Friday, August 14, 2009

Don't forget to stay healthy

Well, this is unfortunate.

The CEO of Whole Foods has written an editorial on health care reform, and although it’s not the language of a rightwing nut job, I would still call it rightwing in spirit, and more Libertarian than Republican.

He starts out with a list of recommendations. I disagree with them but rather than break them all down here, this post on Texas Kaos has tackled each one very well.

Then he lays out his philosophy and overall views on the subject. Some salient points that jabbed me:

(1) Health care, food and shelter are not “intrinsic rights,” not in America or in any other country.

Blueberry: You may be able to prove this by using a fine tooth comb on the Constitutions of various countries, but that does not justify this attitude, in my mind. Just because you are not legally “entitled” to these basic needs does not mean that they should EVER be withheld to the point of deprivation.

(2) Most of your illness is your own fault, and completely your fault if you are an adult. If people change their lifestyle habits, they should be able to live disease-free past 90 or even 100.

Blueberry: This is very similar to something one of the anti-healthcare reform people said to us at the rally last week, but phrased more politely and without the ugly tone of voice. Just don’t get sick. And the snappy retort I shoulda woulda coulda said is “Wow! If only all the sick people had just thought of that earlier - nobody would be needing all this health care! A genius plan.” Good grief.

OK, where to start… first, when you become an adult, you don’t just become a brand new creature, you are still carrying residual baggage from childhood, both mental and physical. Someone else has been responsible for your nutrition (even with “home cooking”, I was raised on lots of animal fat and sugar, how about you?) and the pollution in your air (not only from industry but the heavy clouds of cigarette smoke that people our age grew up in), water and food. People also have genetic predisposition toward diseases (heart disease, for example, took most of my dad’s very large family, so it will always be one of my risk factors), syndromes, disorders, addictions, etc. Add to this, contagious childhood diseases (that couldn’t be prevented) and injuries, both may have lingering effects. Also, things like asthma and allergies can create havoc from childhood on. To that list, add the poverty factor .

As an adult, you can make lifestyle choices such as what foods to eat, (as he says, plant-based is better and I have greatly reduced my heart attack risk that way, although it will never be zero) and you have choices on how to exercise. But what happens if you eat something “healthy” that is tainted with e-coli? Pregnancy and childbirth bring a whole range of issues with them. What happens if you are injured while exercising? Break your leg skiing? Shin splints anyone? Tennis elbow? Torn ligament? Yoga strain? Sunburn? Accidents? (exercise-FAIL!)

Jobs bring all kinds of stresses that can cause health problems: long hours, repetitive motions, exposure to chemicals and substances, deadlines, dealing with people, office politics, driving, worry about work, worry about layoffs or being fired, worry when you are not working, not having enough money for things (unless you are the CEO of Whole Foods).

As for what “healthy” food, of course there are foods that are generally not considered good for you. Many things are very controversial though. There is no universal agreement as to whether they are good or bad for you, things like wine, coffee, tofu, milk, fish, energy drinks, eggs, vitamin supplements, chocolate, sugar, fat, raw vs cooked, microwaved vs boiled, bottled water vs tap water… I have heard soooo many things pro and con about so many foods, it’s impossible to know which ones are GOOD and which are BAD, so I try to make the right choices but I don’t have the answer to that question any more than anyone else, and of course what’s good for one person may not be good for the next. He also claims that cancer is mostly preventable. {sigh} Hate to even get started on that rant… so I won’t.

I am not going to boycott Whole Foods over this. It is not simply an international corporation, it is a local business – born, grown and HQ’d in Austin, and they provide jobs too. They have a lot of admirable policies toward the things they sell (organic, free-range, etc.), and this World HQ store we have here is unbelievable! It’s a tourist attraction.

OK, I had my little rant, and then looked him up. None of his statements should be surprising, as he is a libertarian, anti-Union, and an admirer of Ayn Rand. I don’t agree with his philosophies to be sure, but he certainly is NOT as despicable as many other CEOs and business-wealthy people. This rant isn’t even about him at all, it’s about that attitude. I have libertarian friends, and I respect them, because I believe that they are like that because they thought it over and came to their opinions through reason and observation. I respect that process and use it myself, I just don’t agree with them on a lot of things, but they do love freedom and independence. Those concepts just mean something a little different to me…

…and I am wholeheartedly in favor of reforming our health care system so that everyone is covered… especially for the sake of those people who neglected to prevent cancer, or should have picked different genes... and for all the rest of us too.

Found via this post on Americablog.

Other bloggy bashes:
Texas Kaos

Cartoon snagged from here.


Freida Bee said...

Well, while I am certainly in favor of, and appreciate his work in the realm of, increasing access to healthy foods, boycotting WF is a moot point on my part, because, for the most part, just as I can't afford health insurance, I can't afford to shop there much at all. They do have those menstrual sponges you just can't get at HEB Hancock Center, but so does Wheatsville, and I'd far rather go there anyway. Talk about not putting local businesses out of business....

I already figured Mackay's world view is, "Surely, if everyone shopped at Whole Foods and bought chair massages every day on his and/or her, there would be no disease in the world."

Ptelea said...

Thanks for your post - very well balanced, I think. What bothers me most about his editorial is that it is in the same vein as so much of the angry right-wing rhetoric. His statement that all health problems could be prevented with healthy eating and lifestyle is so extreme and inaccurate that it hides the truth that many health problems could be prevented or certainly lessened by eating and living healthier lifestyles. So that whole point is lost. Why can't we simply have honest dialogue about health care?

I agree that boycotting WF is not the answer and frankly I don't shop there enough to make any difference. But I see a certain irony if the 'lefties' boycott him and have an impact when I think of that as a more 'righty' type of activity!

Freida Bee said...

(oops left out the words "lunch hour" in that place where nothing makes sense.)

Blueberry said...

If I had to be in harmonic unison with the CEO of every business I use, I would have to go live like Tarzan, and then I really wouldn't live long.

I do like that Obama is trying to stress prevention, you really can improve your health that way sometimes. It would be nice to able to go in a restaurant and order something under 1000-2000 calories. Even the vegetables are usually soaked in butter.

I like Wheatsville too, and really prefer Central Market to Whole Foods. We generally eat at WF if we are going to Waterloo for an in-store or something.

Friðvin said...

I have some mixed baggage regarding boycotts but still, I'm falling in the 70% boycott category on this one. First, I've spent thousands at Whole Foods during the past 12 years or so. Some of that ended up in the pocket of the CEO who could afford whatever health care he wants.

And what an asinine statement that if people eat right (i.e. buy stuff from HIS store), they will automatically be healthy. What a fool. He he ever heard of accidents?

I have a really hard time justifying spending my dimes there now, particularly when I'm lucky enough to have other options... HEB/Central Market and others popping up around town.

Go screw yourself, Mackey.

Blueberry said...

I noticed a couple of things looking through his wiki entry (linked in post), first - today is his birthday (which is neither here nor there) and second, he has spent a lot of time on finance message boards posing as just another investor with the handle "rahodeb" where he dissed Wild Oats and other stuff. Here's a thread where someone finally reveals him as Mackey: and he's accused of doing the same on other boards under different aliases.

Man, it burns me up when people do that - it's evil.

As for those pompous views on "just stay healthy" I wonder what it would take to change his mind? His own eventual illness? He turns 55 today. I've heard that most men eventually get prostate cancer (no matter how much frickin brocolli they eat). If he gets a disease, will he blame himself?