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Sic Semper Tyrannis

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Guess Who's Against Cheaper Prescriptions?

That's right. The state of Wisconsin.

The archaic minimum markup law, the same one that makes us pay higher gas prices that our neighboring states, is also blocking Target's attempts to sell prescriptions at $4 because it violates this relic of a pricing law left over from the Depression era.

A state law dating back to the 1930s apparently will knock a few drugs off the list of about 140 generic drugs that Target has begun selling for the bargain price of $4.

Wisconsin's Unfair Sales Act, or minimum markup law, bars retailers from selling products at below cost. The law prevents Target from selling 16 drugs, or specific dosages of a drug, at the $4 price in Wisconsin.

That's out of more than 300 items - when different dosages of the generic drugs are taken into account - included in the discount program.

Target Corp. could not be reached late Wednesday. But its Web site lists the drugs or dosages that are priced higher than $4 because of laws in Wisconsin and nine other states. The company began offering the discount program at all of its stores on Monday.

Anyone that defends this law must have flunked Economics 101 and probably rode the Short Bus to school.

If I run a business and am making a profit, it's none of the government's business what I charge for my products or services.

Wal-Mart has a similar program but it has not come to Wisconsin yet. Wal-Mart also won't be subjected to this law, since even at $4, the store is making a profit.

But Gov. Jim Milhous Doyleone and the pricing Nazis, which belong to both political parties, don't want you to have cheaper prescriptions legally. Don Doyleone would rather you buy them illegally from Canuckistan.

Why do I blame both parties? Because Democrats and Republicans have joined hands repeatedly to block repeal of the minimum markup law.

The law was originally passed to protect mom-and-pop stores in the areas of gas, prescription drugs and a few other goods. Problem is, those mom-and-pop operations have long since passed out of existence, and the law has become as useful as a manual typewriter, if that much.

It needs to be repealed and let the market determine the fair price. As we learned from the great Milton Friedman, the market always works.