Saturday, January 19, 2013

Whole Foods CEO Apologizes For Calling Obamacare "Fascism", Liberals Will Still Boycott

John Mackey, co-CEO and co-founder of Whole Foods and a free-market Libertarian, received a lot of flak when he penned his alternative to Obamacare in 2009, and even more for calling Obama's health care plan "more like fascism" during an interview with NPR this past Wednesday. Now, as they did back in 2009, the usual suspects are calling for a boycott- which is what stupid liberals do- without taking into account that Whole Foods ranks as one of the top 100 places to work, so corporate must be doing something right. In fact, the health food store was ranked #32 in CNN's top 100 for 2012. Not only has 53-year-old John Mackey capped executive wages, he has paid himself an annual salary of a whopping $1.00 since 2006. Yes, that's right, "one" dollar. Cashier's make a little over $26,000 per annum, team leaders over $80,000. They receive 100% health coverage, subsidized gym memberships and are offered domestic partner benefits for same-sex partners. So liberals are calling for a  boycott of a workplace that you'd think would be a liberals dream, just because the CEO happens to think Obama's Affordable Care Act sucks?

Unfortunately, Mackey bowed to pressure for his fascism comment, apologizing for what he called a "poor word choice", and posting it on Huffington Post and the Whole Foods blog:

I made a poor word choice to describe our health care system, which I definitely regret. The term fascism today stirs up too much negative emotion with its horrific associations in the 20th century. While I'm speaking as someone who works hard to offer health care benefits to more than 73,000 team members, who actually vote on their overall benefits packages, I am very concerned about the uninsured and those with preexisting conditions.

I believe that, if the goal is universal health care, our country would be far better served by combining free enterprise capitalism with a strong governmental safety net for our poorest citizens and those with preexisting conditions, helping everyone to be able to buy insurance. This is what Switzerland does and I think we would be much better off copying that system than where we are currently headed in the United States.

I believe that health care should be competitive in the open market to promote innovation and creativity. Despite the criticism of me, I am encouraged that this dialogue will bring continued awareness and a better understanding of viable health care options for all Americans. There is an alternative to mandated health care in free enterprise capitalism based on voluntary exchange for mutual gain. This alternative allows individuals and businesses to innovate and develop customized solutions to health care where a “one size fits all approach” fails. Creativity and progress are stifled when government regulations dictate the parameters of what health care plans can be offered. Creative businesses, and the people who work them, can make something that has value for all stakeholders.

I need a new word or phrase to describe the state of health care now because it is something that I, like all folks entrusted with the wellbeing of a team, grapple with daily in this era. I think for now I will simply call it government-controlled health care to distinguish it from free enterprise capitalist health care. Clearly, I would prefer free enterprise capitalism in health care because it would greatly increase innovation and progress —just like it does in every other aspect of our lives, wherever it is allowed to exist. I hope those who are my critics, would recognize that we are all after an improved state of society, and not be distracted by the poor use of an emotionally charged word.

The majority of comments on the Whole Foods blog are negative, some even call for his resignation, and some say they will not shop there until he's gone:

I will not be shopping at Whole Foods in Madison, Wi anymore. i think you can guess the reasons why. John Mackey needs to resign.

And idiots who don't bother to do their research, since Mackey makes $1.00 per year:

I shop at Whole Foods not because I care about their political views but because of the quality of the food. That said, I think I pay enough for their food that a portion of it should benefit the employees by providing them with health care. Why is it that CEO's think they deserve their million dollar salaries, fat bonuses, and fat stock options, but the lowest people on their totem pole don't deserve the most basic human element? CEO's need to factor in the human element into their business model.

And another idiot who has no clue about Mackey or Whole Foods policies, since he offers 100% insurance coverage:

Do you provide healthcare for your employees? Or are they forced to find something for themselves like so many other big companies? You say you support universal health care - we all do, including the President. But when CEOs don't try to lead the way on an issue such as this, and, instead, sit back passively and then criticize the outcome, that's just ridiculous. You think of yourself as a job creator, but if you don't offer health insurance, you're only doing half of what is needed and relying on the government to pick up the slack. Good work.

I find the response very sad, but not at all surprising.

H/T Drudge Report.

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