Sunday, August 23, 2009

Liberal Businessman Bears False Witness

President Barack Obama was recently in pulpit mode while slamming grassroots conservatives for showing up at staged pro-government health planning town hall meetings. He accused these "operatives of the right wing conspiracy and the Republican Party" of "bearing false witness." But conservatives are not the only blasphemers. One major liberal business figure is now on the receiving end of leftwing anger.

John Mackey, co-founder, Chairman and CEO of Whole Foods Markets is now is the cross-hairs of the frothing-at-the-mouth left. He is a leader in the organic food movement. He is a self-proclaimed vegan, although he does occasionally eat eggs, so in the hierarchy of non-meat eaters, that makes him an ovo-vegetarian (don't ask me how I know these things). But he only eats eggs from the free range chickens he raises at his Texas ranch. He practices yoga. Last year he gave slightly over a million dollars to animal welfare programs. He has supported liberal and Democratic causes, but calls himself a Libertarian.

As for his business, Whole Foods carries only organic foods. The few animal products carried are gleaned from producers who have signed a humane-treatment pledge. And animal welfare is not his only concern. He takes very good care of his employees, who are among the highest-paid workers in the retail food arena. He offers a very low-cost, high-benefit medical plan for every employee. Without any need for the government to step in, Mackey built in salary and bonus caps on his executives. In 2005, Whole Foods was one of only two Fortune 500 companies to be listed in the top 25 best companies to work for.

He made a decision a few years back that he loved his work more than he loved the wealth he was creating, so he simply reduced his salary to $1.00 per year, and accepts minimal bonuses (last year it was about $34,000, all of which he gave to charity). The sums equal to what he would have made under his old bonus plan are now distributed to the employees at all levels, as well as to multiple charitable causes.

I don't have a dog in this hunt. I have been forced on a few occasions by friends and family members (who never asked a second time) to accompany them to our local Whole Foods store. I usually embarass them by asking loudly where I can find the products with a minimum of 15% preservatives by volume. Or "Where is the MSG aisle?" Or "What's all this brown bread crap? Where's the good white bleached flour Wonder Bread?" Or "Have they washed the caterpillar droppings off these sickly sprouts?" Or "Can you explain to me what unnatural foods are?"

So obviously, a man with Mackey's credentials needs to be vilified by the left. "Traitor!" "Deviant!" "Fascist!" And why is he suddenly so loathsome to the left? He made the fatal error of publicly opposing Obama's public health care proposals (aka nationalized and socialized medicine). In fact, his very public disagreement with the single-payer advocates and single-payer obfuscators includes his own plan which sounds a great deal like our own CommentaramaCare. He made the fatal mistake of promoting and discussing his plan in the Wall Street Journal on August 11 of this year.

He isn't opposing some government regulation. He isn't screaming communist at anyone who proposes Congressional action on getting medical insurance for those who have earned it but for some reason can't afford it under the current chaotic system. He just doesn't want a government takeover, single-payer, British-style National Health Service. He knows the market invariably works better than anything the government can do. And that, according to the followers of High Priest Obama, is heresy.

A growing group of leftist organizations, including ACORN and the SEIU are promoting boycotts against Whole Foods. A company which provides better health benefits for its employees than any government program anywhere in the world has ever provided is now to be punished because its CEO disagrees with the Obamassiah. The HuffPo and DailyKos are in high dudgeon. Although Obama himself has not spoken about Mackey specifically, several of his storm troopers have. They've called Mackey pretty much everything but a Republican, but it's still early in the game. Can "enemy of the people" and "destroyer of children" be far behind?

OK, now let's analyze this. Mackey makes $1.00 per year. He donates all his other income to charity. He is fabulously wealthy. How is Mackey going to be hurt personally by a boycott? The answer, obviously, is he won't, unless you consider harming his company something personal. But a great many other people will be hurt. Whole Foods has thousands of employees nationwide, particularly after the company purchased the Wild Oats Natural Food stores. Mackey won't be out of a job or impoverished if the boycott is successful. But many of those workers will. If stores start closing, the locals may have to buy the vile meat and unnatural vegetable products that people like me buy at Safeway.

Mackey's bonuses are based on profits. If those profits go down, so does Mackey's charitable work. Sorry, Fido and Puff, but we'll have to gas you instead of fixing you up and getting you a good home. And as the largest natural foods chain in the nation, it is also the nation's largest purchaser of natural products from the wholesalers. Who do those producers sell their products to when Whole Foods cuts its purchases by 15% to 25%? More bankruptcies and more payroll cuts will result.

But what are a few hundred or a few thousand ruined livelihoods and businesses when doctrinaire Obamacare is at stake? Who cares about unemployed workers when "principle" is being questioned? And how dare anyone, anyone, question Obama's New Testament? It is far more important to promote half-assed European style government-run health care than it is to support a company which provides some of the best medical care in the world to its employees and provides good, healthy and politically-correct food products.

I will be shopping at Whole Foods for the foreseeable future, also as a matter of principle (certainly not because I want to shop with those natural food creeps). I can always buy a few rabbits and feed the Whole Food products to them while I continue to consume my Wonder Bread sandwiches, pig-pen bacon, chicken-coop chicken, and Oreos.

And while doing the research for this article, I found another reason to love Mackey (and at the same time to wonder what took the SEIU so long to join in a boycott of Whole Foods). Mackey has described unions in terms I only wish I had thought of. "The union is like having herpes. It doesn't kill you, but it's unpleasant and inconvenient, and it stops a lot of people from becoming your lover." Mackey prefers "company unions," which are illegal in America, but work very well in Japan, Germany and many other countries.

America requires that all unions be formed outside of the company, thus producing massive unions with little knowledge of any individual company, huge needs to support leftwing political causes and candidates, and strong associations with criminal enterprises and international socialists. For example: the SEIU (Service Employees International Union). Company unions bring labor and management together to work out common goals for the actual employees and actual management of the actual company. Everybody wins, and not a dime of union money leaves the possession of the union employees. So of course, the left hates the very concept of company unions. It's hard for doctrinaire leftists to convince well-paid, generally satisfied employees that they have "nothing to lose but their chains." It's hard to convince employees with excellent medical benefits that they should give their money involuntarily to a distant union to support political causes and candidates they despise and pay for public endorsement of candidates who support partial-birth abortion along with cost-benefit bureaucratic control of their personal health.

God love John Mackey, and to hell with High Priest Obama.


StanH said...

John Mackey, and his company “Whole Foods” is a glittering example of the greatness that is America. Brainless leftist would walk into hell with Barry, as long as they have no responsibility. I hope Mackey fights on, and sticks their witless dogma where the sun don’t shine. It sounds as if the man is a liberal, but and American first, whose plan like Commentarama makes to damn much sense, and uses the Free Market to improve the best medical system in the world. There are problems with healthcare/insurance and need to be tweaked not destroyed. I to am going to make the trip to my local, “Whole Foods.” Please, keep on throwing punches …Mr. Mackey!

MegaTroll said...

Thanks for an interesting article Lawhawk. You Commentarama people are doing a great jobs! I honestly don't see anything like the kind of work you all are putting out anywhere on the net -- maybe National Review, but that's about it.

On your article, I laugh at the irony. But I think there is a lesson here. I think Obama could have pulled off health care reform if he'd been non-dogmatic about it. He should have looked at the good ideas out there and then built a plan around that. But instead, his left flank was only interested in getting the single payer plan, and they end up with nothing. I'm glad, but it should be a big lesson for everyone.

Unknown said...

StanH: I'm willing to bet he'll be a little less liberal from here on. But even so, Mackey is one of those liberals I respect highly. He doesn't confuse liberalism with leftyism, radicalism or socialism. And he doesn't just talk the talk. He walks the walk. He doesn't sit around and watch the government dole out goodies to the undeserving. He helps people and animals with his own good deeds. And he literally puts his money where is mouth is. No Hollywood phony or Chicago thug telling people "we have to take care of the poor, don't you?" It's a good guy saying "I know your needs, and I'll help," as opposed to the institutional welfare recipient who says "I know my rights, so give me your money."

Unknown said...

MegaTroll: Good to hear from you again. I genuinely think that Obama wants the government in charge of our personal lives and well-being, but doesn't have a clue how unworkable and provably wrong that is. He has zero understanding of economics and doesn't have a the least idea as to how wealth is generated. So instead of seeing a man like Mackey as an ally, he sees him as an enemy attempting to de-rail government hegemony over the entire economy. He seriously thinks that creating wealth and printing money are the same thing.

Did you also notice that on the slowest news hours of the week (late Friday evening) his people announced that they were just slightly wrong about the deficit? It's nine trillion, not seven trillion.

StanH said...

What’s a couple trillion amongst friends, and we know when he adds his behemoth universal healthcare the deficit will go down -- wink-wink-nod-nod!

Mike Kriskey said...

I never thought I'd say this, but I think I'm going to have to take a trip to Whole Foods. As long as I don't have to talk to any hippies.

Cheryl said...

The irony, the hypocrisy, the stupidity!
Just how dumb do you have to be to be a liberal?

Lawhawk, I agree. He is one of those liberals I can respect. You suggest he may be a little less liberal from here on. He sounds like he may just be a "compassionate conservative" to me.


AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, Nice article as usual. I have shopped at Whole Foods for steak. It makes the hippies cry. :-)

I saw an interview with a couple leftos about this and it was funny that they both said they would boycott Whole Foods, but they didn't want their names given. Why? Does Whole Foods rendition people for having the wrong opinions?

Skinners 2 Cents said...

This reminds me of a moment in Star Wars a New Hope. To barrow and change a line from that movie.

"Mr Obama the tighter you squeeze your fist the more citizens slip though your fingers."

I love stuff like this, the left attacking the left, only good can come from it.

I found this on you tube its a great interview of a Whole Foods customer. As well as someone who advocates for Obama against Whole Foods. With a great twist that comes out of no where.

Unknown said...

StanH: What worries me most is that people are coming to accept the idea of any deficit being in the trillions, whether it's one or nine. One trillion is way too much.

MikeKriskey: I am on my way to buy fill-in for the kitchen. I'm practicing saying "dude"and "awesome" so I can speak with the clerks at Whole Foods. I need to buy some free-range peanut butter.

ScottDS said...

(most of this is copied from a BH open thread)

I enjoy Whole Foods (though with the economy, I don't shop there as often as I once did) and all I can do is roll my eyes at the "Boycott Whole Foods!!" gang. So their CEO expressed an opinion that was different than yours... so? Cry me a river! :-)

From an AP article I read about it: "But the Whole Foods boycott [Facebook] group's blog says Whole Foods has 'built its brand with the dollars of deceived progressives' and urged people to stop shopping there."

"Deceived progressives"? Personally, I've always resented the stereotype that where you shop is determined by who you vote for and vice-versa.

And time for a Commentarama 101 question: "He doesn't confuse liberalism with leftyism..." Where does one end and the other begin?

Unknown said...

Andrew: I'll be interested to see how this plays out in San Francisco. One of my shopping stops today is going to be at Whole Foods. Normally, the place is packed on Sundays (at least the few times I've been there). I'll report back.

Skinners2Cents: The complete mindlessness of the Obamazombies is a wonder to behold. The Messiah says their favorite place to buy groceries is now anathema. So they avoid Whole Foods like a Muslim avoids a hog-calling contest. We can thank God that liberals now comprise about 21% of the voting public, but they make 75% of the scripted noise.

Unknown said...

ScottDS: Isn't "deceived progressives" a redundancy? Sort of akin to "crazy lunatics?"

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I'm with Scott on this one, I don't see much difference between modern leftism and modern liberalism. Classical liberalism is something very different, but I don't think Mackey falls into that category. Of course, classical leftism was a little different too -- more about theories, whereas today is about victimology.

LL said...

Obama healthcare reform was far less about healthcare than it was about a political agenda that calls for redistribution of wealth - call it socialism or Marxism as you may be moved to do so.

That is why it became so important for the radical left (who exempted themselves from the plan in the first place). It is why "healthcare" remains important.

StlDan said...

I've got whole foods in my garden and pasture. How the hell do they sell whole heifers and gilts in town?

Mike Kriskey said...

The difference between liberals and leftists:

Liberals are educable.

Unknown said...

Andrew: I don't think you have to go that far back to find liberals who aren't out to socialize America. My family were John Kennedy Democrats, and were highly suspicious of all things "pink." For that reason, I stick by my original statement. The liberals I speak of believe that government has a greater role in daily events than I as a conservative can tolerate. But progressives and leftists are socialists-in-training. For them, government is the end to be achieved. For today's liberals (as I define them), government is a means to an end--which doesn't include socialism. For those reasons, I see Mackey as a modern liberal, not like any of the other categories of leftists who inhabit the Democratic Party and merely claim to be mere liberals.

I wasn't trying to launch an esoteric discussion of the various degrees of modern political thought. I was merely pointing out that Mackey is the kind of liberal I can disagree with, but respect. There is no such thing as a "progressive," leftist or socialist for whom I can express respect. The liberals I respect (and there are still plenty of them around) believe in unions, but despise Marxism. Those of my age were no different from conservatives in their intense dislike for the Soviet Union, Castro, and communism.

Let's pick that nit in a later discussion designed to go in-depth on the issue.

Unknown said...

LL: Exactly right. The health care reform bill is just another part of the attempted complete government takeover of every facet of American life, including radical egalitarianism.

StlDan: Before I ended up in a city apartment, we grew most of our own vegetables and fruits at home. Today, I can only grown parsley, green onions, and those few things that can thrive in a window box.

Unknown said...

Mike Kriskey: Perfect! You summed up my whole argument about genuine modern liberals. They're educable. And the best part is, if they avail themselves of that education, they will eventually become conservatives. Bravo!

Now team, I REALLY have to get to the store. I'll rejoin you in a couple of hours.

patti said...

you totally beat me to the punch. whole foods here i come (and most likely i will link your swell article.)

Writer X said...

It will be interesting to see if the boycott even makes a dent. I doubt that it will make more than a minor hiccup despite the hysterics. Now I have a reason to shop there.

Unknown said...

Patti and WriterX: I picked up carrots, onions, celery and split green peas to make split pea soup. It was a little pricey, but somehow I just didn't mind the extra expense. And I felt like I had actually accomplished something. The crowd looked pretty much the same as I remembered from before, so if the "boycott" is having any effect, it doesn't appear to be much of one. Odd side note: I didn't get a single hostile glance at the American flag lapel pin I've worn since 9-11. I got looks like I had spilled ketchup on my shirt the last few times I went.

patti said...


Unknown said...

Patti: Thank you, ma'am. I make my pea soup in a crock pot, so my kitchen smells absolutely delightful right now. The soup has been slow-cooking for about six hours now. Yumm. Nevertheless, I'm quite sure it's not going to taste any different from my usual recipe which uses vegetables from my local supermarket at half the price. But Bev will love the name of that supermarket: Big Apple!

BevfromNYC said...

I am late to this party, but I just want to point out that Whole Foods is a...[clears throat]...Texas company. In the 70's and '80's it was pretty "hippie-dippey". But in the '90's it's took those peace-love-harmony ethics and Texas self reliant nature and applied them to a corporate model that really works.

Since a store opened up across town in NYC, I shop there as often as I can and now I will shop there all the time. I was just there while in Dallas yesterday.

Unknown said...

Bev: You're a closet yuppie! LOL So how do you like the name of my local market? My beloved Big Apple Market has plenty of good preservatives, MSG and artificial flavors. Definitely my kind of place.

BevfromNYC said...

Law - Big Apple Market! So that's where all the preservatives in NYC went to when Bloomberg banned them. He sent them all to San Francisco! I bet you can even get transfats and most known carcinogens too. Ahhh, how I long for those pre-Bloomberg, transfat laden days of yore...

And I am not a yuppie, but I do have a fondness for venti organic, fair-trade decaffeinated double soy lattes and organic gluten-free fair-trade quinoa muffins with locally grown pesticide-free, free-range blueberries.

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