Why boycotting Whole Foods is Stupid

I’ve been forwarded a few emails about the Whole Foods Boycott, a movement in response to Whole Food’s CEO John Mackey’s Wall Street Journal article.

I’m tempted to find the nearest boycott and ask everyone who is so enraged if they actually read his short article. I doubt they have. It’s well written, expresses a clear opinion, and even if you disagree with him he does have some interesting ideas. (Even if those ideas read as callous, self-interested or misrepresentative of the data – note added 8/26).

Why is it in this country when someone expresses an opinion we don’t like, the answer is a boycott? A boycott is a ban and bans on other people’s opinions are can be stupid and childish. It’d be one thing if he was breaking laws, treating people cruelly, or doing something evil. But Mackey having an opinion you don’t like is not a crime. Honestly, adults banning anything from other adults can not come off as all that smart. If you want to protest, or voice an opinion, great, but you don’t need to boycott an organization to do that.

Instead of a boycott, I want passionate respectful disagreement. I want to see people treating other people’s ideas with respect in exchange for our right to do the same. I hope to see people offer superior arguments, and use intelligent persuasion,

49 Responses to “Why boycotting Whole Foods is Stupid”

  1. Captain Oblivious

    I disagree that boycotts are bans on opinions, or that they are bad or childish – it’s simply someone choosing where to spend their money… that seems to be as reasonable as you can possibly get!

    No one is “banning” him for his opinion (which I mostly agree with); they’re just expressing their own opinions! There’s nothing wrong with that.

    (Now maybe a boycott is the most effective way to make their point, and maybe it isn’t – and maybe their point is valuable enough that it deserves a better forum, and maybe it isn’t – but those are all separate issues)

  2. Joshua Ochs

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. Regardless of your position on any issue, I also deeply wish the level of discourse could be raised.

    Everything today is black and white, us vs them, liberal vs conservative, republican vs democrat. And yet nearly every issue we face in life – any issue that matters – has numerous layers and shades of grey. None of this comes through in American news or politics.

    There is precious little critical thought or true debate in our current society. The educational system has long supported the mindset of taking “a”, “b”, and getting “c” – regurgitation, memorization, and testing. We don’t debate, discuss, or engage the mind at the high school level – and sometimes not at college or beyond. We end up with a populace that can balance their checkbook (perhaps), but can’t handle nuanced complex issues.

    The “news” helps little, as was excellently pointed out recently at newsless.org (“The 3 key parts of news stories you usually don

  3. Captain Oblivious

    …probably the best argument against a boycott is that *if* it has a significant effect on the bottom line, that money will likely be recouped by laying off innocent low-level employees who didn’t have any say in the WSJ article, while the CEO continues to receive his full salary (at least until something like half the company is layed off, at which point the board of directors might get involved)

  4. Scott Berkun

    Captain Oblivious:

    I agree that a boycott can make sense. But this one doesn’t. What are they boycotting exactly? That the CEO of a company wrote an article we assume has an opinion we don’t like? That’s the rallying cry? It’s really pretty lame.

    A more effective, positive rally would be to promote better information – hand out fact sheets that more accurately frame the debate, and Whole Food’s place in it.

    But to their credit at least they’re out there – I’m just hear whining about them. I’d give them a +2 for effort, but a -3 for misguided-ness. And I get a -1 for blogging instead of doing.

  5. Greg

    There’s nothing wrong with speaking your opinion, everyone has the right to express theirs, no one disagrees with this basic principle that’s taught in all elementary schools across the country.

    But in the same breath everyone has the right to express their freedom to boycott some CEO’s company to deliver a message that’s actually heard as opposed to ignored.

    You’re seriously suggesting that they simply express their serious disagreement with him?

    First of all, that’s what they’ve been doing already.

    Secondly, it’s not like they can call the guy up or send him an email address. He’s not going to hear or listen to their arguments against him. He’s “big corporate CEO douchebag” saying, in the “WallStreet Journal” (of all places), how the 45 million people who have no health insurance should be ignored.

    Boycotting his company is very bright move on their part, it sends their message through a much more powerful way, a way that will actually be heard and listened to, and a way that has actually gotten them real results.

    These people want to be heard, not ignored, and boycotting seems to be a great way of doing that, and just as you respect their right to express their views, so should you respect their right to choose how they send that message.

  6. Captain Oblivious

    I’m glad you agree that a boycott can make sense – your previous statement:

    “Why is it in this country when someone expresses an opinion we don

    1. Scott Berkun

      Good point Captain – I didn’t mean to go that far. I should have written a boycott and a ban can be stupid and childish. Or some other qualifier. I’ll be more careful next time.

  7. Dorian Taylor

    I read it to get an idea of what the fuss was about, and to understand what is going on with health care reform in the US (I’m Canadian). I think the rub is when Mackey asserts that health care is not an intrinsic right.

    My work has entailed that I pay a fair amount of attention to the meanings of words, and a right, otherwise known as an entitlement, is not something that is conferred upon us by virtue of existence but it is a term in a contract. Even what we would consider to be “basic human rights” or “certain inalienable rights” can be traced back to distinct, written agreements. I think that the common parlance around rights neglects that. The reason why we have universal health care in Canada is because that’s the deal we struck, no more, no less.

    The other interesting thing about the boycott hype is that it exposes just how disengaged these erstwhile Whole Foods customers are from the company and its founder. Why did it take so long for them to realize that he is on the opposite political pole as they are (although really, why should that matter)? Is it because he is a master of disguise? (although he was recently spanked for personally using a sock puppet account to astroturf his company’s stock on finance forums).

  8. Tunesmith

    I disagree about boycotts being bans on opinions as well. This guy is the CEO of Whole Foods, and that’s what got him the power to be featured on the Wall Street Journal op-ed pages. But is he a doctor or a health insurance administrator or anything along those lines? He’s got outsize power in the health insurance debate because of his business connections. It was a political opinion that is irrelevant to Whole Foods’ core business. It also happened to be a political opinion that was in stark disagreement to that of your average Whole Foods customer.

    Here’s the crux: This opinion coming from *the CEO of Whole Foods* was the allure for WSJ and the rest of the media. It wasn’t the content of the opinion, it was the fact that it came from where it came from. He is speaking for Whole Foods, and for people who are associated with Whole Foods, and that includes his customers.

    So I think it’s entirely reasonable for customers to respond with the message of, “You Don’t Speak For Me”. And the best way to get that message through is with their dollars.

    Your objection is a common sort, where you narrowly define the issue and then object to the issue as you interpret it. This is bigger than a group of people who have a desire to censor a valid opinion. These people are the ones feeling censored, and a boycott – when it takes hold – is a very effective way to receive attention for one’s message. The message here is that the CEO doesn’t speak for his customers, and so far it appears to be effective.

  9. Keith Sader

    The boycott may be dumb, but Mr. Mackey’s article fares no better from any close inspection. I’m not going to fisk it here, but it starts off with deficit stalking horse and has a few moments but generally gets worse from that point.

    I don’t see Mr. Mackey offering to rescind his tax cuts from the 2001 act that helped get us into this financial hole in the first place, so perhaps Mr. Mackey doesn’t have a sharp grasp of what that last eight years of fiscal insanity has done.

    As someone who bought an individual HSA, I find his praise of that form of ‘insurance’ highly amusing. HSAs encourage you not to spend your own money on preventative health-care encouraging you to wait until the problem is out of control and you really need expensive care. Here’s the choice: spend $140 of my money on an office visit or wait and hope this cough goes away on its own. That will stop medical spending, but it won’t encourage health.

    Some of his other ideas might work if we had a vaguely workable system in the first place, but at this point he’s saying we need to keep doing the same things that got us into this healthcare mess in the first place. I don’t think I need to quote Einstein here on the inanity of that plan.

  10. Scott Berkun

    Much appreciate the respectful dialog here so far – I really do. Very cool and civil. Yay!

  11. Scott Berkun

    Keith: You know more about this than I do. I didn’t try to argue his points as I’m not sure they’re relevant.

    If he is full of shit, which he very well might be, I’d like to see people respond by calling him on his bullshit. Another prominent CEO, health care advocate, or perhaps even a member of the boycott movement, should be able to, in a few hours, write up a more thoughtful, persuasive and factually accurate counterargument to his WSJ article. THATS what I want.

    That response is what I’d like the boycott, or protest, or whatever it is to focus on. Improving the argument. Replacing popular assumptions with useful insights and fair facts.

    This comment thread has definitely made me reconsider my points – which I’m grateful for.

    I don’t think this boycott serves the above. But perhaps that’s my problem, not the people who are boycotting.

    By calling it stupid I mean that it doesn’t serve my purposes well, but who cares? Perhaps it serves the purposes of those who are doing it (e.g. expressing their outrage that the CEO of a company they thought they loved has views they don’t agree with).

    I’m still looking for a good rebutal to the WSJ article but I haven’t found one yet. Anyone? (Keith, it seems you perhaps could write one).

  12. Scott Berkun

    Greg: I didn’t say they don’t have the right. I just thought it was stupid. There is a difference. In fact I might be stupid for writing this blog post, but that’s a separate issue from whether I have the right to write it.

    But if I understand their outrage they don’t want people to shop at Whole Foods because the CEO is against Obama’s healthcare plan?

    How many CEOs are out there that have similiar views to Mackey? Or worse? This doesn’t justify anyone’s behavior, but it does beg the question of what is the source of outrage.

    It may be a weakness in my character but I have a hard time getting angry about the opinions of Fortune 500 CEOs. Perhaps I’m too cynical to be shocked.

    Anyway, much thanks for this and all the very thoughtful comments. I’ll be thinking about this all day.

  13. DiegoMar


    Great post. I whole heartedly agree with your premise regarding the level of public discourse. Based on the information you posted, I suspect we are ideologically opposed on many issues. However, I would love to debate the merits of those issues with you based on the facts of the argument. Just because we don’t agree on issues, doesn’t mean we cant respect the other person’s point of view.

    I have debated with friends and family on a myriad of topics and have often come away with a modified point of view, but only in the cases where the debate was lively and the arguments where honestly and openly expressed.

    Attacking people and their belief systems with malice does not enlighten anyone. In fact, it damages the credibility of the mud slingers. There is way too much of this going on these days, on both sides of the fence.

    Mackey’s political and philosophical beliefs don’t have anything to do with the outcry to boycott Whole Foods. It is just good old fashioned intolerance. His OpEd piece in the WSJ was specifically about offering alternative solutions to the current Health Care debate. How can anyone presume to know about his belief system based on a single article?

    If he has deceived the Hoi Polloi, by having a difference of opinion on this one topic, or any other topic, then I guess he is a “Master of Disguise.” But then again, aren’t we all?

  14. Sean Crawford

    I have just re-read Greg’s reply in the grey box at 1:03….
    The problem with me doing a boycott against a man’s opinion, rather than his action, is that it is so degrading to myself and others. It says that I am too weak to make any meaningful reply, nor any meaningful contribution, to the public conversation.

    A boycott says that others are also too weak to join in the public conversation, too weak to critically listen to any one else except the fellow I am boycotting. A boycott says that I am only interested in changing the opinion (not the action) of one fellow, not my neighbors. Our republic isn’t perfect, but I don’t think my friends are so degraded as to be mere peasants. They are citizens. I am not a weak victim.

  15. kse

    Whatever it is, it sold a lot of papers…like a newspaper stimulus.

    And it has wasted many productive hours that, in the end, will not hurt Mr. Mackey, only hurt WF employees if they loose their jobs, which I doubt. I do know there are thousand of folks now shopping at WF, who never did before.

    Boy-cotters believe or it appears they believe they are hurting Mr. Mackey financially, which I can assure you they are not. And since the boycott WF stock price has only gone up..even today it was up almost 3%; since June WF stock has gone from ~$20/share to ~$29/share. So if Mr. Mackey had 5 million shares, he’s made ~$50 million in 3 months….he must be thinking: Bring on more boy-cotters?? Plus, he already had millions stash away for retirement…this is only making him a ton of money.

    My question is this: Do Boy-Cotters really know who they are hurting or is what you think so important? I would suggest the boy-cotters form a co-op and start their own organic grocery store … nothing like getting your meat from the same place you own?

    Thinking with your egos will never benefit anyone.

    1. Scott Berkun

      I can’t imagine the reasons why the boycott would raise stock values. The stock market makes less sense than ever.

      As others have pointed out, the boycotts have definitely succeeded at showing people are angry about what they think he said. Which is an achievement. It’s also a way for them to take action on their opinions which is also commendable on a personal level. But I don’t think either raises the level of debate, which is, thanks to the fine commentary on this thread, really my fundamental gripe and disappointment in all this.

  16. kse

    On August 6, John Mackey sold 50,000 shares of his stock for 1.2 million plus. WF stock has a 5 Star rating and a business cap of 4 billion plus and has a business growth over the past 10 years of 14.7%.

  17. kse

    Whole Foods Market is the largest purveyor of natural foods in the world. They own and operate the country’s largest chain of natural food supermarkets. They are like an old-fashioned neighborhood grocery store an organic farmer’s market a European bakery a New York deli and a modern supermarket all rolled into one! The Company also offers a wide variety of non-perishable natural products on its Web site at [wholefoods.com]. Whole Foods Market Inc. has a market cap of $4.03 billion; its shares were traded at around $28.7 with a P/E ratio of 33.8 and P/S ratio of 0.5. Whole Foods Market Inc. had an annual average earning growth of 14.7% over the past 10 years. GuruFocus rated Whole Foods Market Inc. the business predictability rank of 5-star.

    WFMI is in the portfolios of Ron Baron of Baron Funds, Ruane Cunniff of Ruane & Cunniff & Goldfarb Inc, John Griffin of Blue Ridge Capital, Chris Davis of Davis Selected Advisers.

  18. Greg

    As is inevitable in all debates, let us resurrect one sir Hitler.

    If Hitler ran a Fortune 500 company called “Whole Foods”, and his opinion held that Jews should be deprived of “health care”, would you write the same post decrying as “stupid” the decision of a group of people to boycott Hitler’s company instead of having a “debate” with him?

    This man is saying that we should all ignore the fact that 45 million people are without health insurance. That in fact insuring them through a public option is a bad idea.

    Well, to some people, that sort of opinion places a big fat swastika on his arm, in their minds at least, and therefore their reaction should come at no surprise.

    Let me try one more time: You might not consider his opinions to be outrageous and radical and boycott-worthy, but obviously to some people, perhaps to some of those in the 45 million, it is.

    1. Scott Berkun

      Greg: You get an automatic fail for using Hitler in any argument :) Sorry but the rules are:

      1) to compare Hitler to anything other than genocide is an insult to people who have been victims of genocide.
      2) It makes you sound ridiculous to compare anything less than genocide to genocide.
      3) You seem smart and have a point, but it’s hard to hold because of #1 and #2.

  19. Joshua

    I think that as part of this debate you have to consider that the bottom 40% of wage earners pay no federal (payroll) income tax. That percentage only grows as the tax burden is shifted higher up the income food chain (as it will begin to shift next year). At some point, we’re going to have a society where 1/2 of the voters are going to be able to vote for policies (or, for politicians who support policies) that they simply don’t have to pay for. No matter how much you dislike Mackey or the rest of those top 5% of wage earners, you have to give them credit – they’re paying for almost 1/2 of what the rest of the population gets for “free” from the government.


    There’s something unsettling about protesters who have time during the day to hand out fliers at Whole Foods calling for a boycott of the man who they expect to personally pay for their health care.

    Keith’s complaint about the use of HSAs, for me, clearly identifies one of my major issues with the health care debate. People don’t want to have to invest their own money to keep themselves healthy. Oftentimes they are willing to lay down an extra 40% surcharge for organic “whole” foods, but $140 out of a tax-deferred HSA when they go see the doctor can be fed through the logic machine only to emerge out the other end as a denial of “rights”? I don’t mean to attack Keith here – just pointing out that people don’t expect to have to pay for one of the most personally important services they require.

    Think about how disconnected the work flow of this industry is from any other. Where else in life does the consumer completely disregard price when they are being offered a service? The reason for this is simple – as consumers we defer the pain of payment and the consideration of cost to a faceless insurance company. Just drop a small copay and we’re out the door.

    I’d like to see insurance companies cut back the scope of the coverages that they offer – have them be responsible only for larger medical procedures, emergencies, and illnesses. Think of it like car insurance – it doesn’t pay for oil and lube jobs, new tires, or gas – only for those unexpected events that happen less often, and have a more drastic impact. Because the risk is lower and the payouts are less frequent, the cost of insurance is much lower. Drive well and your rates may even drop.

    So by cutting back to an emergency-only model, you’d expect to see a drop in rates, the savings from which could then be passed on to employees through corporate-funded HSA accounts. These accounts are tax-deferred compensation that can only be used for health-related costs. This would get people personally involved in the management and cost of their own health. You want a Viagra prescription, an antibiotic for your cold, or an annual physical? Fine, that’s $120 if Dr. Smith does it, or $200 if you want to see Dr. Jones. Shop around a little. Bing it.

    I’m not claiming that this is an all encompassing solution, my point is merely to suggest that it’s easy to rationalize spending other peoples money for your own personal benefit. Shouldn’t the plan make financial sense before we debate whether or not it makes moral sense?

  20. Mike Nitabach

    Another prominent CEO, health care advocate, or perhaps even a member of the boycott movement, should be able to, in a few hours, write up a more thoughtful, persuasive and factually accurate counterargument to his WSJ article. THATS what I want.

    There are *numerous* detailed knowledgeable debunkings of his “article” available on the Internet, which is really nothing more than corporatist propaganda. I’m not sure why you are assuming that the existence of this boycott movement somehow suggests that there is not a very vibrant, detailed, and reasonable effort being made by numerous people–including many who support a boycott–to debunk his propaganda.

    1. Scott Berkun


      Good point. To clarify I wasn’t suggesting the existence of a boycott movement meant the lack of existence of reasonable criticism.

      Instead I’m critiquing the boycott folks for not centering on those criticisms and promoting them. I might be wrong on this count, but that’s at least where i was aiming.

  21. Tunesmith

    I re-read Mackey’s essay. I’m surprised it is being given the credibility that it is.

    In the first paragraph he starts out with a dog whistle about socialism, and refers to ObamaCare, which if you’ve cared to notice, is used more often by Obama opponents than defenders. This is not the beginning of a good-faith essay.

    HSA’s are a bad deal – I’ve investigated this many times but people only tend to qualify for them if they have a plan with such a high deductible that it moves them away from preventative medical care. Preventative medical care is a good thing. Moving people to catastrophic coverage only is a bad thing.

    State-line portability is a horrible, horrible idea, and most people that are in a position to publicly argue for it know exactly what the flaws are. They argue for it specifically for profit-based reasons, but there are all sorts of regulatory snafus that would ensue, and the only way to solve them would be to massively deregulate, which is exactly what the proponents want. We’ve learned all too recently what kind of disasters can happen when deregulation occurs.

    Repealing government mandates on what is covered is an even worse idea. Why not just allow everyone to choose which government departments their tax dollars would go to? The logic behind Mackey’s suggestion is the same logic that would argue that no one should ever have any kind of insurance. Procedure coverage needs to be mandated, or certain procedures would never be chosen for coverage, which would lead to disastrous consequences when they are actually needed. Honestly, I’m surprised anyone would consider this with a straight face – the only people who would defend this are the people who would also argue that we should dismantle Social Security in order to save Social Security.

    Tort Reform is a dumb canard that has gone on for years. This is such a miniscule percentage of health care costs that it needn’t even be mentioned, but it’s a useful way for the right wing to make villains out of the little guy. Besides, it’s much like the tax cut argument – in their eyes, we will *never* be able to reform tort laws enough for their liking. It’s a distraction.

    His Medicare reform argument sounds just like the Social Security argument I mentioned above. Empowerment, choice, responsibility? Those are concepts anyone can agree with but are also code for dismantling it.

    Transparency and tax-deductible donations/premiums are subjects I know less about, but at that point, his essay has gotten so ridiculous and full of right-wing political buzzwords that his views have lost credibility.

    As for the rest of his views, health care is not something that can be “best provided through voluntary and mutually beneficial market exchanges”, for two reasons – the need for it is unpredictable, and when it happens, it is massively expensive. This is why insurance *exists*. Furthermore, health problems happen for everyone. As for the constitution, it’s also well-known in the constitution that it says that its enumerated rights are not the only rights. That’s in the constitution, and he ignores it.

    Canada and UK ration their health care less than the US does through denial of care and recission.

    US has more doctors than Canada. Some of Mackey’s stats are downright daffy.

    His last three paragraphs are largely fine and read as if they are attached to a different essay, one not full of crap.

  22. Robert DiVito

    His comments, as well as others, about Canadian Health Care wait times are unfounded and just plain wrong. As a Canadian citizen for over 40 years, me or my extended family have never been denied or waited excessively for first class health care. Ever. Those are the facts.


    Robert DiVito
    Toronto, Canada

  23. Lorrie

    You make some great points and I mostly agree.

    However, may I suggest that your use of profanity is a contradiction to your claim of desiring… “the use of intelligent persuasion” It’s just not necessary :-)

    1. Scott Berkun

      Hi Lorrie:

      Understand your point of view on profanity. Despite a handful of signs of having class and high values, profane words happen to be my favorites. I use them on this site with restraint, but great pleasure. I think I grew up with too much George Carlin – I can’t help myself. In fact it’s really tempting to use lots of foul language in this comment, unbearably so, but out of respect for your opinion I’ll restrain myself.

      But I mean, does $!@$(!@*$!% count? If it’s meant to be a representation of profanity, but is accepted in kids comic strips, can I use that? I confess, even Even typing that just now fills me with a strange kind of joy I probably need to see a therapist about.

      I can’t make similiar promises of restrain on the site or in the comments. Hope you’ll stick around anyway.

  24. Mike Nitabach

    As long as we’re debunking substantively, what is left unsaid–but is necessarily implicit in the plan if it is to have even the slightest bit of internal consistency–is that once you have made your market-based decision on exactly what insurance to obtain, if it turns out that you need some sort of care to prevent suffering and/or death that is not covered and that you cannot pay for, then the govt must not step in and save your ass. In other words, this “plan” requires that non-wealthy US citizens be allowed to suffer and die without appropriate medical care if they have not made “wise decisions” about what insurance to purchase.

  25. Greg

    > 3) You seem smart and have a point, but it

  26. Scott Berkun


    Ok – have it your way. I tried to give you a nice way out.

    4) You’re lazy

    My point to you is you are smart enough to make the same argument without using Hitler. But if you throw it in anyway, and then call me your friend, you’re just asking for trouble, which frankly I don’t want any of. But it’s too late now. Muuuhahahahaha.

    Using “If Hitler blah blah blah” is a the cheapest of argument tricks in that it’s a bluff. You’re trying to trap me into defending Hitler which is unfair. It’s lazy bullying.

    Logically it’s ridiculous as Hitler is dead. And more important even if you could reincarnate him, we all know what he looks like. I doubt he’d sneak his way unnoticed into the VP ranks, much less convince a board of directors that he and his mustache should be CEO.

    Mentioning Hitler in a debate is only inevitable if one party is willing to stoop so low, and so willing to take a cheap shot at the risk of shooting their own credibility square in the face.

    But more importantly, you’re arguing the wrong argument.

    I do understand why people are angry. And I do understand why they might boycott. That doesn’t make it any less stupid or counterproductive. The rhetoric on the boycott Whole Foods website is misleading, and even if their cause is righteous, which I’m pretty sure I’d agree in parts is, they do a lousy job of arguing for it.

    As I’ve said before in this comment thread, I do think if most of the people boycotting actually read his article, they wouldn’t be there. At a minimum, their arguments and rationale for boycotting would serve their cause more than I think it does at the moment.

  27. Seth

    I don’t take any issue with the section you said has everyone up in arms. I find worthy of boycott his suggestion that people have no basic right to health care:

    “Many promoters of health-care reform believe that people have an intrinsic ethical right to health care

  28. Keith Sader

    Scott, you’re really stepped into the ‘debate’ on this one. :-)

    I can offer the following for now: Wendell Potter. Google his name and find the youtube of he & Bill Moyers. I’d also recommend _Sicko_, if you can ignore MM’s publicity stunt at the end. That’s really just the start of what’s wrong with health care in this country. There was a better bit done by Frontline on PBS called Sick Around the World, which actually had some constructive suggestions about what the U.S. can learn from these systems.

    Drop me a line if you’d like any other info I might be able to supply.

  29. Scott Berkun


    There’s a simpler flaw in the logic Mackey offers, which is that just because the Constitution says this or that is a right doesn’t mean that’s the way it should be. We’ve amended various rights, and will in the future. To simply say because a right hasn’t been granted, that it never should be granted, is a weak argument.

    There are many things all American citizens expect, like police and firemen to keep them safe, maintained highways to get around, etc. that are not explicitly listed as rights in the Constitution either. There is plenty of room between a right and something reasonable to expect.

    Just as we wouldn’t ban these things for not being in the Constitution, we shouldn’t reject new ideas that aren’t in there simply on the grounds they weren’t mentioned hundreds of years ago.

  30. kse

    To Insure Everyone, I suggest the following:

    0. Allow all the uninsured to pick the plan they want and have the USA Treasury send their insurance company a monthly check to cover these folks premiums. Whatever plan they pick, they must within a period of 3 years pay 25% of the premium (25/3) a 50% of the premium after 5 years (50/5); 75% of the premium after 8 years (75/8; 100% of the premium after 10 years (100/10).

    1. No one can be dropped from any plan

    2. No one can be denied for a pre-esisting condition

    3. No one can be denied life saving procedures

    4. No one can be denied state-of-the-art possible live saving drugs

    5. Require Insurance Companies to reveal their real cost and allow them no more than a 15% net profit.

    6. Require drug companies to comply with item 5 above

    7. Have no ‘borders’ for buying insurance

    8. All insured that can work must work, until aged 62.

    9. Obesity & wellness education

    10. Allow all medical related cost as top line deductions off income tax

    11. Allow carry over of medical savings accounts or as I would call them medical recoup accounts; after death, monies in a person’s account are distributed equally to all immediate family members recoup account

    12. Tort Reform …. allow no one to bring a suit against an physician/medical/health entity that followed prescribed medical procedures.

    13. In cases of valid medical malpractices, only allow awards of 5X the patients unpaid medical bills

    14. Lawyers allowed 25% of the 5X unpaid medical bills

    15. Allow purchases of low affordable deductibles by the insured according to their budgets to purchase said deductibles

    16. Allow the insured to keep their existing plans regardless of their employment status

    17. Because we need to slim this country down, implement up to 3% Federal Tax on any/all items that are not conducive to wellness.

    18. Drinkers would be charged federal tax of 12% on all alcohol

    19. All tobacco products would have an additional 12% tax

    20. Allow “LUMPING” together of all insurance policies with an insurer for lower cost, but, line item the cost of each policy. Insurance rates would decline or rise every 3-5 years based on claims, but, no more than 10% in any 3-5 period.

    21. Keep Government out of all programs.

    22. Establish a National ID card, where all insurance records are maintain by a non-profit company in each Time Zone with cross reference capabilities/access by those with a need to know, i.e., doctors, hospitals, and possibly insurance companies.

    23. Establish a non-government oversight panel that would submit quarterly financial reports only, on-line. No one would be allowed to lobby, influence or solicit this committee. Not even Congress or The President

    24. All records can only be accessed by patient and those with a need to know, with an encrypted password in combination with their national ID card. Password would be given only to insurers need to know contacts. Insurer has the ability to change encrypted password only upon changes in insurance providers.

    25. All decisions would be between you, your doctor, and the surgical staff in the event you need an operation; yes you would be allowed second opinion of a diagnosis; all additional opinions would be paid for by the insurer.

    26. Without revealing patients names, an online database, accessible by physicians only would serve as an educational tool for all doctors to read and discuss with other doctors drugs and surgical procedures that could prolong wellness. This data bass would be catalog by types of treatments/surgeries/drugs used. If a doctor wanted to use a procedure he was not familiar with, he would have to make arrangements with the appropriate knowledgeable doctor or recommend his patient have said operation done by that doctor.

    27. Hardship cases would be considered on an individual bases by oversight committee.

    28. In the event, a terminally ill person, requested life termination, it would have to be approved by patients immediate family with 100% agreement.

    29. A person’s burial or cremation would be covered by their wellness plan

    30. An internet suggestion diary where anyone could send suggestions for improvements. Anyone’s suggestions that were implemented and saved money, would be awarded a 5% commission of the total annual savings or paid-in-full premiums for 5 years.

    31. Co-ops are a great possibility as long as there is no government help or involvement.

    32. Of course there would be no illegals allowed in the system.

    33. Abortions would not be covered

    34. Everyone would have to choose between 3 available doctors.

    35. Ambulance Services would be covered

    36. National Wellness Coverage would have to be written in layman’s English and no more than 50-100 pages.

    37. Last, but not least, everyone will have a dental plan with 100% coverage for all preventive care; 75% coverage on crowns; 75% coverage on root canals; and 25% coverage on cosmetic procedures. Poor dental health decreases wellness. Let’s have all Citizens with bright shinning smiles.

    These are a few items that need to be in a NWP. My biggest concern is will there be enough doctors, PA, and nurses?

    We, as a country need to forget about all these unproductive debates and zero in on a 100% wellness plan that takes care of everyone in a timely manner, thereby, prolonging life through wellness, which, will in turn make everyone more productive which will make corporate America more competitive and profitable.

    In health wellness, we need to listen and consider any/all suggestions that improve efficiency, lower cost, as well as improve wellness and quality of life.

    Finally, the charter of any plan or business should be continuous incremental improvement in it’s total operation to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse.

  31. Scott Berkun

    kse: If you haven’t noticed not everyone agrees that universal health care is the right goal – certainly Mackey doesn’t :)

  32. Greg

    I don’t think it’s a cheap shot, this is a silly rule you’ve invented. If you want to use a Hitler analogy to try to make an explanation clearer by all means go ahead, I won’t say you’re stooping low for doing so, I’ll simply listen, and your analogy doesn’t make sense, I’ll point it out.

    So if it’s alright with you, I’ll focus on the actual substance of your response (the second half).

    > The rhetoric on the boycott Whole Foods website is misleading

    Whatever, for the reasons I’ve already outlined, I don’t think it is, but you’re free to your opinion, of course.

    In the link you provide they don’t say much, this is about as substantive as it gets:


  33. Greg

    If anyone is failing here, it’s not me.

    Re: Godwin’s Law, I’m fully aware of it, hence the joke I made:

    > As is inevitable in all debates, let us resurrect one sir Hitler.

    Re: Reductio ad Hitlerum, you are apparently not aware of how that works, as nowhere in my statements does this apply to me. E.g., Was Hitler ever the CEO of Whole Foods? No!

    I think, what is happening, is that you’ve been in some arguments with someone where Hitler was brought up before, perhaps it was even you that brought him up. And then someone introduced you to Godwin’s Law, or Reductio ad Hitlerum, and the conversation veered off course and perhaps you failed to convince the other person of your point of view because of it.

    Mind you that is just a theory.

    Anyway, that is what is happening here now. “Ah ha!”, you exclaim. “I’ve got you now! You said *Hitler*!”

    Sheer stupidity. Not only are you demonstrating that you don’t know what Reductio ad Hitlerum means, but in doing so you’re revealing to me that you have no interest in actually debating this issue on the points that were brought up against you.

  34. Greg

    Which, I should add, is rather ironic as that is sort of the point that you were trying to make in defending Mackey.

  35. Greg

    Honestly though, shortly after posting that, I did regret the tone of my comment, so you have my apology for that.

  36. Kelly Madison

    Scott – thank you for a well written, “EXACTLY what I’ve been thinking” blog!! And articulated so well!

    Just one correction: John Mackey has been telling this story for quite some time – I believe it was in 2007 that John Stoessel did an expose on this plan – the ideas are not at all new, and definitely do have some merit, they are working in many different areas! Thanks again for a great post!

  37. Greg

    Sorry for hijacking the comments here, but today while doing something completely unrelated up popped a thought into my head related to this debate that I wanted to share. This is what I should have posted in response to your post on Reductio ad Hitlerum.

    I think the reason this conversation devolved into bickering over Hitler is because of a misunderstanding of my original post.

    As you said, you thought that I was trying to get you to say that you liked Hitler (Reductio ad Hitlerum), but actually that is not the reason I made the analogy. The reason I used Hitler in the analogy was to simply test out the theory that reason that you originally felt partial to Mackey may have had to do with who he is and the company he represents, rather than actual end-results of the proposals he was making.

    In other words, the reason that Reductio ad Hitlerum doesn’t apply here is because Hitler was never involved in this situation. I.e. as the wiki-states, “Hitler (or the Nazis) supported X, therefore X must be evil/undesirable/bad”. Hitler never supported the propositions Mackey made, ergo that idea is not at work here.

    All I did was simply switch the characters and made them *do* the same thing. In other words, if you really did support Mackey’s proposals, your answer to the hypothetical scenario that I brought up should’ve been an emphatic “Yes!” because there is no difference between the actions, only the characters involved were different (Mackey vs. Hitler, the uninsured vs. Jews).

  38. Kathryn

    Whole Foods is one of the few companies around that pay 100% of their employees’ health insurance premiums.

    For the past 12 years they’ve made FORUTNE magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For”.

    They also provide health care benefits to part-time workers and offer domestic partnership coverage.

    Whole Foods goes far beyond most companies to protect the environment and help local communities.

    It is absurd for people to boycott a company that is doing so much good, just because they don’t agree with Mackey’s opinions.


  39. carlos

    Greg – You did not “simply switch characters” and make them *do* the same thing……… unless you actually believe the CEO of Whole Foods is advocating a no Jew deserves health care position. This is a very typical devolution of a reasonably good discussion following Godwin’s law. Since it has been brought up the discussion has completely left the rails and is primarily you defending your Nazi analogy and not speaking to the core topic at all and others pointing out the analogy was (as nearly all Nazi comparisons) off base. It’s an invocation of a demonic personality in order to demonize another.

    Now, in hopes of resurrecting the actual discussion: What I got from the WSJ piece was that the guy is totally on message for his stores. The whole concept behind the chain and it’s growth is that people take responsibility for their own health by maintaining their biological equipment (like a car enthusiast maintains his vehicles) instead of running it into the ground and going the repair route instead. In fact, the gist of it is what I’d expect the CEO of Whole Foods or a supplement company or a gym or a personal trainer to say. Furthermore, I’d think it’s what the customers for the most part would align with as well.

    Yes, there are some undertones, but the message being delivered by the boycotters is that of throwing out the baby with the bathwater. I could admire their willingness to sacrifice their own health by boycotting healthy foods in solidarity with others, but their health consciousness seems pretentious to me. It was something trendy to do but not really something they believed in.

  40. Jeff

    Whole Foods in my opinion is the definition of hypocrosy. They sell “good for you healthy food” so people can eat healthy, yet the CEO believes only the rich deserve health care! Mackey said…..


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