Special to WorldTribune.com
By Cliff Kincaid
A brave soul, John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, raised the specter of fascism when he was talking about the requirements of the top-down federal Obamacare system.
The term made Carol Costello of CNN go into orbit on a recent program but Mackey got the better of the exchange because the facts were on his side and Costello came across as an ignoramus trying to make cheap political points.
Mackey later said the term “fascism” was a poor choice of words but what he said is technically correct. As he noted, “traditionally ‘socialism’ means that the means of production are run by the government and in ‘fascism’ the means of production are still owned by private individuals but they’re controlled by the government. And what’s happening is our health care plan is moving — our health care system is moving away from free enterprise capitalism towards greater governmental control.”
In the case of socialized medicine, it is a matter of the degree of control exercised by the federal government. Government direction can lead to outright ownership, which is probably where Obamacare is heading. All of these objectionable ideologies are on the left side of the political spectrum. Freedom and free enterprise are on the right side.
National Socialism, or fascism, was the ideology of Hitler’s Nazi Party, a fact that scares most “progressives” and even socialists away from the use of the term. “You realize when you say ‘fascism’ it brings up Nazi Germany and all sorts of things,” Costello said, as if she had a Ph.D in history and political science and was capable of lecturing the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
That led to this humorous exchange:
Costello: And we really want that kind of language out of the public forum at the moment, don’t we?
Mackey: Apparently you can’t use that word in America any longer, it’s taboo.
Costello: That’s right because some of your customers…
Mackey: So be careful, you just used it.
Mackey, co-author of the new book, Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business, understands the game the media are playing. The media want desperately to avoid any hint that what Obama is trying to do is totalitarian in any way. He turned the tables on Costello, in order to make the point that she wanted to close down the debate.
Reflecting the modern “liberal” mindset, Costello also said to Mackey, “Why inject yourself into the debate over Obamacare in the first place?”
Think about the implications of this question. Here is a businessman, an American citizen, who provides goods and services to the American people and is responsible as well for taking care of his own employees. The phrase “inject yourself into the debate” is offensive on its face. He has every right, even a duty and obligation, to speak out. This is a form of intimidation, directed at the business community, on behalf of those in the media who want the opposition to Obama to fade away and be quiet.
Mackey, to his credit, shot back, “Whole Foods has 73,000 team members that we provide insurance for and these changes in the law have greatly affected us. It’s raising our costs. It’s making it more difficult to provide the insurance at affordable rates to our — to our team members so I’m trying to protect them as well as I can.”
Costello countered, “I think, though, that many of your customers probably wouldn’t agree with you since, I don’t know, you kind of run a store that appeals to the more liberal in America in some ways.” She went on to say it was somehow “liberal” to sell “organic foods” and emphasize healthy food choices.
I’ve got news for CNN. There are plenty of conservative families, including my own, who shop at Whole Foods. It is not “liberal” or “conservative” to eat and stay healthy. John Mackey’s store in Annapolis, Maryland, is a favorite place for my family to shop. It is appealing for many different reasons, including that local farmers and vendors are given an opportunity to sell their products. Meats and breads are always fresh. Plus, there is an opportunity to eat on the premises.
Eventually, the CNN interview turned to Mackey’s book, and he was able to make some important points about why his company is successful in the capitalist system. This great success story, however, is now at risk. And the danger is fascism, socialism, Marxism, or whatever you want to call it.
Now that Mackey has experienced the sting of media bias, perhaps he can turn his attention to the problem of maintaining a free enterprise system in the face of assaults from an uninformed and biased national press corps.
On his blog, Mackey expressed “regret” for using the term “fascism.” The apologies should be coming from the media personalities who fail to understand and report the political reality of what is happening in the United States.
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the Accuracy In Media Center for Investigative Journalism, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.