Whole Foods CEO John Mackey on the Moral Case for Capitalism

"You have to understand the narrative that people have about business and capitalism is that they are fundamentally selfish, greedy, and exploitative," Says Whole Foods CEO John Mackey. "Of course, I don't agree with that narrative."

"There is nothing wrong with making money, but that's not particularly inspiring. Every other profession in the world, from doctors, teachers, engineers, architects, [and] lawyers, if you ask what their purpose is, it refers back to some type of contribution they are making to other people." 

At FreedomFest 2012, Reason's Matt Welch sat down with Mackey to discuss how businesses create value, the politicization of "organic," and the need to shift the narrative of capitalism. 

Held each July in Las Vegas, FreedomFest is attended by around 2,000 limited-government enthusiasts and libertarians a year. ReasonTV spoke with over two dozen speakers and attendees and will be releasing interviews over the coming weeks. For an ever-growing playlist, go here now.

About 6:30 minutes.

Camera by Tracy Oppenheimer and Alex Manning; edited by Meredith Bragg.

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  • BakedPenguin||

    The boycott starts in 3... 2... 1...

  • ||

    No it won't. The dopes who would get outraged over this still need to buy their fair trade coffee and organic rhubarb, and they don't have a lot of options.

  • sarcasmic||

    I'm sure that any outrage of the CEO's praise of capitalism will be outweighed by the snob factor of shopping at the most expensive grocery store in town.

  • ||

    I shop at the most expensive grocery store in town at times. I love Whole Foods. I also don't give a shit about organic or fair trade. But Whole Foods has high quality product and an excellent beer selection.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Their meat selection is also impressive.

  • thom||

    They are a great place to get bulk grains, split peas, lentils, etc. They also have a great selection of fake vegetarian "meat" products that blow away the competition on price.

  • sarcasmic||

    When I lived in the city I would go there for herbs and spices.
    Buying in bulk is way cheaper than the regular grocery store alternative. And fresher as well.

  • ||

    Now y'all are making me wanna stop for some steaks and/or fish on my way home!

  • Hyperion||

    Me too, there is one very close to me. Also a Fresh Market, and Trader Joes, and I like both of those also. Too bad I can't buy beer at my whole foods or any other grocery here in Maryland. We should just change the state name to CronyLand.

  • ||

    The Whole Foods closest to me has an actual bar in it and they have folks from breweries coming in to do promos and give out free drinks/swag all the time.

    Whenever I have to deal with idiotic blue laws traveling it drives me up the fucking wall.

  • DaveAnthony||

    They also have the rest of the industry beat in customer service.

  • Sevo||

    ..."the most expensive grocery store in town."
    Not in SF.
    Pretty sure it was Harford ("The Undercover Economist") who did a comparison. Wife and I checked it out compared to the local Safeway; Harford was right.
    What Mackey does is very clever marketing; getting 'foodies' and the terminally self-righteous to self-select the high-priced stuff. Check the lower shelves; that's where the cheap stuff lives.

  • sarcasmic||

    Well excuse me.

    what many people believe to be the most expensive grocery store in town.

    better?

  • ||

    Yeah, the Whole Foods store-brand shit is actually pretty cheap.

  • ||

    I buy their condiments and olive oil because it's cheaper than even QFC.

  • Brandybuck||

    the snob factor of shopping at the most expensive grocery store in town.


    Andronico's?

  • Archduke PantsFan||

    I have a hard time finding coffee not labelled as fair trade. We even have a brand that has fair lined out and replaced with "ethical"

  • SugarFree||

    SugarFree Brand Blood Coffee... drop for drop the cruelest cup of Good Morning America you can buy.

  • Hyperion||

    You know what is fair trade? Something that I want to buy and that someone else is selling for a price that I am willing to pay.

  • Gmason||

    Can you buy organic rhubarb with EBT?

  • Sevo||

    BakedPenguin| 8.10.12 @ 12:51PM |#
    "The boycott starts in 3... 2... 1..."

    In SF, there was a pretty strong push for a boycott after Mackey slammed Obamacare. Lotta noise; but no result.
    Hey, the *intent* was there!

  • BakedPenguin||

    They're boycotting in their hearts.

  • Sevo||

    Fortunately, their wallets didn't get the memo.

  • sarcasmic||

    Yo Matt, what's up with the beard?

    It's fucking August for fuck's sake!

    In Vegas!

    I can understand growing out some facial insulation in the winter, but July and August?

    WTF?

  • Concerned Citizen||

    I'm confused. My lefty nephew shops there because they carry "fair trade" items. Until he sees this story, that is.

  • ||

    Your lefty nephew is out of the loop: he should have been boycotting WF for the last couple of years because of Mackey's statements on health insurance.

  • Concerned Citizen||

    You're expecting consistent, logical thinking from a lefty?

  • ||

    Naw - just giving you some "neener neener" to throw at him next time you talk :)

  • Concerned Citizen||

    Thanks, I owe you one.

  • ||

    Not to mention that his union busting makes the Waltons look like wobbly sympathizers.

  • ||

    I really like this video, because moral arguments are really the only ones that interest me nowadays.

    And Matt, your beard is elegant and correct.

  • sarcasmic||

    And Matt, your beard is elegant and correct.

    I agree, but in the peak of the summer? Come on!

  • SugarFree||

    I remain bearded year-round. It is the source of my sexual power.

  • ||

    You should see how my beard is doing these days. It's very tuggable.

  • SugarFree||

    And the hair on his face looks great, as well.

  • ||

    Oddly enough, my beard happens to be a bearded lady.

  • SugarFree||

    A beard within a beard within a beard...

    BEARDCEPTION!

  • Brett L||

    Its FL in August so no hair on my head is longer than 1/2". But come October I'm starting the grow. At the end of the marathon on Thanksgiving weekend, I want to look like Forrest Gump during his running period.

  • ||

    I really like this video, because moral arguments are really the only ones that interest me nowadays.

    And Matt, your beard is elegant and correct.

    I think the sarcasm here is acidic enough to burn a hole through my monitor and melt my eyes.

  • ||

    Is there a link to the full text or transcript?

  • ||

    whole foods has good meat selection but imo by far the best way to get meat is from a local farmer.

    i get meat (sides or quarters) and thus can ensure it's (relatively) cruelty free, and also grass fed (tastes better and more nutritious). it's reasonably priced, and you always have plenty of it in the freezer

  • Citizen Nothing||

    And if you taser it first, it's especially tender.

  • WTF||

    Made me chuckle.

  • ||

    Yeah, there was some prairie-dogging going on when my colleagues heard my guffaw.

  • Farturo||

    Your work colleagues started to have turds oscillate in and out of their anuses?

    http://www.urbandictionary.com.....rm=PRAIRIE DOGGING

  • Copernicus||

    I think he meant to say "meerkat-ing"

  • ||

    I like Whole Foods. They sell tasty macaroni salad.

  • ZengaFooo||

    I understand he actually takes care of his employees whcih is more than I can say for most of Corporate America.

    www.in-privacy.tk

  • Jesus H. Christ||

    Because employees are livestock and it's up to their owner to take good care of them.

    I am self-employed, but when I was working for the man, I expected him to honor his portion of our contract, and I would honor mine. Given how I see some people treat their family and their pets, I don't want to be "taken care of". Just pay me my money and honor my benefits.

  • Old Dave||

    I've worked for WFM for 10 years and I love it. I bound out of bed in the morning and I can't wait to get to work. Why didn't I start working here 20 years ago???

  • Kent||

    And sometimes its true what they say about large corporations. Take Monsanto as an example in the food industry, it does buy politicians to achieve its ends to the detriment of everyone else.

  • Teaching Student||

    But again, that has nothing to do with Capitalism. When Corporations get into bed with politicians you approach Socialism, or more accurately Fascism, because who really controls who?

  • ThatSkepticGuy||

    "

    "You have to understand the narrative that people have about business and capitalism is that they are fundamentally selfish, greedy, and exploitative," Says Whole Foods CEO John Mackey. "Of course, I don't agree with that narrative."
    "

    Nor do I, but this doesn't sound convincing from a guy whose company sells homeopathic trash, unpasteurized dairy and overpriced organic bunk.

  • Sevo||

    "homeopathic trash, unpasteurized dairy and overpriced organic bunk."

    What sort of crystal ball says it's "overpriced"?

  • SusanM||

    Now, let's be fair. WF really does right by it's employees so I'm more than a little willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Too many similar companies go to great lengths to screw their employees and then wonder why they can't hire or retain even in an economy like this.

  • James Anderson Merritt||

    "You have to understand the narrative that people have about business and capitalism is that they are fundamentally selfish, greedy, and exploitative."

    Well, I don't know about business and capitalism in general, or Whole Foods in particular, but that is certainly the narrative that people have about Comcast, and they have plenty of evidence to back it up, including CSPAN video footage of Comcast bigwigs talking blithely (and, apparently, cluelessly) about "extracting revenue from households."

  • LibertyPoster||

    Mackey lays out his views in the lead chapter in this book (free PDF download): http://studentsforliberty.org/.....sm-PDF.pdf

  • Ardelle||

    At FreedomFest 2012, Reason's Matt Welch sat down with Mackey to discuss how businesses create value, the politicization of "organic," and the need to shift the narrative of capitalism.

  • numnumnum||

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