The Whole Foods CEO on Universal Health Care

Universal health care seem to be the hot topic these days. There are lots of arguments flying around on both sides of the health care reform and universal health care in America, some of them more reasonable than the other.

Well, I just though I’d share an interesting article I read on Whole Foods CEO John Mackey’s editorial on the Wall Street Journal. Apparently, the CEO argues that the constitution does not make guarantees on the life and health of the individual citizens, so it’s not the business of the government to get involved in health care. He alternatively suggests that people buy and eat from Whole Foods market for preventive health care.

Now mind you, this is a blog post by a college student (with our infamous liberal leanings) with a bitter memory of childhood torn by his father’s kidney transplant surgery. So yes, I’m all for universal health care. It wasn’t‘ easy watching my mother trying to pay $4700 per month hospitalization fee during my father’s dialysis period, and it wasn’t easy selling practically everything we owned to pay for his surgery.

There’s something really odd when I hear people talking against universal health care. What’s exactly bad about it? Most other developed countries in the world have it like Sweden, Japan, and Germany, and they seem to like it. I experienced it first-hand when I lived in South Korea, and I liked it too. With the billions (if not more) the U.S. government’s already spending on health care insurance companies, it should be possible to run some form of universal health care in this country as well… And yes, you’re reading this correctly. The U.S. government already spends quite a sizable amount of money on health insurance companies. In fact, U.S. government spends the most amount of money on health care out of all the developed nations in the world, and has the least number of people covered with least life expectancy out of all the OECD nations. Something a lot of those people at the ‘town hall meetings’ seem to conveniently ignore.

But that’s not all. If it’s a simple matter of getting the data out most people out there should be proponents of universal health care system by now. If they were actually interested in providing good health care, whether private or government mandated, they should be combing through the proposed health care reform bill pointing out excesses (I’m sure there are some) in the list and pointing out improvements. But it’s not happening. The most extensive combing-through of the health care bill done by its opponents so far concentrated on the clause on hospice care counseling, labeling it as ‘death panel.’ Well from what I’m seeing the same hospice care counseling is included as a part of standard employee coverage package from many private insurance companies (in this episode of the Colbert Report, the UHC proponent Jonathan Cohn points out that employees of the Colbert Report show are all covered by contracts with the so-called ‘death panel’ clause).

The opponents of the health care reform seem to be against the ‘idea’ of any kind of change made by the Obama administration regardless the real benefits or disadvantages resulting from the change… However, do they truly believe that low confidence in certain regime and certain political characters is enough reason to reject a bill that might end up saving thousands if not millions of lives in this country? Are human lives so fickle and worthless that they can be thrown out for the sake of political rhetoric?

Then there are people like John Mackey. The kind of people who believe that government has no business ensuring the well-being of its citizens. Such arguments usually go hand-in-hand with the kind of low-brow, thinly veiled suggestion that people who cannot afford conventional health care, notably the ones in lower income bracket, are probably not worth helping. While such notion might work with running a corporation, it would be a mistake to think such attitude scales to the level of national governance. Maybe Mr. John Mackey leaves mess around his house. Maybe Mr. John Mackey like to target practice in his personal property. Such behaviors are perfectly legal in his own personal microcosm. However, if Mr. John Mackey applies that same behavior to public properties by leaving garbage around the City Hall offices and performing target practice in the crowded Times Square… The results would be disturbing.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned during the history courses through my high school years, it’s that nations come and go. Contrary to some popular belief there is no natural law that states the United States of America will exist regardless of how its members treat each other. This nation only exists because there is a united will and cycle of trust and responsibility. If a national government that collects taxes and enforces its codes of law cannot take care of the very basic well-being of its citizens, why should they be loyal to the country? Never mind the capacity. If the government does not even have the will to safeguard its citizenry why should they be loyal to that government? Why should they go out to wars and die to protect that country? It’s a very simple matter of loyalty. If the government itself insists on not providing for its citizens certain level of amenities required for the very basic act of survival (we’re not talking about luxury condos or spa vacation here, folks. Just staying alive), the said government cannot possibly expect the same citizenry to follow its rules of law, perhaps except through application of force. Sensible people usually call that oppression. Sensible people don’t kill people and rob stores because they are scared of getting hurt in the process. They don’t do it because it’s morally objectionable, and because they have faith in continuation of the society in which they are members.

I am profoundly disturbed by some people coming out of the woodwork for the universal health care debate, by their blatant lack of respect for human dignity and lack of concern for the well being of their fellow human beings… And in the case of Mr.John Mackey, the horrible financial sense in suggesting that buying overpriced groceries is a replacement for genuine health care system.


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