My Mazamet

Life at № 42 by E.M. Coutinho

Must See: Betting On Zero


“From ‘Darfur Now’ writer/director Ted Braun comes a riveting docu-thriller following controversial hedge fund titan Bill Ackman as he puts a billion dollars on the line in his crusade to expose Herbalife as the largest pyramid scheme in history. Herbalife claims Ackman is simply a market manipulator out to make a fortune from short-selling their stock, but Ackman insists Herbalife deliberately targets low-income and immigrant communities and robs them of their life savings. Herbalife is joined on the counterattack by longtime Ackman nemesis (and fellow Wall Street billionaire) Carl Icahn, while Ackman finds an unlikely ally in Chicago activist Julie Contreras, who rallies the Latino community to get the Federal government to intervene. Blending tales of high-stakes corporate intrigue with working-class people caught in the crossfire, Braun paints a stirring picture of the American Dream gone wrong.”

Source: Betting On Zero

Amazing documentary- in a very sad way. Particularly interesting to watch after having spent the last week reading Spencer. In the case of Herbalife or Amway there’s a not particularly well disguised subterfuge, that seems to help people establish that there’s something dubious going on. But consider a whole other level. The biggest fast food company in the world is built on deception. A deception so successful, it’s made them the most successful fast food company in the world. When you think of McDonald’s sandwiches, what images come into your mind? Probably something wonderful like this:

Image result for mcdonalds sandwich

And that’s despite the fact none of their clients has ever, in all history, received anything that looked even remotely like that picture. On the best of days you’ll get this:

Image result for mc donalds look actual burger

They’ve managed to alter reality successfully. Fascinating stuff.

10 comments on “Must See: Betting On Zero

  1. Hariod Brawn
    June 3, 2017

    Yet another warped take on the mythical American Dream?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. dpmonahan
    June 3, 2017

    I don’t know what you can do about pyramid schemes, especially when multi-tiered marketing isn’t illegal (how could it be?), so there will always be a grey area between, say, Bernie Madoff and Mary Kay.
    Besides entire nations run on pyramid schemes, look at Venezuela, or the pension system of any major American city.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sirius Bizinus
    June 3, 2017

    It’s difficult to enforce FTC rules against Pyramid and Ponzi schemes because the people who run them know how to hide the evidence. They’re also good at fleeing jurisdictions. And on top of that, some schemes never get looked at by the FTC because they aren’t big enough.

    I remember John Oliver did a segment on Herbalife a while back. I’m definitely interested to see another view of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The film is on Netflix. Wouldn’t it be possible to make the rules a bit more strict? From what they showed it seems that things were reasonably better between the 1970’s Amway ruling and the time when Reagan deregulated.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sirius Bizinus
        June 3, 2017

        I’m going to watch it tomorrow, then.

        It could theoretically be possible to make the rules more strict if we had a President and Congress willing to do so. We haven’t had that in a while, even when Democrats controlled things.

        One thing I liked about Dodd-Frank (and I’m not sure if it’s still applicable anymore) was that it gave states the option to go after wrongdoers if Federal agencies passed on the opportunity. A policy like that would really go a long way in strengthening consumer protections.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. acflory
    June 3, 2017

    Um…I’ve never heard of this. I thought Herbalife was a brand of vitamin supplements? Anyone care to explain a bit?

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on June 3, 2017 by in thinking aloud and tagged , , , , , .
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