Stacy Mitchell did a bang-up job earlier this week of explaining why Wal-Mart and other big-box stores could never actually be green.
But if you need a more wide-ranging reminder of Wal-Mart’s deep and abiding loathsomeness, check out Jeffrey Goldberg’s article in the latest New Yorker: “Selling Wal-Mart: Can the company co-opt liberals?” If you’ve been awake the past few years, you’re already familiar with many of the criticisms, but they’re neatly packaged up here with a big brown bow on top.
Carl Pope of the Sierra Club, quoted toward the end of the article, sums up some of the key points nicely:
“You can’t be a good progressive and support Wal-Mart because Wal-Mart is saving money on energy — that’s all they’ve done so far,” [Pope] said. …
Environmentalists, he said, should not be swayed by cost savings alone. “You can’t say that they have a good business model. Their model is efficient. Henry Ford used efficiency to raise standards, to bring his workers into the middle class. Wal-Mart has that choice. Their game is to say that there’s no other way to be efficient. But they’ve driven down wages across the retail industry, and they don’t have to, in order to be profitable.”
Pope cited Costco, the chief rival to Sam’s Club, Wal-Mart’s membership warehouse. “Costco pays their workers well” — the average wage at Costco is $17.46 an hour — “and we know they’re profitable.”