Whole Foods CEO complains businesses don't get respect, freedom they deserve
The Kansas City Star
John Mackey, Whole Foods co-CEO and co-author of the new book, “Conscious Capitalism,” thrilled a friendly audience at Unity Temple on the Plaza Thursday night by damning the negative business narrative he thinks pervades the nation.
But his narrative: “business is good, government is the problem,” sounds as hackneyed as the opposing narrative.
Mackey, who stepped into a hot spot recently by suggesting the Health Care Reform Act is “like fascism” later told national news shows he regretted using the term “fascism.” In KC, he stayed away from any such references.
A long critic of the Health Care Reform Act, Mackey’s company actually provides health care for most employees working 30 hours a week, meeting the terms of the new law well in advance of its 2014 implementation.
His anti-big government, pro-economic liberty arguments rest on studies that say America is slipping in economic freedom and “losing its place in the world.” He blames high U.S. corporate tax rates, “huge” regulations and a few bad apples in business (the Enrons and Madoffs) for sucking all the public good will away from business.
By the time he got to “business is under attack,” he began to sound downright whiny. For him, businesses need to “wake up” and battle back from the attacks.
Really? Apparently all the efforts at national, state and local areas to woo business isn’t friendly.
His narrative offered no nods to the idea that, yes, some regulations protect consumers’ health and safety and we shoppers appreciate those protections. Punching at blanket “enemies,” be it big government or big business, is uninspiring.
Interestingly, Mackey’s leadership style includes a strenuous objection to “strategic planning,” something he professes to avoid because plans are instantly outdated and an enemy of quick innovations. And don’t get him started on venture capitalists, a form of business that apparently doesn’t fall into his business is “good” category, calling them “hijackers with credit cards” who will turn on you if you aren’t careful.
Perhaps his most positive comments are reserved for millennials, who he has faith will be most likely to create caring “conscious capitalism” enterprises of the future. Agree.