When a supremely evil corporation takes some steps to mitigate or change its evil ways, does that change the fact that the corporation is evil? Can corporate responsibility ever be anything but a PR-motivated sham? Can we appreciate the actual changes for workers and the environment even as we remain skeptical and critical of the company's once and future practices?
That's what I'm thinking about after reading in today's New York Times about some new policies at retailing behemoth and quintessential bad company Wal-Mart. Also in today's Times: high-prices-every-day Whole Foods, which busts unions and markets deceptively but has made healthy food much more accessible overall (albeit only to the privileged few who can afford to shop there), is banning plastic bags. (For a full picture of the crazy good-evil mix that is Whole Foods, read my imaginary intellectual boyfriend Michael Pollan's multipart exchange with WF CEO John Mackey.)