Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Whole Whole Foods Op-Ed

DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS at The Moderate Voice has a piece about "What John Mackey of Whole Foods actually wrote"  It seems she noticed the Wall Street Journal version looked a bit odd, and not Mackey's usual style.

When I first read the WSJ opinion piece by Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, something seemed a little odd. So, I also went to his blog and glanced at the article he had submitted to the WSJ. It seemed, just to an editor's squinty eye, that what Mackey wrote was originally about 200 words longer than the WSJ piece. Mr. Mackey is known for quoting stats, people, and studies… and often. There was a dearth of those in the WSJ article. Hmmm, I wondered, what happened?

I think it's called "editing".  Frankly, I don't see a whole lot to disagree with.  For the most part, I see quibbles. And I see the WSJ may be insufficiently fond of run-on sentences for some people's taste.

She starts off with the title:

I noted that Mackey had submitted the piece entitled Health Care Reform, and that whichsoever editor at WSJ had apparently changed the title, retitling it: The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare.

One title exact in terms of Mr. Mackey taking to heart what we have all been told, that President Obama wants our ideas about health care reform et al… and the latter title seeming not bad, but changing the meaning from 'here are my ideas,' to being open to interpretation as being 'against.'

As we all know, out-of-the-gate tone can make all the difference between go-nowhere combat, and an engendering discussion that makes some progress.

And a catchy title makes a piece more likely to be read.

Frankly, I'm not sure what's wrong with the title.  Mentioning Whole Foods is a start toward distinguishing this piece from all the other pieces on health care reform, and when the piece (both versions) starts out by declaring the current proposal "what we don't need" and saying "here's what I think we should do instead", I'd love to hear how the word "alternative" is wrong.

Estes complains the title is "open to interpretation as being 'against'". Well, so are the opening two paragraphs of the piece.

She has helpfully posted a composite showing the edits and changes between the original and the WSJ version. Less helpful... it's an image so I can't easily cut and paste for discussion. I've pulled the original from Mackey's blog and added the mark-ups myself. Strike-out means text that disappeared between the two versions, and red means text that was added.

With a projected $1.8 trillion deficit for 2009, several trillions more in deficits projected over the next decade, and with both Medicare and Social Security entitlement spending about to ratchet up several notches over the next 15 years as Baby Boomers become eligible for both, we are rapidly running out of other people’s money. These deficits are simply not sustainable and they. They are either going to result in unprecedented new taxes and inflation or they will bankrupt us.

While we clearly need health -care reform, the last thing our country needs is a massive new health -care entitlement that will create hundreds of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits and movesmove us much closer to a complete governmentalgovernment takeover of our health care system. Instead, we should be trying to achieve reforms by moving in the exact opposite direction-toward less governmentalgovernment control and more individual empowerment. Here are eight reforms that would greatly lower the cost of health care for everyone:

As you can see here, these are minor fixes of grammar and punctuation. "Health care" is hyphenated. "Governmental" replaced with "government", a redundant "exact" is removed. I could quibble over whether "moves" or "move" is correct – it depends on what "will" is taken to modify, and it's one area where English grammar could be improved by the use of grouping operators.

Most of the rest is quibbling over grammar and punctuation, but there are a couple of areas where more substantial changes were made.

Over the past two decades, breakthrough Recent scientific research by Colin Campbell, as documented in his book The China Study, and clinical medical experiences by many doctors including Dean Ornish, Caldwell Esselstyn, John McDougall, Joel Fuhrman, and Neal Barnard have shown evidence shows that a diet consisting of whole foods which that are plant-based, nutrient dense, and low-fat will help prevent and often reverse most of the degenerative diseases that are killing kill us, and becoming more and more are expensive to treat through drugs and surgery. We should be able to live healthy and largely disease free lives until we are well into our 90s and even past 100 years of age.

Again, the basic thrust is there – it's our own fault for getting sick. What went away were mentions of the researchers whose work supports this statement. Maybe they should have been left in place, rather than being deleted to save space.

But the nice thing about the blogosphere is Mackey is free to post what he originally wrote, and people are free to link to it and discuss it at length.

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