The CEO of Whole Foods said in 2009 that the Affordable Care Act was tantamount to "socialism," but now he's changing his tune: It's not socialism anymore. According to him, it's "fascism."


That's what John Mackey told National Public Radio (NPR) on Wednesday, in an interview aired on "Morning Edition," seeming not to mind that the two forms of government are largely incompatible and ill-suited for framing the U.S. health care laws.

Mackey had a different take in 2009, when he wrote in The Wall Street Journal that the Affordable Care Act is precisely the kind of "socialism" British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher warned about.

"Technically speaking, it's more like fascism," he told NPR on Wednesday. "Socialism is where the government owns the means of production. In fascism, the government doesn't own the means of production, but they do control it — and that's what's happening with our health care programs and these reforms."

On the flip-side, Mackey added that he's supportive of the Obama administration's efforts to reform American's diets, saying that most in the country "are addicted to sugar, and to fat and to salt."

What he doesn't mention is that fascism is also known as government by corporations, whereupon the poor and working classes have little to no social welfare programs and must depend upon the generosity of employers for life-saving medical care, among other basic needs. In a stroke of irony, that is precisely what Mackey was flacking in 2009 with his advocacy of high deductible health insurance policies that only cover catastrophic medical emergencies.

Of course, there is an argument to be made that the Affordable Care Act is a form of soft fascism in that it represents the government requiring citizens to buy a product offered by private industry -- a point that was not lost on the president's liberal critics. That product, however, is subsidized by the government for those who cannot afford it on their own, creating a balance that, while controversial, softens its front-end economic effects on purchasers.

Because it's a hybrid policy that mandates a purchase while helping citizens afford the product, the terms fascism and socialism are quite simply ill-suited to describing the Affordable Care Act, no matter how much the law's critics try to mislabel it.

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