Whole Foods C.E.O. infuriates liberal customers by condemning universal health care

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In a Wall Street Journal editorial titled, “The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare,” John Mackey, the founder and C.E.O. of Whole Foods—one of the world’s biggest retailers of “natural” and organic foods—stirred up furor among his left-leaning customer base by denouncing Obama’s health care plan as likely to “move us much closer to a government takeover of our health-care system.” In the editorial he gives eight reform strategies—one based on his own policies at Whole Foods—for an alternative system with “less government control and more individual empowerment,” and suggests that we use reform to get to the real roots of the health care crisis: obesity and unhealthy eating habits.

And while these concepts alone may not seem enough to incite a riot (though starting off with this Margaret Thatcher quote wasn’t likely to endear him to many of his liberal customers—”The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money”) according to the hundreds of angry comments already being posted in response to the Op-Ed, it appears to be this sentiment that spurred on boycotters:

“Many promoters of health-care reform believe that people have an intrinsic ethical right to health care—to equal access to doctors, medicines and hospitals. While all of us empathize with those who are sick, how can we say that all people have more of an intrinsic right to health care than they have to food or shelter?

“Health care is a service that we all need, but just like food and shelter it is best provided through voluntary and mutually beneficial market exchanges. A careful reading of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution will not reveal any intrinsic right to health care, food or shelter. That’s because there isn’t any. This “right” has never existed in America.”

Whatever it was, it doesn’t appear that the furor will die down anytime soon. Less than two days after the editorial appeared, the protest and boycott group organized on Facebook is up to more than 4,000 members, and pundits seem to be scratching their heads as to whether Mackey’s missive was a bold entrance into a polarizing political debate, or a shortsighted business blunder that will only alienate his customer base. What do you think?

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