Whole Foods CEO John Mackey Takes Back Fascism Comment

Steve Inskeep interviewed Whole Foods CEO John Mackey on Wednesday and Thursday. Mackey has a new book out called Conscious Capitalism. Mackey used the word "facism" when answering a question about the health care measure.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

We are also discovering, this week, that you can build a multi-billion dollar corporation, but you might not always choose your words so well. The CEO of Whole Foods Market was on MORNING EDITION this week talking about his new book, "Conscious Capitalism."

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

John Mackey also spoke about how government decisions affect business. When we asked him about the new health care law, he said this.

JOHN MACKEY: In fascism, the government doesn't own the means of production, but they do control it. And that's what's happening with the health care program with these reforms. So I'd say the system's becoming more fascist.

GREENE: The word fascism generated a lot of attention and Mackey recanted Thursday morning in an interview on CBS.

MACKEY: Well, I think that was a bad choice of words on my part. I regret that. Yes.

MONTAGNE: He said it again later in the day during an interview on the "Brian Lehrer Show" on member station WNYC.

MACKEY: I realize that that word has so much baggage associated with it, from World War II with Germany and Italy and Spain, that that's just such a very provocative word so I regret using it.

GREENE: Our listeners also responded. Daniel Sparler(ph) of Seattle called Mackey's views on conscious capitalism thoughtful and refreshingly holistic.

MONTAGNE: Though Sparler was not pleased at his use of the word fascism. He wrote that Mackey veered off, alarmingly, into a sort of corporate jihadism by twice dropping the F-bomb.

GREENE: Lois Riggins(ph) of Rocky Mountain, North Carolina was also - was more bothered by Mackey's comments on the need for Americans to eat healthier.

MONTAGNE: She wrote "The CEO of Whole Foods sounded a bit too self righteous considering that Whole Foods stores sell sugar, fat and salt in abundance."

GREENE: OK. And we will give the last word to John Mackey himself, writing on his company's blog yesterday. While saying he regretted his choice of words, Mackey stood by his criticism of President Obama's health care law.

MONTAGNE: In his words, creativity and progress are stifled when government regulations dictate the parameters of what health care plans can be offered.

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