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Organic Consumers Association

Whole Foods CEO's Dumb, Hypocritical Conservative Talking Points

If the CEO of a grocery giant such as Kroger or Safeway had written a Wall Street Journal op-ed opposing the "public option" in health care reform, it's unlikely there would have been much of a backlash. Indeed, with right-wing America's noisy revolt over health care reform in high gear, one more business journal op-ed on the topic probably would have not stirred much attention.

Not so with the brewing grassroots protest against Whole Foods CEO John Mackey's recent Journal op-ed. Indeed, Mackey's libertarian-flavored blast against the specter of "a massive new health-care entitlement" has touched a sensitive nerve with many health-conscious, reform-minded Americans.

In short order, a Boycott Whole Foods Facebook group signed up over 30,000 supporters. There have been protests for single-payer health care outside Whole Foods stores in Washington, D.C., New York City, and Austin. Across the country newspaper columnists and bloggers have also weighed in on the controversy.

It's not surprising really, considering Whole Foods eco-healthy image. It's likely many of their customers take at face value the company's identity as a leader in "socially responsible" business. Accordingly, they might also have assumed that a wealthy businessman whose success stems from promoting "natural foods" and "healthy living" would be on the side of progressive health care reform.

Of course, they would be mistaken in that assumption. In fact, Mackey's libertarian notions of reform are a disaster, guaranteed to lead the nation even further away from fixing what's wrong with health care. Opposing any "public option" insurance plan, Mackey instead calls for such measures as the repeal of "government mandates" regulating what insurance companies must cover. "What is insured and what is not insured should be determined by individual customer preferences and not through special-interest lobbying," declares the natural foods CEO.

In Mackey's ideal libertarian world, deregulated insurance companies would supply products based only on the unfettered demand of health care "customers," leading thus to happiness all around. Unfortunately, this tidy train of free-market logic cannot explain why insurance companies now routinely deny coverage to those with "pre-existing conditions." It's certainly not because consumers want it. Could it perhaps have something to do with the fact that-supply and demand be damned-they just can?


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