Whole Foods CEO calls Obamacare 'fascist'
John Mackey originally called the health care mandate socialist. Both declarations bum out his liberal buyer base.
During a conversation on Wednesday with National Public Radio, Mackey made the following observation about the new health care law:
It's more like fascism. In fascism, the government doesn't own the means of production, but they do control it -- and that's what's happening with our health care programs and these reforms.
Mackey's position has gone through a remarkable evolution since 2009, when he wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed and used a Margaret Thatcher quote to equate President Barack Obama's health care platform to socialism. At the time, he suggested more passive measures limiting government control over health care and empowering health care providers to cross state borders with coverage and offer high-deductible plans similar to what his Whole Foods employees receive. He then bit the woven hemp gloves on the hand that feeds his empire by stating the following:
Many promoters of health-care reform believe that people have an intrinsic ethical right to health care -- to equal access to doctors, medicines and hospitals. While all of us empathize with those who are sick, how can we say that all people have more of an intrinsic right to health care than they have to food or shelter?
That last statement, according to Time, was enough to rile Mackey's liberal customers and prompt boycotts of his stores by groups like Single Payer Action. His latest declaration -- on NPR, no less -- may be prompting even more soul searching in Whole Foods' Prius- and Subaru-strewn parking lots.
In Mackey's defense, he hasn't identified as liberal in a good, long time. Mackey started out working at a vegetarian co-op and his Austin, Texas-based company grew from a vegetarian grocery store he and his girlfriend founded in Austin in the late '70s, but he's since drifted from his leftward leanings. He's still a vegetarian and still makes humane animal treatment one of Whole Foods' cornerstone issues, but publicly identified himself as a free-market libertarian during a debate in 2005. In later years, he also took positions against both labor unions and human-caused climate change.
Mackey's health care position puts him in line with Papa John's (PZZA) chief exec John Schnatter, who vowed last year to raise prices and cut employee hours because of the new health care law. The pizza magnate openly endorsed Republican candidate Mitt Romney during last year's presidential race and held a fundraiser at his Kentucky estate that would prompt the stereotypical Whole Foods customer into a kombucha spit take.
Yet Mackey's Whole Foods isn't the only corporation commonly associated with the American left to criticize the health care mandate. Starbucks (SBUX) CEO Howard Schultz, whose company helped make the slur "latte-sipping liberal" possible, told the Seattle Times that the law may be counterproductive to providing more Americans with health care because "the pressure on small businesses, because of the mandate, is too great."
Mackey may not have settled on the proper philosophy or political ideology to affix to the nation's new health care law, but his continued criticism is forming a lump in the throat of many customers as they choke down their Annie's Mac & Cheese.
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I have been in dozens of his stores and I think only two if them did I see a happy group of employees....Thanks goodness I live in a place with other alternatives for organic healthy foods and I can avoid Whole Paycheck
WHEN HAS THIS OR PREVIOUS POLITICIANS DONE ANYTHING TO HELP THE WORKING TAXPAYER?
THAT'S ALL THERE INTERESTED IN IS HOW THEY CAN BENEFIT THEMSELVES AT OUR EXPENSE
Was that not basically an implied "Death Panel" by default?
We are going to pay through the nose for Obamacare! Wait a minute, we are already paying through the nose for health insurance. I (and I have insurance) already pay for all the people that go to the emergency room and run up huge bills that they can not pay since they have no insurance. I pay for the huge CEO pay and the golden parachutes ($10's of millions). United Health Care CEO got $102 million in total compensation last year. How many Government employees get that? I pay for the 20% overhead private insurance take (Medicare overhead is less than 5%). I love when these millionaires and billionaires complain about something they do not personally need to worry about. Then again, any increase in employee costs, the less for them especially now that they have upped their income tax rate to 20% (us working bees still have a rate of up to 32%).
Mackey is right. The people on here who are sighting Canada, Germany and Sweden among others for their great health care should know this......having been there myself, prices for all goods purchased in these countries are double or triple what we pay in America! OBAMA CARE WILL NOT BE FREE!
Do any of you people actually know what the health care law does or why some of its provisions exist? From what I've read here I doubt it. The health care law regulates the insurance industry. It doesn't control it so Mackey is flat out wrong. Calling it socialist was closer to the mark because, whether you look at it drunk or sober, it is a socialist concept.
Ignoring the law for a moment ask yourself this question. Is universal health care a good thing that should be instituted in the US? If your answer is yes, all that's left is to figure out how and criticisms of the health care plan should come along with suggestions about what to do instead. If your answer is no, I'd be curious to know why.
As for people like John Schnatter, if adding 25 cents to the price of a pizza is what it takes to get everyone decent health care, here's your stinking quarter.
As a libertarian I can tell you I have no problem with Mackey's comments. Obamacare is very beneficial to the middle to low income population. These are not customers of Whole Foods. These are the people that are trapped by government regulations and live by the USDA's definition of the healthy living food pyramid. This guideline has been proven by many different diet and nutrition experts to be flawed in so many different ways. We are eating far more processed and hormone enhanced meat and vegetables than we every have and the health of this country is failing at it's highest rates. Heart Disease, blood pressure rates, diabetes, all cancers, etc are at their highest levels ever. And guess who benefits from our sicknesses. Yep the health care industry and that's who's calling the shots in Washington. Obamacare is cancer to small to medium sized businesses.
In a sense the man is correct. Obamacare sprung from the 'think tank' Heritage Foundation, an extremely right-wing conservative ideology. The goal of the ACA is to try and allow ~100 percent of Americans receive health care. Obama bended towards a pure capitalist approach rather than a pure socialist approach. Part of the concept was expecting Small Businesses to from 'Pools' which will allow them to compete as Big Business. Just that, many people for racist and political purposes has decided to implement pure ignorance into this.
The trick is, as Obamacare becomes mandatory for everyone by law; the loop-back is: should the capitalistic venture fail, the other end of the extreme will prevail.
Of course the right-wing will spend the rest of eternity trying to get rid of Social Security, Medicare etc. Heck, if a right-wing businessman can Privatize the 'heat and light' coming from the sun, he will do it.
If the brain trust in DC doesn't find a solution to the budget problems, affordable health care will be the least of our worries. Mackey will have a hard time selling his products when everyone is shopping at Aldi and Walmart, assuming they have an income to buy food with.
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