The interests opposing Measure 7 on the November ballot – and by “interests” I mean rich pharmacy owners who want to keep North Dakota closed off to competition – are touting a study by the Institute for Local Self Reliance. This group argues that North Dakota’s pharmacy protectionism, which prevents North Dakotans from choosing pharmacies like Walgreens, Target or Walmart, is actually good for the state.
You can read their argument here.
But who is this group that the anti-Measure 7 pharmacy special interests are touting?
Looking at their website, it doesn’t seem like this group represents much agriculture-and-energy rich North Dakotans would like. They’re anti-fossil fuel, for one thing. They’re seem to favor people raising their own food in their homes as opposed to for-profit farming.
Oh, and did I mention that their founder is apparently a socialist?
Mr. Neil Seldman founded the institute in the 1970’s. In 2002 he gave a speech to Cornell, his alma matter, where he railed against capitalism:
Seldman had much criticism for capitalism.
“The nature of capitalism hasn’t [fundamentally] changed,” Seldman said. “Globalization has changed it in terms of the amount of volume and debt, but no country or economy is safe [from capitalism].”
He added that capitalism is “in the same light as a monster that is insatiable.”
“A free market economy ends democracy,” Seldman said. “It becomes one dollar, one vote instead of one person, one vote.”
Seldman went on his his speech to praise Robert Owen, one of the founders of the utopian socialism movement.
It shouldn’t surprise us, I suppose, that socialists and anti-capitalists would be against a free market for pharmacies in North Dakota, but it is surprising that North Dakota pharmacists would be enlisting these sort of ideological extremists to make their case.
What is kind of ironic is that North Dakota’s current pharmacy law does let some big pharmacy chains in. Companies like CVS and Thrifty White Drug have numerous locations in the state, and the latter of those two has spent over $58,000 according to disclosure reports fighting Measure 7.
Because this isn’t really about small-town pharmacists versus big box stores. This is about existing corporate pharmacies wanting to block competition from other corporations.