Every few months, about twice a year, someone gives me a perceived compliment which is actually an insult. The attempted flattery is when someone asks me if and when I’d ever consider running for office to which I always say something along the lines of, “I had no idea you thought so low of me.” Needless to say, I don’t have the highest opinion of politicians and politics in general but if I ever did run for office and had the honor of representing the people, there are two things that I would try to remedy.
What’s interesting is, these two things are not some of the more hot button issues that affect the world. I’d even go as far as to say that these things are not even that important compared to the bigger picture things that are plaguing our world but they are nonetheless the two things that I would focus on if elected into office.
The first one is, I’d break up the monopoly that is Ticketmaster. Nothing more really needs to be said. They have an unfair domination of the market and with that control, pass along inflated prices. I can see you now pumping your fists in the air in agreement with me, ready to donate to my reelection. Thank you for your support, citizen.
The second, and more important issue I would try to rid the world of is the practice of legalized pyramid schemes in America.
These pyramid schemes have different names. The most common one is a Ponzi schemes while the more polite name is multilevel marketing or MLMs.
These MLMs have been proposed to me in various forms. Cleaning supplies, beauty care products, vitamins, supplements, coffee, VR headsets, VOIP, prepaid legal services, Tupperware, and the list goes on. Those are just the ones that have been offered to me or I have heard others in my circle have had been offered to them.
You have never been more insulted than when you get invited to one of these meetings set under false pretenses. Usually, but not always, you get told about an amazing business opportunity! (insert wide eyed, slack jawed, greed face here) or are told you are going to a house party or something like that. That’s when the snakes come out of the wall, usually in suits, and begin to sell to the slow and dimwitted on their get rich quick scheme.
The Unsaid Viva Voce
There is a whisper that is said so low that not even mouths move. Reason being is, it’s an uncomfortable thing to say. What is this massive unsaid rumination? It’s that older white males are smarter than everyone else.
That “everyone else” is your classic catalog of American minorities: women, people of color, and the youth. That last group needs particular focus. I said older white males, not white males in general. So if you are a white guy without the gray hair, then you can be considered a minority as well, in particular with this essay’s point. And what is that point? What does the sentiment that old white guys are smarter than everyone else have to do with multilevel marketing? Well, everything.
The Sad Truth
Although John Oliver offers more wood than water to the partisan dumpster fire, he does have some moments of brilliance.
One of those moments was when he made this video, both in English and Spanish, trying to address the problem that is infesting America’s minority community. And that’s a very important point to contemplate on. MLMs are very popular and prevalent in minority communities. Black, Latino. Women and the young. MLMs seem to resonate with minorities and as a minority myself, this is very disheartening. We, minorities, need to take a real hard look at ourselves and see why these get rich schemes sound so appealing to us. We need to ask ourselves why lying to our friends and family in an attempt to get a financial windfall in an unethical manner is so alluring. Are we really that lazy and stupid?
I Have Nothing
So after all that, what is the answer? I don’t know. Most countries have rightly criminalized MLMs and I would hope that we would too but unfortunately, these entities have huge lobbying groups that are inside every politicians wallet. And since there is no outcry from the American public (even after the highest profile Ponzi scheme hit America) to end these operations, I don’t see when if ever that these tricks and ploys will be erased from the American fabric.
All we can do is be aware of these schemes and try to inform others about them. We need to see why these people, our friends and family, are willing to alienate their entire world for unethical financial gain.
I’ll leave you with this amazing episode of This American Life which does a fantastic job of shedding light into this very dark corner of Americana.