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The Transformation of John Mackey (Whole Foods CEO from leftist to capitalist)
Ludwig von Mises Institute ^ | June 13, 2006 | by Ralph R. Reiland

Posted on 06/13/2006 11:55:52 AM PDT by Marxbites

I've been there, so the things that John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, says in the June 2006 issue of Liberty magazine essentially ring true.

Whole Foods is big now, one of the nation's fastest growing mass retailers, with sales last year exceeding $5 billion and a gross profit of more than $1.6 billion — not a bad return in the grocery business.

It didn't start that way. Coming out of the counterculture movement of the 1960s and 1970s, Mackey, a vegetarian, a former long-haired and bearded commune resident, a student of ecology, yoga and eastern philosophy, writes that he idealistically opened a small, food store in 1978 with his girlfriend, with a total capital outlay of $45,000. The store lost $23,000 in its first year.

His philosophy at the time, he explains, wasn't exactly pro-profit or pro-capitalist: "Politically, I drifted to the Left and embraced the ideology that business and corporations were essentially 'evil' because they sought profits. I believed that government was 'good' (if the 'right' people had control of it) because it altruistically worked for the public interest."

He'd been taught, Mackey explains, that "business and capitalism were based on exploitation: exploitation of consumers, workers, society and the environment." After a year in business, he saw a reality that didn't mesh with his decades of anti-business indoctrination.

"I believed that 'profit' was a necessary evil at best and certainly not a desirable goal for society as a whole," he writes. "However, becoming an entrepreneur completely changed my life. Everything I believed about business was proven to be wrong."

Rather than seeing a milieu of "exploitation" and coercion in his store, Mackey saw a system of freedom and "voluntary cooperation" at work and a new realism: "No one is forced to trade with a business; customers have competitive alternatives in the marketplace; employees have competitive alternatives for their labor; investors have different alternatives and places to invest their capital. Investors, labor, management, suppliers — they all need to cooperate to create value for their customers."

In short, an entrepreneur like Harvard dropout and Microsoft founder Bill Gates (or John Mackey) got his money first and foremost by creating a new pie, by launching an innovative enterprise with new products that created new wealth and income that spread to investors, labor, management, suppliers — and spread to the public at large by way of increased tax revenues.

"In other words, business is not a zero-sum game with a winner and a loser," says Mackey. "It is a win, win, win, win game."

That's not the way Mackey's customers and employees saw it. Despite losing half his initial investment in the first year of business, Mackey was nevertheless accused of greed and exploitation. "Our customers thought our prices were too high, our employees thought they were underpaid, the vendors would not give us large discounts, the community was forever clamoring for donations, and the government was slapping us with endless fees, licenses, fines and taxes."

Mackey has voted straight Libertarian since those early days in 1980. Still, he says he's had little success in converting people to the concept of economic freedom or to an understanding of how the world really works, to the concept of how freedom, prosperity, human progress, spontaneous order and overall well-being are inherently channeled through a system of voluntary cooperation, private property, business competition and individual incentives.

"The freedom movement remains a small, relatively unimportant movement in the United States today," he writes. "As a businessman who knows something about marketing and branding, I can tell you the freedom movement is branding itself very poorly."

By incorrect branding, Mackey means that too much emphasis about individual freedom has been focused on side issues, such as the legalization of drugs, and not enough on the big picture. Instead, he maintains, if it's to have any chance of having a mass appeal, the freedom movement will have to consciously create a broad and inspiring vision, an idealism that addresses the direct correlation between economic freedom and societal progress.

The freedom movement, libertarians, and free market economists, he writes, have done a poor job of defending the social legitimacy of business, economic freedom, capitalism, individualism and free markets. The message should be that business, working through free markets, has arguably been the world's greatest force for human progress and our collective well-being, delivering increased prosperity, less poverty, extended longevity and democratic freedoms.

Ralph R. Reiland, the B. Kenneth Simon professor of free enterprise at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh. Send him mail. Comment on the blog.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Government
KEYWORDS:
As stated, that free market proponents haven't done a good job in defending it, I'd counter that the leftwing entrenched in Govt, media & academe are the main reasons more progress hasn't been made in restoring lost freedoms and relimiting this unlimited Govt.
1 posted on 06/13/2006 11:55:55 AM PDT by Marxbites
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To: Marxbites

I thought he was a Hall of Fame TE with the Baltimore Colts.


2 posted on 06/13/2006 11:56:56 AM PDT by dfwgator (Florida Gators - 2006 NCAA Men's Basketball Champions)
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To: Marxbites

Good read, thanks.


3 posted on 06/13/2006 12:01:18 PM PDT by stacytec (Nihilism, its whats for dinner)
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To: Marxbites

"Coming out of the counterculture movement of the 1960s and 1970s, Mackey, a vegetarian, a former long-haired and bearded commune resident, a student of ecology, yoga and eastern philosophy..."

***
He used to be a hippie; then he grew up.


4 posted on 06/13/2006 12:02:11 PM PDT by fatnotlazy
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To: fatnotlazy
He used to be a hippie; then he grew up.

Except for the ones cloistered away from reality in government, universities, or the entertainment industry, they mostly all did.

5 posted on 06/13/2006 12:10:39 PM PDT by Ditto
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To: Marxbites
with sales last year exceeding $5 billion and a gross profit of more than $1.6 billion

Hmmm... A thirty-two per cent return on sales.

If the oil industry has a 9.5% return on sales, then this has to be price gouging! I demand a Congressional investigation.

6 posted on 06/13/2006 12:16:25 PM PDT by Cobra64 (All we get are lame ideas from Republicans and lame criticism from dems about those lame ideas.)
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To: fatnotlazy
He used to be a hippie; then he grew up.
Any man who is under 30 and is not a Liberal has no heart;
any man who is over 30 and not a Conservative has no brains.
~Winston Churchill

7 posted on 06/13/2006 12:18:58 PM PDT by Antonello (Oh my God, don't shoot the banana!)
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To: Marxbites
Mackey has voted straight Libertarian since those early days in 1980. Still, he says he's had little success in converting people to the concept of economic freedom or to an understanding of how the world really works, to the concept of how freedom, prosperity, human progress, spontaneous order and overall well-being are inherently channeled through a system of voluntary cooperation, private property, business competition and individual incentives.

I, too, voted Libertarian in the '80s. Indeed, I was a Libertarian candidate in more than one election.

Then I realized that the central idea of a free society is not misunderstood at all - in fact, it is not desired by a population conditioned by government institutions.

Orwell might as well have stayed a policeman in Burma.

8 posted on 06/13/2006 12:19:51 PM PDT by headsonpikes (Genocide is the highest sacrament of socialism.)
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To: Marxbites
"...with sales last year exceeding $5 billion and a gross profit of more than $1.6 billion — not a bad return in the grocery business.

That's miraculous. Hell hath no fury like a leftist scorned and transformed.
9 posted on 06/13/2006 12:20:29 PM PDT by Jaysun (In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily.)
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To: Marxbites
"In other words, business is not a zero-sum game with a winner and a loser," says Mackey. "It is a win, win, win, win game."

Simple and brilliant. Glad to have Mackey on our team.

10 posted on 06/13/2006 12:22:08 PM PDT by pollyannaish
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To: fatnotlazy

It's too damn bad that all of us his/our age haven't.


11 posted on 06/13/2006 12:22:23 PM PDT by Marxbites (Freedom is the negation of Govt to the maximum extent possible. Today, Govt is the economy's virus.)
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To: Marxbites

Whole Foods owner is a Libertarian? Who'd a thunk? I am shocked, I'll go there more often.


12 posted on 06/13/2006 12:26:55 PM PDT by Paradox (Removing all Doubt since 1998!)
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To: Paradox

And he also puts his charity money where his mouth is... but I still like Central Market better (Texans will know what I'm talking about).


13 posted on 06/13/2006 12:30:18 PM PDT by austinTparty
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To: headsonpikes
Then I realized that the central idea of a free society is not misunderstood at all - in fact, it is not desired by a population conditioned by government institutions.

So true, so true... John Mackey may be right that aggressive marketing might change this by changing peoples beliefs and perceptions, but I see it as a lost cause... the vast majority of people don't care about freedom, they only want security-- physical, economic, social... Sad thing is you can see this right here on FR every day.

14 posted on 06/13/2006 12:31:34 PM PDT by LambSlave (If you have to ask permission it's not a right...)
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To: headsonpikes
Then I realized that the central idea of a free society is not misunderstood at all - in fact, it is not desired by a population conditioned by government institutions.

That's true, but the key is to get the top 5% who stand to benefit most to always remember it. Libertarians don't have to win elections as long as they can influence the best and brightest. Most of the public, on the left and right, is always going to vote for the demagogue who promises to give them free stuff and punish people they don't like. But if the politician who emplyes such tactics also needs campaign contributions from the clear-minded libertarian business man, the ideas will still triumph.

15 posted on 06/13/2006 12:32:26 PM PDT by Mr. Jeeves ("When the government is invasive, the people are wanting." -- Tao Te Ching)
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To: Marxbites
There are no peoples! There are no Russians. There are no Arabs!

There are no third worlds! There is no West! There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multi-variate, multi-national dominion of dollars!!

petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars!, Reichmarks, rubles, rin, pounds and shekels!!

It is the international system of currency that determines the totality of life on this planet! !

That is the natural order of things today! That is the atomic, subatomic and galactic structure of things today! And you have meddled with the primal forces of nature, and you will atone!
!

Am I getting through to you, Mr. Beale? (pause) You get up on your little twenty- one inch screen, and howl about America and democracy. There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM and ITT and A T and T and Dupont, Dow, Union Carbide and Exxon. !

Those are the nations of the world today. "Network" 1975
16 posted on 06/13/2006 12:33:36 PM PDT by Mikey_1962 (If you build it, they won't come...)
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To: LibertyGrrrl
"The freedom movement remains a small, relatively unimportant movement in the United States today," he writes. "As a businessman who knows something about marketing and branding, I can tell you the freedom movement is branding itself very poorly."
Ping-a-ling.

Our sentiments exactly, and a huge potential customer.

;^)

17 posted on 06/13/2006 12:38:05 PM PDT by AnnaZ (Victory at all costs-in spite of all terror-however long and hard the road may be-for survival)
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To: Marxbites
"Politically, I drifted to the Left and embraced the ideology that business and corporations were essentially 'evil' because they sought profits. I believed that government was 'good' (if the 'right' people had control of it) because it altruistically worked for the public interest."

Very succinct explanation of the socialist mind set. I wonder if he ever read Ayn Rand's 'Atlas Shrugged'?

18 posted on 06/13/2006 12:39:56 PM PDT by Donald Rumsfeld Fan ("fake but accurate": NY Times)
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To: headsonpikes

Brainwashed it is.

Our self interested educrats should be horsewhipped or hung for treason for 100 years of their lies.

A recent poll indicates the average adult can't name all three branches of his own Govt - just they way Govt likes it, as Donald Luskin propounds and exsposes in his excellent blog http://www.poorandstupid.com/chronicle.asp

And here are some great links - the ones educrats would destroy if they only could. These will bring anyone up to speed re: the progressive's hijacking of our constitution for elite benefit at taxpayer expense.

Taking money back (completely logical and constitutional)
http://www.mises.org/rothbard/moneyback.asp

How Progressives Rewrote the Constitution (video)
http://www.cato.org/realaudio/cbf-02-15-06.ram

The Issue of Tariffs: How U.S. Revenue Collection Was Turned Inside-Out (video)
http://mises.org:88/Sophocleus

Size Matters: How Big Government Puts the Squeeze on America's Families, Finances, and Freedom And Limits the Pursuit of Happiness (video)
http://www.cato.org/realaudio/cbf-02-02-06.ram

Big Business and the Rise of American Statism (exc essay)
http://praxeology.net/RC-BRS.htm

The Founding of The Federal Reserve (video)
http://mises.org:88/Rothbard-Fed

The Great Depression, World War II, and American Prosperity, Part I (video)
http://www.mises.org/multimedia/video/Woods/Woods5.wmv

Secrets of the Federal Reserve (the web of power is phenominal)
http://www.barefootsworld.net/fs_m_ch_01.html

Jackson's 2nd Bank US VETO (very important - what he correctly and constitutionally opposed is just what we ended up with in 1913)
http://alpha.furman.edu/~benson/docs/ajveto.htm

"The Separation of Commercial and Investment Banking: The Morgans vs. the Rockefellers" (the true thieves of the taxpayers and obsconders of the const)
http://www.mises.org/journals/qjae/pdf/qjae1_1_1.pdf


19 posted on 06/13/2006 12:50:35 PM PDT by Marxbites (Freedom is the negation of Govt to the maximum extent possible. Today, Govt is the economy's virus.)
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To: dfwgator
I thought he was a Hall of Fame TE with the Baltimore Colts.

Now he's selling groceries. ;^)


20 posted on 06/13/2006 12:51:17 PM PDT by Donald Rumsfeld Fan ("fake but accurate": NY Times)
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To: Mikey_1962

See my links above for who and how this all came about!

Envious Progressives copied it directly from the euro-facist/socialists they publicly admired for the good jobs ruling their countries they were doing, like the Kaiser, Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini, the last three publicly expressing their respect for FDR & Churchill.

Stalin remarked upon FDR's death: "there goes my man in Washington".


21 posted on 06/13/2006 12:59:33 PM PDT by Marxbites (Freedom is the negation of Govt to the maximum extent possible. Today, Govt is the economy's virus.)
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To: dfwgator

My first thought too.


22 posted on 06/13/2006 12:59:52 PM PDT by cdga5for4
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To: Donald Rumsfeld Fan

See the links I just posted - you'll like em.


23 posted on 06/13/2006 1:02:53 PM PDT by Marxbites (Freedom is the negation of Govt to the maximum extent possible. Today, Govt is the economy's virus.)
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To: Mr. Jeeves; LambSlave

I would like to think that thoughtful men, whether in business or not, would lead their communities away from socialist beliefs, but I'm afraid that every nation must work through its own socialist delusions before abandoning them when their society lies in ruins.

We humans do not learn from anyone's history but our own.


24 posted on 06/13/2006 1:06:44 PM PDT by headsonpikes (Genocide is the highest sacrament of socialism.)
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To: Marxbites
The freedom movement, libertarians, and free market economists, he writes, have done a poor job of defending the social legitimacy of business, economic freedom, capitalism, individualism and free markets.

Libertarians ruin their message by the soical crap they try to force down people's throats.

25 posted on 06/13/2006 1:28:11 PM PDT by Mike Darancette (Make them go home!!)
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To: dfwgator
Whole Foods CEO John Mackey


26 posted on 06/13/2006 1:55:30 PM PDT by oblomov (Join the FR Folding@Home Team (#36120) keyword: folding@home)
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To: austinTparty

Central Market is what HEB would be if it were in a gentrified neighborhood. (The same company owns both.)

Truth be told, I've been surprised at the wonderful variety of wine that's available, both at Central Market and at the larger HEBs around town.

And the cheese selection at Central Market cannot be beat, unless you want to schlep downtown to Spec's, Houston's cheese mecca!


27 posted on 06/13/2006 1:59:12 PM PDT by Xenalyte (The trouble with ignorance is that it picks up confidence as it goes along.)
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Comment #28 Removed by Moderator

To: fatnotlazy

I'd love to know where the original 45k came from.


29 posted on 06/13/2006 3:11:41 PM PDT by definitelynotaliberal
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To: Marxbites

bump for later read


30 posted on 06/13/2006 3:17:28 PM PDT by Chuckster (Neca eos omnes. Deus suos agnoset)
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To: Donald Rumsfeld Fan
Very succinct explanation of the socialist mind set. I wonder if he ever read Ayn Rand's 'Atlas Shrugged'?

Here's the link to the Liberty article. It seems he did read AS, along with a ton of other free-market books:

I stumbled into reading Milton Friedman, Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, Ayn Rand — I read all of them. I said to myself, "Wow, this all makes sense. This is how the world really works. This is incredible." Then I became Laissez Faire Books' best customer for the next five years. I think I read every book in their catalog. If any of you in the audience have written books, I have probably read them.

...

How many of you have read Ayn Rand? How many of you have been influenced by her? "Atlas Shrugged" remains one of the five greatest novels I have ever read. Who can ever forget characters like Dagny Taggart, Hank Rearden, Francisco d'Anconia, from "Atlas Shrugged," as well as Howard Roark in "The Fountainhead"? These characters all demonstrated tremendous passions and drive, backed by high self-esteem. Each one inspired this young entrepreneur. I wanted to be just like those heroic characters in "Atlas Shrugged."

However, despite her literary greatness and many positive contributions to the freedom movement, I believe that Rand has also harmed the movement. How? She was overly...

...you'll have to read the article to find out. :-) I haven't read most of it yet - I printed it out for me & hubby to peruse tonight. It seems he's one of those aging-hippie libertarians many of us former LP'ers knew & loved. (Granted, he's an aging hippie libertarian who's the CEO of a $5 billion company, LOL!)

Anyway, this paragraph is truly inspiring:

What I love most about the freedom movement are the ideas of voluntary cooperation and spontaneous order when channeled through free markets, leading to the continuous evolution and progress of humanity. I believe that individual freedom in free markets, when combined with property rights through rule of law and ethical democratic government, results in societies that maximize prosperity and establish conditions that promote human happiness and well-being.

31 posted on 06/13/2006 3:57:59 PM PDT by jennyp (WHAT I'M READING NOW: "Code" by Petzold)
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To: jennyp
Oops, proper HTML formatting, Jenny. <wraps own knuckes>

Here's the link to the Liberty article.

32 posted on 06/13/2006 4:00:42 PM PDT by jennyp (WHAT I'M READING NOW: "Code" by Petzold)
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To: jennyp
stumbled into reading Milton Friedman, Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, Ayn Rand — I read all of them. I said to myself, "Wow, this all makes sense. This is how the world really works. This is incredible."

. I read all those authors in my youth (good stuff). But the person that had the biggest impact on my thinking was Barry Goldwater (senator Arizona).


33 posted on 06/13/2006 5:50:06 PM PDT by Donald Rumsfeld Fan ("fake but accurate": NY Times)
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To: Marxbites

Interesting article. I knew nothing about the man, but I sure love his Whole Foods stores.


34 posted on 06/13/2006 5:53:38 PM PDT by ladyinred (In the case of Ann Coulter, the left can't handle the truth!)
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To: Donald Rumsfeld Fan

*blowing him a kiss*


35 posted on 06/13/2006 7:12:50 PM PDT by Rte66
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To: AnnaZ

i'm SO on this! I just spent a year's salary there a few days ago....


36 posted on 06/14/2006 12:21:17 AM PDT by LibertyGrrrl (http://www.conservativepunk.com)
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To: Marxbites

Mises BUMP!


37 posted on 06/14/2006 12:25:03 AM PDT by Lancey Howard
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To: Marxbites

Bump


38 posted on 06/14/2006 12:28:33 AM PDT by BunnySlippers (We want our day: A day without hearing SPANISH ...)
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To: Mike Darancette

Which crap would that be that is not aligned with the founder's constitution of liberty, and as limited a govt as possible consistent with the protection of our pre-existing rights we empowered govt to protect as it's sole purpose and only reason for being?


39 posted on 06/14/2006 8:45:02 AM PDT by Marxbites (Freedom is the negation of Govt to the maximum extent possible. Today, Govt is the economy's virus.)
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To: Donald Rumsfeld Fan

And what did Goldwater say about establishment govt and the influence the CFR has within it?

Col House it's founder was a socialist, who wrote a very telling little novel "Philip Dru, Administrator".


40 posted on 06/14/2006 8:52:06 AM PDT by Marxbites (Freedom is the negation of Govt to the maximum extent possible. Today, Govt is the economy's virus.)
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To: Marxbites

ping


41 posted on 06/14/2006 8:59:26 AM PDT by steveyp
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