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Interesting column by Neal St. Anthony in Minnesota's Star Tribune suggesting that Wal-Mart, long derided for what is perceived by some as paying too little money and providing too few benefits to employees, "may be evolving into a model corporate citizen."

The premise of the column is that while Wal-Mart indeed may compensate its employees at a rate slightly below the national average (according to an independent analysis by the Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota), the savings available to Wal-Mart's shoppers more than offsets the discrepancy.

And, according to the column, "Liberal economist Robert Reich, a Clinton Cabinet secretary, says Wal-Mart has played hardball but mostly by the rules in building clout among suppliers, cutting prices and importing -- even as it directed low-wage employees to government-subsidized health plans. If we don't like that, we should change the rules, Reich said."

And, the piece notes, Wal-Mart has "expanded health insurance coverage, improved employee relations, soared as an environmental/energy-conservation leader and otherwise responded to critics."

KC's View: