Outgoing Whole Foods CEO blasts ‘woke’ workers and says he’s worried ‘socialists are taking over’

Outgoing Whole Foods CEO blasts ‘woke’ workers and says he’s worried ‘socialists are taking over’

Outgoing Whole Foods CEO John Mackey blasts young ‘woke’ workers and says he’s worried ‘socialists are taking everything over’ from education to the military, threatening the ‘liberties I’ve taken for granted most of my life’

  • John Mackey, 68, said there had been a shift towards woke principles in Democratic cities, like NYC, where young people ‘don’t seem to want to work’
  • He accused youngsters of only wanting to work in jobs they are passionate about
  • Mackey also said he was concerned that ‘socialists are taking over everything’

The outgoing CEO of Whole Foods John Mackey has blasted young ‘woke‘ workers and says he is worried ‘socialists are taking everything over’ including education, corporations and the military. 

Mackey, who co-founded Whole Foods 42 years ago, said there had been a shift towards woke principles in major Democratic cities, like New York City, where young people ‘don’t seem to want to work’.

He accused youngsters of only wanting to work in jobs they are passionate about, arguing that they ‘can’t hope to start with meaningful work’.

Mackey also said socialists are now threatening the ‘liberties I’ve taken for granted most of my life’.

‘My concern is that I feel like socialists are taking over,’ the 68-year-old told Reason magazine

Mackey, who is retiring from Whole Foods next month, said: ‘They’re marching through the institutions. They’re taking over education. It looks like they’ve taken over a lot of the corporations… and the military. 

‘And it’s just continuing. You know, I’m a capitalist at heart, and I believe in liberty and capitalism. Those are my twin values.’

The outgoing CEO of Whole Foods John Mackey has blasted young ‘woke’ workers and says he is worried ‘socialists are taking everything over’ including education, corporations and the military

Mackey, who co-founded Whole Foods 42 years ago, said there had been a shift towards woke principles in major Democratic cities, like New York City, where young people 'don't seem to want to work'. Pictured: Mackey (right) in Houston for a store opening in 1984

Mackey, who co-founded Whole Foods 42 years ago, said there had been a shift towards woke principles in major Democratic cities, like New York City, where young people ‘don’t seem to want to work’. Pictured: Mackey (right) in Houston for a store opening in 1984

Mackey, a Houston, Texas-born businessman, is co-founder of Whole Foods with his now ex-girlfriend and two other health food entrepreneurs. The first store opened its doors in Austin, Texas, in September 1980. Pictured: The first Whole Foods Market

Mackey, a Houston, Texas-born businessman, is co-founder of Whole Foods with his now ex-girlfriend and two other health food entrepreneurs. The first store opened its doors in Austin, Texas, in September 1980. Pictured: The first Whole Foods Market 

How college drop-out John Mackey started Whole Foods and is now worth $75million

John Mackey, the outgoing CEO of Whole Foods, co-founded a natural foods store called SaferWay in 1978 with his then girlfriend Renee-Hardy Lawson. 

Two years later, they partnered with Craig Weller and Mark Skiles, who founded Clarksville Natural Grocery, to create Whole Foods.  

The first Whole Foods store opened its doors in Austin, Texas, in September 1980.

Mackey was a college drop-out at the time, but he had a passion for natural food and raised $45,000 from family and friends to create Whole Foods.

In 1991, Mackey married his wife Deborah Moran, a yoga instructor, and the couple have no children.

 He told CNBC that one of his regrets was never having children, but made the decision not to because Moran did not want them. 

‘If I could do it all over again, would I make a different choice? And the answer is no, because I married the most amazing woman,’ Mackey said in 2020.

He added: ‘And she has helped me so much. She’s made me happy. It’s been such a great partnership, 30 years together. And so, if I could go back into the past, I wouldn’t change that.

‘I would not go back and replace my wife with a woman who wanted to have kids, because I have really scored well on that one.’

 

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He added: ‘And I feel like, you know, with the way freedom of speech is today, the movement on gun control, a lot of the liberties that I’ve taken for granted most of my life, I think, are under threat.’

Mackey, who is estimated to be worth around $75million, has been a vocal critic of socialism. 

In 2020, he claimed capitalism is the ‘greatest thing humanity has ever done’ and cannot be replaced by socialism, which he described as ‘trickle-up poverty’. 

The libertarian grocery store boss, whose business is said to ‘lead with love’, said yesterday that unemployment benefits offered during the Covid pandemic put a strain on Whole Foods’ ability to hire staff. 

‘A lot of people were making as much money, if not more money, not working at all. And so guess what? They chose not to come back to work. They got used to it,’ Mackey said. 

But he said the biggest issue with hiring has been because ‘the younger generation… doesn’t seem to want to work’. 

‘They only want to work if it’s really purposeful, and [something] they feel aligned to,’ he said of the shift towards woke principles. 

Mackey continued: ‘You can’t hope to start with meaningful work. You’re going to have to earn it over time.

‘Some of the younger generation doesn’t seem to be willing to pay that price, and I don’t know why.’ 

Mackey claimed that he had been ‘intimidated enough’ by his role as CEO of Whole Foods that he ‘shut up’ about major issues. 

‘Pretty soon, you’re gonna hear about ‘Crazy John’ who’s no longer muzzled,’ Mackey said, referring to his retirement as CEO of Whole Foods at the end of this month. 

‘I’ve got six weeks. I can talk more about politics in six weeks then I can today,’ Mackey said.

Mackey, a Houston, Texas-born businessman, co-founded a natural foods store called SaferWay in 1978 with his then girlfriend Renee-Hardy Lawson. 

Two years later, they partnered with Craig Weller and Mark Skiles, who founded Clarksville Natural Grocery, to create Whole Foods.  

The first Whole Foods store opened its doors in Austin, Texas, in September 1980.

Together, they grew Whole Foods into an empire spanning 500 locations in North America and employing more than 90,000 people.

In 1991, Mackey married his wife Deborah Moran, a yoga instructor, and the couple have no children.

In 2017, Whole Foods was bought by Amazon in a deal valued at more than $13billion.

In 1991, Mackey married his wife Deborah Moran, a yoga instructor, and the couple have no children. Pictured: The couple in Los Angeles in 2018

In 1991, Mackey married his wife Deborah Moran, a yoga instructor, and the couple have no children. Pictured: The couple in Los Angeles in 2018

Mackey, a Houston, Texas-born businessman, co-founded a natural foods store called SaferWay in 1978 with his then girlfriend Renee-Hardy Lawson. Two years later, they partnered with Craig Weller and Mark Skiles, who founded Clarksville Natural Grocery, to create Whole Foods. Pictured: Weller, Lawson Hardy and Mackey soon after merging their companies

Mackey, a Houston, Texas-born businessman, co-founded a natural foods store called SaferWay in 1978 with his then girlfriend Renee-Hardy Lawson. Two years later, they partnered with Craig Weller and Mark Skiles, who founded Clarksville Natural Grocery, to create Whole Foods. Pictured: Weller, Lawson Hardy and Mackey soon after merging their companies

Pictured: James Parker in bulk department in Austin's former Crossroads store

Pictured: James Parker in bulk department in Austin’s former Crossroads store

Mackey has been highly critical of socialism and wokeness in the past. 

In 2020, he said capitalism is the ‘greatest thing humanity has ever done’ while claiming socialism ‘impoverishes everything’.

‘Socialism has been tried 42 times in the last 100 years, and 42 failures,’ he said. ‘It doesn’t work. It’s the wrong way. We have to keep capitalism. I would argue we need conscious capitalism.’

During the interview, Mackey argued that, while it is important to acknowledge ‘progressive insights’, capitalism should not be removed. 

The Whole Foods co-founder, and co-author of ‘Conscious Capitalism’, went on to blame private universities and progressives for portraying business as ‘inherently corrupt’.

‘We’ve told a bad narrative, and we’ve let the enemies of business and the enemies of capitalism put out a narrative about us that’s wrong. 

‘It’s inaccurate and doing tremendous damage to the minds of young people,’ he said. Until we get this corrected, capitalism is always going to be disdained and criticized and attacked. 

‘It’ll be attacked for its motivations, because its motivations are seen as somehow impure. Yes, of course, business has to make money.

‘If a business doesn’t make money, it will fail, but that doesn’t mean that its purpose is to make money.’

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Instead he suggests business culture needs to evolve, to avoid the socialists ‘taking over’, which he describes the ‘path to poverty’.

‘They talk about trickle-down wealth, but socialism is trickle-up poverty. It just impoverishes everything. That’s my fear, that the Marxists and socialists, the academic community is generally hostile to business. It always has been. This is not new.’

The supporter of a free market economy suggests professors are more upset than the students and proposed there should be more ‘business people’ teaching. 

Mackey, who created Whole Foods in 1980 which now employs around 100,000 people, said he had been heckled during speeches at colleges and even had some talks cancelled.  

The organic supermarket chain has opened stores in several inner cities and poorer areas and promotes ‘leading with love’. 

In addition, Mackey explained the two key components he believes hold organisations together – purpose and love. 

He credits the company’s dedication to its employees as a reason for the company’s low employee turnover. 

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It comes after earlier in 2020, at the peak of the pandemic, employees at Whole Foods and at warehouses operated by its owner, online retailer Amazon, staged protests over concerns for workers on the frontlines providing products to Americans forced to stay-at-home because of the outbreak.

Walkouts had been staged in protest of both brands. 

Amazon sent a shock through the stodgy US supermarket business in 2017, when it bought Whole Foods for $13.7 billion and some experts predicted that it would hasten the move to online grocery shopping and doom traditional operators like Walmart Inc and Kroger. 

The latest interview also follows on from one in 2020 when Mackey, a vegan, said the  US is experiencing more COVID-19-related deaths because Americans are fatter and unhealthier than the rest of the world.  

The well known advocate for the organic food industry said it is likely the country has been hit worse by the pandemic because more people are suffering from diabetes and heart disease brought on by poor diets. 

Mackey is an outspoken Libertarian with a proven knack for capitalizing on nascent food trends. He adheres to a strict diet, but has come under fire from food purists for selling meat and ‘natural’ versions of junk food such as chips and sugary drinks.

He also has courted controversy. For years before the company’s purchase of Wild Oats, Mackey used the alias ‘Rahodeb,’ an anagram of his wife’s name, to post comments on Web forums praising Whole Foods and criticizing Wild Oats.

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Rachael Bunyan

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