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Membership in Privilege: Econ Club of Grand Rapids hosting Gov. Snyder

March 14, 2016

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On Monday, March 21st, the Econ Club of Grand Rapids is hosting a luncheon featuring Michigan Governor Rick Snyder.

In the promotional statement for Snyder’s talk, the Econ Club boasts that during Snyder’s tenure as governor of Michigan the state is experiencing economic growth and stability. The statement concludes by saying, “Governor Snyder will offer remarks on Michigan’s successful economic comeback and future growth potential.”

Such a statement speaks volumes about the Econ Club and its members. Snyder will be speaking in Grand Rapids on the heels of ongoing information that is surfacing about the criminal and callous state policy decisions in Flint.

However, Flint is just one aspect of the current administration’s policies, which have expanded the number of cities throughout the state under Emergency Managers and implemented severe austerity measures that have weakened organized labor, gutted funds for public services and redirected more and more public money to the private sector.

In addition, the state has passed legislation making Michigan a Right to Work state and provided even greater tax breaks to business owners. In short, state policy has been extremely beneficial to the economic elite in the state and detrimental to working class families and individuals, many of which now live well below the poverty line. 

So who will come to hear Snyder on March 21st and who makes up the Econ Club of Grand Rapids?

The Econ Club of Grand Rapids has been around for nearly 40 years and is a membership driven organization with the following mission statement:

To shape an environment designed to initiate, inform, and inspire conversation on contemporary economic issues with local implication and global perspectives. To serve the diverse business community of Grand Rapids as the preeminent forum for learning and discussion on the most relevant topics of the day.

The reality is that the Econ Club of Grand Rapids is a forum for the capitalist class of West Michigan to get together and figure out ways to increase their wealth and influence. The Econ Club is made up of the wealthiest families in West Michigan, policy makers and the heads of universities, hospitals, foundations and other entities that shape social, political and economic decisions that impact everyone.

There are of course the usual list of power brokers, like members of the DeVos and Van Andel families, Mike Jandernoa, John Kennedy and other corporate leaders. Then there are those who represent foundations (Diana Sieger – GR Community Foundation), universities (Tom Hass/GVSU and Richard Pappas/Davenport), directors of non-profits (Kathy Crosby/Goodwill and Joe Jones/Urban League) and commercial media (Janet Mason/WZZM 13).

All of these sectors play a vital role in promoting and facilitating economic policies that primarily benefit the capitalist class. We are often led to believe that West Michigan is a highly philanthropic community, but the reality is that public giving from the wealthiest sectors are used to manage those experiencing poverty and to create tax havens for those with wealth – also known as foundations.

The Econ Club of Grand Rapids is an incestuous group of capitalist who give each other awards, such as the Business Person of the Year Award.

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Therefore it should be no surprise that Governor Snyder is coming to Grand Rapids to talk about Michigan’s successful economic comeback and future growth potential. The people who will be in the room at the JW Marriott on March 21st are the very people who have benefited the most from the so-called economic comeback. Profits for the members of the Econ Club are up, investment opportunities are up and the shift of funding from the public sector to the private sector are up.NewDREMLOGO

The austerity measures and Emergency Management systems that have been imposed on places like Flint, Detroit and Benton Harbor benefit people who are members of the Econ Club and their counterparts throughout the state. This means however, that the members of the Econ Club are actively participating in policies that disproportionately impact communities of color. To be more specific, members of the Econ Club are engaged in supporting and profiting from systemic racism across the state.

These people are not the saviors of our community, they are the thieves that rob us daily with their influence and their ability to buy policy.

We invite you to stand against such criminality and thievery, by joining people to protest the Econ Club of Grand Rapids event on March 21st and say that Snyder is Not Welcome in Grand Rapids

To further explore the significance of the state policy decisions that have devastated Detroit, click here.

To have a deeper understanding of the Emergency Management impact in Flint and the ongoing water crisis, watch this in depth documentary produced by the ACLU of Michigan.

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