Whole Foods vs. Half-baked

whole_foods(1)(1)(1)Today I received an invitation to join the Facebook Group “Support Whole Foods and John Mackey.”  I knew, peripherally, that Mackey had written an op-ed that had drawn the ire of the supporters of government health care advocates, but I hadn’t ready his op-ed.  My interest was piqued.

There’s much more to Mackey’s article than simply a repudiation of the plans floating about Capitol Hill. Far from standing in the way of progress, Mackey actually makes the case for a different type of reform, outlining eight specific policy reforms.  Each would move health care decisions into patients’ hands – from breaking down interstate barriers on insurance sales to making it easier for employers to set up Health Savings Accounts for their employees.

Mackey is a good voice for this type of reform.  I would wager that most of his employees are not expecting to be life-long Whole Foods workers.  Like many Americans, they will change jobs and companies – and so for health care to be tied to their employment is as inconvenient as it is anachronistic.  Companies used to offer pensions, too; now they make contributions to 401(k) and IRA accounts – recognizing that they can, as part of a benefits package, offer an employment benefit that lasts beyond the term of employment.

Mackey has posed a new idea in the scope of the current debate – that individuals will need to take personal responsibility for their health care.  This is certainly a new way of looking at health care, and exactly the type of open and honest debate that we all should would welcome, right?  Well, not quite.  The other side is calling on shoppers to boycott Whole Foods.

This response is telling.  Mackey is being demonized as an opponent of reform – a position they probably got from this line from his piece:

“Health-care reform is very important.”

Or possibly this one:

“[W]e clearly need health-care reform.”

You can see how that can be misconstrued.

The boycotters either don’t understand or don’t want to understand that Mackey’s individual health care concerns aren’t an issue – with a CEO’s salary, they are probably well-taken care of, with or without company-sponsored insurance.  He’s talking about how to build insurance that will help his employees – the same employees who are much more likely than Mackey to be hurt (through layoffs or schedule cutbacks) by a decline in company revenue brought on by, say, a boycott.

A blogger at OpenLeft doesn’t seem to mind:

I think [the boycott] is a great idea. A stupendous idea…. There are downsides. For example, the people who work at Whole Foods could be negatively affected.

Never let the “little people” get in the way of a big idea, right?

2 thoughts on “Whole Foods vs. Half-baked

  1. Back in 2008, this Whole Foods, CEO John Mackey (how old is this kid?), was caught posting negative comments (trash talk) about a competitor on Yahoo Finance message boards in an effort to push down the stock price. So now I am suppose to take this loser seriously? Please, snore, snore.

    It’s funny we hear Republicans say that they do not want “faceless bureaucrats” making medical decisions but they have no problem with “private sector” “faceless bureaucrats” daily declining medical coverage and financially ruining good hard working people (honestly where can they go with a pre-condition). And who says that the “private sector” is always right, do we forget failures like Long-Term Capital, WorldCom, Global Crossing, Enron, Tyco, AIG and Lehman Brothers. Of course the federal government will destroy heathcare by getting involved, Oh but wait, Medicare and Medicaid and our military men and women and the Senate and Congress get the best heathcare in the world, and oh, that’s right, its run by our federal government. I can understand why some may think that the federal government will fail, if you look at the past eight years as a current history, with failures like the financial meltdown and Katrina but the facts is they can and if we support them they will succeed.

    How does shouting down to stop the conversation of the healthcare debate at town hall meetings, endears them to anyone. Especially when the organizations that are telling them where to go and what to do and say are Republicans political operatives, not real grassroots. How does shouting someone down or chasing them out like a “lynch mob” advanced the debate, it does not. So I think the American people will see through all of this and know, like the teabagger, the birthers, these lynch mobs types AKA “screamers” are just the same, people who have to resort to these tactics because they have no leadership to articulate what they real want. It’s easy to pickup a bus load of people who hate, and that’s all I been seeing, they hate and can’t debate. Too bad.

    1. I think Mackey should be taken seriously because he has brought a new idea to the health care debate. You should read his piece before commenting. And, along the same lines, you should read the post as well. Mackey’s proposed reforms strive to take health care not only out of the government’s incapable hands, but out of the hands of those corporate bureaucracies you seem to have such a problem with.

      I would dispute your claim that recipients of Medicare and Medicaid and VA-sponsored care get the best medical treatment in the world. Veterans are quick to point out the long waits they are forced to endure and the problems with care centers (such as Walter Reed) are shameful. And there are doctors and providers who simply won’t participate in Medicaid and Medicare because they are so poorly run that they lose money; that hardly seems helpful for patients.

      But, more than that, I would point out the hilarity of your claim that opponents of government health care “hate and can’t debate” – especially after painting anyone who disagrees with you as crazy conspiracy theorists and racist mobs. It sounds like you’re either reading from the DNC’s talking points or employing the Chewbacca Defense.

      So we’ll try again: Mackey’s proposals outline a system that would make it easier for you and me to save up and pay for our own health care, the way we do for retirement and kind of like we do for colleges, except backward. I think this is good because it reduces the power of insurance companies and the government. But I could be wrong – so tell me why this is bad.

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