Mental health care also has a big gap where first responders and preventative care should be. It's basically either highly specialized care or 'talk to your friends'.
But support from a person trained in psychological first aid - paired with support from the community - can make a huge difference in whether a violent event becomes a trauma.
And damn, our friends learned chemistry and algebra in school but not 'mental health 101'. Which is ridiculous.
There are some amazing things out there like the Icarus Project (theicarusproject.net) but so much more is needed and possible.
You can't become a therapist by following a workshop. But you can learn a specific skill (example: support during a panic attack) in a day, and you can learn basic psychological first aid in maybe a week.
We should all have those skills.
MLMs: a systematic issue
My point is not that all MLMs are bad for every single person involved with them; it's that MLMs *can* be set up along the worst-case scenario I have described and get away with it. They are not meaningfully regulated, and courts have ruled even outright pyramid schemes to be legal. The worst-case scenario I described is both legal and all too common. That is the problem, the systematic and legally permitted fraud.
I'm not discounting the possibility that individuals can have good experiences with MLMs without exploiting & abusing others, or that some MLMs might not be structured to be evil. I simply described the factors that can make MLMs exploitative of vulnerable people. Fiddle with some or all the inputs I mentioned, like expertise, risk allocation, pricing, and incentives, and the outcome could be very different from the worst-case scenario I described.
MLMs & capitalism
MLMs are really a perfect storm of capitalism, at least the increasingly entrenched type that's baldly exploitative at the expense of all other values. The steady erosion of jobs and working conditions has led to a surplus of people desperate for a source of income, who in turn are exploited by MLMs. These schemes are not regulated due to the decades-long stripping of consumer and worker protections, plus increasing plutocracy. The machine feeds itself.
MLMs: False product & false customer
MLMs that are set up to exploit their sales force, in other words, are based on a double lie. They're not selling the product they say they are, that is cosmetics or health supplements etc. etc., and they're not selling to the people they say they are, the end consumers. What they're really selling is the promise of income and freedom, and their true customers are the sellers who buy the stated product in search of the real one.
MLMs as pyramid schemes
But wait, why are these products so overpriced? If the company wanted their sellers to succeed, wouldn't it sell them product stock at reasonable rates? Well yes, except the worst MLMs are not set up for sellers to succeed at all. The uplines who recruited these sellers get commissions when their downlines buy products (itself a huge red flag), which is the reason for the high pricing--the uplines have to be paid 🙃 The money is made from the "sellers."
MLMs exploitation & abuse
That leaves duped and desperate people with no business expertise in the MLM sellers pool. And it's not even that they buy a few overpriced products they can't sell and that's the end of it; they are often subjected to intense pressure and false promises to keep buying MORE goods, spending more money they don't have on products they can't sell. Many get out eventually, but too often only after wasting a lot of money and doing damage to their personal relationships.
MLMs as really bad retail deals
And that's how MLMs should be understood, as bad retail business deals that are unlikely to succeed. Full-scale retail takes skills, system, and space; it's not the kind of thing most people can manage part-time out of their home, MLM claims notwithstanding. What's more, the prices of MLM products are often too high for sellers to make a meaningful markup, making them structurally unprofitable. A skilled businessperson would recognize this and walk away.
MLMs as retailers
Commercially speaking MLM sellers are really retail sellers, and here's where the details become critically important. Broadly speaking, retail sellers should have the expertise and systems in place to make sales, and they should be buying stock at a price where they can sell at prices consumers would want while making at least reasonable profit. Retailers do assume much of the risk of unsold stock, but they should still have some leverage with wholesalers/producers.
MLMs vs. sales jobs
MLMs are also pitched like sales jobs, but that analogy breaks down, too. A car salesperson doesn't buy cars with their own money before selling them; the company owns the cars until title transfers to the buyer, and the salesperson receives commissions on sales they made. If they don't make a sale they won't be paid, but that leaves them at zero in terms of commissions and not in the red due to the initial cost outlays and the cost of managing unsold stock.
MLMs vs. freelancing, the allocation of risk
If whatever project I'm doing translations for doesn't pan out, like the product launch failed or something, that's tough but it's not my problem. I'm still paid, or if I'm not, I have a legal right to enforce that based on contract. But MLM sellers already bought the products and can't return them, so if they don't move product they're just sitting on the stock--which is how so many sellers end up with homes overflowing with unsold goods.
MLMs vs. freelancing
MLMs are often pitched as freelance opportunities, esp to women who are pushed out of wage work due to caregiving obligations, illness etc. It's not a freelance gig, though. I work freelance, and I don't buy anything or make any payments to work. If anyone wanted me to work on such terms (including by doing significant work w/o pay), I would laugh in their face before kicking them to the curb. Yet that is the exact deal MLM sellers are stuck with.
MLMs and the outsourcing of risk
I'm looking through some documents for work and I'm struck by the way these schemes use workers' expertise and time outside the protections of any formal employment relationship. If that were it it would be much like freelancing, except MLMs also outsource their commercial risks to workers. Since the sellers are required to buy products ahead of time, if they fail to move the products THEY'LL be the ones who lose out, not the company.
baby's first TeX, are we there yet
Me: I'll just run the installation all day while I work on other stuff, it's cool
Also me: *peeks at installation window every 5 minutes*
Followed up with the humming of the classic "Wheels on the Bus," what a rousing performance
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