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2012 West Michigan Policy Forum to continue agenda of the 1% at next month’s conference

August 7, 2012

On Monday, August 6, MLive ran a short article focused on how Michigan Governor Rick Snyder will be the first standing Governor to attend one of the West Michigan Policy Forum (WMPF) conferences held in Grand Rapids.

The article tries to make something of the fact that Snyder is attending, but since the conference only started in 2008, the only other Governor who could have attended would have been Jennifer Granholm.

The article does provide the names of some of the speakers for the event, but no background of the first two conferences, the mission of the WMPF or the emphasis of this years’ conference, being held on September 12 & 13.

The mission of the WMPF is pretty straight forward considering who is involved in the organization. With names like DeVos, Seechia, J.C. Huizenga and Jandernoa, you know the emphasis will be on how to change policy that benefits the local capitalist class.

Their main goals are:

  1. Eliminate the Michigan Business Tax with corresponding spending cuts.
  2. Implement a freedom‐to‐work status for Michigan.
  3. Increase funding for providers with effective prevention practices.
  4. Streamline the permitting process within state government.
  5. Update funding mechanisms for transportation infrastructure.

I have reported on both the 2008 and 2010 conferences. At both of those conferences it was quite clear to this writer that those in attendance were part of the wealth business class of West Michigan who were committed to finding ways to maintain or improve on their wealth and influence in West Michigan.

At the 2010 conference, there was much talk about making Michigan a Right to Work state. The conference organizers even brought to town Rick Berman, a man who has a long history of attacking unions and helping the business community find was to undermine or break labor unions.

This year’s WMPF promises to continue the discussion and strategizing around how to attack unions, push for a Right to Work state and retain “talent.” Some of the local presenters are Doug DeVos, Dick DeVos, Fred Keller, Brian Harris, Birgit Klohs, Jim Dunlap and Mathew Haworth.

In addition, the conference will feature speakers from outside of West Michigan, such as Bill George, author of True North, who will talk about “leadership”; Dan Gilbert, founder and CEO of Quicken Loans; a consultant with a national corporate consulting firm McKInsey & Co.; and Terry Bowman, founder of Union Conservatives.

Bowman’s group Union Conservatives seems to be nothing more than a recently constructed effort to attack unions by claiming to create a union made up of workers who openly advocate for the capitalist system and attack most current union policies.

Bowman is a regular on Fox News where he is presented as a real union member as opposed to union bosses. In this Fox News story, Bowman criticizes a recent AFL-CIO report on the growing gap between CEOs and wage-workers.

Bowman has also created a new blog called Protecting Our Workers, which features testimony from him and 2 other union members that think most labor unions are bad for business and the free market system.

Bowman’s participation in the West Michigan Policy Forum conference will no doubt be to rally the capitalist class to defeat the November ballot initiative called Protect Our Jobs. Bowman is sourced in numerous articles in reactionary right publications such as American Spectator, which are attacking the Michigan labor union effort to solidify job security into the Michigan Constitution.

GRIID plans on attending the two-day conference next month and will provide analysis on the content of the sessions and speakers.

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