Re: So who...
I haven't watched this one yet, have a comment on Ponzi schemes from you-know-who:
(Won't link as El Reg will again deep-six me, the inner party dislikes crimethink)
An almost-forgotten incident in American economic history was the pyramid scheme that swept Southern California during the stagflation of May 1980. Yet, now that we know that about 2/3rds of the Housing Bubble of 2000-2007 took place just in California, it’s worth reviewing incidents from California’s long history of financial manias.
Back in Gov. Jerry Brown’s California, “pyramid power” was a popular New Age concept. (Although there’s never anything new about New Age in California — the lovely coastal mountain village of Ojai has been a New Age center since the 1800s.) In 1977 I went to a fashionable Westwood hair styling salon where for a few bucks extra you could get your hair cut in a special chair under a pyramid dangling from the ceiling. The pyramidal aura was supposed to help you avoid Bad Hair Days or something. (I declined. But, now that I think about it, I did have a lot of BHDs …)
In May 1980, a vast multi-level cash exchange craze developed in California that explicitly invoked the mystique of pyramids. Every night there were hundreds of house parties hosted by people who had gotten in earlier on this multi-level scam (perhaps the night before). My vague recollection from newspaper reports is that you’d go over to a higher-up’s house and sit with him under his pyramid while you gave him cash in return for your very own kit for building a pyramid out of wire and fabric. The Ancient Egyptian emanations from his pyramid would ensure that you’d get even more cash back from the suckers you’d recruit to buy your pyramid kits from you while sitting under your pyramid.
Perhaps I don’t have the details right, but pyramid imagery was central to the experience, which made this Pyramid Power pyramid scheme hard to debunk. It was already pre-debunked. Anti-fraud authorities would go on the local TV news to denounce the pyramid schemes as “pyramid schemes,” which just served as good advertising. “Well, duh, of course it’s a pyramid scheme,” participants would laugh. “How do you think those Egyptian pharaohs got so rich that they could afford those giant pyramids? Through tapping the secret energy of Pyramid Power!”