Posted on August 27, 2009

Whole Foods CEO vs. Conservative Support for NHS, Medicare


By Ben Day
Monday, August 17, 2009

Last week Whole Foods CEO John Mackey wrote an editorial in the Wall Street Journal opposing health care as a right, and proposing instead that insurers be allowed to foist crummier health plans on residents and that states be limited in their ability to regulate health insurers. The root cause of our health crisis, Mackey claims, is that people are failing to keep themselves healthy, and need to be held responsible:

Many news outlets have already run stories about customers boycotting Whole Foods based on the op-ed. There is, however, one supreme irony in John Mackey’s op-ed. It begins with a quote from former Conservative Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Margaret Thatcher: “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.” Mackey writes “the last thing our country needs is a massive new health-care entitlement that will create hundreds of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits and move us much closer to a government takeover of our health-care system.” What Mackey forgets is that the Conservative Party in the UK has NEVER attempted to roll back health care as an entitlement. Margaret Thatcher when running for re-election in 1982 famously proclaimed “The National Health Service is safe in our hands,” and Conservative Party leader David Cameron just days ago published an online article regarding the Party’s commitment to the NHS. He wrote: “One of the wonderful things about living in this country is that the moment you’re injured or fall ill - no matter who you are, where you are from, or how much money you’ve got - you know that the NHS will look after you.”

The United States is one of the few countries where a right to health care is considered a liberal position, and conservatives publicly attack the proposal. Those who have lived under single payer would no sooner dismantle the right to health care than we would dismantle Medicare for our seniors as a right. Opposing single payer health care is as untenable a position in the UK - for candidates of any party - as would be attempts to eliminate the right to health coverage for seniors in the US. Particularly in light of the recent attacks even a public option has come under from right-wing media and politicians, this is a key talking point for advocates of single payer to discuss at divisive town hall meetings, and on radio programs.


ABC article on boycotts of Whole Foods:

David Cameron article on Conservative support for the NHS:

Older Health Affairs article on “Why Britain’s Conservatives Support a Socialist Health Care System:”