Health Care Reform - Full Article

As you are probably aware, I wrote an Op/Ed piece that was published in the Wall Street Journal earlier this week on health care reform, one of the biggest and most emotional issues facing our country. I was asked to write an Op/Ed piece and I gave my personal opinions. While I am in favor of health care reform, Whole Foods Market as a company has no official position on the issue.

 

In answer to President Obama's invitation to all Americans to put forward constructive ideas for reforming our health care system, I wrote this Op/Ed piece called simply "Health Care Reform." An editor at the Journal rewrote the headline to call it "Whole Foods Alternative to Obamacare," which led to antagonistic feelings by many. That was not my intention - in fact, I do not mention the President at all in this piece.

 

I fully realize that there are many opinions on the healthcare debate, including inside my own company. As we, as a nation, continue to discuss this, I am hopeful that both sides can do so in a civil manner that will lead to positive change for all concerned. You are welcome to share your thoughts in the comments section below. (Just remember our comment guidelines prohibit vulgarity and personal attacks.)

 

Here is the original unedited version that I submitted.

 

Health Care Reform

 

"The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money" —Margaret Thatcher.

 

With a projected $1.8 trillion deficit for 2009, several trillions more in deficits projected over the next decade, and with both Medicare and Social Security entitlement spending about to ratchet up several notches over the next 15 years as Baby Boomers become eligible for both, we are rapidly running out of other people's money. These deficits are simply not sustainable and they are either going to result in unprecedented new taxes and inflation or they will bankrupt us.

 

While we clearly need health care reform, 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 moves us much closer to a complete governmental takeover of our health care system. Instead, we should be trying to achieve reforms by moving in the exact opposite direction-toward less governmental control and more individual empowerment. Here are eight reforms that would greatly lower the cost of health care for everyone:

 

1. Remove the legal obstacles which slow the creation of high deductible health insurance plans and Health Savings Accounts. The combination of high deductible health insurance and Health Savings Accounts is one solution that could solve many of our health care problems. For example, 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, and provides up to $1,800 per year in additional health care dollars through deposits into their own Personal Wellness Accounts to spend as they choose on their own health and wellness. Money not spent in one year rolls over to the next and grows over time. Our team members therefore spend their own health care dollars until the annual deductible is covered (about $2,500) and the insurance plan kicks in. This creates incentives to spend the first $2,500 more carefully. Our plan's costs are much lower than typical health insurance, while providing a very high degree of team member satisfaction.

 

2. Change the tax laws so that that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have exactly the same tax benefits. Right now employer health insurance benefits are fully tax deductible for employers but private health insurance is not. This is unfair.

 

3. 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 health insurance wherever we live. Health insurance should be portable everywhere.

 

4. Repeal all government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover. These mandates have increased the cost of health insurance many billions of dollars. What is insured and what is not insured should be determined by individual health insurance customer preferences and not through special interest lobbying.

 

5. Enact tort reform to end the ruinous lawsuits that force doctors into paying insurance costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. These costs are ultimately being passed back to us through much higher prices for health care.

 

6. Make health care costs transparent so that consumers will understand what health care treatments cost. How many people know what their last doctor's visit cost? What other goods or services do we as consumers buy without knowing how much they will cost us? We need a system where people can compare and contrast costs and services.

 

7. Enact Medicare reform: we need to face up to the actuarial fact that Medicare is heading towards bankruptcy and move towards greater patient empowerment and responsibility.

 

8. Permit individuals to make voluntary tax deductible donations on their IRS tax forms to help the millions of people who have no insurance and aren't covered by Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP or any other government program.

 

Many promoters of health care reform believe that people have an intrinsic ethical right to health care-to universal and equal access to doctors, medicines, and hospitals. While all of us can empathize with those who are sick, how can we say that all people have any more of an intrinsic right to health care than they have an intrinsic right to food, clothing, owning their own homes, a car or a personal computer? Health care is a service which we all need at some point in our lives, but just like food, clothing, and shelter it is best provided through voluntary and mutually-beneficial market exchanges rather than through government mandates. A careful reading of both The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution will not reveal any intrinsic right to health care, food or shelter, because there isn't any. This "right" has never existed in America.

 

Even in countries such as Canada and the U.K., there is no intrinsic right to health care. Rather, citizens in these countries are told by governmental bureaucrats what health care treatments and medicines they are eligible to receive and when they can receive them. All countries with socialized medicine ration health care by forcing their citizens to wait in lines to receive scarce and expensive treatments. Although Canada has a population smaller than California, 830,000 Canadians are waiting to be admitted to a hospital or to get treatment. In England, the waiting list is 1.8 million citizens. At Whole Foods we allow our team members to vote on what benefits they most want the company to fund on their behalf. Our Canadian and British team members express their benefit preferences very clearly-they want supplemental health care more than additional paid time off, larger donations to their retirement plans, or greater food discounts; they want health care dollars that they can control and spend themselves without permission from their governments. Why would they want such additional health care benefit dollars to spend if they already have an "intrinsic right to health care"? The answer is clear: no such right truly exists in either Canada or the U.K. or in any other country.

 

Rather than increase governmental spending and control, what we need to do is address the root causes of disease and poor health. This begins with the realization that every American adult is responsible for their own health. Unfortunately many of our health care problems are self-inflicted with over 2/3 of Americans now overweight and 1/3 obese. Most of the diseases which are both killing us and making health care so expensive-heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and obesity, which account for about 70% of all health care spending, are mostly preventable through proper diet, exercise, not smoking, minimal or no alcohol consumption, and other healthy lifestyle choices.

American Diet

Over the past two decades, breakthrough scientific research by Colin Campbell, as documented in his book The China Study, and clinical medical experiences by many doctors including Dean Ornish, Caldwell Esselstyn, John McDougall, Joel Fuhrman, and Neal Barnard have shown that a diet consisting of whole foods which are plant-based, nutrient dense, and low-fat will help prevent and often reverse most of the degenerative diseases that are killing us, and becoming more and more expensive to treat through drugs and surgery. We should be able to live healthy and largely disease free lives until we are well into our 90's and even past 100 years of age.

 

Health care reform in America is very important. Whatever reforms are enacted it is essential that they be financially responsible and that we have the freedom to choose our own doctors and the health care services that best suit our own unique set of lifestyle choices. We are responsible for our own lives and our own health. We should take that responsibility very seriously and use our freedom to make wise lifestyle choices that will protect our health. Doing so will enrich our personal lives and will help create a vibrant and sustainable American society.

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4666 comments

Comments

FLORIDA MOM says …

<p>I initially shopped at the Whole Foods here in Tampa when it first opened and quit doing that about a year ago. After this article I am going this weekend! Kudos to you what a great American Patriot you are! There are many just like you down here in Florida. Behind you all way!</p>

Bryan says …

<p><strong>Off topic. </strong> Care to discuss why you oppose unions so much, Mr. Mackey? Or how many of the commenters on this blog post are sockpuppets, given your past history of such on yahoo! business discussion boards? Or how you can allow employees to vote on health care choices without being in violation of NLRB guidelines?</p>

lj says …

<p>Too little, too late. Even if this explanation ('WSJ edited me') satisfied me, I have since discovered other things about you, your politics and your business ethics that I dislike. Your company will have to do without the $175 we've been spending weekly at your stores for the past several years.</p>

Interesting says …

<p>I hope you do read this, cause you argument against healthcare being a right is extremely weak. Especially when you compare it to food and shelter not being rights.</p> <p>So what are inalienable rights? Among them, the right to bear arms. Should carrying weapons be more of a right than being given healthcare? I mean, if you aren't healthy food and shelter aren't really going to help. How can one work if they are sick or severely debilitated. By your logic, you would not have the right to protect yourself if you are sick.</p> <p>While I agree that people should be proactive and a number of your other points, I think you are being not willing to look outside of the box. Just because Canada and many places in europe have fully functioning healthcare systems with 'long lines' that 'equate to rationing' (have you been to some of your stores sir? are you rationing the amount of people to go in or it it just because you provide a good service that people line up?) doesn't mean that the system we choose has to function like that.</p> <p>Also, your example of what Whole Foods does, does not constitute what other people should do, as your organization is not fully representative of the types of business that exist out there (remember, more people are employed in small businesses, not large ones).</p> <p>Good Luck.</p>

boadicea says …

<p>BTW, a friend refuted your points pretty thoroughly <a href="http://web.archive.org/web/20101020182743/http://www.texaskaos.com/diary/6089/refuting-the-whole-foods-alternative-to-obamacare" rel="nofollow">here</a>.</p> <p>Just in case you are interested in possibly learning instead of just promoting debunked talking points.</p>

B says …

<p>I applaud you for making your opinion known. There are many who have not read this bill, that is over 1,000 pages, and includes provisions in it that would make our Founding Fathers roll over in their graves. This bill is on target to push the US into a socialized country and most of it's supporters have not truly read it. I don't understand why the hippies who have mainly supported Whole Foods and fought for individual freedoms in the 60's, now support stripping our freedoms away. You may have lost a lot of consumers, but my guess is that people like me will get behind you and shop there more. Thank you for your common sense!</p>

Allison says …

<p>Thank you for your recent piece in the WSJ. It was thoughtful and you raised some straightforward and inexpensive alternatives to enacting yet another costly government healthcare program. It is unfortunate that so few of our elected officials are listening. Please continue to speak out on issues when you have something valuable to add to the debate, despite the negative comments from some 'progressive' and 'open minded' customers. I have been customer of Whole Foods for years and will continue to support your business.</p>

Frank says …

<p>Bravo! I wish the senators were talking this straight. Love whole foods.</p>

Chuck Lin says …

<p>I find it unfortunate that so many people believe only liberals shop at Whole Foods. And the people who decided that because they don't agree with John Mackey's opinion, they can no longer shop there.</p> <p>It just shows that some people who claim to be open minded have the narrowest of views.</p>

John says …

<p>Thank you, Mr. Mackey. I am a closet conservative shopper at Denver Whole Foods (Hampden Avenue). I suspect most of the wonderful WF employees who regularly help me select organic produce and fresh fish would share exactly NONE of my public policy or political views, including my (our) views on health care reform. I cannot tell you how many times prior to the election my checker asked if I had voted yet '¦ presumably for McCain (NOT!). But, you know what? I take no offense. They are all great people. (They can't even make me feel guilty for keeping my 30 cents for bringing my own bags!) In the years I have shopped there, it never occurred to me to boycott your store because most of your employees are lefties (although I did park my car with the McCain sticker at the end of the lot to avoid any 'errant' carts of other shoppers). Rather, I shop at your store because eating good food keeps me and my family healthy. Sort of our own family's commitment to health reform. So, it is with disappointment, irony, and even amusement that I read that some on the left are boycotting WF stores because of your common sense view on health care reform '¦ even though the bill offers nothing to our fellow citizens that has anything to do with good health '¦ as you and I would define the term. Hang in there, sir. You know you are right. American knows you are right. And, when the politics settle, even your not-so-committed shoppers will know you are right, too.</p>

Bryce Doty says …

<p>Echoing other comments, thank you for your op-ed. I did not interpret your essay as hateful. I can understand how others interpreted it as that though. Thank you for adding constructively to the health care reform debate. I hope that some of your ideas make it into legislation.</p>

Sarah says …

<p>You are out of touch with this country! Ever been to a neighborhood where there's not a WF? Or maybe you'd be willing to open some new stores in areas where people don't have access to your health-conscious products? South Central LA? Fifth Ward Houston? If that's what you think is the right answer, put your money where your mouth is.</p>

Marcelo Teson says …

<p>That Thatcher quote is absurd. The last 8 years have shown that unregulated capitalism does a marvelous job of running out of other people's money. Their pension money, the money invested into their homes, and now their tax money. I'd also add that the person you quoted presided over a country with a massive socialized medicine apparatus and left it that way. Just today the head of Thatcher's conservative party reiterated their staunch support for socialized medicine.</p> <p>And if you TRULY favored individual choice and responsibility, you ought to let your workers unionize if they choose to instead of busting up their attempts to do so (like you did in Madison, WI). I guess in your mind people should be free to do anything they want'¦except organize.</p>

Mary says …

<p>Just sold all of my WFMI stock.<br> Will NEVER EVER shop at Whole Foods again.<br> As CEO you cannot separate your personal and mean-spirited opinions from your fiduciary duties to the company. Perhaps you are simply targeting a new market segment which you have every right to do. But I no longer part of your target market.</p>

Cate says …

<p>Thank you Mr. Mackey for taking the time to voice alternative solutions to socialized medicine. They sound much better to me than what is currently being proposed. The angry people who have commented don't understand the actual situation we're all in as health care and health insurance goes these days. On the other hand, you seem to have a sound mind and actually care for your employees, which I greatly appreciate. Will a store ever be opened in the Boise area??</p>

TheDuneman says …

<p>Great view. It is of no wonder to me that Whole Foods is as successful as it is with this kind of mind at the helm. Much respect, i would love to shake your hand.</p>

Jen Staffeldt says …

<p>Mr. Mackey,<br> I applaud you for stating your OPINION. Anyone saying that you are a fool or unAmerican because you are stating your thoughts are the FOOLS. </p> <p>YOU ARE NOT ALONE Mr. Mackey and the points you laid out are a great examples of common sense to improve our current health care options. </p> <p>I hope that you are reading these comments and know we support you and you are not alone ' as well as how much I LOVE Whole Foods and your companies values.</p> <p>Jen Staffeldt Smith</p>

john says …

<p>don't be fooled by the many positive responses here by desperate conservatives. your customer base is largely liberal democratic, and this will hurt whole foods.</p>

Jim Dullanty says …

<p>I join others who found your comments clear and refreshing. We are facing a national crisis in health care and other entitlements and they need thoughtful moderate dialogue, something we seem to have lost in these times.<br> One of your admirers suggested you run for office. I would not wish that on my worst enemy, but I would ask that you take this message out to the American people in an even broader forum than you have this week.<br> Good luck!</p>

Zach says …

<p>Good on you man. If you are ever in Canada send me an email, I'll treat you to some fine ol' Canadian healthy cookin'.</p>

naomi says …

<p>Unfortunately, we do not live in an ideal world. Healthy people, who live healthy lives, get hit by cars, still get cancer, inherit health problems, and lose jobs. Whole Foods may hire anyone who is qualified, regardless of pre-existing conditions, but few other companies do the same, even those larger. The U.S. is losing its standing in the world, in large part due to the healthcare costs which companies must spend while other countries in the developed world cover these, freeing up money for the corporations and small companies to put back into building business. Whole Foods may be an ideal employer; unfortunately, too many companies and corporation either cannot or will not offer the same benefits as this company does. Perhaps it is time to look outside your privileged life and check out that of the majority of the citizens of this country.</p>

Bryan says …

<p>Even in countries such as Canada and the U.K., there is no intrinsic right to health care.</p></blockquote> <p>How can you lie like this with a straight face? UK and Canadian citizens receive basic care cradle to grave. Perhaps you'd care to ask their politicians about that. </p> <p>Have you no sense of decency, sir?</p>

evie says …

<p>Health care is, most certainly, a basic human right. Anyone who does not believe so is beneath contempt.</p> <p>Health insurance companies need more regulation, not less. (Ever hear of pre-existing conditions? Rescission?) People don't rush to the doctor at every stubbed toe. Even most people who have insurance fail to remember to have regular checkups. If they are sick, they are sick and your $2,500 deductible is a disgrace. You are afraid of standards ' the same type of standards the meat industry, the dairy industry and the food industry in general has to undergo ' for health insurance coverage. Allowing unlimited deductibles is a stunning 'idea.' And tort reform? Really, turn off Fox News. Can't you come up with a more original talking point?</p> <p>We have spent thousands and thousands of dollars at Whole Foods every year since 1992, when we first moved to the Bay area, including after we re-located to Chicago. You will not see another dime from us unless you retract the op-ed or resign. </p> <p>You are certainly entitled to your opinion and if you'd kept it out of the major national papers, I would still be buying from your store. But you used a very public platform to KILL HEALTH CARE REFORM, a vital issue to the progressives who frequent your store. That's where I draw the line. I'm not giving money to a company that allows their CEO to publicly try to kill health reform.</p> <p>And you're a big boy. A savvy one, as well. It's your article. You should have signed off on the headline. In fact, you probably did.</p> <p>I wish you luck that all those who align with you ' who, let's face it, do not currently shop at your stores ' make good on their promises to do so. They should be aware, though, that the tea will cost a bit more than they are used to.</p>

Scott Hirsch says …

<p>Your analysis does not factor in the societal cost of having sick citizens, employees, and customers, and you assume that basic health care has to be priced based on existing wasteful models and extravagent. Take an epidemiology class to get a grip on danger presented by doing nothing '¦ Health care is not a cost bourne by individuals '¦ It is an investment in people and society. WFM would not provide it to their own employees otherwise. All the WSJ editors did was clarify your position and highlight your own distracting comparison to 'socialism.'</p>

Mike says …

<p>I'm very sorry (though not particularly surprised) that the WSJ chose to edit out your paragraphs on the China study and healthy eating, as this was really the only part of your essay that made sense.</p> <p>As for the rest, it seems at best thoughtless, especially coming from someone in a position of relative power.</p> <p>Consider this:</p> <p>Many promoters of fire protection services believe that people have an intrinsic ethical right to fire protection'to trained firemen,<br> rescue equipment and EMS. While all of us can empathize with those whose houses burn down and loved ones die in fires, how can we say that all people have any more of an intrinsic right to fire protection than they have an intrinsic right to food, clothing, owning their own homes, a car or a personal computer? Fire protection is a service which we all need at some point in our lives, but just like food, clothing, and shelter it is best provided through voluntary and mutually-beneficial market exchanges rather than through government mandates. A careful reading of both The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution will not reveal any intrinsic right to fire protection, food or shelter, because there isn't any. This 'right' has never existed in America.</p> <p>Sounds kind of nutty, eh?</p>

Susan says …

<p>This country needs more people like you. Reading your blog makes me want to shop at your store more than ever now!! For someone to say that the libs are the ones who got you where you are couldn't be further from the truth. Thank you for your rational thoughts and common sense.</p>

John Galt says …

<p><strong>flaming</strong> I considered shopping at your Louisville store, because of your brave stance ' and willingness to speak the truth. Then I come here to tell you that and you have become a coward because some leftist says you don't have free speech. So shutup whole foods, I hope you go out of business you coward. Glad I saw this before I made the trip to your store.</p>

Alana says …

<p>John,<br> Well if you were running for office I'd vote for you based on your business success and your intelligent solution that 77% of your employees voted to keep. What is that old saying, 'You can't please all of the people all of the time'. You have managed to get pretty close. I will shop at Whole Foods just to support you and your 54,000 employees.<br> People who say they won't are not really punishing you with their pettiness, they are really hurting those 77% of employees that like your plan. They think that punishing them will make them see that their freedom doesn't matter. Only the elite liberals who shop here in America count, agree with them or you are demonized and intimidated and boycotted. It sounds to me like they are the only ones who understand money, since that is their power they will use against you and your stores. I know this kind of treatment from them will only make the majority of Americans want to support your business even more.</p> <p>To those who say you do not care about your employees, I'd like to remind them that this is America, if you are unhappy with your job, get a new one, no one is forcing you to stay! </p> <p>All my best,<br> Alana</p>

Bill Snead says …

<p>Thanks for standing up for our rights and freedom. It is refreshing to see a CEO and corporation standing for limited government. I'll shop your store in Mason.</p>

boadicea says …

<p>Mr. Mackey is absolutely, 100% entitled to his views-including having them published in the Wall Street Journal.</p> <p><b>He is not entitled to anyone's shopping dollars</b>. Those are bestowed voluntarily, and at every customer's discretion..</p> <p>If Mr. Mackey and Whole Foods believe they can make their revenue targets off conservatives who eat vegan-I wish them joy of it.</p>

RedmondShopper says …

<p>Bravo!!!</p> <p> I'm a proud shopper of Whole Foods and (with respect to Mr. Mackey's article) will keep shopping at Whole Foods! I agree 100% with your ideas! This is America'¦let's keep it that way. Socialism has no place here.</p>

Edward Little says …

<p>Your sound reasoning and clear commentary on health reform has won you a new customer for life'as long as you or a like-minded individual are CEO. While I note the distinction between personal views and corporate policy, I appreciate your courage in taking a stand on a controversial subject. HSA availability, tort reform, insurance liberalization'these are the elements of proper health care reform'along with measures that restore the connection between medical care value and medical care payment, a connection presently honored only by HSA plans. What we don't need is European-style socialism to solve the problems created by earlier installments of European- style socialism. Your contribution to the debate is immensely appreciated.</p>

rafiki says …

<p>Mr.Mackey,You really don't understand who the majority of your customers are(I mean were)</p>

Elena says …

<p>The people who are now claiming they will boycott Whole Foods are prime examples of what is wrong with liberal left wing politics in this country. Clearly, if you're not with them, you're against them. I hold very similar opinions about our healthcare system and what needs to be addressed and my hope is that those in the Obama administration and Congress will take your suggestions to heart and consider reforming the current state of the healthcare bill. Problems of this magnitude must be addressed from all angles in order to really achieve a positive outcome. As for the boycotters ' they have inspired me to go out and use my consumer spending power to support Whole Foods even more so than I have in the past. Keep up the good work!!!</p>

@ocveggie says …

<p>How you could possibly be comfortable denying health care to the poor is beyond me. Not all health problems are preventable by eating well. What about those who are made sick by contaminated water, etc? Should they just eat a low-fat diet and hope they don't get sick?</p> <p>I don't understand how people can be against helping other people. This is not about personal responsibility, it's about compassion. </p> <p>My family and I will no longer be shopping at Whole Foods. We will take our business to Trader Joe's. I will advise my coworkers, friends, and extended family to avoid shopping at Whole Foods. I will use Twitter and other social media tools to inform others that the position of Whole Foods is to deny the needy health care.</p>

Ralph Smith says …

<p>Thanks, Mr. Mackey. I've always admired the spirit, friendliness, and helpfulness of Whole Foods employees. Now, after your excellent health care article, I will be shopping there even more. I suspect you will gain more freedom-loving customers than you will lose socialist customers.</p>

Erik D says …

<p>All Mr. Mackey is doing is making suggestions. How some people extrapolate that out to outright denial of healthcare is beyond ridiculous. </p> <p>This is a conversation people, not a lecture.</p> <p>We have elected government officials who don't know how to stop spending money (on both sides). We have people in Congress who write 1,000 page bills without a clue what's in them. We have a Government who can't take care of it's veterans, yet we want to hand over 1/7 of our economy to bureaucrats? </p> <p>We all need to take a deep breath and demand more from the people in D.C. They are doing no one a favor at this point.</p>

avid_runner says …

<p>'Our team members therefore spend their own health-care dollars until the annual deductible is covered (about $2,500) and the insurance plan kicks in. This creates incentives to spend the first $2,500 more carefully.'</p> <p>So if office visits are applied to the deductible, you can be 'careful' by not going to the doctor until you have a dire emergency, then spend it all in the ER and compromise your health in the process. And I'm sure Whole Foods pays their employees so well they ALL have an extra $2,500 saved up to pay for health care.</p> <p>'8. Permit individuals to make voluntary tax deductible donations on their IRS tax forms to help the millions of people who have no insurance and aren't covered by Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP or any other government program.'</p> <p>Sorry, this just is not realistic. Are YOU willing to pay higher taxes to help provide health care for everyone? If so, how would that differ from a single-payer system? But your piece clearly indicates you're not.</p> <p>'While all of us empathize with those who are sick, how can we say that all people have more of an intrinsic right to health care than they have to food or shelter?'</p> <p>The government subsidizes both food and shelter, for buyers (food stamps, mortgage deduction, FHA loans) and sellers (agricultural subsidies, bank bailouts). The government even runs single-payer health care for seniors (Medicare).</p> <p>'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.'</p> <p>Few would agree with this if Americans were routinely denied access to food and shelter because they had eaten before or had a history of sleeping indoors.</p> <p>'Over the past two decades, breakthrough scientific research ['¦] have shown that a diet consisting of whole foods which are plant-based, nutrient dense, and low-fat will help prevent and often reverse most of the degenerative diseases that are killing us, and becoming more and more expensive to treat through drugs and surgery.'</p> <p>So, John, what percentage of your stores' floor space are dedicated to the sale of relatively low-margin plant-based whole foods like fresh produce and bulk grains? I bet it's a fraction of the floor space devoted to the high-margin refined and processed foods in your pasta, pizza, gelato, and bakery departments; the high-margin dairy and animal foods in your dairy, meat, seafood, and deli departments; and the high-margin alcoholic beverages in your stores' wine departments and tapas bars. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the percentages resemble your American Diet pie chart.</p> <p>Your company showily advocates spending more money for a better, more cooperative altruistic world, but the reality is you're just cashing in on however much of that sentiment you can arouse. That makes you a hypocrite, John.</p>

Robyn says …

<p>How wonderful to open the paper and finally find some alternatives for healthcare that don't include an unconstitutional increase of the government into our lives. </p> <p>The president has called for a civil debate on this topic and you have certainly provided that. Our current system definitely needs reform (although people without insurance are definitly not left without treatment as others have said earlier, everyone gets what they need to save their life whether they can pay for it or not) and yours are terrific suggestions!</p> <p>No wonder you have made such a success of your business. I had never heard of it before I read your op-ed so I will definitely be looking it up and will try to shop there!</p>

Jay says …

<p>I say a big round of applause for Mr. Mackey taking a stance against this horrific socialist Health Care that the liberals and Democrats are trying to force on Americans. Polls are showing the majority of America is against it, and the numbers against it are growing by the day.</p> <p>My political views are conservative, and I have shopped at Whole Foods many times. Now that Mr. Mackey has made a stance, I will go out of my way to support Whole Foods even more and encourage other people to shop at Whole Foods.</p> <p>I just hope Mr. Mackey is seeing what these liberals are all about, in that they only believe you should be allowed 1st Amendment rights if you agree with them.</p>

@tavdb says …

<p>Dear Mr Mackey:</p> <p>The problem is that if you're poor you don't have access to quality food, you just have access to fast food and 'dollar menus' which eventually leads to expensive medical problems: diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc. </p> <p>How about working with the government to subsidize sustainable/organic farming in order to have more independent farmers creating better nutritious food at lower prices?</p> <p>How about working with the government to provide school lunches for kids that are locally grown and fresh instead of deep fried, heavily process junk food like pizza, french fries and soda.</p> <p>Also, in this economy, now would be a good time to lower the prices on your fresh/organic produce so that more people can afford to shop at Whole Foods and have access to healthy food.</p> <p>' Thomas vandenBroeck</p>

Jim R. Baumgartner says …

<p>Mr. Mackey,<br> In the interest of your shareholders, I encourage you to express your political opinions using the numerous anonymous outlets for discussion.</p> <p>Thanks for the clarification, but I'm sure it's going to hurt your new store sales in my neck of the woods. Perhaps you can sue the Wall Street Journal for misrepresenting your views and hurting your company? Maybe you should have known better?</p>

Laura says …

<p>I am an infrequent shopper of Whole Foods, but after reading your op-ed, and particularly after reading the attacks against you, I will be making a point of shopping at your store more often. Keep up the good fight!</p>

Abe Froman says …

<p>The Margaret Thatcher lead-in quote is ironic, considering the top tax US Federal income tax rate at the moment is 39.6%. Under Thatcher in Great Britain, it was 60% in 1985, and there was Socialized medicine as well. If this were 1985, you'd likely be calling Lady Thatcher a Socialist, if you were in the British taxpayer's shoes.</p>

Jack says …

<p><a href="http://web.archive.org/web/20101020182743/http://www.libertyunbound.com/archive/2006_06/mackey-winning.html" rel="nofollow">http://www.libertyunbound.com/archive/2006_06/mackey-winning.html</a></p> <p>John Mackey talks about how he went from being a leftist in his youth to waking up and becoming anti-establishment libertarian once he realized that voluntary interaction is win-win.<br> When he says he is in favor of health care reform, he likely means he is in favor of real health-care reform ' which means liberalized commerced and free people interacting on a more voluntary basis, which will allow supply and demand to use resources more efficiently and help more people. Adding on more government regulation would exacerbate the previous regulatory errors made in the past that have caused the health care crisis.</p> <p>It's interesting that in the fields of breast augmentation, laser eye surgery, and contact lenses, quality goes up and prices down every year, because there are market forces because the government does intervene in those areas.</p> <p>For more:http://mises.org/story/3613</p>

Jim R. Baumgartner says …

<p>Now that I've read some of the other comments, I'm pretty sure this isn't going to blow over like you probably hope it will. You've opened the Pandora's Box and involved your company in the debate. Good luck.</p>

Rich W says …

<p>John,</p> <p>I will make it a point to visit Whole Foods in NJ to show my support for your position and willingness to use your success and position to speak on behalf of the rest of us.</p> <p>Don't let the looney aggregator blogs scare you ' YOU HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD!!!</p> <p>I may even buy your stock!</p> <p>Thank you,</p>

H. Flynn says …

<p>John Mackey I support your position 1000%. I have a Whole Food 50 dollar gift certificate in my wallet at all times which I use when in Fairfax, VA . Please open a store, as I was led to believe was going to happen soon, near the Smith Haven Mall in Suffolk County, New York. God bless and I will continue to support Whole Food as long as I live,</p>

Former Canadian Whole Foods customer says …

<p>Speaking as a Canadian, I read Mr. Mackey's op-ed piece and his comments about Canadian (and British) healthcare are, er'¦lies. Sorry folks, we are not waiting in long lines for treatment as Mr. Mackey dishonestly claims; nor are we being told where to go to get medical treatment by cold, uncaring socialist bureaucrats as Mr. Mackey also dishonestly depicts. Medication and drugs for treatment are much more affordable than in the USA its worth mentioning also. NOBODY ever died waiting for treatment here Mr. Mackey, that is a bald faced lie that is perpetuated by American health insurance companies to scare ignorant and mislead Americans from switching to a far more economical and effective healthcare delivery system: socialized, or nationalized medical care.</p> <p>If the USAs privatized healthcare system is so great Mr. Mackey, why are 44 million Americans without healthcare? Why are there thousands of Americans dying every year, needlessly, because they are afraid to see a doctor because they know they cannot afford the $1,000-$25,000 treatment'a treatment which their health insurance company routinely refuses to pay out for'even if the claim is legitimate???</p> <p>Further: Canada, Australia, France, Germany, England, Belgium, and the Czech Republic are only a few of the modern industrialized nations which have socialized medicine. NONE OF THEM want anything to do with the bureaucratic nightmare of for-profit healthcare that the USA has been struggling with for so many decades. Time and time again, economic studies have shown the USA's healthcare system is the most expensive, least efficient, and least responsive healthcare delivery system when compared to socialized healthcare systems I've mentioned, such as Canada's.</p> <p>I will no longer shop at Whole Foods, as Mr. Mackey has dishonestly portrayed the healthcare system of my country, and made misleading false claims about it. I would expect more from a CEO of a franchise which claims to be working for humanity and the planet.</p>

Kathi says …

<p>I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Mackey. Thank you for your thoughtful article filled with common sense. If you decide to run for office (like Senator from Washington State), you have my vote and support!! And, I'm off to Whole Foods right now'¦.</p>

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