Revolution, That’s What Happens!

24 08 2009

Back in the days when I listened to the Air America radio station, former morning talk host Mark Marron had a bit with a side character who was always fomenting revolution, but never really getting off the launch pad due to unfortunate acronyms for his organization, such as “PUDL” (pronounced “poodle”) or “LOAD” (LOAD! In your face!).

Upon further consideration of the Whole Foods Boycott campaign, I’m hearing echoes of this would-be revolutionary of yore.

I think what is most glaring about this ruckus is that a man, albeit a CEO of a popular grocery chain, exercised his right to free speech and voiced an opinion that is unpopular with a segment of the population. Yes, it is his right (in the US) to make unpopular public statements, and it is equally one’s right to take offense to the content of those statements. But beyond that, I’m not quite understanding what the end game of the boycott crowd is meant to be.

The removal of the CEO?

The cessation of operations of Whole Foods?

An official statement of support for “single payer” health insurance by Whole Foods?

I’m confused.

For what it’s worth, John Mackey’s official response is here, and as I surmised, he claims his comments were his own and not the official position of Whole Foods, which is said to be a neutral party. Fair enough, although that’s like the Pope claiming his views don’t reflect that of the Vatican.

I will pause and note that I have zero “skin in the game”. I don’t work for Whole Foods, never did, don’t plan to, and I have no known connection to John Mackey.

What bugs me about this debacle is that Whole Foods appears to be a convenient target for heathcare reform-related road rage, which arguably might be better directed to, you know, the US government, who actually votes on this stuff. Think of the converse course of action: Pledging to only shop at Whole Foods. Who benefits? Who suffers?

Further, am I to assume that John Mackey is the only person in the US who has unpopular views concerning single payer, nay, any heathcare reform? Who else might be boycotted for such views? Will marriages collapse? Friendships end bitterly? Is the imminent demise of the entire grocery sector upon us?

This, dear reader, is why I am wont to advocate against what I call negative goals. In short, for any who have heard this soapbox sermon from me before, negative goals are so named because they don’t actually point to a concrete outcome. Example: “What’s for dinner tonight?” “Not chicken!” “Where should we buy our groceries?” “Not Whole Foods!”

Following on to my prior comments concerning this boycott attempt, if one is truly interested in a future with single payer heath care for all, how does the decision to shop at Whole Foods affect this desired outcome? Is John Mackey the sole source of funding for say, the insurance industry? If his verbal support is silenced, does the resolve of the insurance industry buckle in its absence?

I’m going to answer “no.” Just a hunch.

Over the years, I have become less interested in political debate in largely partisan terms. More often than not, it’s all about scoring points, getting the votes, and then doing next to nothing to be any different than the last person. I think it is fair to allege that there is a segment of our society that appears to believe that if you’re not busy living, you’re busy protesting.

I’d like to think that we can collectively strive to achieve a positive goal, but frankly, I can’t imagine what it might be.

Not meaningful health care reform.




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