Whole Foods Founder John Mackey's Free Market Plan For Creating Jobs


Over at the Wall Street Journal, Whole Foods founder John Mackey has a terrific op/ed outlining what needs to be done to jumpstart the flagging American economy. Hint: The government doesn't need to "stimulate" it. In his op/ed titled, "To Increase Jobs, Increase Economic Freedom," Mackey writes:

America became the wealthiest country because for most of our history we have followed the basic principles of economic freedom: property rights, freedom to trade internationally, minimal governmental regulation of business, sound money, relatively low taxes, the rule of law, entrepreneurship, freedom to fail, and voluntary exchange.

The success of economic freedom in increasing human prosperity, extending our life spans and improving the quality of our lives in countless ways is the most extraordinary global story of the past 200 years. Gross domestic product per capita has increased by a factor of 1,000% across the world and almost 2,000% in the U.S. during these last two centuries. In 1800, 85% of everyone alive lived on less than $1 per day (in 2000 dollars). Today only 17% do. If current long-term trend lines of economic growth continue, we will see abject poverty almost completely eradicated in the 21st century. Business is not a zero-sum game struggling over a fixed pie. Instead it grows and makes the total pie larger, creating value for all of its major stakeholders—customers, employees, suppliers, investors and communities.

So why is our economy barely growing and unemployment stuck at over 9%? I believe the answer is very simple: Economic freedom is declining in the U.S.

So what to do? 

Cut defense, reform and privatize aspects of federal entitlement programs, close tax loopholes and adopt a top tax rate of 15 to 20 percent, cut the effective (state and fed combined) corporate tax rate from 39.2 percent (the highest in the world) to 26 percent, and slash regulations (current annual cost $1.75 trillion) enabling entrepreneurship to flourish in moribund sectors like health care, energy and education.

The whole op/ed is well worth reading (and depressing because the country is so not going in that direction.) 

Go here for an excellent Reason interview with Mackey on Whole Foods Health Care. And see below Mackey's long reason.tv interview on "Conscious Capitalism." 

Disclosure: Mackey has contributed in the past to the Reason Foundation, the nonprofit organization that publishes this magazine. Several years ago he bought me dinner after touring me through the Austin downtown Whole Foods. It was delicious. 

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  1. I never really thought about it like that. It does indeed make sense.


    1. I shop at Walmart. Whole jalape?o peppers @ $.74/lb!

      Four Loko!

      $1 French bread!

      Screw Whole Foods’ hippie-chic extravaganza. I ? Wally World.

  2. John Mackey for president.

  3. More unmutual behavior! Occupy Whole Foods!

    1. remember when he opposed Socialized Medicine? Lefties were calling for a boycott of Whole Foods. They love shopping there, but they hate that his politics don’t line up with their own.

      1. …and, ironically, these are the people that have this image of themselves as being the most tolerant, open-minded people in the history of the world.

        1. Those bastards also fail to realize that Whole Foods would look a lot more like a Soylent Green general store without a (relatively)free market and greedy rich bastards like Mackey. Fuck those cunts.

        2. Tolerance means not tolerating intolerance.

          Open-minded means attacking people who are not similarly open-minded.

          Inclusiveness means excluding those who are not inclusive.

          Equality means condemning those who do not support equality.

      2. The boycott that lasted about two weeks before everyone lost interest? Yeah, remember that.

    2. I love the fact that Whole Foods markets to and has as a major percentage of its customer base the very people who claim to hate all things corporate. And I especially love Mackey selling the hippie crack to them all while using some of his profits to push freer markets and more limited government.

      1. it makes me want to shop there more often

      2. Yes, sort of like Apple in that regard.

        Though from what I can tell, soap and deodorant corporations don’t have much of that population in their clientele.

        1. No kidding. Think the amazingly philanthropic Gates gets love from these people?

      3. He’s just stirring up controversy to get Whole Foods into the news before the holidays. The kids will protest while their parents are inside buying turkeys and snacks. They shared rides in the Prius.

        Gotta love it.

      4. Whole Foods customers were hipsters before hipsters were cool. Real hippies rip themselves and their friends off by joining a food coop.

        Speaking of which, I can’t wait to see the whiplash in Tallahassee. The local “art” theater went out of business to much wailing and gnashing of teeth until it was discovered that Whole Foods was moving in. Cannot wait to see the tears and rending of clothes when it puts the coop out of business.

  4. OWS claims Bloomberg threw out or destroyed many of the books seized from their library:


    1. The comments are so precious.

      I like how they are whining about the police confiscating and destroying what they built, while demanding the government do the same to others.

      They deserve the police state they want to build. The innocents they want to prey on, not so much.

      1. It’s pretty funny watching them get a first hand education in the exact same heavy handed use of government force they want to call down on those making more than them. I’m sure this won’t shake their belief that more government power is the answer to our problems, though.

        1. Legitimate use of government power == used against people who aren’t right thinking. Fuck them. Its always right when done to the proles and wrong when done to the party members. Two legs bad, four legs good until the pigs go about on two.

    2. The American Library Association weighs in:


      (their intervention is slightly spoiled by their delay in protesting the suppression of independent libraries in Cuba and their smearing of the movement as stooges of Yanqui imperialism:


      1. because God forbid that libraries get government support! That would taint them!

    3. The People’s Library?

      Can you smell-el-el-el-el what the Mayor…is cookin’?!!

      (It’s your books, in a fire.)

    4. OWS claims Bloomberg threw out or destroyed many of the books seized from their library:

      Probably for public health reasons. God knows what would grow in a petri dish off one of those books. Assuming the lice didn’t eat all the agar first.

  5. Bison ribeye from Whole Foods + espresso + chipotle powder = yum

  6. I like Mackey, but his customers are despicable, Wal-Mart-dissing assholes.
    Also, didn’t a Whole Foods store get trashed by OWS protesters?

    1. He’s doing God’s work in separating many of them from their money.

      Whole Foods is okay, but it’s pretty pricey. I like Fresh Market for expensive stuff better (it’s just in the South, I think), and for cheap stuff, Trader Joe’s, which, unfortunately, isn’t in Florida.

    2. Hey, I shop at both places, and love them equally. So we’re not ALL assholes.

  7. While some regulations create important safeguards for public health and the environment, far too many simply protect existing business interests and discourage entrepreneurship. Specifically, many government regulations in education, health care and energy prevent entrepreneurship and innovation from revolutionizing and re-energizing these very important parts of our economy.

    Preach it.

  8. these are the people that have this image of themselves as being the most tolerant, open-minded people in the history of the world.

    They love GOOD ideas. And they are totally open to any thought which conforms to their perception of the world.

  9. Now he’ll have to be punished some more.

  10. Prepare for another round of “hipster bobos boycotting Whole Foods” articles.

    “For the past three years, Steven Tepplers has made a weekly bus trip from his Petworth condo to the Logan Circle Whole Foods to stock up on staples like organic fig spread, free range lamb chops, and hummus produced on an ancient Israeli kibbutz. But when he learned Whole Foods CEO John Mackey recently spoke out in favor of free market reforms to improve the economy, those weekly sojourns to his favorite grocery store came to an end.

    ‘It’s like, I thought I was supporting one of those rare companies with a social conscience,’ he said, climbing on to his bike and heading for his local organic radish co-op.

    ‘But now I see this is just another mega corporation only interested in oppressing people for profits. I can’t be a part of it.’ Tepplers furiously pulled up his shopping list on his Ipad and biked off.”


    1. Just wait till someone tells this nitwit that the Israelis “oppress” the Palestinians. That’ll be the end of hummus, too.

  11. Watch out, John, Occupy Whole Foods will be next.

    I read today that occupiers are pissing in banks. I just hope you’re prepared.

  12. Sold out for a dinner did you, Bailey?
    And I bet Mackey has met at least one of the Koch Brothers. I love how you used a photo that didn’t show the monocle, top hat and huge diamond stick pin in his cravat.

    1. Selling his birthright for a mess of fair-trade chile, free-range chicken, french bread, cheese, and…

      I better stop, or I’ll sell out too.

  13. Yeah, I don’t know what Mackey means by “free market” but I guess that somehow involves using eminent domain to get a road built to a new store.


    1. While I oppose all ED, eminent domain for a road is constitutional.

  14. I read the link and think there is more to this. I’d bet that the developers didn’t initially plan for the connector road but the local government planners insisted on it as a condition of project approval.
    If a libertarian businessman walked away from every government intrusion on liberties, there obviously wouldn’t be any libertarian businesses.

  15. Mackay is a straight white male. He needs to “step up, step back” to the back of the line and let the wisdom of the lesbian amerindian wiccan speak!

    1. Differently abled lesbian amerindian First Nation wiccans, you regressive, capabilito-normative divider.

      1. (waves hands rapidly back and forth)

  16. The editorial sucked. The economic problems right now are crisis-driven, not policy-driven. We had essentially the same, or less favorable, economic policy during the boom years. Getting policy exactly right today, even if possible, would not rescue the economy anytime soon.

    Also, if we are going to reduce the importance of itemized deductions and provide broad-based tax relief, we should be raising the zero bracket, not dropping the top bracket. Raising the zero bracket gives a tax break to everyone who pays income taxes, and reduces the number of people who need to itemize. Dropping the top bracket only gives a tax cut to a tiny number of very wealthy payers, and does nothing to reduce the need to itemize.

    1. Trying to wrap my mind around your statement that the crisis is “crisis-driven”. Isn’t that begging the question?

      1. What’s meant is that the economy didn’t crater all of a sudden because some bad policy on marginal tax rates or entitlement spending was heaped onto it. It cratered because there was a private-sector debt “crisis.” And the economy isn’t going to suddenly recover on the basis of reforming some long-standing sub-optimal tax or entitlement policy. It will only recover as the bad debts in the private sector are ‘cleared’ by bankruptcy, write-offs, and the like.

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