I could not have said it any better than Fazil Mihlar of the Vancouver Sun. Choice excerpt:
CONSIDER THAT WAL-MART:
- Provides employment to 1.9 million people; the best defence against poverty is a job.
- Creates thousands of job opportunities for people in developing countries like China and India; this keeps hunger at bay in many households.
- Doles out hundreds of millions of dollars each year in dividends that help fund the retirement of millions of people; the company had sales in excess of $348 billion and a net profit of $11.3 billion in 2007.
- Sells food, clothing and other necessities to Canadians, Americans and others at prices that are 15 to 25 per cent below what other supermarkets charge; this helps millions of low-income families stretch their dollars.
While Wal-Mart's primary intent is not to do all the aforementioned social good, what it has done and is doing is raising the living standards of millions of families around the world.
So if we are concerned about consequences and not just intentions, doesn't Wal-Mart deserve the peace prize?
Two quick points:
1. I love that the author makes the important distinction between intentions and consequences, which is a point that cannot be stressed enough.
2. I also love that the case is for the Peace Prize. To the extent that Wal-Mart (and market capitalism more generally) have both encouraged people to deal with each other on the basis of voluntary exchange rather than force and have raised the standard of living so greatly, especially of the poor, they have made the world a more peaceful place. And in the long run, their contributions to peace are probably far greater and longer-lasting than the politicians and social missionaries who normally get the Prize.
Having spent some time in (The People's State of) British Columbia, I confess my great surprise at seeing this in a Vancouver paper. I can't wait to see the letters to the editor on this one.