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Hello Objectivists, If you haven't heard yet, there is a very big Ponzi Scheme pyramid called MMM, http://i-mmm.com . It now has 20 million members (unverified). Unlike other Ponzi Schemes, this system doesn't have any product to sell, it sells itself as a sort-of bank. You deposit money, and get it out at 30% interest after a month, or three. There are different plans. Where does it get the money ? From advertising inself and getting more recruits. Its biggest users are the elderly people who were robbed of their pension in Russia and Former Soviet Union, and who are now able to have a decent living. However, many other people joined in, from other countries and are investing fairly large sums, $10,000 and up. The MMM "bank" has a, like a real bank, some money in the system, and some money coming and coming out. You can imagine that there is a net amount of money that is stable, for example, 1 billion, and can be invested into a real product, for example an Oil Refinery, which would bring in real dividents from products, rather than new people joining. So eventually the really exciting interest rates of 30% are going to fall to match the inflow of people and the means to make money from different products. So now we have this "bank". It was built by people puting in money for two reasons: - great interest - the philosophical idea of helping others, by pooling money together. And this was done at the expense of risk, because nobody knows if the system will survive another day (less people will reinvest than outgoing payments are due). So in a way MMM is like a gambling game. Moreover, the system is based on trust, nothing is stopping a member to run off with the money. (To understand this last statement, please note that the money is distributed in member's accounts, rather in one big account, and they are supposed to transfer the balances on command to appropriate destinations). What do you think about the moral implications of such a system ? Is this capitalism on socialism ? The official statement of the creator is that he wants to crash the current economic system where money is printed by the Reserve Bank and robbing people. Here I agree. He says that because the system of ever-increasing debt and money printing is a sort of pyramid, then the only way to beat it, is with another pyramid. However, the inclinations of the creator of MMM are socialistic -- he claims that banks are robing its clients by giving a smaller percentage than they could. From what I could gather he doesn't really believe in laissez-faire capitalism (although he never states this). He wants to build some kind of new way, once the current system is crashed. However, putting the ideas of the creator aside, and looking at the outcome -- can we say it is a bad thing ? A good thing ? Finally, suppose that we conclude that it is a bad thing, because it promotes socialism. (I leave that discussion open). Is it moral to still invest money into the system, for the following purpose: - Whatever money I make, I will return to those who will be in the end ripped off (who risked and invested, but didn't get their money back because the system collapsed). - I want to return that money in the form of Bitcoin. All those people participated in the MMM system, which is really defining its own currency, based on the weakness of conventional currency $. Because the BitCoin project is exactly that, if I return them their money in BitCoin, in a sense I'm putting their money to the good use. I tricked them into buying Bitcoin. - I plan to withhold a percentage of the balance for my work. So they won't get all 100% back of what I made on MMM, but a bit less. Say 90%. I hope I was clear enough, and looking forward to hear what you think.
There is a new internet pyramid scheme called MMM-2011. The website is e-mmm.com and it is appears to be completely in Russian with no English option. I know Russian so I could read it. Here it is in a nutshell. People deposit money expecting a return of 20% to 60% percent per year. It is working while new members join, since there is a large inflow of money into the system. It is the same thing as a bank, only it is structured as a pyramid, where each person begins to be a new bank branch. The system can grow until it will take all of the people in the world. In 9 month since its inception it has 5 million people and large sums of money. The money is distributed, and not stored in a central account. It can not be shut down. The previous attempt was in 1994, where in half a year MMM had 15 million people. It was shut down by the government because all the money was in a central location. The creator claims that we already live in a pyramid, the pyramid of ever increasing credit. We pay old debts by taking a larger credit at a lower percentage. His goal is to destroy the financial market as it is today, by launching his pyramid against the current one. According to the modern definition of money -- anonymous tokens -- a pyramid seems to make clear a paradox inherent in its definition. Such pyramid will destroy both corruption as well as means to have a proper capitalist society, since it is destroying money. I have translated some of the arguments found on e-mmm.com site from Russian to English, on my blog: http://rarden.blogsp...apocalypse.html Will MMM take over the world? If yes, what will happen afterwards. How could we define money to stop pyramids from being created again?