Civil Discourse Now

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Whole Foods and other "box" stores live off our welfare system.

   On June 13 an important decision will be made in regard to the edifice proposed to be erected on North College in Broad Ripple where now reposes the old Minton Shell station.

   First, I would like to address media coverage of the May 23 meeting the Broad Ripple Village Association held to let the public know about the plans afoot for development. I previously commented about coverage that seemed to avoid the absolutely worst comment of the evening. A lawyer for Feagre Bakers and Daniels said there was no organic food store in Broad Ripple. This was an untruth. Either the man made the comment out of ignorance, or he chose to lie. Either way, his comment was met with boos and cat-calls. There is a local mini-tabloid, The Broad Ripple Gazette, that covered---on page 9, as if this story is of little interest---the May 23 meeting. In that article the writer implied the people who made noise at that juncture were some sort of troublemakers. The writer of the item did not quote what the lawyer had said to elicit such a response. The article, as has been much of the coverage of the meeting, has been a white-wash of plans for a very ugly structure.

   Second, my main point in this blog today is how Whole Foods lives off the public, and not simply by hyping foods as "organic" that might not be "organic," unless one uses a definition different from that of the USDA. "Organic" chemistry is the chemistry of substances that contain carbon. That would be one example, perhaps, to get around the rather strict requirements for designation of a food as "organic." Instead, we should look at the ways in which Whole Foods treats its employees. There is a large turnover rate at Whole Foods. That is an indication workers of the place generally are not happy. Most recently, Whole Foods ballyhooed an employee vote on health insurance packages. The employees got to vote on benefits packages! That's democracy in the work place. Unfortunately, since Whole Foods aggressively shuts down efforts of its employees to unionize, the choices employees were given were pre-determined by management. As one employee noted, "it was management forcing us to accept a benefits cut in order to increase the already massive profits that we create for the company. This mask of democracy is central to the way Whole Foods does business, but it's a mask that workers can increasingly see through."

   Who makes up a short-fall of coverage for workers? Taxpayers do so. That is Whole Foods on welfare. If we have single-payer---i.e., socialized---medicine or health care in this country, this aspect of the discussion would be moot.

   In any event, Whole Foods also wants welfare in the form of a $5 million subsidy to locate here in Broad Ripple. The local businesses it would hurt---and that is part of the Whole Foods business model---are not the result of a free market competition. If the City subsidizes and $18 billion corporation and a local business folds as a result, that is not a "free" market competition. It is providing an unfair advantage to an already heavily-favored player.

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Comment by Paul K. Ogden on June 10, 2013 at 8:42am

Some observations.  If Whole Foods is lying or mislabling foods as organic, then that's wrong and they should be punished.  I don't buy the organic food fad, but people who do have a right to honest information.

The rules regarding union organizing are very strict. WF cannot interfere with it.  If they are, they need to be brought before the NLRB.  The laws in that area are pretty clear and the penalties I believe are pretty severe for interfering with workers trying to organize a union.

You overlook how much money people save by shopping at Wal-Mart. That's money in people's pocket, better than any welfare program a socialist like you could ever devise.


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