And when I say extort, I mean that it’s hard for these companies to say no. Because what choice do they have when the First Lady comes calling with a request?
Can they say, “No, we’ll sell food based on what our customers like to buy?” Politically, that wouldn’t be very smart. If they don’t get on board, then you can bet they’ll be in the White House’s cross hairs.
First Lady Michelle Obama announcing big commitments by Walmart, Walgreens, Supervalu (Save-a-Lot), and regional retailers to make more health, affordable food available in underserved communities — 2:15 p.m. in the East Room, per a White House official: “The commitments … will include opening or expanding over 1,500 stores to serve communities throughout the country that currently do not have access to fresh produce and other healthy foods. … Supervalu is committed to opening 250 new Save-A-Lot stores over the next five years in areas with limited or no access to healthy foods … Walgreens – Committed to expanding its food offering to include whole fruits and vegetables, and other healthy options in at least 1,000 stores … Walmart is committing to opening or expanding 275 to 300 stores which will serve more than 800,000 people in rural and urban areas with limited or no access to grocery options. Walmart also estimates that more than 40,000 associates will work in these stores.”
I wonder what concessions these companies may have gotten out of the Obama administration. Walmart, for instance, has faced heavy opposition from unions and other liberal groups when trying to move into certain areas in the country. Could the Obama administration have promised to massage that opposition for them in exchange for getting on board with this initiative?
Maybe not, but that’s the sort of question we’re forced to ask when the federal government begins sticking its long nose into the sort of products companies operating in a free market do and do not sell.
To the extent that the government should be involved in promoting healthy life styles, they should be trying to get Americans to choose healthier foods. Not intimidating or manipulating companies into selling the foods.