Friday, August 14, 2009

Shop With A Conscience, Boycott Whole Foods

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, wrote an anti-health care reform screed which the Wall Street Journal was only too happy to publish. Time to change grocery store. Again.

Russell Mokhiber, his obnoxiously syncopated writing style aside, supports the boycott of Whole Foods and John Mackey's retrograde ideas on health care.

But, since even a blind squirrel finds an acorn now and then, even John Mackey points out a couple of just reforms:

1) Equalize the tax laws so that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits. Now employer health insurance benefits are fully tax deductible, but individual health insurance is not. This is unfair.

2) Repeal all state laws which prevent insurance companies from competing across state lines. We should all have the legal right to purchase health insurance from any insurance company in any state and we should be able use that insurance wherever we live. Health insurance should be portable.


Would he have stopped there, things would be fine and I could go on buying $3.99 organic raspberries for my niece at Whole Foods. But Mackey then steps in it with his full weight, as when he advocates for tort reform (which, contrary to conservative talking points, has a minimal impact on the high cost of health insurance, about 0.5% to be precise) or as when he asks for the "repeal [of] government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover," saying that "what is insured and what is not insured should be determined by individual customer preferences." Health care a-la-carte, anyone?

But the point in Mackey's op-ed that takes the cake for stupidity is this: "Our team members therefore spend their own health-care dollars until the annual deductible is covered (about $2,500) and the insurance plan kicks in. This creates incentives to spend the first $2,500 more carefully." (Emphasis added.)

I cringe. This gives the impression that the problem with the pitiful state of American health care is irresponsible consumers, who choose to "waste" money unnecessarily and irresponsibly on health care services. I don't know about you, but on none of the rare occasions when I have had some extra time on my hands have I have said to myself: "I'll go to the the doctor and see if I can convince her to schedule an MRI for my prostate. I just want to make sure my balls are in good shape." You have to give it to people like Mackey: they don't need MRIs to know that they have giant balls; all you have to do is give them a column in the WSJ.

You could see the pseudo-libertarian, pro-rich ideas coming from the op-ed's opening quote, by none other than the odious Margaret Thatcher: "The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money." Of course you do, if you let corporations shelter their gargantuan profits offshore and if you think that is more moral to lower taxes on individuals making more than a million dollars a year than to provide health care for the entire population, as Republicans and conservatives the world over love doing. Nothing better can be expected from people who will not concede that health care is a human right, but have no problem calling it a duty. (How else would you call pro-insurance mandates?)

Off to Sunflower Market. Social justice through shopping: what a concept!

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