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Whole Foods threatened with boycott by liberal customers after CEO compares Obamacare to fascism
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By David Mccormack
PUBLISHED: 23:21 EST, 17 January 2013 | UPDATED: 07:56 EST, 18 January 2013
Organic supermarket chain Whole Foods is facing a backlash from many of it’s more liberal customers after founder and CEO John Mackey compared Obamacare to ‘fascism’ in a radio interview on Wednesday.
In an interview to promote his new book, Mackey was quizzed about an article he had written in The Wall Street Journal in 2009 that liken Obamacare to socialism.
‘Technically speaking, it's more like fascism,’ Mackey told NPR. ‘Socialism is where the government owns the means of production. In fascism, the government doesn't own the means of production but they do control it. And that's what's happening with our health care program with these reforms.’
Whole Foods is facing a backlash from customers after founder and CEO John Mackey compared Obamacare to 'fascism'
Many of Whole Foods more liberal customers are threatening to buy their fresh vegetable and organic produce elsewhere after public comments by the CEO
His remarks have sparked an outcry among Whole Foods’ customers. The supermarket chain has a reputation as a mecca for fans of fresh vegetable and organic produce and health food fanatics.
Whole Foods' Facebook page was quickly bombarded with comments, almost overwhelmingly speaking out against Mackey, with many saying they wouldn't shop at the store while he remains CEO.
Having alienated a large section of his customer base, Mackey has since issued a statement saying he regretted his 'poor word choice,' but remains critical of the president's health care reform law.
'The term fascism today stirs up too much negative emotion with its horrific associations in the 20th century,' said Mackey in the statement posted Thursday on the Whole Food's website.
'I believe that, if the goal is universal health care, our country would be far better served by combining free enterprise capitalism with a strong governmental safety net for our poorest citizens and those with preexisting conditions, helping everyone to be able to buy insurance.
'This is what Switzerland does and I think we would be much better off copying that system than where we are currently headed in the United States.'
Whole Foods' Facebook page was quickly bombarded with comments, almost overwhelmingly speaking out against Mackey
Mackey has issued a statement saying he regrets his 'poor word choice' after comparing President Obama's healthcare reform to fascism
However the damage seems to be done and his critics once again have left a series of overwhelming negative comments on the article.
'I am very offended over your comparing President Obama's health care program to fascism. Your apology probably is only for fear of losing customers, which I certainly hope you will. I will never speak highly of your store again, and I will certainly cut back on my shopping there. Shame on you,' wrote Dorothy Blalock.
'I always viewed Whole Foods as a progressive leader in providing consumers with a wonderful variety of organic and healthy food. I have done my weekly shopping at WF for years. I was truly shocked to hear Mr Mackey's comment regarding health care. Your comments were offensive and hateful. Sorry to say, I can no longer patronize your business,' wrote Diane Navarro.
Whole Foods, based in Austin, has more than 340 stores in North America and the United Kingdom
Whole Foods, based in Austin, has
more than 340 stores in North America and the United Kingdom. Mackey was
on NPR to promote his new book, 'Conscious Capitalism.'
isn't the first CEO to publicly criticize Obamacare. Executives from
Papa John's, Applebee's and Denny's all made claims during last year's
presidential race that it would force them to stop building restaurants,
cut worker hours and raise prices.
also said in his original Wall Street Journal article that he believed
many of America's health care problems were 'self-inflicted' and
preventable through 'proper diet, exercise, not smoking, minimal alcohol
consumption and other healthy lifestyle choices.'
Obamacare requires people to buy health insurance or else pay a penalty. It will make it illegal for health insurers to turn away people with preexisting conditions and require businesses with more than 50 employees to provide health insurance to full-time employees.
'I MADE A POOR WORD CHOICE': MACKEY'S APOLOGY STATEMENT
I made a poor word choice to describe
our health care system, which I definitely regret. The term fascism
today stirs up too much negative emotion with its horrific associations
in the 20th century.
While I'm speaking as someone who works hard to
offer health care benefits to more than 73,000 team members, who
actually vote on their overall benefits packages, I am very concerned
about the uninsured and those with preexisting conditions.
I believe that, if the goal is universal
health care, our country would be far better served by combining free
enterprise capitalism with a strong governmental safety net for our
poorest citizens and those with preexisting conditions, helping everyone
to be able to buy insurance. This is what Switzerland does and I think
we would be much better off copying that system than where we are
currently headed in the United States.
I believe that health care should be
competitive in the open market to promote innovation and creativity.
Despite the criticism of me, I am encouraged that this dialogue will
bring continued awareness and a better understanding of viable health
care options for all Americans. There is an alternative to mandated
health care in free enterprise capitalism based on voluntary exchange
for mutual gain.
This alternative allows individuals and businesses to
innovate and develop customized solutions to health care where a 'one
size fits all approach' fails. Creativity and progress are stifled when
government regulations dictate the parameters of what health care plans
can be offered. Creative businesses, and the people who work them, can
make something that has value for all stakeholders.
I need a new word or phrase to describe
the state of health care now because it is something that I, like all
folks entrusted with the wellbeing of a team, grapple with daily in this
era. I think for now I will simply call it government-controlled
health care to distinguish it from free enterprise capitalist health
Clearly, I would prefer free enterprise capitalism in health care
because it would greatly increase innovation and progress - just like it
does in every other aspect of our lives, wherever it is allowed to
I hope those who are my critics, would recognize that we are all after an improved state of society, and not be distracted by the poor use of an emotionally charged word.