Liberating Our Economic Survival

All My Relations,

With the current economic crisis and recession: failing banks and businesses, housing foreclosures, and rising unemployment, we are reminded of the challenges to our physical survival. The interdependent nature of life, as reflected in our economic and social systems, compellingly illustrates the interlinkage of human needs, services, and distribution. Livelihood, what we do to live, is integrally bound up with production and consumer markets. The organized concentration of provisions, manufacturing, and supply into tightly centralized orbits of dominant corporate or government agencies and agents has created a restricted career path for the majority of people in today’s modern world. 

Nowhere is this seen more than with individuals or businesses providing select or alternative services or products to their corresponding customer base. We've seen the sunset of many enterprises that served the health, intellectual, and spiritual needs of their communities, but could not survive the economic reality of marginal income and high cost of living and overhead. Such businesses are often the gathering points for community and for the exchange of ideas and wisdom. Often, it is only when they are gone that we are able to measure effectively their real value to the community and our personal lives.

There is irony afoot these days: the rise of business markets on the internet has powerfully challenged the traditional store front vendors, especially the small, independent ones. The convenience of online shopping has replaced the personal touch of the "old days" with a cyber-anonymity. Yet, it has brought markets and information immediately and directly into our homes, allowing us to connect with more of the world and its diversity of ideas, products, and services than otherwise.

We should support, as best we can, these wonderful local merchants and practitioners (you know who they are) offering goods and services that revolve around and support the independent lifestyles we prefer. And, in that vein, I have come into an awareness of the powerful instrument that network marketing can be in the realization of our independence. 

The network marketing concept offers the possibility that many alternative folks' envisioned for the Wide World Web in the early days of its launching. They saw with this technology the potential of everyday people having access to information channels that traditionally flowed only through the narrow pipelines of a privileged few. They saw the empowering of people, better informed and accessible to one another, communicating and networking around ideas, discoveries, and innovations that would liberate them from the pigeonhole existence of undervalued-underpaid talent and service. The hope was strong that this would lead to the rise of homespun cottage industries and free human individuality from the limiting confines of the mainstream labor force.

We can see by virtue of the many politicians maintaining web sites that a more information-exposed electorate has made itself known. But the numbers of independent people making good livelihoods arising from the essence of their personal natures is dismally small. Instead, most go out into the world and supplement the fruit of their naturally arising abilities and service with unsatisfying and often damaging mainstream jobs and occupations. They do what  they need to “make it” to “enjoy” a modicum of basic financial security.

Many of us have looked at MLM (multilevel marketing) businesses with suspicion (sometimes with good reason). They don't reflect the "small is better" model, and they are not guaranteed to be composed predominantly of kindred spirits, no matter how personally identified we are with their product and/or service. Short of closer observation, some might feel MLM’s are in direct competition with small business people who have overhead expenses and a marginal customer base. But in reality, they don't compete with retailers. They sell directly: independent company distributor to customer. Wholesale, retail, and distributor prices are uniformly set within the three categories. With their sales force consisting of distributors earning commissions based on the volume of sales generated through distributor-level schemes of reward, there is less supervisor bureaucracy with its salary diminishing drain on individual promotions and raises. There is a earning scheme based on a criteria that is outside the purlieu of human bias and prejudice (this many people signed-up, generating this percentage of sales).

I personally think that with the right product, the right service, the right mission, network marketing industries can be the "cottage" industries many of us aspire to create for ourselves and families. And they shouldn't be the sole province of the mainstream population. With the income earned at the behest of our own wills and spirituality we can have decent incomes and support our favorite choice of conscious-businesses too.


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