T Nation

Liberals Go Ballistic on Whole Foods Market


What a bunch of fucking crybabies.


Whole Foods fans decry CEO's health care views

Liberal customer base goes ballistic as executive pens conservative column

Whole Foods aficionados who assumed the company's management was as crunchy as the brand are feeling betrayed. They have stormed Twitter, Facebook and the blogosphere to vent their rage at John Mackey, the chief executive. In an op-ed column in the Wall Street Journal last week, he argued for health-care savings accounts and declared that health care is not an intrinsic right-- ideas with a conservative bent, which made Whole Foods' liberal customer base go ballistic.

They are even talking about a boycott. And who knows? Maybe some will have to rethink shopping at Wal-Mart. Unions once attacked the retailer's labor and benefits policies, but Wal-Mart has become the nation's largest purveyor of organic products and recently espoused a position on health-care reform that is widely considered progressive.

What's wrong with this picture?
"A lot of people have been paying a premium for the Whole Foods brand for years," said Mark Rosenthal, a playwright living in Massachusetts who founded the Boycott Whole Foods group a few days ago. It has nearly 14,000 members. "A lot of people are sad to look at this corporation and see that it is just like any other, if not worse."

Whole Foods spokeswoman Libba Letton said that Mackey was expressing personal opinions in the op-ed and that the company has no official position on the issue. Whole Foods has sent letters to customers apologizing for any offense and created a forum on its Web site to discuss the issue. There are more than 10,000 posts, compared with 77 posts on the raw foods forum.

Mackey is not the first corporate executive to wade into the contentious health-care debate, but other brands do not inspire the level of fanaticism that Whole Foods does. Safeway chief executive Steve Burd wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal in June that also called for market-based reforms in health care with nary a social media ripple.

Pushback worked on Wal-Mart
In some cases, the pushback has worked. Wal-Mart was thrust into the health-care debate following vigorous campaigns by labor unions. The retailer has spent several years removing the tar and feathers: It lowered premiums for its health insurance, reduced the waiting period for eligibility and slashed prices on prescription drugs for all customers.

This summer, Wal-Mart broke with business groups to support universal health care alongside its one-time foe, the Service Employees International Union.

In a post to the D.C. for Obama listserv urging members to boycott Whole Foods, Thomas M. Goldstein wrote, "We want CEOs to understand that they benefit from promoting progressive policies and face costs when they take right-wing stands."

Mackey has described himself as a free-market libertarian and has long been known as a maverick in the industry. He has cut his salary to $1 and has imposed caps on executive wages but opposes labor unions. In recent years, he was investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission for posting anonymously on a Yahoo Finance message board dedicated to Whole Foods. The agency has ruled out any action.

Mackey was unavailable for an interview, but on his blog he blamed the column's headline -- "The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare" -- for sparking some of the furor. He noted that his piece did not mention the president. He did mention, though, that the company provides high-deductible insurance for most of its employees, as well as $1,800 a year for their discretionary health-care expenses.

â??Really betrayedâ??
Letton, the spokeswoman, pointed to the grocer's long history in supporting sustainability and organic farming, food and nutritional labeling, and ethical treatment of animals.
"The list goes on and on," she said. "I hope that our customers will keep those things in mind."

But that is part of what made Whole Foods the "primo hangout of liberal Democratic yuppies," as one call to action on MySpace put it -- and exactly the reason that many say they feel duped.
"Dear Store Manager," a member of the Boycott Whole Foods Facebook group wrote, "The 30 risotto cakes that I purchased from Jenkintown Whole Foods, last Friday, were scrumptious.

But today they are giving me indigestion of the soul as I realize that my money may have funded the demise of the public option in the nation's health care reform legislative debate."
Rosenthal said he was so enraged by Mackey's opinions that he started the Facebook group, but did not urge his friends to join at first. Just as he avoids sending an e-mail when he's angry, he said he tried to take a step back -- only to find when he returned to his computer that 50 people had discovered the group and joined.
"I think a lot of people feel really betrayed," he said.

The group also started a Twitter profile under the name Whole Boycott and have been filing frequent updates. So far, it has just 83 followers -- make that 84 -- compared with Whole Foods' 1.2 million. But it's still early.

It was "only a matter of time before i'd have to reconcile my politics w/my addiction to #wholefoods," one supporter tweeted recently. "i have to get my puffins elsewhere."


They should quit their bitch ass whining. That is my scientific opinion. Fuck I hate people. >:open_mouth:


Grow up, douche. I guess the only valid way to disagree with someone on healthcare is by screaming over them at a townhall meeting?


This is exactly correct. A right is a freedom to action, not a freedom to steal from some to pay for others services.


As a conservative, I had to laugh when I read about this. I have no problem with people not shopping at a store for whatever reason. That's how capitalism works. The funny thing is that the liberals are going to stop shopping at Whole Foods in some misguided attempt to hurt the CEO.

Apparently they don't realize that the CEO is a rich guy who works for $1 a year, and if sales at Whole Foods are hurt significantly by their boycott that the primary effects will be born by the average Whole Foods employee, i.e. the little guy that liberals care so much about.


This doesn't bother me. While I don't think the CEO taking to the pages of the WSJ offering an alternative to Obamacare is "big enough" to warrant a boycott - I feel sorry for people who live their lives so politically charged that it affects even the groceries they buy - people vote with their dollars all the time on issues important to them.


A better way is to watch them shrivel up and die as they refuse to do something on their own about their own health.


Right you could always beat people up outside them.


Hilarious. The standard liberal mentality. "Oh My God, someone has the unmitigated GALL to disagree with me on an issue! I must destroy them completely and ruin their ability to make a living!"


Whole Foods fuckin sucks anyways... so damn expensive


You are fucking retarded, and it's due to genetics, not "educational" factors.


Better than the Republican ploy of calling everybody that disagrees with them a Scocialist , And I do not equate the repubicans as Consevitive as I do not consider the Dems. liberal


Totally agree


What about libertarians and anarchists that also call you a socialist? What is your excuse for them? Do you think it is just a ploy on our part to soil the word "socialist" as your kind have done to the word "capitalist".

The power of Socialism lies in its ability to confuse and corrupt the innocent mind that it is socialism over capitalism that provides for the good of society.

Capitalism has provided everything that man depends on, in mass quantities, economically, for over 200 years and socialism has just offered massive, bloody wars to get people to comply with something they are supposed to spontaneously act in accordance with -- as put by Marx himself. And yet the self-proclaimed socialists are still not suspicious of Socialism.


That is relative.


As opposed to calling people fascists?


The way you guys talk....I expect to see checking Democrat or Republican along with your ethnicity on any kind of application in the near future.


He is right about fascists in this country he just does not know how to properly identify them.


I hadn't slept yet and I was in a bad mood. So I suppose 1 lowly short tempered post in the whole PWI forum makes me a douche automatically huh? Wonder what that means for Irish and the ranting company then. Or pittbull.

I don't care.

There's more than one valid way to disagree about anything, including healthcare. I can disagree quite civilly with people over a variety of political issues. I just find it absurd that they think "organic food" and a healthy lifestyle is automatically linked to "liberal" ideology when brought to you by a company. That's fucking stupid and they should have known better. Also, their forum (on wholefoods.com) makes this place look like fucking genius central.

More importantly though, and most offensive to me, is that I can tell from the knee jerk reaction and the responses all over the net--and their forums--that the vast, vast majority of these people NEVER EVEN CONSIDERED his alternative plan to help take care of people before roasting him on a spit. It was a good thought provoking piece where he provided an alternative idea and showed how it had proof of concept with an already active plan in his company. It wasn't a "public option" and therefore it was EVIL.

His idea should be discussed. There are problems with it, that I don't deny. And it might be ultimately a failed idea...but he didn't just offer some pie in the sky piece, he put something on the ground and showed it working. It was practical.


The boycott itself doesn't bother me. I have no investment, emotional or otherwise, in WholeFoods and I really don't care if they're boycotted. Political organizing has and always will be a viable way to speak, whether its boycotting or whatever else. What got to me was the other stuff.