Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Penn and Teller

The famous magicians -- the one who talks and the one who doesn't -- have their own program on Showtime called Bullshit! In which they seek to expose various forms of, yes, Bullshit.

Recently, they did an episode of that program on multi-level marketing. The above link will take you to a collection of clips from it. The next link will take you to a blog specifically devoted to expansive treatment of some of the issues that P&T could but raise.

I whole-heartedly agree with the gist of the Penn & Teller critique of the whole practice. I wrote about this in May specifically in the Medifast context, but it bears repeating.

The Amway case, and its 70/30 rule, have given a cloak of legitimacy to an industry. But, in my view and that it seems of most of those who have looked at the matter dispassionately, the distinction between lawful MLM and unlawful pyramids is itself something of a sham. MLM systems as defined above inevitably create a context in which the success stories are the sales people at the top of the chain, and those at the bottom are their suckers. The success stories are held up as role models, and this is used to generate more suckers.

Just to be fair to that company, here's the official site for Medifast.

And just to be fair to potential suckers thereof, here's a contribution to discussion of their business model by Barry Minkow.

Who is Barry Minkow? This may jog your memory.

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