PALO ALTO, CA - Whole Foods founder and co-CEO John Mackey could easily be mistaken for one of his customers. The ruffled, somewhat diminutive 60-year-old is a vegan and animal rights activist, and one of the most influential advocates in the organic food movement.
So Whole Foods devotees might be surprised by Mackey's political positions. He's a libertarian who drives liberals crazy, a free marketeer who lives the ultimate blue state lifestyle.
Mackey recently set off an internet firestorm by calling Obamacare "fascism". And at a talk in Palo Alto, CA, the heart of Silicon Valley, he played up the virtues of private enterprise and talked down the role of government in helping people.
"Business and capitalism have been great forces of good in this world," said Mackey, author of "Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business". "Business has created the prosperity that has basically lifted humanity out of the dirt."
Mackay has long been a paradox to Whole Foods patrons, at times caricatured as arugula-eating elitists. Mackey lays out a Reason magazine-style libertarian vision of government's extremely limited role.
"Government's directing and controlling business more than it ever has in American history," he said. "The corporate tax burden in America is now the highest in the world. The level of taxation that multiplies its way through business is extraordinary."