As her world shrunk, she immersed herself in World Wide culture. For entertainment, she listened to the motivational tapes, laughing and crying at the tales of hardship and triumph. She read the WWDB recommended books, memorizing snippets of Norman Vincent Peale and Psychocybernetics. She urged me, likewise, to move to the “next level”: to hook into Amvox voicemail (where I could listen to messages from my distant upline Greg Duncan courtside at Bulls-Magic games[15]); make plane and hotel reservations for the upcoming Family Reunion; and get on “standing order” to automatically receive six World Wide cassettes a month at six bucks a pop—which Josh claimed simply covered costs—presumably of meetings recorded onto very cheap tapes. (“I’d gladly pay more for them,” Josh insisted, “because they’re helping me to become financially liberated!”) Sherri told me, in hushed tones, that “Greg Duncan judges you more on the number of standing orders in your downline than on your PV!” I didn’t doubt it. The upper echelons of World-Wide and other groups rake in enormous profits from their speaking engagements and the sale of motivational materials. Dexter Yager, head of the Yager Group, is reputed to make more from his propaganda syndicate than from his actual Amway business.
At the time, it seemed like a dead end for a neophyte political candidate. In reality, it was the opening of a new avenue the DeVoses followed to far greater political influence, reshaping Michigan politics and the national Republican scene. “I think that loss really solidified the idea in the DeVoses’ minds that the real way to get what you want is to be behind the scenes,” says Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics.
Amway blamed its seamy image on a few “bad apples,” impossible to avoid in a business that is open to all. (When Procter & Gamble, a competitor in the soap business, sued Amway for spreading rumors that P&G was a hotbed of Satanism, Amway shifted the blame to overenthusiastic distributors.) Since the eighties, the corporation has dealt with the issue by encouraging distributor groups to train Amwayers in “professionality,” and by promulgating elaborate rules of conduct and a code of ethics for distributors.
Privately, many Michigan Republicans are afraid of getting on the DeVoses’ bad side. “At the American Federation of Teachers, there were always Republicans we’d endorse,” recalls Matuzak, who retired from the union in 2014. “And it got to the point where … the Republicans would say, ‘Please don’t endorse me because it will hurt me with the DeVoses.’ They’d send back money because the DeVoses would punish them.” (In an email to POLITICO, the chief of staff to one Republican state senator declined comment for this story, saying it would “not be productive” before linking to two anti-DeVos columns in the Detroit Free Press. The articles “speak for themselves,” he wrote.)
In early November of 2017, we were out walking around the mall. I was searching for a new pair of earrings. We were looking around in Claire's of all places when a couple approached us. The girl complimented my shoes. I said thank you, but then they struck up a conversation. They were very friendly and we enjoyed talking to them, however, we did notice they seemed oddly too friendly. We exchanged phone numbers and left happy that we made new friends. It's not easy making friends in the area we live in.
If Engler thought he had anointed a rubber stamp, he quickly learned otherwise. In January 1997, DeVos cleared house, unilaterally firing all of the party’s top directors and pausing all contracts with vendors, blaming them for the party’s losses months earlier. “Betsy regarded the governor’s input as good advice, not an order,” Greg McNeilly, a close associate of Betsy DeVos, told an Engler biographer years later. “That’s when the problems started.”
Despite the mediocrity of Amway products, one can’t help but be impressed by their sheer number and variety. Other multilevels offer one or two miracle products, such as nutritional supplements like bluegreen algae or “minerals in colloidal suspension,” etc., about which wild claims can be made with impunity. Such products defy conventional sales methods, usually because they require some sort of conversion experience on the part of the customer or elaborate person-to-person instruction. Amway, with its Liquid Organic Cleaner, began this way. But today Amway insists that all products are better sold through multileveling: couches, VCRs, cookies, socks, toilet paper, you name it. The Amway goal is not to push one wildly fraudulent product, but to offer a just barely convincing imitation of consuming life, allowing Amwayers to exhaustively shift all of their consumption to dues-paying mode.[10]

Amway is a direct-selling business that has been in business for more than 50 years, operates in more than 100 countries, and claims to have helped more than 3 million Independent Business Owners (IBOs) “forge their own path to success.” The company claims to accomplish this by offering a large, exclusive line of products, extensive training opportunities, complete customer support, and more.
Rich and Jay set up shop in Rich’s basement selling Liquid Organic Cleaner, or L.O.C., Amway’s first original product. With their trust in each other and the support of their loving wives, they’re able to weather all bumps on their ride to the top, including the first federal investigation of Amway, by the Federal Trade Commission in 1975. In a chapter of his memoir titled ‘The Critics Weigh In’ (in Part Two, called ‘Selling America’), Rich says of the suit, ‘[We] considered the suit another government misunderstanding of business principles and an attack on free enterprise.’

In 2012, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), accused Amway of making unsubstantiated and illegal claims about Nutrilite Fruits & Vegetables 2GO Twist Tubes and threatened to launch a class action lawsuit against the company unless it took remedial action.[49][50] Amway responded that the claims made about the products were properly substantiated and that they did not plan to change the product's labeling but nevertheless would review the statements that CSPI has questioned.[51] CSPI later reported that Amway had agreed to changing product labels by the end of 2014.[52]
By the 30th level, the entire population of the earth will be in the system and the last 3 billion people who just entered the system into the 30th level have nobody else to refer. If each member is allowed to refer 6 friends, then the entire world population will be covered by the time it reaches 13th level itself (as illustrated in the chart below). Everybody they try to approach is already a member. The forerunners would have made huge amount of money by now and would go absconding, leading into a fraud.
My uplines’ despair made me reluctant to add to their failure. But I had stayed in too long already. Having run out of other things to buy, I had resorted to subjecting my cat to Amway pet food. And I began to sense that when Josh and Sherri looked at me, they—in their last-ditch hopes—saw Diamonds. Before I disappeared from their lives, however, I accompanied them to one last Rally.
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