Ten Scams You Encounter Every Day.

Via elephantjournal.com
on Sep 18, 2011
get elephant's newsletter

I distinctly remembered we all threw our bodies on top of each other. We were making a mountain of bodies. We were all laughing and wrestling to see who would get to the top of the bodies. I was on top. I was three or four years old. We were in “Yellow Duck Nursery School”. Laughing. Having fun.

Then I took a shit. A big one.

And we were all in shorts. Something I like to describe on CNBC as the “trickle-down effect” began to occur.

Everyone started yelling. Everyone started insulting me and running away from me. A teacher hit me. The next memory I have was that I was on the “special kids” school bus in the middle of the day. My mom was waiting on the driveway. “What did you do!” she said and took me by the hand and brought me inside.

(safe for work!)

That may have been my first memory.

What we do with our bowels is very important to us. We basically viscerally remember the times we shit on others. The more people under us, the bigger the memory.

The government, the media, the advertising industry, society, culture, your bosses, your parents, continue this trickle down-effect.

BONUS SCAM: Trading stocks is a totally rigged scam. Anybody who doesn’t listen to me is just jerking off in a madhouse. I have so much proof the system is completely rigged that the only way to win is if you are on the side of the people doing the rigging. There are 300mm people in the country and probably about 200 people who are rigging the system. Good luck trying to fit yourself into the club of 200 while you lose all of your money.

Here’s other scams which involves groups of people doing massive poops on others (ok, I toned down the language):

A) Advertising. I spoke to a guy who used to run a TV network. He said,”I would never in a million years buy a TV ad. They are useless.” I repeat: He RAN a TV network. His whole job was to sell ads to all the losers who would listen to his lies. All advertising is like that. We’ve evolved into an age where content creates branding. If you don’t stand out through valuable content, you’re useless. Advertising seems like a small scam. Does it equal the level of these other scams? And yet, we’re exposed to something like 10,000 impressions of ads per day. And the companies that pay for those ads are even being scammed because they don’t have people who understand the value of creating real content.

Now we’re fooled into thinking that personal branding is important. When people talk to me about “personal branding” the first thing I think is, “ok, so you’re a liar.” Why do I need a personal brand? Why should that be any different than the honest me? Are people afraid to show their real selves (rhetorical question because the obvious answer is “yes”).

B) Housing. I’ve said it in a million articles so I’ll be concise here as to why it’s a scam: Banks borrow from the people with checking accounts. They pay 0.5% or whatever. That’s a loan you give the bank and you can call it back anytime you want by writing a check or withdrawing the money. They then take that money and lend it out at 6% to people who want to buy a house. The multi-trillion dollar banking industry makes almost all of its money that way. Multi-TRILLION. So they have to keep making you think that you don’t have “roots” (a Neanderthal call back to our Mother Earth mysticism) unless you own a white picket fence, a house that can’t be moved, a home for your children, etc. Trillions of dollars are at stake if you don’t believe in this scam. For all the other reasons, check out my articles. [See the most popular article every on this blog: “Why I’d Rather Shoot Myself In the Head than Ever Own a Home Again” – actually, that article links to the most popular article because it’s a response to a response of the original article]

C) Education. I know, I know, I’ve written about this a million times. But think about it: why is it that just about everything single thing you learned in history class has to be relearned when you are an adult just so you get the reality of what happened. And when I was growing up we somehow ran out of time to learn about the Vietnam War. Surprise. The reality is, society needs your parents to work. So what the hell are they going to do with you? Well, they really should just let you play in the mud all day. But municipalities justify exorbitant taxes by saying, “no,no, no, that’s illegal! They have to go to school and get tested and standardized and we will love them from nine to three so you don’t need to feel guilty.

D) Happiness. The entire modern concept of happiness was re-created with commercial images to fool you in various ways. So that people can advertise to you (“if you buy this, you’ll be happier than if you buy that”), so that companies can convince you to work (“if you make this amount of money and we treat you vaguely nicely then you will be happy”). So that self-help gurus can sell you everything from food to exercises to positive thinking to make you think you will be a little bit happier. I do think there is such a thing as “happiness” but it takes a very different form than the one usually shown at surprise birthday parties.

E) Politics. We get so worked up. When Obama won the election a friend of mine told me she felt something “akin to an orgasm”. And now what? Where’s the next orgasm? Will she have another orgasm at the next election? Is she going to have an orgasm for Rick Perry this time? Nothing wrong with Obama. It’s just that the President doesn’t do anything and we no longer even need a Congress. But billions of dollars are made on lobbying, political advertising, consulting, etc to get your hopes up. [See, Time to Abolish the Presidency, which links to my other articles on why politics is a scam.]

(Barack Gaga - the most beautiful creature on the planet)

F) News. I once visited with a news producer while he was producing his show. On the news that night there were elections, earthquakes, wars, economics, smart pundits (e.g. me), etc. All things to scare the hell out of you. In the middle of the show the producer told me, “100% of our job is filling up the spaces in between advertisements.” So here I had it: a guy whose entire job is to create the primetime news for YOU was telling me it was a scam. That’s the news. Tell me a single thing you saw on the news today that was either not a lie or was in some way relevant to your life.

G) The Middle Man. There are lots of people in the middle trying to separate you from happiness. They are greedy and want the happiness for themselves because they foolishly think there is a finite amount of it. Venture Capitalists separating investors from their money and giving it to young entrepreneurs. Agents (literary, movie, etc). Real estate agents. Gurus (the middle man between God/happiness and you). Lawyers (the middle men between an overly complex legal system and you when most documents are just printed off the printer in five seconds, your name filled in, and then they charge you $10,000). Doctors (the middle man between the FDA (which controls all prescriptions and is, itself, a horrible scam) and sick people who need the medicine). Damn, I should’ve saved this one for an entire post.

H) Money. All of the markets are a scam. Stocks, gold, oil, the debt of every country, our currencies. The scam is so large it could take centuries to unravel. People spend their lives trying to go on TV telling us how the world could be better if somebody please could just do this, that, and this other thing. Corporations pay you just enough so you can live but not enough so that you can escape their leash. Anything else that entices you out of your hard-earned money (gambling, the lottery, education to “better yourself”, savings accounts that don’t beat inflation, etc) are all cleverly planned scams to enrich others but not you. Having a low-paying job (and, with inflation, almost all jobs are low-paying), is no better than an addiction to heroin. Something you have to go back to every day to satisfy short-term needs but will ultimately kill you.

(I love JSG Boggs paintings of money)

I) Art. Art has value, art has beauty, art is an expression of creativity. BUT, the business of art relies on the people who are clever enough to “brand” themselves, who gets the right representation, who can combine their creativity with enough business acumen to get noticed and ride the right trends. Two pieces of art can express equal creativity and insight but one could be worth $100,000,000 and the other could be worth $0. It’s always interesting to me that Beethoven is considered art, for instance, but if someone wrote and performed Beethoven’s 5th Symphony right now (and assuming Beethoven never wrote it) he would be laughed off the stage. Why? This is an unknown question to me. Although, personally, I’m a fan of “A Fifth of Beethoven” from the 70s classic movie “Saturday Night Fever”.

J) Books. I walk into a bookstore and there’s maybe 10,000 books. 9,995 of them are probably unreadable and intended that way. Most books break even for publishers and are losses for the authors. And are horribly written (it takes 10-20 years of practice to write a good book and most people have not put in the time. My first five books are awful, for instance). So why do people write books? For pedigree (“I wrote a book about that!”) To get speaking gigs (itself a scam industry. Companies spend $15,000 for an hour of someone’s time so fat, lazy executives eating a fancy steak dinner can be entertained at a corporate outing before they call up escort services to help them get to sleep, drunk, bloated, and spent), to get clients (“I wrote the book on this so you should hire me to give you advice” – and most of the advice industry is a scam. If you can’t figure something out for yourself and you are neck deep in it, then chances are someone else isn’t going to figure it out for you). People also write books for freedom. There’s the illusion that writers make their own hours, it’s fun, and then you make millions. Which very rarely happens. I’ve seen it happen. To one person. Out of 100s of writers I know. [See, How I’ve Lost Money on Ever Books I’ve Ever Written, and also “Why and How I Self-Published”]

(the modern day beethoven. if you can't see these images then go to jamesaltucher.com)

Wow, it seems like everything is a scam. So what’s not a scam?

Ugh, that seems like a huge cliché. I can imagine Tony Robbins with his headset while he walks around a stage. “YOU!” he points out at the audience. The audience is sick of BS. They are hoping he’s right.Nobody wants to go back to their dead-end jobs and have their bosses take out all the anger about their unhappy marriages, their anger about their kids who talk back, their anger about their own bosses, the drinking, the hookers, the high cholesterol, all the anger that builds up in the bloated ambition of your boss until you are conveniently around for them to dump on.

Because they do, they will, you hate it, you take it, you plot revenge. I always plotted revenge. “I’m going to get him”. I’d walk around the block. Angry. I’m going to get him. And then I end up yelling at the guy who bumps into me at Starbucks. Who then curses me but takes it out on his wife later. The scams of society rain down on us and then we’re sinking in the quicksand of them while we grasp onto each other with anger, not caring that all we’re doing is dragging each other down.

(By the way, I like Tony Robbins’ stuff a lot. I just think the self-help industry in general tries too hard with too little results).


“You” doesn’t have to be a cliche. I have no headset. Well I do. I’m watching a pretty girl hula hoop on youtube while I write this and I’m using a headset so as not to bother Claudia. When I say “I love the song” on this youtube video its sort of like reading Playboy for the articles but it’s true.

You don’t have to be a scam. Be honest. Don’t “brand” yourself like a cow. Don’t kiss ass. Breathe as deeply as possible. Check yourself as much as possible for the thoughts that stress you and anger you. Learn the “not useful” technique. Then do the Daily Practice to make sure that you become the boss of your life.My next book, coming out in a few weeks, outlines this further than I’ve done before.


Tell me other scams in society. I want to come up with 52. I want to make a deck of cards with the scams. Then I’m going to come up with “The Scam Game”. Sort of like “Trivia Pursuit” or “Bridge” but all about the ways people lie to us on a daily basis. By dissecting the lies (all of which cause massive stress), we can find the truth.

But it all goes back to focusing on your inner happiness. And from that core of the Universe, generating the ideas, the plans, the truths, the businesses, the ideas, that can create external happiness. You are a marvelous human being.

So let me try that again. What’s not a scam?

You aren’t a scam.


About elephantjournal.com

elephant journal is dedicated to "bringing together those working (and playing) to create enlightened society." We're about anything that helps us to live a good life that's also good for others, and our planet. >>> Founded as a print magazine in 2002, we went national in 2005 and then (because mainstream magazine distribution is wildly inefficient from an eco-responsible point of view) transitioned online in 2009. >>> elephant's been named to 30 top new media lists, and was voted #1 in the US on twitter's Shorty Awards for #green content...two years running. >>> Get involved: > Subscribe to our free Best of the Week e-newsletter. > Follow us on Twitter Fan us on Facebook. > Write: send article or query. > Advertise. > Pay for what you read, help indie journalism survive and thrive—and get your name/business/fave non-profit on every page of elephantjournal.com. Questions? info elephantjournal com


20 Responses to “Ten Scams You Encounter Every Day.”

  1. dan says:

    A few more (perhaps) for your 52: time, sin, blogging, name, form, self, greed.
    Many more at http://youarenotsosmart.com/

  2. Ben_Ralston says:

    Great post James.
    It's true. Most things are scams. Ironically, most people invest heavily in the scams, and invest very little in what is genuine…

  3. yogi tobye says:

    Games are a scam…

  4. OhDear says:

    Like how you snuck in a plug for your new book there at the end…scam?

  5. youreanass says:

    people like you are why cornell was voted the #1 douchiest college in america

  6. LISA says:


  7. LISA says:


  8. LISA says:


  9. LISA says:


  10. LISA says:


  11. LISA says:


  12. Karl says:


  13. joe says:

    Sweet. More judgmental, guilt-ridden white people stuff. Love you ele!

  14. Anna says:

    Cigarets & booze are legal & marihuana is illegal
    Healthcare system (still better than on the most parts of the world)
    “expert” opinions

  15. Pam says:

    So I guess this article, in itself, is a scam. To promote a book. To brand yourself as the "guy who likes to point out scams".

  16. I don't normally respond to comments like this but what does this have to do with being white?

  17. drbinder says:

    "Modern Medicine" is definitely a scam. I'll write an article about it just for you since I have 19.8 years of writing practice left before I can start working on a book. BTW, what song were you listening to? Was it X girlfriend by The Black Keys?

  18. drbinder says:

    Also, the music industry. Record labels, A&R BS, and that damn American Idol.

  19. Reader says:

    or as Jim Kunstler calls it: American Idle.

  20. […] Lessons from a Yoga Teacher Who got Scammed. […]