Practical Definitions: Conservatives and Multi-Level Marketing aka MLM

MLM is short for “Multi-Level Marketing“.  This is a form of sales in which the majority of the income is earned by signing other people up and receiving a portion of their sales (and the sales of those they sign up).  This is a variation of a pyramid scheme.  Conservatives tend to fall prey to MLM scams because the veneer of capitalism appeals to conservatives tricked into monetizing their relationships.  With liberals, the scam tendency is towards self-help, self-improvement and spiritual awakening cons, in which the veneer is monetizing friendships and relationships for “spiritual growth”.  Liberal scams cater to self-focus and individual autonomy.  Conservative scams cater, with their more pseudo-democratic pyramid structures, to the idea of community while horrifyingly undermining it in (ineffective) pursuit of money.

While both conservative men and women tend to fall prey to such schemes, the reason for this post is what I have observed among conservative housewives on and off the internet.  There are an astonishing number of schemes designed for them far beyond the kind of stereotypical makeup and cookware MLM businesses.

Three in particular that one runs into are book sales, essential oils (this one is health-risking as well, since they are not designed for internal use and yet that is part of the con), and even a bolting-on of MLM to real estate brokering.

There is nothing about books, essential oils or real estate sales or anything else that requires an MLM component and yet over and over I find “conservative”, “homeschool”, “Biblical”, etc. “work at home opportunities” seem to have MLM tacked on no matter what the supposed product or service for sale is.

If you’re discouraged from just selling the product or service without signing other people up, it’s probably MLM and you should walk away before you sink too much cash into startup costs (which MLM usually has more of than other at-home business opportunities).

The following conservative Christian SAHM, who is an excellent blogger in many respects, has written some insightful posts detailing the problems with MLM.

Each of her posts is longer than this one and worth the read, she delves into the problems of monetizing your relationships with friends and family.  She also unpacks the flaws of MLMs as a business model, and most importantly covers the spiritual pitfalls of these terrible schemes.

This post is just an introduction and overview, a lot of conservative people truly don’t understand that business structures don’t have to look like Amway or any of the other MLMs I’ve linked to because all the stuff they see and pass around does look that way.  But no, these are a bad deal and should be avoided.


3 thoughts on “Practical Definitions: Conservatives and Multi-Level Marketing aka MLM

  1. Several years ago I was in the nursing room with my baby and another woman came in with a toddler and struck up a conversation. This went on for a few weeks and she evevtually invited us over.

    Here I was thinking I’d done what had seemed impossible for years; made another SAHM friend at church. Then I get to her house and…sales pitch that I was to go home and sell to my husband.

    I recognized it as a pyramid scheme right away, and we never met again and only spoke as she made a couple of follow up calls after our initial meeting.

    I found the experience disheartening. I like that phrase you used: monetizing relationships.


  2. Everyone and their sister Sue was doing Mary Kay when I was just out of college. One “party” where they insisted I looked “just like a NY model” after my makeover in grey and purple eyeshadow and brownish lipstick… I was soooo out of there. (My husband said I looked like a streetwalker, and I agreed with him!)


  3. Pingback: Conservatives and Obama agree that women shouldn’t stay home | The Practical Conservative

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