Whole Foods, Whole Lotta Backlash

Two days ago Whole Foods CEO John Mackey posted a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece criticizing Obama’s proposed health-care reforms, and the internet backlash has been swift and fierce.

Facebook already has a 2,500-strong “Boycott Whole Foods” group, and Single Payer Action is calling for similar action.

Personally, I find any argument that opens with a Margaret Thatcher quotation to be about as articulate and well-informed as, say, a comparison between Obama and Hitler*; but I’m curious, fellow Rhode Islanders: will Mackey’s remarks affect where you shop? Comment away, Dosers, comment away.

*see Reductio ad Hitlerum and Godwin’s Law for ways to make an automatic conversation FAIL.

11 thoughts on “Whole Foods, Whole Lotta Backlash”

  1. My 15 year, three visit per week relationship with Whole Foods just ended. I vote with every dollar I spend. I feel ashamed that I enabled John Mackey to rise to the upper 1% so he could trickle down on the rest of us. Eat the rich.

  2. I was all set to be outraged over his artcle based on your initial reportage, but instead found him to be only partially objectionable, and certainly not worthy of a boycott. Why potentially damage the livelihood of so many people that have jobs right now?

    My main issues with his assesment are first, his belief that we would be spending “other people’s money.” Isn’t that what is happening already because so many people have health problems that have escalated becaause they were unable to access general, preventative

  3. Mackey deserves to be boycotted because he is able to exert infinitely more influence over legislation than the owner of the Local Hero Deli.

    I would not let aa barber’s politics count towards where I get my hair cut, but I never went back to the place that had fox news on because I like to relax at the barbershop.

    I stopped going to WFM months ago when Mackey was in Washington lobbying against Employee Free Choice. If he really believes that everyone who works for him is pinching themself because they can’t believe how great it is to be working at WFM then why doesn’t he believe EFCA would never affect his employee relations and therefore stay the hell out?

  4. Mackey does have the right to express his opinion but as the CEO, I believe that he exercised poor judgement in The Wall Street Journal OP-ED. He is using the Whole Foods brand all over this piece in his effort to solicit his idea about what kind of health care reform we need. One of the biggest problems with health care in this country is the cost prohibitiveness for individuals and business owners. A high deductible insurance plan with a $2500 deductible is not a desirable plan, still very unaffordable for many people. I would never choose that plan over a low deductible plan and I do not know many people who would. I find it curious that Mackey thinks that it is okay for the government to offer tax support for business owners to purchase sub-par insurance plans but not government support to implement a public insurance option for hard working middle class people like myself. Obama’s plan is advocating a hybrid system, in which the private insurance companies will still exist with a public option for those Americans like myself who would actually like to reap the benefits of the taxes I pay. While I realize that Mackey and his company do some good in this world, I feel that by using his brand in this editorial he is alienating me, customer who feels very strongly on this issue. I do not want to continue offering financial to support to someone who has offered expressions that lead me to believe that he is likely offering financial support to block the type of reform that I think we need. I am sure that if Mackey wrote an editorial advocating Obama’s plan, that his libertarian customer base might choose to withdraw their business. This was just irresponsible behavior as a CEO, but I guess that’s Mackey’s MO. I am taking my business elsewhere, back to the small organic grocer even though he is a bit further from where I live.

  5. I for one applaud him for speaking out aginst Obama and his socialist plans, I’ll be sure to take an extra trip to wf’s this week!!

  6. I think a critical element of choosing to boycott a business is whether or not your dollars spent there are being directed to organizations, activists or campaigns that advocate a policy or philosophy with which you strongly disagree.

    It is not clear from the reporting I’ve read on Mackey that he is a significant donor to anti-reform groups or candidates, but I suspect like most wealthy captains he is to some degree. The op-ed is not the problem, the problem is how he uses his money to further that expressed opinion.

    As for the local small business example, I use a different standard . I used to shop at a liquor store whose owner would always have right-wing talk radio playing very prominently, such as Rush, Hannity etc. Even the “true believers” of that stuff know that it is divisive and confrontational, and so for the owner to so willfully inflict it on his customers was, in my view, a way of saying “if you’re in my store, you’ll have to hear my political opinions”.

    Did he agree with everything they said? I don’t know and it doesn’t matter because he was tacitly endorsing their opinions by broadcasting them to his customers. I don’t know if he was an actual contributor to any campaigns or organizations I opposed, but he did use his business to provide further exposure to the kinds of ideas I frankly detest. In that context, I then viewed my continued patronage as an endorsement of his perspective and found no better way to register my actual disagreement with that perspective than to discontinue shopping there.

  7. I agree that Margaret Thatcher quotes are uncalled for, but I thought the editorial was pretty lucid. There are some good ideas in there.

  8. While I disagree with him on this, I wouldn’t -boycott- his stores. Hell, I go to plenty of stores that have vastly different political philosophies. Ever been to American Hero sandwich shop in Pawtucket? It’s like being in a 9/11 memorial. Still, they make a damned-good sandwich.

    There are times when boycotts are a valid tool of dissent, but not when you merely -disagree- with the political philosophy of the other party. I’d say that a boycott should only start when there’s a serious -action- that is reprehensible and you need to boycott to stop it.

    Boycotting a company because the CEO has done something reprehensible and will not step down, or is allowing reprehensible things to happen inside his company is fair-game. Boycotting a company because the CEO expressed himself freely and openly about a political issue is anti-social, in the true meaning of the word. The last time I checked, writing an op-ed isn’t actually harmful in any way, and neither is disagreeing with the president.

    I used to frequent a cafe, eventually it changed hands. The new owner was a very racist, neo-fascist guy. The way I saw it, he was entitled to his own political opinion and it should have no bearing on my coffee selection. When he started actually harassing black and hispanic customers, that’s when I took my dollars and went elsewhere.

    I guess that everyone draws the line where ‘enough is enough’ on their own terms, but boycotting someone based on their -opinion- will only make this nation a more divided place.

  9. Whole Foods is based in Texas.

    Why is anyone surprised that they are self serving jerks?

  10. Whole foods has a lot to be angry about, but dumb editorials from ceos is probably the least of people’s worries. They’re the Wal-Mart of quality food and even though their business practices might be comparatively much better, its still a matter of every dollar spent there going to a corporation and a pigheaded CEO’s bonuses instead of local small businesses.

  11. Wow. First there was the whole Yahoo Finance boards fiasco, and now this winner. I guess Mackey’s gone libertarian on us. Reads like the freaking GOPs playbook.

    High-deductible plans bankrupt families. The natural progression of shared risk is to create the largest possible group, therefore spreading the risk as widely as possible. That largest-possible-group would be “all of us.”

    Duh. This is actuarial science.

    The only possible reason to segment into smaller groups is to maximize profit from each group. In other words, “competition” in insurance means we all pay more and the insurance companies keep more in profit.

    Once again, Mr. Mackey, FAIL.

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