The Pyramids of Jamaica! A Quick Look at WorldVentures’ Pyramid Scheme

Over the past few years I’ve been asked several times to join a wide range of money-making ventures. These include Amway, WorldVentures, Organo Gold Explocial, and Paycation. Persons involved promise a life of luxury while having you do little to nothing and being your own boss. I’ve been invited to meetings, the purpose of which is withheld until I am actually there! Yes, I have attended, mostly out of curiosity. A recent increase in the request to have me join this venture has resulted in this post.

dreamtrip-banner

An old co-worker messaged me on a social media platform recently. We worked together but had never really had a chat. I was excited to hear from her and we caught up on our current states. She requested my contact and we continued the connection for a couple of days. I thought she was such a nice person to make the link. Talk about links, her intentions were made clear when she sent me a video link and pleaded for me to watch. I knew it was coming based on the change in the direction of the conversation. The video was password protected so I had to request the password before viewing. As soon as I opened the video and heard some guy talking about a better life and ditching the nine to five I knew it was a pyramid scheme multi-level marketing (MLM) plot. I hastily rejected the request to be at the top of a pyramid of my own. She decided to call me then had her team leader drop in on the call. Her determination to have me be apart of WorldVentures did not exceed my stubbornness, it was simply not my thing. I have not heard from her since then.

What is WorldVentures?

WorldVentures is a multi-level marketing company that offers discounted vacations to its members. Essentially you can travel the world at a low cost and you have the option of recruiting persons in order to receive monetary benefits. In a nutshell, there are two categories; Gold and Platinum memberships at a cost of 199 USD one time fee with 50 USD monthly payment and 299 USD one time fee with 99 USD per month respectively. Signing up four persons will waive the monthly fee. If persons you sign up, recruit others, you also benefit.

Here is why it isn’t for me.

  1. “The overwhelming majority of MLM participants (most sources estimated to be over 99.25% of all MLM participants) participate at either an insignificant or nil net profit.” (Reports from the FTC).
  2. Mathematically speaking, there is not enough persons on earth to facilitate the perpetuity of this business. This is just laughable.
  3. “Companies that use MLM models for compensation have been a frequent subject of criticism and lawsuits. Criticism has focused on their similarity to illegal pyramid schemes, price fixing of products, high initial entry costs (for marketing kit and first products), emphasis on recruitment of others over actual sales, encouraging if not requiring members to purchase and use the company’s products, exploitation of personal relationships as both sales and recruiting targets, complex and sometimes exaggerated compensation schemes, the company making major money off its training events and materials, and cult-like techniques which some groups use to enhance their members’ enthusiasm and devotion.” (Wiki)
  4. The information about the details of how the company works is not clearly outline on an official website. I spoke with a high level associate who gave me a website from which I would get more information. The website failed miserably in that regard, judge for yourselves; https://www.worldventures.com/en-us/ .
  5. A sponsor is apparently needed in order to join this program. Reinforcing ‘the pyramid’.

 

I personally know a few persons who have made money from this…..venture but most do not and I don’t believe it is sustainable. It is apparently NOW legal for the company to operate in Jamaica so it isn’t a scam. Hopefully being now legal is not a result of a hand or two being squeezed.

Join at your own risk but based on my assessment……I strongly do not recommend it.

– Aldeam Facey 2018

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I Can No Longer Remain Silent: Mi Affi Bawl Out!

LOAJ affi bawl out, mi caa ignore it mi affi bawl out.

A recent song release called ‘Bawl Out’ by performing artiste ‘Chozenn’ has created some controversy as the song clearly mimics a very profane dancehall song of the same name by ‘Dovey Magnum’. In the event you have never heard the song ‘Bawl Out’, below is a preview (warning, very graphic).

Here are a few lines from the song: “Lawd Gad how yuh feel suh good? Mi love how mi P*$$y jus a grab yuh hood. Mi caa wol it, baby mi caa wol it. Mi caa wol it mi a bawl out…” It is hard to imagine a conversion of this song that would facilitate spiritual ministry. Now, listen to the ‘gospel’ version of ‘Bawl Out’:

Here are a few lines from the song: “Lawd gad how yuh one suh good? Yuh shame the devil mi know yuh good. Mi caa wol it, Jesus mi caa wol it. Yuh name mi a bawl out….”

So, there are a few things to consider. Is this song really gospel? What was the artiste’s intention? Why is this a big deal? Gospel music is a genre of christian music which may not have a specifically defined style as it varies according to culture and social context. It is however either slow and meditative or fast and repetitive with the primary intention being spiritual focus. Now let us imagine dancehall music, which is a genre characterized by a fast rhythm usually of a track instrumental accompanied by sharp rhymes of lyrics usually describing strong sexual themes, violence, dance moves or social issues. Jamaica has seen the establishment of a new genre called ‘Gospel Reggae’ which honestly is not for everyone.

The issue I have with the conversion of graphic dancehall music to gospel is that the objective of ministry is not achieved. Note that Love 101, a popular gospel radio station, has banned the song ‘Bawl Out’ from playing on their frequencies. The attachment of these songs to their origin makes them very ineffective in ministry. Imagine playing ‘Bawl Out’ in church, can that song aid in worship? How ironic would it be for the wrong words to slip out due to the similarities with the original song. If the dancehall genre was initially established with strong positive and or religious themes such controversies would not exist.
Here are my OPINIONS regarding the new version of ‘Bawl Out’

  • Chozenn’s conversion of the song does not draw people to God.
  • The artist’s intention was more so selfish than ministerial. It worked! We all know Chozenn now, a brother has got to eat right?
  • The song is NOT gospel. It is simply a parody.
  • Not everyone has good vocals, if the dancehall genre is the only one he can perform, he should at least be original.
  • I had never listened to the dirty ‘Bawl Out’ before this saga unfolded, thanks Chozenn.
  • In order to make such a great replica of the original, Chozenn would have chosen to have a real good ‘review’ of the original.

– Aldeam Facey 2018

In Defence Of My Thesis

defence

On March 23, 2018, thanks be to God almighty, I successfully defended my thesis. On that day, years of hard work was presented, evaluated and commended. The relief I felt was like none other I had ever experienced. To give you some perspectives on the work I’ve done, you may read some of my publications here:

https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=q0cyJmMAAAAJ&hl=en

In a nutshell I looked at basal lactate in persons living with diabetes and in our track and field athletes. Lactate was established as a fitness and wellness assessment tool. A metabolic profile of our population was also established which can have impactful applications.

Despite the challenges of conducting research here in Jamaica, I am excited to enter the world of full-time research. This project proved to me that this is what I want to do, a career in research and academia.

Wish me luck!

– Aldeam Facey 2018

 

Bitcoin: All You Need To Know, Part 1 – Defining the Monetary System

In recent years there has been a significant increase in the value of cryptocurrencies, particularly ‘Bitcoin’. Cryptocurrencies are units of value which are used to verify the transfer of funds independently of a central bank. They are based on secure encryption techniques and are seen by many as the way forward. Before we can understand the assumed need for cryptocurrencies we need to assess the current monetary system and the history of its development. Money like crytocurrencies is a medium of exchange, but before money was invented we used the bartering system.

The bartering system is a method of trade where goods and services are traded for other goods and services instead of for money. The value of goods and services compared to the value of the goods or services for which it is being traded, is subjective and based on the parties involved. The bartering system was introduced by Mesopotamia tribes and adopted by the Phoenicians. this method of trade dates back to 6000 BC (1). The system was improved by the Babylonians. Roman soldiers were paid with salt as it was a very valuable commodity. It is interesting to note that the bartering system was used during the Great Depression of the 1930s due to the lack of money (1).

Bartering has the advantage of flexibility as items traded do not have to be consistent. on one day a cow can be traded for 2 goats while on another day a cow can be traded for a service. The  system however suffers as there is no trade protection. Defected items can be exchanged without prior knowledge. Trade may also be unfair to one party or even impossible and goods may not be divisible to allow for fair trade, for example trading a chicken for a turkey. Portability of goods being exchanged was also a major limitation.

The bartering system formed the basis of trade which gave rise to the invention of money. Initially value was placed in gold and silver and they became a medium of exchange. The Greek state of Lydia introduced the first old coin in 560 BC (2). The use of gold quickly spread and the gold Ducat introduced by Venice became the most popular coin for half a millennium. Silver came into use when the bimetallic monetary system emerged in 19th century America. The USA didn’t authorize the printing of paper until 1861. Paper money became a sort of receipt to represent gold owned in the bank as paper money was backed by gold. The Bretton Woods agreement, in 1946 fixed the price of gold at $35 when the USD became backed by gold (2).

So why did the bartering system end? Why was paper money introduced?

There are several features of money that must be satisfied for efficient exchange. Money must be:

  • Divisible
  • Durable
  • Portable
  • Widely accepted
  • The same for equal unit values
  • Easy to Identify (3)

This made it more practical to have paper money as a representation of value.

This seems to be a good enough system but there is a significant problem. Who controls the money? Not the government! The central bank does. This bank can freely print money and loan it to the government and has the power to cause or prevent inflation. In 1971 the USD was taken off the gold standard, meaning it was no longer backed by gold. The money is then called fiat currency and its use is completely based on trust. The currencies of all central banks are backed by the USD but the USD is backed by nothing. Unlike the case of the gold standard, money is now very unstable. Gold is valuable because there is limited quantity in existence. This forced stability. But now that money is not backed by gold and can be freely printed, its supply is not limited making it much less valuable (4).

How is money created?

When the government needs more money than it receives from taxes it asks the treasury for money. The treasury then receives a bond (IOU) from the government. The treasury then gives this bond to =the federal reserve through the banks. The federal reserve then writes a cheque for the bond  and gives it to the bank, which then hands it to the government. At this point money is created as the federal reserve writes the cheque with no existing money to back it (4). Another example is the credit card, a bank issues a credit card which allows you to spend money you don’t have, this money literally comes from nowhere as it is not drawn from another person’s account. you repay this debt with interest and as a result the bank creates money. It is legal as they create the system and please note that this is not run by the government. We therefore have a debt based monetary system as increasing debt is needed for the creation of money.

What would be the issue with having a decentralized monetary system not controlled by any one individual? Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a system in which the supply of money is limited and not subject to inflation? Well Bitcoin appears to have the solution. In the next installment we will explore the new method of accounting for transactions using cryptography.

 

References

  1. https://www.mint.com/barter-system-history-the-past-and-present
  2. https://www.thelocal.no/20111114/the-long-history-of-gold-trading
  3. http://www.virtualkollage.com/2017/01/the-features-of-money.html
  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQUhJTxK5mA&t=73s

 

Aldeam Facey 2018

Conflict Of Interest #8 Minister of Religion Cheats In Exam

It has been a while since I last updated my ‘Conflict Of Interest’ series, but this story is quite interesting. I remember some time ago I wrote a blog about my experiences invigilating exams at UWI. I started invigilating again and just this week a theology student, a minster of religion was caught red-handed cheating in her examination. She had a paper of notes neatly hidden behind her ‘minister of religion’ identification card. Caught in the act of cheating she couldn’t deny it.

Fortunately for her grace was granted and she was at least allowed to complete her examination. Cheating is not a rare occurrence in examinations, but this one got a lot of attention because invigilators usually do not critically watch theology students as cheating is not expected from ministers in training. It is interesting to note though that subsequent to that event, all theology students are keenly watched during examinations.

At the end of the exam, the lecturer for the course was summoned and was making inquiries of her cheating student. The examiner asked ‘Do you think Jesus would d such a  thing?’ and the shocking reply from the student, who appeared to be in her late 50s ‘I don’t think God would want me to fail’.

Should we be critical of her simply because she is a theology student? We certainly do not make such a big deal of other cheating students. Med students cheat very frequently and they are being trained to saving lives. Should we forgive and forget and allow her to cheat 70 times 7? The criticisms are based on the expectations of a minister, can we trust her lead her church by example? Could it be she was the victim of possession and the devil made her do it?
I am in no way qualified to throw any stones, but this certainly is a conflict of interest.

Aldeam Facey 2017

 

The Role Of A Woman

There have been many talks recently of equal rights. You are probably aware of the stimulating topic that is now taking over Jamaica. There has, for year been a conflict between gender roles and traditional views are being trampled by modern thoughts. Women want to be treated the same way men are treated, but should they? What is the role of women in the family and in society? The trending paradigm shift will certainly tear the fabric of our culture. Is this benifical or detrimental?

I believe in equity, not equality. Women and men are not equals and should never be treated as such. In certain contexts I believe both genders should be treated equally such as, equal pay for equal work or promotions. I don’t believe that is a problem in Jamaica as we have more female managers then males and significanly more females achieving tertiary education. If we should treat everyone equally, it would require everyone to be of the same gender, colour, height, weight, age, race and physical abilities. This is certainly unachievable! Imagine a physically challenged man in a wheelchair trying to get up a staircase vs a healthy man, who would you assist? Clearly the disabled. That, is equity.

Why should I open a door for a woman when she can clearly open it for herself? Why should I pull out a chair? Are her hands numb? Why should I pick up the bill at a restaurant? How do you feel after reading those questions? Probably you assume that I am not a gentleman. I would assume the same. I actually believe that women should be treated specially, as they are deserving of such. But in the cry for equality, shouldn’t a woman open the door for me too? Why plea for something only when it benefits you? The point is we are different and should be treated accordingly, within the confines of the law.

So what is the role of a woman?

In the begining God created the Heavens and the Earth…. He created man, then for him a ‘help meat’. So women are created to support, care, nurture, while men lead, love and protect them. If we look at some scriptures in the bible as well, it definately supports this point. A woman may never usurp authority over a man a man should ( as much as possible) be the leader. Idealy, In a relationship, or organization, there should be a leader and a support/support team. The Jamaican proverb states that “two bull can’t live inna one pen”. This means that if two leaders are in the same space there will be conflicts. In a relationship, given the man is fulfilling his duties, a woman should submit herself to him. Now women will argue that ‘he is not fullfilling his duties’ and in her own way try to define his duties. Such women must be taken to dinner, and left there with the bill, never to be called again… I kid.

In the adventist church, women cannot be ordained pastors.
Women can be leaders where men fail to lead, but as long as there are fully capable men, let the gender roles remain.

It is also important to note that these gender roles are biological, not self-identified. Bruce/Catlin Jenner, is a man, and should be treated as such!

– Aldeam Facey 2017

To Beat Or Not To Beat

It was a cold dark night, full of mischief that evades memory. I stepped through the gate like I was the ‘man a yaad’, only to be greeted by the lady of the house. She was clearly angry about what I had done. Back in those days we kids didn’t have smart phones, so I doubt it had anything to do with nude videos on Instagram or voice notes telling her how good it taste. But whatever transpired that night was whipped from memory as the lady of the house made her inquiries. We were still at the gate, lack of preparation this time around prevented her from having the special leather belt with the names ‘Aldeam’ and ‘Everlee Facey’ etched on its buckle. As she held my shirt, I could see her silhouette looking left and right for an instrument of correction. Knowing this I made attempt to escape the prison of her arms. But like the love of God ‘neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature…’ was able to separate us. As I struggled to be free I recognized the strength of a woman. She finally found a substantial element capable of forgiving sins, purifying and creating a new creature. A loose chain hanging from the gate became less an item of security, less an element of aesthetics but became a whip, a lie detector test and a rod of correction. As the chains of Olympus fell squarely on my back, ‘wooii’ was my cry. All secrets were revealed, all apologies made and the lord was remembered.

‘Weh yuh did deh?’

Chains…

‘Look from when mi a call yuh?’

Chains…

‘Dweet again!’

Chains…

With each question tied to a swing to encourage a speedy response, confirmation was guaranteed. The session was probably two minutes long, but it felt like an hour. All I know for sure, is that whatever I did, was never repeated.

www.lifeofajamaican.com

Memories of my most noteworthy spankings floated around my mind as the video of a young girl being spanked by her mother was echoed by the Jamaican media. Naturally people took sides; some believed the mother (who has since been arrested) was too extreme and was guilty of child abuse, others thought nothing was wrong. It may seem contrary to the truth, but based on my experience, such expressions of anger by a mother, when her child misbehaves,comes from a heart of pure love. She wants what is best for her child, she doesn’t want her daughter to make the same mistakes she did. At least that is what I believe. Our culture is supported by a large number of people who believe they should never ‘spare the rod and spoil the child”. Majority of the Population are Christians and as a child I often hear the following text used to justify spankings:

“Proverbs 13: 24 He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” (KJV).

There are many other methods of punishing children for their misconduct such as removing privileges. In the context of rural Jamaica, where such privileges were initially nonexistent  that may not be the best option. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with spanking, majority of the concerns regarding the recent video was the mothers use of the machete. Now clearly, this mother knew what she was doing, clearly she is an experienced machete wielder. No dogs or children were chopped and as in my case, that was probably the closest ‘rod of correction’ she could find. In any case, I disagree with the use of a machete as it is a ‘high risk’ choice but I completely support spanking!

 

-Aldeam Facey 2017