Wednesday, 29 February 2012

The absurd origins of the big 'M (multi) L (level) M (marketing)' lie


In 1945, whilst most, contemporary mainstream commentators were unable to look beyond the ends of their noses, with a perfect sense of irony, Eric Arthur Blair a.k.a. 'George Orwell' (1903-1950) presented fact as fiction in an insightful 'fairy story' entitled, 'Animal Farm.' He revealed that totalitarianism is merely the oppressors' fiction mistaken for fact by the oppressed. In the same universal allegory, Orwell described how, at a time of vulnerability, almost any people's dream of a future, secure, Utopian existence can be hung over the entrance to a totalitarian deception. Indeed, the words that are always banished by totalitarian deceivers are, 'totalitarian' and 'deception.' Sadly, when it comes to examining the same enduring phenomenon, albeit with an ephemeral 'American/Capitalist' label, most contemporary, mainstream commentators have again been unable to look further than the ends of their noses. However, if they followed Orwell's example, and did some serious thinking, this is the reality-inverting nightmare they would find.



Richard DeVos
 Richard  DeVos Jr.
Richard DeVos Jnr.
David VanAndel
VANANDELDEVOS.jpg
Steve VanAndel                                                Doug DeVos


For more than 50 years, successive grinning generations of two American families have got away with building a labyrinth of legally-registered corporate structures, pursuing lawful, and/or unlawful, enterprises, in order to peddle a demonstrably-toxic, totalitarian fairy story entitled, Direct Selling' or 'Multi-Level Marketing Income Opportunity,which they, and their propagandists, have steadfastly pretended to have brought great benefit to humanity. During this shameful period, these two clans of world-class reality-inverters have become fabulously wealthy, whilst tens of millions of ill-informed individuals around the globe have continued secretly to be churned through a dissimulated closed-market swindle and related advance fee frauds. At the same time, many of these persons have had their minds hijacked by a frighteningly-familiar perversion of the ‘positive (good) versus negative (evil)’ Christian belief system. Although the unpaid proselytisers for this self-perpetuating crime-wave were given the illusion that they were making a free-choice, they were, in fact, subjected to co-ordinated, devious techniques of social, psychological and physical persuasion designed to facilitate the shutting down of their critical, and evaluative, faculties, but without their fully-informed consent. In this way, a significant minority of chronic victims have been deceived into dissipating all their mental, physical and financial resources to the benefit of a sanctimonious little gang of self-proclaimed ‘compassionate Christian capitalists,’ whom they continued blindly to worship and follow no matter what suffering this entailed. Major organised crime groups were supposedly identified by US legislators as a cancer that had previously been allowed to gnaw its way into the heart of the Republic when, in 1970, severe criminal penalties, and powerful civil remedies, were finally provided as a defence. Yet US federal prosecutors have (so far) done nothing to prevent the bosses of the original, blame-the-victim 'Direct Selling/MLM Income Opportunity' racket, and their associate enterprises, from maintaining control over billions of stolen dollars. Indeed, certain, corrupt, senior political figures and legally-qualified law enforcement agents have enthusiastically assisted in protecting the group’s kitsch front, obstructing full-exposure of the pernicious cult that has lurked behind it. Tellingly, the beneficiaries of these extensive economic, and financial, crimes against humanity, have invested some of their ill-gotten gains to infiltrate traditional culture to a degree which makes even the most-notorious ‘Mafia' Wise Guys look like a bunch of amateurs. 

Jay Van Andel (1924-2004)                                 Richard DeVos

On September 6th 1949 (along with Michael Pacetti), two, clean-cut, hitherto-unremarkable USAAF veterans of Dutch Protestant origin, Richard DeVos (aged 23) and Jay Van Andel (aged 25), registered the Ja-Ri Corporation.’ However, throughout the 1950s, this (apparently independent) company was merely the agent of another one, theNutrilite Products Company Inc.'

~Early SNAKE OIL REMEDY!~Miller's Antiseptic Oil~1918!~
‘Nutrilite’ was a controversial trademark owned  by Carl F. Rehnborg a.k.a. 'Dr.' Rehnborg, a previously-penniless, American toothpaste-salesman (of German origin) who'd acquired a considerable fortune by reinventing himself as a historically-important, visionary-scientist, autodidactic scholar and philanthropic businessman. Lawyers from the US Food and Drug Administration Bureau of Enforcement, who successfully-challenged the authenticity of some of Rehnborg's many, absurd claims in the federal courts during two decades, privately knew him to be nothing more than one of a trio of sinister quacks protected by an echelon of shyster attorneys, who’d combined, and updated, the medicine show and Ponzi-scheme to reflect the spirit of the age. However, Rehnborg was no ordinary charlatan. He almost certainly suffered from severe and inflexible Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Tellingly, Rehnborg's own comic-book version of his life and achievements (set-down in various published documents, including a book signed by his son and heir, Sam Rehnborg), reads uncannily like the largely-fictitious autobiography dreamt-up by 'Scientology' instigator, L. Ron Hubbard - a man who was once famously described as 'a combination of  Baron M√ľnchausen and Adolf Hitler.'

L. Ron Hubbard (1911-1986)



The Nutrilite Story
Carl F Rehnborg (1887-1973)
Unfortunately, just as with the followers and casual observers of Hubbard, the only information made available to the followers and casual observers of Rehnborg, and to those of the DeVos and VanAndel clans, has been carefully controlled. Thus, to date, the world has been led to believe that Rehnborg (who was born in 1887 in  St. Pitersberge, Florida) :- 

- was a noted-child-prodigy who read voraciously and who amazed his teachers with his detailed knowledge of: philosophy, religion, history, politics, astronomy, mathematics, aerodynamics, chemistry and human rights. 

- was  fluent in many languages, including Chinese. 

- was not a believer, but he studied Christianity, making a boyhood pilgrimage to Palestine and Egypt.

- had a great passion in his teen-age years - the study of planet Earth, its population, its food reserves, and the 'technology of conservation of natural products, but his first love was always the science of nutrition. 

 - was, by the tender age of 27, already a 'doctor of chemistry' who had moved to Tianjin in China to work as an accountant for an American Oil company.

- ran a shipbuilding company, before becoming the representative of the 'American Dairy Company' and, eventually, the representative of 'Colgate Products Company' in Shanghai.

 - witnessed ‘mass-starvation’ in China, before surviving a ‘siege of Shanghai’ by supplementing his diet (and that of his starving friends) with an improvised, vitamin and mineral-enriched broth made from grasses, vegetables, powdered limestone, ground-up bones and rusty nails, etc.

- sailed across the Pacific (studying its many island-cultures on the way) and landed on the West Coast of the USA, where, despite having no money, he managed to establish a 'research laboratory’ in his modest loft-apartment on California’s Balboa Island.



- selflessly dedicated 6 years of his life (1927-1934) to develop a ‘Revolutionary New Food Supplement’ to save mankind from starvation, assisted only by his dutiful young wife, Edith.

- first naively tried to give his wonderful new formula away, but the cynical world wasn’t interested, so, in 1934, he reluctantly decided to create ‘California Vitamins Inc.’ 

- moved his flourishing  ‘Business’ to a ‘Manufacturing and Processing Facility’ in Buena Park, California, and created the ‘Nutrilite Products Company Inc.’ in 1939. 

- acting in association with a ‘Network Sponsoring Company’, ‘Mytinger and Casselberry Inc.’ (to whom he’d sold ‘Exclusive Nutrilite Distribution Rights’) created the ‘World’s First Multi-Level Marketing Scheme’

- had lived the American dream, starting from nothing to become an admired and respected millionaire through ‘Helping 15 thousands fellow Americans to build their own MLM Businesses.’ 
  


Exactly like L.Ron Hubbard, scant quantifiable evidence has been produced to prove that Rehnborg was qualified (let alone expert) in anything, other than lying to people to get their money. There is even reason to doubt that Rehnborg (who apparently did once work for 'Colgate & Co') was in China in the exact period he claimed during, and after, WW I; whilst all the other exciting episodes in his various occidental and oriental odysseys are largely anecdotal. However, the truth about Rehnborg’s convoluted ‘Rags to Riches’ American fairy story is an entirely different matterIn 1934, Rehnborg (aged 48) created ‘California Vitamins Inc.’, allegedly to manufacture and distribute what he arbitrarily defined as 'the World’s First Multi-Mineral/Multivitamin Plant-Based Food Supplement - a Unique Combination of Vitamins and Minerals in a Special Base.’ At first, this so-called Health Tonic’ was brewed up, and peddled as 'Vita-6'  a.k.a. 'Vitasol,' in insignificant quantities. Consequently, it was of no particular interest to regulators. However, anyone with an ounce of common sense could immediately tell that Rehnborg’s ‘invention’ was just another essentially-inert potion (in the absurd tradition of the medicine show); a random mixture of cheaply-procured common substances with an expensive price tag. It had probably taken Rehnborg 6 hours to concoct, not 6 years.


Aerial View of Nutrilite Products Inc. Plant


By 1939, Rehnborg had spotted the existing term, 'Nutrilites' (probably in an old scientific magazine). So he legally-changed the name of his pay-through-the-nose-to-play game of make-believe to the technical-sounding ‘Nutrilite Products Company Inc.’ and moved his quackery onto an almost unprecedented scale. Soon, Rehnborg was legally employing dozens of white-coated workers in purpose-built industrial buildings in Buena ParkCalifornia. He also acquired an alfalfa farm near to the city of Hemet in California's San Jacinto valley, but it is unclear exactly where he suddenly found all the necessary capital to pay for these impressive sites and their modern equipment. To his followers and casual observers, Rehnborg’s activity looked like any other lawful enterprise. His staff were ordinary honest folk, to whom the truth was also unthinkable. At this time, Rehnborg relabelled his miraculous potion ‘Nutrilite Double X (‘XX’Supplement.’ He now proposed to offer it as two ‘complimentary products’ in one pack -  comprising little green bottles of bright red ‘Multivitamin Capsules’ and boxes of pale-coloured ‘Multi-Mineral Pills.’ The product was deliberately designed to look modern and scientific (like a proprietary medicine), but, tellingly, the price was fixed at just less than $20 a box (the equivalent of several hundred dollars today). Rehnborg claimed that the ‘XX’ brand-name was derived from the Roman numeral representing twenty. It should have been read as ‘double cross;’ for when the deluded former toothpaste salesman’s pricey wampum was routinely analysed by independent chemists working for the FDA, it was discovered that (although it contained essentially what it said on the labels and was quite harmless) ‘XX Supplement’ really did mostly-comprise a random mixture of cheaply-procured, common substances (dried vegetable extracts: alfalfa; parsley; watercress; yeast; etc.). FDA experts later estimated that ‘XX Supplement’ cost no more than a few cents a pack to produce. Thus, FDA lawyers must have known that Rehnborg was, in fact, using authentic pharmaceutical equipment to mass-produce a precisely-measured, harmless placebo, but labelled as a ‘Health Tonic’ (a meaningless term), and peddling it at an exorbitant mark-up (certainly, more than 1000%). This crack-pot pseudo-scientific swindle, which was tantamount to a self-styled 'alchemist' stamping a valueless amalgam of base-metals, 'Pure Gold,' and selling it for the price of pure gold, could have been quickly nipped in the bud, simply by charging Rehnborg with criminal fraud. Apparently, prosecutors never considered the possibility that they might be dealing with someone with severe psychological problems whose own inflexible delusions were contagious. Instead, at first, FDA lawyers felt obliged to take no action; reasoning that, by truthfully listing the banal ingredients, but avoiding making any specific therapeutic claims, on his packaging, Rehnborg had found a loophole in federal laws concerning criminal misbranding of medicines. As result, an up-dated version of an age-old fiction was permitted to be mass-marketed as fact to an unsuspecting public. Unfortunately, the lack of any rigorous, official challenge only brought its author more credibility. Not surprisingly, a host of copy-cat 'Unique Vitamin and Mineral Health-Tonic’ scams quickly sprang up.



As WWII drew to its close, ‘Nutrilite’ had lost its novelty, so Rehnborg (who was approaching 60) had teamed-up with two respectable-looking associates, Lee S. Mytinger and William S. Casselberry (later described by FDA officials as a ‘cemetery-plot salesman’ and a ‘psychologist’). The result was ‘Mytinger and Casselberry Inc.,’ a second corporate structure peddling ‘Exclusive Commission-Agency Rights’ to ‘Distribute XX Supplement’ using (what was first defined by the company’s owners as) a ‘New Business Model.’ In theory… you could try to sell ‘XX  Supplement’ to your social contacts for a small profit, but, if you wanted to make big money, you didn’t need to sell anything… you could buy a monthly quota of ‘XX Supplement’ yourself and sign-up your social contacts to do the same… your ‘Sponsored Recruits’ would then ‘Sponsor’ their own social contacts, etc., ‘compensation’ would automatically multiply in an infinitely-expanding geometric progression‘Mytinger and Casselberry Inc.’offered a mind-numbing contract’ in which the ‘company’ undertook to pay its ‘Independent Distributors’ an escalating ‘monthly commission’ on the totality of their escalating ‘Business Volume’ [i.e. their own regular monthly purchases (falsely defined as ‘sales’), added to the regular monthly purchases (falsely defined as ‘sales’), of their ‘Sponsored Recruits’, and those of the recruits of their recruits, etc. etcad infinitum].



In reality, the new set-up was merely the original lie with a second chapter added, but to casual observers ‘Nutrilite Products Company Inc.’ appeared to be exclusively manufacturing for, and wholesaling ‘XX Supplement’ to, ‘Mytinger and Casselberry Inc.,’ whose commission agents, in turn, appeared to be retailing it to the public for a profit. Although ‘XX Supplement’ was presented as ‘Unique,’ it mostly comprised substances which could easily be bought at a fraction of their exorbitant, assembled fixed-price, in traditional retail outlets. The product was effectively-impossible to sell to the public for a profit on the open market. Therefore, the overwhelming majority of its final customers were merely the non-salaried agents of the second corporate structure, which itself was the sole agent of the first corporate structure. In order for them to maintain the false hope that if they signed-up further contributing participants they would automatically become rich, the participants in this dissimulated money game were obliged by its rules to keep handing-over a monthly payment to Mytinger and Casselberry, to be shared with Rehnborg. From all points of view (medical, economic, legal, etc.), ‘XX Supplement’ might have well not existed. It was just a convenient means of laundering illegal payments in a closed-market swindle based on the crack-pot theory of endless-chain recruitment. New victims were supplied with a $49.50 ‘Business Kit’ (i.e. a large cardboard box stuffed with a month’s supply of XX Supplement’ and a fat folder containing page after page of mystifying pseudo-economic/medical presentations and diagrams, and instructions in how to go about remembering, contacting and recruiting everyone they’d ever known during their lives). These presentations contained the concrete evidence which FDA lawyers could use to prosecute Rehnborg, Mytinger and Casselberry. Contributing participants were being instructed tsmile, project excitement and enthusiasm, and to recite a precisely-worded script which proclaimed ‘Nutrilite XX Supplement’ to be ‘good value,’ because it could ‘cure or prevent,’ virtually any known human illness.

William W. Goodrich
William HW. Goodrich


Even though it wasn’t his area of responsibility, FDA Legal Counsel (1939-1971), William W. Goodrich, was probably the first senior US law enforcement agent to deduce that the innocent baby that Rehnborg, Mytinger and Casselberry had baptised a ‘New Business Model’ (later to become known as: Multilevel Marketing’) was actually the same old delinquent previously known a 'pyramid scam.’ Again, anyone with an ounce of common sense could work out immediately that, since Rehnborg had been peddling medical alchemy, the strong likelihood was that Mytinger and Casselberry were peddling economic alchemy. The sinister trio of quacks were obviously acting in association, but agents of the Food and Drug Administration and those of the Federal Trade Commission acted independently. At this time, anti-racketeering legislation did not yet exist in the USA. However, in the late 1940s, the rapidly-expanding XX Supplement’ dossier was already in the hands of FTC lawyers. Apparently, prosecutors still never considered the possibility that they might be dealing with persons suffering from severe psychological problems and whose own inflexible delusions were contagious. Instead, they still felt obliged to take no action; this time reasoning that Mytinger and Casselberry appeared to have found a loophole in federal laws concerning pyramid scams and Ponzi schemes. As a result, another updated version of an age-old fiction was permitted to be mass-marketed as fact to an unsuspecting public. Yet again, the lack of any rigorous official challenge only brought its authors more credibility. Not surprisingly, a host of copy-cat 'income opportunity' swindles (camouflaged by banal, but pricey, wampum) quickly sprang up. 



By 1947, Rehnborg, Mytinger and Casselberry were steadfastly pretending  ‘15 000 Successful Distributorships in the USA,’ with ‘sales’ totalling ‘$500 000 dollars per month.’ They had also organised the production of a ‘Free’ booklet, How to Get Well and Stay Well’, in which they further pretended that ‘Nutrilite Double X Supplement’ had ‘cured or greatly helped such common ailments’ as : ‘Low blood pressure, Ulcers, Mental depression, Pyorrhoea, Muscular twitching, rickets, Worry over small things, Tonsillitis, Hay Fever, Sensitivity to noise, Underweight, Easily tired, Gas in stomach, Cuts heal slowly, Faulty vision, Headache, Constipation, Anaemia Boils, Flabby tissues, Hysterical tendency, Eczema, Overweight, Faulty memory, Lack of ambition, Certain Bone conditions, Nervousness, Nosebleed, Insomnia, Allergies, Asthma, Restlessness, Bad skin colour, Poor appetite, Biliousness, Neuritis, Night blindness, Migraine, High blood pressure, Sinus trouble, Lack of concentration, Dental caries, Irregular heartbeat, Colitis, Craving for sour foods, Arthritis, 
Rheumatism, Neuralgia, Deafness, Subject to colds.’



Carl.F. Rehnborg

Rhenborg now cast himself in the role of ‘Scientific Adviser’ to‘Mytinger and Casselberry Inc.’ He toured the USA preaching the gospel to wide-eyed ‘Distributors’ - ‘for less than $20 a month’‘Nutrilite Double X Supplement’ was the ‘Answer to Man’s Search for Health.’ After both companies’ owners were approached by FDA officials and warned that they could face criminal prosecution for misbranding, the booklet was ‘revised.’ Specific therapeutic claims were supposed to be eliminated. ‘All illnesses’ suddenly became a‘state of nonhealth’ produced by ‘chemical imbalance’.… ‘Nutrilite XX Supplement’ cured nothing, it merely ‘enabled people to Get Well and stay Well’ by themselves. However, pages 41-52 of the booklet still recounted alleged case-histories explaining that ‘Nutrilite brought relief from such ailments as diabetes, feeble mindedness, stomach pains, sneezing and weeping.’ Not surprisingly, the FDA officials were not impressed, so they finally launched a number of raids, and seizures of ‘Nutrilite XX Supplement’ and associated publications.





In 1951, after a series of lawsuits, appeals and counter suits (in which Mytinger and Casselberry hired top lawyers who portrayed their clients as American capitalist heroes being crushed by Soviet-style bureaucracy), the FDA obtained (on behalf of the people) a permanent Supreme Court injunction against ‘Mytinger and Casselberry Inc.’ preventing Distributors’ from referring to 50 publications making false claims about Health Tonics and Food Supplements’ (including various ‘Revised Editions’ of ‘How to Get Well and Stay Well’). FDA agents soon found that the injunction was being flouted. As a result of mounting complaints, they infiltrated the organization (as potential recruits) and recorded deluded proselytisers chanting the same cure-all mantra about ‘XX Supplement.’ Faced with more litigation and fearing that their monopoly of information might be lost, in 1954, Rehnborg, Mytinger and Casselberry hired a leading advertising agency which handled the clean-cut Hollywood star, Alan Ladd. Along with his wife and children, Alan Ladd then briefly-featured in kitsch 'Nutrilite' advertising material published in various mainstream magazines. The charlatan-trio also paid a team of professionals to produce a 20 minute colour propaganda film, ‘From the Ground up’ (featuring themselves as three nice ordinary American guys turned philanthropic scientists and industrialists), and they began to publish their own propaganda magazine, ‘Nutrilite News’ (stuffed with colour photos of happy, healthy and wealthy ‘Distributors’). Soon, they were organizing ‘Rallies and Seminars’ (addressed by ‘Successful Christian Distributors’ like Rich De Vos and Jay Van Andel). No quantifiable evidence (in the form of audited accounts) was ever produced to prove what percentage of claimed ‘sales were authentic retail transactions to the public for a profit, or how many people who’d signed a contract’ with Mytinger and Casselberry Inc.’ had actually received an overall net-profit from the operation of what its instigators arbitrarily defined as an ‘MLM income opportunity’. Excluding the tiny percentage of grinning schills at the top of the pyramid, the hidden, rolling insolvency/churn-rate was 100%. Since there was no significant or sustainable external revenue, participants were actually buying infinite shares in their own finite money. 







          Jay VanAndel                                                             Richard DeVos

In 1959, when it seemed that ‘Mytinger and Casselberry/Nutrilite Products Inc.’ might finally be shut down (under the ‘Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act 3381-3383’, rather than anti-pyramid scams legislation) De Vos and Van Andel hid behind familiar words and images stolen from popular culture. They created the ‘American Way Association’ - the first of what was to become a shoal of red, white and blue herrings. The original 'Nutrilite' lie was progressively-absorbed back into the spin-off 'Amway' lie, 1972-1994.



David Brear (copyright 2012)

Related Links To This Blog Post:

Interview with William W. Goodrich, Office of General Counsel, 1939 - 1971