By partnering with its employees’ union to support the proposed government mandate for large businesses to provide health care insurance for their employees, Wal-Mart is demonstrating extraordinary foresight and leadership. When push comes to shove, nearly everyone in America wants better health care coverage for our citizens. Employer provided health care coverage is the only way this can ever happen–tax payers can’t afford it and neither can the government. American businesses, on the other hand, can afford to pay for it and it will not cost them jobs nor will it drive down wages. In fact, doing so will not only make American businesses more profitable, it will make them more competitive in the global economy.
Without realizing it, American businesses are paying a tremendous price for continuing to use out-moded, top-down management practices that are incredibly counter-productive–these are the same mangement practices that enabled the Japanese auto manufacturers to take over the American auto industry. The cost to American businesses for using these practices has been conservatively estimated to be somewhere between $4 and $5 trillion annually. If the people running American businesses would simply wise up and start utilizing management practices that brought out the best in their employees, they could recapture most of these $4 to $5 trillion. This savings in productivity would not only be enough to pay for the best health care coverage on the planet, it would make America the most competitive nation in the global economy.
So, I say hats off to Wal-Mart. Your extraordinary forsight and leadership has pointed out the way to get America and American businesses back on their feet.