Meet the 'Right-Wing Hippie' Who Runs Whole Foods
No meat for John Mackey; no unions, either
By Harry Kimball, Newser Staff
Posted Dec 28, 2009 4:00 PM CST
Protesters outside a Whole Foods store in West Hollywood.   (AP Photo)

(Newser) – John Mackey is a libertarian, an adherent of Ayn Rand, a skeptic about climate change, a vegan, and the CEO of Whole Foods. The company does $8 billion in annual sales, but Mackey flies commercial and drives a Civic hybrid. Nick Paumgarten investigates this walking contradiction, described by a business associate as "the guy who, at these sort of inflection points that every business faces, seems to show up with ideas that are original and thoughtful and attuned to the moment."

Mackey’s op-ed tirade against socialized medicine and for personal responsibility captured attention, Paumgarten writes in the New Yorker. Sure, his company provides good benefits and a consistently well-rated work environment, but “it sometimes sounds as if he believed that, if every company had him at the helm, there would be no need for unions or health-care reform, and that therefore every company should have someone like him, and that therefore there should be no unions or health-care reform,” Paumgarten writes. “The logic is as sound as the presumption is preposterous.”

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