Whole Foods CEO Blasts Obamacare

Robert Bentley
Aug 14, 2009 at 7:12 PM

The health care debate has been raging for months now, and all we hear is the government-run health program is the only option for the country.

However, the CEO of Whole Foods has something to say about health care takeover, and it is actually the right solution to the problem:

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. Instead, we should be trying to achieve reforms by moving in the opposite direction—toward less government control and more individual empowerment. Here are eight reforms that would greatly lower the cost of health care for everyone:

• Remove the legal obstacles that slow the creation of high-deductible health insurance plans and health savings accounts (HSAs).

• Equalize the tax laws so that that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits.

• Repeal all state laws which prevent insurance companies from competing across state lines.

• Repeal government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover.

•  Enact tort reform to end the ruinous lawsuits that force doctors to pay insurance costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.

• Make costs transparent so that consumers understand what health-care treatments cost.

• Enact Medicare reform.

•  Finally, revise tax forms to make it easier for individuals to make a voluntary, tax-deductible donation to help the millions of people who have no insurance and aren’t covered by Medicare, Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Go to the Wall Street Journal to read a detailed explanation.

While I obviously agree with what he said, he probably shouldn't have said anything at all. The left is now talking about boycotting Whole Foods which could lead to less revenue. Less revenue for Whole Foods' CEO means he will possess less capital to donate and promote liberty-minded causes. While speaking out is noble, in this case it might have actually done more harm than good considering a corporate CEO is probably not going to turn the tide of this health care debate,

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Is it not the case that the work that corporate CEOs perform on a daily basis gives  governmen the money it needs to do everything that it does?

Government does not exist without the hard work of people in the private sector and all the risks that they take. If anyones opinion should carry weight in this debate it would be the opinions of people who work in the private sector.

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The irony:

1. If he was still a marxist like he was in his youth, he wouldn't have been able to found Whole Foods and provide so many people with wages and health insurance (HSA's)

2. The boycotters are employing market based activism to combat Mackey's market-based proposal.  If the "progressives" were true to their coercive health care plans, they could also just advocate the government abridging the free speech of Mackey too.  

3. The progressives didn't have a problem with Mackey being a libertarian - he's been a libertarian openly for many years now.  They had a problem with him speaking what he believed.  So the lesson we can take from the progressive boycott is this - you can have belief in freedom, but you may not speak it.

Mackey's ideological journey:

"Along with the for-profit business, I also created a business of "heart" and I think I have been equally successful with that venture. After running Safer Way for a couple of years, we decided to relocate to a much larger building and we opened Whole Foods Market in 1980. No pun intended, but we grew the business organically from there.

At the time I started my business, the Left had taught me that business and capitalism were based on exploitation: exploitation of consumers, workers, society, and the environment. I believed that "profit" was a necessary evil at best, and certainly not a desirable goal for society as a whole. However, becoming an entrepreneur completely changed my life. Everything I believed about business was proven to be wrong.

The most important thing I learned about business in my first year was that business wasn't based on exploitation or coercion at all. Instead I realized that business is based on voluntary cooperation. No one is forced to trade with a business; customers have competitive alternatives in the market place; employees have competitive alternatives for their labor; investors have different alternatives and places to invest their capital. Investors, labor, management, suppliers — they all need to cooperate to create value for their customers. If they do, then any realized profit can be divided amongst the creators of the value through competitive market dynamics.

In other words, business is not a zero-sum game with a winner and loser. It is a win, win, win, win game — and I really like that. However, I discovered despite my idealism that our customers thought our prices were too high, our employees thought they were underpaid, the vendors would not give us large discounts, the community was forever clamoring for donations, and the government was slapping us with endless fees, licenses, fines, and taxes.

Were we profitable? Not at first. Safer Way managed to lose half of its capital in the first year — $23,000. Despite the loss, we were still accused of exploiting our customers with high prices and our employees with low wages. The investors weren't making a profit and we had no money to donate. Plus, with our losses, we paid no taxes. I had somehow joined the "dark side" — I was now one of the bad guys. According to the perspective of the Left, I had become a greedy and selfish businessman. At this point, I rationally chose to abandon the leftist philosophy of my youth, because it no longer adequately explained how the world really worked. With my l eftist interpretation of the world now shattered, I looked around for alternative explanations for making sense of the world.

I stumbled into reading Milton Friedman, Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, Ayn Rand — I read all of them. I said to myself, "Wow, this all makes sense. This is how the world really works. This is incredible." Then I became Laissez Faire Books' best customer for the next five years. I think I read every book in their catalog. If any of you in the audience have written books, I have probably read them."


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 If anyones opinion should carry weight in this debate it would be the opinions of people who work in the private sector.

Anon, I obviously agree with you, but that's not how CEOs are viewed in our society. They are viewed as "robber barons" who are constantly trying to make everyone starve to death for their own financial gain.

And Jack, progressives have always been full of hypocracies and contradiction; their title "progressive" being the most ironic of all, because if their policies were actually implemented it would lead to the destruction and regression of our entire civilization.

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