Friday, August 14, 2009

Boycott called on Whole Foods for CEO's ripping of Obama's health care plan

Read John Mackey's Aug. 12
op-ed in the Wall Street Journal . . . From Chicago Tribune "Change of Subject" blogger Eric Zorn

Read more, and gobs of comments, at the
Statesman Business Blog

By Brian Gaar | Thursday, August 13, 2009, 12:04 PM

One day after Whole Foods Market Inc. CEO John Mackey wrote an op-ed column knocking President Obama’s proposed health care bill, an online backlash is brewing.

Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal includes an op-ed piece by Mackey calling for less regulation of the insurance industry. He also said programs like Social Security and Medicare are leading to unsustainable government deficits.

“While we clearly need health-care reform, the last thing our country needs is a massive new health-care entitlement that will create hundreds of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits and move us much closer to a government takeover of our health-care system,” Mackey wrote.

He also decried what he called “socialized medicine” in countries such as Canada and the U.K., saying they lead to rationing of care. Health care is best provided, Mackey wrote, through market exchanges.


That prompted online calls for a boycott of Whole Foods.


Anonymous said...

Makes me want to buy twice as much there.

Anonymous said...

Hey A1, I hope you go broke there.

Very disappointed said...

Me too, No. 2. I shop at WF occasionally, but I sure won't be going back any time soon. Not until Mackey recants. I've seen where he's attempting an apology, thru his corporate communications dept, of all things. Mackey has become a borg corporatist. Sad what success and big money will do to some.

Anonymous said...

I love Mackey. I'm going to Whole Foods right now and buy extra food I don't need

Jon Thompson said...

Have any of you read his article? Read it before condemning the man. He makes good points. He offers alternatives that he finds successful in his business. Here you have someone who has taken the idea of organic groceries to a new level and has made it successful. His is the quintessential "green" business. (Part of President Obama's economic recovery plan is to introduce more "green" businesses to help move the economy into the 21st century, here is an example of success.)

Yet, many want to crucify him for daring to suggest that the emperor has no clothes. Isn't dissent the First Amendment in a nutshell? Sure if you want to boycott the man's business for his opinions, go for it, but for lack of reading and digesting his suggestions is akin to the ignorance that many conservatives are accused of.

I read his article this morning and found it not only insightful, but helpful to the debate. He makes no derogatory remarks; he states that the path that Medicare is on right now is unsustainable due to the impending overload of Baby Boomers coming in soon. This is no secret, that has been discussed for the last twenty years, yet every year Congress continues pushing that off to the next Session, or another group of legislators. Now is the time to face up to the music that the system is going bankrupt. This actually seems to agree with what the President is saying - the system needs reform (which is Mackey's point) but just not by throwing more money into the system.

Consider his position after you read it, not just based off of some editorial on it. Come on, think for yourself. If you disagree with him after reading it, wonderful. But I have a newfound respect for his opinions and his business personally.

Whole Foods boycotter said...

Jon, I did read Mackey's op-ed. Mackey does indeed heavily criticize Obama's public plan option, as well as point out Medicare's and SS's precious conditions – a condition which is relatively easily fixed thru slight increases in the taxes of the very wealthy. Point is 95% of Mackey's WF's customers likely voted for Obama, and Obama's campaign pledges, one of which was fundamental health care reform. Where was Mackey when Obama was campaigning for president? Why didn't he speak out then? I wonder now who he voted for. There's a bit of hypocrisy there and a huge slap at Whole Foods' very large customer base. I'm not surprised by the backlash. The way I see it, we will all have to throw more money to the government or to the private sector health care system. The private for profit sector has proven there are no limits to what they will charge, how many lives they will destroy – profits are their bottom line, not health care. They are already bankrupting the country with their profligate pursuit of profits. Why would they care whether anyone can afford coverage so long as they can keep raising the rates and deductibles and co-pays? That's not health care, it's money grubbing. Someone said, "This time I would rather be screwed by my government, than continue to be screwed by the private sector." That kinda sums it up for me. I believe a public plan option would, once refined, provide same or better coverage at reduced premiums and force real competition to lower premiums across the board.

Anonymous said...

I don't often agree with Jon, but today kudos!! What makes the WSJ
column any different from town hall meetings and open, honest dissent according to the 1st Amendment? So what if Mackey is a corporatist and is successful and has made $$$$$...I believe he is as entitled to his opinion as I am...I really enjoy Whole Foods and just may spend a few bucks there in his support!! And will definitely blog in his support at the WSJ!! Like Mr. Thompson sez: READ before condemning!!

john said...

I began boycotting whole Floods years ago when the raised their prices and GENTRIFIED their customer base.
The options for organic are Wheatsville and Central Market and our beloved Sun Harvest. WF is to me more like an art gallery where I walk through and go ooooh&ahhhh but please don't touch! Oh yes it's pretty...(pretty Expensive) no doubt the ceo is against health care reform. How will this reform actually effect him...I beg to ask. He probally is on a first name basis with his army of health care providers. What waiting line...he's got express service. He'd be a fool to want to change this service...rainwater guy

Jon Thompson said...

I appreciate good honest give and take, but there seems to be an issue of what one person has in relation to what someone else has. If Mackey has better access to health care that puts him on first name basis with his doctor or providers, then good for him. I have to assume he has worked hard to achieve what he has. America is like that, it brings people from foreign countries by the droves so that they have a chance at bettering their lives and their children's lives. He took what was a niche grocery market and made it into a household name. Everyone else, HEB included, has tried to copy his model. (The most sincere form of flattery is to be copied.)

What will government health care give us? Will they be more impersonal than the insurance industry? That is what I liked about Mackey's column, he offered objective suggestions on how to fix the system without more government.

I liked the President's example the other day about the post office sucking wind, but think about the example. The Post Office has been around since the beginning of the country. Private enterprise - FedEx and UPS - came along after the fact and have revolutionized the way that packages are delivered. There is not a preventive monopoly against them that stifles the competition. As I have gathered from listening, and having heard the President himself say so, the government would be getting into the market to make it competitive. The problem with that is that the government will not be operating on equal footing with the private sector. No profit motive, thus they lose the part of the overhead that immediately makes the insurance business (as any business is) have rates partially where they are at. Is it too high? Possibly, but I truly believe there are other ways of fixing the problem then creating a public option that does not compete fairly in the open market.

Another idea would be to create an agency similar to the post office that is not directly a part of the federal government, but is a quasi-agency, that either stands or falls on their own. The Post Office supposedly is not supposed to make a profit, but that doesn't mean that they can continually lose money, that is why they raise the rates of first class stamps, and are looking to cut services - to make ends meet.

So, if the government created yet another bureaucracy - the health care service? - and made it stand alone based off of their ability to offer health insurance at a rate that is competitive and yet without government subsidy, and can survive, than that might seriously offer an alternative. (I haven't thought this one out entirely yet, just thinking off the cuff - but if creating another inept bureaucracy like the PO is going to waste taxpayer money, than I would be against the idea of it before creating it.)

Maybe the co-op suggestion? That might fly, but there hasn't been enough discussion or research on it yet. That is why I think that the Congress and the President should slow down and make sure that they know what it is they are creating.

Just some more thoughts. The system needs help, but government help is not the answer in my opinion.

Small business guy said...

Jon Thompson, are you the one and same JT employed by city of dripping? Subdivisions office? A bureaucrat? If not, I apologize in advance. If so, does the city, and taxpayers, cover the cost of your health insurance plan? If so, point made. Your plan premiums are subsidized by the taxpayers, or some portion thereof. You seem inclined not to support government subsidized health care, but you don't mind taxpayers subsidizing yours. I wish more small business owners would chime in and testify to the VERY HIGH cost of covering their employees. We are either being forced into the ground with higher premiums, deductibles and co-pays every sign up season or dropping the coverage all together. It's pretty tough out there for small businesses. No one in these debates seems to care about that. It's socialism versus giant corporatism. It's just not that simple. The little guys, and there's millions of us across the county that are in the middle, and suffering.

Jon Thompson said...

Hey Small Business Guy:
Yes, that's me, the City of Dripping Springs. Does the City pay my health insurance. Yes. Mine alone, not my family's, I pay that out of my own pocket.

How many businesses pay their employees' health insurance? Many. Some do, some don't, it's a matter of whether or not the employer chooses to (or can) based not only on the principal of the issue, but whether to attract quality employees that this is a perk that helps to land the employee that the employer desires to have work for him.

Does health insurance cost a small fortune? Hell yes. As I said, I pay for my family's insurance out of my pocket, not even pre-tax dollars, which many businesses can take advantage of to at least reduce the amount that the employees are dinked by reducing their tax bite, and for the business owners, it is a business expense that you can write off. I can't write off my family's health insurance premiums.

Subsidized health care? Well, why doesn't the government subsidize my truck payments? Why doesn't the government subsidize my house payment? Since I exchange the City 40 plus hours of my life every week, they exchange a service with a good - a salary and benefits. That's what economics is about - goods and services being exchanged for an agreed upon amount by two independent agents. I give so much of my service for an agreed upon good. I didn't have to work for the City, and they didn't have to hire me.

Not sure what your small business is, but I do know that there are a great many businesses hurting for a variety of reasons, not all health care related. If you get subsidized health care from the government, you can count on your taxes going up to help cover the same "subsidy" that you wish for. So long as you're okay with your taxes going up to cover that subsidy, then I guess your story is consistent. I just don't happen to agree with that philosophy personally, and again this job though a "government" job is just that - a job that I am compensated for.

Last thing - you seem to think that taxpayers subsidize my health care. Since I WORK for the taxpayers, I am paid a benefit for my work. If I received health benefits and DIDN'T WORK, then that would be getting something for nothing. That's welfare, and that's not the same thing. Big difference.

Small business guy said...

Thanks JT. In response, I guess I would say, we all work for the good of our country. Least that's what I was brought up to believe.

Jon T. said...

Small Business Guy:
Amen to that; I hope that things can be figured out to make things better for all. I think we all share the same desire for the prosperity of the country, but it comes down to the implementation. May God help us figure out the right way to find the path that works for all. Thanks for the discussion.