It's a thought-provoking, well-written, well-researched (as far as I can tell) and clearly provocative piece. I hope you'll check it out, whatever your opinion might be of Walmart. One section sort of jumped out at me:
China is the most populous country, with 1.3 billion people, most still poor enough to willingly move hundreds of miles from home for jobs that would be shunned by anyone with better prospects.
If we care about alleviating global poverty we need to take this fact seriously. Without Wal-Mart, about half a million of these people each year would be stuck in rural poverty that is, for most of them, far worse than sweatshop labor.It's that last part that sort of jumped out at me. Is rural poverty really worse than sweatshop labor? Maybe it is - I don't know anything about either, to be honest. I can only speculate, and I'm reluctant to even do that. But it seems to me the author makes an unproven assertion, that a sweatshop worker is better off than a farm laborer, because the sweatshop worker makes twice as much money. Is that really the way to assess the situation - in dollars (or Yuan)?
Maybe that is indeed the case, and 100M Chinese people who left farms for cities seem to indicate it's true. Maybe sweatshop labor is better than rural poverty. I realize subsistence farming isn't all idyllic and lovely. But I'm not convinced sweatshop labor is really a step up. Maybe it's because I'm desperately hoping for a third alternative. Maybe it's because I don't know enough about either situation. I just have a hunch there's something missing in this equation.