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

Carol says …

<p>Thank you ' you may have lost a few customers but you've gained others. As a former HR Director now small business owner, I am very much against Obama's plan as fiscally irresponsible, yet I'm the person he claims needs help. His plan will lead to rationing, increased costs and furthermore,I don't want rationing, nor do I wish to pay for murdering more babies out of the national debt. </p> <p>Your candor is sincerely appreciated. If more people, especially those with your understanding of business would come forward with creative ideas, we could find much better ways to cover the truly needy.</p> <p>Warm regards,<br> Carol P</p>

KK says …

<p>Thank you for speaking out. We need more voices like Mackey's! I've never been a customer before, but I will be now.</p>

randy labolle says …

<p>Just didn't like the tone of this and will not be shopping at my nearby WF store because of this article. I recently had a medical emergency that bankrupted me.</p>

Veracity says …

<p>No matter where one stands on health care reform, one disturbing question stands out; why don't the proposed health care reforms emanating from this Administration apply to all members of Congress and all federal employees (10 million and growing)? This especially so since President Obama has repeatedly said: 'You'll have the same coverage as we do.'</p> <p>Adding this provision would, in one-fell-swoop, strengthen credibility and affirm the term 'universal.'</p>

jim says …

<p>Strange how your blog comments nearly all seem to be so supportive of the editorial! Oh yeh, that's right, it's 'moderated'. Bet this one won't make it either!</p>

kaye says …

<p><strong>flaming</strong> For all here who are appalled by John's belief that health care is not an intrinsic human right, I would like the offer three points for consideration. </p> <p>#1. Health care, as we are debating it, is a service provided to one human by a another human, a physician'¦ a person who has spent many years training to be able to diagnose you and treat you. If no humans wanted to be doctors (and fewer might decide such after we are through 'reforming' our health delivery system) and we had no doctors, then it becomes your intrinsic 'responsibility' to diagnose and treat yourself. No one on this planet has a 'right' to anything provided by another human, unless the other human chooses to provide it. This is the basis for the theory of rape.</p> <p>#2. All who are supporters and defenders of the institution known as Planned Parenthood. Research the racism and negative eugenics of the founder, Margaret Sanger. How do you feel about your support of PP now? </p> <p>#3. Research the names and philosophies of people who are close to your President. Ezekiel Emmanuel, Cass Susstein and his friend Peter Singer. </p> <p>Sanger, Emmanuel, Susstein, and Singer are all people who do not believe it is an intrinsic right to exist or deserve a sustainable life if a human or embryo has flaws as determined by the holder of the view.</p> <p>See, it is easy to get all up in arms over things that you really want to support, but you have to know the essence of what you think you are upset about. </p> <p>If you can continue to support Planned Parenthood, you can continue to shop at Whole Foods.</p>

Donny-Don says …

<p>Ironic that you opened your editorial with a quote from Margaret Thatcher. Who comes from a country where they have universal health care ' a system so popular that even SHE didn't try to shut it down, or she would have been run out of town on a rail '¦</p> <p>Oh, to have universal health care in the United States like every other freakin' industrialized country in the WORLD does. Doesn't seem like too much to ask. But until that happens, or until WF gets a new CEO, I won't be shopping there no more.</p> <p>Now, ask Mackey what he thinks of UNIONS '¦</p>

amber says …

<p>Okay, I too hope you become really BIG and PROSPEROUS from your newly found right-wing radicals loyalist shoppers because the foundation that you built your co. on is cracking at the base and will soon fall into the hands of the anti-anything that promotes new world thinking, fair trade practices, community based involvement, environmentally changing policies and instead supports big businesses, rich CEOs, sweatshop workers and made up political rhetoric such as 'socialism, gov.t take-overs, death panels and ObamaCare.<br> You've chosen the road of money, greed and the thinking of corporate irresponsibility instead of supporting the enrichment of this planet, its people and our future, clearly at odds with the base that built your company. So to now so callously throw daggers at the base that built your company's reputation is the beginning of the end as we scramble to support other business that DO work towards helping this country evolve to higher levels of thinking, solutions and the betterment of humankind.<br> I used to defend the WholePaycheck insults but you lost my support on that one as well'¦'¦'¦</p>

KK says …

<p>To all the boycotting Socialists out there '<br> Health care is not a human right.<br> Living in a free, civil society where the individual has the liberty to earn wealth to then pay for health care is an inalienable right.<br> Government taking our wealth to give to others, so that others might have health care is not a right. It is socialism. And if you think socialism is the best direction for our country, then why are you so ashamed to use the term?</p>

Sub Farooqi says …

<p>I read both your articles and I'm shocked at how fundamentally wrong you are about what Obama is proposing. The public option will compete with private insurance like how the Post Office competes with UPS, DHL, and FedEx. This is not socialism. Additionally, you are also painfully naive if you think any of the proposed changes you suggest will translate into savings for the American people rather than ADDITIONAL PROFIT FOR THE INSURANCE COMPANY! They are chiefly in the business of making money for their bureaucracy and shareholders'¦not providing healthcare for the patients. </p> <p>You lost a customer today and I will encourage my friends and family to no longer shop at your business. Very disappointing.</p>

Michael M says …

<p>Thanks John,</p> <p>I applaud you for your American views! I've avoided Whole Foods stores in the past and would only go infrequently.<br> I now have a change of heart and will be going more often, as I support companies who aren't afraid to tell it like it is.</p> <p>Michael<br> Minneapolis, MN</p>

D Tegel says …

<p>Dear John<br> You are a great patriot for speaking out on the truth of what it means to be an American! You took the risk of stating your opinion and expressing your views with a lot to loose. This is the truest form of Patriotism! Thanks on behalf of all of the Americans who truly value Liberty and Freedom and want to preserve the individual's right to 'Free to Choose' in this great country. Thanks a million and I will ensure to support your stores whenever I am in the area of one.</p>

Old Kelly says …

<p>Why do the lyrics from an old song keep playing in my brain: 'There ain't no good guy, there ain't no bad guy, there's only you and me and we just disagree.'</p> <p>Apologies for that trivial indulgence, as well as the atrocious grammar, but to say there's a disagreement here is quite an understatement. That said, I want to applaud Mr. Mackey for having the temerity to express his views. I am still taken aback by the nasty, snide and threatening comments typically made by left-leaning people who profess to have compassion for their fellow man. That that compassion apparently is reserved primarily for those who are perceived as the less fortunate among us, is an interesting phenomena. </p> <p>As an entrepreneur who has suffered through the consequences of an orchestrated boycott, merely for supporting the right of free speech, I extend my heartfelt empathy to Mr. Mackey and Whole Foods. I hope in the end that most patrons will come to their senses and relent a bit. After all, how many businesses does one patronize where the ethics or political beliefs of the CEO are either non-existent or unknown?</p> <p>Bear in mind also that Mr. Mackey didn't blindly trash health care reform, nor even name or mildly criticize the president. He put forward what he sincerely believes are viable alternatives. How refreshing that a CEO lets us know how he feels. When an entrepreneur starts a business and becomes successful, does he automatically forfeit his right to an opinion? Or does he agree simply not to air that opinion? </p> <p>A patron has the 'right' to take their business elsewhere, but, please, not to punish a CEO for airing his opinion. The chilling effect will not be good for us.</p>

Chris says …

<p><strong>flaming</strong> Stay Strong, Don't let the Pinhead Liberals change your views. It nice to read a story with common sense in the health care debate. I agree that will help a lot. If you had a store on Cape Cod, I would go to it instead of the union run Stop n Shop</p>

laura smith says …

<p>Thank you! Your suggestions are MUCH better than what is currently in the (lack of) health care bill. I read most of HR 3200, and it is full of pork, demonizes doctors, wastes money, and gives Sebelius power over people's life and death. President Obama obviously has not read it, because the statements he makes about the bill are contradicted by the bill itself! Read it for yourself ' don't trust the news sources to report accurately. Mr. Mackey, I hope your views become the prevailing view. I LOVE shopping at Whole Foods ' always have and always will. Especially the olive bar. YUM</p>

Steve says …

<p>This makes me want to buy from Whole Foods, not boycott.</p>

Tonya says …

<p>Thank you Mr. Mackey for your insight. I enjoy shopping in your stores and will continue to do so. In fact I may try to visit more often.</p>

Cheryl Neufeld says …

<p>Whole Foods has received most of my grocery money in the past, but I will now start spreading that money around. Using the Margaret Thatcher quote was a poor choice as a lead in to your article, as socialism has nothing to do with the current health care debate.</p>

Charles says …

<p>Dear Mr. Mackey,</p> <p>I applaud your courage in standing up for your beliefs. I also agree with your views on health care. I will continue to patronize your company and I will you the best of success.</p> <p>Charles</p>

joann says …

<p>Unlike the comments you have chosen to showcase, I will never shop in Whole Foods again and will recommend that all my friends not shop there either. Your capialist idea is fine for you because you clearly have the money for healthcare. Your stores are nice but overpriced and I would rather shop at a farmers market where the food is taken out of the ground and sold immediately. Shame on you, you are free to make comments but your positions are ridiculous</p>

darryle says …

<p>Nothing is free. But measures can be taken to control costs. Mr Mackey is right on with his suggestions.<br> How can you add 46 million people(12 million being illegal aliens) on the rolls and improve quality without raising the cost? I'm not rich, but even I know you can't just tax the rich to cover the costs.</p>

Gerald Barnes says …

<p>Go John Mackey! It is so refreshing to hear from a successful business man who is not intimidated by political correctness, one who believes that truth as he sees it is to be shared with all Americans, a CEO of a large corporation who puts duty as a citizen of a free society above fears of how this will effect his business.</p> <p>Sir, I believe that your honesty and position on this very important issue have not cost you business, but will in fact increase your company's revenues. There are more of us who share your views than there are of those who complain that you have no right to an opinion on health care.</p> <p>I for one will drive the extra 15 or 20 miles into Dallas to shop in one of your fine stores.</p> <p>Thank you for sharing your ideas. Please consider running for office. You could help fix the current mess.</p>

Jenny says …

<p>Thank you so much for your intelligent and reasoned look at health care. It was well written and well researched, and I absoutely agree. I am not rich and I have suffered all my life from lack of health insurance. It is clear to me, however, that the reason for this is not lack of government intervention, but the government restrictions already in place. If Congress put forth a bill that included the ideas you covered, I would whole heartedly support it.</p>

Gail says …

<p>How disappointing to read this editorial by the CEO of what I assumed to be a progressive company. Nice touch starting with a quote by Margaret Thatcher'incredible. I will no longer shop at Whole Foods and am encouraging everyone I know to join the boycott. I hope that Mr. Mackey will learn to respect the views of people who butter his bread and will also grasp that some of us have empathy for those less fortunate than ourselves.</p>

Bill Baskette says …

<p>Please bring your store to the tri-cities area in East Tennessee. Kingsport, Johnson City or Bristol would be fine but Kingsport would welcome you with open arms.<br> As far as your op-ed piece goes, you are a true patriot. I love my country and I want a forum where all thoughts can be presented and respected.<br> I agree with your thoughts. I respect President Obama's thoughts but I submit that he is inexperienced or doesn't care when it comes to the constitution.</p>

Linda Siegel says …

<p>Mr Mackey,<br> Wow, what a fantastic article, the most thoughtful and lucid one I've read on the basic tenets of health care 'reform'. As a long-time critical-care nurse'a full-time producer as well as an occasional consumer of health care'I know exactly what the issues are and you state them explicitly. I've told friends in the lay community for years that the focus needs to be on decreasing costs'which will inevitably increase access'while maintaining quality. As a country of compassionate people, I absolutely believe we should provide for the physically and mentally disabled. However, beyond that, health care is a COMMODITY that benefits most from a free-market system and people being responsible for their own health and care. Message-writers on the left who've closed their mind on the topic (and typically show little understanding of how the health care system works) and used labels and generalizations to demonize everybody else ('socially responsible' vs 'socially self-interested') make me yawn. Facts advance the debate, labels don't. Thanks again; I love Whole Foods and wish you'd open one near me in Tacoma, WA.</p>

H West says …

<p>Woo-Hoo!!! What can I get at Whole Foods today. You are right on and I hope your business grows as a result. And, the people who don't see this as 'socialism' are, obviously, unaware of what 'socialism' is. You called it right. And I'm not a Democrat or a Republican. I'm fiercely Independent.</p>

Frank says …

<p>The purpose of this message is not to debate the validity of Mr. Mackey's opinions. As Americans we are all entitled to our beliefs. Just like we have a right to free speech we also must accept responsibility for our actions. Even though his Op/Ed piece is his personal take on health care reform he references Whole Foods Market's policies multiple times. It is easy to be confused about where the difference between his beliefs and our policies can be found. </p> <p>Fair or not Mr. Mackey, as founder of our corporation, will always be indentified with Whole Foods Market. His actions and words have a direct impact on the thousands of Team Members and shareholders who rely upon Whole Foods for their livelihood. This is not the first time what he has said has had a negative effect upon all of us- we have all had to deal with the yahoo 'rahodeb' comments, and his off color 'Unions are like Herpes' comments. Once again, he is entitled to these opinions, but he needs to recognize the impact of these embarrassing instances. Each time he acts in such a way he threatens not only what he has worked so hard to build but the thousands of Team Members and their dependents that need their jobs to survive. At the store level we deal with the ramification of Mr. Mackey's behavior. </p> <p>That said it is my opinion that for the sake of all of those that call this place home, Mr. Mackey must immediately withdraw from public life and keep his opinions to himself. He must take responsibility for his actions. By alienating segments of our customer base he is violating the core values- Creating Wealth Through Profits and Growth and Satisfying and Delighting Our Customers. By creating unneeded stress within the Team Member base he is violating the following core value- Supporting Team Member Happiness and Excellence. Team Members are often fired for much less. </p> <p>In conclusion let me quote from our website-<br> Shared Fate<br> '..We recognize there is a community of interest among all of our stakeholders. There are no entitlements; we share together in our collective fate.'</p>

Eric Provenzano says …

<p>Dear Mr. Mackey,</p> <p>Please don't listen to all those progressive liberal morons that think they know it all, but when it comes down to it, they know almost nothing about how the world works. They have a lot of growing up to do. I for one will be shopping even more now at Whole Foods and all my family and friends will be too.</p>

creeper says …

<p>Bravo, Mr. Mackey. I understand that your opponents are calling for a boycott of Whole Foods stores. I think it's highly unlikely they're going to have a negative impact on WF sales and, in fact, it may backfire on them as people come to understand that Whole Foods is not run by a bunch of freaked-out hippies but, rather, by a thinking, caring, intelligent man who has the best interests of his company, his employees and his country at heart.</p> <p>I would happily shop almost exclusively at Whole Foods. Unfortunately, from 52732 the closest store is a hundred miles away. How about a Whole Foods store in the Quad Cities? Forty miles wouldn't be quite as bad as a hundred.</p>

Glen S says …

<p>Well, gee, I guess it is going to be kinda' hard to get a CEO to give a personal opinion on anything for a while (unless of course he agrees with the big gov't agenda).<br> I just added up the money these people say they spend weekly and figured $75 per week for the ones who said they are boycotting but didn't list an amount and guess what, WF doesn't gross that much money. I guess Mackey will have to come out of pocket to get WF back to zero income.</p>

Kathleen Estes-Milano says …

<p>That was quite the eye opener.<br> If health care is not an intrinsic right then why are emergency rooms compelled to care for those who are not able to pay?<br> And the idea of a check off on your tax return to care for those who cannot afford insurance is laughable.<br> How about the insurance companies policy of dropping those who get sick? And telling people what they will and will not cover? All the money they save goes to the CEOs.<br> I spend about $300 a week at your store on 25th.<br> Not any more.<br> I can't support a business whose leader promotes such misinformation about the health system of Canada and the ludicrous notion that what is before Congress is socialism.<br> That will make my husband happy. He thinks your store is man's inhumanity to man.</p>

Lee Urban says …

<p>Dear Mr. Mackey,</p> <p>Your letter truly disappointed me. I am so deeply dumb-stuck by your position. I have been going to your stores for the majority of my groceries for a while now and I just cannot continue.<br> I am in the healthcare field and its obvious your views are painfully transparent in that they have nothing to do with healthcare, and all to do with personal profit. Socialism, really? '¦You can't be serious?!</p> <p>I'm angry and insulted. I'm taking my business elsewhere. That goes for me, my friends, and my entire family from now on.</p>

Douglas Greer says …

<p>I am very disappointed with Whole Food's entry into right wing politics. Your comments demonstrate disregard for the most basic health care issue -access and affordability for all ' which are extremely important to Americans who do not have a CEO's salary or benefits. Given the demographics of Whole Food's customer base, your recent comments were ill advised to say the least. Maybe you can find enough new right wingers to replace your long time customers. But, I will look for other places to spend my money. Its a shame, I liked your stores.</p>

Bonnie Smith says …

<p>I will shop at your store, it will be out of my way,<br> but i support you.<br> please build one in Mentor, Ohio</p>

Deirdre says …

<p>Thank you for your honesty and your speaking your opinion!! Whole Foods is out of my way, but I will now make an effort to go out of my way to shop at your store.</p>

Joann says …

<p>Thank you, Mr. Mackey, for your fantastic WSJ article. I am in agreement with your views. It's too bad that you lost Lucy Bosworth as a customer (the lady who posted above me ' Aug 15th, 12:11 PM). However, I am happy to step in and take her place. You can count me in as a new customer of Whole Foods! Thank you for speaking out with some common sense.</p>

Frank says …

<p>You've definitely lost me as a customer, and most of my friends as well. When you use your CEO desk as a pulpit to preach your political views (which appears to be very disparate from that or your customer base, by the way) you leave me no choice but to take my business elsewhere.</p>

Johanna says …

<p><strong>attack</strong> I used to shop at Whole Foods and no longer will. Mr. Mackey is another ignorant tool of the extremist element of the getting crazier by the minute Republican party. Your rhetoric is disgusting. The article is ridiculous.</p>

tommyb4 says …

<p>Great Article. It's refreshing to see a CEO speak his mind, and offer some great ideas. It's sad to hear that some people are offended by you stating your opinion. I wonder if they would feel the same if you went to their place of work and protested their livelyhood because of their opinions. Probably not. Also, I wonder what they would do if they found out how many CEOs share your opinion (I'm guessing 98%). They would have to stop buying everything. </p> <p>I personnally do not shop at Whole Foods, but after reading about all the hipe associated with your article, I plan on starting. Being a father of 4, I feel pretty confident that my grocery bill will replace many of the boycotters.</p> <p>One more thing, I read about your benefits package you provide for your employees. It sounds very generous and significantly more than the average company your size. I'm guessing your employees share this opinion. </p> <p>Keep up the good work.</p>

MM says …

<p>You are right on sir in your piece in the WSJ-thanx for speaking up, I know you knew you were going to take some arrows from some of your customers.</p> <p>As an aside, your store here in Golden is such a wonderful place, I was just there this morning picking up some bread and a dessert for dinner tonight. And frankly, even had you been a socialist and wanted this health care scheme to off load your employees onto it(your benefit plan is wonderful, no wonder I pay $5 for spinach!), I still would shop there.</p> <p>So bravo</p>

Carson Kalin says …

<p>Mr. Mackey:</p> <p>I am an employee benefits consultant in California and have implemented well over 100 corporate H.S.A. programs. I could not agree with you more. It is essential that consumers of health care be aware of the costs associated with their care and make choices accordingly ' just as every other U.S. industry works.</p> <p>Making the cost and quality of medical care transparent to the consumer is key, which will allow consumers to choose their medical care providers based on the quality and cost of care that they provide. I have discussed this with a multiple nationwide insurance carriers and have many ideas surrounding the formation of a rating system that will accomplish this.</p> <p>Great article. Thank you.</p>

George says …

<p>Vegan. Long-time customer. You will no longer get my hundreds I spent with you every month. Everyone in LA, remember, there is always Erewhon! </p> <p><a href="http://web.archive.org/web/20101020182743/http://www.erewhonmarket.com/" rel="nofollow">http://www.erewhonmarket.com</a></p>

Susan Skinner says …

<p>Dear Mr. Mackey,</p> <p>Well said. I couldn't agree more. I am sorry to hear people will be boycotting your store. I for one will be shopping there more then I already do. I guess some people are mad because they think health care is a 'right', while I do not think it is a right, even if I did, I wouldn't expect for someone else to pay for my right. It is my right to eat, that does not mean the government should pay for my food. Thanks so much for bringing sound reasoning to this debate.</p>

LBA says …

<p>You are, as are we all, completely entitled to your opinion. However, if you choose to publish evidence of your right wing values in the right wing WSJ, you are pretty much waving a red flag in the face of a large portion of your customer base.<br> Say goodbye to a former loyal customer (and hopefully to a lot of us). I can find the same (or better) food elsewhere, and I will spend my money patronizing small, local businesses run by people whose values match my own.</p>

Chris Clifford says …

<p>Thank you so much for openly expressing your opposition to the proposed overhaul of our health care system. While there are many faults with the current system, the proposed changes are not appropriate or even sustainable. I will be sure to increase my shopping activities in your store.</p>

Phil Dixon says …

<p>Not only do I find it repugnant that Mr. Mackey needed to use a quote referring to socialism but I also found it interesting that it is from Margaret Thatcher.<br> Does any one else find this ironic considering Ms. Thatcher's country, Great Britain, has and enjoys national health care since 1948? </p> <p>Basically, this is all a matter of accounting. The USA spends more on military than any other country in the world and there's no need for it. It's time to cut back on military spending and use some of our tax dollars for other uses, including national health care. And no, I did not say 'cut out all military spending'. Don't get your panties in a twist.</p>

Adele Cook says …

<p>Thank you for taking a stand and showing good common sense toward the healthcare issues. I wish more business people would follow your lead and state their true feelings rather than lying low for fear of retailiation from those who feel healthcare should be available to all regardless of the cost. Those who wish to boycott your store will not make a dent in Whole Food's business. There are a lot of shoppers out here who don't share their views and will continue to patronize your stores.</p>

Clay Davis says …

<p>Mr. Mackey,<br> Thank you so much for your well-reasoned, rational recommendations to reform health care. I hope and pray that our legislature is paying attention.<br> I have seen many of the comments from your critics, who have said that they will be taking their business elsewhere. Ii is quite curious that they are so proud to announce their taking advantage of this right when it comes to shopping, but they are so willing to deny that right to the rest of us when it comes to health care choice via a single payer system!<br> Your analysis of the issue and it's root causes, as well as the means to address those root causes are spot on. I assure you that you will have our support and business, as well as many others who desire to remain healthy, take responsibility for their own health and lives, and have compassion on others who have less'¦VOLUNTARILY, not forced by the government. It is this VOLUNTARY caring attitude for the less fortunate, held by so many, especially strong moral conservatives, in this country that makes us great.<br> God Bless you and your business for having the moral courage to stand up and say what needed to be said, even if it stood the chance of rubbing a good portion of your clientele the wrong way. We need more men of integrity in the business world like you.</p>

Nina says …

<p>Dear John, </p> <p>I cannot thank you enough for this courageous piece of wisdom. </p> <p>I am a regular (almost daily) Whole Foods customer and now even more committed to shopping there after reading your personal views. In our highly politicized climate, it is important that we recognize the role of business in sustaining opportunity and creating new opportunity, employing the population, educating for the improvement of the quality of life for all citizens, and funding philanthropic organizations that can do at significantly lower cost the work that government pretends to be able to do through expensive and convoluted bureaucracies.</p>

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