Global Exploiter DeVos tells his Prostitutes about “Working Hard for what you Wish to Achieve.”

Reprinted from The FUNdamentalist (July 1995)

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am sick and tired of seeing the DeVos, Van Andel, or Amway name plastered all over Grand Rapids: on its buildings, cultural events, and billboards. Certainly the appear in the local monopoly press often enough, especially to talk about their expanding business, but the recent coverage in the Grand Rapids Press was enough to evoke some personal rage and disgust.

From June 9 through the 11th, there appeared four articles on different aspects of the Amway monopoly. The lead story of June 9 promoted all the others. The Grand Rapids press felt it necessary to give front page coverage to the awful dilemma that faced Amway co-founder Rich DeVos. Should he be in Grand Rapids for the Amway convention on Friday, where ex-president and international terrorist George Bush would be speaking, or at game #2 of the NBA finals in Houston, where his team the Orlando Magic was playing? I’m sure that all of you can relate to this dilemma. It really creates stress in our lives when we have to decide between going to our annual convention with the hopes of continuing to amass wealth at the expense of others or going to a basketball game where we also will amass wealth at the expense of others. What to do! Loyal to his political chum Bush, he stayed in town.

To make matters worse, The Grand Rapids press gave DeVos another platform to promote his version of compassionate capitalism, AKA GREED! On the front page of the sports section of Friday the 10th, DeVos is said to have spoken with his basketball players in the same manner that he speaks to his Amway employees. “I always say a few words, sometimes tell a story, sometimes just say a few things about life and being responsible, and working hard for what you wish to achieve.” One of the great myths that exists in this world is that if you work hard enough you can make it big. Well Rich, what about the millions of African Americans who labored their whole lives, some with minimal pay, most as slaves, and died poor? What about the millions of European immigrants who labored in the factories in this country, fighting to gain minimal rights, only to die poor? What about the millions of Asian and Latin Americans who have labored in the fields to pick our food and died poor? What about the countless women who have raised children, taken care of all the home work, without pay, who died poor? Pulling oneself up by the bootstraps just doesn’t apply in this world. As Martin Luther King Jr. once said “pulling yourself up by the bootstrap doesn’t work if you are barefoot.” Remember, DeVos is also telling these pearls of wisdom to a group of men who get paid hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars to play games.

The children I work with, both at my job and in my neighborhood, admire one of the basketball players that DeVos owns, Shaquille O’Neil. They admire him because he is good, but they don’t understand that he is just a commodity to people like DeVos who buy and sell people all the time with their top down economic philosophy. They also have these prostitutes sell for them; the Amway distributors door to door and O’Neil, who recently signed a contract to endorse and promotes Nutrilite products, a subsidiary of Amway. The sad thing is that none of the youth in my neighborhood will be like O’Neal and most probably none of them will sell enough Amway products to make it as big exploiters. What is worse is that Rich DeVos doesn’t give a shit if these children and their families, many of whom will work hard all their lives, die poor.

A small post convention article also appeared in the Grand Rapids Press on June 11. That article ends with more wisdom from the DeVos family. “I do know I see nothing to stop the Amway growth trend. I’m convinced we will see the Amway story mentioned in history as one of the greatest business successes of all time. It is true that the global trend is to Amwayzie the planet, with fewer that “make it” because of the hard work that others do for them, but my perception of history, as well as that of many of the world’s poor, will see Amway as one of the greatest exploiters of all time.

Author: mediamouse

Grand Rapids independent media // mediamouse.org