Baronnelle Stutzman

How is the socialized medicine system that is the VA (that was the blueprint for ObamaCare) dealing with some care deficiencies? Leaning on the private sector, of course.

WalMart’s CEO is challenging Congress to raise the minimum wage. Why doesn’t he just do it himself rather than try to get Congress to make him? The answer is to stifle competition.

And it looks like the Supreme Court is going to have to rule on religious freedom pretty soon. Another private business is being sued for not participating in a same-sex wedding, and no, it has demonstrably nothing to do with not serving gays.

Mentioned links:

Veterans get access to urgent care, more doctors starting Thursday under new law

Episode 64: Who Really Killed the Incandescent Light Bulb

How a higher minimum wage could help Walmart

Washington Supreme Court rules against florist who refused service for gay couple’s wedding

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Show transcript

I’ve talked here before about the Department of Veterans Affairs and how its medical plan for veterans has been failing our vets. It’s basically socialized medicine, with all the usual drawbacks from that, including long wait times and few facilities.

Well here’s some good news on that front. The VA has implemented a plan that should help some vets get the care they need. Now, if the average driving time for the veteran to a VA health care provider is 30 minutes, or if the veteran has to wait at least 20 days to see a VA health care provider, the Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks Act (or the MISSION Act, another one of those legislative “backronyms”) will allow vets to use health care facilities outside the VA network.

What this is essentially admitting is that socialized medicine doesn’t work for too many of those it’s supposed to help, and the solution is the private sector. But I can already hear those saying that private sector health care was failing people as well, and so perhaps we need a combination of the two. That’s fair enough, but here’s my problem with that. As we’ve seen many time before, as socialized medicine grows by government coercion, the worse it gets and the longer the lines. If it works at all, it only works on the smallest of scales. But what happens is that politicians find that they can get votes for promising “free” health care for all and keep growing it until it becomes the behemoth that is, for example, ObamaCare. Giving away free stuff always gets politicized, and its growth is just unsustainable.

So I applaud the Trump administration for doing right by our vets by giving them real choice.

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon has issued a challenge to Congress to raise the minimum wage. Right now, they pay a minimum of $11 per hour, so what’s stopping them from just raising it themselves and not waiting for the government to do it?

Well you see, this is not about wages at all. When corporations lobby government to do something they could do themselves, there’s often an ulterior motive or two. To explain, let me go way back to 2014 and episode 64 of this podcast. In that, I explained why light bulb manufacturers GE, Philips and Sylvania lobbied the government to outlaw the incandescent bulb. Now, they could have simply done it themselves – stop producing those types of bulbs – and that would be that. Why did they need the government to tell them to?

The short answer is that they wanted to push out all competition. Since incandescent bulbs were so easy to make, the cost to get into that market for a new manufacturer was relatively low. The big 3 bulb makers couldn’t jack up their prices much because, if they did, some upstart could undercut them. However, if they could outlaw the cheap bulbs, then the cost of entry goes way up, because CFL and LED bulbs cost more to make. Fewer upstarts means less competition, and that means higher prices and more of a lock on the market for the big boys.

That’s one of the reasons I see as to why Walmart wants everyone to have to pay a higher minimum wage. If everyone has to do it, the big players can afford it and the cost to get into the market for some upstart has now gone way up because labor is one of the biggest costs of the retail business.

This is why I am always saying that the free market should be determining wages and let people decide what they’re willing to work for, not government, because minimum wage laws are often not really about the minimum wage.

This is the story of Barronelle Stutzman, whose name I absolutely love. She has a florist shop, Arlene’s Flowers, and has been selling flower there for years. However, she is currently the court system fighting a lawsuit over something that you’ve heard me talk about before.

Barronelle was sued by a gay couple for declining to create a custom floral arrangement for their same-sex wedding ceremony. So yes, this is very much like Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop, who was sued for not making a custom cake for the same sort of ceremony. The Supreme Court didn’t really rule on the religious freedom question. Instead they punted, noting that the human rights commission that Jack first defended himself to were very antagonistic toward his religious beliefs and ordered them to reconsider. Barronelle’s case got to their desk as well, but they ordered the lower court to reconsider her case in light of Jack’s.

The hot take on both of these cases is supposedly that these people don’t want to server gays at all. In Jack’s case, he said he would sell them a pre-made cake, but he wouldn’t use his creative talents to make a custom one for their wedding. In Barronelle’s case, that distinction is even starker. One of the two men had been a customer for over nine years, and Barronelle was fully aware that he was gay. So this, too, has absolutely nothing to do with not wanting to serve gays or public accommodation. It has to do with a ceremony that someone has a religious objection to. Heck, she offered to supply the bulk flowers and let them or whoever they wanted do the arrangement.

Calling this homophobic or a breach of public accommodation is just flat-out wrong. And when you hear news outlets frame it that way, be aware that they are letting their biases show. In the meantime, the Washington State Supreme Court punted Barronelle’s case back up to SCOTUS, saying basically that the Phillips case didn’t change their ruling at all. This issue is going to have to be decided one way or the other in DC.

Filed under: Economics & TaxesFree SpeechGovernmentHealth CareMinimum WageReligion