Whole Foods CEO John Mackey is stirring people up again, alienating enough of his own customers that he’s been forced to do some backpedaling. Last week in an interview with Mother Jones, Mackey said:
We’ve been in a gradual warming trend since the ending of the “Little Ice Age” in about 1870, and climate change is perfectly natural and not necessarily bad. In general, most of humanity tends to flourish more when global temperatures are in a warming trend and I believe we will be able to successfully adapt to gradually rising temperatures. What I am opposed to is trying to stop virtually all economic progress because of the fear of climate change. I would hate to see billions of people condemned to remain in poverty because of climate-change fears.
This is the same guy who just today told the LA Times,
Business, …has “a horrible reputation.”
But instead of being “selfish and greedy and exploitative,” as it’s often portrayed, business is actually “the greatest force for good on this planet,” he said at a Westside gathering Thursday night.
“I’m an unabashed, complete free-enterprise capitalist enthusiast,” he said. “I see business as fundamentally heroic … [but] it could be so much better.”
“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.”
The comment made so many Whole Foods shoppers angry, Mackey was forced to step back his comments.
This is the same guy who, in 2007, the Denver Post said was a “half-wit,” when he was accused of stock manipulation after he was caught using a pseudonym:
Chief executive John Mackey’s admission of pseudonymous postings on a Yahoo message board reeks of possible stock manipulation and securities violations, not to mention juvenile judgment, gross arrogance, poor ethics and bad hair.
“If it was any other employee of the company, he would be fired,” said Lynn Turner, former chief accountant of the Securities and Exchange Commission. “The board should fire him.”
In more than 1,000 postings from 1999 through last August, Mackey took on Whole Foods critics, blasted the competition and talked up the organic grocer’s prospects as if he were just another bullish investor in the company.
He “voluntarily stepped down from his position as chairman of the board” after that kerfuffle.
Maybe I’m just missing something, but it seems to me that the typical Whole Foods customer demographic is exactly the type of person who is most likely to be offended by these comments. It’s time for him to go.