Reason TV: Whole Foods chief Mackey defends capitalism

posted at 4:25 pm on October 14, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch interview the man who became the unlikely villain for the Left in the debate over health-care reform: John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods. Mackey tells Reason.tv that he believes in capitalism, but that its advocates have not told its story adequately enough to counter the emotional arguments against it. As long as its seen as a philosophy of “greed,” Mackey warns, then it will remain vulnerable to statist alternatives that kill economic growth, liberty, and technology:

The entire one-hour interview can be seen here:

In August, Mackey became one of the most controversial businessmen in America when he penned an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal outlining his company’s free-market-oriented health care system and offering eight concrete reforms that would reduce costs and improve access. Noting that health care is not “a right” as that term is properly understood, Mackey forcefully argued that increasing government intervention into health care is precisely the wrong thing to do: “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.”

The response from the left to Mackey’s op-ed was swift: Advocates of single-payer health care, union activists, and others called for protests at and boycotts of Whole Foods, despite the fact that the company provides affordable and well-regarded coverage to its employees. As a cutting-edge entrepreneur who is comfortable quoting astrological signs and Ludwig von Mises, who practices veganism and sells some of the best meat in America, and who chases profits and is an outspoken advocate of charitable giving, Mackey confounds conventional political categories. As an
advocate of what he calls “conscious capitalism,” Mackey is that rarest of businessman: an articulate and passionate defender of free enterprise and free individuals.

I may not agree with everything Mackey believes, but on economics and policy, he is spot-on. It’s well worth the viewing, and gives me another reason to do more shopping at Whole Foods. If the government was serious about cost reforms in health care, Congress would follow the Whole Foods example of health coverage.

Over at his blog, Nick attempts to defend Roger Moore as James Bond, but eventually admits the futility.


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It has gotten this bad that we need to defend capitalism.

Firebird on October 14, 2009 at 4:28 PM

Mackey/Wynn 2012. :P

lorien1973 on October 14, 2009 at 4:31 PM

Roger Moore is 82 today. Wow, it has been awhile since he played Bond.

portlandon on October 14, 2009 at 4:32 PM

Firebird on October 14, 2009 at 4:28 PM

Caged pigs never complain. Till the cages fall apart.

lorien1973 on October 14, 2009 at 4:32 PM

Where do the people that hate capitalism plan on working?

deadenders on October 14, 2009 at 4:32 PM

free enterprise and free individuals.

What’chu talkin’ bout Willis?

nolapol on October 14, 2009 at 4:34 PM

The response from the left to Mackey’s op-ed was swift: Advocates of single-payer health care, union activists, and others called for protests at and boycotts of Whole Foods

Yeah, that lasted a few hours. The local Whole Foods was packed shortly afterward. Elite libs can’t live without their organic and specialty foods.

Daggett on October 14, 2009 at 4:34 PM

It’s too bad that a guy who delivers products that people want at a price that they’re willing to pay has to defend that rationale. It should seem obvious, but apparently isn’t.

I don’t shop at Whole Foods, but evidently lotsa folks do and like it.

Good on ya Mr. Mackey. Keep doing that capitalism thing and throw in some stale bread or rotten cheese every now and then to let those grain eaters know that it’s capitalism that puts the food on their tables and the wine in their glasses. If they don’t like that, then they can have the stale bread out back–it won’t kill ya, it’ll just make ya wish you were dead.

ted c on October 14, 2009 at 4:35 PM

Where do the people that hate capitalism plan on working?

deadenders on October 14, 2009 at 4:32 PM

Government. It’s just a matter of recycling. The government takes all their money in the form of taxes and then uses it to pay them their salaries. Wait…

Daggett on October 14, 2009 at 4:36 PM

Lefty people saw Whole Foods as a political statement; apart from their own interests it never dawns on them that it’s really just a grocery store targeting a customer base based on the vision of its CEO.

BigD on October 14, 2009 at 4:38 PM

Roger Moore was the best Bond evah! No question. He was also awesome as Simon Templar. My favorite Bond Quote..“Did I?”

Caper29 on October 14, 2009 at 4:38 PM

I need to hit the grocery store this weekend. I’ll spend the extra effort and money and go to Whole Foods. They apparently support capitalism, so I’ll support them.

amerpundit on October 14, 2009 at 4:38 PM

Where do the people that hate capitalism plan on working?

deadenders on October 14, 2009 at 4:32 PM

They currently work in the White House. Let’s make sure that changes in 2012.

txag92 on October 14, 2009 at 4:38 PM

Uh-oh. Better watch your back Mackey. Well, at least you gained a whole new customer base. Thank you for standing up to the real fascists.

FlyoverJ-HawkFan on October 14, 2009 at 4:39 PM

Even if most of your customers are bobo proto-fascists that don’t?

spmat on October 14, 2009 at 4:39 PM

It is quite ironic that so many lefties are supported by a free thinking capitalist enterprise.

nolapol on October 14, 2009 at 4:40 PM

In some way the Market is a sentient being since its essence is the People. Enslave the Market with taxes and you basically enslave the people.

-

TwilightStruggler on October 14, 2009 at 4:40 PM

Got a little freshman in one of my classes

wears a sweatshirt with the sickle and hammer

CCCP!

But he’s got a really expensive laptop bag. Love it

blatantblue on October 14, 2009 at 4:40 PM

I think greed is a concept that needs to be defended.

I work 60 hours a week because I want to be able to buy nice things for myself and the people I love and (eventually) retire in style.

The person that made my sandwich at Subway today wasn’t there because they are passionate about sandwiches. They made my sandwich because they think that paying the rent is a better alternative than a homeless shelter.

My doctor spent years and years of her life studying and practicing to become a good doctor because she wanted to make a ton of money. She’s a darn good doctor too! She knows that when she quickly diagnoses an illness or pain and comes up with a solution for it, it is that much more likely that I’ll return the next time I have an issue.

None of us are doing these things out of some purely altruistic need to serve others. It’s because we want to have money so we can buy the things we want.

Now, we might not all want selfish things. I sponsor kids through World Vision, tithe to my church, send care packages to soldiers and donate to other charities that catch my eye…..

The fact remains though that I work that hard because I know that at the end of the day, busting my butt will result in that much more money that I can use as I see fit.

Greed is good.

JadeNYU on October 14, 2009 at 4:41 PM

Capitalism is greed
greed is capitalism
communism is love

/getalife

blatantblue on October 14, 2009 at 4:42 PM

[Comment deleted. Do not use our comments to troll or spread malicious rumors, regardless of the target involved. We will ban people for this. — Ed]

thareb on October 14, 2009 at 4:42 PM

He said “People did not come to love capitalism” … no, not “people”, but losers who couldn’t make it in the meritocracy of the free market. Their parents did, but they couldn’t, so they expect everything to be handed to them … or else you’re greeeeeedy!

Tony737 on October 14, 2009 at 4:42 PM

Greed is good.
JadeNYU on October 14, 2009 at 4:41 PM

Preach it sistah

blatantblue on October 14, 2009 at 4:43 PM

blatantblue on October 14, 2009 at 4:40 PM

As much as I would love to see somebody kick his narrow ass, have you thought about calling him stupid and publicly ridiculing him?

FlyoverJ-HawkFan on October 14, 2009 at 4:44 PM

Free markets? Capitalism?

This dude needs to be wiped away like Crissy Tingle Leg says about Rush.

How dare he oppose Obama?

Kill him now, before this radical racist homophobic mean-spirited unfair idea spreads!

/SARC

Liam on October 14, 2009 at 4:46 PM

blatantblue on October 14, 2009 at 4:40 PM

Happens all the time. I saw someone with a hammer and sickle on a red shirt the other day. He was listening to music on his iPhone and getting into his Toyota Prius.

amerpundit on October 14, 2009 at 4:46 PM

FlyoverJ-HawkFan on October 1

Normally
I eventually engage in some sort of brief
intense
outlandish ridicule

just biding my time. I want to wait for now.

blatantblue on October 14, 2009 at 4:47 PM

Greed is good.

JadeNYU on October 14, 2009 at 4:41 PM

Ayn Rand just blew you a kiss from Heaven.

RushBaby on October 14, 2009 at 4:48 PM

Perhaps now would be a good time for Milton Friedman’s brilliant defense of capitalism.

amerpundit on October 14, 2009 at 4:48 PM

blatantblue on October 14, 2009 at 4:40 PM

That’s every college campus in New England man.

Shock the Monkey on October 14, 2009 at 4:48 PM

Don’t want to know anything about Mr. Johnson. Real or imagined.

Cindy Munford on October 14, 2009 at 4:49 PM

amerpundit on October 14, 2009 at 4:46 PM

Pure absurdity
bite the hand that feeds

spoiled little rotten commie pinko baby pieces of crap

go read Marx and suck a soy bean Popsicle you little rat bastid

blatantblue on October 14, 2009 at 4:49 PM

Caper29 on October 14, 2009 at 4:38 PM

Clearly false.

Daniel Craig is the best.

Abby Adams on October 14, 2009 at 4:49 PM

I knew John Mackey back in the mid-70′s in Austin when we were both neighbors in Hyde Park and worked at Wheatsville, the hippie-dippie food coop.
He was always bitching to me about the waste they had there.
Wheatsville was so screwed up that he and his wife left Wheatsville to start a privately run food store downtown on Lamar that eventually became Whole Foods called “SaferWay”.
He could see the profitability at Wheatsville as well as its crappy drughead management structure and he was always a bit more entrepreneurial than he let on.
Quite a success story!

TexasJew on October 14, 2009 at 4:50 PM

Ayn Rand just blew you a kiss from Heaven.

RushBaby on October 14, 2009 at 4:48 PM

But she was an atheist. ;)

And if there is anything that the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and the United States have taught us over the last century is that capitalism has been a complete failure.

/s

mankai on October 14, 2009 at 4:50 PM

amerpundit on October 14, 2009 at 4:46 PM

A true communist wouldn’t own such a thing. He’d be a worker, sharing his wealth in a commune.

Good thing I didn’t see him. I’d have talked Marx to him and called him on his hypocrisy. Then police would have been needed, because he’d have hit me first. Can’t confuse idealogy with truth, can we?

Liam on October 14, 2009 at 4:50 PM

Caged pigs never complain. Till the cages fall apart.

lorien1973 on October 14, 2009 at 4:32 PM

Mmmmmmmmmm…free range bacon!

WashJeff on October 14, 2009 at 4:51 PM

It’s ashamed that wealth is equated with greed, most of these folks do a lot more for the world then employ people and accumulate stuff. I try to buy as much stuff as I can.

Cindy Munford on October 14, 2009 at 4:51 PM

Daniel Craig is the best.

Abby Adams on October 14, 2009 at 4:49 PM

Get over him and his speed-o.

Geesh. Women. Ruin everything.

Connery was best. Moore is second. Then Blah.

lorien1973 on October 14, 2009 at 4:51 PM

Greed is good.

JadeNYU on October 14, 2009 at 4:41 PM

You got that right it is coveting and envy that is wrong.

fourdeucer on October 14, 2009 at 4:51 PM

But she was an atheist. ;)

mankai on October 14, 2009 at 4:50 PM

So am I, but I’ll bet she still got in.

RushBaby on October 14, 2009 at 4:51 PM

had me till the ron paul part

jp on October 14, 2009 at 4:52 PM

If they don’t like that, then they can have the stale bread out back–it won’t kill ya, it’ll just make ya wish you were dead.

ted c on October 14, 2009 at 4:35 PM

Just ask all 2 survivors of the Gulag-home to millions ( of now dead people).

iPhone and getting into his Toyota Prius.

amerpundit on October 14, 2009 at 4:46 PM

Symbols of capitalism. Don’t you love the irony?
Who do these people thinks makes their Birkenstocks and grows their arugula?
It’s not Russian or Chinese peasants-yet.
And when they do start making that stuff-all the Birks will be one size-small. And all the arugual will be rotten.
I love capitalism! Viva it!

Badger40 on October 14, 2009 at 4:53 PM

I define greed as taking more the you deserve, and that is wrong. Of course some people deserve the millions they earned where as other deserve the squat, that is the key.

rob verdi on October 14, 2009 at 4:54 PM

by the way, this is what the left consideres an enemy.

rob verdi on October 14, 2009 at 4:54 PM

lorien1973 on October 14, 2009 at 4:51 PM

No. Connery is too old to play Bond. Craig plays him much closer to the literary character. Besides, the movies are just so much better nowadays. Connery isn’t Asian. :-)

Abby Adams on October 14, 2009 at 4:54 PM

Connery was best. Moore is second. Then Blah.

lorien1973 on October 14, 2009 at 4:51 PM

Fixed.

mankai on October 14, 2009 at 4:54 PM

by the way, this is what the left consideres an enemy.

rob verdi on October 14, 2009 at 4:54 PM

And “dangerous.”

mankai on October 14, 2009 at 4:55 PM

Quite a success story!

TexasJew on October 14, 2009 at 4:50 PM

Truly-when you figure that organic food is no better than regularly grown food.
It isn’t any more nutritous or any less ‘toxic’ than all the other food.
But the elitists will part with more of their capitalist-earned dollars & then they feel so much better for saving the Earth: which they aren’t doing anyway.
This guy is duping these people. LOL!

Badger40 on October 14, 2009 at 4:56 PM

Capitalism created then saved Woodstock.

mankai on October 14, 2009 at 4:57 PM

lorien1973 on October 14, 2009 at 4:51 PM

Yep, Connery!

Cindy Munford on October 14, 2009 at 4:57 PM

Why do people love Roger Moore so much. Did anyone see Moonraker? Did anyone see A View to a Kill? Did anyone see The Quest with Jean Claude Van Damme?

Shock the Monkey on October 14, 2009 at 4:58 PM

Pure absurdity
bite the hand that feeds

spoiled little rotten commie pinko baby pieces of crap

go read Marx and suck a soy bean Popsicle you little rat bastid

blatantblue on October 14, 2009 at 4:49 PM

Years ago, back in the 70′s in Skokie, Il. You had a group of Neo-Nazis scheduled to demonstrate since they new that community had a large Jewish contingent. And since that was the 70′s, a lot of that contingent remembered first hand the holocaust. Violence broke out at times. Now, if we put a large group of Eastern Europeans who have emigrated here after the fall of the wall, that would be very entertaining, to see them confront these pussies with their college paid for with trusts from their very rich parents.

FlyoverJ-HawkFan on October 14, 2009 at 4:58 PM

You got that right it is coveting and envy that is wrong.

fourdeucer on October 14, 2009 at 4:51 PM

Can a higher tax rate on higher incomes can be construed as “coveting and envy”?

I would say yes.

WashJeff on October 14, 2009 at 4:58 PM

And the calm, well-reasoned response from the left to this interview will be: “H8er scum!…KIll him!…Racist fascist die!…Goaghhhhh!”

Django on October 14, 2009 at 4:58 PM

You know…

This movie was on the other night.

… We have arrived.

Seven Percent Solution on October 14, 2009 at 5:01 PM

Mmmmmmmmmm…free range bacon!

WashJeff on October 14, 2009 at 4:51 PM

You can get that at whole foods ya know. But then again you can probably get that in Cuba too.

nolapol on October 14, 2009 at 5:02 PM

But then again you can probably get that in Cuba too.

nolapol on October 14, 2009 at 5:02 PM

but not toilet paper.

Actually I’m good with my store brand, Oscar Mayer, etc. bacon. I always make sure my young kids get the fatty strips.

WashJeff on October 14, 2009 at 5:08 PM

But then again you can probably get that in Cuba too.

nolapol on October 14, 2009 at 5:02 PM

And in Bentley ND.
There are some trashy neighbors a few miles away that occassionaly have pigs that get loose and become feral.
Mmmmmmmmmmmm…..

Badger40 on October 14, 2009 at 5:09 PM

I always make sure my young kids get the fatty strips.

WashJeff on October 14, 2009 at 5:08 PM

Hopefully you won’t be reported to CPS bcs you are setting them up for clogged arteries later in life. LOL!

Badger40 on October 14, 2009 at 5:10 PM

WashJeff on October 14, 2009 at 5:08 PM

lol

nolapol on October 14, 2009 at 5:10 PM

Hopefully you won’t be reported to CPS bcs you are setting them up for clogged arteries later in life. LOL!

Badger40 on October 14, 2009 at 5:10 PM

Thankfully, I most likely have given them good genes. At least three generations of my family with no heart issues. And I think kids need fat any way (if it is not around their waist already).

WashJeff on October 14, 2009 at 5:18 PM

Government spending
Dumps money into housing,
Creates the Bubble.

Government spending
Subsidizes tuition,
Cost of college soars.

Government spending
Pays health care for millions,
Health costs explode.

Detect a pattern?
Government is the problem,
Not the solution.

Haiku Guy on October 14, 2009 at 5:19 PM

Clearly false.

Daniel Craig is the best.

Abby Adams on October 14, 2009 at 4:49 PM

Who?

Caper29 on October 14, 2009 at 5:26 PM

Daniel Craig is the best.

Abby Adams on October 14, 2009 at 4:49 PM

mmmmm, I’m with you.

I’m trying to participate in the “buy-cott.” I actually noticed quite a few McDonnell and Palin bumper stickers in the parking lot at the Whole Foods last time.

Firefly_76 on October 14, 2009 at 5:27 PM

The full hour video is worth it .

mises.org

the_nile on October 14, 2009 at 5:38 PM

It’s time for capitalism to start branching out into distinct types. Free-Market capitalism types don’t have a lot in common state-capitalism. Neither of those folks will likely approve of Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics. Differentiation is probably key to escaping some of the narrative of greedy capitalist piggies at the trough.

dieudonne on October 14, 2009 at 5:47 PM

Mackey should have visited a CommieMart food store in Leningrad during the Brezhnev administration as I did. Rotten produce for shelf after shelf. Indifferent bureaucrats resenting pesky locals interrupting bouts of heavy drinking on the job.

It would be a rude awakening of what Marxism here portends for PinkoMart Grocery Store & ObamaCommieCare for an expendable populace with gummint management about as classless and unworthy as Zero’s wife at her set-aside job at the University of Chicago.

viking01 on October 14, 2009 at 7:33 PM

It has gotten this bad that we need to defend capitalism.

Firebird on October 14, 2009 at 4:28 PM

It’s also gotten “this bad” that we have to defend the very constitution that is the bedrock of our society.

gryphon202 on October 14, 2009 at 8:04 PM

Detect a pattern?
Government is the problem,
Not the solution.

Haiku Guy on October 14, 2009 at 5:19 PM

…to coin a turn-of-phrase. LOL

gryphon202 on October 14, 2009 at 8:07 PM

Best Bond: Connery Best Bond Girl: Luciana Paluzzi

Jeff from WI on October 14, 2009 at 9:02 PM

Heart-ache: Mackey is a Ron Paul fan.

Lance Murdock on October 14, 2009 at 9:24 PM

Oh my.

What will all those tree hugging druid, Lola Granola-assed losers do for food? Can’t support a Capitalist, donchaknow.

I guess its back to the faaaaaaahbulous First Lady’s DC farmer’s market for $7.00 lb TUSCAN KALE……

seejanemom on October 14, 2009 at 9:45 PM

I am the man who has deprived you of victims and thus has destroyed your world…

All the men who have vanished, the men you hated, yet dreaded to lose, it is I who have taken them away from you. We are on strike against self-immolation. We are on strike against the creed of unearned rewards and unrewarded duties. We are on strike against the dogma that the pursuit of one’s happiness is evil. We are on strike against the doctrine that life is guilt …

You have sacrificed justice to mercy. You have sacrificed independence to unity. You have sacrificed reason to faith. You have sacrificed wealth to need. You have sacrificed self-esteem to self-denial. You have sacrificed happiness to duty …

Your ideal had an implacable enemy, which your code of morality was designed to destroy. I have withdrawn that enemy. I have taken it out of your way and out of your reach. I have removed the source of all those evils you were sacrificing one by one. I have ended your battle. I have stopped your motor. I have deprived your world of man’s mind …

While you were dragging to your sacrificial altars the men of justice, of independence, of reason, of wealth, of self-esteem, I beat you to it — I reached them first. I told them the nature of the game you were playing and the nature of that moral code of yours, which they had been too innocently generous to grasp …

There is a difference between our strike and all those you’ve practiced for centuries: our strike consists, not of making demands, but of granting them. We are evil, according to your morality. We have chosen not to harm you any longer. We are useless, according to your economics. We have chosen not to exploit you any longer. We are dangerous and to be shackled, according to your politics. We have chosen not to endanger you, nor to wear the shackles any longer.

The inauguration of Barack Obama took place on Jan. 20, 2009. The Economist magazine reported that week that Atlas Shrugged, published in 1957, had moved up to 33rd place among Amazon’s top-selling books.

Schadenfreude on October 14, 2009 at 11:06 PM

The beautiful thing about “Conscious Capitalism” is that businesses like Whole Foods can provide assurances to more-socially-conscientious-than-thou types that the food they are buying is fair trade, small carbon footprint, humane to livestock of not vegetarian/vegan, produced by minority-owned enterprises,… and this is how much all of that “social conscience” will cost you.

Then people can make the conscious choice to spend more money so they can feel good about what their money is doing.

The Monster on October 14, 2009 at 11:52 PM

Is M.0. growing arugula in the White House garden? Enough to feed The W0N? Because he DID particularly complain on the campaign trail about the high price of it at Whole Foods.

Damn Capitalists. Free Arugula for ALL! Down with Whole Foods!

/s

LegendHasIt on October 15, 2009 at 12:41 AM