For a few years back in the early 1990’s, Rob DeBoer delighted USC Gamecock fans each Saturday as our gung-ho, get-up-and-go, give-it-all-you’ve-got fullback.
Rob was not your average ball player. He gave it his all, every week, every game, every play. He played the game with enthusiasm. He exemplified the spirit of teamwork and athletic competition.
A prototypical clean-cut Midwesterner, Rob came to Carolina from Nebraska, lured by the chance to play both football and baseball. Indeed, each spring he was a stand-out on the baseball diamond, just as he was on the gridiron each fall.
I didn’t know Rob back then, but I had the opportunity to get to know him in 2004, when we were working together on a community improvement project. Since that time, we’ve worked together on a few projects, and I’ve come to respect him as a hard worker, a dedicated family man, and a genuinely nice guy… AND … a true-believer in the American free-enterprise system (so much so that I’ve suggested to him more than once that he could be a refreshing voice if he were to ever run for public office.)
Shortly after getting to know him, I heard him expounding on his belief in free enterprise. He unabashedly told of his plan to work tirelessly to meet his goal of becoming a millionaire. He wasn’t shy about it, and he wasn’t ashamed of it. He was excited about: energetic and enthusiastic. Rob approaches his work the same way he approached his football career: with zeal. As a fullback, he put his head down, and ran as hard as he could straight ahead… exactly the way the game was meant to be played. And in pursing his career and financial goals, he’s exactly the same. He does it the right way and gives it his very best.
So when I read in The State paper this weekend that Rob was being taken to court by an agency of the federal government, I immediately knew that something was badly amiss.
Not with Rob. With the federal government.
When tax dollars are being used to hassle, harass and persecute an individual who is doing nothing more than working hard to realize the American Dream, something is badly amiss.
And make no mistake… that’s exactly what’s going on here.
A couple of years ago, Rob came across a business which combined two very prevalent marketing trends: online marketing and network marketing. It’s a company called “BurnLounge”, which allows you to purchase music online, and if you wish, make a profit by giving others the opportunity to do so.
I’m familiar with the company, because I signed up a couple of years ago – having been introduced to the concept by another friend -- and I’ve purchased some online music. I never made an attempt to make a profit from the company, because frankly, I’m too old and worn out to have the kind of energetic and enthusiastic money-making zeal Rob has. But... I certainly respect those who DO have that zeal, because that’s what makes America great.
When I was introduced to BurnLounge, I marveled that someone had been clever enough to merge network marketing – the sales approach made famous years ago by Amway – with an online product. This, I thought to myself, is the beginning of a new wave of commerce.
This weekend, however, I read that the company, along with one of their brightest stars, Rob DeBoer, has been taken to court by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
After half a century of Amway, Shaklee, Excel, Herbalife, and a host of other vitamin, cleaning, art, and houseware product sales, the FTC has apparently just decided that this style of marketing represents a pyramid scheme.
So the FTC, wearing its “consumer protection” hat, decided to protect us from the people who were clever enough to find a new, high-tech way to buy music, and make a profit while doing so.
Does it seem odd that, while the federal government can’t keep our borders secure, can’t seem to do anything with the millions who are here illegally, and can’t stop them from earning American dollars illegally, it CAN go to court to stop a Nebraska-born go-getter from selling music via the internet?
If I were not so old and cynical, I would probably chalk it up to just another case of bureaucratic incompetence. But I AM old and cynical: In my mind, FTC really stands for “Fatten The Corporations”. And I’ll bet my Hawaiian Shirt collection that this FTC action didn’t happen in a vacuum. Somewhere out there, there’s a giant music or entertainment corporation, or some other media giant or conglomerate, which wanted to see these young upstarts at BurnLounge stopped.
And the shame of it is that Rob DeBoer, the All-American Good Guy, gets negative headlines in the daily paper for nothing more than doing his best and trying his hardest to be successful.
We’ll be keeping you posted with the rest of the story.