Whole Foods CEO on Capitalism

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, who in 2009 credited Ludwig von Mises as perhaps the most influential economist in his thinking, is profiled in the Orange County Register:

“If,” he said, “you ask what the purpose of a doctor is, no one answers that question by saying, ‘Well, the purpose of doctors is to maximize profits,’” No, he continued, “obviously, the purpose of doctors is to heal people.”

Indeed, Mackey studied philosophy and religion. He started reading the writings of “free-market thinkers and economists,” including Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, Milton Friedman, Murray Rothbard and Adam Smith. And he developed a “new world view,” which he considers libertarian.


  1. The thing that the “doctors” above are missing is the unstated qualification of “… to heal people at a cost that allows the doctor to recover his direct expenses and overhead plus a reasonable profit.”

    I’ve seen a lot of silly “mission statements” posted on walls of restaurants that also leave out the “make a profit piece”. And I sincerely doubt that an ambitious man or woman NEVER buys a MacDonald’s franchise with the expectation that they’ll go bankrupt whilst preparing cheap hamburgers for hungry customers.

    Doctors who don’t recover expenses and make profits in every case are doing charity work and will soon go out of business. And after they go out of business, they aren’t going to heal anyone again. So the way to maximize the healing by the doctors is to find ways to keep the doctors happy and comfortable over the long term.

    Unless of course Mackey assumes all of the doctors are independently wealthy as a pre-condition. Otherwise, a system that orders doctors to work under conditions they dislike and receive inadequate food, shelter, and clothing in return is classic Communism.

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