Whole Fools strikes again

Argh, I wish I had known this earlier today, when I went to Whole Foods for the first time since John Mackey wrote this bunch of hooey that says we just need to deny more benefits to enable the insurance companies to make more money….huh, we were supposed to make it better for the public? Hey, look over there, FREE MARKET! *runs from room*

Well, apparently he is still a tool. He is instituting a program at his stores that gives 10% higher discounts to workers who pass certain BMI, blood pressure, cholesterol, or smoking status targets. Don’t worry, BMIs below normal range are rewarded, just as long as you’re not a fatty boombolatty.

According to the Bloomberg article:

The offer reflects his published opinion that most health problems are “self-inflicted” and can be prevented through proper diet, exercise and similar lifestyle changes. Cost savings are achieved by “less government control and more individual empowerment,” he has said.

So, got familial hypercholestemia, idiopathic hypertension, hyperthyroidism, polycystic ovarian syndrome, hypothyroidism, a disability that precludes a lot of exercise, a genetic predisposition to a large frame, a prior eating disorder you don’t want to trigger, a current eating disorder, a medication that causes you to gain weight or retain water, or any of a multitude of other reasons why may not be able to make these cut offs?

You will be fined, slacker. That’ll learn ya.

Something tells me Mackey has got his empowerment mixed up with his control.

Hello, Trader Joe’s? Please build something in my town!


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27 responses to “Whole Fools strikes again

  1. Personally, I think Mr. Mackey’s ideas have a whole lot more merit than anything that Mr. Obama has put forward. And, if you want to call it “fines” for poor health, is that really so much different from Mr. Obama’s so-called “public option, where we ALL pay for each other’s poor health?” Or his fines for lack of insurance? I’m sorry, but Mr. Obama’s policies are too close of cousins to Communism for my taste. Here in America we have a long heritage of freedom, one that I would very much like to maintain and pass to my children. If you don’t like Mr. Mackey’s ideas, you can refrain from shopping at his stores, and you can refuse to work for him. What are objectors supposed to do after Mr. Obama inflicts his will upon us all?

    • MomTFH

      I strongly disagree. We all already pay for poor health and the uninsured with higher premiums and higher health care costs. Having health care coverage is not the same thing as not passing freedom down to our children or Communism. Ask the people in Japan, Germany, and Canada if they live in a Communist country.

      The president is allowed to guide policy in the country after winning a democratic election. The Congress is allowed to pass legislation. I think you need to look into these political ideologies you say you support, and are a fundamental part of our country’s heritage.

    • Wench

      That would be fine – if we could all have absolute, total control over our health. Given the wider environment (e.g, the presence of viruses), genetics (guess who picks your DNA? not you), and the fact that we can’t consciously control most of our bodies, having total control over our health is absolutely impossible.

      Why should I be penalized if I lost the genetic lottery and I have hypothyroidism? Why should I be fined if I was in a car accident and now have a hard time just walking, never mind exercising? Why should I be fined if the medication I take in order to better function in the world causes me to retain water or to gain weight? How is any of that my fault in any way, shape or form?

      The very idea that we should penalize people for “poor health” not only rests on the idea that health is under our control, it rests on the idea that it’s okay to penalize people for things that aren’t under their control. You know some other concepts that rest upon that assumption? Racism. Sexism. Homophobia. Just because someone is not the same as you is not an excuse for them to be treated worse than you.

  2. Oops – typo. That was supposed to be:

    … is that really so much different from Mr. Obama’s so-called “public option,” where we ALL pay for each other’s poor health? …

    Sorry about that.

  3. We all already pay for poor health and the uninsured with higher premiums and higher health care costs.

    So, because there is already injustice in the system, we should simply make it universal injustice? That hardly seems right.

    I consider nationalized medicine to be Socialistic, and simply a stepping stone on the primrose path to Communism, wherever they appear. As such, I am opposed. Our nation has strayed far from the Constitution, to the point that the majority of what the federal government does is unconstitutional. There is no Constitutional right to health care, or education, or a thousand other things now “offered” by the government.

    Further, whenever the government “gives” something – in this case, health care, it can’t help but starting with taking, because government, in and of itself, produces nothing. So why is it that my bills are so important that I should have the government take from my neighbors to pay them? If I take from my neighbor myself, I’m called a thief, and rightly so. If I vote for someone, they pass the bill through Congress, and the government does it for me it somehow becomes just? I don’t think so! It’s still theft, just with a third party governmental accomplice. I blogged about this recently, in a much more complete sort of way, if this isn’t making much sense.

    The President and Congress do, as you say, have the responsibility of passing legislation, within the bounds clearly set out by the Constitution. It is my studied belief that this health care debacle is WAY outside those bounds. Article I, Section 8 authorizes Congress to regulate interstate commerce, which is often cited as Constitutional justification for the health care bill. Problem is, this bill doesn’t stop at regulation, it wants to administer health care. And it wants to penalize anyone that won’t play. That is NOT freedom. You, from what I have gathered in the past few days since I discovered your blog, advocate for natural birth, and for a woman’s right to choose in a meaningful sort of way. How can you then turn around and support government interference in health care, when their bureaucracy and inefficiency is legend? Even Mr. Obama admits that the private sector is more effective. Yet he wants us to by into his program.

    As for my concerns about Mr. Obama’s Communistic policies, those come after my own personal comparison of his policies and the Communist Manifesto. But it’d be a post-length reply, better placed on my own blog, I think. I’d be happy to do it if you’re interested in discussing the matter further. I always find civil discussion with people who disagree to be worthwhile.

    • MomTFH

      I am not interested on a post length reply on Communism from you on my blog, but please feel welcome to post anything on your own site.

      The health care debacle is not outside the bounds of the Constitution. The bill does not administer health care, it reforms the way we pay for health care. It simply extends our current, much loved program of Medicare to more people. It has significantly less bureaucracy than private insurance programs, which will be picking up more customers, not less.

      Are you fighting to close down Medicare? Are you saying our Veteran’s Administration, which administers health care to our veterans, is Communist and violates our Constitution? The senate bill actually LIMITS bureaucracy. It is also seeking to guarantee insurance coverage for home visits from nurses for new mothers. Oooh, the Communism. It burns.

      We require flood insurance and automobile insurance in my state. Are we communists in Florida?

      You’re right, it isn’t making much sense. I think you are repeating extremist rhetoric that you don’t understand. Our government doesn’t create anything? I’ll enjoy driving on the imaginary highways to work.

      • I don’t think I need to add anything on this particular topic except – imaginary highways? Hee hee!

        On the BMI side, I want to add a what WHAT to the underweight BMI piece. It is striking how while, for example, underweight BMI does have an impact on pregnancy outcomes, it is completely ignored as an issue. “But underweight BMI is protective for some bad outcomes!” So is a high BMI, yet only one is being targeted, hmmm?

        Why should people who weigh less than the “ideal” BMI not be penalized if the ones who are over the “ideal” are penalized too? What, because some people are just “naturally really skinny”? Well gosh, we wouldn’t want to penalize someone for naturally having a certain weight! Unless they were naturally “over”weight, then we would want to penalize them, definitely.

        It bothers me that we focus on one to the exclusion of the other, not just for what it says about our society but also about how we let our societal ideals dictate health care and whether people are getting help who need it.

        • At the end of the day, the reason I consider the health care mess to be a freedoms issue is this:

          If you hate the way that Whole Foods does it, you don’t shop there. If his employees hate it, well, it’s unskilled retail work, and there’s plenty of that around. They don’t have to stick around either. Since Whole Foods vote on what benefits they want, I doubt that there are many that are that disgruntled about their benefits.

          If I hate ObamaCare, what am I supposed to do? Not pay taxes? I won’t even be able to opt out of the whole insurance scam, as my husband and I were seriously discussing, pre-ObamaCare debate. But now, if we decide to save our money, and manage it ourselves, rather than pay WAY more in premiums than we ever use in doctors’ visits, we’ll be heavily penalized. Our choices will shortly be gone. All that will be left is ObamaCare. It’s a program that I believe to be morally bankrupt – good for neither the “contributors” nor the beneficiaries in the long run as it steals from the one crowd and deprives the other of the dignity of work. While you can sever your relationship with Whole Foods, that will not be an option for those of us who oppose ObamaCare. And that is an important difference.

          • MomTFH

            Why are you confusing “freedom” with getting everything you want? I know it can get comfortable with an 8 year presidency and 8 year majority in both houses, but believe it or not, the conservatives are the minority party now.

            And, what was I supposed to do during the 8 years of Bush? Not pay taxes? What if my idea of morally bankrupt is the war in Iraq and torture of prisoners of war and no-bid contracts for Halliburton and abstinence only education and capital punishment and the suspension of habeus corpus for “enemy combatants” and wire tapping and the gag rule and rewriting of scientific reports and exposing CIA agents for political reasons and firing federal prosecutors for political reasons and firing of whistleblowers and….

            Do you need me to go on? How oblivious are you to the fact that people disagreed with Bush, too, as fervently as you disagree with Obama? By the time he left office, he had a less than 30% approval rating, and about that percent of the population thought the war in Iraq was a good idea, too. Do you have ANY idea how much of our tax dollars, not to mention the lives of our young men and women, have been spent on that mistake?

            YOU are the extremist here, not the liberals. More than 70% of the nation wants a public option. You are saying all taxes and federally funded programs are Communist and stealing from your neighbors. The majority of our elected officials support these reforms. And our democratic system. And our federal budgets and state budgets and local budgets and programs.

            I am tired of this derail. Got it. Taxes = stealing from you. So, when the firefighters come to my house, I am stealing my neighbor’s taxes. Please feel free to start your government free anarchy somewhere, but for right now, I am happy with our democracy, even if it meant eight years of what I consider to be horrors done in my name as a citizen of this country. The War in Iraq has been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. LACK of insurance has caused the same thing. I am sorry, you and healthy husband controlling all of your own money isn’t as high on my list of concerns. Especially considering where the rest of the money has been going.

            Please feel free to comment on my birth posts, but I am sick of defending the very tenets of a democratic system. Majority rules, not minority, after an election. I will erase any more posts referring to our president as a Communist or Fascist or saying we are taking away our children’s freedom because your side lost an election.

          • Wench

            If you hate the policies your democratic government is enacting, you elect representatives to that democratic government who will enact policies more to your liking. You can also contact your current representatives and tell them exactly what you think of their current job performance. That is what you’re supposed to do.

            You can also whinge on your blog about it and whine to your friends.

  4. CableGirl

    First of all @Ritsumei – Mr. Obama’s policies are too close of cousins to Communism for my taste.” You’ve got to be kidding. Please, that’s downright ridiculous. So, ridiculous in fact, that I can’t even bring myself to bother arguing with you since you’re obviously off the path of reason… or history.

    Secondly, @MTFH – While I see your outrage at the idea of fining people for their natural bodily predisposition towards portliness or possible genetic illnesses, and while I don’t agree with Mackey’s policy I do believe that for a vast majority of people in this country there is an argument to be made for the need for greater self control. Mass consumption of fast food contributes to obesity, no doubt about it. It also contributes to the disgustingly high rate of heart disease and diabetes in this country. Do I have any desire to shop at a store that discriminates so blatantly against its workers? No. Do I think people need to take their own health seriously? Yes. One can not munch on McCrappy food, forgo exercise and not expect to have higher health costs.

  5. MomTFH

    Oh, no, I posted a really long reply, and it got eaten. Damn.

    Let me sum it up, since I am at work.

    Healthy food = good
    Appropriate exercise = good
    Scrutiny of people with high BMI = not good
    Relationship of fast food to BMI = questionable

    I eat fast food twice a year, maybe. My BMI is comfortably in the obese range. I have been admonished by a two of my mentors at work, one is a PhD and one is an MD, who both have worked in different capacities for the CDC and in various public health capacities, for keeping almonds on my desk at work. I get praised if they seem to be disappearing at a slow rate. I have been told they are a bad habit. (Which is against all nutrition science right now, but that’s a whole ‘nother post)

    The administrative assistant who sits behind me is in normal BMI range. She eats pop tarts, chips, and fast food as her main diet. She doesn’t exercise. No one has stood at her desk, critiquing her food choices in front of the office, or asking her about her exercise. It happens to me several times a week. I have been asked if I have a thyroid problem, and told to go get synthroid. (By another mentor, who has a PhD in psychology.) The administrative assistant down the hall is well below normal BMI range, keeps candy on her desk, and practically chases me down the hall with it (“Here, have a caramel!”). Because of her weight, no one has ever told her the candy is unhealthy, and to stop foisting it on people. Especially people like me who think they can’t eat candy in public, or people will judge her. Not that I pound candy at home, but really, it’s true. Fat people feel ashamed to eat in public.

    There is a significant body of literature on diets, exercise, and BMI that show that what we don’t have is a simple way to tell obese people to eat a certain diet and exercise so that they will lose enough weight to be a normal BMI and keep it off. So, blaming people for obesity isn’t helpful, it actually makes us feel a lot of shame. We are already under scrutiny without making it a workplace policy. And charging people more for healthy food if they are above a certain BMI certainly won’t make them eat less fast food.

    • infamousqbert

      the easiest argument against BMI as ANY kind of reliable measure is kate harding’s BMI Illustrated project.


      • infamousqbert

        sorry, meant to link to this, too. this is the most impressive picture in the whole set, IMO.

        a triathlete who is “overweight” would be getting her discount yanked? really? she’s not healthy?
        Jessica is "overweight" -- and a triathlete.

        • MomTFH

          She’s gorgeous.

          I am an inch shorter than her, and I would never, ever want to get down below her weight, even if I had a magic wand. It would be incredibly unhealthy for my body type.

    • Paige

      And I say again, I disagree with the policy that Mackey was implementing but I still think that making people take responsibility for their own health in circumstances when making good food choices will make a difference is a good idea. I have a friend who was/is obese and was diagnosed with diabetes. He has since started eating properly and exercising and guess what? His sugar levels are back down into a normal range. Do I think a policy based on BMI is a sound idea or even morally correct? As I said above, no. Do I think that some way of making people take the issue of healthy food choices v. poor food choices seriously is a good idea? Yes. Don’t mistake my statement as an affirmation of an unfair workplace policy. However, I do think the Canadians have it right when they have special taxes on cigarettes to fund lung cancer research etc.

      • MomTFH

        I agree. As I said, healthy food = good, healthy behavioral changes = good, but not really the point of the main post.

      • Wench

        There is a difference between “doing things that are good for your body” and “weight”.

        You cannot tell what a person eats, doesn’t eat, does, doesn’t do, what other conditions they have, solely from an inspection of their weight.

        And, even if everyone were educated on “healthy foods” (which, by the way, change frequently), they’re still human, and they still get to make their own choices about what they eat. If someone makes a choice that you don’t agree with, does that mean that they don’t deserve any health care at all?

  6. nm

    OK, I do most of my shopping at a farmers’ market, and about none at Whole Foods, because of the prices there, but … isn’t WF supposedly selling healthier food? Isn’t that what the name, at least, wants us to think? Then what is the point of telling employees who are considered (rightly or wrongly) to be less healthy than the norm that they can have less of that healthy food? “Oh, you’re too fat, so you don’t get a discount here, so you’ll only be able afford to buy food at the regular grocery where everything is all processed and full of HFCS.” It seems absolutely counterintuitive to me.

  7. John Mackey is an asshat, pure and simple.

    BMI is a bunch of horseshit anyway. At my thinnest healthy weight, I’m at the edge of overweight by BMI standards, because I’m muscular and I have a large frame for a woman. (I’ve often joked about my linebacker shoulders.)

    Currently, I’m about 100 lbs heavier than that aforementioned thinnest healthy weight for my body, so yeah, I’m fat. And yeah, I haven’t always made the greatest food choices and I don’t get a lot of exercise (due to medical issues that make it hard for me to be active). I’m working on losing weight for my health (my knees and back are complaining a lot these days), and I’m making better food choices but it’s hard to eat healthful food when you have a low income, and I’m on disability. Presently, I’m living with my upper-middle-class parents, so that makes the food shopping issue a lot easier for me, but one of these days I’ll be in my own place again on my own teensy income, and I’ll have to re-learn how to shop for reasonably healthful inexpensive food.

    It’s not just too many Big Macs, John Mackey, Asshat.

  8. Peach

    @Ritsumei – I hate to break it to you, but the fact that you are already paying for other people’s healthcare is actually happening by your current health insurance provider, you know, in the free market. Your coworker gets sick, has to have surgery, what-not, you’re helping subsidize it. So, you should drop your current health insurance and start paying cash for all your medical needs if you are so very much against paying for *anything* but your own personal healthcare.

    @Paige- Who gets to decide if someone is taking control of good choices versus bad choices seriously “enough”? You? Mr. Mackey? The point is that you have ZERO knowledge of someone else’s circumstances. Period. Saying that fast food causes obesity is egregious at best. Maybe for some it does, but you have no discernible way of knowing who those people are.

    Personally, this discount thing is all bullshit. It’s a passive-agressive fat-hate gesture. He’d still be a douche, but at least an honest one if he just came out and made BMI a condition for employment.

    • MomTFH

      “I hate to break it to you, but the fact that you are already paying for other people’s healthcare is actually happening by your current health insurance provider, you know, in the free market. Your coworker gets sick, has to have surgery, what-not, you’re helping subsidize it.”

      Exactly. Repeated for truth.

      And, do you know who pays the most for it? People who don’t have insurance and pay in cash for visits and procedures. Insurance companies and Medicare and Medicaid have bargained down their reimbursements, but the cash price is still high. If you want to somehow opt out of the system, you will have to find some hospital that is doing so. Say, in Uganda?

      And (sorry, I like starting sentences with and, and I had an English teacher that told me if I was a good enough writer, it was OK), people who don’t have insurance aren’t usually healthy young couples with anarcho-libertarian views. They’re poor people. And they get sick, and then don’t go to the hospital until they are really sick. Hospital systems with public clinics or emergency rooms treat them, but usually don’t get paid for it. Do you know how they recoup the costs? Look at your bill next time.

  9. Tenya

    Uhm. If you say that your products will result in a healthier workforce, why don’t you, I don’t know, make your products more available to those who need them? By this logic, you should be supplying free “slimming” breakfasts and lunches to the high BMI workers and telling the skinnies to stick it. 😛 Not that I think this plan should be implemented, but only to illustrate how this is entirely a scheme to punish poor health instead of actually produce a healthier workforce.

    My work does a similar plan along the lines of when we start insurance enrollment every year, you can opt for cheaper insurance via getting measured/weighed/glucose + cholesterol markers done and if you are above certain ones, a nurse will call and set up a ‘fitness goal’ or some such thing with you. If you don’t meet your goal, you get backcharged for the higher insurance you already avoided paying + have to stay at the higher level for the year.
    Although the whole “a nurse will work with you for your fitness goals!” thingy is nice, but really, someone who can do that for a telephone call is well beyond planning – after that it is punishment for poor health, instead of helping to produce better health. And no, I do not define health as being defined by weight. Far as I am concerned, not only does our obsession with “correct” (ie, tinier and tinier!) body weight do a lot more damage psychologically and metabolically to people than placing the emphasis OFF weight alone and moreso on healthy habits and positive body image, it blinds us. My height and weight? Good. My stress level marker, part of my insurance’s little testing thing? Off the charts, super stressed, have you been checked for clinical depression? Did I get any follow-up? No. Since my BMI is okay. *eye roll*

  10. Pingback: I don’t want my tax dollars to support _________ « Mom’s Tinfoil Hat

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