Into the multilevel marketing wormhole

In the course of inadvertently gaming a MILF at Starbucks I got dragged into this horseshit about Nerium oleander, a miracle anti-aging product in the assessment of those who sell it. By other accounts, it’s an oxidative nightmare of a chemotherapeutic agent that causes long-term skin damage. I’m agnostic about its therapeutic effects, and I’m not about to research it right now because there are dozens of other plants that interest me more, but I’m not on the fence about the probity of Nerium International’s marketing. It’s obviously sleazy. The MILF gave me a copy of Success from Home Magazine, including a plug for Nerium. I glanced through it, and what a fucking disgrace. The whole issue seems to be marketing copy for Nerium International. It’s one of these magazines that has endless words about the same kind of nothing, actually fewer words than appear to be on the pages at first glance, but this is no solace when the writing is so bad and the thought informing it even worse.

I quite charmed the MILF and a woman she was trying to set up as a Nerium representative. Go figure that I charm the hell out of women who are mixed up in multilevel marketing scams and would like to mix me up likewise. It’s probably karma. I’ve charmed women who weren’t pitching bullshit, too, so I’m not batting .000, but good grief, the MILF today gave me this copy of Success from Home like it was a gift above rubies. In point of fact, it would rank low among in-flight magazines. It’s worse than the in-flight magazine on American, which is truly awful, but people read it. It must speak to some limbic reward center. Speak breathlessly of money, and maybe goobers will give you some of theirs. Gobias Industries lives.

This is the kind of shit that Americans consider entrepreneurship. Say, how are sales at your Amway distributorship, you dashing entrepreneur? Paying some junta of shitheads for a spot on their marketing team is entrepreneurship now. By the way, I’m Robert Mondavi; next chardonnay’s on me, buddy. I’m all for real entrepreneurs, and I’m certainly grateful to many of the ones who have hired me (excluding a few who were total shitbirds), but this multilevel marketing shit isn’t fucking entrepreneurship. It just isn’t, even if it gives its pitchmen glorious narcissism boners for being so accomplished and wealthy. Oh, you just paid for a franchise selling cosmetics whose dead-ringer equivalents you might sell at a counter at Nordstrom without paying for the honor? My, do tell Mr. Wonka about how you’re a captain of industry. I know women who have home businesses selling masturbatory nonsense like cosmetics and nail extensions, honorable enough lines of work, I guess, but why the hell do they have to bug the rest of us on Facebook with that shit? If I want longer nails, I’ll stop biting them, most likely.

Of course, many of these quasi-independent marketing schemes are contingent on pestering the living daylights out of the saleswoman’s friends and relatives. Coffee? Gobias some. I’ll take a Pike with extra cream, thank you. My friend with the nail extension franchise has been telling us that she needs a way to help support her family while she’s on leave from her teaching job to raise her three young children, since her husband’s job doesn’t pay very well. I can see a policy argument for making some portion of the tykes’ upkeep a public responsibility paid for from the national treasury, especially in a country as infertile as the United States, but the suggestion that we support these people by buying stupid nail accessories because free enterprise? Shit. How about more socialism in exchange for not being pestered to buy masturbatory products on Facebook?

We already have socialism, so why can’t we expand it enough to shut up all the fucking hustlers? I’m not referring to people who fill genuine market demands; I’m talking about those who pester others to buy pointless bullshit. The Russian and Middle Eastern dipshits who accost mallgoers to submit to demonstration nail jobs should be offered food stamps, Section Eight apartments, and bus passes. In their country or ours; hell if I care as long as the government names it and they claim it. If they want to take jobs that actually need to be done, fine, but if socialism means that I don’t have some fuckhead trying to make my nails fabulous for a price when they’re more than adequate for free, I’m for it.

We have too many hustlers in this country. They’re a scourge. Meanwhile, my line of work, when I have it, is honored in the Bible and in the Catholic liturgy. Fruit of the vine and work of human hands, it is. Yes, that was smug, but it’s true. Be burnt, my brothers and sisters in Christ. Be burnt, sickly.

Socialism only has to end up as a failed Chavista command economy if the government is run by intractably stubborn dolts who strangle private enterprise with garroting wire. These governments are exceptions that prove the rule. That’s why they’re Venezuela, North Korea, and, uh, uh, Bueller? Not even Cuba so much. Amtrak is socialism, basically, and it works, especially when it isn’t jammed up by its host railroads, i.e., by private enterprise. Sacramento Regional Transit and SMUD are forms of socialism, and they pretty much work, although SMUD with more class because one doesn’t have to interact with its other customers. The LA Metro system is socialism. The Red Car system, ironically, was not, although it was dismantled in McCarthy’s time for reasons of regulatory capture masquerading as private enterprise. I’d rather deal with any of these systems than with some hungry Russian bitch or metrosexual Israeli twerp trying to buff my nails at the mall.

Squeegee men are agents of free enterprise. How’s your windshield, mister?

Or maybe I just don’t have enough Success, from home or from outside the home:

When you ask Brenda Gallatin about Nerium and the impact it has had on her life, her boundless enthusiasm is contagious….She credits divine intervention for discovering Nerium at a small business expo. “The rest is history,” Brenda says. “I could not have imagined I would be where I am right now 20 months ago–financially free and having the time of my life.”

Brenda recalls sitting with her husband, Jim, over a cup of coffee and discussing their concern about making it on Social Security. After raising six children and retiring eight years ago, they had been involved with another relationship marketing company, but they were having trouble creating success with the products. “When Nerium came along, it was a very easy transition,” Brenda says. “Nerium Security beats Social Security any day.”

Fuckin’ A, woman.

Brenda and Jim were able to remodel and refurnish their home, and Brenda has earned multiple bonuses, including the Lexus Car bonus, trips to Cancún and Cabo and the $25,000 Live Better Bonus.

Yes, a $25,000 block grant would help one Live Better (TM). Gobias some coffee. But no, we don’t need the government pension system because we have an Ephesians 3:20 stream of multilevel marketing income from getting our friends to buy anti-aging cream. The accurate translation of this preening is, “Make straight the path for the Bolivarian Revolution against the parochial selfishness of the reactionary bourgeoisie.” There are indigent people living in tent encampments or bug-infested SRO’s not a mile from where I’m writing this, but there’s no need for Social Security because this neat multilevel marketing company sent us to Cabo and gave us $25k in walking-around money, and you, too, can be a winner.

Well, not if you’re hard-up enough to live in a tent down by the American River. There are reasons why people end up like that. Their sales numbers are going to suck. The poor we will have with us always, but maybe if we’re less avaricious and parochial they’ll be somewhat less miserable. Actually, there’s no maybe about it; we’re just too wicked a people to help our most vulnerable countrymen out of indigent squalor. At least Social Security is an effort to bridge the gap, insofar as its legitimacy isn’t under siege from asshats who preen about their success at “relationship marketing.”

Certain Latin American countries, notably including Venezuela, have had a problem with similarly haughty attitudes on the part of their elites. An occasional result has been socialism in extremis, with shortages of basic toiletries. Understanding the supercilious shitheadedness of the elites in these countries helps explain the popularity of blowhards like Hugo Chavez and the Castro brothers. And in fairness, the latter are a lot more competent than recent Venezuelan governments, although far from ideal. Toiletry shortages are serious trouble, a sign of deep market dysfunction in, say, a major international oil exporter.

As Americans, we really don’t want to end up with an elite so arrogant that it provokes the imposition of a Venezuelan-style command economy by some dipshit general. If we must walk that path, we should at least establish the collective know-how to make a smooth transition into a bespoke economy of home tampon manufacture in the steampunk dystopia that awaits us. That, for once, would be home entrepreneurship producing something that people actually want. But we won’t get there by hustling each other goddamn anti-aging cream.

Markets.

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