Open Letter to Rev. Al Sharpton

by Don Boudreaux on December 13, 2011

in Country Problems, Other People's Money

Rev. Al Sharpton
National Action Network

Dear Rev. Sharpton:

Your organization, the National Action Network, e-mailed me to boast about your complaint to Walgreen’s CEO regarding his company’s alleged ‘underserving’ of minorities.

I like your tactic!  But it prompts me to ask: Why are you ‘underserving’ minorities in need of low-priced pharmaceutical products?

What have you done to attract private capital to finance retail outlets?  How have you helped to organize supply chains that get pharmaceuticals from factories to consumers at costs that make the on-going retail distribution of these products profitable at prices that also are affordable to low-income consumers?  Where’s the evidence of your entrepreneurial creativity – and the evidence of you risking your own money and of you spending untold hours of your own time – to help bring pharmaceuticals to low-income neighborhoods?  Why do you not devote more of your ample energies to struggle with details of the likes of inventory management, optimal liability-insurance coverage, and OSHA work-place-safety regulations so that you can create a retail pharmaceutical chain that earns sufficient profit to enable it to stay afloat while it simultaneously achieves all of what you somehow divine such a retail chain ‘should’ achieve?

Walgreen’s investors and employees actually and already contribute infinitely more energy and resources than you do to the process of making pharmaceutical products readily available to the masses.  So surely if it’s appropriate – as you clearly believe it to be – to fling accusations at anyone who arguably exerts insufficient effort to improve the retail distribution of pharmaceutical products, you deserve far more criticism than does Walgreen’s and its CEO.

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux

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{ 111 comments }

Jon Murphy December 13, 2011 at 6:00 pm

What does he mean, underserving?

Fred December 13, 2011 at 6:59 pm

Not giving dem free shit. Dey deserve free shit. Where’s dere free shit?

Methinks1776 December 13, 2011 at 6:04 pm

I don’t think Al’s going to know what most of those big words you used mean.

brotio December 13, 2011 at 6:53 pm

Al’s probably a genius compared to our Dear Ducktor, and probably provides superior medical services to poor minorities, but that’s not much of an accomplishment.

Methinks1776 December 13, 2011 at 7:04 pm

Funny you should say that. I was just thinking that Al is Brooklyn’s version of Muirdiot.

brotio December 13, 2011 at 7:06 pm

:D

g-dub December 15, 2011 at 12:05 am

For what he is trying to accomplish, he doesn’t need to.

Invisible Backhand December 13, 2011 at 6:19 pm

You forgot to add

Professor of Economics
George Mason University
Fairvax, VA 22030

Problem?

Chucklehead December 13, 2011 at 6:20 pm

What makes you think he can read or reason?

Darren December 13, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Or bring himself to care?

IRS December 13, 2011 at 6:22 pm

Hey Al
Speaking of underserving, when are you going to pay those back taxes?

vidyohs December 13, 2011 at 6:23 pm

Sharpton is doing very well for himself as a shucking jiving bag of gas.
Thank you very much.

Mesa Econoguy December 13, 2011 at 6:42 pm

Sharpton, aka the Face of the Democrat Party, is doing very well race-baiting and shaking down the gullible left, i.e. all of it.

He belongs in jail for his role in the Tawana Brawley farce, which ruined the career of a Dutchess County ADA. That’s Sharpton’s “entrepreneurial spirit.”

Brad Hutchings December 13, 2011 at 6:56 pm

I went to Walgreen’s store finder and plugged in a few of the particularly “not lilly white” areas of the greater Los Angeles area. There is a Walgreens within 3 miles of everywhere here. Maybe Sharpton just isn’t good with zip codes, city names, or maps in general?

GiT December 13, 2011 at 7:26 pm

I’m sure Sharpton can read maps, but I’m not really sure you can read English.

Sharpton isn’t immediately concerned with where Walgreens has locations, he’s concerned with their dispute with Escripts, a prescription management company. If the two don’t reach an agreement, those whose health insurance is managed through escripts will face increased difficulty in filling their prescriptions (especially in NYC, where Walgreens has recently acquired Duane Reade’s, a merger which puts a significant share of NYC pharamacies under the control of Walgreens.)

The problem, then, is that many customers will no longer be able to use Walgreens, regardless of whether or not a location is near them.

If you were literate, perhaps you could have figured that out before pursuing some inane strawman argument.

Methinks1776 December 13, 2011 at 7:30 pm

As Don said, if Not-So-Sharpton is so concerned about this, then he should put his energy to better use by starting his own pharmacy to serve the needs of the market.

GiT December 13, 2011 at 7:39 pm

If Don Boudreaux is so concerned with bad government policy, then he should put his energy to better use by running for government office to better conduct the affairs of government.

But anyways, way to miss the point, again. Brad implied Sharpton was concerned with Walgreens being located in poor neighborhoods. Sharpton is concerned with the services Walgreens in poor neighborhoods offer. Accordingly, Brad’s comment is, much like your comment, completely not to the point.

For a bunch of fools who like to accuse others of illiteracy, you seem to have quite a bit of difficulty understanding basic English.

Methinks1776 December 13, 2011 at 8:03 pm

The difference is, you git, that Don Boudreaux can’t change government even if he were elected to office. If, on the other hand, not-so-Sharpton were inclined to lift a finger to attempt to do an honest day’s work, then he could solve this substandard services worry of his by providing the services himself. If he did that, then the problem he’s so concerned about wouldn’t exist. See?

Now, if you cant wrap your mind around that concept, I’m not surprised. We determined a couple of nights ago that you really need to be under the control of a third party.

GiT December 13, 2011 at 8:23 pm

The only thing established the other night is that you couldn’t reason your way out of a paper bag.

As to what Don or Al should or shouldn’t do, apparently Al Sharpton thinks he can best help provide services by lobbying Walgreens and representing the interests of many Walgreens customers to the company (because they pay him to, through NAA).

But here go Don and Methinks presuming to know what the best way for Al Sharpton to achieve Al Sharpton’s goals is, and presuming to know better than those who donate to the NAA what they should spend their money on if they want a better life.

Weren’t you desperately trying to establish last night that no third party can evaluate whether or not someone else is using their resources in the most efficient way possible to satisfy their own ends?

Oh, but who cares about that, because you’re an incoherent little troll.

Greg Webb December 13, 2011 at 8:32 pm

Stupid Git, Al Sharpton should not be telling anyone else that they should be helping the poor. If he wants to help the poor, he should do so directly rather than manipulating others to do so.

GiT December 13, 2011 at 8:39 pm

Ah yes, Al Sharpton can’t tell anyone to do anything, but it’s perfectly alright for Don Boudreaux and Greg Webb to tell people what to do.

Perhaps I’ll go tell the fundraising directors of some nearby charities, churches, and non-profits that they should stop manipulating others to help the poor when they could just go do it themselves.

Greg Webb December 13, 2011 at 8:45 pm

Stupid Git, telling a busybody to mind his own business is consistent with the idea that everyone should mind his own business and directly help someone else rather than specialize in conning, bitching, and coercing others to help someone else. I know that is too complex an idea for you to grasp. Have you been eating elk with muirgeo?

Methinks1776 December 13, 2011 at 8:55 pm

Perhaps I’ll go tell the fundraising directors of some nearby charities, churches, and non-profits that they should stop manipulating others to help the poor when they could just go do it themselves.

They are doing it themselves, you idiot.

Oh, no git, you convinced me that you definitely can’t make your own decisions.

Not surprisingly, you can’t see the irony in your pointless moaning.

If not-so-Sharpton has a right to whine about Walgreen’s, then Don Boudreaux has every right to correct him.

GiT December 13, 2011 at 8:59 pm

Ah, let me see if I can get this straight.

If people pay the NAN and Al Shaprton to lobby on their behalf to businesses, Al Sharpton is conning, coercing, and bitching.

If people pay Omnicom group to advertise on the behalf of their products and services, Omnicom is… also conning, coercing, and bitching?

If I hire an agent to lobby on my behalf to business, my agent is conning, coercing, and bitching.

If my company hires an account or sales manager, to lobby individuals and business for their money, my accounts manager is conning, coercing, and bitching.

If my university hires its President to engage in heavy fundraising from private donors, he is conning, coercing, and bitching.

Yes, it’s all so clear now. Any time someone is only indirectly involved in providing people real goods, they are conning, coercing, and bitching.

GiT December 13, 2011 at 9:19 pm

Yes Methinks, they are providing goods and services for poor people by… Asking rich people to give the poor money.

And Al Sharpton is asking Walgreens to provide goods and services for the poor by… asking Walgreens to spend money renewing its contract with Escrips.

I’m afraid the only person without an eye for irony here is you.

Greg Webb December 13, 2011 at 9:35 pm

Stupid Git, I thought it was you guys who hated lobbyists. Al Sharpton has created a reputation for unsavory and coercive tactics that he continues to use to coerce others into giving in to political pressure. Walgreens is a company that is supposed to maximize value for its shareholders by providing goods and services that customers desire enough to purchase for the price offered. They do a great job and are already doing things for their poor customers just like Walmart does. Only a fool, and you are such a fool, would criticize Walgreens and Walmart while praising a huckster like Al Sharpton.

Methinks1776 December 13, 2011 at 9:47 pm

What’s your point, you pointless git?

Sharpton emailed Boudreauax boasting about his latest pressure campaign, alleging that Walgreen’s underserves a particular community. Boudreaux answers by asking why not-so-Sharpton underserves the same community.

So, let’s revisit your dumb little gripe.

But here go Don and Methinks presuming to know what the best way for Al Sharpton to achieve Al Sharpton’s goals is, and presuming to know better than those who donate to the NAA what they should spend their money on if they want a better life.

So, in your feeble mind, it’s okay for not-so-Sharpton to demand Walgreen’s behaves in the way he prescribes, but it’s not okay for Don Boudreaux to demad not-so-Sharpton behave in a way that Don prescribes. Why is that?

GiT December 13, 2011 at 10:02 pm

I’m not praising Sharpton or condemning Walgreens.

Find me a spot where I have praised Sharpton or condemned Walgreens?

I’ve defended Sharpton against charges that he is illiterate, lazy, and does not do anything worthwhile with his energy.

That’s not praise.

But, as usual, you fools like to dream up arguments, positions, and claims I never make, take, or stake.

Greg Webb December 13, 2011 at 10:06 pm

Git, you were, however, criticizing Don Boudreaux for doing exactly what Al Sharpton was doing to Walgreens. I’m sure Don would agree with me when I say if Sharpton quits trying to coerce others into doing things that he wants them to do, then Don will stop trying to coerce Sharpton into not doing things that Don does not want him to do.

GiT December 13, 2011 at 11:12 pm

Methinks-

Nice way to demonstrate your own ignorance.

Sharpton’s ‘pressure campaign’ (all bargaining involves pressure, you know) does not claim that a particular community is underserved by Walgreens, it claims that a potential change in Walgreens’ policy will negatively impact communities that are underserved in general.

My ‘dumb little gripe’ was that Brad didn’t know what he was talking about. Seeing as that gripe was completely correct, you brought up your own gripe: that while Don cannot more effectively intervene in changing government, Al can more effectively intervene in changing pharmaceutical access for New Yorkers.

In my opinion it’s ok for both Don and Al to think that either the government or Walgreens or anything else could be better run than it is currently. It is also ok for both of them to think that the other one is wrong.

In my opinion it is not ok to call Sharpton lazy, illiterate, &etc because their evaluation of the best way to achieve their goals is different from mine, and it is especially not ok to do so in a racially risible way. (God forbid anyone step on the right of Cafe Hayek commenters to be ignorant racists, of course.)

It is ok, in my opinion, to call Brad illiterate for not understanding what he’s reading about, to call you lazy for summarizing Sharpton’s claims without actually paying attention to what they were, and to question Don’s choice of rhetoric for writing a letter to someone that is at face incredibly insulting.

GiT December 13, 2011 at 11:20 pm

Greg –
First, I was not criticizing Boudreaux, I was parodying Methinks statement. What I was criticizing was the idea that ‘whining’ or ‘lobbying’ or ‘teaching’ or ‘bitching’ about an issue is necessarily always a more efficient way for someone to achieve their goals than trying to achieve their goal directly. Division of labor, the use of information in society, etc. and etc. this should be familiar to you.

As to coercion…

Where does coercion enter the picture? Does Sharpton threaten government intervention? No. He points out that potential customters of Walgreens take a negative view of Walgreens if it cuts some of its services to them.

Is that coercion?

Well then great, you’ve just admitted voluntary economic transactions are coercive. Welcome to the left. Collect your George Soros provided totebag at the membership desk.

Invisible Backhand December 14, 2011 at 10:28 am

I’m always surprised how transparent arguments like Don’s are–as if someone with their hands on the controls of a backhoe to dig a ditch should hop down and dig the ditch with a spoon instead.

Al Sharpton has spent is life creating the levers of power he has, he should drop everything an open a pharmacy?

But Russ and Don are austrians, so we already know they try to dismiss the concept a multiplier. Don’t wan’t us little people banding together and forming packs, you know. Concentrated wealth is just fine and dandy with them though.

Invisible Backhand December 14, 2011 at 7:05 pm

Al Sharpton has spent is life creating the levers of power he has, he should drop everything an open a pharmacy?

I mean, c’mon guys! After spending a lifetime as a professional bloviating rent-seeker, he should drop everything and actually perform an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay?

g-dub December 15, 2011 at 12:10 am

GiT wrote: Ah, let me see if I can get this straight….
{snip}

Nope

Josh S December 14, 2011 at 8:29 am

I didn’t know you were unable to buy medicine unless someone bought it for you. Crazy times we live in.

Jeff Neal December 14, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Why is Walgreens obligated to serve any customers? They can put all of their stores on Rodeo Drive and Park Avenue if they like, can’t they? Are there any Tiffany’s in the zip codes Mr. Sharpton is worried about?

Freedom promises that you have the choice to buy your widgets or pharmaceuticals anywhere you like. Freedom does not promise you that Walgreens will make them available to you at a price you can afford.

GiT December 13, 2011 at 7:10 pm

Oh great, Don Boudreaux chiding an Al Sharpton for being lazy. And out from the peanut gallery come the allegations that Sharpton is a ‘shucking-jiving’ illiterate who can’t read maps.

I suppose Sharpton should respond with a deferential, ‘Yes, master,’ and go get to work doing what he’s told?

As always, it’s good to see the Southern Strategy is alive and well.

Jon Murphy December 13, 2011 at 7:55 pm

Don’t be a troll.

GiT December 13, 2011 at 8:16 pm

You want trolling, Jon?

Fred, implying Sharpton can’t speak properly: “Not giving dem free shit. Dey deserve free shit. Where’s dere free shit?”

Chucklehead, implying Sharpton is illiterate and stupid: “What makes you think he can read or reason?”

Vidyohs, describing Sharpton with a racist epithet: “Sharpton is doing very well for himself as a shucking jiving bag of gas.”

Brad, implying Shaprton can’t read maps: “Maybe Sharpton just isn’t good with zip codes, city names, or maps in general?”

kyle, using racial epithets: “Sharpton is the worse sort of Kingfish, race baiter, and poverty pimp.”

And what sparked it off? Well, let’s look at how Don characterizes Sharpton:

There’s no evidence of his entrepreneurial creativity.
There’s no evidence he spends his time usefully.
There’s no evidence he’s willing to take risks.
He has ‘ample energies’ (presumably because he isn’t using his energy.)
He doesn’t ‘contribute energy or resources.’
He ‘exerts insufficient effort.’

And what did Sharpton say in his letter to Walgreens’ CEO? Well, you can read it here. http://ww1.prweb.com/prfiles/2011/12/12/9034632/NAN.release.final.letter.pdf

Let me know if you find anything which insults Wasson. I don’t.

Pointing out trolling is not trolling.

Jon Murphy December 13, 2011 at 9:49 pm

So, because others do it, it’s ok for you? You should rise above trolling, not stoop to that level.

Shame on you, GiT. I expected more from you.

Lee Atwater December 13, 2011 at 10:12 pm

Have you seen Sharpton’s hair.

Had to be jumper cables.

GiT December 13, 2011 at 11:25 pm

I would expect better of myself if I didn’t say anything when people, intentionally or unintentionally, used obviously racist tropes in criticizing someone.

Chucklehead December 13, 2011 at 11:45 pm

GIT is a silly, incompetent, stupid, annoying, senile elderly or childish person.
Thats not an ad hominem, but the dictionary definition.

Chucklehead December 13, 2011 at 11:40 pm

I see no evidence that he can reason. The reading part was just a assumption and a joke. At the very least he is “one who will preach doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots.”

GiT December 13, 2011 at 11:58 pm

Yeah, it just happens to be a racist assumption and a racist joke.

No biggie.

Chucklehead December 14, 2011 at 3:55 pm

You are projecting your racism on others.

GiT December 14, 2011 at 4:15 pm

No, you’re saying things that come off as racist.

Does that mean you’re racist? No.

But how about you go to a meeting of a black church or student union or other community organization and joke about how you think Al Sharpton is probably an irrational illiterate who should stop wasting his energy and open up a pharmacy?

Think they’ll laugh?

No?

Maybe that’s because what you said is racist.

brotio December 14, 2011 at 12:10 am

implying Sharpton can’t speak properly

But resist, we much… we must… and we will much… about… that… be committed

vidyohs December 14, 2011 at 4:08 pm

Good job Brotio! :-)

Greg G December 14, 2011 at 7:20 am

GiT

I agree that some of the comments here contain ugly racial stereotypes but Don’s original post had none of that and I am confident he would have written that letter to anyone doing what Sharpton was doing.

Mesa Econoguy is right about how Sharpton launched his career with the most despicable type of race baiting in the Tawana Brawley case. He continued to trash the reputation of that ADA long past the point when Brawley’s story had been thoroughly debunked.

Sharpton has since become much more polished. But I am not buying his redemption story any more than I buy Gingrich’s.

Please stand down GiT and save your energy for a more worth issue.

GiT December 14, 2011 at 1:08 pm

Frankly the idea that this issue isn’t worthwhile is disturbing.

I don’t recall other letters by Boudreaux so starkly implying that someone is lazy and worthless.

Looking letters, to say Thomas Friedman, Glenn Hubbard, Samuel Loewenberg, Paul Krugman, just to name some recent ones: these people are attacked for being wrong, but they are not described as uncreative, useless, and essentially lazy (or, rather, having ‘ample energy’ because they ‘exert insufficient effort.’)

Why? I don’t know.

kyle8 December 13, 2011 at 7:55 pm

get off your high horse you left wing degenerate. Sharpton is the worse sort of Kingfish, race baiter, and poverty pimp. And you just took up for him, so you are not any better.

Lee Atwater December 13, 2011 at 10:14 pm

kyle8

Rush is the race baiter

Sharpton is the product of jumper cables

Greg Webb December 13, 2011 at 10:15 pm

HI Git!

brotio December 14, 2011 at 12:10 am

Al, and Don King are Buckwheat’s brothers.

Jeff Neal December 14, 2011 at 2:12 pm

No one accused Mr. Sharpton of being lazy and YOU are the only one so obsessed with race that you throw it into the discussion with such ugly connotations.

The professor merely suggested that the energy the reverend Mr. Sharpton was expending to attempt to force Walgreens to do something it has no obligation to do would be better expended doing for himself the things that Walgreens OUGHT to do. If the thing he wants Walgreens to do is a good thing, why does he want to let them get all the credit for it. He OUGHT to do it himself and with a group who might be able to capitalize the effort, probably to the tune of say $30 billion, Walgreens’ total market capitalization.

Sagittarius A December 13, 2011 at 7:25 pm

That’s very smart and facetious of you Don, but dishonest.

You know very well Al Sharpton isnt in the business of organizing supply chains and its cute but pointless to ask him to get into that line of business.

He specializes in drawing attention to social causes, like MANY other similar organizations. And these institutions do have value. Their job is to inform people, pressure other institutions, drive policy action, and otherwise fight for their causes, not to run Excel spreadsheets.

What you said applies in equal measures to every other advocay group in the world. Should we reorganize them all into supply chain consulting firms then?

Methinks1776 December 13, 2011 at 7:31 pm

He specializes in drawing attention to social causes, like MANY other similar organizations. And these institutions do have value. Their job is to inform people, pressure other institutions, drive policy action, and otherwise fight for their causes, not to run Excel spreadsheets.

In other words, Al Sharpton’s line of “work” is professional bitching.

Sagittarius A December 13, 2011 at 8:23 pm

Brevity is the mark of… well of those that don’t have very much to say. That say things but not much to be had in hearing what they say.Your comment isn’t really very impressive or intelligent. You just wrote that in hopes that it would be a kind of line in the sand, that it would make you look sharp and cool, but it’s mostly white noise. Bzzzzzzz. A mosquito in the air.

Methinks1776 December 13, 2011 at 8:56 pm

Yet, it inspired you to write an an entire paragraph.

g-dub December 15, 2011 at 12:20 am

Sagittarius A wrote: Brevity is the mark of… well of those that don’t have very much to say.

It’s also the mark of talking to a douchebag.

“Brevity is the soul of wit.”–Bill Shakespeare

vidyohs December 13, 2011 at 7:39 pm

Why not? It would at least put them on the productive side instead of the destructive side.

It is disingenuous to suggest that because the gas bag hasn’t done something in his past that it is impossible for him to do it now.

I can peer into the past and pick up this conversation from a pilgrim family: John says, “Yep Martha, I’d like to put you and the kids on that Mayflower and take you to the new world to escape the tyranny of the Church of England, but since we ain’t never done that before, we can’t do it now.” And they watch opportunity sail away while they do what they have always done.

Sharpton is a huckster, a useless huckster to all but the black takers of America, the reparation seekers of America; but, he could become an entrepreneur if he had real balls to answer Don’s challenge. Hell, he might even learn to work for a living.

Chucklehead December 13, 2011 at 11:33 pm

His specializes in rent seeking and demagogy.

Greg Webb December 13, 2011 at 8:08 pm

Nice letter, Don. Sharpton, like most leftist whiners, “demands” that everyone else do something to help the poor, while he he makes money off of his bitching and whining. Most leftist whiners, unlike Sharpton, cannot make any money on the poor and are just useful idiots to hucksters like Sharpton.

Ask not what your country can do for the poor. Ask what you can do to help the poor in your country.

Jon Murphy December 13, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Along those lines, Greg, I was reading a study that found conservatives/libertarians donate much more of their time/money to charity than liberals. When asked “why”, the first group responded with “it is my duty to help others. The second group responded “it is the government’s duty to help others.”

Greg Webb December 13, 2011 at 8:30 pm

I’ve read the same study. It’s right.

It is always the same old story with leftists. A leftist acquaintance from law school asked to borrow some money about 2 years after the bar exam. He had not saved any money to pay his federal income taxes. Two years later, he was telling me that I was not paying my fair share in income tax. What a dumb ass.

GiT December 13, 2011 at 8:41 pm

Ah yes, a study must be right if it matches your anecdotal evidence.

Greg Webb December 13, 2011 at 8:50 pm

You are part of that anecdotal evidence. So is muirgeo, Warren Buffet, Al Gore, the Clintons, Jimmy Carter, John Kerry, Steve Cohen, etc. Shall I continue with this list of famous bitchers who give not but complain that others should do instead?

Methinks1776 December 13, 2011 at 8:57 pm

And it must be wrong if it doesn’t match your Marxist narrative, eh git?

GiT December 13, 2011 at 9:25 pm

And once again Methinks arrives to respond to a point that no one has made.

Did I say the study is wrong or right?

Nope.

Do I think it’s wrong or right? From the studies I’ve seen they don’t control for some factors that may overstate the difference, but the findings seem compelling enough to me.

Does the study being right convince me that government is bad or that conservatives are morally superior to liberals? No. But then again the study has very little to do with either of those things.

Jon Murphy December 13, 2011 at 9:51 pm

“Did I say the study is wrong or right?

Nope.”

You made the same assumption with me. Is it wrong for Methinks to do so as well?

I didn’t say the study was right or wrong. I just said it existed.

GiT December 13, 2011 at 11:27 pm

That’s why I responded to Greg Webb’s comment that the study is right, and not your comment that the study exists.

Greg G December 13, 2011 at 8:50 pm

GW

That story explains a lot. Hey, can you loan me some money?

Greg Webb December 13, 2011 at 9:37 pm

No. You are a bad credit risk, Greg G.

Greg G December 13, 2011 at 9:47 pm

OK then GW. You leave me no choice but to steal your remaining liberties. I’m calling my congressman to make the arrangements right now.

Greg Webb December 13, 2011 at 10:01 pm

That’s great, Greg G. Your Congressman will undoubtedly (1) put pressure on the bank regulators to loosen credit standards so that even people like you who are poor credit risks get loans that they can’t pay back, (2) encourage the Federal Reserve to maintain easy monetary policies so that you can borrow money at low cost even though you are a high credit risk, and (3) create subsidies in tax and fiscal policy to encourage you and others to borrow from banks. And, that is how the boom and bust first begins.

William Heasley December 13, 2011 at 9:12 pm

“What have you [Rev. Al Sharpton] done to attract private capital to finance retail outlets? How have you helped to organize supply chains that get pharmaceuticals from factories to consumers at costs that make the on-going retail distribution of these products profitable at prices that also are affordable to low-income consumers“? – Donald J. Boudreaux

Now you’ve gone and done it…..asked Uncle Al an economic word question!

Hence Al is to ponder private capital formation, supply chain organization, and the organization and facilitation of actual production. Apparently Al will need to rethink the prevasive concept that items magically appear on shelves and conversely consider the allocation of scarce resources with alternative uses. Oh dear!

Is it not easier to notionally present products as magically appearing then argue the magic is merely not strong enough. That price is a function of magic. That Al’s command and control market, a non-market system based on Al’s narrow perception of property rights, is all organized around the rationing agent “magic”.

Hence when magic levels are out of equilibrium, mysticism is introduced as the balancing agent.

Therefore we arrive at the Al injunction: mysticism = equilibrium

-Or-

“…the historically important central puzzle of economics was to explain how independently acting people in an unplanned decentralized, private ownership economic system allocate their resources and, in particular, to explain how it is that the uses they seem to make of resources seem to be well coordinated”.
-Harold Demsetz

Dan Phillips December 13, 2011 at 11:19 pm

Great comment! I wish yours would have been the first comment. Then I wouldn’t have had to read all the claptrap that came before you.

anthonyl December 13, 2011 at 9:24 pm

Time to shut this guberment-offiseal wannabe down!
Jessie Jackson is the other one. Never hard anyone talk so much and say so little. ‘Cept a congressperson.

Gugen Petrosyan December 13, 2011 at 10:08 pm

Wallgreens getting out of Military Network. Military cannot afford to pay Walgreens for prescrepitons. To expensive. I think Al has a good point.

Greg Webb December 13, 2011 at 10:14 pm

Nope. Perhaps Walgreens can’t compete with Target or some other competitor in providing prescriptions. By getting out of the Military Network, Walgreens may be cutting its costs to the benefit of its shareholders, while Target is doing better by now being able to provide more prescriptions through the Military Network.

Lee Atwater December 13, 2011 at 10:16 pm

Bringing in the Gunslinger: Nicholas Wapshott on Keynes vs. Hayek video

http://ineteconomics.org/blog/inet/bringing-gunslinger-nicholas-wapshott-keynes-vs-hayek

GiT December 13, 2011 at 11:36 pm

The funniest thing about this post is that it’s based on a simple misreading of what Sharpton said and wrote. Sharpton never uses the word ‘underserving’, and he never says that communities are ‘underserved’ by Walgreens.

Sharpton says that Walgreens’ policy change will affect underserved communities. He does say that the change in policy will reduce the services available to Walgreens customers. But one firm reducing their services is not what makes a community underserved.

The communities will continue to be underserved, on Sharpton’s account, regardless of what Walgreens does, just as they will continue to be low-income, minority communities regardless of what Walgreens does.

Yergit_abrav December 14, 2011 at 4:11 pm

To be fair the purpose of don’s letter is to challenge the leftist assertion that businesses under serve anyone. What he is saying is that businesses are the ones doing the 99% of the work in delivering what real consumers need and want, not people like al who for the most part advocate for government to take from or otherwise force the private sector to do things.

GiT December 14, 2011 at 4:31 pm

I have no trouble understanding what Don is saying, I rarely do.

If Don wants to make a point about business never under-serving anyone, then perhaps he should have written a letter telling Al Sharpton that there are no such thing as underserved communities. If he wanted to say that whatever decision Walgreens makes, it will be a decision that is ultimately in the best interest of Walgreens customers, he should have said that. If he wanted to say that Walgreens has no obligation to provide anything to anyone if it isn’t sufficiently profitable, he should have said that.

Instead he wrote a letter accusing Al Sharpton of saying Walgreens underserves some communities (which Sharpton didn’t say), and attacking Sharpton as a lazy good-for-nothing who shouldn’t criticize anyone if he’s not willing to start up a pharmacy (or, one presumes any and every other potential service which might be lacking in a given community).

Ubiquitous December 14, 2011 at 6:55 pm

I have no trouble understanding what Don is saying…

You just have trouble convincing anyone else that you understand him.

GiT December 14, 2011 at 8:19 pm

I’m not really concerned if people who can’t read simple English don’t understand me.

Now, if you please, here’s an assignment:

Please explain the difference in use of the word ‘underserve’ in the following two sentences.

1. Walgreens’ change in policy will have negative effects on underserved, low-income, minority communities.

2. Walgreens’ change in policy underserves low-income, minority communities.

To help you out, here are some other examples that should help you pick out the difference.

Walgreens’ change in policy will lower the income of underserved, minority communities.

Walgreens’ change in policy will increase minority presence in underserved, low-income communities.

If you have any trouble understanding basic sentence structure in the future, let me know, and I’ll come up with some more assignments for you, fool.

KC December 14, 2011 at 12:28 am

Methinks, you make a great point, 1) To borrow my point from a previous discussion about Marion Barry–Sharpton would probably help the people in bad neighborhoods more by running a nice restaurant or another good business that families can go to… 2) As I wrote a few years ago in a review of Jesse Lee Peterson’s book, people like Sharpton and Jackson are still “respected” for their rabble-rousing not because of value they bring to people but because they bring cameras with them to a cause. If you think you’ve been wronged, you can be sure cameras will show up if Jackson or Sharpton show up.
http://caseylartigue.blogspot.com/2004/06/scam-yo-momma-reposted-by-request.html

Mr. Econotarian December 14, 2011 at 1:48 am

Facts about Express Scripts:

1) A Fortune 100 company
2) A pharmacy benefit manager that processes pharmaceutical claims for members at network pharmacies and provide services to manage drug plans for government agencies, corporations, and unions. One of their largest clients is the United States Department of Defense’s TRICARE program.
3) Express Scripts currently employs over 13,000.
4) New York state Attorney General Elliot Spitzer filed a lawsuit against Express Scripts alleging that the company had kept tens of millions of dollars in drug rebates owed to the state.
5) In 2008 the company settled the lawsuit, agreeing to pay $9.3 million to Pennsylvania and 28 other states to resolve claims of deceptive business practices.
6) A pharmacy benefit manager is basically a middleman whose job is to keep prescription drug costs down for insurers and employers. It negotiates with drugstores and drug companies to get the lowest price for clients.
7) Walgreen Co., the nation’s largest drugstore chain, wants what it says is a fair reimbursement rate. Express Scripts, which is on the verge of becoming the largest pharmacy benefit manager, says Walgreen is asking for too much.

david nh December 14, 2011 at 8:41 am

Well played, Don.

tms December 14, 2011 at 9:51 am

This is one of my favorites. Well done. Needs to go viral.

DanR December 14, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Dr Boudreaux,

I agree with the points you make. It’s unfortunate though, that Walgreen’s CEO didn’t make the response. Countenancing Mr Sharpton’s extortion only serves to increase the returns (“profits”) he earns for this conduct, guaranteeing more of it in the future.

Keep up the great work @ CafeHayek.

Jeff Neal December 14, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Walgreens’ total market capitalization of approximately $35 billion did not materialize from thin air, reverend Mr. Sharpton. As the professor points out via his list of things Walgreens has had to to to make pills and suppositories appear behind their counter (just next to $3.49 ethnic hair products, $1.29 paper towels and $.99 candy bars, etc.) this kind of operation is the result of billions of independent untraceable decisions about the most effective use of capital and labor. It has resulted in a situation where for $1.29 you get a Milky Way AND implicit therein you get the benefit of the trillions of dollars it took to deliver it there to you. HUH? you say, trillions? Yes, trillions. Add Walgreens market cap to that of Mars Candy, Pfizer, Merck (and every other company who has a product on offer in that store) and it’s AT LEAST multi-trillions of dollars. You can’t buy just the fraction of Mars Candy, Inc that made your Milky Way, you are paying for your tiny fraction of what took for every thing around that Milky Way to appear there, because that’s the beauty of Walgreens (and 7-11 and Kroger and Federal Express and . . .)

When will you learn, reverend Mr. Sharpton that stuff doesn’t happen because you have a camera and a microphone; stuff happens because, to paraphrase Milton Friedman, millions and millions of men and women, almost all of whom don’t even know of the existence of the rest and many of whom would hate each other if they ever met face-to-face, in their own way, free of coercion, contributed to that Milky Way’s being there for you last Wednesday at 2:43 a.m., exactly when you wanted it there – for a mere $1.29. And you want the government to fine tune that for you without disturbing its intricate and delicate balance. Hands off, sir!

To borrow from A Few Good Men – “I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it! I would rather you just said “Thank you,” and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post.”

Freedom, Milky Ways . . . same thing. Pay the $1.29 and say Thank you, or, I suggest you go find a trillion dollars and make one for yourself next time.

Jon Murphy December 14, 2011 at 2:40 pm

As usual, Jeff, your post is both informative and entertaining.

Jeff Neal December 14, 2011 at 3:59 pm

Merci.

New and improved version (couple typos fixed and one or two more jokes) to appear shortly on http://www.athirdvoice.wordpress.com

Enjoy

Jon Murphy December 14, 2011 at 4:01 pm

Would you object if I re-posted this on my own blog (with a link to your blog and credit, of course)?

Jeff Neal December 14, 2011 at 4:47 pm

Please do. No objection and you have license to do it anytime in the future. Thanks for asking.

here’s the short link to most recent post – http://wp.me/p1jTK0-bz

Jon Murphy December 14, 2011 at 4:49 pm

Thank you sir. I hope the 5 people who read my blog will now get into yours!

Greg Webb December 14, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Excellent! Just excellent!

Jeff Neal December 14, 2011 at 4:48 pm

Thank you. Spread the word. It’s not financial (not that I think you would mind) – just trying to get more people thinking about freedom

Jeff Neal December 14, 2011 at 4:49 pm

Today’s post – http://wp.me/p1jTK0-bz

Brian December 14, 2011 at 2:50 pm

This is an elephant crushing an ant. Al Sharpton is no expert on anything economics related; at best, he is an expert on stoking racial tensions. Why waste your time directing your energies toward his nonsense?

John Donnelly December 14, 2011 at 7:17 pm

Ok, I’ll be your huckleberry. I know that most of the commenters are your fanboys (and girls) so I will take the Sharpton side.

Professor Boudreaux is like a father in his disciplining of the complainer with the old argument, “if you aren’t part of the solution, you are part of the problem” or “what? are your legs broken”. His argument is likened to telling an art critic to “grab a brush”!

Unfortunately Professor Boudreaux is not helpful in this case simply because the good Reverend is not in the business of distributing pharmaceuticals and he needn’t be. Nor does Rev Sharpton need to be an economist to express his opinion about Walgreens and their distribution and pricing policies from his social utility point of view.

Chucklehead has it right, Sharpton is just doing his job, complaining on behalf of those he deems to need his help and who don’t enjoy his level of influence. Rev. Sharpton’s attempt to sway a large corporation to do (hopefully mutually beneficial) business to help his community is a very rational thing to do given his unique assets and abilities.

I can go on about the good Reverend’s assets and how he leverages them but that is another debate.

Josh S December 16, 2011 at 10:38 am

Walgreens’ doesn’t need to be in the business of distributing pharmaceuticals in any particular place, either. It’s not as though an angel descended from heaven and bequeathed Walgreen’s with the solemn, exclusive duty of distributing pharmaceuticals everywhere and to everyone, yea and amen.

Carl Wilson December 26, 2011 at 11:42 am

Two years ago in Denver, Walgreed wouldn’t give a mother asthma medicine for her little 9 year old boy, because she was poor and on Medicaid. Nobody at Walgreen would help her or her little boy and now he is dead. What kind of Christmas did you have Mr. Wasson? Here is a picture of that little boy who didn’t get to open any presents with his family at Christmas.

Hal December 27, 2011 at 5:16 pm

Did you do anything for that 9 year old? What kind of Christmas did you have?

Allen Farnsworth December 26, 2011 at 5:20 pm

Walgreed says it will give the Department of Defense a better deal for the men and women in uniform. We know what kind of deal you are already giving the government for poor people on Medicaid. Hey, Greg Wasson, are you working for Al Qaeda? Are you trying to hurt our troops just like you are hurting poor folks?

Hal December 27, 2011 at 5:18 pm

How is Greg Wasson hurting poor folks? Walgreen, like many many retailers, help drive down prices, helping poor folks.

Don Boudreaux December 13, 2011 at 9:10 pm

Smack-on correct, Methinks.

vikingvista December 14, 2011 at 2:16 am

Which comment?

Chucklehead December 14, 2011 at 2:43 am

My guess is “In other words, Al Sharpton’s line of “work” is professional bitching.” At least that is my favorite, since it is succinct and accurate.

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