“People need the well-being of their families more than culture.”

That’s how one Mexican shopper responded to protestors who have railed against the opening of a Wal-Mart because it stands near ancient pyramids. There were hundreds waiting for the new store to open and the woman pictured in this article hardly looks like a victim of globalization or corporate greed. Many Western critics of globalization seem to view primitive societies as museum pieces. They’re comforted that they exist and don’t want them to change. But what if the people who actually live there want things to change? And what does it mean that it’s built “near” culturally significant ruins? Seems like both bargains and ruins will be able to live together: Mexico’s national anthropology institute that oversees the ruins – located outside Mexico City – has said that the store poses no threat. The United Nations and the Paris-based International Council on Monuments and Sites also “signed-off” the store. It is located in a buffer zone that is part of the archaeological site, but where hundreds of other, mainly smaller businesses have sprouted in the past decade or more. This is another example that shows wealthy societies are the ones that care the most about environmental and cultural issues. Once people’s bellies are full and their basic needs are met, they can afford to care about other things. For more, see this Reason interview with Johan Norberg.