Friday, June 30, 2006


"Natural Food" Stores: Hip or Rip?

I don’t know about the rest of the country, but, over in Portland, Whole Foods is the place to go: cheeses, meats, everything la-de-dah and ever-so-hip. (Around here, central Oregon, Wild Oats is the equivilent. Has anyone else noticed that the rudest shoppers in the world push carts around in the very hip upscale markets? You move slowly down an aisle and you get shoved.)

It’s like the “organic” milk or “free-range vegetarian fed” chickens routine. If the label says it’s organic, it’s good. Right? ‘Tain’t necessarily so, as the old song goes.

Published on Thursday, June 29, 2006 by
Whole Foods CEO Mackey Endorses Cato Book – No More Corporate Crime Prosecutions
by Russell Mokhiber
Most people who shop at Whole Foods are liberal yuppies.

They have enough money to spend $9 on a pound of cherries.

They believe that shopping for groceries at Whole Foods instead of Safeway or Food Lion or Giant or Wal-Mart is the politically correct thing to do.

They probably believe that the President and CEO of Whole Foods is a liberal like themselves.

They of course would be wrong.

John Mackey is instead a libertarian with right-wing tendencies.

Mackey says that Milton Friedman is his hero.

He’s a devotee of Ayn Rand.

He’s opposed to national health insurance.

He’s a union buster.

And he has recently endorsed a book published by the libertarian Cato Institute whose author concludes that no corporation should ever be prosecuted for crimes – no matter the corporation, no matter the crime.

The book – Trapped: When Acting Ethically is Against the Law – is written by Georgetown University Professor John Hasnas.

“John Hasnas shows that new laws and regulations too often force CEOs to choose between acting legally and acting ethically,” Mackey says in a blurb on the back cover.

Unlike most books on white collar crime, which tend to rehash bland academic theories or cut corporate crimes of years past and paste them with dogmatic rants, Trapped is actually a compelling read with an original idea sprinkled here and there.

Hasnas’ big idea is that the whole system of prosecuting corporate crime is undermining the liberal principles built into traditional criminal law and designed to protect individuals against the power of the state.

The result is that corporations are forced to turn on their own employees to save their own corporate hide.

Hasnas is a hard line libertarian. He worked for a time as lawyer for the politically aggressive, right-wing, and privately-held Koch Industries – one of the nation’s largest oil companies.

And instead of concluding that we should fix the criminal justice system so that corporations and federal prosecutors can no longer gang up on individual employees – he concludes in his book that corporations should never be criminally prosecuted – ever.

No matter the crime.

No matter the corporation.

Hasnas wants to do away with corporate criminal liability.

If there is a crime committed by someone within the corporation, criminally prosecute the individual, he says.

But a corporation can’t commit a crime and should not be criminally prosecuted.


We wanted to know: does Whole Foods’ CEO Mackey agree – corporations should never be criminally prosecuted?

No matter the crime?

No matter the corporation?

Does the libertarian John Mackey support the big business funded Cato Institute and its right wing ideology with cash – or just with quotes?

Whole Foods spokesperson Kate Lowery did not return numerous calls and e-mails seeking comment.

Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter.

For a complete transcript of the Interview with John Hasnas, see 20 Corporate Crime Reporter 27(12), July 5, 2006, print edition only.


I blogged about Whole Foods myself, and I am no longer shopping there. Although the cherries aren't quite $9 a pound and everyone there's always been real polite (more so than SuperFresh!). I also wrote an email and submitted it to their customer service comments section online. They said they'd respond within a week. It's been almost two and nary a peep. Go figure. But I've been thinking that if they get more than one email complaint about their CEO's behavior... things might change. Who knows, but it's something to actually do, if anyones interested. Cheers!!
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