John Mackey

John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods, doesn’t seem to know what politics are:

Mackey takes issues with the idea he’s politically vocal. “I don’t think I’m that vocal,” he says, “I’m not out crusading on political issues, but the media tends to sensationalize things.”

This would be on a book tour for ‘Conscious Capitalism’ where he says things like:

“The latest Gallup poll shows big business enjoys only a 19 percent approval rating,” he told an audience at the Seaport World Trade Center. “Yet business is fundamentally good and has created more value in the world than any other institution.”

The book makes a case for the “inherent good of capitalism,” and pushes for a new age of leadership and higher purpose in the business world.

“If we allow it, I have no doubt capitalism will wipe out poverty and illiteracy,” Mackey said. “Humanity has been lifted up by business and yet it has been completely hijacked by its enemies who create a narrative that business is selfish, and greedy, and exploitative.”

In other words, he is basically on a tour to try to get people to believe in his beliefs–why you might call it a political tour. As an aside, it’s a little funny that he believes that capitalism will wipe out poverty and illiteracy when it’s the government that has been one of the biggest reasons for reduced poverty and a socialized model mostly got rid of illiteracy in the US (that would be public schools).

Also, it’s fun to see what he believes such as (he did backtrack a bit and say fascism was a bad word choice, not because it was wrong but because it was associated with things that were much worse):

When Inskeep asks him if he still thinks the health law is a form of socialism, as he’s said before, Mackey responds:

“Technically speaking, it’s more like fascism. Socialism is where the government owns the means of production. In fascism, the government doesn’t own the means of production, but they do control it — and that’s what’s happening with our health care programs and these reforms.”

and:

Contrary to what has been written about me, I am not a “climate change skeptic.” Climate change is clearly occurring, and based on what I have read global temperatures have increased about 1.5 degrees Celsius over the past 150 years. We’ve been in a gradual warming trend since the ending of the “Little Ice Age” in about 1870, and climate change is perfectly natural and not necessarily bad. In general, most of humanity tends to flourish more when global temperatures are in a warming trend and I believe we will be able to successfully adapt to gradually rising temperatures. What I am opposed to is trying to stop virtually all economic progress because of the fear of climate change. I would hate to see billions of people condemned to remain in poverty because of climate change fears.

It seems he’s of the Lomborg view of climate change, actually probably even worse–does he really believe that fighting climate change would mean we would virtually stop all economic progress? What an idiot.

In another aside, here’s one of his examples of how conscious capitalism works:

For example, when Whole Foods decided it wanted to stop selling overfished species of cod and octopus at its seafood counters, it didn’t just abruptly cut off its suppliers. Instead, the company gave its suppliers three years to come up with a better way of fishing; during that time, the seafood stayed for sale — but with a label of “unsustainable.”

In the end, Whole Foods, working with the Marine Stewardship Council (we’ll have much more on them later), was able to find one supplier of sustainable cod.

“You take a risk when you do that because some of your customers … who don’t care about sustainability, they’re going to go shop at your competitor’s store who has the fish, so you lose some business that way,” Mackey says. “But it was the right thing to do.”

What makes this interesting is that he’s a vegan and yet when Whole Foods bought Bread and Circus in Boston, they reduced the amount of vegetarian choices which he thinks is healthier. Ah well

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