Perhaps you’ve heard it. Or heard about it.
On NPR’s Morning Edition, Whole Foods CEO John Mackey this week called Obamacare “fascism”:
“Technically speaking, it’s more like fascism. Socialism is where the government owns the means of production. In fascism, the government doesn’t own the means of production, but they do control it — and that’s what’s happening with our health care programs and these reforms.”
I’m guessing the emails started rolling in, because the next day he backtracked—kinda, sorta—by telling CBS This Morning that it was “a bad choice of words.”
I’ll say it was a bad choice of words. And despite the pseudo-retraction, it’s a word choice that’s driving me out of Whole Foods. Which is too bad and is going to be a pain in the neck, because that’s where I’ve done the bulk of my weekly shopping for years now. Old habits die hard.
“Fascism” is a term that gets thrown around far too much these days, along with its rhetorical kin: communism, socialism, and, of course, Nazism. They’ve become devoid of meaning—signifiers for bad and scary, as well as for the Obama agenda.
The legitimately passed law of a representative democracy is a far cry from fascism. And, frankly, the moderate insurance-company-placating approach of Obmacare is a far cry from socialism or communism, either.
Calling policies you disagree with “fascist” does nothing to further or elevate discourse. Throwing around “fascism” chips away at the meaning of historical horrors and repressive regimes that Mackey rightfully—but belatedly and halfheartedly—acknowledges. It calls out the crazy troops.
I’ve been shopping at Whole Foods for years, even knowing about Mackey’s on-the-record opposition to the Affordable Care Act. Their produce made me look the other way.
No more. I’m out. I don’t want profit from my food dollars going to Mackey. With a good local food coop and an amazing farmers market in town, I’m lucky to have choices, even if they’re less convenient. Time to start using my muscle in the marketplace, John. That’s MY “conscious capitalism.”