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Fuck Your Thoughts and Prayers

Way back when I was in middle school, I was a bit of a math nerd. I participated in Mu Alpha Theta competitions with a team from my school. One of the competitions was at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL.

I know people who went to school there. If it were 20 years ago, they would have been on campus when it happened. But, I don’t need a shooting at a school near me to drive the point home that we have a problem.

Depending on how you define “school shooting” there have been either 18 or 7 school shootings this year. For the sake of argument, we’ll go with the 7 because they most closely match incidents that resemble Columbine.

We 48 days into the year and we’ve had SEVEN school shootings. That’s about one shooting per week. There have been school shootings more often I’ve been to the movies this year. There have been school shootings more often than I’ve gone out to dinner this year. There have been more school shootings this year than I’ve had manicures. Think about that. Let it sink in.

We’re also hearing the same bullshit again: This isn’t a gun issue, it’s a mental health issue.

First, it’s both. We have a disturbing tendency to see things as one thing or another, rarely acknowledging the reality that issues are complex. I’m not sure when we stopped seeing things on a continuum. Is it the clickbait world we live in? Maybe that everything is being broken down into 15-second sound bytes? We have to learn to talk about these issues as comprehensively as possible. That means addressing guns and people.

Second, cut the shit about it not being a gun problem. Could the shooter have done what he did with a gun that’s not an AR-15? No. Could he have killed people other ways? Yes, but that’s not the fucking point. Pedophiles can get hard photos of child pornography instead of finding them on the internet. We don’t throw our hands up and say, “Well, he can get the material elsewhere, we’ll just let him surf the web for it.” Just because someone can kill people in a variety of ways doesn’t mean we shouldn’t work to do something about it. Guns are easier to obtain than something like explosives and require less skill to operate.

Third, it can’t just be a mental health issue. Lots of people have mental health issues and they aren’t running around shooting up schools (or anything else for that matter). Someone’s mental health may be a contributing factor, but it’s not the factor. He has a history of violent outbursts and has expressed his desire to kill people. This definitely warranted more investigation than was ever done.

What I find interesting is that many people who oppose gun control legislation had no problem with the USA PATRIOT Act. One of our fundamental freedoms is privacy and the Patriot Act absolutely interfered with it. I have a feeling that has to do with them feeling like they were never going to be under suspicion for terrorist activity, but that any changes to gun laws would hurt them. Never mind that children are dying for what would likely amount to very little change for most gun owners.

We aren’t past the time for thoughts and prayers on gun legislation. There was never a time when thoughts and prayers were the answer. It doesn’t make any sense that we continue to avoid legislation on the issue. Doctors don’t write prescriptions for thoughts and prayers. Drunk driving is against the law. It’s harder to get a license to practice cosmetology than it is to buy a gun.

Thoughts and prayers aren’t going to fix our problem. People have been praying for thousands of years and horrible things still happen all over the world. Thinking without action is pointless. We need to DO something. We need to do what is in our power to control. We can’t stop mental health issues, even when someone is on court-ordered medication. We can make it harder for people to buy guns, particularly certain classes of guns.

If legislators won’t do their jobs, we need to help them become unemployed so someone who will enact sensible gun control legislation is in the office.

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LuLaRoe Lawsuit: Pyramid Scheme

If you’ve ever done any research about network marketing companies or multilevel marketing companies, you’ve surely come across the phrase “pyramid scheme.” Pyramid schemes are illegal in the United States, while true network marketing and multilevel marketing companies are legal.

What’s the difference?

In a multilevel marketing or network marketing plan, those who sell or promote the company must sell a product. In a pyramid scheme, the individual earns money just for bringing someone else into the program. There is no requirement that they sell.

CaseBerry, Hayton, & Scheffer v. LuLaRoe, United States District Court, Central District of California, Case Number: 5:17-cv-02176.

Who should pay attention to this case?: All LuLaRoe retailers who signed on 2013 and later, former and current.

Case allegations:  LuLaRoe is an endless chain scheme in violation of California law, several counts of RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations – This is a federal statute which focuses on all aspects of a business system to include wire and mail fraud and alleges that there was an unlawful criminal enterprise), Unfair and Deceptive Practices, and False Advertising.

Pyramid schemes are “[s]uch contrivances. . . characterized by the payment by participants of money to the company in return for which they receive (1) the right to sell a product and (2) the right to receive in return for recruiting other participants into the program rewards which are unrelated to sale of the product to ultimate users.”

The satisfaction of the second element of the Koscot test is the sine qua non of a pyramid scheme: “As is apparent, the presence of this second element, recruitment with rewards unrelated to product sales, is nothing more than an elaborate chain letter device in which individuals who pay a valuable consideration with the expectation of recouping it to some degree via recruitment are bound to be disappointed.”

Is LuLaRoe a pyramid scheme?

Short answer: Possibly, at least initially.

The question that must be answered is how Retailers make money. Retailers earn money in two ways: Selling the clothing they purchase from LuLaRoe and bonuses based on their downlines.

Until 2017, the bonus plan for LuLaRoe Retailers was based on the purchases made by the Retailer’s downline, not their product sales. A Sponsor could earn 5% of their personally sponsored Retailer’s orders as long as they also ordered 175 pieces. A Trainer could earn that plus 3% of their downlines’ downlines as long as they ordered 250 pieces per month. Coaches and Mentors had different plans, but all were based on Retailer purchases, not sales.

Obviously this scheme works out well for LuLaRoe. From the top down, Retailers were pushing other Retailers to place orders with LuLaRoe, whether they’re selling it or not. Requiring uplines to purchase to earn a bonus ensures that LuLaRoe will continue to profit off their enterprise. It matters not at all to them that the product actually sells. Team leaders were using incentives like iPads and designer handbags to encourage their downlines to buy more and more inventory. Not only that, LuLaRoe leadership pushed that in order to be successful, Retailers had to have the latest prints.

Someone must have notified LuLaRoe that they were running a pyramid scheme, so all Retailers were notified that the compensation plan would change in 2017. Rather than achieving bonuses based on orders placed with the company, they would earn bonuses based on the sales of their sponsees, as long as they sold a certain number of pieces with an average price per item of $30.

LuLaRoe tried to paint themselves as benevolent by stating that they would start paying based on the new compensation plan right away, even thought it would essentially amount to a double bonus because Retailers had already been paid a bonus based on orders. What they didn’t say is that they basically had to or they’d be admitting to having operated a pyramid scheme.

The compensation plan represented a massive shift in how Retailers are compensated. Making money became more difficult as Retailers now could only earn bonuses when products sold. Some Sponsors were no longer even Sponsors because LuLaRoe changed the qualifying threshold for Sponsorship – Retailers had to have at least 10 Pop-ups and $10,000 in retail sales before they could earn bonuses as a Sponsor.

The change in the compensation plan also affected how Retailers priced their products. LuLaRoe already had a requirement in place that prohibited Retailers from advertising below their Minimum Advertised Price, but Retailers were still free to choose their prices. Requiring an average product price of $30 meant Retailers had to either change what they carry or stick to the Minimum Advertised Price.

Why is that? Let’s look at a Retailer who focuses on leggings and tops – the heart of the LuLaRoe business. The Minimum Advertised Price for adult leggings is $25 and for most of their classic tops is $35. If sold together all the time, the pair average is $30. But what if people are buying one top and several pairs of leggings to match each top? The Retailer isn’t hitting that $30 average. Regardless how you look at it, LuLaRoe positioned themselves to continue earning large sums of money while their Retailers are left to fight each other. This is exactly the kind of thing the laws are designed to prevent.

 

Why aren’t we scared of white men?

Yes, I asked that question. Yes, I know #notallwhitemen Blah blah blah. That’s the bullshit we hear from the privileged race when they don’t want us thinking about them poorly.

Unfortunately, that kind of credit doesn’t get extended to others, black men and Muslims in particular.

Whether we want to see it that way or not, black men are viewed as inherently scary, even as teenagers (Trayvon Martin). If it weren’t this way, why would so many cops who shoot unarmed black men get away with it. They get to play the scared card, even though it’s not justified.

Meanwhile, white men make up the vast majority of serial killers and mass murderers in the United States. Check this out.

But still, this idea persist that black men are scary. Muslims are scary.

WHY do we believe that? Because of what’s portrayed in movies? Who’s writing those screenplays? Who’s publishing those movies? Because of what we see on TV in the news? Who controls the media? Because of what your neighbors tell you? Do your neighbors have black FRIENDS?

It can’t be based on facts. Nothing supports the idea that black men are more dangerous than white men.

So what then? How about prejudices we hold near and dear to our hearts? It comes down to the idea that some is different. And because white people control the media, TV, movies, etc., there’s no way for people to successfully portray something else. Or, when they do, white people freak out about what’s happening on their TV (the success of Grey’s Anatomy, black*ish, How to Get Away with Murder). Never mind that MOST shows are still dominated by white casts.

When are we going to get real and address the problems? White killers and terrorists are treated as individuals – “James Holmes had mental problems,” making him an “other,” a “not one of us.” The same would have been said for the Columbine killers, Sandy Hook. All of it. At what point will people stop and just accept that yes, they were part of YOUR group? They are YOUR people.

Until we get there, they aren’t going to get the help they need. They’re cast off as things that don’t matter.

Well, excuse me. But I’m tired of people dying because people can’t accept that everyone’s got issues, and we’re all in this together.

 

I’m so proud of the NFL today!

Y’all, I am just THRILLED at the response from NFL players, team owners, and coaches. I teared up reading this post from Mother Jones about how many players/owners/coaches took a knee, stood with arms linked, or just straight up decided not to take the field for the national anthem. I’d also like to give a shout out to all the performers who took a knee this weekend.

This issue has been going on for over a year now, since Colin Kaepernick decided to take a knee during the anthem. For doing that it seems like his career is completely derailed, which is incredible bullshit. But that isn’t the point I’m trying to make. My point is that in a year, people have not figured out that this isn’t about the anthem or the flag.

People (who don’t appear to have served in any branch of the military) go off about how it’s disrespectful to servicepoeple and veterans if someone kneels during the anthem. These people have somehow woven together the military, the flag, and the anthem.

  1. The flag represents the country. Period. Yes, the military fights for the country, but they’re fighting to protect our freedoms. These freedoms include – wait for it – the right to free speech. An act can be speech. An act like, kneeling.
  2. The national anthem is racist as hell. It’s been chopped by a stanza because the missing stanza talks about slaves and basically the worthlessness of their lives. Pretty sure we should be looking for a new national anthem. Perhaps, America, the Beautiful?
  3. They aren’t letting veterans speak for themselves. As I saw posted on Facebook earlier today, veterans are not a monolith (rather like people of one race aren’t – like black people or Muslims). They don’t all think or feel the same way about issues. So I am sure there are veterans who hate that anyone takes a knee during the game but there are many others who are pleased to see it because it means that their service is validated. People are exercising the rights they fought to protect.
  4. If they want to talk about dishonoring the flag, they should worry more about bikinis that rest on someone’s cooter and not someone who isn’t actually touching the flag when they kneel. (We do all kinds of things that dishonor the flag (per the Flag Code) all the time. Every day. Almost every change we get.)

I don’t know if this focus on the military is just a way to try to shit away from the fact that people (probably almost all white) still don’t get why black people are upset at the way things are going in the US. That we are still a damn racist society and that it’s systemic.

I saw someone who said he’s pissed because people are looking at the police officers and saying/thinking they are ALL racist. While that is demonstrably untrue for the majority, its’ also incredibly fucking stupid. He was trying to point out that there are just a few bad apples. The problem he’s ignoring is that a few bad apples placed in positions of authority sour the entire bunch. THAT is the problem. THAT is what’s being ignored. THAT is what we have to solve. Until people can get on board with that, we’re going to continue to wallow in shit.

And Trump. That guy. He’s proven, conclusively, his leanings toward white supremacists. He says that there are “nice people” on both sides (talking about the alt-right Nazis and the “alt-left”) but that people who kneels are “sons of bitches.” What else do we need to just admit that he’s got some really fucked up ideals and that he shouldn’t be POTUS? Even his friends are turning on him now – people who donated millions to his campaign, opened rallies for him – are saying that he’s wrong.

Well, it’s about damn time.