John Mackey

In his new book, “Conscious Capitalism,” Whole Foods co-founder and co-CEO John Mackey says that a responsible business can benefit both society and the bottom line. We talk to Mackey about ethical capitalism and the recent controversy surrounding his comparison of President Obama’s health care reform to fascism.

John Mackey, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market which he co-founded in 1980, and co-author of "Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business"

  • Malleus

    Why does John Mackey not want consumers to know whether food is genetically modified, as demonstrated by his attack on Prop 37? Could it be that he knows GM food causes cancer? He talks about fascism but the conspiracy between corporations like Monsanto and their puppets in regulatory agencies to prevent consumers from knowing whether Americans are eating GM food and whether it is unsafe is exactly fascism, as per Mussolini’s definition. And yet this supposed anti-fascist Mackey is terribly chummy with Monsanto and its leadership. Pot, kettle, black.

    Watch the Whole Foods management try to bully some journalists, who then expose the connections between Monsanto and Whole Foods:

  • geraldfnord

    I am not a joiner. I am not full of fellow-feeling…the slight autism might have something to do with that. But I dearly wish that I had been able to be in a union, a simple transaction of some of my money and liberty to work when I will in exchange for a great deal more powerful an actor working on my behalf, and I gladly pay my not insubstantial taxes in exchange for those goods which under current circumstances can only be dependably assured—for example, property rights themselves such as do not obtain in the State of Nature—by the State.

    Mr Mackey, regardless of anything he might say, fully embraces self-interest as his modus vivendi; as such, he should not be surprised that others whose interests are at variance with his—workers who want to organise so that they as individuals can benefit from the collective power a union would have in bargaining with Mr Mackey, citizens who want but a pale shadow of the strong assurance Mr Mackey (and likely his descendants unto the third generation) now has that they will not suffer or die from want, exposure, or illness—do not pursue their self-interests therefor?

    And their interests are not all in harmony. Fascism was many things—Umberto Ecco’s “Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt” deals with a few of them very well, Mr Ecco having grown up under a real Fascist rĂ©gime—but one of its major points was its insistence that the interests of all classes were actually identical. This could have been bad for the rich, but in practice this meant that the interests of those already on top dominated, since the masses of people below them were denied the opportunity to pursue theirs in the only way possible.

    I am _not_ calling Mr Mackey a Fascist—I strongly doubt that he believes that Eternal War were (pacem “Esquire”) man at his best—but in his belief that he is to be trusted with all the raw power his hard work, intelligence, societal infrastructure, and good fortune have endowed him to act in the best interests of his workers is reminiscent of the Fascist notion of a deserving Great Man’s superior knowledge of what were best for all classes.

  • Chemist150

    Definitions are what they are. If you don’t like how your are viewed, change your policy and behavior or accept the definition that fits you.

  • Steve

    I very much agree with the notion of ethical capitalism. Profit should be a means to an end, not an end in itself. Too many companies, as well as the legal system, view “shareholder return” as the only value to be pursued. In my view, every company should have a mission – and the fulfillment of that mission should be its primary concern. It should be free to ignore higher profit if it does not further the mission. That mindset also allows corporate decision makers more clarity in their decisions.

  • Bob Fry

    Just another corporate suit. Whole Foods just opened a market in Davis, CA, which was already overloaded with grocery markets. His attacks on basic workers’ health and Prop 37 say far more than his pleasant words on Forum.

  • lisa

    Merriam Webster defines fascism as 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 centralizedautocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition. I am very disappointed in Mr. Mackey’s choice of words. I expected better from him. If he has issues with Obama-care fine – then talk about it without the hysterical rhetoric which just feeds the Fox News Propaganda machine. The administration and its health plan may have its problems but it is far from being fascism’s poster child. I’d love for the media to start holding people accountable for the words they use and what those words truly mean.

    • Mike

      Thank you Lisa for stating it so well.

    • One of them too

      Exactly! The media for the most part simply reports what this clown says. What happened to objective journalism, to fact checking, to calling a spade a spade?

  • TFG

    My co-worker was set for surgery for an incredibly painful hernia that would force him to lay on the floor in the back for almost 20 minutes at a time before he could get back to work several times a day. The day of the operation his insurance dropped him. He had never used it before then but had payed for it for years. Our boss was kind enough to put him on the managers insurance plan to make sure he got the care he needed but the insurance company I’m sure would have dropped him again if they could. You may say this is an isolated incident but I would scoff at that. This was Kaiser Permenente, not some small nobody.

    Though if government healthcare is similar to fascism why don’t we intervene and occupy Canada to show them what democracy is all about?

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    If we are to get organic whole foods to those who need the food the most, why isn’t Whole Foods closer to these communities, rather than upscale areas?

    If you are poor, on food stamps and have $100 for a months worth of food, could you REALLY afford to buy food at Whole Foods?

    While we are not a family on food stamps if we didn’t grow a vegetable garden we wouldn’t be able to eat whole healthy organic food.Whole Foods prices are just to expensive, not to mention the 50+ miles we would have to drive to get to a Whole Foods store.

  • DanielAyer

    I am very much for the free market and agree that capitalism has done the most good for mankind than most any other system tried to date. However, what would your guest suggest is the proper way to safeguard the people from corporate overreach? While India has brought many out of poverty, how do we prevent another Bhopal where hundreds of thousands were injured or died?

  • Please ask Mr. Mackey:

    “Economic freedom”? He aims to correlate this with longevity outcomes but the US putatively has more of economic freedom than France but France has greater national economic productivity and quality of life, better longevity, better maternal health, etc. What is the empirical basis of his assertion?

    “Conscious capitalism”? The imperative of capitalism is the
    maximum extraction of profit. To the extent that companies have the
    “consciousness” to offer health insurance, livable work hours, and
    safe work conditions, it’s the result of workers and citizens getting out on the street and demanding it and the government subsequently legislating it. How, exactly, does he think unfettered capitalism can bring about the restriction of profit in favor of workers’ quality of life?

    Mill Valley

    • Diana from San Francisco

      Right on Valerie – me too!

    • Max

      This is the perfect “teachable moment” to illustrate that CEO of a public company is precluded from political rabble rousing. Let’s teach this out of line executive an invaluable business lesson. Maybe he will include it in his next book.
      Lodge your complaints and mention that CEO John Mackey is in breach of company’s own Code of Conduct and that his political activism was not disclosed as a risk factor in the Annual Report. CEO is in breach of fiduciary duty to public shareholders.
      File your complaint with the SEC:
      Communicate your complaint to Chairman of the Board, John B. Elstrott, Phd. Tel 504-865-5462 E-mail:

      • Bonnie Rose

        LOL Max! Well done!

    • Bonnie Rose

      And let’s not forget unions, without which there wouldn’t have been structures and protections for workers who got out on the streets. What did Mackey liken unions to? Oh, right, herpes. Uch, this guy makes me so mad!

    • Ed

      is that 6% of your disposable income?

      I’ve heard him say that’s what the average american spends on food.

      I feel fairly average but I spend a lot more like 20-25%
      probably $1-1,200 for a family of 3

  • John Mackey says that climate change regulation would stop people from exiting poverty. What a joke. How about be effects of rising oceans, wide-spread drought, and severe storms on the poor, who unlike rich CEOs cannot recover from such calamities. Regulation simply
    puts a price on pollution, and companies that pollute less will benefit. So much for hurting the poor.
    San Francisco

  • Bob Fry

    This guy is regretting and disavowing lots of things he said…”capitalism with a conscious” sounds a lot like “compassionate conservatism”. They’re oxymorons. I’m not automatically against capitalism, but it has one goal, to make profits. That’s why regulation–non-trivial regulation–is necessary.

  • Jason W

    I hear lots of backtracking on word choice, but not about the underlying philosophy. Can you please ask him if while he retracts the use of the word “herpes” in relation to unions, does he still believe that unions are like a disease? And if so, what does he suggest to give workers actual power in decision making within the corporate/capitalistic structure he promotes?

    • willcommentforfood

      No, he won’t, and he goes on to tell us that his word choices were merely poor because the media and his critics victimize him. He really doesn’t have a compassionate or enlightened view of worker’s rights, quite the opposite.

  • Marcelo

    I find it amazing that in two sentences following each other, Mr. Mackey can at the same time say that he cares so much about the poor that he doesn’t want to see any curbs on industry due to climate change science, lest we impact productivity; but not so much that he wants to share in providing the poor with healthcare. Sounds to me like every other captain of industry / robber baron in history, trying to externalize as much cost as possible while dressing it in bromides of “conscious capitalism” to not look quite as bad.

  • Mike

    Mackey is a slick plutocrat who does not understand what fascism or capitalism means.

    In defining health care availability and reduction of cost by the government as fascism is facile and cherry-picking a small part of the definition of fascism. We do not call France and Scandinavia fascist, that have far more government influence in health care distribution.

    Capitalism has been around for thousands of years not hundreds as Mackey states, and the increase in average life expectancy and earning are not just due to business but to an eco-system of good government, more equitable legal system, democracy, availability of opportunity and yes, trade unions.

    The problems in our country and our business systems is not due to government regulations or more health care, but to the rise of plutocracy that Mackey is part.

    Mackey is really just a plutocrat who is trying justify plutocracy (and one of 1%) who is trying to justify his position with a slick marketing campaign calling it “conscious” capitalism, as all along his brand of underground plutocracy destroys our fabric.

    • I agree with all of your points and would add that penicillin and other medical advances have contributed mightily to a longer life span.

  • ralvek

    This guy is a shallow know-nothing! Let’s not waste future Forum programs on such drivel.

  • April

    Are we all so closed minded that we can’t just stop for a minute and listen to what Mr. Mackey is saying … instead of getting stuck on all of these labels “capitalism”, “fascism”, etc. He has some good points. And he is allowed to have run his business one way and have personal views in whatever way he wants. At least he has the courage to be honest. Who cares whether we all agree with him. It is crazy that we get some mean and vitriolic when we don’t agree with someone.

    • $2870056

      “he is allowed to have run his business one way and have personal views in whatever way he wants.”

      Yep, victim of his own love for “free-enterprise.” Mistakes things for ideas, quantities for qualities.

      Let’s eat! But not each other, just yet.

    • willcommentforfood

      Not crazy at all when Mr. Mackey misrepresents the facts and acts like he’s a victim for being called on it. No sympathy for such an immoral arrogant character.

  • Bonnie Rose

    WHY is NPR giving this guy so much air time???? He is, in fact, nothing but a crank. He just happens to have great PR while he builds his persona of circumspection and concern for the greater good. He needs deep therapy, not NPR interviews!

    • Sam

      First, Bonnie, Forum is not an NPR program. It is locally produced by KQED. Second, I’d ask you to think for a moment – do you really only want to hear programs with those whose opinions you already agree with? I, for one, appreciate hearing views that might challenge my own. By opening up to the views of others, we might better learn and grow ourselves. At the very least, it can help us understand better why we believe what we do.

      • Bonnie Rose

        Okay, I know. I was speaking generally about the programming I hear on KQED which goes beyond that which is produced by KQED. But, in response to your second point… I don’t object to John Mackey’s ample air time because I disagree with him, I object because he is actually inconsequential in the scheme of things but is constantly in the public eye right now. I liken him to Paris Hilton–famous for being famous, mostly for the outrageous things he has said. I listen very carefully to many people with whom I disagree and am usually happy to do so and better for it.

      • Another Mike

        Not every successful businessman has thoughts worth listening to. The outstanding example of this was Henry Ford.

      • willcommentforfood

        I’m fine with him being on Forum. It simply shows that his views don’t stand up scrutiny, by the callers and the commenters online.

    • I’m personally really glad that his interviews were on KQED- otherwise I would not have known what a __________ (fill in the blank with the descriptive term of your choice) the man is.

  • ian macher

    John McKay’s idea of a non-crony capitalism is idealistic to the point of being absurd. We are human beings and we connect with others, that’s what we do. It’s neither good nor bad, but to have a capitalism without cronyism … hmmm …

    His rationale about health care is likewise on a very poor basis. Lower health care costs were NOT due to competition, and, in fact, it was not until we started into the era of “for profit” hospitals that health care costs have risen so precipitously.

    But that’s not the ONLY reason health care costs have risen (insurance reimbursements, advanced medical technology and other things also play a role.). There’s some excellent economic thinking about why healthcare costs don’t enter into the typical economic demand/supply equations (which have been shown to be applicable to only certain kinds of commerce. Read more behavioral economics! It counters nearly EVERYTHING McKay is saying.)

    • willcommentforfood

      There have been intelligent proposals in the past by progressives envisioning a more ethical form of capitalism. Mackey’s is not such a thing, it isn’t well thought outt and it’s full of fundamental factual falsehoods and ironic misappropriation and misunderstandings of facts. I agree with your comment that capitalism and communism as they are today do not meet human needs.

  • Another Mike

    I’m glad this Mackey is on, because while I had never thought much about his posting on yahoo bulletin boards, his tone of voice reveals his fake indignation and highlights the self-serving nature of his statements. These are red flags to me, which I would never have noticed reading his statements in print.

    This barnstorming book tour may be counter productive.

    • willcommentforfood

      He also stole the moniker of ‘conscious capitalism’ that more progressive authors used back in the 1990’s. His version of it is evil, self serving, viciously characterizing those who disagree as communist, and any counter proposals to his vision of corporate freedom to exploit as ‘utopian.’ Clearly he is worthless to dialog with, only useful to show as an example of political and corporate elitism run amuck.

  • Zoe

    I have a business idea for Whole Foods. About 4 years ago I drove from Chicago to San Francisco and was basically forced to eat from fast food restaraunts for a week. By the time I got home , I felt malnourished and sick from all the fried food, sugar, and carb loaded fake foods I had consumed.
    This gave me the idea that a large corporation like Whole Foods, should start a fast food, roadside restaraunt with quick healthy options for all the people who spend a lot of time on the road. This would help aid the over weight and sick people by providing more healthy food.

    • Another Mike

      Considering that about 1/3 of the square footage of Whole Food stores consists of ready-to-eat food, why not just stop at various Whole Food stores for your meals?

  • Allison Ward

    After listening to this guy and his politics I will nerver ! Set foot in whole again why is whole food only in affluent areas the essential key to good health is healthy food

  • Davey

    Mr.Mackey is a breath of fresh air with his balance and pragmatism. I am glad he is transparent and authentic, unlike other CEOs. By being insular CEOs are not performing their duties as a corporate citizens. If companies are individuals then they need to be good citizens as well and I feel more comfortable now buying at whole foods than other groceries because he is being so open and forthright.

    • willcommentforfood

      He is quite self serving and in that aspect not transparent as he makes it seem as though his selfish exploitative desires are high-minded idealism. It is not, it is quite clearly

  • GiorgioOrwell2nd

    Conscious Capitalism does not in any way solve the tremendously huge global issues that unfettered Capitalism has created. The supposed price signal and efficient markets function of Capitalism is broken and has been for a very long time, more “free markets” does not fix this….we’re running out of resources all over the place, and the idea that the planet can live the middle class lifestyle was always a lie. It might be a nice lie, but it’s still a lie.

    I don’t know what the solution, is it’s not Communism and it’s not more Capitalism…this prosperity argument doesn’t line up with the limits of our planet. Better ideas are needed…and the first step is admitting that the altar of Capitalism is cracked.


  • Jason W

    “I have been dragged into healthcare”? Are you kidding? He put himself squarely in the middle of the debate by the choice of his own words.

  • Thank you for being one of the first who will not use extremist words that promote views that just distract from solving the problems. I will hold you to it, Id like to see this more often, Words matter.

  • halberst

    I find the health insurance thing kind of strange: the Swiss system (which is fairly new by European standards) is pretty close to Obamacare. And outcomes in many other European countries are better at lower costs anyhow. I’ve seen Switzerland held up as a model by conservatives, but they still oppose a core of their system: mandates. And Switzerland is a tiny country surrounded by other much larger countries with systems that have been around much longer that work quite well.

    On another note, I do some subcontracting work for Whole Foods and love working for them. They are nice to us and pay well and quickly!

    • willcommentforfood

      Conservatives also oppose the nonprofit insurance aspect of the Swiss system. Mackey is either a liar or an idiot or both.

  • Jason W

    So he can have comments for those that praise him and do not have a question, but he cannot comment on issues brought up by a listener related to the Swiss healthcare system?

  • Davey

    Mr.mackey is a breath of fresh air. I am glad he is transparent and authentic, unlike many other CEO who are not performing their duties as a corporate citizens. If companies are individuals then they need to be good citizens as well and I feel more comfortable now buying at whole foods than other groceries.

    • Another Mike

      A statement so nice you had to make it twice?

      • Davey

        Sorry on my phone. Thought the first one didn’t go through.

  • $2870056

    The speaker’s words are so filled with cliches and numbers, misunderstood and un-examined science, mis-stated facts and theories about climate, evolution, population, history, healthcare, insurance – life.

    He says little about life – the quality of people’s lives – when saying thousands of years ago humans lived 30 years or less, now average 78 years globally.

    Are we surprised? “Free-enterprise” markets demand increases in numbers – people and things, resource use, consumption and waste.

    What is the average life expectancy of other living things now, compared to then? Other living systems like coral reefs? Whole species, no longer existing? Swathes of the planet no longer habitable for humans, animals, or plants?

    If health care and insurance are best when market-driven, when do the “commodities” of disease and illness, age, debility and death get packaged and offered as “choices” most “consumers” make?

    Clean water, local, reliable food sources that do not destroy or waste, or poison people have done more than any “Whole Foods,” or John Mackey will ever offer, or provide.

    No sale, Mr. Mackey. Today, I decided to never enter your stores.

    I’m not in the “market” for hyperbole, or feel-good “free-enterprise” philosophers like you who are eager to have people associate their enterprise with doing “good” or good “citizenship.”

    Do what you can to make lives better. Stop misleading and exploiting to “compete.” No one wins the human race.

    • Another Mike

      Well, I just saved $27.00

      • $2870056

        How many additional minutes of life will you “buy” with your “saving?” Where will you shop for that “commodity?”

        • Another Mike

          $27 is the price of the book he’s peddling. Now I neither have to buy it nor read it.

          • $2870056

            You are a smart consumer. Sorry, I misunderstood.

  • Guest

    Discussions about health care should include the voices medical doctors, nurses.If we are ever to have good health care of any kind – this is essential. Above all we cant have without the help of all the medical field, listen to what they think about this, how it will be effecting the way they will be able to treat patients. Whole foods encourages healthy eating and the lifestyles that support it, they are doctors of health in many ways, but only we can make our own choices. Even the best doctor can make you drink wheatgrass or stop smoking. People can take responsibility for what they do to themselves, the world would suffer without stores as dedicated as these. PS I dont shop there, its not convenient or available to me where I am. Do you deliver? thanks you NPR for making this free speech possible.

  • Ben P

    I hear mention of free-market capitalism raising the general income and quality of life. Was it the capitalists who helped bring this about or was it the workers themselves, (who fought for higher wages, better working conditions, etc…) who helped bring about this change. Seems very convenient to leave this out considering John Mackey is infamously anti-union. What are his thoughts on the labor movement currently?

    • willcommentforfood

      Great post. So true.

  • ian macher

    oh — and extension of life spans .. 200 years ago was only 30 years? If so, that was an AVERAGE and due to high infant mortality. The “general” lifespan still seems to be about the length described in Psalm.

    Increase in healthspan has widely been attributed to the rise of public health and … sanitation!

    The youtube link below indicating a link between Whole Foods and Monsanto — I haven’t watched it, but sounds like it’s worth watching … even if I’m not too sure about Alex Jones (he does have some good stuff, though.)

    I am underwhelmed with Mr. McKay more than I have been with just about anyone.

  • disqus_CeglUaNcQZ

    A key moment was toward the end when Mackey complained that he was “being dragged into a discussion about health care.” Yet early in the show he had declared that health care should be run by competitive businesses. In short, he drags himself into the gun sights, then complains about being targeted — clinging desperately to his ideology of market capitalism while claiming not to be an ideologue. What he is, is unconscious of his self-serving nature masquerading (badly) as altruistic and thoughtful.

  • mountain_webbie

    I have a close relative who works for Whole Foods. They offer a poor high deductible health plan, for workers who make close to minimum wage, and this only after several months with no coverage at all. This guy looks like a typical greedy capitalist, making his millions off the backs of working people and then complaining if they ask for help to afford decent health care. Thank you Obamacare.

  • Demographer

    Mackey’s suggestion that “capitalism” is responsible for life expectancy going from about 30 (actually it was closer to 35 in early modern NW Europe, though probably more like 25-30 in pre-modern India and parts of China) to about 70 today is just plain wrong. First life expectancy is misleading because it wrongly makes people think adults were dropping like flies around 30, when actually the “30” is an average that simply indicates that infant and child mortality was very high. (About half of infants born in the pre-industrial period never made it to reproductive age). Most of that increase had to with public health measure–funded & imposed by governments–the most important being public clean water systems–and publicly researched, funded and imposed vaccination programs being also very important.. Many businesses in the 19th and early 20th centuries opposed the taxes and government measures necessary to implement and impose such public goods, invoking the same kind of rhetoric about “economic freedom” that Mackey uses to justify their opposition.

    I am not at all reassured that Mackey holds up Singapore and Hong Kong as superior models to the US because of their supposedly greater “economic freedom.” Both are quite politically, legally, and socially repressive by US standards, (canings,very restrictive on freedom of speech, press, etc.)

    Mackey needs to bone up the concept of externalities since he is so intellectually incoherent about these issues, first saying we should have a completely free market in health care, and then admitting to a caller that maybe health care is an area where the free market will not deliver to basic health care at an affordable price to those below a certain income level.. By now, one would have hoped that the Mackeys of the world would have figured out that health, education and the environment (including child care) are public goods, unlike most of the consumer items that the market produces reasonably well,, that the free market does not deliver to lower-income folks at an affordable price.

    He says he has no answer to growing US income inequality without prohibitively high taxes on the capitalists: I have a concrete suggestion. Make all higher education degrees & training certifications that are required any job free for citizens, just as K-12 education is free for them. Then we would be able to train or educate for the available jobs that pay a reasonable wage without going into permanent, unaffordable debt each time we lose a job because industry wants to restructure, only to find that we spent a lot of moneyeducating for jobs that no longer exist because the “free market” has. changed once again. Yes, people like him who make a lot of money would to pay higher taxes to support this, but it is doable: Denmark subsidizes retraining & education for citizens who lose or can’t find a job.


    • Bonnie Rose

      Mackey does tend to run fast and loose with the facts, no? It seems to me that most of what he says is constructed mainly to rationalize and win approbation for his personal point of view… Which is why it confuses and irks me that he makes it onto so many shows such as Forum.

    • Just like to point out that not only does the free market not deliver health care to lower-income folks at an affordable price, it also does not deliver it to us middle income folks at an affordable price. How many middle class families have gone bankrupt due to medical bills? How many middle class families struggle to pay insane insurance premiums with very high deductibles and low coverage?
      Mr. Mackey says he is not against a “safety net” for those too poor to afford health insurance- well guess what, they already have it. How about a safety net for those of us in the middle class?

  • Nancy

    As a writer and copy editor, it’s my job to use words correctly. Mackey dismissed “fascism” as “a loaded word” that he won’t use again when, in fact, he has no idea what it means. I lived under fascism in Suharto’s Indonesia and Marcos’ Philippines and really don’t expect the health care plan to lead to mass “disappearances,” long-term imprisonment without charges, or people shot down by the military or police for carrying picket signs. Mackey needs to get real.

  • trite

    Mr. Mackey propounds a half-baked and ill-digested libertarian philosophy. I was so interested to hear the illuminating comments from a listener on Switzerland’s health care system which were so at odds with Mackey’s idea of that system. How quickly he danced away from his previous formulation. I did not find any serious ethical, moral, or economic depth to his positions.

  • MW

    If you really look close, a lot of their products are not organic and certainly not local and sustainable crops food.

  • MW

    or Fair Trade! They are also non-union!

  • willcommentforfood

    What bothers me the most about Mackey’s interview is his disingenious ignorance. For example, he hates Obamacare and lauds the Swiss health care system, which he hasn’t a clue about since the Swiss system is exactly what Obamacare is modeled on. He prattles on about govt. healthcare and endorses subsidies to buy health insurance, which is exactly what Obamacare is. Then he constantly whines about being misunderstood and categorized, and how tough it is for the image of poor little corporate business. In short, he is a blithering idiot who’s views are incoherent, ideological, and profoundly ignorant of the very things he claims to know well. And his offensive insults towards those he disagrees with show his true character.

  • owenhowlett

    Mackey seems to have done a very competent job founding Whole Foods and he certainly deserves credit for his hard work and innovation. He’s obviously a thoughtful guy but he seemed out of his depth answering the wide-ranging questions the audience posed, on the spur of the moment, and the show ended up sounding sophomoric. Either he needed a more structured interview or maybe there should have been a second guest?

  • white elephant

    I never knew Mr. Mackey before this interview.

    What is self-evident in this interview: Mr. Mackey, twisting over backwards to repeat what he has convinced himself to be correct !!!(perhaps to live with himself, perhaps to deal with his internal conflicts).

    1) on wealth distribution and rising tide comment: Mr. Mackey, Global Inequality Skyrockets: Report Says Top 1% Have Increased Wealth By 60% Over Last Two Decades. This, at the cost of extorting from everyone else. In 2011, real median household income was 8.1 percent lower than in 2007. Corporations are NOT people. You are not in touch with the lives of real people and how they have to stretch their paycheck to barely survive. Obesity can not be “boxed and defined” in the way you presented it.

    2) on the global warming, please educate yourself on RATE of change of ocean temperature. RATE of output of green house gases. Rate of change of natural disasters like floods, hurricanes, …

    3) Mr. Mackey can be better advised to not publicly share his thoughts. The more I hear him speak, the more I realize how out of touch he is with people and their real lives. What large multinational corporations have done to 99% of people of this country, is nothing short of pillage and rape….. enough said.

  • disqus_ZTT0o0gj3S

    Am listening to the podcast and around minute 45 a female caller praises John Mackey for his company and says she has a business with 400 or 4000 employees–she gets zeros mixed up. I hope this was a joke call but I am not sure. Could someone be that oblivious?

  • white elephant

    Thank you Forum for educating me on who is co-CEO of Whole Foods.

  • alex sack

    It smells of bull; we can’t pinpoint the source of the stench, but it permeates and looms high…

    It is intellectual masturbation, pure ideology – not grounded in the reality of daily life as a human being.

    It’s Ayn Rand and Marx, and Romney.

    It is an algorithm – numbers on a spreadsheet excised of empathy, the Social Contract… the American creed.

  • Steven Mason

    This guy, John Mackey, comes across as an arrogant, greedy fascist himself. Having learned what he thinks I will never shop at Whole Foods again. John Mackey is a TERRIBLE person who is arguing for terrible public policy.

  • disqus_Ewz7h9EQnY

    I was taken aback when Mackey said the real “heros” of America are the business owners. Business owners are simply middlemen. What heroic thing exactly is it that Mackey does? He buys food at the cheapest prices he can find that his customers will still buy, pays the cheapest wages and benefits he can and still get the employees to show up for work, and sells at the highest prices he can and still get the customers to fork over their money? Is this being a “hero”? I don’t think so.
    The real hero is the single mom employee who’s working 40 hours a week at Whole Foods and going to school 20 hours a week at the local community college, meanwhile taking care of two kids, and driving a car on its last legs. Hero? It’s no people like Mackey. It is the workers like this single mom that are the true heros of America.

  • Mr. Mackey felt comfortable comparing Obamacare with fascism, and then cites Switzerland as having a “true capitalist system”, where its citizens can buy whatever health insurance they want in a free marketplace. When it was pointed out to Mr. Mackey that in fact, it is illegal for Swiss health insurance companies to be for-profit, and that they had tried the for-profit route in the past (which resulted in sky-rocketing health care costs) and then banned it, he dismissed it, saying something to the effect of “Well, I’m not an expert in health insurance.”
    I will not likely step foot in a Whole Foods again. In the future I will be doing my shopping in places like Trader Joe’s, the organic section of Costco, and independent quality markets like Andy’s in Sebastopol, Pacific Market in Santa Rosa, Scotty’s in Terra Linda, and my local market and co-op.

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