Lee Scott on his hands and knees
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"At the end of the day, this is not about me. It is not about Wal-Mart. And it is not about you. It is about all of us and what we can do to keep this country great." -- That's Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott capping off a pleading speech to the National Governors Association meeting. And what is that wakes the people of a great country in the morning? According to Scott, it's this: not having to worry about whether your employer might give you full health insurance. It won't.
It's bad enough that there's room in this world for a creature like Lee Scott to say that to himself in the mirror. In a utopian world, a responsible citizen would come up to him on the street if he went babbling on like that and say, "Look Lee, you can't go around bragging about how you deprive your workforce of millions decent healthcare coverage. It's indecent; it's quite vile of you, actually." But in our world, Lee gets an invitation to speak to the governors. And tell them that if they force him to pay out so his workers have decent coverage, they'll be winning "short-term political points, but they won't solve America's health care challenges."
In other words, the man told a bunch of career politicians they better not confuse the issue of whether Wal-Mart offers health care coverage to its workers with politics. Pretty audacious, don't you think? But then again, he was invited to speak.
In other news, there's another meth hysteria article out, this one talking about how everyone in Montana is buzzing about a new propaganda campaign, financed by a high-tech billionaire: "the advertisements have inspired poems and raps. High school groups have replayed them in place of morning announcements and devoted newspaper issues to them." I'll leave it to Gov. Brian Schweitzer to sell the tale of how methamphetamines are destroying his state: "It's destroying families; it's destroying our schools; it's destroying our budgets for corrections, social services, health care. We're losing a generation of productive people. My God, at the rate we're going, we're going to have more people in jail than out of jail in 20 years."
Here's a few thoughts -- why not decriminalize this meth stuff, and better yet, offer the same clean and neatly packaged pills that those guys in white coats offer to Missoula's upper and middle classes and have the state pay for it? Then we wouldn't have to wonder about "80 percent" of Montana's prison population. They'd be taking cleaner drugs, like everyone else. But if we dealt with "meth" in that fashion, we'd find ourselves in rougher territory, which is that we'd have to start talking about what life is like for the poor in Montana. Not Robert Redford's ranch, not some flyfishing paradise adventure, but being poor and bored in the rural state of Montana. Schweitzer's sold on the ads though. The meth is problem. And what we need are more billionaire-funded ad campaigns, not just in Montana, but perhaps the whole country. "This isn't just a few ads," he said. "If this thing works, it can be a template all over rural America."
Jan Frel is an AlterNet staff writer.