Whole Foods and the Healthcare Uprising

“The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.”

Margaret Thatcher

photo: ThomasThomas

I’ve had a little bit of time now to mull over the moral outrage directed at John Mackey (and, by association, Whole Foods), over Mackey’s recent Wall Street Journal Op Ed piece.   From what I can tell, the nexus of the piss-storm from the left has come about from the following two statements:

“…Many promoters of health-care reform believe that people have an intrinsic ethical right to health care—to equal access to doctors, medicines and hospitals. While all of us empathize with those who are sick, how can we say that all people have more of an intrinsic right to health care than they have to food or shelter?”


“…Unfortunately many of our health-care problems are self-inflicted: two-thirds of Americans are now overweight and one-third are obese. Most of the diseases that kill us and account for about 70% of all health-care spending—heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and obesity—are mostly preventable through proper diet, exercise, not smoking, minimal alcohol consumption and other healthy lifestyle choices.”

And I can’t say that I necessarily disagree with Mr. Mackey on these points, or with the whole of his Op Ed piece, for that matter. I think most of us here can pretty much full-on agree with the second statement.  How much could be saved in the health care system as a whole, if we were able to eradicate metabolic syndrome alone?  And this “syndrome”, in the vast majority of instances, is totally, totally, preventable.  Remove metabolic syndrome from the table, and I dare say that this debate would not even be happening.  The general public, however, has not yet been forced to face the fact that they are a huge (dare I say the largest?) part of the health care problem — not government, not business — but the masses who choose not to take serious interest in the maintenance of their own health.

As to Mackey’s first statement, well…I’m an odd political mix, and I hold true to no particular political party or ideology; that said, I am for what works in any given situation, regardless of the origin of that idea’s ideology.  I do, however, find myself siding mostly with the libertarian point of view on most issues.  Not always, though — health care being one example.  Putting a man on the moon, the interstate highway system, the creation of the National Parks system — these would have never come to fruition without significant government involvement.  It is my opinion that health care reform is the same kind of animal.  There is no perfect answer, of course, but I feel that a good first step starting point — a platform from which to proceed further — would be something akin to the Swiss/Dutch system.

This does not mean, however, that I believe the government to be competent (or uncorrupted) enough to handle such an undertaking.  Far from it.  Unfortunately, the health care issue comes tethered with vast amounts of money, and, with that, a phenomenal amount of greed and power mongering.  If anyone believes that at the highest levels of government and corporate America, if this discussion is centered around anything other than profit and potential profits, you’ve already ingested you’re fair share of “blue pills”.  Go now, turn on a Three’s Company rerun, and rest peacefully until your number’s up.

*Seriously, that’s my last red pill/blue pill analogy for quite some time.  I think I’ve sufficiently worn that one thin.*

My personal gut feeling about how healthcare reform will shape up is summed-up beautifully here, in a post by Hunter, at the Daily Kos.  In a nutshell, you’ll get mandatory universal coverage — coverage supplied by private insurers, and something similar to the previously-mentioned Swiss/Dutch system.  Insurers will make up for the have-to-cover, “pre-existing condition” groups and/or expensive customers with the positive of adding additional millions of paying customers to the bottom line.  Both the left and the right will, after sufficient “spinning”, claim ideological “victory”, politicians will mostly be re=elected in their districts, and the system will continue to eat itself alive because the underlying problems of corporate greed, political power-mongering, and an inattention to basic personal health (diet/fitness) remain.  The Swiss/Dutch system works, not because it is a clever mix of government and open-market interaction, but because the Swiss and Dutch are culturally of a different mindset.  No system can be created that will not ultimately implode under the weight of a diseased citizenry.  In the US, attitudes must change.  Priorities must be re-arranged.  I know I’m speaking to the choir here when I say this, but if you want true healthcare reform, you must first reform that person in the mirror.  Everything else, then, will take care of itself.

Tonight’s speech will be interesting…and telling.

In health,