Walmart: Green or Greed? Part II

Last week on Sea Change Radio, we spoke with Stacy Mitchell, a researcher and author who believes that Walmart’s sustainability efforts over the past five or six years have only disguised, not improved the tremendous detrimental effects caused by the world’s largest retailer. This week, we hear from a business and sustainability reporter who has a different perspective on Walmart’s green campaign. Marc Gunther thinks that while Walmart still has a long way to go to become a truly responsible corporation, the company’s work in this area represents important steps in the right direction. Gunther and host Alex Wise discuss the parallels of Walmart and Apple’s supply chain troubles including slave-like labor conditions in China, and look at the Walmart situation from both a management and consumer perspective. After hearing both Stacy Mitchell last week and Marc Gunther this week, Sea Change Radio invites you to draw your own conclusions about this retail giant.

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One Response to “Walmart: Green or Greed? Part II”

  1. Mark Gunther is a thoroughgoing corporate whore. Know how to tell a corporate whore? A corporate whore will admit that corporations sometimes do bad things, but can never actually call a bad actor by name, since any bad actor is a potential client whose image the corporate whore can proceed to clean up.

    Although the corporate whore’s lips are always sealed when it comes to naming bad actors, they never have any trouble rattling off lists of good corporate citizens, invariably including their own clients and those who have retained similar operatives, (like Nike, which Gunther does name, which famously hired Andrew Young to burnish its image).

    Typicaally, the corporate whore will say that the cure for corporate misbehavior is to praise the corporations that have the visions to hire folks like him/her, rather than to boycott, organize labor unions, impose legal restrictions or withdraw the corporate welfare and public subsidies that his clients receive. Praising the corporations, not pressuring them, the corporate whore will invariably tell us, is the way to get them to do good stuff. Mr. Gunther did this too.

    The corporate whore will praise the “efficiency” of corporations, although that supposed efficiency is often little more than the ability to offload costs upon the environment and disempowered workers and people in remote parts of the world, or their facility in securing the free use of public resources, tax breaks and public funds. The truthful term for this isn’t “efficiency.” It’s more like predation and rape of the natural world, the vicious suppression of labor and human rights, and the bribery of public officials with corporate campaign contributions.

    Finally, the corporate whore will always pooh-pooh the very ideas of alternative visions to corporate dominance of society. Gunther said repeatedly that he could not imagine a world where companies like Wal-Mart didn’t call the shots. He and his clients, Gunther was telling us, are the boundaries and limits of the world, and we mustn’t dare try to visualize how we might make the world work without them.

    I think Sea Change Radio would do well to give less space to folks like Gunther, who can get plenty of time on CNN or ABC or whatever corporate outlet they (and their clients) like, and spend more time telling the sometimes difficult truth about the world as it is, and helping us to begin to visualize the world as we would have it.

    Great show, by the way, except for that Gunther episode.