"Ethical vegan" John Mackey dishes on Obamacare, labor unions, and government meddling.

—By Josh Harkinson
| Fri Jan. 18, 2013 3:01 AM PST

 

In 1978, John Mackey and his girlfriend used $45,000 in seed money to start "Safer Way," a natural-foods store in Austin, Texas, that was supposed to offer shoppers an alternative to "evil" profit-seeking corporations. But soon the long-haired 25-year-old found himself lumped in with the people he was supposed to be fighting. His customers complained that his prices were too high. His workers thought they weren't being paid enough. Austin nonprofits said he should give them more money. And government regulators were slapping him with fees, fines, and taxes. He lost more than half of his investment before renaming the store Whole Foods and reconsidering his take on corporate America. "My worldview underwent a massive shift," he writes in Conscious Capitalism, a new book about his business philosophy that Mackey coauthored with Raj Sisodia, cofounder of the nonprofit Conscious Capitalism, Inc. "I had become a businessperson and a capitalist, and I had discovered that business and capitalism, while not perfect, were both fundamentally good and ethical." (A book review is forthcoming.)

Mackey responded via email to my questions, dishing on Obamacare, the relevance of labor unions, and the overheated rhetoric concerning climate change—which is, after all "perfectly natural."

 

 

 

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