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Debate between economist Milton Friedman, John Mackey (

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 24, 2005

Debate between economist Milton Friedman, John Mackey (CEO of Whole Foods) and T.J. Rodgers (CEO of Cypress Semiconductor). The discussion centers around Friedman’s assertion that “the social responsibility of business is to increase its profits”. (via mr)

Reader comments

I'm in a cynical mood today.Oct 24, 2005 at 6:16PM

I love debates centered on oversimplified platitudes under the presumption that it’s a black or white answer.

NathanOct 25, 2005 at 12:07AM

Wow. Mr Mackey’s remarks are extraordinary, all the more so considering that he doesn’t make them in an abstract, conceptual vacuum, but as an articulation of why his business has been so successful in an extremely competitive market. He is courteous and fair in his responses to the others’ critiques - note he scarcely rises to the level of Mr Rodgers’s belligerence, but instead brings the conversation back to his core points. Kudos.

I’ve a degree in nutrition and dietetics and have worked as a chef at Whole Foods here in North Carolina since April and can attest to the influence of his ideas on the corporate culture. I love my job and it’s a terrific place to work - did you know that WF considers 30 hours per week full-time? Full benefits for a four-day work week because the “entrepreneurs” Mackey mentions in the article know that people have lives outside of their jobs.

He was a keynote speaker at a recent animal rights conference in Durham and I met him when he stopped to tour our store. A thought occurred to me and I asked my team leader, “So does he even need to pay for anything in the store?” She replied that not only does he have to pay, he only gets the same employee discount we all do.

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.

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