Monday, February 28, 2011

An epiphany!

This blog is all about the mind of the Ambot, but today, I want to show that Ambots aren't alone in their spouting of mass-minded slogans.  In my last post, I addressed a standard stock-argument that Ambots use when their business is called a pyramid scheme.  That is, they attempt to argue that all organizations are really pyramid schemes.  As I said last week,  "I encounter this reasoning frequently, and it's not just with Amway.  Apparently, members of many MLM schemes are taught this counter-argument to the pyramid scheme challenge." 

I recently saw a lady in her early 50's at my gym selling organic coffee products.  She was proclaiming the benefits of coffee with ganoderma, which is some sort of fungus that's supposed to give you energy.  When I asked her about research backing up the claims, she could only give me anecdotal reports.  Some baseball coach in Wisconsin said it helped his players get ready for the game.  An accountant in Virginia claimed it made him feel 10 years younger.  All of these reports could be explained by the effects of caffeine alone, and of course, there were no studies comparing the coffee to regular old joe or placebo.  The lady told me she was employed full time at an academic institution, and it sounded like a job that would likely pay well and give good benefits.  I couldn't help but ask "why are you selling coffee then?"  She replied that when she found out how great it was, she just had to help other people find out about it! 

She offered me a cup, and when i agreed, she poured hot water in a styrofoam cup and ripped open a packet of the mocha variety, stirring it into the hot water.  It made about 6 ounces of "coffee".  The clumps of powder wouldn't completely dissolve, so that was unpleasant.  However, it was fairly tasty, but it tasted more like hot chocolate, and it was very heavy on the sugar.

The lady seemed nice, and I even thought about throwing her a bone with a pity purchase...that is, until she showed me the price.  This wonder coffee was over 30 dollars for 15 packets.  That's right, 2 dollars per cup for INSTANT COFFEE!  I apologized that I couldn't pay more for instant coffee than I would for fresh at Starbucks every morning and departed without giving it much thought.  Later on, though, I thought of her again.  Now why would a lady of 50, established in a career with good pay, be in a gym at 8 PM selling an overpriced product that made extravagant, unsubstantiated claims for its efficacy?  Because she just wanted to help people discover it, she said? That sounded awfully familiar.

I couldn't remember the name of the coffee, so I just googled "coffee pyramid scheme" on a hunch, and I guess what.  I found it.  The name of the company is "Healthy Coffee".  Here's a page devoted to debunking the claim that they are a pyramid scheme:

Pyramid Scheme?

If you don't want to read it, I'll spare you the time and cut to my favorite quote:

"Most people picture a pyramid scheme as a business where the employee on top of the pyramid gets most of the money, and what’s left just trickles down to the employees at the bottom of the pyramid who get a much smaller piece of the pie.  Here’s the crazy thing I discovered when I looked at it and started thinking out of the box.  The very definition of a pyramid scheme business exactly matches the so called “structure” of corporate America that had been drilled into my brain all these years!  I realized that in the past I’ve done a ton of work and collected my paycheck, not even thinking about how I made less than my supervisor, who made less than her superior, and so on until you get to the wealthy CEO on top.  What an unbelievable moment for me… that’s when I realized this was the perfect fit for me to begin building residual income online."

A veritable epiphany, folks!  Amazing that the very same stock-phrase regurgitated by Ambots and, as far as I can tell, members of every major MLM company, comes to this contemplative lass only when she "started thinking out of the box"!  On the contrary, this only makes sense when you start thinking inside the box of recycled slogans, so familiar to brainwashed MLM apologists. 

Nauseating as it is, it's probably not as bad as her definition of pyramid schemes--"the employees at the bottom of the pyramid who get a much smaller piece of the pie".  Smaller piece?  Is that her euphamism for "losing money"?  This is the subtle trick of equivocation that Amway kingpin manipulators devised long ago.  They smuggle in the idea that the bottom rungs of Amway are still making something, so subtly that it isn't questioned.  Once you've accepted that, you forget that approximately 99.5% of distributors are actively losing money in Amway.  You forget that even the least paid employee in a corporation is still making money.  Then you start to say "yeah, I never thought of it that way!"  You hadn't thought of it that way because you had common least until you submitted it to brainwashing.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Um yeah, it's a pyramid scheme...but so is everything else!

"If you can't beat 'em, join 'em", or so the saying goes.  Yesterday, I dispatched the first of two hackneyed stock-phrases the Ambot will employ when he's confronted with the words "pyramid scheme"--in short by flat denial, supported by the erroneous reasoning that since you can make more money than your upline, it cannot be a pyramid scheme.  It's not uncommon for the bemused Ambot to abandon this line of reasoning when he becomes uncomfortable, opting for the opposite approach:  to embrace pyramid schemes!  Yep, that's right.  Often times in the same conversation, an Ambot will argue both sides and pray something sticks.  "Sure, Amway's a pyramid scheme, but so what?  Everything else is, too!"  Generally, corporations, the military, and the government are then compared to Amway in terms of their hierarchical or pyramidal structure.  It's as if those who employ this argument believe the problem with pyramid schemes is the shape, and if it can be shown that other credible systems share it, then pyramid schemes must be OK.

I encounter this reasoning frequently, and it's not just with Amway.  Apparently, members of many MLM schemes are taught this counter-argument to the pyramid scheme challenge.  Just last week, I posted a link on my facebook page, asking friends to sign a petition on for FTC investigation into Amway.  As you may know, Amway has failed to comply with the regulations the FTC put in place in the late 70's after their first investigation.  Anyhow, it didn't take long for a fellow to respond to my request with the following haughty, disrespectful comment.  Bear in mind, this fellow hadn't spoken to me in 13 years, but I've found that people are passionate about their MLM, almost as much as their political views and religions.  Here's the comment:

I own a company, so I am on the top of a pyramid, I have investors under me, they have agents under them and the property managers under them then the office workers, then I guess at the bottom would be the cleaning crew and maintenance workers. If you disect [sic] every company in America, you will find the pyramid structure! If every pyramid was shut down it would have to start with the government, Obama is on top of that pyramid LOL!

What do these two men have in common?
Yes, LOL.  This same argument is regurgitated in many an Amway meeting by many an ambitious IBO trying to sponsor many a naive recruit.  When I was prospected 9 years ago, I heard this same reasoning.  As I mentioned before, it's as if those who use this argument believe that the problem with a pyramid scheme is the shape.  But of course, that's just asinine.  It's not the shape, it's the concept, and that is that very few people get very rich from the modest losses of very many, and those very many only comply because of false promises of wealth.  The crucial obvious point that these IBO's miss, for all their recycled stock quips, is that in any of these other hierarchical systems, those on the bottom level are all fairly compensated for their work.  They're paid an agreed upon wage, and there are no false promises of wealth to dupe them into participation.  Not only that, but in any of these other examples, it is possible for an appropriately qualified individual to be hired or elected into a lofty position on his own merits, bypassing the lower ranks.  In a pyramid scheme, on the other hand, the prevailing principle of success is "dibs".  Those who get in early get rich.  There's a lot to be said for charisma, ability to motivate, and willingness to deceive, but there's no substitute for getting in early, and that's why in a saturated market, such as the US, new diamonds are far more scarce than lottery winners. 

There are a lot of things wrong with pyramid schemes, especially the massive global fraud known as Amway, but none of these is the shape.  Fortunately, the similarities between legitimate corporations and pyramid schemes end there.  Nice try Ambots.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

But it's not a pyramid scheme! You can make more than your upline!

Ah, that clever retort.  If you've been approached by an Amway "IBO", or as I will affectionately refer to them "Ambots", you've doubtless been wary when you found out you'd be in the business of prospecting recruits for your income.  You'd probably encountered this sort of thing before, and probably in a negative light.  Certainly, in that moment, you asked this common-sensical question--"but isn't this a pyramid scheme?"  And certainly, your question was answered immediately by one of two boilerplate answers spoon-fed to him by his glib upline.  The first I'll address today, which is "Oh gosh no!  Why, you can make more money than your upline, so it can't be a pyramid scheme!"  The implication here is that in any true pyramid scheme it is impossible to make more money than the person who solicited you.  Like most claims Ambots make, this one is an outright lie.

While it is true that in any pyramid scheme, those at the top stand to profit more, it is not a foregone conclusion that a sponsor makes more than his sponsee.  In fact, as long as you sponsor more people than your sponsor, it is possible for you to earn more than he does in a pyramid scheme.  To show that this is true, let's consider the oldest pyramid scheme, the classic chain letter.  In this scheme, an individual will send out a list to 5 people.  The list will have 5 names on it (his own name and 4 aliases).  The instructions will inform the recipient to send 5 dollars to each of the 5 names on the list, add his name to the bottom of the list, and scratch the top name from the list.  He is then to send the new list to 5 people and ask them to do the same.  This is what such a pyramid will look like after 2 generations of sponsorship:

So at the first generation, there would be 5 "recruits", and at the second, 25 "recruits".  If this were propogated for 5 generations, there would be 3125 at the last generation.   At that point, the initial sponsor would have his name drop off the list and have no further payments sent to him for further generations.  For each of the 5 members who enrolls at the 1st generation or later, the maximum he can make is $19500 dollars (-$25 + 5x$5 + 25x$5 + 125x$5 + 625x$5 + 3125x$5).  However, suppose some "lazy" member at the first generation decides to sponsor only 1 person, as in the diagram below.  Here, his one second generation recruit is shown sponsoring a full 5 recruits in the third generation:

So, now for the left-most "lazy" member of the 1st generation, the maximum he can profit is $3880 (-$25 + 1x$5 + 5x$5 + 25x$5 + 125x$5 + 625x$5).  However, his ambitious recruit can earn the full $19500 given that he sponsors 5 subsequent generations.  So, we see, just as in Amway, breadth is more important than depth.  More importantly, we see that this claim, like so many by Amway zealots is just plain false.  In just about any commonly encountered pyramid scheme, it is possible for a recruit to make more than his upline, so long as he sponsors more recruits.  This simple chain-letter example just proves the Ambot claim false.