God, liberals, what can I say. Sometimes we annoy the hell out of me.
This is the second time the interwebs is in high dudgeon over something said/written by Whole Foods CEO John Mackey. Mackey, who is hawking a book (Conscious Capitalism, and no, I haven’t read it) used the word “fascism” to describe the Affordable Care Act. This got liberals all upset, especially since they well remember his 2009 Wall Street Journal op-ed proposing eight “free market” reforms that he thought would fix our healthcare problems better than Obamacare.
Let me interject here and say, Mackey is an unabashed Libertarian. I do not agree with Libertarianism. At all. I think his “eight reforms” — stuff like tort reform, selling health insurance across state lines, and removing government coverage mandates — are horrible ideas, many already proven failures. He also wrote that if only everyone would just eat a vegetarian, low fat diet, all of our healthcare woes would magically go away. This was an astonishingly simplistic, insensitive and childish thing to say about a really complicated national issue. But hey, one of my biggest problems with Libertarians is their juvenile belief in magical thinking.
Anyway, that was around three years ago. This time, people seem to be hung up on Mackey’s use of the word “fascist.” The thing is, I said the same thing myself back in 2009. Put aside all of the totalitarian/nationalistic baggage the word carries, and consider its economic definition. Aren’t we always told that fascism is the merger of state and corporate power? So how is a government requirement that private citizens buy a product from a private, for-profit corporation without also offering a “public option” not fascism?
Mackey now admits his choice of words was poor. I watched him on CBS This Morning say we needed a new term, one that doesn’t allude to authoritarian regimes.
This made me laugh. Mr. Mackey, I believe the word you’re searching for is “corporatism.” Funny that wouldn’t occur to the CEO of a big corporation. Ah well. Libertarians, what can I say? They always wear blinders. I have to wonder: if Obamacare mandated that everyone buy organic food, would Mackey have a problem with that?
Mackey is entitled to his opinions, as are we all. I don’t agree with him on everything. But it seems a shame that he stuck his foot in his mouth on the Obamacare “fascism” stuff, because really liberals should be behind a big chunk of what he’s saying now.
Again, I haven’t read his book, but I’ve read several interviews he’s given about it. And basically what he seems to be telling his fellow corporate CEOs is, stop being such selfish, greedy dicks.
“I really don’t think shareholders should come first, I think it’s fundamentally a bad strategy,” Mackey said yesterday at a Captains of Industry series interview with Norman Pearlstine, chief content officer of Bloomberg News. “Happy team members result in happy customers, happy customers result in happy investors. If you put shareholders first, you won’t get there.”
The event at the 92nd Street Y in New York was sponsored by Bloomberg Businessweek.
Mackey, 59, a self-styled “conscious” capitalist and longtime nonconformist, has written a new book in which he criticizes companies that focus solely on maximizing profit. The book, “Conscious Capitalism,” was released this week.
In the book, Mackey and his co-author, Raj Sisodia, a Bentley University marketing professor, discuss ways to create value and lift people from poverty. Mackey’s bottom line: making money need not be a zero-sum game.
I agree with that 100%. And I’m not a Libertarian. I also agree with this:
Mackey tells Inskeep that companies must have a higher purpose than just making money.
For example, when Whole Foods decided it wanted to stop selling overfished species of cod and octopus at its seafood counters, it didn’t just abruptly cut off its suppliers. Instead, the company gave its suppliers three years to come up with a better way of fishing; during that time, the seafood stayed for sale — but with a label of “unsustainable.”
In the end, Whole Foods, working with the Marine Stewardship Council (we’ll have much more on them later), was able to find one supplier of sustainable cod.
I agree with that approach. I also find it a little strange that Mackey doesn’t recognize the flaw in his magical Libertarian ideology: why aren’t all corporations like Whole Foods? Why isn’t everyone focusing on the big picture, why aren’t they all doing the right thing, instead of just focusing on profit? Does Mackey not get that a health insurance company doesn’t make money off of certain groups of people? Like, really, really sick people? That Libertarianism requires a whole set of presuppositions that don’t exist in the real world?
I guess not. But c’mon, liberals. Let’s join in the conversation here, instead of calling for boycotts over the misuse of a word like “fascism” — especially when a lot of us were saying the same thing two years ago.
So no, I’m not boycotting Whole Foods. Nor am I nominating John Mackey for sainthood. Remember this? Remember when Mackey created an online sockpuppet to bash rival Wild Oats in online stock forums? At a time when he was trying to buy that company? Hilarious. Also, not nice. John Mackey, you’re kind of a dick, too. Something else I can say about most Libertarians.
By the way, this reminds me of the one bumper sticker I want to see. It goes something like this:
Who Is John Galt? And Why Is He Such An Asshole?
Ha ha. Love that one. So, boycott Whole Foods if you want to, but I won’t. But I will ask my fellow liberals to stop reacting in such a knee-jerk way to the use of loaded words like “fascism” and whatnot. Please. This makes us no better than the Teanuts who call for the fainting couches every time a liberal says a mean joke about Sarah Palin.