Recently at Reason.tv: Whole Foods and Health Care


In August, Whole Foods CEO John Mackey argued in the pages of the Wall Street Journal that the solution to America's health care crisis was to be found in "less government control and more individual empowerment." His own company's unique health care plan, Mackey wrote, covers 90 percent of employees, costs less than health insurance plans, and provides a "very high degree of worker satisfaction." But for the sin of not supporting a government take over of health care, labor unions and left-wing activists called for a boycott of Whole Foods, claiming that Mackey's solutions were unworkable and his employees were unhappy.

Reason.tv talked to protesters, Mackey, and employees about "the Whole Foods alternative to ObamaCare."

Produced by Michael C. Moynihan and Dan Hayes. Edited by Dan Hayes. Approximately 5 minutes. (Full disclosure: Mackey has contributed to Reason Foundation, the nonprofit that publishes this website.)

For podcast and downloadable versions of this video, click here.

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  1. Wow. This seems relevant here.

    1. Wow. This seems relevant here.

  2. Private collection action, noone being coerced here. Nothing to see here, right libertarians? Move on.

    1. So we're not allowed to have an opinion? Man, I can't wait for you to coerce someone, because I want to tell you what a jackass you are.

    2. What's your point? That non-coercion of satisfied employees is a bad thing?


      1. The above is directed at MNG, not BSJ, BTW.

    3. Nobody's suggesting that the unions and assorted other pro-government-healthcare people should be forbidden from demonstrating against Whole Foods, boycotting it, or urging others to boycott it.

      But that doesn't mean we can't comment on their reasoning.

      1. Yeah, but it's common around here when something like this cuts against the left for people to say "hey, no coercion, no problem!" In fact, people often argue against coercive measures by pointing out how organized consumer activity could accomplish the same goals. Well, this is that laudable beast in action...So I sez "no coercion, no problem!"

        1. So you're responding to an argument that no one here has made yet? Are you just being a preemptive dickhole?

    4. I merely note that the protestors appear to have no idea what kind of health plan Whole Foods employees have, or any rational argument against Mackay's proposals.

      Their argument appears to be nothing more than an incorherent feeling of being offended that Mackay doesn't agree with everything the Democrats would like.

  3. That's right. The coercion comes in the future when the health insurance provided by Whole Foods fails to meet the minimum acceptable insurance mandated by the health care reform bill.

    After all, it just won't do to have a cheaper option running around than the public option, now will it.

    1. "After all, it just won't do to have a cheaper option running around than the public option, now will it."

      Haha, Mackey et al.'s big fear is that it, and other private plans won't be able to compete with it...That's why they don't even want it as an "option" or to be "triggered"

      1. No. Macky et al.'s -- and my -- big fear is that catastrophic insurance and HSAs won't be allowed under the mandated minimums. Only "comprehensive" "insurance" will be legal -- where "comprehensive" is roughly defined as "what the public option offers."

        Whether the public plan is slightly more or less expensive at that point than private plans is utterly irrelevant. All true options in insurance will be gone, and nothing at all will have been done to affect future costs.

        1. How can any program "compete" if the deck is stacked?

          With "health care reform" all "insurance" has to meet mandated minimums (which would likely make HSA's illegal) but only one source of the acceptable insurance packages will be subsidized by tax payers.

          When people say "compete", I laugh.

          1. Competition is the mantra du jour of the White House. Funny... Is this the same White House that just imposed a tariff on Chinese tires? The same WH that ended the D.C. voucher program? The same WH that promoted Cap and Trade (Cap and Tax anyone who doesn't want to Play Ball!)?

            The Republic will collapse on its own gullibility. And patronage to union leaders.

        2. You are correct. The "mandatory minimum" under the Baucus bill includes dental, prescription drugs, optometry, and maternity leave.

          1. PS: This is largely because it's necessary to force healthy people to pay as much as possible to subsidize the sick people with pre-existing conditions. The insurance companies lobbied for a mandatory minimum that was comprehensive.

  4. Really enjoying your WF/Mackey series! It's a fantastic story hook.

  5. The union protestor that was interviewed really highlights the arrogant paternalism of the left. Oh these whole food employees are just ignorant and stupid, they don't know any better, *I* know what's best for everyone.

  6. Devil's advocate questions for Nick Gillespie: were the Whole Food employees here cherry-picked? Did Reason interview disgruntled employees and choose not to air their concerns? Were the employees chosen at random, or did corporate HQ choose them for Reason.TV? How many employees were interviewed, and what percentage gave comments as favorable as the folks put in the video?

    1. prole, being a video piece editing is everything. However, Whole Foods consistently rank top 5 in best places to work in corporate America. Next time you're in the store, ask a WH employee yourself.

    2. The better question is what employee at will is going to appear on camera and say bad things about their employee? The fact that you didn't think of that question when playing Devil's Advocate speaks volumes about your right-brand of libertarianism prole.

      1. In Libertopia all employers are benevolent chums who encourage open critiques of themselves and would never punish an employee for capricious reasons, and even if they did the employee would happily and without any harm move on to a more productive and rewarding employment agreement with an even more benevolent boss...

        It's like Spongebob had a wet dream which birthed a political mindset...

        1. You know, MNG, I generally respect your opinions even though I disagree with them. But you're just going out and being a complete disingenuous dickwad here. There is a point to be made here, about whether employees will truthfully air negative opinions about their health plans on camera, and prolefeed made it. You can have an actual debate when the question is asked that way. But now we're not going to, because you wanted to beat up on a strawman and use that Spongebob line you've been dying to use for weeks. You're like the bastard who takes a dump in the urinal and ruins it for everyone else. Up yours, asshole.

          1. I actually think it is a real and important failing found in many libertarians thinking that they so often overlook how pressured the average real person is on the street to keep their job. The Spongebob reference was for levity; if you've ever seen the show Spongebob is ever-willing to take abuse from his employer, the character which does not embody the Horatio Algerian archetype, Squidward, and dares have self-interest which is in opposition to their employer is always chastened in the end. It struck me that the show is kind of a wet dream of how many libertarians seem to see the employee-employer relationship...

            And prolefeed did NOT make the point. He wanted to know if the sample was biased as far as who was talked to and who included and who was not(from selection after the fact, excluding disgruntled employees after interviewing). That's a totally different point: one could have interviewed and then included in the video a truly random sample of employees and still one would have totally missed my point that complaints would be less likely to be given for fear of reprisal.

        2. In libertopia, there is more than one state-run monopoly in any industry, so the employee can go find another job working for someone else.

          Now imagine life where the government is the only employer. Such, as, say, a single-payer health care system.

  7. This is so fucking stupid that it's even below Nick Gillespie, and that's saying something.

    1. Morris/Edward/Lefiti...

      Cease and desist your respiratory activities immediately.

      That is all, ya pussed-up pile o' cunt raisins.

    2. Shut your gorilla mask, Edward.

  8. Wow, no way dude you have got to be kidding me wussup wiff that!


  9. If WF has something that works for them, great. The system they developed may or may not work for other companies. It seems to me WF puts a lot of effort into health care for their employees. Perhaps, more than they should, and more than other companies are willing to do. I'd be interested to see how WF administrative overhead costs for employee health care compares to other companies.

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  11. all i know is they have a better plan than i do. i pay $6500/yr premiums for a family. WF employees pay zero premiums and might pay $700/yr ($2500 deductible - $1800 employee account) if they have a sick year.

  12. This was a good video, but I was expecting to hear Gillespie's voice in it. He makes a good voice-over, now that I think of it.

    And I love the UFCW guy's statement:"She doesn't know what she's missing, even though she's been there, and she's entitled to her opinion, even though it's wrong because the gubmint doesn't provide it."

  13. He may say that to sell his products, but Americans still need a health plan!


  14. Interesting discussion here, especially about the benefits of being employed by WFM. As I understand it, despite the WSJ flap (and others), the demand for Whole Foods jobs is at an all-time high. Heck, I applied for a position there recently and they told me there were 30 applicants for that one job! At a grocery store?! Obviously they're doing something that works for the type of staff members they're looking to attract...

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