Health Care Reform, And The Whole Foods Boycott
Monday, August 17, 2009 at 1:26pm
I haven’t been reading Sully as much as I did a few months ago, a practice partly started when he decided to take an August vacation. That doesn’t mean the quality of his blog has declined, but I suspect for me it was an indicator that I, too, should take a break. That’s too bad, because I almost missed the news that there’s a large movement to boycott Whole Foods as a consequence of co-founder and CEO John Mackey writing a shockingly commonsensical op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that, to his more liberal customers, amounted to a “turd in the punchbowl” as one of his less-broad-minded customers put it.
Cue the narrow-minded ‘customer’:
“Let’s not pretend Mackey’s op-ed was meant to inject new ideas into the health care reform effort. He wanted to squeeze a turd into the punchbowl. The changes he proposes would be a radical departure from the core tenets that (most) dems are trying to get through (employer mandates and the public option). So publishing his comments now, in the midst of a heated battle for hearts and minds, he is in effect trying to scuttle the current reform effort. The only thing “moronic” is thinking no one on the left would notice.
Christ, I love a good boycott, give me half a reason. Our money is the only thing we as citizens have any fucking control over anyway. You really think I shouldn’t “punish” a guy who tries to step on my political goals? I’m curious, would it play any role in your shopping habits to learn that the CEO of some company was actively working to curtail your gun rights? When is a boycott justified?”
Mmm, I feel ‘Turd’ guy wins. Facebook guy only triumphs in a contest where everybody pretends to be ‘reasonable’ and ‘rational’ without actually employing reason or rationale.
The fact that he (or possibly an editor) prefaced his piece with a Margaret Thatcher quote – “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.” – undoubtedly provided a double helping of salt to that wound.
So what was his Dickensian, burn-the-orphans-for-firewood solution to health care? Here’s a bullet-point summary of his commentary, which you should really read in full:
Right then, here we go:
* Remove the legal obstacles that slow the creation of high-deductible health insurance plans and health savings accounts (HSAs).
Hahaa! This tops your list? Name one person who wants a $5000 deductible health plan. Or an HSA. Name one person who currently gets decent healthcare by way of either one. I don’t know one. Seriously, Face, this is fucking stupid. And just how far will a savings account go towards healthcare for a person with one of those insurance-killing ‘pre-existing conditions’?
* Equalize the tax laws so that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits. [This is the single biggest reason we have the current disaster of a system that we have.]
Holy crap, Face, double stupid. The biggest reason we’ve got a disaster is that the private-insurance-for-everybody concept is whacky: up-front money for no services. It’s un-capitalistic. It’s only a reasonable contract if the company is forced to provide services when the services are finally needed. The insurance companies have been cheating: they only take certain people, then they dump you when you request that they fulfill their part of the bargain. It’s no way to provide a national service.
So how do you force them to be honest? By having the government provide an ‘insurance’ option that can’t disappear. There is no healthcare reform without this, the public option. What you’re backing here, Face, is dumb and pathetic. Nothing but internet smoke and mirrors, web song and dance.
* Repeal all state laws which prevent insurance companies from competing across state lines.
* Repeal government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover. [Or, why should I have chiropractic/holistic/etc. treatments covered when I will never use them because they are based on no science at all?]
* Enact tort reform to end the ruinous lawsuits that force doctors to pay insurance costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. (Although, as we have previously seen, Texas has very strict standards for malpractice suits and still has very high costs per patient.]
* Make costs transparent so that consumers understand what health-care treatments cost. [Medical billing is sooo random. For instance, we just got a medical bill for $430 in copays for Helen's allergist. What? They couldn't have dunned her at the time she got the treatment? And of course there are the horror stories of $100 Tylenols in hospitals.]
* Enact Medicare reform.
* Finally, revise tax forms to make it easier for individuals to make a voluntary, tax-deductible donation to help the millions of people who have no insurance and aren’t covered by Medicare, Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.
Ooooh, private donations, that will solve the problem. It’s too bad that people can’t currently donate money to…oh, WAIT–they can! And do!. Shockingly, the crisis survives: 47 million people have not been gifted comprehensive healthcare for the rest of their lives, just yet. Is this the perfect example of Mackey and Face’s impotent .22 caliber attack on the Nuclear War against Death and Illness, or what? They’d probably beg the government to put up billboards, too: “Health! You Can Do It!”
Now cue Mackey:
At Whole Foods we allow our team members to vote on what benefits they most want the company to fund. Our Canadian and British employees express their benefit preferences very clearly-they want supplemental health-care dollars that they can control and spend themselves without permission from their governments. Why would they want such additional health-care benefit dollars if they already have an “intrinsic right to health care”? The answer is clear-no such right truly exists in either Canada or the U.K.-or in any other country.
Thank you, John, for tossing up such a meaty fastball. I’d like to add that this is the stupidest thing I’ve read in a month.
1.) I have the right to ‘free speech’. But if I speak a whole lot, it no longer exists? If I choose to speak more than John expects, it no longer exists? If I speak more than others, it no longer exists? If someone asks me ‘Would you like to speak some more?’, and I say ‘Yes’, it no longer exists? If I write a book, that would be ‘additional’ free speech, which indicates that it no longer exists?
2.) I have the right to own property. If I buy a second house, the right no longer exists? If John asks me ‘Would you like some more property?’, and I say ‘Yes’, the right no longer exists?
3.) I have the right to a court-appointed lawyer to defend myself. If John says ‘I can get you a great lawyer, for free’, and I say ‘Thanks’, the right no longer exists?
How did this Mackey get to be a CEO? I thought they were supposed to be smart.
But because this doesn’t square with the political views of many of his customers, a lot of people went into full boycott mode. Radley Balko (who writes for Reason, as well as having a blog I’m sorry to say I don’t read nearly enough) recently posted a summary of why he’s doubling down on his purchases at Whole Foods after this fiasco got started. Snippy:
…The reason the boycott is moronic is that you’re punishing a company that does everything the left thinks a company should do in just about every other area (save for a few, noted below) solely because its CEO expressed opinions about health care that you don’t like. And I don’t mind that you disagree with Mackey’s opinions. But if they offend you, you’re way too damned sensitive. He didn’t say, “I think all Americans should have access to health care . . . except for black people.” That would be offensive. He put forth some proposals that he thinks would make the health care system more efficient. You can disagree with those proposals. But if you’re offended by them, you really have a low tolerance for offense.
Just what is this ridiculous reverence for the almighty corporation? Why can’t folks do as they please? People are in a difficult fight for a literally life-and-death issue, and this rich CEO writes an obnoxious, ill-informed missive that pisses off huge sections of his customers.
No, but don’t boycott his company, that would be stupid. Just because Whole Foods has benefited enormously from customers who are energetic and savvy about what decent businesses should get their dollars, what organizations reflect their values, that doesn’t mean anything now: they should all change their attitudes and habits entirely. Gee, maybe it’s the CEO who royally screwed this one up, and not the customers? Maybe?
…Just curious, if we get single payer, and the government does something you don’t like, where are you going to take your business?
I think the cool kids call this irony.
No, only the Annoying Dorks. We can boycott Whole Foods, but we can’t boycott the government. Okay, and…what? We shouldn’t want government healthcare? How about the FDA, EPA, the military–reject that stuff because it’s the un-boycottable government as well? Or we can accept government services, but only if we never boycott anything in the private sector, ever?
For the record, I think Mackey’s absolutely right.
Aw, Face, but you were wrong, and it’s on the record.