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Outgoing Whole Foods CEO says young people ‘don’t seem like they want to work’ and thinks ‘socialists are taking over’

John Mackey is bowing out in the battle between CEOs and a new generation entering the workforce, but as he told "Reason," he’s not leaving silently.

John Mackey
Outgoing Whole Foods CEO John Mackey has some thoughts about today's youth. Getty Images

If you ask Whole Foods’ outgoing CEO about socialism and young workers, he says there’s a revolution happening, and it’s not with pitchforks but with words. 

Whole Foods cofounder John Mackey has a history of complex views that he’s shared over time. What Mackey likes: a vegan diet and free-market and libertarian ideals. What he doesn’t like as much: processed and frozen foodsunions, and being silenced. 

An Ayn Rand lover who once cut his own salary to $1, Mackey’s dichotomy earned him the title of a “right-wing hippie” in a 2010 New Yorker profile. As a longtime fan of capitalism, he continued his crusade against socialism in the latest podcast from Reason, the long-running libertarian magazine.

“Socialists are taking over,” he said on the podcast. “They’re marching through the institutions. They’re taking everything over. They’re taking over education. It looks like they’ve taken over a lot of corporations. It looks like they’ve taken over the military, and it’s just continuing.” 

Mackey stated last year that he’ll retire this coming September, and he told Reason that he’s “muzzled myself ever since 2009,” seeming to refer to a Wall Street Journal op-ed from that year in which he compared the Affordable Care Act to fascism. 

And it’s not just the socialists irking Mackey; it’s also the kids these days. “They don’t seem like they want to work,” Mackey told Reason about younger generations in the workplace. 

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