Whole Foods CEO retracts accusation that Obamacare is fascism

Whole Foods founder and CEO John Mackey, after calling Obamacare “fascism,” now says he never realized people associate fascism with Nazi Germany.

Right.

Mind you, this is the man who two years ago associated President Obama’s health care reform proposal with “socialism.”  When asked yesterday by NPR if he still believed it was “socialism,” he said no, it’s more like “fascism.”

Of course, this isn’t the first time Whole Foods’ Mackey has tried to retract an obnoxious right-wing Republican smear of the President and his health care reform.  He previously tried to backtrack on the “socialism” smear too.  So the question arises: How many times does Whole Foods have to prove to us that it’s run by a, to borrow a phrase, “fascist,” before we stop shopping there?

Here’s Whole Foods’ Mackey’s newest statement about President Obama’s fascism:

whole foods

Whole Foods by ilovemypit

I made a bad choice of language. I was trying to distinguish it between socialism so I took the dictionary definition of fascism, which is when the means of production are still owned privately but the government controls it — that’s a type of fascism. However, I realize that that word has so much baggage associated with it from World War II, with Germany, with Italy and Spain, that’s a very provocative word, so I regret using it. What I do believe in is free enterprise capitalism, and I’d like to see our healthcare system really unleash the power of free enterprise capitalism to create innovation and healthcare progress. I don’t think we have that – I think we’re moving away from that. So I do regret using that word, I won’t be using it in the future.

I do believe that the government can provide subsidies for our poorer citizens so that everyone can afford health insurance. One of the great examples that I point people to is what they’re doing in Switzerland, where you have still private health insurance markets and yet the government creates subsidies for all of its citizens so that everyone can afford health insurance. There you let the private market, competitive capitalism work and yet the government makes sure that there’s a safety net for people – that’s where I wish we were going in the United States.

And to put Whole Foods’ Mackey in perspective, he’s also a climate change denialist:

One of the books on the list was “Heaven and Earth: Global Warming—the Missing Science,” a skeptical take on climate change. Mackey told me that he agrees with the book’s assertion that, as he put it, “no scientific consensus exists” regarding the causes of climate change; he added, with a candor you could call bold or reckless, that it would be a pity to allow “hysteria about global warming” to cause us “to raise taxes and increase regulation, and in turn lower our standard of living and lead to an increase in poverty.” One would imagine that, on this score, many of his customers, to say nothing of most climate scientists, might disagree. He also said, “Historically, prosperity tends to correlate to warmer temperatures.”

Whole Foods’ Mackey is so bad on climate change that Media Matters went after him.

I also got a kick out of Mackey’s earlier attempt to wiggle out of the “socialism” debacle – shorter Mackey, it’s your fault for thinking Whole Foods was some liberal do-good company:

“I was so viciously attacked for two reasons,” Mackey told me. “One is that people had an idea in their minds about the way Whole Foods was. So when I articulated a capitalistic interpretation of what needed to be done in health care, that was disappointing to some people.” He begrudges the extent to which people have projected onto Whole Foods an unrealistic and idealistic vision of the company. “The C.E.O. of Safeway, Steven Burd, wrote an op-ed piece in June advocating, basically, market solutions to the health-care problem, and nobody gave a shit,” he said.

Get that?  You’re “vicious” for being upset that Whole Foods’ CEO basically called President Obama a socialist, which in American parlance, means Soviet communist.  And you’re also naive for having some idealistic vision of Whole Foods as a “good” company.  Silly you.

I’m guessing a lot of naive Whole Foods customers just grew up.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

Share This Post

  • http://twitter.com/CitizenX CitizenX

    My health insurance through my job was 64 dollars a month. IF you are paying much more than that, then whoever negotiated your policy is an utter failure.

    I’ve nerver had a high deductible.

  • theoracle

    A-Whole Foods, run by another nutty A-Whole Republican.

  • http://www.bloomsburyreview.com Webster

    Meh, I stopped shopping at Whole-Paycheck long ago when Mackey first started bloviating during the Health Care debate. I prefer my food untainted.

  • rmthunter

    I checked out Whole Foods when it first opened in Chicago — minimal selection, sky-high prices. I’ve started shopping at Trader Joe’s occasionally, which also has a limited selection, but the prices are reasonable, lots of fair-trade stuff, and some things I can’t find elsewhere. Whole Foods just always struck me as the grocery story for 1% wannabes.

    Oh, and this Mackey character? He’s an idiot.

  • UncleBucky

    Too late, Mr. CEO of Carrot Cake Land. You just put the knife into the souffle…

  • Jonathan_Justice

    Is this one of the places where the right wing noise/echo machine has bitten one of its intended beneficiaries?

    When the 47% video turned up, the idea was so obviously ill-considered-lots of people who get government checks, especially the bigger ones, vote for Republicans -that I thought Mr. Romney was simply pandering. Now the preponderance of the evidence suggests that he actually believed something of the sort, presumably because he read it in the Wall Street Journal.

    In the present instance, busy busy CEO John Mackey repeatedly makes ill-informed remarks about stuff like the American health care reform or global climate disruption. One supposes he would not accept such ill-informed presentations if they were made by his subordinates in discussing the state of his business. The sense of entitlement which leads him to blither in discussing the public’s business is its own kind of problem, but the matter at hand is the question of how he manages to be so ill-informed to begin with. Where oh where does he get the material? Ordinarily, being so befuddled would be a perverse personal accomplishment, but surprise, surprise, our culture is awash in these infotainment advertorials thanks to piles of money being spent, and ‘earned’, to build a set of parallel universes of misinformation mainly intended to excuse and extend a lot of greedy and stupid behavior.

    It is hardly surprising that immersion in that sort of grifty palaver would lead to some peculiar public statements. It is arguably more important that it also leads to problematical business decisions and public policy. In the present instance, we have the spectacle of the CEO of a retail business complaining about a federal program that proposes to make it easier for his employees to manage their own health care instead of bothering the company about it and meanwhile proposes to prevent his customers from being ground up in health care related bankruptcies. It is pretty clear that instead of carefully tending his own business or responsibly engaging in public discourse, he is busy putting on a show to demonstrate his membership in what he supposes is a privileged class.

  • Houndentenor

    You can get insurance for about that as a single person but it would just cover major medical and have a very high deductible. (and that’s not true in every state)

  • Houndentenor

    I’d boycott Whole Foods now if I had been the kind of moron who pays 3x for something I could have gotten at the local farmer’s market.

  • ezpz

    Again: No.

  • ezpz

    PS: If “MORE government control” means regulations and standards, like Medicare has, then bring it on!
    I suspect the Swiss system is more regulated, more uniform, and more fair than what we have here. That kind of government control is not fascism; it serves to protect the people, not steal from them.

  • NCMan

    so again, by your definition, Mackey should lime Obamacare even more than he likes the Swiss system.

  • ezpz

    No, I think you’re the one who’s missing the point. The ACA is not so much govt controlled health care as it is corporate welfare, guaranteed by the govt, paid for by the people, either directly to the rapacious industry via the mandate, or THROUGH the govt from the fines or taxes it collects for noncompliance.

    I don’t care what word anyone uses to describe it- fascism, socialism – the ACA favors big money and is NOT people friendly. Actually, in a way it is fascism, because the govt and big business have partnered up to pilfer even more money from the masses.

  • FunMe

    Agree. I go to 99c store and next door is Whole Foods in Venice, California. Can’t believe such a liberal area of LA would continue to use them.

  • FunMe

    I stopped shopping at Whole Foods in 2009. Besides, I prefer Trader Joe’s better as they have LOWER prices and BETTER food than Whole Foods. Why bother trying to be all “hip” at WF when they could care less about Liberal/Progressive values?

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Obot posioning?

  • Corey

    I DONT shop at whole foods and tell all others not to either

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Shop at Costco—-great company, treats its employees great and has excellent quality. Dump Spoil Foods

  • MarketingMaven

    This is one Whole Foods customer of 10 years who’s shopped his last there. I went ballistic a few yeasr ago when they substituted solicitation for a food bank with requests to finance promotion of organic farmers.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Republican Libertarians using the term ‘fascist’ is more than ironic, it’s a synonym.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Exactly…..that’s why 2014 was set as the unveiling, so that the elections were over and the true betrayal of the bill made known. It will be even more disastrous when Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid is slashed.

  • NCMan

    You’re missing the point of Benjamin075’s post. He’s saying that Obamacare is certainly no more “facist” than the Swiss system. And, according to you the Swiss has even MORE government control than Obamacare. So, if Mackey is fine with the Swiss system, he should like Obamacare even MORE.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Around here in NM, we shop at Costco (which treats its employees well), Smith’s (union supermarket), and local farmer’s markets.

    The only thing we’ve bought at Whole Foods in the last year or so has been non-HFC tonic water — but they seem never to have that in stock anymore, so that was the last reason for us ever to go there.

  • TippersDad

    Off topic: Congress just cut CO-OPs out of ACA. How many more such surgical cuts until ACA is just a mandate to purchase crappy for-profit/not-for-actual-healthcare insurance.
    A thousand small cuts is the easiest way to kill something without the MSM noticing.

  • Naja pallida

    The Swiss Franc has been pretty close to on par with the dollar for a couple years… but it’s around 220 CHF =~ 235 USD right now.

  • Naja pallida

    The Swiss Franc has been pretty close to on par with the dollar for a couple years… but it’s around 220 CHF =~ 235 USD right now.

  • ezpz

    “Isn’t that Obamacare?”

    No, it’s not. The 80 to 85% that you mention is very vague. 80 to 85% of WHAT? There are no regulations, no caps on premiums, copays, deductibles, so if the insurance giants are ‘forced’ (yeah, right) to spend that percentage on care, they can still make obscene profits by raising premiums, deductibles, and copays, as well as continuing to arbitrarily deny claims as they’ve been doing all along.

    No, the ACA does NOT ‘get us a start’ at all. In fact, it takes us further away from what most nations have. The only sure thing about the ACA is that the insurance industry will be guaranteed tens of millions of new ‘customers’.

  • bejammin075

    What I mean is not exactly the price we are paying, but the changes made from what we had and moving into the ACA. The part that Mackey said that struck me was
    “…in Switzerland, where you have still private health insurance markets and yet the government creates subsidies for all of its citizens so that everyone can afford health insurance. There you let the private market, competitive capitalism work and yet the government makes sure that there’s a safety net for people – that’s where I wish we were going in the United States”
    Isn’t that Obamacare? Switzerland I think by law makes insurance companies pay more of premiums for care than the US, but at least the ACA gets us a start (80 to 85%, depending on type of insurance product). In the future, we can adjust upwards that 80 to 85%.

  • ezpz
  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000111133695 Lisa Johnson

    What does 200 Swiss francs translate into into dollars and cents?

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Now I can buy that $58.00 half ounce baggy of organic, locally grown truffles and not feel guilty, because that the retraction has been made an all.

  • Carl Gorney

    It’s coming to the Buffalo area soon. Alas, it’s too far from where I live, so I don’t think I’ll get to it all that much.

  • Carl Gorney

    We don’t have Whole Foods in Buffalo…nor, after this flap, would I or my family consider SHOPPING there. Trader Joe’s is coming into the area in the near future.

  • bejammin075

    What Mackey praises about Switzerland’s healthcare system sounds exactly like what Obama did with the Afordable Care Act. Am I right? So Switzerland healthcare is good, but Obamacare is evil fascism?

  • Fifi

    ” I made a bad choice of language ”

    No, you made a bad choice of extra-professional activity.

    Run your company, rake in your profits, enjoy your money but otherwise, shut the f*** up for the sake of your own business.

  • nicho

    At Whole Paycheck, I’m guessing it’s more than half of their customer base that voted for Obama. Romney’s base either has the servants shop for them– or are loading up at the Walmart.

  • Indigo

    And yet affluent self-identified liberals continue to shop Whole Foods. What’s that about?

  • http://firefeeder.blogspot.com/ Stratplayer

    What is with these purported retailing geniuses who don’t know enough not to alienate huge chunks of their customer bases? What do Whole Foods shareholders think of what Mackey’s big mouth is doing to their investments? The man is a narcissistic fool.

  • theantispanos

    Trader Joe’s, if you’re thinking about making any political statements, kindly STFU. I like your stuff.

  • theantispanos

    What the hell is wrong with these ‘Einsteins’ that seem to forget that half or more of their customers voted for this President? Dude, buy good organic produce and STFU.

  • http://voenixrising.com/ Mark Alexander

    Another right-wing nutjob 1-percenter. Another day that ends with “y”.

  • djc

    A note on Swiss health insurance: my health insurance here in Zurich (married, no children at home) costs me about 220 Swiss francs per month. When US insurers decide to match that, then I’ll believe that the Swiss model can work in the USA, but until then, the private health insurance industry in the USA are nothing more than legally sanctioned thieves.

  • lynchie

    I am frankly surprised he didn’t use the “taken out of context” excuse or the one i like best “sorry anyone took offense”. Boycott of Whole Foods by the left seems appropriate that’s if the pseudolibs give a shit.

  • http://www.facebook.com/duke.johnson.980 Duke Johnson

    He is ignorant. His complaint about the ACA was that it was ‘bureaucrats’ telling people what kind of coverage they had to have.

  • emjayay

    The cool alternative for example in Northampton MA is actually generally more expensive, and there aren’t any of the small alternative fruit and veg stores around like in a lot of urban areas. One small old family run grocer. There don’t seem to be any national independent generic/house organic type brands like Whole Foods has, whatever they call it. Probably some farmer’s markets somewhere. But if I lived there I wouldn’t go to Whole Foods because of Mackey’s delusions and misreprestations and lies.

  • http://www.facebook.com/duke.johnson.980 Duke Johnson

    Wikipedia: “Health insurance is compulsory for all persons residing in Switzerland… Swiss are required to purchase basic health insurance, which covers a range of treatments detailed in the Federal Act. It is therefore the same throughout the country and avoids double standards in healthcare. Insurers are required to offer this basic insurance to everyone, regardless of age or medical condition. They are not allowed to make a profit off this basic insurance, but can on supplemental plans.”

  • nicho

    Free-enterprise capitalism is what has ruined our health care system. This guy is an idiot. I used to be able to pay for my health care out of my pocket — until they corporatized it and made it a for-profit corporate enterprise.

  • emjayay

    His nonsensical revision was on the Brian Lehrer show on wnyc. http://www.wnyc.org
    The listener comments are worth reading. OK, three of them are mine.

  • S1AMER

    Obviously, another right-wing buffoon who doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about.

    But I know this: We should all retract our patronage of Whole Foods!

  • blueoysterjoe

    I am amazed that liberals still use this store. In most metropolitan areas, at least, there are plenty of alternatives that aren’t run by ding dongs. In Seattle, if you throw a rock in any direction you’ll hit a grocery store collective owned by people who give a damn about progressive causes. Use them if you can.

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