Amway: understanding economics
November 3, 2010
After establishing that I need more money, and that I’m not about to get the money, which I discussed in the previous post. My Amway evangelist continued by giving me my first lesson in economics. At least, he assumed this was going to be my first lesson.
I haven’t read Robert Kiyosaki before. But on Wednesday evening (that was two days before my Amway meeting) a group of friends was visiting. We do this most Wednesday evenings: get together, and discuss life in South Africa. We have a passion to for the good of South Africa, and spend these evenings talking about our own place in this country. This specific Wednesday, we talked about Zizek’s argument concerning charity, as summarized in First as Tragedy, then as Farce, Jessica Jackley on microfinancing (which we ended up being somewhat critical of), and during the evening a lot of statistics from Hans Rosling and Gapminder was brought into the conversation. We also discussed the complication concerning HIV/AIDS (which we were privileged to have my father in the house for, since he’s an expert), and continued to critically look into our own racialization. And at one point Kiyosaki entered the conversation.
He was introduced by 20-year old conversation partner which read his work, and pointed out how his ideas assume that the majority remain poor. Something which is an absolute #megafail in the eyes of this group. If you assume that the poor should remain poor, then your’s is not a solution, it’s oppression!
“Creating Wealth”, the tract I mentioned yesterday, start with Kiyosaki, the world expert on economics and financial management. Since this is not an analysis of Amway, I’ll skip the technicalities, and rather focus on the story. The tract point out that 90% of people earn 10% of money, and 10% of people 90% of money (which is quite close to the actual figures). The obvious question I would ask, and the group of friends I spend time with on Wednesday evenings help in this, would be: how the hell do we get more of that 90% of money back to the 90% of people. This seem like the obvious question! Not for my Amway evangelist, for him the obvious question was: how the hell do I become part of the 10% of people earning the 90% of money.
What I consider to be the backbone of society, those actually doing the work, he points out as the group which I should part with, so that I can become part of the small elite of “rich people”. To explain this a small parable is used about the water carrier and the pipe builder. Nice story, but quite flawed I think. In the story, two people did a job, one was an entrepreneur, and his skill resulted in neither of the two needing to do the job. In the cash flow quadrant, 10% can be business owners and investors, but you’ll always need the 90% who have to do the job! More investors doesn’t equal less people working, rather, the more investors, the more people you need who isn’t investing, but who are doing the jobs into which money is being invested.
So, basically, if I understood my evangelist correctly, the morel of their story is that most people will be slaves to the economy their whole lives through, just make sure your not one of them.
Apart from the fact that I am part of a religious tradition which actually try to think about the community, from some of the reading I’ve done since Friday, it would seem like Amway might actually not be a very profitable way of achieving what they claim. Question is, if Amway was so successful, why was the poor guy stuck on Friday arguing about ethics and economics? If his money were working for him after all this years, wouldn’t he have been sitting on a beach somewhere, rather than stuck with a young arrogant theologian telling him that his business cannot work on the long run, and is deeply unethical. Seems to me like his in Kiyosaki’s “self-employed” category, doing a job which I wouldn’t have done even if it payed well (and rumour has it that most people are losing rather than making money from Amway).
At this point in the conversation, however, Amway and Network21 hasn’t been mentioned once, and I was still at a loss what this guy was trying to sell me. But at least I knew that he was selling eternal riches without working…