Saturday, October 3, 2009

"The Conscience Of A Capitalist"

Some leftists began boycotting Whole Foods in August after its CEO, John Mackey, posted an op-ed in the WSJ discussing alternatives to the socialist health care proposals pushed by Democrats. Clearly, most of them hadn't even read the article. Open minded liberals - I know, an oxymoron - would do well to actually read it and also to read the interview that appears in today's WSJ.
In today's paper Mackey mentions health care, but opines more extensively on capitalism in general. (For a more thorough discussion of his health care recommendations see the first link below).

A few excerpts from the interiew.

"President Obama called for constructive suggestions for health-care reform," he explains. "I took him at his word." Mr. Mackey continues: "It just seems to me there are some fundamental reforms that we've adopted at Whole Foods that would make health care much more affordable for the uninsured."

"Before I started my business, my political philosophy was that business is evil and government is good. I think I just breathed it in with the culture. Businesses, they're selfish because they're trying to make money."
At age 25, John Mackey was mugged by reality. "Once you start meeting a payroll you have a little different attitude about those things." This insight explains why he thinks it's a shame that so few elected officials have ever run a business. "Most are lawyers," he says, which is why Washington treats companies like cash dispensers.

Mackey is certainly referring to lower level government officials without extensive business experience. An untested novice with no executive experience could never rise to a level of leadership in our government.

"I think that business has a noble purpose. It's not that there's anything wrong with making money. It's one of the important things that business contributes to society. But it's not the sole reason that businesses exist."
What does he mean by a "noble purpose"? "It means that just like every other profession, business serves society. They produce goods and services that make people's lives better. Doctors heal the sick. Teachers educate people. Architects design buildings. Lawyers promote justice. Whole Foods puts food on people's tables and we improve people's health."
Then he adds: "And we provide jobs. And we provide capital through profits that spur improvements in the world. And we're good citizens in our communities, and we take our citizenship very seriously at Whole Foods."

He might have added that Whole Foods is hardly unique in this regard.

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