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Meijer family members spread out their wealth to get a lower ranking on the Forbes 400 list

January 25, 2023

For years, Hank and Doug Meijer would combine their wealth, which made them the wealthiest family in West Michigan. 

People might think that the DeVos family is the wealthiest, and they probably are, but the DeVos family has diversified their wealth to such a degree that it is hard to determine what they are worth collectively. Add to their diverse wealth portfolio the fact that they are not big on transparency, and you end up with the Meijer family having the higher ranking on the Forbes 400 list for several years in a row.

However, the Meijer brothers have also decided to separate their wealth, so that Hank, Doug and Mark Meijer want the public to see their wealth as diminished and separated. 

In looking at the most recent Forbes 400 list from 2022, we discover that Hank, Doug and Mark Meijer are tied for the 202nd spot on the Forbes 400 wealthiest Americans, each with $5 Billion to their name. This of course means that they are collectively worth $15 Billion, which is a disgusting level of wealth.

I say disgusting because they have made their wealth off of the labor of their employees and people who work in the agricultural sector, along with those who work in the manufacturing sector. Whether we are talking about people who pick the food sold in Meijer stores, those who make the non-food products sold in Meijer stores, those who stock the shelves or work the cash registers at Meijer stores, all of them give their labor to the Meijer family. Plus, all of these people who give their labor so that Meijer can sell products in their stores, the vast majority of them do not make a livable wage. In fact, many of the make the minimum wage or less, especially those that pick the food sold in Meijer stores.

Now, over the past few years, GRIID has been tracking the wealth of the Meijer family, like when we noted that, during the first 18 months of the COVID pandemic, the wealth of Doug & Hank Meijer had grown by $6.7 Billion. We noted that this increased wealth was taking place when so many people were without work and experiencing food insecurity.

Another way that we have looked at the wealth of the Meijer family in recent years is to re-imagine how just the amount of increased wealth they made during the early part of the pandemic could benefit their employees. We noted that if Meijer paid their employees $40 an hour for a 40 hour work week, that would result in a $90,000 annual salary. If Meijer decided to pay their employees such a wage, they would still be worth BILLIONS, meaning their lives would be ridiculously comfortable. The difference is that their employees would now have a less stressful life and be able to have opportunities they didn’t have before.

In another examination of the Meijer family wealth, we wrote in August of 2021:

For the rest of us, we should be marching on the Meijer corporate headquarters at 2929 Walker Ave NW, Grand Rapids, making other demands about wealth redistribution. Imagine what $900 million could do to relieve the harm that thousands of families are currently experiencing in the Greater Grand Rapids area. $900 million would eliminate poverty, homelessness, food insecurity and provide plenty of health care funding. Demanding that the Meijer family give $900 million to be distributed to the thousands of families in this area who are experiencing poverty, systemic racism and other forms of structural violence would still leave Hank & Doug Meijer with $12.6 billion, which I’m sure they could still support their families on.

Those with tremendous wealth won’t willingly give up millions or billions of dollars, we must demand that they turn in over to the rest of us. Of course we are talking about a sustained organizing effort, a revolutionary effort that would involve tremendous risks, but if we really wanted to engage in systemic change, then such action needs to happen. I mean, look at how much money members of the Capitalist Class spend on buying and lobbying politicians to make sure that their grotesque amounts of wealth are not fairly taxed. Imagine how resistant they would be to the public demand a redistribution of their wealth. Remember, it’s not really their wealth to begin with, since they made it off of the exploitation of those who do the real work.

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