The customer is not always right

Earlier this week, John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods, wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal in opposition to Obamacare. Mackey began his piece with this quote from Margaret Thatcher: “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.”
Mackey went on to advocate health care reforms that involve less government involvement and more individual empowerment, listing eight such reforms. He then put in a plug for “a diet consisting of foods that are plant-based, nutrient dense and low-fat,” like the foods his stores sell. Mackey concluded by insisting that Americans should retain “the freedom to choose doctors and the health-care services that best suit our own unique set of lifestyle choices.”
The backlash from Whole Foods left-liberal customers was immediate. According to ABC News, many health food fanactics vowed that they will never again patronize Whole Foods. One put it this way: “You should know who butters your hearth-baked bread, John; last time I checked it wasn’t the insurance industry conservatives who made you a millionaire a hundred times over.”
However, ABC says that other customers have rallied to Mackey’s defense, vowing to increase their purchases. It is also possible that, if a lefty boycott takes off, some conservatives who do not currently shop at Whole Foods will start doing so. After all, there seems to be more intensity on our side when it comes to this issue. (Whether that’s true among the sub-set of the population willing to pay extra money for healthier food, I do not know).
I doubt, in any case, that Mackey is concerned. As the charming left-winger quoted above reminds us, Mackey is “a millionaire a hundred times over.” In 2007, he reduced his annual salary to $1, explaining that he was no longer interested in working for money. In short, Mackey has earned the right not to be constrained by the political views of his most left-wing customers.