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October 25, 2023

‘Pharmacy Deserts,’ Courtesy of Democrats

Thanks to growing crime, pharmacies are closing stores in low-income neighborhoods.

The Washington Post recently presented an all-too-typical example of leftist cognitive dissonance when it comes to the root of social problems. In an article titled “Drugstore closures are leaving millions without easy access to a pharmacy,” the Post observes the legitimate and concerning problem of the nation’s largest pharmacies closing hundreds of stores over the last couple of years.

“After decades of expansion,” the Post reports, “the nation’s largest drugstore chains are closing hundreds of stores.” The paper then goes on to list a variety of factors leading to these closings, including “rising competition, a crush of opioid lawsuits,” and the conveniently ambiguous “other forces.”

“According to our estimates, about one in four neighborhoods are pharmacy deserts across the country,” says University of Southern California associate professor Dima Qato in the article. “These closures are disproportionately affecting communities that need pharmacies most.”

We suppose judging which community most needs a pharmacy compared to another is debatable. Demographically speaking, the average age of a given community or neighborhood would likely play a bigger role than would race. But with Leftmedia outlets like the Post, everything is seen through the lens of race.

Indeed, the Post soon injects its leftist critical race theory narrative into the story, explaining that those most impacted by pharmacies leaving just happen to be “Black, Latinx [sic] and low-income” neighborhoods.

The article goes on to list how each of the big three pharmacy chains — Rite Aid, Walgreens, and CVS — have all been reducing their number of stores. Just under a decade ago, these chains accounted for 64,000 stores across the country. Now, they are contracting, citing economic reasons. Rite Aid, which has lost $1 billion leading up to filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy, recently announced it’s planning on closing 154 stores, leaving it with fewer than 2,000. Rite Aid cited lawsuits related to the opioid epidemic as a leading cause.

Walgreens and CVS are shuttering stores as well, with the former planning on closing 150 this year, and the latter well on its way to closing 900 of its stores, which it first announced in 2021.

After citing these numbers, the Post notes that while pharmacies have been moving out of low-income neighborhoods that are majority black and Hispanic, they have been moving into middle- and higher-income neighborhoods that are predominately white. “Public health experts are concerned this redistribution could worsen long-standing racial and economic disparities in health care outcomes, too,” says the Post. “It’s what [Morgan State University public health professor Lorece] Edwards calls the ‘urban health penalty.’”

Why is this shift away from low-income neighborhoods to middle- and upper-class neighborhoods happening? The Post implies without naming it that the reason is their favorite bogeyman, “racism.” But that avoids the elephant in the room.

Businesses primarily exist to make a profit, and these pharmacies operate in low-income neighborhoods to sell their products and services. The obvious reason for closing up shop and leaving has everything to do with not turning a profit.

But why might they not be turning a profit? The Post blames 40-year-high inflation as a significant factor, but high inflation isn’t relegated to just low-income neighborhoods. So, leave it to a British tabloid, The Daily Mail, to pinpoint the inconvenient data point — crime.

Pharmacies are leaving low-income neighborhoods because rampant crime, specifically shoplifting and looting, has become a growing problem over the last few years. Capital One Research found that stores in 2022 lost an estimated $86.6 billion to retail theft. Drugstores have repeatedly been the target of shoplifting mobs — so much so that in places like San Francisco, store shelves are either empty or goods are kept behind locked plexiglass.

Excusing crime such as theft will only lead to more of it. Communities that have been most negatively impacted by crime are lower-income black and Hispanic communities, but culture, not color, is to blame. When a community not only tolerates but celebrates and lionizes criminals as the real victims, then it’s not shocking when criminal activity increases.

Furthermore, when law enforcement is demonized as the villains, it will result in fewer cops and more crime. Then as crime rises, the law-abiding leave if possible.

Bad government is to blame, as a good government would have held criminals responsible and punished them for their crimes in an effort to minimize their negative impact on the wider community. Blaming society, corporations, or big pharmacy companies for pulling out of crime-ridden neighborhoods by suggesting that racism is motivating them is an effort to shame the wise for avoiding the folly suffered by fools.

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