Whole Foods CEO Causes Scandal Over Anti-'Obamacare' Article


Photo via the NY Daily News

A few days ago, Whole Foods CEO John Mackey stoked the ire of progressives everywhere by publishing an editorial in the Wall Street Journal that railed against proposed health care reform (referred to as 'Obamacare' in the headline). Not least among the causes of the outrage was that Mackey suggested shopping for healthy foods--at say, some big, ubiquitous health food chain store--as a viable alternative to reforming health care with any kind of a public option. Now, many are crying out against his views, and vowing to boycott Whole Foods. But is all the anger over the top, or does Mackey deserve a liberal tongue lashing?No doubt a lot of the anger stems from the fact that many Whole Foods shoppers possess progressive ideologies--most are probably in favor of reform that includes a public option that would cover those Americans who are currently under and uninsured. So it's naturally irritating to discover that the man whose company they've been patronizing is using his resources for a cause contrary to their beliefs.

But I have to say I've been a little surprised at the crapstorm that's brewed over the whole affair--just look at this Huffington Post piece that compiles its bloggers' various tirades about it. Then take a peek at the poll at the bottom, which shows that 57% of people are pledging to boycott Whole Foods. There are over 2,000 animated comments on the post.

I'm surprised that so many people care what Mackey has to say--we already knew he was a bit of a crackpot (this is the man who took the time to create false, alternate identities just to post flattering comments about himself online), and he's never hidden his libertarian views.

And I'll grant that I don't agree with his generic laundry list of grievances with health care reform, and that his suggestion that posing an alternate solution as buying healthy organic food is more than a tad opportunistic. But is it outrageous? Ridiculous, yes--no amount of organic arugula can stamp out the possibility that you'll get in an accident or be stricken by a disease, and will subsequently have to pay for it. But the notion is merely a little absurd at best, and self-aggrandizing at worst.

While I feel all the ruckus is a bit unwarranted, I completely endorse an individual's right to refuse to patronize a company because s/he believes that supporting it will fund a cause contrary to their own, or even if s/he simply disagrees with the CEO's political opinions (even if the company happens to be public). One of the nice things about America is we can spend our money at whichever grocery store we'd like.

So what do you think? Is this a massive overreaction from the progressive community, or a justified backlash at an ignorant perspective?

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Tags: Congress | Economics