John Mackey Still Doesn’t Like Obamacare

John Mackey, CEO and co-founder of Austin-based Whole Foods Market, is something of an enigma. Mackey runs a “hippie” grocery store and is a strong believer in something called conscious capitalism, arguing that companies need servant leaders, empowered employees and a higher purpose than just making money. At the same time he’s a fierce proponent of unfettered free enterprise and a staunch critic of crony capitalism (see: the bank bailouts) and Obamacare. In fact he found himself in hot water last month for referring to the president’s health-care reform as “fascism,” a word he later apologized for.

It’s “one of those ‘F’ words you’re not allowed to utter in our society,” Mackey told a luncheon meeting of the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth today, without addressing the flap further. Earlier, he was asked whether equating Obamacare with fascism was causing any fallout for Whole Foods. “Yeah, journalists keep asking me about it,” he replied. “I wasn’t trying to start a controversy. I was just answering a question and tried to be accurate. I was thinking philosophically, but that term has a lot of baggage. So now I just call it government-controlled health care. I’m a capitalist, but we do not have capitalism in health care—and haven’t for 50 years. And now we have a lot less.”

Mackey will make another local appearance at the Preston/Forest Whole Foods tonight around 6, when he’ll be interviewed by Container Store CEO Kip Tindell, a pal since their days together at UT-Austin.


  • Dubious Brother

    “It’s one of those ‘F’ words you’re not allowed to utter in our society” – except of course when talking about Bush / Cheney just a few years back. Mr. Mackey has been taught a lesson in progressive journalism.

  • Jackson

    Glenn, when you refer to Whole Foods as a “hippie” grocery store, what do the quotation marks around that word mean? Is it to express irony? To show you are using the word reservedly? Is it how John Mackey himself, at the World Affairs Council today, dryly described his 331-unit chain with over $9 billion in annual revenue? I ask because one would have to go back 30 years to consider that description as being in the ballpark.

  • FIJ

    In both instances (Mackey and critiques of the Bush administration), the term isn’t being properly applied. In light of that, I think the idea that he’s lamenting the term “fascist” not being neutral is a bunch of bullshit; he used it because of the negative connotation.

    A fascist would approve of nationalized healthcare (though it would probably be wayyyyy more nationalized than Obamacare) and, separately, interventionist foreign policy. However, so would a number of other schools of thought that conflict with fascism.

  • Peter Kurilecz

    And this link will take you to Mackey’s proposal from 2009 on how to reform healthcare. too bad Obama/Pelosi/Reid weren’t listening

  • Matthew Taylor

    This article has been linked on