I went to Whole Foods in Oakland on Saturday, like I do most weekends, but I missed the dance/theater/protest against the grocery chain's co-founder and CEO John Mackey, he of the now infamous quote: "A careful reading of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution will not reveal any intrinsic right to health care, food or shelter." Whole Foods is known for its gentle touch on the planet, but Mackey has obviously steered into rough waters with his shoppers over his health care views.Mackey first stirred the pot when he published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on health insurance reform. Here's a choice part:
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?
Health care is a service that we all need, but just like food and shelter it is best provided through voluntary and mutually beneficial market exchanges. A careful reading of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution will not reveal any intrinsic right to health care, food or shelter. That's because there isn't any. This "right" has never existed in America.
Even in countries like Canada and the U.K., there is no intrinsic right to health care. Rather, citizens in these countries are told by government bureaucrats what health-care treatments they are eligible to receive and when they can receive them. All countries with socialized medicine ration health care by forcing their citizens to wait in lines to receive scarce treatments.
Although Canada has a population smaller than California, 830,000 Canadians are currently waiting to be admitted to a hospital or to get treatment, according to a report last month in Investor's Business Daily. In England, the waiting list is 1.8 million.
While rightly concentrating on Mackey's insensitive remarks, the protesters are not exactly telling the Whole story. Mackey put forward 8 suggestions for lowering costs and improving access, all while lowering collective tax costs. I'm not an economist so I can't add any credence to his arguments, but many of them are those put forward by responsible lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
Meanwhile, Whole Foods, which has many earth-friendly policies like not selling products made with palm oil (made from drained peatlands in tropical forests) and corn syrup, hosting a big time recycling and composting program, and not using GMOs in its store brand, is getting lots of bad press.
By the way, every Whole Foods' employee who works more than 30 hours gets 100 percent of their health insurance premiums paid for, albeit in a high deductive health care plan. Who is right in this fight? Food for thought, for sure.