Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Walden meets Wal-Mart

Arizona State is launching a School of Sustainability, the first of its kind. It’s big -- millions of dollars. It even includes a Decision Theater -- some type of 3D hologram future predictor that kind of sounds like the room the X-men train in.

I was reading about this in today’s Christian Science Monitor with interest when I was floored by this sentence: “The university is attracting donors and business people, including heiress Julie Ann Wrigley and Rob Walton, chairman of Wal-Mart, who last month agreed to chair the board of ASU's Institute of Sustainability.”

Walton of Wal-Mart as the chairman of the board of the Institute of Sustainability? Somewhere Walden of Walden is rolling over in his grave.

I don’t want to enter a debate here if Wal-Mart is good or Evil? I know they sell the most blood diamonds, employ cheap labor at home and overseas, and drive small companies out of business. But I would have trouble bemoaning these not-so-good things to someone from small town USA who makes $5.15/hour at the local 711 and Wal-Mart is the only game in town.

So, on this issue I’ll plead moral neutrality. What got me about this story is that most hard core, and even not-so-hardcore, environmentalists hate Wal-Mart (the whole Wal-Mart is the devil thing) and I just can’t imagine Walton of Wal-Mart being received with much less than an environmentally-friendly, organic lynching.

(Note: On google images I searched for “Wal-Mart devil” and up popped this photo promoting an anti-Wal-mart movie showing on the campus of Arizona State. How ironic is that?)

I hope things work out. I think that it is in our best interest if people with good ideas and the Earth’s interests in mind hang out with billionaires.

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