Last Week Tonight aired its penultimate episode of 2016 on Sunday, and, despite it being a longer episode, not a minute was wasted. Host John Oliver did begin, as one would expect given the close proximity to the upcoming election, by discussing "the 2016 election, or as you better know it 'of course Election Day is November 8th - the latest possible date the election could fall on. This must be the universe punishing us for all the masturbating we've done, and it was a lot, 2016'". The show then moved on to the main segment of the evening -- one that had refreshingly little to do with the outcome of Tuesday's vote: the dangers of multilevel marketing schemes.
Oliver highlighted how both candidates spent the final days before the Election tirelessly campaigning. While Hillary Clinton was butchering Jay-Z songs in front of him, Donald Trump spent his week "visibly trying to restrain himself". This past week also brought more "news" about the emails the FBI found in relation to their ongoing investigation into Anthony Weiner. The "news" was that there was no real news, and the FBI had not changed its position on Clinton's use of a private email server. Oliver ended his final piece on the election before the country goes to the ballots with a plea for everyone to vote.
...if you're still undecided. I honestly don't know if I can help you. For a treat, our main story later won't have anything to do with this election. But you do have to vote. Even if you live in a state where you think it won't matter -- because there are some important things to vote for down-ballot ... if you Google 'view my ballot' and type in your address, you can see who and what is on the ballot in your area. And, after that, you can type 'dog dressed as a walrus' into Google as a treat for yourself because now you actually deserve it.
He also reminded viewers about a time when many thought a Trump candidacy was funny, with many comedians even encouraging him to run, simply for the humour.
Oliver used a clip from his 2013 stint as a guest-host of The Daily Show, and another clip from a few years earlier in which he asserted that the Cubs would "never ever ever win the World Series", as proof that "no outcome is certain". He returned to his earlier plea for viewers to get out and vote because the seemingly impossible can sometimes happen.
Multilevel Marketing Companies
The show's main segment discussed multilevel marketing companies -- specifically, their method of operation. The segment began by listing several examples (Mary Kay, Rodan + Fields, Nu Skin, and Amway, among others) before zeroing in on Herbalife Nutrition. Collectively, multilevel marketing companies reported $36.12 billion dollars in sales, making them too big to ignore.
The system is supposed to work by giving distributers two income streams: the first is by selling the product, itself; the second is recruiting someone else into the company. The problem lies in situations where the only way one can possibly make money is by recruiting other people -- and not only because the math is against them. [Ed note: Sorry, this recap does involve some math. Our apologies.]
Many multilevel marketing schemes have the appearance of a legitimate company, complete with celebrity endorsements. Other companies have CEOs who enjoy extravagant and lavish lifestyles. The promise of enjoying that same lifestyle, of being able to obtain that level of success, is alluring for many, who subsequently buy into whatever promise these CEOs happen to be selling.
In some cases, conferences put on by the company in question will have speakers make larger than life promises and claims about the anticipated level of success. Upon further questioning, these companies tend to back down, saying that their spokespeople don't represent them. It's a hard argument to make in situations when a company pays someone to speak on the company's behalf at a company-sponsored event. Despite this issue, they still paint an attractive picture of being able to provide an elaborate lifestyle for your family, and that's hard to resist.
However, the reality isn't always being able to quit your job after two years and depositing massive cheques in the bank. In many cases, distributors wind up with garages filled with product they are unable to sell, eventually losing their investment and their status as a sales representative for the company. The way to make money is to recruit others beneath you and to rely on them to recruit others still. Unfortunately, this is where math sadly catches up. This recruitment cycle can only be completed approximately 14 times before we would run out of people on earth to participate.
In addition to too-good-to-be-true claims about anticipated levels of success, many of these companies also make unfounded claims about the products, themselves. Companies that sell health supplements, especially, have found themselves in trouble for claiming their product can work wonders and cure ailments it simply doesn't affect.
In true Last Week Tonight fashion, the show doesn't simply present a problem, they also mock it endlessly while presenting a "solution". This week, they presented a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help stop the spread of multilevel marketing schemes. Simply watch the video (translated into Spanish thanks to Jane the Virgin's Jaime Camil) and share it with five of your friends using the hashtag #ThisIsAPyramidScheme. Encourage them to share the video with five of their friends, and, soon enough, the whole world will know about the risks presented by participating in multilevel marketing companies.
You can watch the segment below. The season finale of Last Week Tonight will air next week on HBO at 11:00pm.
[in response to Trump's campaign asserting that they have not made the emails a focal point] "Seriously?! Seriously?! In the word cloud of your campaign, 'email' is right up there with 'wall', 'Mexican', 'big league', 'unintelligible', 'sniffle', and 'WRONG'."
"This election hasn't so much appealed to our better angels so much as it has groped our better angels, mocked their weight, and called them sixes at best."
"Okay, fourth string wedding chapel Elvis, calm the fuck down."
"Who doesn't want to go tell their boss to go fuck themselves?! Half my staff would do it right now if they could."
"Well that is obviously bullshit. There are only three liquids that can get you pregnant: a glass of merlot, the honey-smooth music of Sade, and good old-fashioned jizz.