Whole Foods CEO has a whole lot to say about health care

John Mackey - Whole Foods CEO

John Mackey - Whole Foods CEO

Whole Foods CEO, John Mackey wrote an op-ed piece last week in the Wall Street Journal about health care reform.   Boy is he sorry he did that.  Now, the company that famously fired an employee for eating a discarded tuna sandwich, is facing a hailstorm of criticism and mounting calls for a boycott because of Mackey’s comments.

For the record, I hate the debate that’s going on in the country right now. Health care is such an important issue and I feel that for the most part, the media’s focus on inflammatory sound bites and angry town hall hooligans have done a disservice to the public at large.  Those of us who genuinely want to see health care reformed in a manner that benefits the most people, at the least cost and who think that a society that does not take care of its children and elderly is doomed to extinction, deserve better.  I don’t know what our best option is for health care reform.  I do know, that as someone who’s self employed, this issue is paramount to the future of my health, and my growing business. So, because it impacts all of us, we all have the right to our opinions. But, as CEO of a company whose consumer base consists primarily of individuals who feel that Americans do have a basic right to healthcare, Mackey might just have inserted his foot squarely in his mouth when he suggested otherwise. For his sake, I hope that foot he just put in his mouth is organic.

That said, I’m not sure I disagree with all of Mackey’s comments.  For instance, he calls for tort reforms that will end ruinous lawsuits.  I believe our society has become all too litigious and that putting an end to frivolous lawsuits will help, to some degree, rein in escalating health care costs.  What troubles me is that Mr. Mackey CEO, who readily has access to the healthy, organic, and high priced foods he encourages all Americans to eat, uses the argument that so many well off and well fed Americans currently use when discussing health care reform; “Every American adult is responsible for his or her own health.”   Thanks for clearing that up for us Mr. Mackey, now we understand. It really is very simple.

Starting tomorrow, I’ll begin doing all my shopping at Whole Foods, purchasing organic fruits and vegetables, grass fed beef and cage free eggs to stave off the illnesses and disease that not eating organic can cause.  Despite being a struggling business owner with an inconsistent income, I will forgo less expensive fare, neglect a couple of other bills and opt for wild caught, fresh fish instead.  After all, why should those that can really afford to eat the healthiest be the only ones doing it.  And when I’m done, I’ll encourage my friends to do the same.  But wait. One of my closest friend’s only local food option is a bodega that sells soda, canned food and about 17 varieties of pork.  He has no vehicle, and even if he did, the nearest Whole Foods market, farmers market, or major grocery store chain is miles away.  Did I mention that my friend, also self employed, goes long stretches at a time making slightly more than minimum wage? So even if he were able to get his hands on a vehicle and by some miracle afford gas for his car, by the time he got to Whole Foods, he’d probably be able to buy one of your organic apples. A lifelong vegetarian though, he opts for beans, vegetables and whole grains whenever possible.  He does not have health insurance.

Herman Melville famously said “Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.”   Do we all as individuals need to take more responsibility for our physical and mental health? Absolutely.  But when people who currently have all their needs met, start rationing and determining who should, or worse even who deserves and does not deserve healthcare, it makes me very nervous.  If ending disease, crime and poverty was as simple as telling people to do better, then there would be no disease, crime or poverty .  The fact is, personal choice is only one of many factors at play in the complex conversation about health care reform.

Mr. Mackey says  that by living on a plant based, low based, nutritious diet, “we should be able to live largely disease-free lives until we are well into our 90s and even past 100 years of age.”   Doctors have been saying it for years, and it’s the truth.  But, it’s a hard truth to hear when it’s being presented by a man behind the helm of a food chain whose food prices are so high, they’re prohibitive to a large percentage of the population he’s talking to.  Let’s hope for Mr. Mackey’s sake,  Whole Foods is around for a long, long time, providing him and those fortunate enough to be able to afford to shop there, with the healthy food they’ll need to live those long lives. The rest of us will do our best to continue to fend for ourselves.

The Really Bad Boss week in review – May 22, 2009

really badUnauthorized trashcan searches, Burger King Management really having it their way, and the rapping RNC chair

  • Clandestine trashcan searches and snackless hell - A look at some of the ridiculous and thinly disguised power-plays really bad bosses make in a pitiful attempt at relevancy
  • Burger King has to pay up again, as yet another one of its managers takes their slogan, “have it your way” literally
  • Don’t call it a comeback - The RNC chair was at it again this week, trying to remain relevant by appeasing lord Limbaugh and keepin’ it real at the same time 
  • If Really Bad Boss ruled the world, Blagojevich would be deported, bonuses would only be awarded to CEOs who did a good job and cult enthusiasts would be imprisoned
  • Edward Liddy resigned as CEO from the embattled AIG after only nine months.  Apparently it was a really hard job.  In fairness to Liddy, he came into a mess and agreed to accept an annual salary of $1 to try to fix it.  He didn’t help himself when less than a week after receiving government bailout money the company rewarded insurance agents who sold AIG policies with a $440,000 trip to a California resort.
  • And, because it wouldn’t be Really Bad Boss week in review without a Blago mention – There’s a new Blago fighting for the spotlight.  It’s Rod Blagojevich’s wife, and she apparently loves the spotlight as much as he does.  Patti is set to appear on the reality TV blow show “I’m a Celebrity, get me out of here.”   NBC apparently doesn’t care that she’s neither a celebrity or particularly interesting and lacks the trademark Blago helmet head that hypnotizes people into paying attention.  Intent on assaulting our airwaves with another dose of reality show rubbish, they’re banking on the fact that she’s a Blagojevich and will instinctively pepper the show with the requisite amount of edgy profanity.  I hope they have their bleepers ready.

The world according to Really Bad Boss

With my well documented penchant for really bad boss fantasies, it’s no surprise that I’ve daydreamed about a world managed by the creators of Reallybadboss.com.  In this brave new world, idiotic, immoral and just plain stupid bosses would be stripped of their authority and replaced by their wiser, more charming subordinates.  Our agenda would be simple – rid the world of really bad bosses, one monumental screw up at a time.  Our non-violent, but effective movement would strike fear in the hearts of incompetents worldwide, resulting in unprecedented activities by really bad bosses including; thinking, making sense and repeating the process at least twice a week. 

As rulers of this brave new world, our first official act would be to declare Fridays, International Really Bad Boss Shut Up and Sit Down Day, or IRBBSUSD.  During IRBBSUSD, with the threat of  having to watch graphic, unedited video of  their biggest foul-ups hanging over their heads, really bad bosses everywhere would be required by law to shut up and sit down.  Other official acts would include: 

  1. The immediate and irrevocable deportation of Rod Blagojevich. What’s that? He was born here? Well, in a world run by Really Bad Boss, being an arrogant, unethical, lying tool of a politician is enough for permanent Nationality Revocation. Yes, revocation is a word, and even if it wasn’t, in my world, I could make it one (see IRBBSUSD above.)
  2. Surgical removal of strings from Michael Steele’s back. He would then be forced to walk, talk and rap without Rush Limbaugh orchestrating his every move.
  3. Bonuses would no longer be awarded to the CEOs of companies that don’t turn a profit. Section 12b, subsection 42 also states that if said company continues to operate with loses year after year, the CEO would…wait for it… lose his or her job. A novel idea, but years of firing subordinates who underperform have shown that getting rid of them…gets rid of them.
  4. Encouraging employees to “drink the Kool-Aid,” will result in imprisonment. No, I will not let this go. Anyone who thinks a cult leader is an icon should be incarcerated.
  5. CEO interviews will be conducted by the IT department.  They’re the only ones in the company who really know what’s going on, they know how to fix just about anything, and most importantly, they can make grown men cry.

Got something you’d like to add?  Add it in the comment section after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

You might be a really bad boss if…

 So people are talking about reallybadboss.com and you’re laughing along with them and participating in the water cooler conversations when it dawns on you that you’re a boss yourself.  You start to wonder if your employees could be talking about you.  Not sure if you’re a really bad boss?  Here are five surefire ways to tell: You might be a really bad boss if…

  1. You inspire the creation of the website www.reallybadboss.comIf your actions and behavior are so mind numbingly ridiculous that they inspire the creation of a cottage industry based primarily on the asinine things you’ve said and done, you can rest assured…you’re a really bad boss.  
  2. Your turnover rate is 100%  – Ok, so maybe not 100%, but if people would rather make minimum wage dressed like  sandwiches/crustacean/ the statue of liberty and dance in the street in front of the local sandwich/seafood/tax preparation shop – in Arizona, in July – than work for you, you might be a really bad boss.
  3. The term “Bossnapping” is coined to describe what your employees have just done to you – Some French workers have taken their disgust at their really bad bosses too far. A rash of boss kidnappings – Bossnappings – have plagued France recently.  Worse, 45% of French people surveyed think that it’s ok.  Let’s hope Bossnapping doesn’t cross the ocean.  Felonies don’t look good on resumes.
  4. There has been at least one assassination (or coup) attempt on your life, and you work in, for example…the paper goods industry – Assassination attempts and coups are pretty common in some of the more volatile areas of the world where dissatisfaction with leadership is the norm and not the exception. But, Michael Scott notwithstanding, if you make paper or thumbtacks, or some very uncontroversial product and people are trying to depose you or have you forcibly removed from your position, you might be a really bad boss. 
  5. Someone quits live on the air – Arnetta the Moodsetta says it best. Click here for the audio.

Got something to add to the You might be a really bad boss list? Add it in the comment section after the jump.

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Why Really bad boss and why now?

Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

The idea for Really bad boss came to me after a particularly frustrating day at work.  I came home angry and annoyed, asking myself the same questions I’d been asking for the past few years and over the past two or three bosses – “Why am I working for this idiot?”, “How? How is he in charge of anything at all, much less a company?!”  And, I wondered, how on earth he’d gotten the position he’d gotten, with all its accompanying power and influence.  How was he able to sneak in under the radar?   

The worst part was my experience with this company wasn’t an isolated one.  I thought about the VP of a former company, who within six months of being hired was drunk off his skull, dirty dancing on a table at the Christmas party.  He “resigned”, bonus intact, about a week later.   Or the CEO who, during an annual sales meeting, opted to complete a crossword puzzle, as the owner and board members discussed the uncertain future of the company.   And of course, I’ve already mentioned in a previous post, the VP who fondly referred to the Jim Jones’ cult and its members’ mass suicide as the ultimate in company loyalty.  You mean to tell me, that the same stringent screening process that had me in a three part interview that stretched over a four week period, and that can disqualify an hourly worker for having bad credit, can’t detect a pension for crossword puzzles, an affinity for cults or an alcoholic?  Ok, maybe that’s asking a bit much, but who are the gatekeepers letting these people in? Has anyone checked them out?  Why does it seem that those with the most responsibility and the most power, have the least ability to use them effectively and why are the rest of us beholden to them?  – think AIG, Congress, the SEC…

Webster has several definitions for the word boss including; a young cow, a person who exercises control or authority and a protuberant part or body.  While I’ve had bosses who fit into all three categories, I like the definition of a boss as being anyone who exercises control or authority.  By that definition, bosses aren’t limited to the workplace.   From politics – think  Rod Blagojevich and Elliot Spitzer, to Business – think AIG, Bank of America,  to Government – the SEC , entertainment, sports, I could go on and on.  In fact, in our own lives, we’re bosses over our own choices and decisions… Read the rest of this entry »