A Bit of a Pivot

Happy Friday, y’all. I’m officially over two weeks late for this.

Normally this is where, after the standard apology for my tardiness, I go on to talk about where I’m at in my writing journey. The open journal for me to look back upon and cringe and all that. And while there’s plenty going on in that front (Capitalist Bacon cleared beta readership, some more shorts are out, some more rejections are in), I decided instead to take a different route this week. (Er, last week? Not sure what to count this blog post as anymore.)

Currently, I work in a pro-MAGA, heavily live-to-work environment. This clashes with my personality, my beliefs, and my goals. Ergo, while I am grateful to at least have a job right now, I’m also still very much in the job hunt. I am, daily, perusing application platforms like ZipRecruiter, Indeed, etc. etc.

Capitalism in a deep recession isn’t a great experience, we already know and feel this (and it’s not the first time for us Millennials, either). But if you want proof of just how miserable it can be, go ahead and visit one of these platforms and search for sales jobs.

Overwhelming even the glut of life insurance positions (which are legitimate enough), you will see scores of listings promoting “work from home, make $100-250k”. Too good to be true, obviously… except many sales professionals worked those kinds of jobs in the before-times. (I completely understand if that makes you a lot less likely to feel sympathetic towards them, but I assure you that’s not really the point here.)

But yes, they are indeed too good to be true. They’re the fun new face of MLMs (multi-level marketing schemes, otherwise known as pyramid schemes).

Of course, they’re well-hidden. In fact, you’ll even find them falsely posting under completely different company names. It’s a fun feeling thinking ‘wow, so-and-so is a great company, let me definitely apply there!’ and immediately get blasted with emails and texts asking you to watch videos on how Symmetry Financial or whoever-the-hell-it-is-today will make you all the money.

Most of them, however, are posted under completely random names. Like: ‘The Williams Agency’ or ‘Robert’s Group’. The names may be similar to other, more legitimate companies, but a quick glance will show no relation—and it’s probably not even meant to be implied that there was. Because, remember, pyramid schemes work by ensnaring people and turning them into puppets for said scheme. So, ‘The Williams Agency’ is in fact some LLC set up by a person named William, the entire purpose of the business being to grab more victims.

Pyramid schemes aren’t new. You’ve heard of them, probably know someone who dabbled in it (or still does). Perhaps you’ve even been suckered into a meeting or whatever. Generally, only fools fell for them. (Sorry if that includes you, but hey, failure is a great teacher.)

Yet seeing the number of postings, this is different now. And it makes sense. People are desperate. They’re scared. They’re all the negative emotional states a person should be in order to fall victim to a scam.

And to see also the level of deceit being employed just to get you to ‘apply’… those who operate these schemes know it. They smell blood in the water.

Every single posting was once a victim, and now a part of the problem. I do feel some sympathy, in a way. They’ve ‘invested’ money—probably a fair amount of it, all without a source of actual income—into whatever MLM lured them in. And they can’t just break even. They need to profit. This is replacing that missing source of income. The only way to crawl out of the pit they’re in is to grab more victims and climb out over their bodies.

Capitalism values greed. In dire times, this greed turns to cannibalism. We can’t celebrate the achievements that capitalism has brought, brag about the increased fervor in innovation, and ignore this side of it.

In prosperous times, pyramid schemes were just ways that nutrition shakes or cosmetic products or whatever shook down some suckers for a few bucks. In less-than-prosperous times, they’re complete and total scams intended to drain the desperate many for the fortune of a few.

You know, capitalism!

There’s a reason these practices aren’t illegal. There are laws and regulations surrounding them, but these are often easily loophole’d. At their core purpose, they are a few exploiting the hungry so that the top grows wealthy at the bottom’s expense. It would be a rich irony if a country that counts Jeff Bezos as a citizen did anything to stop that kind of activity.

And, perhaps in a delicious note of irony, those who fall victim to this are far more likely to lean capitalist over socialist. The entire marketing message is designed that way. (Told you the point of this isn’t to generate sympathy.)

When the economy eventually rebounds (ok, if…), a lot of these companies will fold, or restructure, or retreat to the shadows and continue operations on a scaled back level. And when the economy tanks again, they’ll be back in force. Because so long as we are a capitalist society, this is what you’re asking for, and this is what you’re going to get.

On a final note—if you are worried about these kinds of traps, or know someone in the job market and want to give them a heads up, Huffington Post recently published a great article explaining how to avoid them.

Y’all stay safe and healthy out there. Till next time.

(Oh, and don’t forget to go check out the Poetic Narrative. The second comes out soon!)

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