Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Rob DeBoer, All American

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.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's a pyramid scheme, Ross. The facts are really pretty clear cut.

The law is airtight on pyramids, as you probably already know.

Mr. DeBoer may be a nice guy, but he worked to defraud folks.

That's a crime, and he'll have to pay the piper.

west_rhino said...

The whole freaking Fed is a pyramid scheme, the Social(ist) Security Ponzi Scheme being the most bald faced evidence of beltway obdurate theft.

MLMs come and go, Avon, Shaklee, Amway, Herbalife, Mary Kay, Pampered Chef all seem to stand the test of time, the FTC's efforts and external efforts to tear them down.

Rob and a few others appear to have trod across, perhaps unwittingly, some of the fine disclosure lines (possibly snorted by Ken Lay) that Enron, Global Crossing and Whitewater Developments lept across with the apparent blessings of ol' Slick Willie and his slick willy.

anon, Mr. DeBoer isn't being nailed on the plan being a pyramid, but for how he sold it.
I'd go further, but you had your mind made up when you heard multi level. I'll leave out Statewide electeds that may have used stae owned conference rooms (available by reservation to the public for legitimate uses) to pitch one MLM or another, even SCETV airing, as part of its annual mendicant campaign a special from one big supplier of MLM motivational material.

In the end, Rob DeBoer is a competitor. He will come out of this with the smoke of battle on him and he will succeed in what ever he sets his mind to do.

Rod, you haven't talked to Rob about running for offce by any chance?

Anonymous said...

HERE's a thought. Why?
Why IS it a 'scheme'? Because Rob did well? Because the big guy makes most of the money? Thats called a CEO. Every company in America is built on a pyramid style pay. Someone work at Gap? Ask how they get promoted? Grow sales enough to necessitate 7 new employees-then they get promoted.
Screw the pyramid argument-New diamonds break all the time in Quixtar!-like we mentioned..thats 50yrs old! So screw the 'get in late' argument. ITS THE PEOPLE WITH SMALLER WORK ETHIC THAT DONT MAKE IT-THEN THEY COMPLAIN! WHY PROTECT THEM? They're lazy! Rob is a great guy by the way. Great guy.
~Nate

Anonymous said...

why even do an anon post...are you to chicken to put you name in here?
amway and the rest of these ideas are clear...and you can make money at any of them if you work hard enough...someone found out they had to work hard and got mad...called some punk lawyer, who whistled to the Feds, and here we go...I just hope Rob hits as hard in the court room as he did on the field...and where the H___ is Todd Ellis, and George Rogers, and the others....? funny how friends vaporize when times get tough...

chicken2

Anonymous said...

why even do an anon post...are you to chicken to put you name in here?
amway and the rest of these ideas are clear...and you can make money at any of them if you work hard enough...someone found out they had to work hard and got mad...called some punk lawyer, who whistled to the Feds, and here we go...I just hope Rob hits as hard in the court room as he did on the field...and where the H___ is Todd Ellis, and George Rogers, and the others....? funny how friends vaporize when times get tough...

chicken2