Thursday, December 6, 2007

Dick DeVos at Cleary University

Cleary University’s Howell campus is hard to spot nestled low among the strip malls of Grand River Boulevard. Homeland security entrepreneurs gathered there Tuesday to learn about venture funding in their industry. After a morning of panels and presentations, aspiring contractors ate boxed lunches and heard a motivational keynote speech by Dick DeVos, who dropped in on the event by private helicopter. His apolitical message could have been titled “chicken soup for the entrepreneur’s soul.”

Afterwards, he shared some political thoughts.

On tax increases:
"You are trading a short term gain for a long-term huge risk. By raising taxes you are sending a signal to investors to job creators, both in Michigan and out of Michigan, that your costs of business are going up and may well go up more in the future if you stay here in Michigan."

"The only answer is economic growth and expansion and job creation."

On structural changes to government:
"We talked about a number of them in the campaign. One of them was MESA reform. But I have found when you go through an organization you end up making thousands of small changes that add up to a lot. There is this discussion that says what major programs are you going to terminate? And give me five ways to get there. There's probably going to be 5,000 ways to get there."

"My commitment was that we were not going to be raising taxes to balance the budget. We were going be looking for efficiencies in government and terminating programs no longer serving their original intent or serving the people of Michigan well. We were going to look for opportunities to reorganize. I don't think MEDC has reached its full potential. I would have started by changing that and brought that right straight into the governor's office."

On Granholm's performance:
"I am very concerned that this governor is taking Michigan in exactly the wrong direction. That we as a state are going to be paying a significant price. And come the next election, sadly, we may well be even further behind what is happening in the rest of the country."

On the January Primary:
"I think overall moving up the primary in the context of what is happening in the nation was a good thing for Michigan at the end of the day. I am sorry that the Democrats did not get everybody on the ballot. They had the opportunity, but I guess there was just too much infighting in their party. I think a primary is the right thing as opposed to a caucus process. That being said, I think the whole thing is too early. "

"If you ask me should we change the system of primaries in this country, my answer is 'absolutely.'"

On partisanship:
"In my view it's not politics that's messing us up. What's messing us up at this point is trust. There is a breakdown in trust. I have lots of friends I disagree with on issues, but I can work with them because I trust them."

"Trust is one of those things that is slowly built and easily broken."

"With the amount of behind the scenes changes and violations that have broken trust, term limits wouldn't have mattered. That violation of trust terminated a lot of relationships and that's really the loss."

On a run for governor:
"I am getting a lot of encouragement from people to consider running again. I am considering it, but frankly have not made a decision at this point."