Whole Foods CEO

Whole Foods CEO again got some heat for criticizing President Barack Obama’s health care reform law, saying “it’s more like fascism,” and that the government controls “the means of production” in health care.    Geez, why are people not allowed to openly criticize a controversial and possible terrible law especially when it directly affects their company?  I don’t care if it is politically correct.  It is still America!  It is called freedom of speech.  Mackey later had to say, “I regret using that word now because it’s got so much baggage attached to it.  Of course, I was just using the standard dictionary definition.”    Yes, fascism has some baggage because it is a bad thing and because of how it brought on WWII.    Here is the Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition:

  1. a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition
  2.  a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control
The Affordable Health Act may not be fascism but it is under strong autocratic government control.     And it should be criticized.  Continuously.     Mackey and Whole Foods takes care of its employees better than almost anyone.  They have been ahead of the game  in covering “partners” and having great health plans. Employees are treated great and love working there.    He just feels this administration has taken control out of his company’s hands and I agree.  This Huffington Post article displays only samples of the comments attacking Mackey like he is the devil:
  •  Marcus Poisson, a 52-year-old from Providence, R.I., wrote that he and his wife will never shop at Whole Foods again. Poisson wrote that he used to shop at Whole Foods almost exclusively, sometimes spending $200 a week
  • Julie Best, an educator and pastor from Valencia, Calif., wrote. “I cannot conceive how a CEO of a health food grocery chain that promotes wellness would suggest that any person should be denied access to health care,” she said.
  • Beata Kittas said, “You just lost another customer. Go back to school because you need more education. Using words that you don’t understand.”

I think Mackey is a brilliant guy.  He does understand the words he uses.  He does not want anyone denied healthcare.  He is just wants a system that is affordable and will work.   A poor plan, which he (AND I) believe is the ACA, will bankrupt this system even more and then no one gets adequate care.

Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected]

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28 Responses

  1. FedUp says:

    I think this guy is perfectly justified in blasting Omabacare. Obamacare (and all other government forms of health “insurance”) is fundamentally flawed on so many levels. The one that burns me up the most is the implication that health care is a right, another is the issue of insurance. I’m paraphrasing from a great article on the Ayn Rand website, because it is wonderfully written and always makes such great common sense.

    First, as pertains to Obamacare itself, the demand that insurance companies be forced to insure everyone regardless of pre-existing conditions. This is inherently unfair and makes no sense whatsoever. An insurance company simply cannot function without assessing risk, charging greater fees for greater risks, and refusing to provide “insurance” to those for whom the outcome is a costly no-brainer. It is by carefully assessing risk and discriminating accordingly that insurance companies enable us to protect ourselves against life’s UNKNOWNs. Don’t get me wrong, I think there are plenty of real problems with health insurance today, but I believe those problems are directly the RESULT of government interference in the health insurance market. Forcing insurance companies to take all comers, and to charge all customers similar fees can accomplish only one thing: it will force some health insurance customers (primarily the young and healthy) to subsidize other health insurance customers (the elderly and the sick). That’s not insurance, that’s welfare. Some analogies come to mind: Why should Allstate or Progressive be able to drop an alcoholic after their 5th DUI? Why should a 2-pack-a-day smoker have to pay more for life insurance than someone who actually takes an interest in their health?

    Regarding health care as a “right”. Its an inherently flawed argument. All legitimate rights have one thing in common: they are rights to action, NOT to rewards from the labors of other people. Our country allows you the chance to work for what you want—NOT to be given it without effort by somebody else. You have no right to the actions or products of others, except on terms to which they voluntarily agree. But I think Obama and team have a different idea in mind. This entitlement exists, Obama et al say, simply because it exists and you want or need it….you are entitled to be given it by the government. But think about this, WHERE does the government get it from? What does the government have to do to private citizens and doctors—to our real and individual rights—in order to carry out the promise of showering free services on the people? The answer is obvious: these newly defined “rights” wipe out real rights—and turn the people who actually create the goods and services involved into servants of the state. I firmly believe that any mandatory and comprehensive plan will finish off quality medicine in this country, because it will finish off the medical profession. It will deliver us bound to the mercies of the bureaucracy.

  2. i’ve mailed this about 4 times. Am I being censored?

  3. Well, Doug, Mr Mackey’s presentation created a WHOLE lot of FOOD for thought. You’re to be congratulated. I don’t agree with everything you say, but you express yourself in a clear and thoughtful way. As a medical writer since the early ’60s, my take on this brouhaha, is that the Insurance Industry bears most of the fault for the present mess…for the people as well as physicians.

  4. Well, Doug, Mr Mackey’s presentation created a WHOLE lot of FOOD for thought. Congratulations ! Do you mind if I nominate you for the next President?

  5. william brown says:

    Well, Doug, Mr Mackey’s statement created a WHOLE LOT of FOOD for thought. Excuse me for the time being, while I sit back and think…

  6. ninguem says:

    Mackey’s been through this before. He’s said, correctly, that “Obamacare” is a terrible monstrosity of a plan. He described the HSA system he uses at Whole Foods in a WSJ article back in 2009.


    He was raked over the coals for saying that consumer-directed healthcare, HSA’s etc., would be a far better idea. They had the boycotts four years ago, and he was called far worse back then.

    I find it remarkable how people feel that a desire for natural, health, local food, and free-market conservative ideas, are somehow mutually exclusive.

  7. Pat says:

    I do believe that this issue rests on color: not white or back, but the red ink deficit spending, and the red of committed May Day collectivism. Such mass approaches de-value the individual, and are therefore contrary to good pdtient care.

  8. Hetu Parekh says:

    Mr. Farrago,

    I suggest you use your same Merriam-Webster Dictionary and look up the word “autocratic” also. The ACA is nowhere near the “strong autocratic government control” as you write. It is basically a compromised piece of legislation that was fought tooth and nail, but ultimately was passed by our dysfunctional, perpetually grid-locked Congress. While you may object to various, if not all, provisions of the ACA, it is certainly is NOT a product of an “autocratic government.”


    • Doug Farrago says:

      You know, I did, and I am okay saying the ACA was forced through in an autocratic manner. Yeah, I am good with that. Though we do not have an autocracy, there are times it makes me wonder.

    • Marco says:

      From the perspective that this law was passed w/o a single vote from the oposition party, you can certainly deem it as “autocratic”. It is not much different than Communist China or Cuba where a single party system calls all the shots.
      So far and regarding ACA, the current Administration like a pedophile has been giving to the public “the candies” to avoid scaring (and in many cases enticing) the voters. Just wait.

  9. William Bodenheimer, MD says:

    Anyone who has disagreed with the liberal movement in this country over the last 60 years gets labeled a fascist, but fascism is not a conservative movement. It is a liberal movement. Check out the book: LIBERAL FASCISM by Goldman. Fascism in America has thus far been more of a touchy, feely fascism compared to the kicking in the door stormtrooper fascism of Nazi Germany but that could change. I say down with Obama and his fascist regime.

    • T Newberry says:

      It is truly amazing that so many people have such strong opinions about ACA. No matter which side you are on, you most likely don’t know anybody who has read the bill. Which means you have gotten your opinion about it from someone else. Someone with an agenda.

      I have to admit that I am unfamiliar with Mackey’s exact comments, but the problem is that as soon as you use a word like “fascist” it, at the very least, APPEARS like a political attack, not part of a conversation. Also, the costs of health insurance increased (I assume that was the reason for, if not the substance of, Mackey’s complaints) immediately after ACA passed. Which is before any of the provisions took effect! The insurance companies blamed that on the bill and people believed them for some reason.

      As for the definition, let’s remember that the hallmark of a fascist society is a one party system. Both parties in America would love to see their policies enacted unaltered. If one of them could be called fascist though, it’s the one with an explicit policy of non-compromise and non-cooperation. I forget which one that is.

      • Bill says:

        well said. a law enacted by the political process is not fascism. had the Republicans won in November, it would have been repealed, by Republican fasciists !
        name-calling does not advance a debate.

  10. William Bodenheimer, MD says:

    Anyone in this country that has not agreed with the liberal agenda over the last 60 years has been labeled a fascist but fascism is not a conservative political movement. It is a liberal political movement. Check out the book: LIBERAL FASCISM

  11. Kathy Wire says:

    I completely agree that the law should be regularly reviewed with a critical eye and criticized where necessary. We also need to stop demonizing business owners for expressing opinions, but you can’t blame the legislation for that. I would opine that calling the proponents of the law “fascist” falls in the same category. Unfortunately, business owners who have tried to do the right thing suffer because so many don’t. And because business owners shouldn’t be the ones providing health insurance, anyway. I still can’t figure out how we’ve kept that broken model for so long.

  12. Sir Lance-a-Lot says:

    I would note that the Merriam-Webster definition cited may describe the present-day common English language meaning of “Fascism,” but it does not describe its historical meaning.

    Historically, Fascism was an authoritarian governmental system designed to create a partnership between big business and government (think wartime Krupp steel and IG Farben chemicals in Germany, or Mitsubishi industries in Japan), intended to work for the benefit of both, and to increase the military and economic strength of the nation, with minimal regard for the ordinary citizen, who is conned into enthusiastic support by way of propaganda.

    In the present day, the partnerships created between the US government and the drug companies in the case of Medicare Part D, and between the US government and the insurance companies in the case of Obamacare, DO look a lot like the partnerships created in Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany.

  13. Jeanne says:

    Since when is Whole Paycheck a great employer? Knowing people who actually work there, I’ve heard nothing positive about them–and it’s gotten worse since this guy last made an arse of himself. Overpriced food (many things not even considered safe, if you think you’re shopping in a place that ensures you’re not buying GMOs or local), skimpy hours so they don’t have to pay benefits, firing people at the drop of a hat. Of course, maybe it’s just that they can get away with that in Florida, but it sucks.

    And FYI, fascism is basically government by corporations for corporations. I think jerks like this need to look in a mirror before they try to point the finger at someone else for such a sin. A law attempting to ensure that the least of us are not trampled to death in the wake of things like Citizens United might threaten the corporate overlords of Big Pharma, the insurance industry, and for-profit hospitals but at least it’s a step in the right direction for the rest of us.

    • Doug Farrago says:

      Couldn’t disagree with you more. I guess you see it the way you want. Whole Foods has a tremendous history as a great employer. And a great business. Your definition of fascism is a new one and made up. Lastly, the “least of us” has the safety net (Medicaid). The middle is getting screwed by the lack of affordability which this law does nothing about.

  14. marc binard says:

    Yeah, the plan is ” fascist” , Obama is a “socialist”. This guy knew exactly what he was saying but now realizes he is going to get some well deserved heat for it. Its still a free country but your words have consequences.
    The current system is badly broken. The private insurance companies have raped the american public for years and will most likely continue to do so. Single payer with private secondary insurance ( like europe ) is the way to go but will never happen here.

    • william brown says:

      Marc is right: words have consequences. As head of a large, mostly well-run corporation, Mackey should know that. Of course, his remarks are mild compared to what the “loyal opposition” has spewed out. It’s on record that the House majority has declared a non-cooperation stance toward the President. And, that opposition has too often had the stench and sound of racism. But more to the point, the middle class IS getting screwed. I leave it to you to determine who is doing the screwing. I already have made my choice: Congress and their well-heeled partners.

      • Doug Farrago says:

        I agree with much of what you said BUT throwing the word “racism” around is much worse than the throwing the word “fascism”. Especially without proof! We need to be careful about that. Opposition in Congress, since the beginning of this country, has always existed (openly or not). To think otherwise is ignorant. That is the two party system. What makes things work is negotiations and making deals. That being said, we can disagree on who has NOT been crossing the aisle but I truly believe BOTH have done a poor job giving in on anything. President Obama, however, is NOT innocent in all this.

      • Pat says:

        Suggesting contrary viewpoints to be “racism” is a blatent, Obama-approved tactic to silence opposition. Avoiding reasoned, fact based debate in favor of physical OR rhetorical threat was the approach used successfully by the bullies and their mobs in St Petersburg, Berlin, Rome, Havana, Beining, Pyongyang, and now, here.

        So many feigning compassion for the middle class turn to stupid governmental solutions that have been discredited by a century of failure and hundreds of millions enslaved and murdered. Is it racist for me to note this?

        • marc binard says:

          Actually, racism is a significant part of the problem that many have with Obama though it is very carefully hidden. I am appalled by the depth of racial hatred and intolerance that permeates US culture and this crosses all generations and yes- it is worse now than it was before Obama was elected.

          • Pat says:

            So no criticism of Obama is valid, simply because he’s black? If we are able to be critical of this administration, then which specific criticisms will you allow?

          • Marc says:

            I never said that no criticism of Obama should be allowed. What I believe is that a significant portion o
            f the population is in fact racist and this clouds and distorts their judgement of him and his performance as president.

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