Framing the Dialogue

Finally We Hear From Industry On Healthcare

If you are fortunate to have a Whole Foods Market near you, it is a great (though not cheap) place to shop for organic produce.  I would have to drive my SUV forty minutes to get to the closest one so we only occasionally shop there when we happen to be nearby. 

You would expect the co-founder and CEO of an organic food market to be pretty far to the left and John Mackey may be just that, but his recent actions are heartening for those of us wanting to be heard above the din of the health care debates.  I have had several posts on the issues and even prepared a down loadable post card that folks could use to contact their elected representative.  On the card, I listed several suggestions where reform could start.

John Mackey one-upped me in his op-ed piece written for the Wall Street Journal.  We finally hear from a business person on this issue.  Mackey outlines eight reforms that would immediately reduce health care (and health insurance) costs.  I have provided a link to the article as usual, but feel that his eight points bear repeating (although edited and with comments):

  • Remove obstacles to allow easier creation of health savings plans.  My wife has an option for this, but you MUST spend the money in the year it is deposited or we are penalized.  As such we generally under utilize this benefit.
  • Allow tax deductions for folks who purchase their own health insurance.  I would rather see us repeal the tax code and implement The Fair Tax.
  • Repeal laws that prevent insurance companies from competing against state lines.  If you need convinced of this, look at the competition for your auto insurance.
  • Repeal mandates regarding what your health insurance MUST cover.  This will allow citizens to tailor thier health insurance to their needs.  Young folks may only need catastrophic coverage while those of us who have families may want more.  Why pay for coverage that you do not need?
  • Enact tort reform to reduce lawsuits.  This should reduce costs to our doctors and reduce the practice of defensive medicine that adds to our health care costs.
  • Make health care cost transparent.  His suggestion is an itemized bill like you would get from your auto mechanic.
  • Enact Medicare reform.  He is short on specifics here, but I made the point that we should police Medicaid and Medicare to reduce fraud TODAY.  Why aren’t we doing this now?
  • Allow those who are so inclined to make a tax-deductible DONATION to a fund to pay for insurance for the uninsured.  I am sure that the liberals who want to take your money will be glad to pony up and give according to their ability.

I had three other suggestions that Mr. Mackey did not list:

  • Bring back “loser pays” to inhibit frivolous lawsuits (I am tired of hearing commercials from lawyers who claim “you don’t pay unless we get money for you”).  Doctors and insurance companies might be less inclined to settle with leeches and their leech lawyers if they can recover costs for litigation.
  • Enforce border security to minimize the abuse of emergency rooms by illegal aliens.  We should also work to “return” illegals already here to their home countries.
  • Immediately require ALL elected officials, political appointees and their staffs to participate in the Medicare or Medicaid system for their health insurance.  If they have to use these systems, they will probably get fixed pretty quick.

Take a look at John Mackey’s article and how he treats his employees.  You probably will not be surprised that some of his customers have taken offense to his stance.  They are in a tizzy that he should hold such practical views and some now refuse to ride their bicycles to his stores for groceries. 

Maybe they’ll just cycle on over to the Super WalMart.


Update September 10, 2009:  The original posting was about the co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods, John Mackey, speaking out about the health care debate.  Mr. Mackey made the serious mistake of offering very practical (and practiced by Whole Foods) solutions to some of the problems with America’s health care.  He did not do as most on the left do and blindly spew the tenants of Obamacare.  Big Mistake.

Whole Foods is a market that offers only organic foods and has a commitment to all things green.  You will find no Twinkies Spam on their shelves.  Whole Foods had been worshiped by the left as a testament to “sustainable,” organic lifestyle.  It was the anti-WalMart.  The operative word is “was.”

Soon after Mr. Mackey offered his experienced advice on some things that could improve our health care system, many on the left went nuts (I know that is redundant).  Former devotees launched web sites dedicated to boycotting the organic market.  All of a sudden Whole Foods became a “bad” corporation.

This behavior of the left amazes me.  Just because someone has the guts to offer an opposing view, they are excoriated.  I can almost understand that they do it to folks on the right, but they often are more brutal to their own.  The Whole Foods boycott attempt is a prime example.  Another example was author Michael Crichton.  The story is that while researching a book on global warming, he found that much of the “science” behind the man-made global warming was not really scientific at all. 

His book State of Fear actually became a novel about how environmentalists use climate fear to gain political power.  Crichton’s book combines the suspense that we expect from one of his novels with a generous helping of footnotes documenting his findings.  The story is that after publication, Mr. Crichton was less welcomed in the celebrity community and paid a dear price for expressing his beliefs that were contrary to leftist orthodoxy.  This link is to a great speech by Michael Crichton.

On the left orthodoxy trumps truth.

Fortunately, the main stream media no longer has a stranglehold on the news.  It seems that the left’s push to punish Whole Foods may be backfiring.  While the left works to boycott, others are promoting a “buycott” to support Mr. Mackey’s support for free market principles.  Fox News recently reported:

“the boycott has fizzled. There is no evidence that this has hurt the company. If you look at the stock price, it’s been pretty local. It hasn’t hurt the stock. If you look at the company’s sales, they’re not down. And in fact, as you just heard, and a lot of stores the sales are up.  And so there is no evidence right now that this is hurt the company. In fact I got an e-mail that was sent to a friend of mine — I know John Mackey a little bit, and John basically said, you know what, this was actually turned out to be good publicity for company, and in fact were doing better than ever now. “

This has become a very uplifting story for me.  I love to see business leaders speak up for the free market and overcome the expected lashing out from the socialist left.  Hopefully this will embolden other leaders to weigh in on future debates.  I am still waiting for Obama’s friend Warren Buffet to drop the pretense and blast socialist policies.  He has teetered near the brim of criticizing Obamanomics, but has not quite jumped in.  I believe that Buffet would like to speak his mind, but for some reason is holding back.

Come on Warren.  Let us hear from you too.

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