Whole Foods CEO says ‘socialists are taking over’ schools and gun control debate

The grocery store chain’s CEO claims leftists are taking over schools and corporations

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Friday 12 August 2022 08:36 BST
Purported Whole Foods voicemail to employees about coronavirus diagnosis

The CEO and co-founder of Whole Foods thinks “socialists are taking over” because of rising discussions of gun control in the US.

Evidence of this left-wing takeover was present everywhere from schools to the military to firearms legislation, John Mackey told Reason Magazine’s podcast on Thursday.

"My concern is that I feel like socialists are taking over," the multi-millionaire organic grocery magnate said. "They’re marching through the institutions. They’re… taking over education. It looks like they’ve taken over a lot of the corporations. It looks like they’ve taken over the military. And it’s just continuing.”

"You know, I’m a capitalist at heart, and I believe in liberty and capitalism. Those are my twin values. And I feel like, you know, with the way freedom of speech is today, the movement on gun control, a lot of the liberties that I’ve taken for granted most of my life, I think, are under threat," he added.

The Whole Foods founder hasn’t been shy about his staunch free-market-first views, writing a 2013 book promoting “conscious capitalism” and calling the economic system “greatest thing humanity has ever done.”

During the podcast taping, Mr Mackey promised Americans that they would be hearing more about his views after his planned exit from Whole Foods, now owned by Amazon, at the end of this month.

“In six weeks, I will retire from Whole Foods, and I have muzzled myself ever since 2009,” Mr Mackey said.

“I was telling my leadership team pretty soon, you’re going to be hearing about ‘crazy John’ who’s no longer muzzled, and you’re going to have to say, ‘We can’t stop John from talking any longer,’” he continued.

The comment was a likely reference to an op-ed Mr Mackey wrote in 2009 comparing Obamacare to “socialism” and declaring that humans don’t have a right to healthcare.

“Many promoters of health-care reform believe that people have an intrinsic ethical right to health care—to equal access to doctors, medicines and hospitals,” he wrote in the piece. “While all of us empathize with those who are sick, how can we say that all people have more of an intrinsic right to health care than they have to food or shelter?”

Four years later, Mr Mackey was still going after the Obama administration’s signature health initiative, which still retained private healthcare, but expanded access to government programmes.

"In fascism, the government doesn’t own the means of production but they do control it and that’s what’s happening with the health care programme with these reforms and so I’d say the system is becoming more fascist,” he told NPR in 2013, before later walking some of his remarks back.

During the podcast this week, the Whole Foods executive also complained that young people don’t want to work anymore because they’re having trouble finding meaningful careers.

“Younger people aren’t quick to work because they want meaningful work,” he said. “You can’t expect to start with meaningful work. You’re going to have to earn it over time.”

Whole Foods, like its parent company Amazon, has resisted attempts at unionisation within its facilities. At one point, the chain was reportedly using a “heat map” to track the risk of unionisation at a given location, scoring stores with more racial diversity as likely threats.

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