Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Whole Foods CEO is an Idiot

First off, everyone read this article. I'll wait for you to finish. . .okay, so it seems that John Mackey, the Whole Foods CEO thinks that the public option, and any government sponsored health care is a bad idea. Okay, its an old article, but I think it belies my point in yesterday's post. Namely, the very people Whole Foods relies on for its products - the farmers, artisans and ranchers - would all benefit greatly from a public option.

By and large, the farmers, ranchers and artisans are all small business owners, who struggle not just to provide health care to their employees, but also to provide health care to themselves. Most of these individuals live very, very close to the edge. Now, the utility of such occupations is much higher than in other occupations - I'm fairly certain that these guys are much happier than I am in my chosen profession - but everyone needs some room for comfort. As health care costs increase (and they will), more and more farmers, ranchers and artisans will leave the food market and get white collar jobs. For most supermarkets, which depend on larger and more profitable growers, this won't be a big deal. But Whole Foods depends on the farmer willing to grow weird crops organically. So as these guys leave the market, Whole Foods loses suppliers. The end result is that Whole Foods is going to end up buying the same crops as everyone else.

Now, considering that Whole Foods' market strategy is selling unusual and organic products at fairly high prices, selling the same products as everyone else is bad. Market-killing bad. Without health care reform, Whole Foods is in danger of losing its market share - hence the idiocy of John Mackey. Oh, and by the way, most of his customers are the kind of crunchy, granola types who are strongly in favor of single payer health insurance. So, he's managed to piss off his customer base too. Nice move.

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