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October 20, 2005


Kerry Candaele

I once had a professor, a Czech dissident who had fled his country in 1968 when the Russians invaded to crush the reform movement in his country, ask a class full of students what the major problems with the world are. One person raised his hand and said the killing of baby seals. Ivan Svitak, a good democratic socialist and humanist, put his hands to his head and almost shouted, "The Czechs are the baby seals of Europe." The point being that his naive American student was missing where the action was. I thought of this when I heard the news about Wal-Mart's love fest with organic cotton--is there an easier way to get liberal environmentalists to swoon than to tell them we will use organic cotton for some of our clothes? In the meantime, it will still not allow unions to operate in our stores, it will still pay less than living wages, it will still not provide adequate health care policies, it will still, in a word, be Wal-Mart at its core. Having just returned from China in June, where I interviewed workers in Wal-Mart supplier factories for Robert Greenwald's movie, let me just say that the day Wal-Mart moves forward on a vigours program for improving people's lives who work for them, either in their stores or in their factories, I will remain skeptical. A little green on Lee Scott's lapel will not quite get it. And quoting an environmental activist who has gone into the deep swoon is not evidence of anything. Let' wait and see what Scott and friends produce, and keep pushing, organizing, agitating while we're waiting for the great leap forward.


Interesting development.
But the China stats are even more impressive/worse (depending on your viewpoint).
As explained in my article (thanks for the trackbacks, btw), Wal-Mart exports account for 1 in every 42 dollars of industrial PRODUCTION in China, not industrial exports.

Cheers, Mark

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