Thursday, May 30, 2013

Jim Garrison on Whole Foods

Jim Garrison on Whole Foods:

"Over the past several weeks, I have heard John Mackey promote his book Conscious Capitalism and have come to the conclusion that it might have been more appropriately titled Unconscious Capitalism. I say this because in his various interviews, he managed to re-iterate a position he has taken previously, that Obamacare is somehow a form of 'fascism,' and that climate change is not of real concern and might actually be good in some places."

"It has been on a mission to establish a national chain of organic food 'supermarkets.' It has accomplished this goal with a policy of buying out or forcing out its competition. Its employees are treated pretty much the same as Wal-Mart -- starting them close to minimum wage, being stingy about benefits, and fighting any attempt to have the workers unionize. Worker turnover is very high. Unlike Walmart, which has ruthlessly cut prices and forced its vendors to cut profits to razor-thin margins, Whole Foods has taken the opposite strategy -- wiping out competition and then charging as much as it can."

"But we are not fooled. We know the use of 'conscious capitalism' by the founder of Whole Foods is very much like the eco-friendly ads we see by Chevron or BP. It is image management, little else."

"The basic problem for someone like John Mackey is that he has not been conscious enough to actually challenge the basic assumptions of the economic model by which he built his company. He may be selling organic food but he is a classic capitalist. He has built Whole Foods on the notion of what George Soros calls 'free market fundamentalism.' This is the classic economic doctrine that unfettered competition, regulated as little as possible by government regulation and which seeks primarily to maximize the return to the shareholders, is what real capitalism is and should remain. This approach characterizes Whole Foods along with the rest of the American corporate sector, indeed most of the entire global economy. Basically, Whole Foods represents business as usual with slightly enhanced environmental standards."

"Capitalism is exploitative by choice, not by design. Another choice is what I would call abundance capitalism. This is the choice our company is taking as one of the new benefit corporations spreading across the country. It is a choice to use as our measure the triple bottom line of planet, people, and profit as a genuine commitment to optimize returns to all our stakeholders and to our world, not just our investors. It is a choice to operate by the principle of collaborative abundance rather than free market fundamentalism. It is a choice that seeks to share the wealth, not concentrate the wealth. It is a choice not only not to exploit the environment but to enhance the environment. It is a choice to be generative, not competitive, a choice, ultimately, that it is not enough to let the market decide. What is now required, especially in a world under duress such as ours, is to turn free market fundamentalism on its head and set forth a new more abundant principle -- in deciding, the market must give primacy to the mutual generativity of the whole."

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