Wal-Mart giveth, and Wal-Mart taketh away

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Wal-Mart is selling more and more incredibly cheap generic drugs, now including $9 a pop for generic tri-cyclic birth control pills. Their prices are cheaper than the prices I got through my old health insurance. (Haven't filled anything up on the new insurance yet.)

At teh same time, they take a huge beating for the wages they pay their workers, and the alleged stinginess of their health care plans. But these two things are flip sides of the same coin: they can afford to provide cheap drugs in part because they have a flexible and inexpensive labor force.

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Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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