our more beatific times and their memories.

    If we're not, we regress back into more painful and disturbed ones.   

    Regardless, whether we want to or not, we ALL regress.

    So, don't be overly concerned.  It's very normal.  🙂

  4. Somewhere, in a dystopian parallel universe – or here, if shit worsens much more – never mind them selling health insurance, Walmart's will have a human body-parts section:  Probably right next to their women's lingerie department – you know, to get the men over there while they're with their wives/girlfriends.  Replace that bad football knee, mebbe…

    And there, you can choose between a…  Let's say, spleen.  A name-brand spleen, a deluxe-brand one, or, a generic store-brand spleen (Note:  NEVER choose the cheapest spleen.  Oh, the store'll say it's the same as the name-brand one, but don't you believe them!  The cheap spleen doesn't…   doesn't…  The cheap spleen don't…  it just don't spleen right!).

    I can see it now:  Limbs, other external parts, traif – wait, not "traif:"  You ain't gonna eat, just replace- ok, so no traif.  INTERNAL organs!  That worked! 

    But the problem with going to Walmart to buy body parts, is if you put them on your Walmart credit card, you'll also have to buy an extra arm and a leg, just to…  Wait for it…  Wait…  You'll  have to buy an extra arm and a leg – just to cover the finance charges!!!!!  

    Yeah, I know.  That was a long trip for such a cheap and obvious punchline.

    But with the pandemic going on, what's better you was gonna do, huh?!?

  5. OT, AOC’s masterful speech on the floor of the House of Representatives, in response to Rep Yoho calling her a f$kng b$tch. I admire anyone who can speak so well, and take control of her opponent, and of the moment, in such a powerful way.

    • Yeah, she did a masterful job of exposing what a shitbag Yoho is. I saw Yoho on Fox news and he couldn't distance himself from his own character fast enough.. You could see the hesitancy in his lies because he was wasn't sure how much exposure he had, and who could counter his narrative with the truth.

       One sure way to know that they are lying through their teeth is their eagerness to change the subject when it focuses on the truth of a matter and the constant expressions of their desire to serve their constituents when they're in the hot seat.

  6. "And as long as we abdicate health care, not to mention pandemic policy, to profit-seeking corporations, we’re still screwed."


    If  I'm a minimum-wage employee with no benefits there's no way I'm going to confront a nut who may have a gun. I applaud every company who posts the policy but until the police will respond to 911 complaints of shopper w/out a mask and make arrests (which I'd like to see), the kooks can and will ignore health directives.

    The fatality rate has gone from a 7-day average 38 per day a month ago to a 7-day average of 121 per day. No statewide mask mandate. The cops don't want to be in the middle of an issue with political ramifications.  

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