Tuesday, October 17, 2006
I’ve written many times that land use law is not an effective way to deal with perceived problems outside of land use, such as complaints about the labor practices of Wal-Mart. But some go further and contend that Wal-Mart is a force for good in the world. John Tierney, the quirkily conservative columnist for the New York Times, suggested today that no organization has done more to pull people out of poverty than Wal-Mart, largely through providing decent factory wages in poor countries to people who otherwise would be living in abject rural poverty, and through low-cost goods in the developed world. He suggests that the Nobel Peace Prize this year should have gone to Wal-Mart, instead of Bangladesh’s Grameen Bank, which provides micro-credit to help poor farmers. Perhaps it’s my affluent American bias, but I can’t fully swallow the argument that it’s always better to take a factory job than to stay on a poor third-world farm.