Friday, July 02, 2010

Wal-Mart Deserves the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize

From a 2008 NPR report "The Supermarket Revolution Moves Into Honduras":

"If somebody says "developing-world food market," what comes to mind? Maybe a street filled with fruit, vegetable and meat stands, like one in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. But another kind of market is taking over in Honduras: the supermarket.  Paiz, one of two supermarket chains in Honduras owned by Wal-Mart, is as bright and clean as any in the U.S. The number of Paiz stores is growing fast.

Supermarket sales in Honduras have been increasing by about 20 percent a year. Luis Alfonso Andino, who's in charge of vegetable shipments at one Paiz store in Tegucigalpa, says the growth is because customers know the food from the supermarkets won't make them sick.

High in the hills, near the town of Lepaterique, Vicente Sanchez ticks off the crops that his farmers cooperative grows: carrots, lettuce, cauliflower, cilantro. They all go straight to Wal-Mart. Sanchez's cooperative signed a deal with the chain, with the help of a Swiss aid organization called Swisscontact.   "Whatever we plant, we know that it's already sold before we plant it," he says. "Before, we'd plant things without knowing whether we had a buyer, and we used to lose out."

Edward Bresnyan, an agricultural economist at the World Bank office in Honduras, says the deals between farmers and supermarkets help fuel the economy. That translates to better roads and cell phones, so that farmers can find out where they can get the best prices.

For the farmers in Lepaterique, it's working pretty well so far. Some of them arrived at the Wal-Mart supply center in the outskirts of Tegucigalpa driving a pickup truck loaded with broccoli, green beans and carrots. Wal-Mart manager Gabriel Chiriboga looked pleased. Within 24 hours, shoppers will see those vegetables on supermarket shelves. And some of the money that they spend will flow back to the small — but well-connected — village."

MP: According to a recent fact sheet from Wal-Mart, it now operates 53 retail stores in Honduras, including seven Paiz supermarkets, and it employs more than 2,500 associates.  Wal-Mart has also been responsible for introducing  a "wide range of recycling, energy preservation and residual water treatment programs" in Honduras. 

Contrary to all of the criticism from groups like "Wake-Up Wal-Mart" that Wal-Mart destroys local businesses and depresses local communities with low wages and sub-standard benefits, violates labor laws and safety standards, engages in gender discrimination, etc., much of the evidence seems exactly the opposite:

In Honduras, Wal-Mart has helped stimulate local farmers and local communities, helped increase safety standards for food, created thousand of good-paying jobs, helped improve the distribution infrastructure with better roads, introduced environmentally-friendly practices like recycling and energy conservation, etc. 

Bottom Line: For all of its efforts to raise the standard of living in countries like Honduras, and help to lift millions of people out of poverty, I nominate Wal-Mart for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.

HT: C. August

9 Comments:

At 7/02/2010 11:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree completely. My standard of living has been raised significantly by WalMart.

 
At 7/02/2010 12:44 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Well it just might be better to work for Walmart than to work for the state of California...

From the Sacramento Bee: Schwarzenegger orders minimum wage for state workers...

ROFLMAO!

 
At 7/03/2010 2:17 AM, Blogger Ron H. said...

juandos said: - "From the Sacramento Bee: Schwarzenegger orders minimum wage for state workers..."

Oh wow. Now I'm really torn. On the one hand, I'd like for those clowns to quit their state jobs, but I wouldn't want them to go to work at Wal-Mart.

 
At 7/03/2010 7:30 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"On the one hand, I'd like for those clowns to quit their state jobs, but I wouldn't want them to go to work at Wal-Mart"...

Dang Ron H. but I found that comment funny!!

The last thing one wants to deal with is a 'DMV attitude' while waiting to check out a cart load off stuff at Walmart...:-)

 
At 7/03/2010 8:14 AM, Anonymous gettingrational said...

How can replacing local farmer's markets with Wal-Mart be deserving of a Nobel Prize? Obviously new standards are in place for even considering such a weird scenario.

BTW, does anyone remember all the U.S. flags on displays at Wal-Marts, especially around the Fourth of July, to highlight U.S. made products?

 
At 7/03/2010 10:44 AM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"The last thing one wants to deal with is a 'DMV attitude' while waiting to check out a cart load off stuff at Walmart...:-)"

Sam Walton felt the same way. He estimated that a loyal customer would spend $200k at Wal-Mart in their lifetime. Any employee who sends that money somewhere else by upsetting customers is quickly dis-employed.

He famously said: - "The customer is the most important person here. They can fire everyone from the chairman of the board on down, by taking their money elsewhere."

He called it "voting with your feet".

 
At 7/03/2010 12:08 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

gettingrational said...

"How can replacing local farmer's markets with Wal-Mart be deserving of a Nobel Prize? Obviously new standards are in place for even considering such a weird scenario."

Well, yes, I'm sure new standards are in place. Consider recent recipients:

Al Gore, IPCC, Barack Obama

None of those seem any more deserving than Wal-Mart, so there must be something about the selection process we don't understand.

 
At 7/03/2010 2:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

@gettingrational "How can replacing local farmer's markets with Wal-Mart be deserving of a Nobel Prize? "

did you read the article did you miss the part where the farmer's coop has contracts with WalMart that guarantees what they grow will be bought. as one farmer noted in the past they didn't know if what they grew would be bought. The citizens know the food in the Paiz store is fresh, clean and won't make them sick, concerns they apparently had with the farmers' market.
But don't worry the Nobel committee would never deign to award the prize to a company that fully exemplifies what the free enterprise system can do for the common man. they would rather award it to a failed politician who spread lies about the climate and to a sitting president who has not accomplished anything

 
At 7/03/2010 2:28 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

By the way, one of the nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 was Irena Sendler, a woman who saved the lives of more than 2500 Jewish babies and children during WWII in Warsaw. she was eventually arrested and tortured by the Gestapo, but never betrayed her co-conspirators. If anyone deserved significant recognition, she did. But no, the prize went to Al Gore. Obviously the Nobel Peace Prize is a ridiculous, meaningless joke. Irena died in 2008 at age 98.

In my opinion, the world would be a better place with more Irena Sendlers, and fewer Al Gores.

 

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