Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

August 13, 2009


Russell Mokhiber, Counterpunch - John Mackey is a right wing libertarian. He's a union buster. He believes that corporations should not be criminally prosecuted for their crimes. He has just launched a campaign to defeat a single payer national health insurance system. And he's the CEO of Whole Foods. . .

"We are all responsible for our own lives and our own health," Mackey wrote yesterday in the Wall Street Journal. "We should take that responsibility very seriously and use our freedom to make wise lifestyle choices that will protect our health. Doing so will enrich our lives and will help create a vibrant and sustainable American society."�

I do take that responsibility very seriously. I try to eat well. And exercise regularly. I also take my responsibility as a citizen seriously. . .

That's why, today, we are calling on all American citizens to boycott Whole Foods. Why? Because Mackey has launched a public campaign to defeat single payer national health insurance.

This despite the bottom line reality that single payer is the only way to both control health care costs and cover everyone. . .

The problem with Mackey;s campaign is that it results in the deaths of 60 Americans every day due to lack of health insurance. . .

And we are responsible for putting money into his Whole Food bank account so that he can continue his campaign without resistance. . .

So, please, join the Single Payer Action Boycott of Whole Foods.. . . Don't spend another penny at Whole Foods until John Mackey and his right wing friends are defeated.

Tremayne, Open Left - The CEO and co-founder of Whole Foods has written a WSJ editorial attacking the still-in-the-works Obama health care plan in favor of less regulation on the insurance industry and downsizing Medicare. Here's one blogger's take: "Not very smart for a company that depends almost entirely on wealthy Democrats who are willing to pay five dollars for a six ounce carrot soda. Come on, you can do it, boycott them for at least a week and discover how much money you can save at Trader Joe's."

Actually, I think this is a great idea. A stupendous idea. Here's why:

- Pretty much the only way to get the attention of corporate fat cats and the Senators and House members they own is to hit them in the pocket book. Remember when Sinclair Broadcasting was planning to air the anti-John Kerry "documentary" in 2004? The "sell Sinclair stock" meme was born and spread through the tubes and the stock started going down. Soon, plans for airing the documentary "changed." If a boycott of Whole Foods plan spreads, even if it is targeted for, say, the rest of August, they will notice. Similarly, a sell Whole Foods stock might also be effective.

- My impression is that the customers of Whole Foods are left-leaning. If true, a boycott by even a quarter of Democratic customers would have a major impact.

- While Whole Foods used to be a regional operation, it has now spread to 39 states. There are 3 locations in DC, 8 in Maryland and many more in Virginia. Congress members know of it and probably shop there.

- If such a plan works, if the stock falls for example, the press will pick up on it and it will spread.

- If the plan works it will be another example to corporate America that people want change. You would think nearly 70 million votes for Obama would have sent that message but I guess that's yesterday's news. We need to send a reminder and this could be a really good one.

- It's a good opportunity to seek out local alternative sources for the stuff you might normally buy at Whole Foods. Farmers markets, etc. If you go to Whole Foods and stock up on essentials in anticipation of the boycott, it's not really going to hurt them is it?

There are downsides. For example, the people who work at Whole Foods could be negatively affected. That may argue for a time-specific boycott, or, alternatively, a stock-selling plan.


Blogger Lars said...

There just seem to be a few problems with this proposition.

One is that I generally think Obama is trying to cram through isn't so much healthcare reform, as a handout to the health insurance industry. I don't want to see medicare and medicaid cut back either, nor do I want to see Obama's disaster of a plan administered.

Two, do you think there is a CEO in charge of a major grocery store chain that doesn't think the same way? They may not publicly espouse it in the WSJ, but here in New England, most of our chains are foreign owned and most of our CEOs are right leaning. They have very fine pension, salary guarantees, and health care plans thank you very much. They think that unless you advance to the executive class, you don't need such luxuries.

Three, many of the people who shop at Whole Foods feel that they have removed themselves from the grasp of fate by "eating well" and exercising, and thus are likely to support this view. That's not reality, but many who shop at whole foods think they're better than their fellow, fatter citizen, and think, hey, yeah they should take better care of themselves to save on healthcare cost. Amazingly, few of them think about overhead costs associated with private insurance, or really anything other than themselves.

And yes, I shop at Whole Foods and will continue to do so until someone shows me that Shaws or Stop and Shop is demonstrably better or has more enlightened coporate leadership.

August 13, 2009 5:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, one at a time. You are right, the others are no better, but you apply pressure where it can be felt. Believe it - if you hit one hard the others will know it. And yes, Whole Foods does pretend they are better- so call them on it. And so do the sorts who shop there.

August 13, 2009 5:21 PM  
Anonymous Mairead said...

Shop co-op, Lars

August 13, 2009 6:00 PM  
Anonymous cabdriver said...

I'm less interested in who and what to boycott than who and what I should support with my dollars.

To this end, a cynical reply of "they're all bad" isn't responsive or productive.

And the response "shop co-op" leaves out what percentage of American consumers? 98%, is my guess. There's something Marie Antoinette-ish about that answer, in terms of its relevance for most people.

Even if all of the alternatives are flawed, I'm still interested in finding, and supporting, the least worst choice. Not just for food markets- for as many consumer marketplaces and products as possible: food items; the best brand of gasoline; hardware; electronics; clothing...you name it.

I'm tired of having sale price be the sole determinant for consumer purchases- but in the absence of any other information, that's all people have to go on.

I need to note that affordability is still bound to be a very important determinant. But even given that caveat, in a good many cases, there's still ample room for other factors to influence consumers decisions.

I want to know who's doing the most to sustain the environment; to provide decent wages and working conditions; to use source materials from the most humane and environmentally responsible nations- and similar criteria.

I've seen boycotts come and go. I don't want to boycott just one company- I want to change the status quo entirely, in favor of those leading the pack as far as their values of humane and sustainable practices. And all the rest of them? I'll boycott them.

But I need the relevant information to influence my purchasing decisions, put out by independent and competent organizations who are neither greenwashers or over-the-top irrational fanatics. Complete objectivity is bound to be elusive, but I think that reasonably accurate assessments are possible for all sorts of products. And there is often something like an obvious winner.

I guess what I'm looking for is something like a more sophisticated and comprehensive version of Consumer Reports, that includes ecological values and humane economic considerations in the ratings scale.

August 13, 2009 8:24 PM  
Anonymous cabdriver said...

What do you know? It looks as if this website is trying to accomplish what I was referring to- a sort of Green Consumer Report: http://www.greenopia.com/LA/

August 14, 2009 12:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Because my $5000 deductible, major medical insurance plan with Blue Cross has a monthly premium the size of a mortgage payment, I cannot afford to shop at Whole Foods. Guess that says it all...

August 14, 2009 12:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

91% of americans have health insurance .. 86% are happy with their health insurance .. please translate into farsi : i spit upon the shoes of my dog as i throw them at your head .
you silly bunch of commie freeloaders ..

August 14, 2009 3:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, I find the workers at Whole Foods are usually pretty smug hipster doofuses, with those fake rectangular black rimmed glasses, whereas those at Trader Joe's are friendly, happy, peppy people. Perhaps this is a reflection of how they are treated ($2500 deductible?!)

So don't feel too badly for the WF employees. Apparently they don't need us anyway.

August 14, 2009 6:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where's your logic, Russ? I do applaud you for taking personal responsibility for your health by eating well and exercising regularly. (Mackey would agree with you on that score.) Your logic fails, however, when you identify yourself as a responsible citizen (I believe you) and then suggest that all other responsible citizens should jump on your bandwagon to boycott Whole Foods as a means to show support for a single payer health care system. The unspoken (and faulty) assumption is that to do otherwise is to be irresponsible. That's a fallacious argument. There are many responsible citizens who happen to disagree -- for a number of different reasons -- with the proposed single payer system. I am one of them.

Health care reform? YES? Single payer, managed by the government? NO WAY! Carry on with your boycott, but I will happily shop at Whole Foods as much as possible. I also plan to start giving Whole Foods gifts cards to my friends.

BTY, I am neither rich nor right wing. I'm a college professor. I teach logic, and I might just use your blog in the classroom to illustrate the lack thereof. Thanks. :~)

August 14, 2009 10:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You just hate when someone you assumed was on your side jumps ship!

I think the organic food thing is BS, but I'm gonna start shopping there!

August 15, 2009 2:10 AM  
Blogger Hal said...

Mr. Mackey apparently does not realize a very basic fact: that his customers view shopping at Whole Foods as discretionary. It is a luxury that one can easily do without. In my family's case, we were previously willing to travel further and pay more to shop there, because we (mistakenly) thought that the organization shared our values. Now that we've discovered otherwise, our business will go elsewhere. Thank you, Mr. Mackey, for sharing your thoughts in the Wall Street Journal. Without your article, we might have continued to support Whole Foods while being ignorant of your repugnant views. Now that we know, you can be certain we won't be supporting your business any longer.

August 15, 2009 4:22 AM  
Anonymous Aldi's shopper said...

To the oh-so-smug professor - Logic can't prove a thing true - it can only prove a thing false. A thing can be logical, yet false. One hopes even smug logic professors know this.

This country needs far more Russell Mokhibers...and Hals (etc.) ...and far fewer well-tamed smug college professors who may know logic but fail miserably to apply the *reasoning* required to come to know truth.

I am willing to bet the professor's "reasons" for opposing single-payer are nothing more than rationalizations.

August 15, 2009 6:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That old Biblical saying:

"Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God"

Based on John Mackey's Wall St. blog, I suspect that he would be the one referred to in the quotation.

I already participated in the boycott forum at Wholefood"s website. And I do hope that a boycott goes nationwide. People like Mackey live high on the hog, and don't worry themselves about healthcare costs at all. Their executive perks usually pay for all of his premiums and then some.

If I ever walk into a Wholefoods Store ever again, it will not be in the rest of my lifetime. I can not support his rightwing ideology, and had I known of his political leanings earlier, I would have stopped shopping at his stores years ago.

August 15, 2009 3:57 PM  
Anonymous Andrew said...

Instead of shopping at Trader Joe's and thereby contributing to the bank account of one of the world's wealthiest families, let's focus on local farmers markets and co-ops. TJs is not a better alternative imo. They have tons of conventional stuff and generally pay their employees less than WFM (I would know having worked for both).

August 15, 2009 5:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fixing a broken system is BETTER that installing a FAILED System. Down with Obamacare as currently constituted!

August 15, 2009 5:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a Libertarian and I will NOT boycott Whole Foods. In fact, I will DOUBLE my purchases IF a boycott is even attempted. I will get in the face of anyone that decides to picket in front of Whole Foods!

August 15, 2009 6:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mackey is absolutely right. Pardon me while I take a moment to buy a few hundred shares of Whole Foods...

August 15, 2009 6:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

John Mackey offers a sensible solution to Obama’s power grab and the intolerant progressive cannibals begin banging their drums.
Just beautiful!

August 15, 2009 8:13 PM  
Blogger codfish said...

Boycott Whole Foods? I think not. In fact, they are going to get ALL of my business now. I want to support organizations that still believe free market capitalism, not socialism, is best for America.

August 15, 2009 8:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. Just when we thought you lefties couldn't get any dumber, you surprise us again. We're boycotting you because the system you propose - which works perfectly - is so ideologically unsound to us showy hippies, who of course enable a capitalist system every day, but whenever we hear the words 'capitalism' or 'free market' or 'competition', we break out in a progressive rash just like we were told to by our hippie professors!

There are people who are capable of rational thought and evaluating different ideas. Then there are ideologues. You folks are ideologues, and hilariously most of you are hypocritical ones. Keep believing your left-wing commie nonsense while living in a society brought to you by capitalism and the hard work of others. We need the comic relief.

August 15, 2009 8:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I NEVER get off my ass, but believe me, name the date of the boycott and i'll get off my ass. this shit disgusts me. this company needs to be shown who's boss, bigtime. this is outrageous. i must've spent over $15,000 with this company.

August 15, 2009 9:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have never been a frequent shopper of Whole Foods but I switched my shopping preferences today when I heard about the boycott and read Mr Mackey's editorial. I will not only shop Whole Foods on a regular basis but on Monday I will buy shares in a company that has a CEO who rewards his employees because it makes good business sense. Mr Mackey's philosophy makes sense to me and will not bankrupt this nation. Who is John Galt?

August 15, 2009 9:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm....just how long will the liberal left wing nuts be able to go without their organically grown lettuce, carrots and meat that is "controlled-atmosphere killed" (is that some sort of joke made up by PETA??)?

Not long. At least not long enough to starve a few of you knuckleheads.

Obama is trying to grab more power, pure and simple. When Bush did it, you all hit the streets and used language and mob mentality tactics that make the current townhalls look like prayer sessions. When the conservative does it, it's a mob.

You are all a joke.

August 15, 2009 10:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm....just how long will the liberal left wing nuts be able to go without their organically grown lettuce, carrots and meat that is "controlled-atmosphere killed" (is that some sort of joke made up by PETA??)?

Not long. At least not long enough to starve a few of you knuckleheads.

Obama is trying to grab more power, pure and simple. When Bush did it, you all hit the streets and used language and mob mentality tactics that make the current townhalls look like prayer sessions. When the conservative does it, it's a mob.

You are all a joke.

August 15, 2009 10:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. If you boycott Whole Foods, it will be the rank and file employees who will be layed off, not the CEO. USE some logic...oh I forgot, liberals don't ever use that, just pie in the sky emotional idealism based on the irrational assumption that if you give money to everyone, the world will magically become a Utopia.
In fact, Whole Foods health coverage is way more generous than even the US Government employees health plan. You libs are such morons.

August 15, 2009 10:57 PM  
Anonymous Andrew said...

A boycott probably wouldn't hurt the rank and file because

1. Not enough people will boycott to make a huge dent in WFM's sales. But the point is to make a noticeable impact, cut into profits, and increase pressure for a public option, if not single payer.

2. Most WFMs (I've worked at three different stores) can't afford to get rid of 'team members'. They're already minimally staffed, most often, so they're not in a position to lay people off left and right and still function.

Instead of looking at those who would boycott as hurting employees, perhaps anger should be directed toward CEOs and shareholders who make millions off their backs and then have the luxury to inflate their egos with Op/Eds in such papers as the WSJ.

I work at WFM but may decide to no longer make purchases there. I can't walk away from my job but I can take my business elsewhere.

More power to they who would take a stand for the millions who are uninsured and who also use their real names on this site. ;)

August 15, 2009 11:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could not say this better: "Boycott Whole Foods? I think not. In fact, they are going to get ALL of my business now. I want to support organizations that still believe free market capitalism, not socialism, is best for America." There is not one close to me, but will travel further to buy more now...

August 16, 2009 12:14 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

You all don't understand how socialized medicine will destroy our country and our economy. You turn a blind eye to the obvious...no country with socialized (single-payer) health care is better off. Russell, you ignore what happens when the government takes over anything. You have no idea how our health care system has already been screwed up immeasurable by our government's mismanagement of Medicare, Medicaid, and their effort to dictate what services cost. You have no clue.

As the old saying goes, "be careful what you wish for", you and your children's children will curse the day the US government took over health care. If you think our system has problems now, you'll be stunned by how bad it can get when Uncle Sam takes control.

Mackey is right about how Socialism always fails. You and your liberal friends are going after the wallets of Americans and corporations to fund what you believe are "rights" of all Americans. What happens when those you've drained can no longer hire people?, or can no longer pay for Socialism?

I've lived in Europe. I've seen what you want. I've seen it fail. Wishful thinking will get you nowhere.

If you REALLY want everyone in the US to have health care, they spend your efforts generating the funds they need to buy insurance. Stop trying to get the US Government to force Americans to pay for those who can't keep up.

I wish you understood how this will fail. You're not looking at this objectively. You think the money will never run out. You think the government can rule our lives, and we'll be better off.

If you get your wish, later in life you'll look back at today, and wish we could recapture what he have now. Because it will be gone.

August 16, 2009 1:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the Aldi's shopper on the use and misuse of logic: Russ Mokhiber set up a syllogism in which the premises are false. This makes the conclusion false. As you rightly point out, "Logic can't prove a thing true - it can only prove a thing false. A thing can be logical, yet false." It is also true that a thing can seem logical and be false, and that's what the professor has rightly identified.

Mokhiber's premises, at first blush, seem to be acceptable, but upon closer examination, one can see the faulty logic (based upon a syllogism with false premises) involved in making the claim that that responsible persons should support the Whole Foods boycott. Using this logic, it follows that anyone who doesn't support the boycott must be irresponsible, a conclusion that is obviously false.

Would enjoy discussing this is greater detail, but I'm headed to Whole Foods to do my weekly grocery shopping. :~)

August 16, 2009 8:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

to those of you whol blabber on about how much worse care in other countries is..why aer we so far down and losing groung in our rankings in life expectency and infant mortality etc etc?

August 16, 2009 7:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this will help whole foods. Grungy Harry and the princess think they can ram this ill-concieved takeover down america's throat, without anyone noticing. It takes corporate leaders to speak out for the little guy, this is now one of my favorite companies. Good job whole foods.

August 17, 2009 2:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Progressive Review has attracted the attention of the bloggers of the Republican National Committee ...

There were already a lot of reasons to avoid Hole Foods. They are trying to become an illegal monopoly (although the anti-trust laws haven't been enforced in a long time). They claim to support "local" food yet are stingy in supporting local farms. They sell a lot of overpackaged overpriced stuff that is not very "green." They are a notorious union-buster.

Hole Foods has tried to wreck a lot of locally owned health food stores. Healthy economies are based on cooperation, not excessive greed. I'm glad to live near several locally owned health food stores and that our town has kept Hole Foods away. It's also good to grow some of your own food, that is the best approach. I wonder how many extreme libertarians know anything about how to grow their own food?

August 17, 2009 3:30 AM  
Anonymous PJ said...

"It takes corporate leaders to speak out for the little guy..."

Tell me again, Sam - how the hell is the left supposed to reach out to, and find common ground with, the completely entrenched complete insanity of the rightwingnuts??

August 17, 2009 6:39 AM  
Blogger Nathan said...

wow. all the right-wingnuts came out of the woodwork for this one... and they brought their room-temperature IQs with them. what the heck happened to you guys? you used to LOVE capitalism! why does a proposed boycott make you nutjobs so ANGRY?

beware, socialists are coming to your houses to give your fat redneck wives free vaginal and rectal exams!

August 18, 2009 4:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boycotting Whole Foods only hurts the good people who are making a living working there. Most folks I know, who work at Whole Foods are democrats who are in favor of healthcare reform.
The plan that Whole Foods offers it's employees does work, is cost effective, and could work for all of America.
I don't see why we(or at least some on this board) stoop to the level of hatred and name calling for people who disagree.
That isn't what we're about.

August 19, 2009 11:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well then, let the wealthy Democrats pay for Obamacare.
I surely will continue to shop at Whole Foods and support their CEO.
I seriously doubt that their core shoppers are obama supporters.
Thank you for speaking out and exercising your FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS! This seems to really bother the left. It is OK for them to speak out, but not anyone else.

August 20, 2009 12:36 AM  
Blogger Rich said...

If John Mackey had been a Republican or CEO of Chase Manhattan Bank, nobody would have thought much more about it. Here we have the founder of Whole Foods, no doubt one of the most progressive companies in the USA, getting slammed for exercising his opinion. No public campaign, just an article with interesting points.

Unfortunately, it reflects poorly upon the WF haters who are jumping on the bandwagon and attempting in vain to silence any opposition.

August 20, 2009 9:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

Sam Smith, good Lord! You've been a dumb ass since 1964? That may be a record of some kind. Too much LSD in the 70's?

August 20, 2009 10:26 PM  
Anonymous Kerry Berger said...

It seems incredulous to me that a CEO of a major firm would risk the good name of the company he represents by writing in the Wall Street Journal, without even considering who his customer base is. Come on, this is marketing 101 stuff. A person in a corporate leadership role must represent the corporation he leads, not his personal political beliefs, as repugnant and selfish as they may be. I happen to live in Northwest Arkansas and we have a great alternative to Whole Foods, a local natural foods grocery store called Ozark Natural Foods. I pay more for quality groceries, but as a co-owner/shopper it is in my best interest to know and support my fellow customers. John Mackey gets an "F" for this, and I do support his ouster. This whole class of over-paid, arrogant chief executives needs to be taken out and guillotined in public.

August 23, 2009 12:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon said "I NEVER get off my ass, but believe me, name the date of the boycott and i'll get off my ass. this shit disgusts me. this company needs to be shown who's boss, bigtime. this is outrageous. i must've spent over $15,000 with this company."

congratulations! you're a useful idiot. you commies are ridiculous. i don't have a responsibility to pay for your healthcare you lazy lib!

August 24, 2009 6:34 PM  
Anonymous madmilker said...

with their Global Procurement in China....what year did Wal-Mart take tat hyphen out of the name and put tat STAR there.

August 25, 2009 11:56 AM  
Blogger Tibor said...

There is a problem with your use of the term "progressive," given that what you actually promote policies that are reactionary--they take us back to an era when the monarch called the shots for the country in all areas--the arts, sciences, religion, and commerce, for instance. The economic system then was mercantilism, by no means a step forward. Thus it is more accurate to call your position mercantilist and leave "progressive" to those who took us forward to an era that deprived the government of feudal powers such as running the economy.

September 1, 2009 12:52 PM  

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