Hole foods

This hurts me. I have good friends at Whole Foods. But now I have another reason not to shop there.

If you are a progressive and you are shopping at Whole Foods, you are feeding a high-priced machine that violates many of your personal principles. Please join me in shopping elsewhere. And just so you know what soapbox your hard-earned dollars are funding, consider this from Whole Foods CEO John Mackey in the Wall Street Journal.

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.

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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.

A careful reading of both documents will not reveal any intrinsic right to education either. I'm guessing Mr. Mackey would like to do away with any federal support for public schools, too.

Stop shopping at Whole Foods. Period. And make sure they know why. Mr. Mackey is certainly entitled to his opinion. And you're entitled to take your business elsewhere.

Comments

A careful reading

Of the House and Senate bills will not reveal any new unfunded deficits that will move us closer to a government takeover of our health-care system.

More people will have employer-sponsored insurance after reform than they do now. And the House has enumerated how it will pay for the legislation.

He's not helping his strugling company.

Every time this guy opens up his mouth, he digs a deeper(w)hole for his company.
There are plenty of other examples of this online.

Apparently, he also doesn't know what he's talking about. Mr. Mackey talks about his employees in Canada and the UK wanting additional insurance dollars and then saying this must be because "they don't have an intrinsic right to health care". He also brings up the familiar lie about people with public health care having to wait in line. As someone who enjoyed public health care for the first 30 years of my life I can assure you Mr. Mackey is full of BS.

My whole family and old friends still life in Belgium, where I'm from. My mom also has additional insurance on top of the public health care she gets. The reason for that is not because she doesn't have the right to health care, but because that additional insurance pays for luxury additions to your basic health care like a private hospital room, instead of having to share your room with 3 other patients.
When it comes to waiting lines I must say I never heard of having to wait in line for health care until I got to the US. In Belgium I could go to any doctor or hospital i wanted, without having to wait. When I came to the US I had to make an appointment a few weeks in advance to see a doctor for the first time and it took 4 weeks to be able to get an appointment with a dentist. Nobody I know in Belgium has ever remotely heard of waiting lines for any health care there what-so-ever!

(W)Hole bunch of bull$#%!

Where to start with his article?

The one thing I did agree with

These deficits are simply not sustainable. They are either going to result in unprecedented new taxes and inflation, or they will bankrupt us.

So did the CEO propose scaling back any of the Pentagon's budget? No.

Did he seek cost savings anywhere in any part of the existing budget? No.

What kind of CEO is this?

His proposal to address our budget deficit is to not have a single-payer system. Huh?

Since that's not on the table (unless you think the CEO really wants to kill the single-payer government run program known as Medicare), who knows what this fool is talking about?!

Hey, CEO Mackey, fire your PR and communications staff. You just stepped in way over your head and alienated much of your target market.

 

Mackey is a Joke

My girlfriend and I used to live across the street from the Whole Foods corporate HQ in Austin, TX. Just before I left and moved back to NC, Mackey was embroiled in a giant scandal where he faked an online persona and hit the WF message boards to try and spread malicious lies about WF's closest competitor (who they were trying to buy out at the time). How odd that someone believes in competition and the free market, who also believes in sabotaging those in his business through outright lies, espionage and criminal acts. He would have fit right in with Nixon's group.

John Mackey is nothing but a pathetic punk CEO who got really lucky because he could create a cult of people who believed in his BS. Maybe that is why he hates Obama and what he is trying to do - because people actually love and respect our president on a level they never could for such a pathetic, slimy character like himself.

Why can't we just get Central Market here in NC? It's better and cheaper than WF anyway.

-- A liberal originally from Yadkin County. Did I just blow your mind?

Alternative to Whole Foods: Bloom

Not that I shop at either, but just to show to the Whole Foods PR's staff what their CEO's letter can wreck...

"Bloom" is marketed as an alternative to Whole Foods. Bloom is a subsidiary of Salisbury, NC based Food Lion (Food Lion's parent company is Belgian when the conglomerate bought out the original owners in the 1980s).

Bloom is opening a new store in Huntersville, NC this month.

CEO Mackey, want more posts about your competitor Bloom on progressive blogs? Keep attacking health insurance reform on the pages of the Wall Street Journal.

 

?????

James, you have not articulated your factual basis for your boycott. Can you? Can you??

Not that I need one

You seem to be operating under the illusion that a factual basis is required for anything. For example, I have no factual basis for spending ten hours a day managing this site, yet I do it.

But since you asked, I have an long-standing policy of avoiding spending money to enrich individuals who use their resources to fight issues I support. I don't always succeed at it, but that is how I try to operate. That's how I make decisions about most purchases, but not all. For example, my family is covered by BCBS for health insurance through UNC. I've made peace with the fact that I don't have good alternatives there.

For similar reasons, I mostly avoid Roses. They have great bargains on my favorite long-sleeve t-shirts, but I don't like funneling even small amounts of money to Art Pope, who owns the stores.

Thanks for asking.

"Rights"

He's is correct. There is nothing in those documents about a right to healthcare, food, or shelter.

You are also correct. There is nothing in those documents about a right to education either.

When someone says healthcare for everyone is a right, they are wrong. Healthcare is not an "intrinsic" right and thus is not a right until we make a new law to make it one. Perhaps universal healthcare should be a right but it currently is not.

Until someone can convince those in the majority who do have coverage they are happy with that they will be even better off after this "healthcare reform," it's not going to get very far.

The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America

Pray tell what does "Promote the general Welfare" means to You! To me it means that the framers were looking out for all of the citizens of the United States. Having just separated from Mother England and the disparities wrought by the elite class they spelled it out in the Preamble. Promoting the general welfare while forming a "more perfect Union", in my opion, does classify Healthcare as an "intrinsic" right!

So what?

1. The preamble of the constitution confers no legal powers.

2. The power to institute a national healthcare scheme is not conferred to the Congress, the President, or the Federal Judiciary anywhere in the Constitution.

3. Promoting the General Welfare could just as easily be interpreted to mean "setting up a reliable legal regime for settling disputes, facilitating market transactions, and preserving individual rights."

4. The American Revolution was a libertarian revolution, and one of the only justified wars in American history. Most 'conservatives' and 'liberals' today are the modern day equivalent of loyalists, ideologically. The founding fathers were diametrically opposed to the idea of big government (which is a detriment to the general welfare).

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"The natural wage of labor is its product." -- Benjamin R. Tucker
A liberal is someone who thinks the system is broken and needs to be fixed, whereas a radical understands it’s working the way it’s supposed to.

Everyone I know is opposed to big government

Including me.

I want government to be the right size to do specific and important things that cannot or will not be done by the private sector.

The power to do much of what is done by the federal government is not explicitly conferred by the Constitution. And even if it were, we know full well that interpretation is everything. If that were not the case, there would be no need for courts.

I enjoy these discussions with you, but they are intellectual exercises with no practical value.

The founding fathers were slave owners.

Opinions

You are entitled to your opinions but not your facts. You are stating opinions as if they were facts. "The American Revolution was a libertarian revolution", according to whom? Many fought for different reasons. The common thread was to break with tyranny of the crown, but after that the opinions and goals were many and even varied wildly. To say that our forefathers were of one mind and one goal is cartoonish at best if not outright disingenuous.

The fact is that it took Americans about 10 years to adopt the Constitution, not a sign of clear, overwhelming and easy accord.

The preamble to the Constitution most certainly does not confer legal powers but it surely sets the stage for what is to follow.

And finally Article 2 provides the means for amending the Constitution. Would that be because our forefathers had the foresight to predict that times change, people change and the needs of a nation change with time? Didn't they fight for change in their time? They most certainly were not fighting to preserve the status quo.

What our forefathers were not was sheeple. They would laugh at all of us today, in the right, the middle and the left. They were called revolutionaries for a reason.

Worth Repeating

To say that our forefathers were of one mind and one goal is cartoonish at best if not outright disingenuous.

Indeed, one doesn't need to do very much reading on the history of the founding of the USA, or the biographies of the "forefathers," to realize how close their rival ideologies came to preventing the whole "miracle of democracy" experiment. That rivalry was perhaps best epitomized in the incredibly complex and tumultuous relationship between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. When Adams was President and Jefferson VP, they were literally not on speaking terms, in large part over their rival ideologies.

Adams was a true "Federalist," and even could have been considered a monarchist. He would have much preferred a more powerful executive, with a Congress with less power than the English Parliament. The Alien and Sedition Acts enacted under Adams' prodding were downright scary! Compare that to Jefferson's more libertarian streak, although not to the point of actually putting into practice the famous words he authored in the miserably hot summer of 1776 in Philadelphia.

But then, perhaps it is not fair to consider either Adams or Jefferson as true "founding fathers," since both were in Europe at the time of the Constitutional Convention of 1787.

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The measure of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR

My Response

You are entitled to your opinions but not your facts. You are stating opinions as if they were facts. "The American Revolution was a libertarian revolution", according to whom?

According to me. Not only is the line between fact and opinion a blurry one, but no where did I claim that was an objective fact. I don't have to preface a statement like that with "It is my opinion that.." because it's obvious from the statement itself that it is my opinion. Duh. Is it a fact that I'm entitled to my opinions but not my facts, or is that your opinion? It's just a silly argument.

Many fought for different reasons. The common thread was to break with tyranny of the crown, but after that the opinions and goals were many and even varied wildly.

Like modern libertarianism, the American Revolution was, like you said, comprised of people with diverse opinions on a wide variety of issues (e.g. religion) and also like the modern libertarian movement, they were united by an understanding that tyrannical government was a common threat to personal liberty. The fact that the leaders of the revolution actually differed on many questions of philosophy and strategy underscores the parallels between the revolution and modern libertarianism. And, of course, many of the leaders of the revolution did hold quite libertarian/anti-state views on the issues (taxation, source of government authority, decentralization of power, freedom of religion, etc).

The preamble to the Constitution most certainly does not confer legal powers but it surely sets the stage for what is to follow.

Yea. I think that's the point of a preamble.

And finally Article 2 provides the means for amending the Constitution. Would that be because our forefathers had the foresight to predict that times change, people change and the needs of a nation change with time? Didn't they fight for change in their time? They most certainly were not fighting to preserve the status quo.

Actually, Article 5 contains the amendment process, and while it does show that the drafters anticipated the need to change the Constitution, that fact only further delegitimizes various expansions of federal power that have not been accompanied by amendments to the Constitution. If they included a mechanism to alter the structure of government then there's even less excuse for the way that the government has basically ignored its constitutional limits.

And yes, they were fighting for change - change that was considered extremely radical and unrealistic at that time. In my opinion the libertarian ideology is the only ideology that can challenge the status quo because it is the only one willing to identify both heads of the beast: big business and big government (to be fair, some greens are on board with this notion).

What our forefathers were not was sheeple. They would laugh at all of us today, in the right, the middle and the left. They were called revolutionaries for a reason.

For the record, Thomas Jefferson thinks that 9/11 was an inside job. Logically they wouldn't laugh at libertarians, who aren't found in the right, the middle or the left. :P

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"The natural wage of labor is its product." -- Benjamin R. Tucker
A liberal is someone who thinks the system is broken and needs to be fixed, whereas a radical understands it’s working the way it’s supposed to.

"The American Revolution was

"The American Revolution was a libertarian revolution" as you said it is a statement of fact not an opinion. In my opinion nothing could be further from the truth. Obviously you are unable to tell the difference. You just are trying to advance your agenda in a very disingenuous manner. Nowadays that is not surprising after all we are seeing.

Our current system is "tyrannical" compared to what? Maybe you prefer the anarchy of Somalia? Maybe you prefer the tyranny of the better armed? Or, at what other time in our history have we all been less afraid to state our opinions without fear of retribution? When? For everybody (including minorities), not just a few, when? If you ask me most African Americans or Native Americans or Latinos have not enjoyed that idyllic period that you seem to imply once existed or that it exists somewhere else. Not that it exists now but is better than it was. And most definitely did not exist in revolutionary America, unless you were white, property owner and male. But perhaps you cherish that America and that version of the Constitution.

"Yea. I think that's the point of a preamble." So your previous attempt to ridicule the statement about the preamble from the previous poster is utter fail. Thanks for admitting so much.

The Supreme Court and the 100+ judges that have sat on the Court seem to utterly disagree with you on your interpretation of the Constitution. Forgive me if I side with them than with apparently bigger than life, in your own mind, you.

"Thomas Jefferson thinks that 9/11...", have you considered psychiatric help? Is that the best you can do?

Modern Libertarians, or Friedmanites, are nothing more than social predators. As I said before, you would love Somalia. But we are not ready to turn our country into a failed state no matter how an imperfect a union we might still be. No one is stopping you from moving.

The General Welfare

2. The power to institute a national healthcare scheme is not conferred to the Congress, the President, or the Federal Judiciary anywhere in the Constitution.

Actually, the "power" is conferred to the Congress in Article 1 Section 8, to wit: The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States...

This clearly places "common defense" and "general welfare" on equal footing as conditions to be "provided for" by the Congress exercising its power to "lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises..."

Set up in the preamble, and repeated in the text of the document in even stronger language -- "provide for" in Article 1 Section 8 versus "promote" in the Preamble.

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The measure of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR

"Promote"

Perhaps in this example it is a matter of "promote" vs. "ensure." If it said "ensure," one could not believe anything other than that the framers intended the U.S. government to have all manner of programs to make sure each and every citizen was fully taken care of.

"Promote" is much more passive and frankly the only thing attainable by the government. What right, even among those specifically spelled out, is the government fully successful at "ensuring?" Even the most fundamental- the right to life- cannot be ensured. People get murdered all the time.

Nicely said

n/t

And while I'm on a roll lol

Further down in Article 1 Section 8: To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers....

So, Congress can impose the taxes to provide for the payment of debts, provide for the common defense, and provide for the general welfare. And then Congress has the power to "make all laws which shall be necessary" for making that happen.

Now I'm done.

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The measure of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR

How about "promote" vs "provide for"

As I noted in another comment, the "general welfare" is mentioned twice in the Constitution. The first "general welfare" sighting appears in the Preamble where one of the reasons for establishing the Union was to "promote the general welfare." But in Article 1 Section 8, the Congress is given the power to impose taxes for three specific reasons:

  • to pay the debts
  • to provide for the common defense
  • to provide for the general welfare

Of course, the "strict constructionists" would argue that the language of the Constitution is clear. And in Article 1 Section 8, the framers produced a document that clearly gives Congress the power to impose taxes for the purpose of "providing for the general welfare."

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The measure of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR

Still not an established right

I am not saying Congress does not have the authority to put into law the right to universal care. My point is that people who run around whining about their right to it are wrong until it is codified.

I do think some kind of massive reform can very likely promote general welfare, but I am convinced that it was not the intent of the framers to ensure individual welfare, which is how I think some people really interpret the "general welfare" references.

More questions

Interesting stuff. It makes me wonder:

Can individual welfare be isolated from general welfare?Are they not bidirectional?

They knew they didn't know everything

They knew Congress would make new laws in the future. "General welfare" should be the basis for all laws.

Collectively we are better off because of our right to a "free" basic education. This includes those who can afford the cost of private education. Educated people are generally more able to provide for themselves and to be contributors to society. The same type of argument is also quite compelling when applied to the provision of heathcare. If generally we will be better off with some kind of guaranteed healthcare, then Congress should enact it with the intent of promoting general welfare.

That said, I am pretty sure there was no intent to have the government ensure the provision of every single thing each citizen might ever want or need. "General Welfare" allows Congress to make something a right if they believe it will promote it, but until they make comprehensive healthcare a legal right, it is not.

Not "established" or not "enumerated"

I think it would be more appropriate to say that "health care" is not an "enumerated" right.

And the framers were careful to be forward looking when they wrote and ratified the 9th Amendment:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

So, let's consider whether you want to encourage denying or disparaging the right of health care, which is not enumerated in the Constitution.

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The measure of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR

It isn't free or close to it

In fact, even a massively-reformed healthcare system will be hugely expensive.

Did you notice that the Bill of Rights mainly just guarantees individual freedoms and government constraints?

The Constitution is pretty thin on enumerating rights that involve "taxing and spending" except that it gives Congress that authority. Thus, referring to your point about the 9th amendment, the lack of enumeration does not take away one's right to seek and purchase healthcare, but it is a big stretch to argue that taxing and spending in the name of universal healthcare is a right even before Congress makes it one.

Enumerated and non-enumerated rights

One could argue that there is no Constitutional right to form a corporation, and no Constitutional provision that extends the rights and privileges enjoyed by individuals to what is in fact a "person" only on paper. Yet many "libertarians" and "conservatives" are the chief cheerleaders for the rights of corporations over the rights of individuals when they advocate for such business friendly measures as tort reform.

One could argue that there is no Constitutional basis for what we describe as "free market capitalism." Yet many self-described "strict constructionists" share what is best described as a religious fervor for the idea that anything other than "free market capitalism" is somehow unconstitutional and anti-American.

Did you notice that the Bill of Rights mainly just guarantees individual freedoms and government constraints?

The key word being "mainly." The Bill of Rights does not in any way exclusively guarantee individual freedoms. "The press" might be an individual, or it might be a worldwide media conglomerate. Furthermore, those rights have been extended to many "persons only on paper," in many cases at the expense of the rights of real persons in the flesh. For example, the individual "freedom of speech" has been extended to shelter the rights of "persons only on paper" to make contributions to candidates for elected office.

So, if we want to get into a "strict construction" or "originalist" debate, as good a place to start as any is with the "well-regulated militia" phrase in the 2nd Amendment.

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The measure of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness

Leaving aside any role healthcare may play in any citizen's intrinsic right to life, we each have the right to liberty. Our current system creates an unfair balance in employer/employee relations which renders a massive proportion of our population virtual slaves to the companies they work for.

One might imagine that US companies, their executive teams and shareholders would be leading the revolt against a system that has them paying a large share of the exorbinant costs of health care. Their global competitors don't carry such expense. But US corporations gain enormous negotiating control over their work forces in the current system. It's hard to bitch about CEO compensation that equal > 350 times the pay of an average worker when you're worried about keeping your children's coverage intact.

Imagine the economic stimulus and improved innovative competitive position the US would gain from setting free the thousands upon thousands of American entrepreneurs who could be starting their own companies today if they were free of the shackles that keep them captive to their employer-provided insurance. The model worked, perhaps, 50 years ago when workers and employers were loyal to each other. Reagan and US Corps killed that model thirty years ago. Time to kill this piece too. In the name of justice and liberty.

Hey you!

Glad to see you de-lurking for a brief spell. Shields up!

A well crafted letter to Whole Foods

From a recommended diary at Kos.

I am writing to express my outrage at the callous opinion piece penned by the Whole Foods CEO John Mackey in the 8/12/09 Wall Street Journal. I am a regular visitor of Whole Foods, and for many years, I have appreciated the high quality produce, and numerous other healthy choices that the store provides. However, I am disgusted the find that the company CEO holds disturbingly cold-hearted libertarian views. Furthermore, the WSJ article is full of half-truths and misinformation about the goal of universal health care. Mr. Mackey proudly states that health insurance premiums are paid for employees who work over 30 hours weekly. Rather than seeing this as an accomplishment, I’d like to know "What percentage of the Whole Foods workforce does that policy leave uninsured?" I also wonder how many more of his employees could be covered if health insurance premiums were not also subsidizing exorbitant insurance company executive compensation, coupled with millions upon millions of dollars in lobbying fees?

In his article, Mr. Mackey attempts to play on fears of uninformed citizens by invoking the two-headed boogeyman of "rationing" and "long waiting lists" that are seen in the UK and Canada. However, what is beyond question is that the current US health care system rations health care in a much less efficient and inhumane fashion. The unemployed or underemployed (like many of your own "less than 30 hour per week employees") often forgo health care altogether, or they wait until it is an emergency, and then overburden emergency rooms with problems that could have been prevented if addressed earlier. What’s worse, is the policy of insurance companies routinely refusing to pay for covered procedures, simply to increase their already huge profits.

Mr. Mackey, your company provides a range of valuable, tangible products that have the potential to increase your customers’ quality of life. In contrast, health insurance companies do not provide any such tangible products or services. No, in fact, they exist purely to make profits by causing suffering and even deaths of their customers. And since you have been so visible in your support of these heartless companies, I will no longer be a patron of yours. While sick Americans are nearly powerless to make a statement against health insurance companies, luckily, my health is not dependent on services provided by your stores alone. I will gladly search out healthy foods at other markets, and I will encourage all of my friends to do the same.

Mackey fudged about employee coverage

Mackey's Op-Ed said the following which is not quite true:

Whole Foods Market pays 100% of the premiums for all our team members who work 30 hours or more per week (about 89% of all team members) for our high-deductible health-insurance plan. We also provide up to $1,800 per year in additional health-care dollars through deposits into employees’ Personal Wellness Accounts to spend as they choose on their own health and wellness.

This is what the Whole Foods website actually says about health benefits:

Medical Care
* PPO Medical Plan and prescription program administered by UnitedHealthcare.
* Team members are eligible to participate after 400 service hours
* No cost for full-time team member coverage after 800 service hours (dependent coverage, including domestic partner, is additional)

Personal Wellness Account
* Company-funded account helps cover the costs of out-of-pocket allowable health care expenses.
* Full-time team members are eligible for this account after 800 service hours
* $300 to $1,800 annually, based on years of service
* Access to funds through a special debit card
* Remaining funds will roll over at the end of the year

So you have to work there for about 20 weeks, or about 5 months, before you are eligible for 100% premium coverage.

Easy enough to boycott Whole Foods...

...for those of us in and around Chapel Hill/Carrboro. I typically spend $200 a month at Whole Foods; as of today it will all go to Trader Joe's and Weaver St. Market.

Thanks

My wife has been a Whole Foods shopper ... and now she's not.

Growth Update & Progressive Credentials Question

The group is up to 8,375 members now from the 6,712 number I posted earlier today.

I just noticed Whole Foods also happens to be a sponsor of the 14th Annual Gay & Lesbian Film Festival going on in Durham right now. Is that just for show, or is that real progressiveness?

http://festivals.carolinatheatre.org/ncglff/schedule/

I for one am kind of on the sidelines since I don't shop at Whole Foods any more ever since a trader joes opened up within walking distance of where I live (& I worked for the past 3 years in a Plaza that had a Food Lion so out of convenience I also frequented there).