The love-hate relationship with Mom 'n' Pop

Why, Bookworm asks, do leftists love Mom 'n' Pop in retail stores, but hate them in medicine?  WalMart is evil incarnate, but national health care is the bee's knees.  I think the answer lies in whether the entity is the enemy.  If so, the bigger the scarier; if not, the smaller the less effective.  The enemy is institutions driven by the profit motive, naturally.  It is a leftist dream that medicine can function without any profit motive -- as long as they're not the ones expected to work for free, or even for below union wages.

Bookworm's commenters discuss whether and how they use WalMart, and what kind of competitors can stay in business.  Our nearest small town sports a WalMart.  It's where we go for a variety of basic supplies, when we have to, as long as we don't mind getting stuck with a bottom-of-the-line product that can't be expected to hold up long.  We patronize the smaller local stores when we don't mind paying higher prices for better quality or for help from knowledgeable salesmen.  Local stores that don't stock better quality or provide knowledgeable salesmen don't stay in business, but I don't blame WalMart for that.

One commenter notes that on-line shopping has taken on the role that Sear's mail-order catalogs once did:  bringing a variety of goods to rural people at affordable prices.  Mail-order certainly is our primary alternative to WalMart here.


Grim said...

It may be that retail is for fun, while medicine is about life or death.

There may be something comforting to leftists about being in the arms of the government. If your doctor is a Mom & Pop operation, then when you are sick and dying you're just in the hands of some guy; but if it's the government, you can envision the whole tremendous power of Uncle Sam bent around saving your life.

In terms of having resources and expertise to bring to bear on the question of saving your life, there's something to that argument. The problem is mostly whether we (or any society) really can pay for every kind of care that every extant human being might want or need. The for-profit system provides an easy way of excluding some people from all but emergency care; and, coincidentally, they happen to be the least productive people.

The moral objection to that isn't entirely blind. But the desired justice may not be within the realm of possibility. I don't think we really can afford all the justice they want. It's like with dogs and cats: lots of them end up being put to sleep at shelters. It's not that we want to put them to sleep. The people who go into animal rescue as a career want to save animals, not kill them. But at some point, that's all the justice we can afford.

We're running the risk of putting everyone into animal shelters, in order to avoid putting anyone into one.

Texan99 said...

Yeah, in the hands of some guy whose business depends at least to some extent on whether customers like me are made happy, vs. in the hands of a government bureaucrat whose hearts swells with nothing but disinterested love for me.

I suppose it comes down to whether you think a bureaucrat is more concerned with the wrath of a voter than a businessman is with the wrath of a consumer. There are competitive pressures on both, perhaps, but they are more attenuated in the case of the bureaucrat.

bthun said...

I see the medical profession being subsumed as a DMV department and I despair. Then I remember our equine Veterinarian is pretty good and her fees are very reasonable.

// the hun thinks we're really not much different than horses... =8^/
decides to watch Brazil one mo time for the conditioning aspect of the film //

bthun said...

On second thought, I don't have time for a movie today. Instead, I'll just listen to this fellow's rendition of Brazil then go to Walmart for tonights supply of canning lids.

Eric Blair said...

I don't know what you're buying at Walmart that "can't be expected to hold up long" because really, that hasn't been my experience with:
small appliances
garden supplies
various hardware bits

And most of the above are *name* brands like Hanes, Burpee or Oster.

Texan99 said...

Really? I haven't been that lucky. They're about like Academy, in my experience: cheaper but pretty likely to break, compared to what I can get if I pay more, especially on mail-order. But I'm happy buying things there like ink cartridges or blank CDs -- commodity stuff that's getting used up quickly anyway and is fairly standardized. I get tons of my clothes there, because I'm just going to tear them up and stain them immediately anyway, faster than their seams will wear out, so cheapness and convenience are all I care about.

Mostly what I notice at WalMart is that I don't get much of a range of options, just the cheapest option available. Sometimes that's perfect.

james said...

"If your doctor is a Mom & Pop operation, then when you are sick and dying you're just in the hands of some guy; but if it's the government, you can envision the whole tremendous power of Uncle Sam bent around saving your life."

I think you're on to something here. I can point to several people for whom the government is like a god, though a god served by a few Judas-republicans. Once it is has been made ideologically clean, where could you be safer than in the arms of your god?

raven said...

Once those leftists get State run care, they are going to be a bit perturbed. This is a classic case of "be careful what you wish for".