800px-John_Mackey,_of_Whole_Foods_in_2009Back in August, the founder and CEO of Whole Paycheck Foods pissed off quite a few of his customers with his right-wing screed on health care reform in the WSJ.

As it turns out, this op-ed wasn’t the product of a quirky, idiosyncratic independent, but rather, a fairly typical wingnut, as we learn in this week’s New Yorker.

Mackey told me that he agrees with the book’s assertion that, as he put it, “no scientific consensus exists” regarding the causes of climate change; he added, with a candor you could call bold or reckless, that it would be a pity to allow “hysteria about global warming” to cause us “to raise taxes and increase regulation, and in turn lower our standard of living and lead to an increase in poverty.” One would imagine that, on this score, many of his customers, to say nothing of most climate scientists, might disagree. He also said, “Historically, prosperity tends to correlate to warmer temperatures.”

Mackey also apparently learned nothing from the experience of his WSJ op-ed, and wades back into the health care debate.

In that op-ed piece, I was trying to make the argument that health care is really not different from anything else we provide for ourselves”—he had mentioned food and shelter—“and that capitalism is better than socialism at providing those things.”

But it is different.

First, food production is heavily subsidized and regulated by the government, and we don’t let people starve to death, which is not the case with health care.

But leaving that aside, people can make all kinds of decisions and choices based on a huge range of variables and personal preferences about the kinds of foods they eat or where they live. The choice to rent a small apartment or buy a large house is not driven by survival.

But heart transplants and brain tumor removals and life-saving cancer meds simply cannot be subjected to the same range of preferences and cost-benefit analyses, because the choice is a binary one (life or death), and most people are willing to pay an infinite amount of money to live. And that’s why over 60% of bankruptcies in the US are the result of medical bills.

Markets just don’t work with health care, as the rest of the industrialized world — but apparently not Mackey — has figured out.