Monday, January 28, 2013

Whole Foods CEO John Mackey Advocates Conscious Capitalism

John In his new book, the co-founder of Whole Foods Market promotes free-market thinking while criticizing Wall Street.

John Mackey, the cofounder and co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, has a flair for well-timed entries into public policy debates, as readers of his 2009 Wall Street Journal op-ed attacking Obamacare may recall.
Now Mackey is back, along with a co-author, Raj Sisodia, with a new book, Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business. It has just been issued by the Harvard Business Review Press, and it is bristling with ideas just as provocative as the ones Mackey arrayed against Obamacare a few years back.
CEOs of consumer-facing businesses tend to be either reticent or vague about political matters for fear of offending potential customers. No so Mackey, who early on in the book mentions reading free-enterprise thinkers like Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, Milton Friedman, Jude Wanniski, Henry Hazlitt, and Thomas Sowell. “I learned that free enterprise, when combined with property rights, innovation, the rule of law, and constitutionally limited democratic government, results in societies that maximize societal prosperity and establish conditions that promote human happiness and well-being—not just for the rich, but for the larger society, including the poor,” he writes.
Much of the book proceeds along these sensible lines. Mackey writes, for example, that in 2011, the taxes his company paid were “more than twice as high as the profits we were allowed to keep.” ($343 million in after-tax profits, $825 million in total taxes.). “If business taxes were lower, all the other stakeholders would have more — lower prices for consumers, higher wages and benefits for team members, and higher net profits for investors, and the amount of money we could give to support the nonprofit sector would also be proportionately greater,” he writes.