I’ve never bothered to learn the name of the Whole Foods CEO (it’s John Mackey), and yet now I must learn of his thoughts on healthcare.
Unsurprisingly these opinions are not “it should be free for everyone” or “it’s a human right.” They’re not even “keep it privatized” or “give the free version to all who want it,” which are the sorts of unfortunate opinions on this subject with which I’m at least more familiar.
Instead, in a recent interview on the podcast Freakonomics Radio, Mackey said he believes the best “solution” to healthcare is for no one to need it.
“The best solution is to change the way people eat, the way they live, the lifestyle, and diet,” Mackey told host Stephen Dubner. “There’s no reason why people shouldn’t be healthy and have a longer health span. A bunch of drugs is not going to solve the problem.”
There are several obvious counterpoints to Mackey’s argument, which doesn’t account for pre-existing conditions, or cancer, or any number of diseases and ailments over which we have little to no control. Not to mention freak accidents: You could go to SoulCycle and drink green juice every day and get hit by a car! You might also be perfectly healthy until, say, one day you catch a deadly virus because of an unprecedented pandemic situation. In any of these instances, it would certainly help to have insurance.
But it seems to me that Mackey isn’t making an earnest healthcare proposal so much as he’s making a shameless plug. Eat healthier, you say? Do you, Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, happen to know of a place where I can buy some overpriced health foods?
Mackey has pulled a similar stunt before. In a much-maligned 2009 op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, Mackey argued for the “Whole Foods alternative to Obamacare.” Beneath the Margaret Thatcher quote Mackey uses as an epigraph, he wrote the following (emphasis mine):
While we clearly need health-care reform, the last thing our country needs is a massive new health-care entitlement that will create hundreds of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits and move us much closer to a government takeover of our health-care system. Instead, we should be trying to achieve reforms by moving in the opposite direction—toward less government control and more individual empowerment.
Ah yes, “individual empowerment.” I know this song. Well, I recommend Mackey empower himself to fuck off, and keep his terrible opinions on healthcare to himself.