I have never been a fan of Whole Foods [aka, "Whole Checkbook"], formerly Bread and Circus [or "Bread and Ripoff", as I called them then]. When they first opened in Cambridge, my then wife got a job there. Her job, as she described it, was to recommend various food supplements to people who had particular ailments or health concerns. The thing was, she knew nothing about nutrition and was given no training. When she asked her supervisor how to field the questions of the customers, she was told “Just make it up.” So she did.
She also told me that the produce section was spayed with insecticide every morning, to deal with the usual Cambridge roach infestation. Thus, it seemed, the food may have arrived organic but it certainly wasn’t when it left the store in customer’s baskets.
Further, the owner made no secret of his total disdain for labor unions or any other expressions of workers’ rights.
I am therefore not surprised to find out that the Whole Foods CEO John Mackey has come out against real healthcare reform and in favor of Republican “free market reforms” to aid the wealthy in a Wall Street Journal op ed:
T]he 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.
Among his brilliant ideas are allowing insurance companies to search for the least regulated state to operate from:
Repeal all state laws which prevent insurance companies from competing across state lines. We should all have the legal right to purchase health insurance from any insurance company in any state and we should be able use that insurance wherever we live. Health insurance should be portable.
He advocates cutting Medicare, by making seniors more “responsible” for their care, meaning they must pay a larger share of the costs:
Enact Medicare reform. We need to face up to the actuarial fact that Medicare is heading towards bankruptcy and enact reforms that create greater patient empowerment, choice and responsibility.
Fortunately, he has solved the healthcare financing riddle that has eluded so many others. Healthcare will become a step-child of publicly-funded elections:
[R]evise tax forms to make it easier for individuals to make a voluntary, tax-deductible donation to help the millions of people who have no insurance and aren’t covered by Medicare, Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.
Mackey also informs us that we have no right to healthcare, or to food or shelter:
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.
After all, if you get sick, it’s your own fault:
Unfortunately many of our health-care problems are self-inflicted: two-thirds of Americans are now overweight and one-third are obese. Most of the diseases that kill us and account for about 70% of all health-care spending”"heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and obesity”"are mostly preventable through proper diet, exercise, not smoking, minimal alcohol consumption and other healthy lifestyle choices.
Finally, Mackey suggests that voluntarily spending your money at Whole Foods is a major part of the solution to our healthcare problems. :
Recent scientific and medical evidence shows that a diet consisting of foods that are plant-based, nutrient dense and low-fat will help prevent and often reverse most degenerative diseases that kill us and are expensive to treat. We should be able to live largely disease-free lives until we are well into our 90s and even past 100 years of age.
In the spirit of voluntary activity, why don’t people voluntarily refuse to spend a cent at a company run by someone who uses his position to attack healthcare for all. That’s called a boycott. Surely that’s the responsible response to a company whose CEO shows little respect for the needs of his fellow citizens while working so hard to keep the rest of us from having a decent healthcare system.
August 14th, 2009