BY Crystal Proxmire
It isn’t enough to spend one’s life making millions off the backs of the gullible in a giant multi-level marketing business. One must also then use their wealth and influence to fight fervently against the rights of others, protecting one’s righteous and superior way of life from those pesky LGBT people and victims of HIV and AIDS.
At least that seems to be the outlook of those in charge of the Amway fortunes. Rather than enjoying his success and wealth, Richard DeVos and his sons are using their downline-acquired gains to fund campaigns against gay marriage, as well as investing record amounts in conservative campaigns in Michigan and nationwide.
A boycott of Amway is growing as people recognize what their purchases are supporting.
Profits into Power
Amway was founded in Ada, Michigan in 1959 by Richard DeVos and Jay Van Andel. Van Andel died in 2004 of Parkinson’s Disease, leaving behind a legacy of involvement with conservative causes, his name on many buildings in Grand Rapids, and a phenomenally profitable corporation for his business partner and high school friend DeVos, and his own children. Both families still share control of the multinational private corporation.
Here is a partial list of the campaigns and causes championed by the DeVos dynasty:
– In 2004 Betsy and Dick DeVos led the effort to put the anti-marriage amendment on the ballot and contributed over $200,000 to the campaign to enshine discrimination into the Michigan constitution.
– In 2005 and 2006, Richard DeVos’s son Dick DeVos launched the most expensive campaign for Governor of Michigan, spending $41 million. Despite the funding, he lost to incumbent Jennifer Granholm.
– In 2008, Richard DeVos gave $100,000 to Florida4Marriage, which successfully campaigned to add a state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.
– In 2009 Richard DeVos’s other son, Doug DeVos, through the Douglas and Maria DeVos Foundation, donated $500,000 to the National Organization for Marriage to help in the fight against marriage equality for same-gender couples. NOM has funded and run anti-gay marriage campaigns throughout the country since California’s Proposition 8 in 2008.
– In 2012, Dick DeVos contributed $2 million dollars to help push for the controversial Right to Work legislation that was passed during the lame duck session of the legislature, and signed by Gov. Rick Snyder. The legislation strikes a directly blow to unions’ ability to fund their worker-representation functions by eliminating the requirement to join a union, yet still requiring unions to serve workers who declined to join.
In a 2009 interview with Chris Knape of the Grand Rapids Press, Richard DeVos addressed his issues with the gay community, ironically concluding with, “You live your life the way you want to live and I’ll live mine and I won’t stick my nose in yours, but don’t keep trying to change things, that’s all.”
He explained that he had been “hung in effigy by the gay community for a long time, from when I was first on President Regan’s first AIDS Commission…I listened to 300 witnesses tell us that it was everyone else’s fault but their own. Nothing to do with their conduct. It was just the government ‘fix this disease.’ At the end of that I put into the document that, it’s the conclusion document from that commission, that actions have consequences and you are responsible for yours.”
He blamed gay animosity on the fact that he “wasn’t sympathetic for their requests for special treatment,” during the AIDS epidemic. When asked about his funding against gay marriage, DeVos said, “Don’t ask for a concession to a marriage issue which is not vital to them in my opinion. They’ve made it a vital issue because they want to.”
The Boycott is on
Because Amway’s founding families have dedicated so much of their resources to fighting equality, a California-based nonprofit called Rights Equal Rights has begun a boycott of the corporation and other DeVos-owned businesses. Since August they’ve been spreading the word about DeVos’s political involvement, encouraging people not to support Amway or any of the other DeVos-tied businesses.
Led by former Presidential candidate Fred Krager, who is a gay Republican, Rights Equal Rights has led four other boycotts. Bolthouse Farms was the first to settle, contributing $110,000 to LGBT organizations to offset its founder’s $100,000 donation to Yes on Proposition 8 in California.
They’ve also posted the names of 800 donors on the “Dishonor Roll” of their website www.rightsequalrights.com. Actress Jane Lynch and Equality Pennsylvania have joined in the boycott against Amway and the other DeVos Companies.
Amway responded to the boycott in a statement to ABC News stating, “As private citizens, the DeVos family supports causes and organizations that advocate for policies aligned to their personal beliefs… one of the highest callings of any individual is to express their own personal beliefs as a participant in the democratic process.”
The list of businesses owned by the DeVos family is extensive, but it includes Amway products like iCook, Nutrillite Health Products, and XS Energy Drinks, JW Marriott and Courtyard by Marriott in Grand Rapids, MVP Sports Clubs in Michigan and Florida, the Grand Rapids Griffins, the Orlando Magic, and Fox Automotive Group with dealerships in Grand Rapids, Cadillac, Traverse City, Negaunee, Marquette and Charlevoix.
For more information visit http://www.boycottamway.com.
Amway A Business of False Hope
Amway is one of the grandest multi-level marketing businesses in the world. Profits are not just made on the products directly sold (usually to friends and family of the independent business operator), but on recruiting other salespeople and getting a percentage of their sales. Other countries have banned this practice, which looks like a pyramid when diagramed out, with the people at the top making the most money.
The company touts wealth, independence and financial freedom, giving sample incomes of people at the very top of the “upline,” while only putting the more realistic income potentials in fine print. Their 2012 brochure, for example, says that the average gross monthly income for active IBOs in the U.S. was $202. In even smaller print it further clarifies that only 46 percent of registered IBOs are considered to be “active,” meaning that over half of the business operators aren’t even included in that average.
To become an IBO, people invest in a welcome packet and are encouraged to purchase products themselves so they can know what they are selling. The “gross” income does not even take into consideration these expenses. Those who have made it to the “Q12 Platinum Level,” where the average annual compensation is $51,437, make up just 0.25 percent of active IBOs in the U.S. In short, making a living off of Amway is statistically improbable, contrary to the images presented by the corporation’s literature.