A (Slightly Biased) Roundup of the Whole Foods/Health Care Kerfuffle

Last week, Matt Welch posted a link to Whole Foods CEO John Mackey's op-ed in the Wall Street Journal outlining his free market-oriented plan for health care reform.

Mackey's article provoked a backlash from some of his more politically liberal customers, or at least people who claimed to be his customers. Daily Kos diarists fumed with outrage at Mackey's apparent betrayal. Sadly, No! declared it Simply Loathesome! My DD's Charles Lemos expressed his "infinite respect" for Mackey's business vision, but upon reading the op-ed was "struck how out of touch the Ayn Rand worshiping iconoclastic libertarian" is.

It's no secret that Mackey is a libertarian (and donor to the Reason Foundation, publisher of Reason magazine and Reason.com). I guess the outrage here is that he actually had the temerity to express his opinions in public, although he's done that before too, including in our magazine.

Still, the consensus lefty position seems to be that CEOs should just shut up, even if advocating, as Mackey did, some ideas they've tested at their own companies and found to work. Or at least shut up if they're advocating ideas that the left doesn't like. That seems to be where Think Progress blogger Matthew Yglesias comes down:

Corporate executives have a lot of social and political power in the United States, in a way that goes above and beyond the social and political power that stems directly from their wealth. The opinions of businessmen on political issues are taken very seriously by the press and by politicians on both sides of the aisle. Once upon a time perhaps union leaders exercised the same kind of sway, but these days all Republicans, most of the media, and some Democrats feel comfortable writing labor off as just an “interest group” while Warren Buffet and Bill Gates and Jack Welch are treated as all-purpose sages. One could easily imagine a world in which CEOs were reluctant to play the role of freelance political pundit out of fear of alienating their customer base. And it seems to me that that might very well be a nice world to live in.

Just a hunch, but I'm guessing that in this "nice world" Yglesias speaks of, a company like Walmart would still be permitted give organizations like Think Progress $500,000-$1 million to help push an employer health insurance mandate, and Matthew Yglesias would still put up blog posts praising the company for its leadership.

(Odd how this health care stuff has the left touting Walmart and the right touting Whole Foods, isn't it?)

Over at my personal blog, I put up a much-discussed response to the boycott here, and followed up with a response to that post's fallout here. Summation of my argument:  Whole Foods is unfailingly listed among the most employee-friendly, environmentally-conscious, animal-friendly, and generally socially conscientious companies in the country. Remember, this is the same company that nearly cracked the subtitle of Jonah Goldberg's book as an example of liberal fascism. The left's tantrum in reaction to Mackey's op-ed implies his health care ideas are so offensive, they make all that "good corporate citizen" stuff obsolete. That is: Mackey expressing his ideas about health care reform are way more insidious than the actual practices his company has undertaken since its inception. It's really an effort to zone fairly mainstream ideas like HSAs and tort reform out of the realm of serious debate.

That seems to be the gist of Alyce Lomax's smart response to all of this at the Motley Fool, too:

Shouldn't the very people contemplating a Whole Foods boycott on these grounds applaud many of the company's existing initiatives? Are they aware of its progressive, employee-friendly policies? And if so, does this mean they don’t care as much as they think they do?

I mean, really, how dare Whole Foods let employees vote on their benefits, when most retail workers get no benefits whatsoever? The nerve of Mackey, forgoing his base salary and capping management's pay at 19 times that of his lowest-paid employee? What is Whole Foods thinking, donating part of its profits to local and global organizations working to make a positive difference? And giving the majority of its stock options to rank-and-file employees, rather than upper management? That's just diabolical!

Mackey, meanwhile, tried some damage control by putting up a post on his Whole Foods blog distinguishing what he originally sent to the Journal from what was added by Journal editors. That only made the perennially angry lefty Mark Kleiman even angrier. It also triggered this pithy response from the pithily named blog, "Fuck Conservatives."

For what it's worth, the "Boycott Whole Foods" Facebook group now stands at 14,000 people. And as of this posting, Whole Foods stock is trading at $28, which is actually a smidge above where it stood before Mackey's op-ed.

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  • Joe M||

    Far lefties are ignorant hypocrites. In other news, the sky is blue.

  • EJM||

    See also "The Whole Foods Controversy in 15 Minutes" on the Atlantic's site.

  • ||

    As I said before, the majority of people who shop at Whole Foods are much more concerned with the selection, quality, and freshness of the food and see the socially/environmentally conscious trappings as a bonus.

  • ||

    If I only I could afford to shop there...

  • Ben Kenobi||

    Oh please. Where else are these lefty yuppies going to shop and still feel smugly superior? They'll be back after about a week.

  • ||

    Up is down.

    The big tent on the Left requires you to buy into every insane policy prescription and idea--or else you're shit. The big tent on the right includes people that actually disagree with each other about policy.

  • Tomcat1066||

    Remember that, for many people, free speech is only worth a damn when you're saying something they like.

  • J.P.||

    All this says to me is that many leftie Whole Foods customers are too lazy to research the political positions of the companies they patronize. When, GASP, those positions are reiterated and hit the MSM, all that ruffage they eat comes out of their mouth instead of their arse.

  • Barry Loberfeld||

    How lucky these boycotters are to be free to do what they want with their own property.

  • EJM||

    Where else are these lefty yuppies going to shop and still feel smugly superior?

    reply to this

  • Abdul||

    the boycott's fucked when yuppies realize there's only so many places that sell fair trade certified organic vinho verde.

  • ap||

    can anyone fill me in as to where the Ayn Rand non-sense is coming from? mackey seems pretty fucking into altruism.

    i had someone tell me that mackey's ideas "smack of Ayn Rand" and it just boggles the mind.

  • Mike in PA||

    It's funny... I've looked at the Whole Foods website and the forum they have for this topic and the boycotters are insane.

    They say he's opposing health care reform - that couldn't be further from the truth as he was clearly PROPOSING reform.

    In fact, reform means changing something. His definition of reform is far more accurate as it involves changing course. Theirs is stepping on the accelerator of the course we've been on for years.

    Really, most of them didn't even read his Op-Ed.

  • ||

    They have excellent orange slice candies.

  • ap||

    PS - google just turned up this interview as the first search result for "mackey ayn rand"

    http://www.theatlasphere.com/metablog/508.php

    SUNNI: It sounds to me like you aren't a libertarian of a Randian persuasion - wholly profit-driven and focused on the self; is that accurate?

    JOHN: That is correct. I was very inspired by Ayn Rand's novels like millions of other people have been. However, I don't agree with some of her philosophies. For example: I don't think selfishness is a virtue and I don't believe that business primarily exists to make a profit.


    a real "Ayn Rand worshiping iconoclastic libertarian" that john mackey is. how is it possible to be this stupid.

  • Joe M||

    Really, most of them didn't even read his Op-Ed.

    Yes! I have been proclaiming this from the beginning. It's all hearsay; none of these fools even knows the actual content of the article. They only know he was critical of the Democratic proposals.

  • cmace||

    Follow the link to the Whole Foods article. 1847 comments.

  • Kyle Jordan||

    "They have excellent orange slice candies."

    What are these? Are they like jelly candies? Never seen 'em there.

  • Enyap||

    So were are the liberals going to shop now, Obamacare supporting Wallmart or their local unionized store were unions charge dues on workers making $7.50 an hour.

  • ||

    Kyle,

    I'm talking about these. Basically gummy in texture. In our store, there are up by the cash registers.

  • anarch the sober||

    They have excellent orange slice candies.



    Wouldn't touch 'em unless they're Certified Fair Trade Field Drug Test Negative.

  • micro2000||

    can anyone fill me in as to where the Ayn Rand non-sense is coming from? mackey seems pretty fucking into altruism.

    i had someone tell me that mackey's ideas "smack of Ayn Rand" and it just boggles the mind.


    One doesn't have to have a significant similarity to Rand to be labeled so. It is simply an ad hominem that is imbedded into the psyche of the masses that Rand = ruthless, uncaring corporatism. Those who hurl such labels generally have no understanding of Rand's ideas.

  • kinnath||

    Did anyone every go back to check up on Joshua?

  • ||

    Anyone have a link to the "Whole Foods. It's a store, you hick" poster?

  • ||

    Joshua turned off his comments

    ... like a fascist would.

  • ||

    What a bunch of morons. This is like exercising your freedom of speech to advocate censorship.

  • ||

    This is really just another example of how "progressives" are really just unreformed socialists. Economics trumps EVERYTHING for them. You can be a granola chomping, pro-choice, drug-legalizing, anti-war, gay marriage advocate, but unless you want government run single-payer health care, you're still just another right-wing shill to them.

    The one issue that the progressive left won't ever budge on is their hatred of markets. Everything else can be compromised, but not that. And that's why there will never ever be a libertarian alliance with them.

  • #1 fan||

    More Photos Hazel!

  • ||

    The opinions of businessmen on political issues are taken very seriously by the press and by politicians on both sides of the aisle.

    There is not a single proposal Mackey made in the WSJ article that would have been considered controversial were it introduced by the left.

    I don't believe that business primarily exists to make a profit.

    I hope all of the rank-and-file understand what this means for their options.

  • ||

    So, I guess all that complaining about "wanting a conversation" and "but why aren't Republicans/conservatives/libertarians offering any plans instead of just criticizing" was all a lie?

    I mean, I understand that some ideas are beyond the pale, but HSAs and buying insurance across state lines?

    14,000 isn't very big for a Facebook group; in fairness, the 60,000 seniors who quit AARP over its support for health care reform is a pretty small number compared to membership too.

  • ||

    I don't understand the criticisms of the boycott.

    It's pretty simple and makes sense.

    If a company's CEO is going to publish political OP/ED's that goes against what a large majority of it's customers believe/support, those customers are perfectly sensible to boycott said company to exact change or to punish the company for advocating against the interest of the people who keep the company going.

    Isn't this how exactly things are supposed to work with free speech. Mackey can say what he wants, and people can vote with their dollars if his speech offends his customers.

    The the Board can decide what they want to do with the CEO? (Muzzle him, fire him, do nothing)

    I mean it just isn't good business to to publicly go out and agitate against what a large majority of your customers want.

    And that ain't censorship. Not even close.

  • Colin||

    Does this mean Obama's gonna stop buying his arugula there?

  • hmm||

    CoyoteBlue | August 19, 2009, 1:42pm | #
    Joshua turned off his comments

    ... like a fascist would.


    He posted my light hearted dissent. "Looks like it's Whole Foods for dinner tonight."

    It's possible he got more hits than he expected and just didn't want to deal with it.

  • ||

    in fairness, the 60,000 seniors who quit AARP over its support for health care reform is a pretty small number compared to membership too.

    And that 60K number is likely bullshit too.

    The statements I have seen are "up to 60,000" and the source of that number is a competing Seniors group the American Seniors Association. How would they know how many people quite the AARP? Because they paid people to send in cut up AARP cards? Why should that number be taken seriously?

    I wouldn't take Sprints numbers about Verizon defectors seriously. How would they know?

  • hmm||

    that goes against what a large majority of it's customers believe/support
    it just isn't good business to to publicly go out and agitate against what a large majority of your customers want.

    You have any demographic or market analysis for this? I hate the whole cite your work argument, but this is something I would be interested in seeing by the numbers. Because I think it's bullshit.

  • kinnath||

    It's possible he got more hits than he expected and just didn't want to deal with it.

    If you're gonna quote DailyKos and post on contraversial topics, you should be prepared to deal with it. Otherwise, dear Joshua should have kept his opinions to himself.

    He apparently didn't approve my comment on his forum.

  • hmm||

    I didn't separate and ellipse the quotes, sorry it wasn't intentional or meant to mislead.

  • robc||

    ChiTom,

    Isnt criticizing the boycotters the same thing?

    Also, I remember a number of shills on the left (and libertarian Im sure, but I wasnt following it then) criticize the Baptist boycott of Disney.

    Also, Hazel is a little wrong - same thing happened to Dominos when their owner came out as a supporter of anti-abortion groups. So, it isnt just economics, but primarily it is true.

    I think sp has it right. It was also "status quo, status quo!!!" until someone suggests something else and the left freaks out even more. So, status quo is bad, reform that differs from your reform is bad. Huh.

  • ||

    I don't understand the criticisms of the boycott.



    But, ChicagoTom, do you at least understand the criticism of noting that the boycotters are in favor of a plan that makes boycotting impossible? They are indeed perfectly free to shop elsewhere. But if their desired plan wins, people will not be free to opt out of the government plan.

    The boycott is a perfectly fine consumer tool. I just despise them for trying to take my right to boycott a certain health care plan away.

  • ||

    This Mark Kleiman guy's post is hilarious. On his blog, the "Reality Based Community" where "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts" he says that Mackey's op-ed "calls health insurance reform "socialism""

    I couldn't recall Mackey doing that, so I checked the op-ed. The only use of the term "socialism" is in the quote from Margaret Thatcher that precedes the op-ed. He also uses the term "socialized medicine" when discussing other countries, such as Canada. He doesn't call health reform socialism at any point in the op-ed. I guess Mark Kleiman is entitled to his own facts?

  • ||

    And he also says that "Mackey also suggests that we all eat organic fruit."

    The op-ed no where uses the words "organic" "fruit" or "eat." The closest he gets to saying this is suggesting that "Recent scientific and medical evidence shows that a diet consisting of foods that are plant-based, nutrient dense and low-fat will help prevent and often reverse most degenerative diseases that kill us and are expensive to treat." I thought liberals were into prevention?

  • ||

    I am all for silencing corporate america if that came with the silencing of Tim Robbins and the rest of the film actors guild

  • ||

    Would this be cynical:

    Is Whole Foods trying to increase their market share by attracting non-core conservative customers by opposing ObamaCare?

    And is WalMart trying to do the same with non-core lefty customers with their support of socialized medicine?

  • ||

    i thought i might lighten up the discussion with this article i found on funny product names in whole foods. check it out! http://onthebutton.wordpress.com/2009/08/19/wholefoods/

  • ||

    "I mean, I understand that some ideas are beyond the pale, but HSAs and buying insurance across state lines?"

    How do HSAs and buying insurance across state lines remotely help somebody having trouble affording health 'insurance' today? If they had enough money to stuff an HSA full enough to help, they'd be able to afford the premiums/copays on a PPO/HMO plan.

    It's the equivalent of the old Republican prescription of "more tax cuts" for anything that ails you.

    Hint: Wealthy guys love HSAs - and it's not a coincidence.

  • ||

    If a company's CEO is going to publish political OP/ED's that goes against what a large majority of it's customers believe/support, those customers are perfectly sensible to boycott said company to exact change or to punish the company for advocating against the interest of the people who keep the company going.



    So, how do you feel about people smashing Dixie Chicks CDs?

    I seem to remember a big kerfuffle a few years back when some right-wing facist bastards went around smashing Dixie Chicks CDs and sending them mean emails after they criticized President Bush.

  • Mike Laursen||

    I don't understand the criticisms of the boycott.

    Come on, we've been over this before, so I've gotta assume you're being disingenuous about not understanding. They can boycott if they want to, and we can poke fun at their imbecilic reasons for boycotting if we want to. That's free speech.

  • ||

    http://www.kff.org/uninsured/7568.cfm

    "This brief, based on analyses of available data and research, finds that most low-income families would not benefit from HSA-HDHPs due to an already low level of tax liability and the amount of family income that the HDHP and potential cost-sharing would consume. In addition, greater cost-sharing potentially reduces the use of health care among those with low-incomes, particularly those who are not in good health."

  • JB||

    Yglesias is a stupid cunt. Good for pointing out his usual hypocrisy.

  • JB||

    Voice of Reason: 'Monopoly decreases prices and I stick telephone pole up my ass!'

    Are you that fucking dense, fetus?

    Do you understand that competition lowers prices? Or is that waving magic wands does that in Obama-Wizard-Land?

  • ||

    In order to be a Voice of Reason, one must necessarily have evolved enough to have long ago turned a deaf ear to the croonings of collectivists. Its axiomatic.

  • ||

    Mackay is an apostate of the Left. There's nothing a religion hates more than an apostate. Blasphemers can be disdained, but apostates must be made to pay!

  • ||

    According to ChiTom, the chain of free speech refuting free speech always ends with liberals. Any attempt to refute liberals is censorship.

  • ||

    VoiceofReason, I will counter with the American Academy of Actuaries review of high quality research on HSAs.

    The primary indications are that properly designed CDH plans can produce significant (even substantial) savings without adversely affecting member health status. To the knowledge of the work group, no data-based study has emerged that presents a contrary view.



    And:

    Generally, all of the studies indicated that cost savings did not result from avoidance of inappropriate care and that necessary care was received in equal or greater degree relative to traditional plans. All of the studies reported a signficant increase in preventative services for CDH participants.



    Your article, VoiceofReason, is only that the poor are too poor to benefit from HSAs. But we do have Medicaid. If HSAs, as the research indicates, can reduce the growth of medical spending and make it more efficient for everyone else, that solves the health care cost problem without government cutting "unnecessary" Medicare and Medicaid funding, as the President has proposed.

    Another very reasonable option, outside from using the savings to help Medicaid, would be to give the poor a refundable tax credit (like McCain, Jason Furman, Brad DeLong, others have proposed) or otherwise contribute to their HSAs for them.

  • ||

    So, how do you feel about people smashing Dixie Chicks CDs?

    I seem to remember a big kerfuffle a few years back when some right-wing facist bastards went around smashing Dixie Chicks CDs and sending them mean emails after they criticized President Bush.


    I thought it was silly, but I understood the motivation. But essentially I thought "Well what the fuck did you expect? You can't expect to alienate a large portion of your customers/fans/demographic and not face some kind of consequence for it."

    And as a consumer the only consequence I can impose is a boycott.

    Come on, we've been over this before, so I've gotta assume you're being disingenuous about not understanding. They can boycott if they want to, and we can poke fun at their imbecilic reasons for boycotting if we want to. That's free speech.

    Of course it is.

    I just don't understand the logic behind thinking it's imbecilic to boycott a company when their CEO publicly goes against his customers. You put your views out there, and people are going to respond to them. And if your views are anathema to your customers, the smart business decision would be to keep them to yourself or risk facing boycotts and protests.

    Many companies don't take public positions for exactly this reason. They don't want to upset their customers (current and potential future ones)

    And I say this as a regular Whole Foods shopper who won't be boycotting anything (I just spent 100 bucks there on Tuesday).

    According to ChiTom, the chain of free speech refuting free speech always ends with liberals

    Not really Tulpa...my point is that if your make money off liberals (or conservatives) it doesn't make much sense to draw attention to the fact that you don't share their beliefs.

    Whole Foods spends a lot of money marketing themselves in ways that align with liberal positions -- and then Mackey goes out and pokes liberals in the eye on health care. He is reaping what he sewed (just like the Dixie Chicks did)

    If NASCAR were to have take an anti-Bush attitude I would think the same thing "Dumb dumb dumb -- don't poke the bear [your customers]) -- this has nothing to do with liberals or conservatives. It doesn't strike me as good business to publicly take political stands and risk alienating portions of your customers.

  • ||

    They say he's opposing health care reform - that couldn't be further from the truth as he was clearly PROPOSING reform.

    It only counts as "reform" if it moves us closer to the day when single-payer health care is law of the land.

  • Gene Berkman||

    I shop at Trader Joe's because it is close, it is less expensive than Whole Foods, and Whole Foods does not have a location in Riverside, CA.

    Also, Trader Joe's does not have a butcher counter, like Whole Foods - a real turnoff for me.

    Yes, leftists can shop at Trader Joe's also - I know some who do. But Joe Coulombe, who founded Trader Joes - was interviewed many years ago by New West, and he said he votes Libertarian. So what's a leftist to do?

  • ||

    I just don't understand the logic behind thinking it's imbecilic to boycott a company when their CEO publicly goes against his customers.

    I would have thought that "go[ing] against his customers" would have meant something like participating in a cartel with competitors to fix prices they pay, seeking import quotas on the foods they buy (in order to jack up Whole Foods' revenue and profit), or maybe even belittling them as "suckers" for buying his overpriced viands. Now I find it just means taking a position on public policy that differs from the position that some (even most) of them take.

  • Joe M||

    Yes, leftists can shop at Trader Joe's also - I know some who do. But Joe Coulombe, who founded Trader Joes - was interviewed many years ago by New West, and he said he votes Libertarian. So what's a leftist to do?

    Man, what is it with the libertarians running these places? It's almost like liberals don't have the business acumen to actually provide the types of goods and services the prefer to the communities they support on a large scale. Interesting...

  • ||

    While there are certainly some meritless positions taken on Mackey's op-ed, there is a legitimate basis for criticizing him: http://www.samefacts.com/archives/health_care_/2009/08/the_point_of_the_whole_foods_boycott_and_what_john_mackey_should_do.php

  • ||

    Moral of the thread:

    The customer is not always right.

  • ||

    BTW, as a hoot I posted a comment on the "Fuck Conservatives" site, and it came back time-stamped 5 hours ahead of my Central Daylight Time. The site is UK or Western European.

    So I followed up my post with, "so why in the the fuck would I possibly care what you think?"

  • MJ||

    "Still, the consensus lefty position seems to be that CEOs should just shut up, even if advocating, as Mackey did, some ideas they've tested at their own companies and found to work. Or at least shut up if they're advocating ideas that the left doesn't like."

    I think the Rise of Obama over the past year has shown that the Left's position on anyone advocating ideas they don't like is that they are supposed to shut-up. From Joe the Plumber to John Mackey, the Left's tactic is to tear down the man not the idea the man is advocating.

  • ||

    How do HSAs and buying insurance across state lines remotely help somebody having trouble affording health 'insurance' today?

    That should be obvious. First, state mandates make insurance more expensive. In some cases, a whole lot more expensive. See NY, MA, ME. If a NY resident could purchase insurance from a state without those costly mandates, they would save thousands of dollars a year and be able to afford insurance, where before they couldn't. Second, high-deductible health plans reduce insurance premiums by more than the increase in deductible, again improving affordability.

  • ||

    Man, what is it with the libertarians running these places? It's almost like liberals don't have the business acumen to actually provide the types of goods and services the prefer to the communities they support on a large scale. Interesting...

    The liberals think that businesses shouldn't try to make a profit. So they don't.

  • ||

    "Man, what is it with the libertarians running these places? It's almost like liberals don't have the business acumen to actually provide the types of goods and services the prefer to the communities they support on a large scale. Interesting..."

    Joe - they can run a great cafe but their dogma doesn't allow them to grow a business.

  • ||

    Joe,
    I also bet these both these guys started off lib but after trying to run and grow a business they gained a better understanding of how leftist policies were diametrically opposed to what they were working for so they changed their colors.

  • ||

    Or maybe it takes a Randian to be craven enough to build a business catering to people they have contempt for. Mackey may well be a swell fellow, but I also wouldn't be shocked to learn he has good laughs about marketing a locavorist message while shipping amaranth burgers and soymilk cross-country and back in diesel refrigerated trucks. See also: Urban Outfitters, where your (well maybe not "your" specifically) dollars spent on hemp iPhone cases and copies of "How to Win a Fight with a Conservative" help fund all sorts of right-wing causes.

  • ||

    Wow, so high-deductible plans with HSAs get a thumbs up from full-time Whole Foods employees?

    Well, when the alternative is a crap local HMO plan or a high-copay-only-really-covers-catastrophes-except-when-it-doesn't plan, sure, those employer-based high-deductible PPOs look pretty good. Mine sure does. I mean, I'll openly admit I'd much rather spend hours of my life spread out over a year fighting to get Blue Cross Blue Shield to pay up for some routine bloodwork from a physical than I would to be uninsured. And I suppose if I'm stuck living in the one developed country that doesn't negotiate prescription drug prices down and doing my patriotic duty to ensure that America alone pays higher markup on the same crap than everyone else, sure, I'd rather do it pre-tax out of an HSA than I would after taxes out of pocket.

    All that said, I'd rather not have to rely on getting (and holding onto) a job under an enlightened nobleman like Mr. Mackey who happens to see value in employee retention and therefore, out of his own business calculations, opts to hire more full-time employees than is his industry's norm and keep them with better-than-average health coverage.

    Lotta good that does for someone whose job doesn't fall under a pesky gubmint mandate requiring it to include a health plan at all.

    Does Reason have an employee health plan? Would it have one if the government didn't require it, or would it test staffers' Galtian bona fides by having them seek their own Galteriffic individual coverage in the marketplace?

    (And no cheating, any of you with spouses who have as good or better coverage through their unionized jobs in, say, mainstream media or academia. Go ahead. Mention your childhood asthma on that individual-coverage application. I dare you.)

  • anonymous||

    "I just don't understand the logic behind thinking it's imbecilic to boycott a company when their CEO publicly goes against his customers."

    You're saying

    "I agree there is a problem in our healthcare system but I think I have a better solution"

    is the same as saying

    "I am ashamed that my customer base are evidently a bunch of retards" as the Dixie Chicks did?

    Equating disagreement with antagonism sounds sort of like Bush's infamous "with us/against us" false dichotomy.

    I think the Mackey episode is important to remember when a Obamaton alleges that he's only acting like a douche about health care because health care opponents aren't engaging in constructive debate, but rather just yelling insane bullshit and being vaguely threatening. That's a handy excuse, but this shows that it's just a self-deception. The truth is that any dissent is threatening.

    In fact, Mackey's dissent is even more threatening, because it shows that even people that believe in treating people fairly, reducing income equality, and caring about the earth and shit can oppose you. When your self-image depends on viewing your opponents as degraded, borderline retarded neanderthals who are probably organizing KKK rallies to assassinate the president right now, someone like that can leave you feeling confused and uncertain. Then you might have to start thinking about the issues rather than agreeing with everyone else in your demographic. That's frightening for a liberal arts major, since your education specifically taught you the importance of agreeing with everyone else in your demographic to attain social approval.

    It's like religious fundamentalism [insert Obamessiah joke here]. When you believe that "belief in my God" and "goodness" are synonymous concepts, seeing people who don't share your metaphysical beliefs doing things that you feel are unethical is actually kind of a nice thing. Yes, it makes you angry, but in a self-righteous way. Self-righteous anger triggers reward centers in the brain (ask David Brin), and frankly almost all of us are addicted to the sensation, especially people with strong political convictions. However, seeing a truly, deeply moral person admit to being an atheist would be striking a blow at your most cherished beliefs. Without the idea that "good" was what came from a book that was allegedly inspired by a mystical dictator who wrote the laws of morality, you no longer have any basis for understanding right and wrong besides your instincts and habits, and are thus deeply unsure of yourself. This confusion is a highly unpleasant sensation, in contrast to self-righteous anger; thus, despite being a "good" person by your standards of right and wrong, you will despise that person more than a terribly evil nonbeliever.

  • Matt Welch||

    Does Reason have an employee health plan? Would it have one if the government didn't require it, or would it test staffers' Galtian bona fides by having them seek their own Galteriffic individual coverage in the marketplace?

    Yes it does. And while I can't answer the latter, nor do "Galt" references do much for someone who has neither read nor despised Ayn Rand, I can say that the foundation does offer some benefits above and beyond those mandated by the government. For instance, I do not make minimum wage....

  • Matt Welch||

    Or maybe it takes a Randian to be craven enough to build a business catering to people they have contempt for. Mackey may well be a swell fellow, but I also wouldn't be shocked to learn he has good laughs about marketing a locavorist message while shipping amaranth burgers and soymilk cross-country and back in diesel refrigerated trucks.

    I have met Mackey twice, and I came away convinced that he's a guy who believes so much in both his customers and his employees, and the things they value, that he's changed some of his personal habits in their direction, in addition to the habits of his company. Alas, that won't translate into him every selling medical marijuana, because he doesn't want to attract any more than the already substantial attention he's received from the feds. That said, I wonder how many CEOs of supermarkets that the boycotters will now frequent are public agitators for the legalization of pot?

  • anonymous||

    "And no cheating, any of you with spouses who have as good or better coverage through their unionized jobs in, say, mainstream media or academia."

    Hey, my unionized-spouse-provided insurance is from the government!

    But I did have a private high-deductible plan before. Nothing wrong with taking the better deal; I'm just getting some of my money back.

  • Mike Laursen||

    And if your views are anathema to your customers, the smart business decision would be to keep them to yourself or risk facing boycotts and protests.

    All true. I'm glad he decided to speak out, though, despite the risk of it not being the optimal business move.

  • Mike Laursen||

    I also bet these both these guys started off lib but after trying to run and grow a business they gained a better understanding of how leftist policies were diametrically opposed to what they were working for so they changed their colors.

    You certainly guessed right in Mackey's case. That's exactly his story. I think I read about it in an article at reason.

  • B||

    Seriously, why and the fuck is anyone, at all, quoting Matt Yglesias or generally giving a fuck what he says or writes? How many fucking times do you have to demonstrate you are a total fucking idiot who only thinks "well, whatever the Democrats are doing at the moment is by definition right" before people quit fucking paying attention to him? He is up there at the top, along with Matt Taibbi, on the list of people who are constantly quoted for some inexplicable fucking reason, despite the fact the only thing they ever have to say, ever, is "The Republicans are evil and the Dems are always right"

  • Mike Laursen||

    Or maybe it takes a Randian to be craven enough to build a business catering to people they have contempt for.

    That would be really, really not Randian. A true-blue Objectivist would blow up his grocery store rather than cater to an irrational customer request for certified GMO-free hummus.

  • B||

    "I mean it just isn't good business to to publicly go out and agitate against what a large majority of your customers want."

    You are one thin-skinned motherfucker if you equate a benign op-ed laying out what you think does and doesn't work, based on your experiences, in health care with agitation. Then again, as the whole "town hall protesters are racist, un-American and [insert any other epithet meant to delegitimize their complaints]" brouhaha proves, "progressives" (the most blatant and ridiculous fucking misnomer in the history of man) don't exactly have an affinity for dissent.

  • Mike Laursen||

    Well, when the alternative is a crap local HMO plan or a high-copay-only-really-covers-catastrophes-except-when-it-doesn't plan, sure, those employer-based high-deductible PPOs look pretty good.

    OK, you're characterization of their choices is exaggerated, but I'll ignore that. I'll just say that, in the real world, people have to evaluate their options against other real options, not against perfection. At least, that's how grown-ups make decisions.

    All that said, I'd rather not have to rely on getting (and holding onto) a job under an enlightened nobleman like Mr. Mackey...

    So, you'd rather depend on living under an enlightened nobleman like whoever happens to be President at the time. You have a lot more ability to walk away from one employer and pick another one than you have to walk away from your country and pick another one.

  • B||

    "I seem to remember a big kerfuffle a few years back when some right-wing facist bastards..."

    For fuck sake, FASCIST has two fucking S's in it.

  • B||

    And hey, Voice of Reason, funny how you don't get around to mentioning those quotes from the CBO, you know the ones that detail how Obamacare would make health care MORE FUCKING EXPENSIVE. So please, spare me the bullshit about how Republicans are just so horrible and their ideas would make health care cost too much. If you are gonna conveniently leave out the shit that demolishes your fucking argument, you are not a Voice of Reason, you are a partisan fucking hack.

  • friend of lettuce||

    F you Mackey. Start over, you lzr.

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