In healthcare, what comes first: the chicken or the egg? – Part 2/3

October 29, 2012

To compare universal health care in China to private sector health care, I’m going to use Wal-Mart as an example to explain why we cannot rely on the private sector when it comes to the importance of health care and the quality of life.

In the private sector in the US, Wal-Mart did not achieve success because a sorcerer waved a magic wand and “POOF” suddenly Wal-Mart is everywhere as if a light switch were turned on.  The first Wal-Mart store opened in July 1962. By 1967, there were 24 stores. Today, forty-five years later, Wal-Mart has 2.2 million employees/associates worldwide and serves 200 million customers each week at more than 10,000 stores in 27 countries.

But China’s challenge is to serve 1.3 billion Chinese compared to Wal-Mart providing health care for 2.2 million of its workers. There is a HUGE difference in the numbers and China  hasn’t had forty-five years to build the infrastructure of this new universal health care plan.

Of course, a China critic may point out Wal-Mart’s success because it was a private sector business but that same critic, out of ignorance or by design, will not mention what Christian Science Monitor.com says about Wal-Mart’s health care for its employees:

“In addition to stopping the retaliations and respecting workers’ right to free speech and assembly, OUR Wal-Mart members would like to see the retailer offer more dependable work schedules, affordable healthcare for full-time workers, and a living wage ($13 per hour minimum).

“Wal-Mart has been advertising that they are a family-oriented company. And if this is how family is treated, then I would rather not have a family at all,” says Ms. Cruz.”

In the private sector, the way corporations/businesses treat employees varies from company to company. There is no universal standard of treatment, and there never will be unless the private sector eventually is owned by one global corporation.

Business Insider.com shows how Wal-Mart treats its employees: “Wal-Mart Guts Its Employee Health Care Plan and Raises Premiums—Rates are expected to climb by more than 40 percent for some employees. Combined with high deductibles, employees are complaining that their health care will now eat up to 20 percent of their annual pay.”

Continued on October 30, 2012, In healthcare, what comes first: the chicken or the egg? – Part 3 or return to Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Wage Thieves in the Private Sector

August 20, 2011

Tom Carter, the author of China: Portrait of a People, sent me a link to a forum on political and social change in China that I found interesting. The forum was published in the Boston Review.

One in particular that I agreed with was China’s Other Revolution by Edward S. Steinfeld.

Steinfeld points out that “patterns of inequity are unfortunately not unique to the Chinese experience”, and then he makes a strong point when he writes, “One need look no further than the United States and Western Europe for developmental histories replete with exploitation, abuse, violence, and environmental degradation.”

By coincidence, the same day Carter sent me the link to this forum in the Boston Review, I read Wage theft a scourge for low-income workers by John Coté, a staff writer for the San Francisco Chronicle.

It seems while many Americans and the Western media often criticize China for exploitation of migrants, low-skilled wage laborers, and the rural poor, the same practice is alive and well in the United States.

Coté writes, “It’s part of a national scourge known as wage theft. More than two-thirds of low-wage workers (in the United States) reported some type of pay-related law violation…”

The piece Coté wrote for SFGate was on two pages and ends with six facts.  One says, “$56.4 million is stolen every week from (low-wage) workers in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.”

In addition, Poverty News reports, “Low-wage workers in the United States are gripped by increasing financial insecurity as they inch along an economic tightrope made riskier by pervasive job losses and rising prices. Many struggle to pay for life’s basics—housing, food and health care—and most report having virtually no financial cushion should they stumble.”

How many Americans are considered low-wage workers?

According to the Sloan Work and Family Research Network at Boston College, “The U.S. Census Bureau reported that in 2008, 39.8 million people (13.2 percent of the U.S. population) lived at or below the Federal Poverty Level (DeNavas-Walt, Proctor, & Smith, 2009).”


When it comes to poverty, America ranks 3rd worst among developed nations.

If two-thirds of these low-wage workers (and there may be more) in the U.S. are being cheated, that is about 26 million people that are not being paid what they earned.

It seems to me that the American media, the nation’s leaders and most Americans should focus on solving these types of problems in the U.S. before criticizing other countries.

Discover more from The India, China battle to eliminate poverty and illiteracy

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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