by Max Brantley
Conservative think tanks have helpfully ginned out op-eds in support of Wal-Mart, which is facing organized opposition over labor and trade practices.
Here's a shocker: The NY Times discovers that Walton foundation money is supporting the outfits producing these glowing tributes. It is alll strictly unbiased, mind you.
It is just as taint-free as the Walton money's purchase of the University of Arkansas, which set up a department to espouse the Waltons' education ideas and which also has been picked to review the success of Walton-financed programs in the Little Rock School District. It is strictly aboveboard. The Walton money and political outlook have had no impact on the university, the people the Walton money hired or the LR school district, which received the Walton money. You can take it from, er, to, the bank. The policy thrust of the Waltons' tax-advantaged spending (in other words, other taxpayers subsidize it through the tax deductions the Waltons receive on their contributions to the foundation, though used for essentially political purposes) is noted in the article.
Last year, the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, a research and watchdog group, published a report, “The Waltons and Wal-Mart: Self-Interested Philanthropy,” that warned of the potential influence their vast wealth gives them.
But Rick Cohen, executive director of the group, said he was more concerned about the role the Walton foundation’s money might play in shaping public policy in areas like public education, where it has supported charter schools and voucher systems.