The Motley Fool on John Mackey

motley fool joker

There was some good commentary in the middle of their coverage of WFMI :

Personally, I support Mackey’s public advocacy of alternative ideas. He’s one CEO trying to be part of the solution, not the problem — and even if they’re not delicately phrased, he often makes excellent points.

If anything, General Motors’ bankruptcy shows that Mackey’s quip about unions may have been too kind. Combined with management’s own poor decisions, unions’ costly and short-sighted demands proved more like a fatal disease to the automaker than an inconvenient and socially embarrassing one. That’s why longtime labor foe Wal-Mart’s (NYSE: WMT) recent decision to team up with unions to support employer mandates practically dripped with irony. Whole Foods, Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX), and Costco (Nasdaq: COST) are all good examples of companies that have made it a point to provide employee benefits without coercion.

Here’s another thought: Shouldn’t the very people contemplating a Whole Foods boycott on these grounds applaud many of the company’s existing initiatives? Are they aware of its progressive, employee-friendly policies? And if so, does this mean they don’t care as much as they think they do?

I mean, really, how dare Whole Foods let employees vote on their benefits, when most retail workers get no benefits whatsoever? The nerve of Mackey, forgoing his base salary and capping management’s pay at 19 times that of his lowest-paid employee? What is Whole Foods thinking, donating part of its profits to local and global organizations working to make a positive difference? And giving the majority of its stock options to rank-and-file employees, rather than upper management? That’s just diabolical!

Sometimes, trying to be part of the solution seems to challenges some people’s assumptions about the way things are supposed to be. Mackey’s belief in conscious capitalism — a world where responsible, entrepreneurial capitalists try to make things better, not worse, and where we all take greater responsibility for our own decisions — might challenge some people’s long-held assumptions. But it’s a great thing to contemplate.

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