As the company’s misdeeds pile up in the public consciousness, it can be tempting to define the problem of Wal-Mart as one of a bad apple—a rogue company gone awry in an otherwise sound economic system.
Wal-Mart has indeed attained a scale that puts it in a category all its own, and there’s no question that it is leading a race to the bottom. But others are running that race too. Target’s wages are as poor and its health benefits as out of reach. Home Depot and Lowe’s have crushed thousands of independent hardware stores. Best Buy has its main sourcing office Shanghai, where it relies on the same dismal factories.