Ten Scams You Encounter Every Day

SHIT

I distinctly remembered we all threw our bodies on top of each other. We were making a mountain of bodies. We were all laughing and wrestling to see who would get to the top of the bodies. I was on top. I was three or four years old. We were in “Yellow Duck Nursery School”.  Laughing. Having fun.

Then I took a shit. A big one.

And we were all in shorts. Something I like to describe on CNBC as the “trickle-down effect” began to occur.

Everyone started yelling. Everyone started insulting me and running away from me. A teacher hit me. The next memory I have was that I was on the “special kids” school bus in the middle of the day. My mom was waiting on the driveway. “What did you do!” she said and took me by the hand and brought me inside.

(safe for work!)

That may have been my first memory.

What we do with our bowels is very important to us. We basically viscerally remember the times we shit on others. The more people under us, the bigger the memory.

The government, the media, the advertising industry, society, culture, your bosses, your parents, continue this trickle down-effect.

BONUS SCAM: Trading stocks is a totally rigged scam. Anybody who doesn’t listen to me is just jerking off in a madhouse. I have so much proof the system is completely rigged that the only way to win is if you are on the side of the people doing the rigging. There are 300mm people in the country and probably about 200 people who are rigging the system. Good luck trying to fit yourself into the club of 200 while you lose all of your money.

Here’s other scams which involves groups of people doing massive poops on others (ok, I toned down the language):

A)     Advertising. I spoke to a guy who used to run a TV network. He said,”I would never in a million years buy a TV ad. They are useless.” I repeat: He RAN a TV network.  His whole job was to sell ads to all the losers who would listen to his lies. All advertising is like that. We’ve evolved into an age where content creates branding. If you don’t stand out through valuable content, you’re useless.  Advertising seems like a small scam. Does it equal the level of these other scams? And yet, we’re exposed to something like 10,000 impressions of ads per day. And the companies that pay for those ads are even being scammed because they don’t have people who understand the value of creating real content.

Now we’re fooled into thinking that personal branding is important. When people talk to me about “personal branding” the first thing I think is, “ok, so you’re a liar.” Why do I need a personal brand? Why should that be any different than the honest me? Are people afraid to show their real selves (rhetorical question because the obvious answer is “yes”).

B)      Housing. I’ve said it in a million articles so I’ll be concise here as to why it’s a scam: Banks borrow from the people with checking accounts. They pay 0.5% or whatever. That’s a loan you give the bank and you can call it back anytime you want by writing a check or withdrawing the money. They then take that money and lend it out at 6% to people who want to buy a house. The multi-trillion dollar banking industry makes almost all of its money that way. Multi-TRILLION. So they have to keep making you think that you don’t have “roots” (a Neanderthal call back to our Mother Earth mysticism) unless you own a white picket fence, a house that can’t be moved, a home for your children, etc. Trillions of dollars are at stake if you don’t believe in this scam. For all the other reasons, check out my articles. [See the most popular article every on this blog: “Why I’d Rather Shoot Myself In the Head than Ever Own a Home Again” – actually, that article links to the most popular article because it’s a response to a response of the original article]

C)      Education. I know, I know, I’ve written about this a million times. But think about it: why is it that just about everything single thing you learned in history class has to be relearned when you are an adult just so you get the reality of what happened. And when I was growing up we somehow ran out of time to learn about the Vietnam War. Surprise. The reality is, society needs your parents to work. So what the hell are they going to do with you? Well, they really should just let you play in the mud all day. But municipalities justify exorbitant taxes by saying, “no,no, no, that’s illegal! They have to go to school and get tested and standardized and we will love them from nine to three so you don’t need to feel guilty.

D)     Happiness. The entire modern concept of happiness was re-created with commercial images to fool you in various ways. So that people can advertise to you (“if you buy this, you’ll be happier than if you buy that”), so that companies can convince you to work (“if you make this amount of money and we treat you vaguely nicely then you will be happy”). So that self-help gurus can sell you everything from food to exercises to positive thinking to make you think you will be a little bit happier. I do think there is such a thing as “happiness” but it takes a very different form than the one usually shown at surprise birthday parties.

E)      Politics. We get so worked up. When Obama won the election a friend of mine told me she felt something “akin to an orgasm”.  And now what? Where’s the next orgasm? Will she have another orgasm at the next election? Is she going to have an orgasm for Rick Perry this time? Nothing wrong with Obama. It’s just that the President doesn’t do anything and we no longer even need a Congress. But billions of dollars are made on lobbying, political advertising, consulting, etc to get your hopes up. [See, Time to Abolish the Presidency, which links to my other articles on why politics is a scam.]

(Barack Gaga - the most beautiful creature on the planet)

F)      News. I once visited with a news producer while he was producing his show. On the news that night there were elections, earthquakes, wars, economics, smart pundits (e.g. me), etc. All things to scare the hell out of you.  In the middle of the show the producer told me, “100% of our job is filling up the spaces in between advertisements.” So here I had it: a guy whose entire job is to create the primetime news for YOU was telling me it was a scam. That’s the news. Tell me a single thing you saw on the news today that was either not a lie or was in some way relevant to your life.

G)     The Middle Man. There are lots of people in the middle trying to separate you from happiness. They are greedy and want the happiness for themselves because they foolishly think there is a finite amount of it. Venture Capitalists separating investors from their money and giving it to young entrepreneurs. Agents (literary, movie, etc). Real estate agents. Gurus (the middle man between God/happiness and you). Lawyers (the middle men between an overly complex legal system and you when most documents are just printed off the printer in five seconds, your name filled in, and then they charge you $10,000). Doctors (the middle man between the FDA (which controls all prescriptions and is, itself, a horrible scam) and sick people who need the medicine). Damn, I should’ve saved this one for an entire post.

H)     Money.  All of the markets are a scam. Stocks, gold, oil, the debt of every country, our currencies. The scam is so large it could take centuries to unravel. People spend their lives trying to go on TV telling us how the world could be better if somebody please could just do this, that, and this other thing. Corporations pay you just enough so you can live but not enough so that you can escape their leash. Anything else that entices you out of your hard-earned money (gambling, the lottery, education to “better yourself”, savings accounts that don’t beat inflation, etc) are all cleverly planned scams to enrich others but not you. Having a low-paying job (and, with inflation, almost all jobs are low-paying), is no better than an addiction to heroin. Something you have to go back to every day to satisfy short-term needs but will ultimately kill you.

(I love JSG Boggs paintings of money)

I)        Art. Art has value, art has beauty, art is an expression of creativity. BUT, the business of art relies on the people who are clever enough to “brand” themselves, who gets the right representation, who can combine their creativity with enough business acumen to get noticed and ride the right trends. Two pieces of art can express equal creativity and insight but one could be worth $100,000,000 and the other could be worth $0. It’s always interesting to me that Beethoven is considered art, for instance, but if someone wrote and performed Beethoven’s 5th Symphony right now (and assuming Beethoven never wrote it) he would be laughed off the stage. Why? This is an unknown question to me. Although, personally, I’m a fan of “A Fifth of Beethoven” from the 70s classic movie “Saturday Night Fever”.

J)       Books. I walk into a bookstore and there’s maybe 10,000 books. 9,995 of them are probably unreadable and intended that way. Most books break even for publishers and are losses for the authors. And are horribly written (it takes 10-20 years of practice to write a good book and most people have not put in the time. My first five books are awful, for instance). So why do people write books? For pedigree (“I wrote a book about that!”) To get speaking gigs (itself a scam industry. Companies spend $15,000 for an hour of someone’s time  so fat, lazy executives eating a fancy steak dinner can be entertained at a corporate outing before they call up escort services to help them get to sleep, drunk, bloated, and spent), to get clients (“I wrote the book on this so you should hire me to give you advice” – and most of the advice industry is a scam. If you can’t figure something out for yourself and you are neck deep in it, then chances are someone else isn’t going to figure it out for you). People also write books for freedom. There’s the illusion that writers make their own hours, it’s fun, and then you make millions. Which very rarely happens. I’ve seen it happen. To one person. Out of 100s of writers I know. [See, How I’ve Lost Money on Ever Books I’ve Ever Written, and also “Why and How I Self-Published”]

(the modern day beethoven. if you can't see these images then go to jamesaltucher.com)

Wow, it seems like everything is a scam. So what’s not a scam?

You.
Ugh, that seems like a huge cliché. I can imagine Tony Robbins with his headset while he walks around a stage. “YOU!” he points out at the audience. The audience is sick of BS. They are hoping he’s right.Nobody wants to go back to their dead-end jobs and have their bosses take out all the anger about their unhappy marriages, their anger about their kids who talk back, their anger about their own bosses, the drinking, the hookers, the high cholesterol, all the anger that builds up in the bloated ambition of your boss until you are conveniently around for them to dump on.

Because they do, they will, you hate it, you take it, you plot revenge. I always plotted revenge. “I’m going to get him”. I’d walk around the block. Angry. I’m going to get him. And then I end up yelling at the guy who bumps into me at Starbucks. Who then curses me but takes it out on his wife later. The scams of society rain down on us and then we’re sinking in the quicksand of them while we grasp onto each other with anger, not caring that all we’re doing is dragging each other down.

(By the way, I like Tony Robbins’ stuff a lot. I just think the self-help industry in general tries too hard with too little results).

“You”.

“You” doesn’t have to be a cliche. I have no headset. Well I do. I’m watching a pretty girl hula hoop on youtube while I write this and I’m using a headset so as not to bother Claudia. When I say “I love the song” on this youtube video its sort of like reading Playboy for the articles but it’s true.

You don’t have to be a scam. Be honest. Don’t “brand” yourself like a cow. Don’t kiss ass. Breathe as deeply as possible. Check yourself as much as possible for the thoughts that stress you and anger you. Learn the “not useful” technique. Then do the Daily Practice to make sure that you become the boss of your life.My next book, coming out in a few weeks, outlines this further than I’ve done before.

And also, NOW I NEED YOUR HELP!

Tell me other scams in society. I want to come up with 52. I want to make a deck of cards with the scams. Then I’m going to come up with “The Scam Game”. Sort of like “Trivia Pursuit” or “Bridge” but all about the ways people lie to us on a daily basis. By dissecting the lies (all of which cause massive stress), we can find the truth.

But it all goes back to focusing on your inner happiness. And from that core of the Universe, generating the ideas, the plans, the truths, the businesses, the ideas, that can create external happiness. You are a marvelous human being.

So let me try that again. What’s not a scam?

You aren’t a scam.

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  • Anonymous

    I’m a millionaire because of that man above.  I’m also a better human and make a huge difference in the world because of him as well.  Obviously you’ve never met him or spent time with him.  

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I actually like this stuff. Tell me how you became a millionaire. I just think people are turned off by the self-help industry in general.

    • Tom Weizenegger

      Hi,
      If you are a millionaire, it’s pretty sad to think that you live your life thinking it’s because of someone else. If you are a millionaire, it’s because of you (unless Tony Robbins gave you a million dollars, then it’s because of him). We all need motivation, and it always comes from inside of us; sometimes it just needs to be inspired by something or someone external. Tony Robbins makes a lot of money because he’s pretty good at being inspiring. For me, the people I work with every day provide me with that inspiration, and they don’t charge me a dime.

  • http://twitter.com/MaxZografos Max Zografos

    amazing, thanks

  • http://twitter.com/associatesmind Associate’s Mind

    Here’s a pretty entertaining one, a 4-part piece on the Anatomy of a Scam Investigation:

    “In Chapter One I discussed the fake-invoice mail fraud scheme operated by UST Development, Inc. and its principal David Bell. In Chapter Two we discussed Google search techniques and useful sites like the Better Business Bureau. In Chapter Three
    we discussed some Google search results suggesting how widespread the
    fraud is, and the possibility that the same principals had conducted
    fraud under other names.”

    Chapter Four here: http://www.popehat.com/2011/09/14/anatomy-of-a-scam-investigation-chapter-four/

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I will certainly check that out.

  • http://twitter.com/BrittanyCGates Brittany C Gates

    I think gadgets, such as smartphones and tablets, are a scam.  I think the technology behind them are great but the actual usage is not.  I see people dumping money they don’t have (or working second jobs) into gadgets so they can seem cool or hip.  Or they get a gadget to be more productive at work but become so attached to their smartphone or tablet they can’t relax at home or don’t sleep well at night.  And for the very few, gadgets become an addiction.  They can’t function properly without checking their smartphone every few minutes.  I find it all quite sad.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Thats a good one. I got this Android. I use it for phone and email but nothing else. All the “smart” stuff is a scam. Even my ipad: i use for videos, safari, and kindle, but the rest is nothing.

      • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

        And I certainly find myself obsessively checking on the email too much. There’s no reason for it. I think back to just yesterday. Did I really need to check my email in the middle of a dinner?

        • Dave

          I have made a conscious effort to not pick my phone up at dinner.  I was doing it all the time, and found that it takes away my attention from my kids.

          I think the whole idea that you have to be so connected is a bunch of B.S. I am so afraid of dropping Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, my smartphone, etc.  But it would probably make me happier.

          • Aisling2809

            It took me 6 months of contemplation to finally drop Facebook.  And I did not even want to be on it in the first place (my wife set me up, took a while for me to forgive her!)

    • CK

      Aw that was going to be my suggestion as well.  I think for all the apps and ways to get information and connect with people, the actual value that these things add to people’s lives is quite modest.  They remind me of the Palm Pilots everyone thought were so cool and important. Two years later they were gone again…

  • Dave

    ok you got me started

    Religion
    Nationalism
    Race
    Fame
    Startups saying they going to change the world

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Perfect.

      • Dave

        I would really like to explain why for all the reasons I mentioned, don’t have the time, but if you can help me, I can help further.

        I think already many people think Religion is scam. But I’ll hit Nationalism pretty quickly. People keep saying the government is not suppose to take care of you, if that’s the case we do not need the police, army or any other service the government provides via our taxes. Executives have no love for their countrymen. Chinese companies abuse their countrymen to make products for wealthy western companies. Wealthy western companies use tax loopholes to avoid paying for taxes their countries need. Nationalism is only a tool to get the poor and ignorant to sacrifice their children fighting wars that do not solve problems, they only seem to create more problems. 

    • http://twitter.com/bjnortier Benjamin Nortier

      Yup. I was going to say Citizenship & Patriotism.

      The vast majority of people don’t choose their nationality/citizenship, but somehow we are told that you should be ‘patriotic’ because of an accident of birth?

      This strikes me every time I come into an airport, and I have to stand in a queue which takes two hours to get into the country, just because I was born in some geographic region. Everyone should be allowed to go everywhere without restriction, including moving to any geographic region in the world to find work.

      So another one: Nation States

  • Mercman185

    Buying a car is a scam . You sit down to negotiate something you do once every four years with  a guy that does it every day who really wins ? Never mind the this price is good for today and today only thing

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Agreed. I’m going to throw real estate agency in there as well.

      • sambking

        Most everything is a scam or “scam-enhanced.” I think it would be easier making a list of the things that are not a scam. By doing this you will invariably be able to determine if said item is a scam (and scam-related) or not. [Great blog by the way. Heard you on Lew Rockwell. Good stuff]

        • http://twitter.com/sarahcthompson Sarah Thompson

          Buying a NEW car, sure, but I think owning a car is legit if you live anywhere where you need to get somewhere else far sometimes.

    • http://twitter.com/fbliss Fred Bliss

      Ahh yes.  They call it “creating a sense of urgency” but it should be “creating a scam of urgency”.

  • Daniel Hill

    My list of Scams:

    1. Being your “own boss” lets you work less hours. If this is possible, somehow please teach me how. I’d love to work 30 hours/week, and then one day, when I have kids, be able to support them and spend time with them. Everyone I know who owns their own companies works and worries more. “Sweet is the sleep of the one serving”, says Ecclesiastes 5:12.

    2. Watching TV relaxes you. I don’t think this is true. I like watching TV, but I never really feel more relaxed afterward.

    3. Today’s modern day working world. We’re all believing that if we don’t give 200%, the next guy will give our boss 200% for half what we’re making. That may be true, but it sure feels like a scam.

    I have more. I have to think.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Please. These are great.

    • Lori

      i do think being your own boss lets you work fewer hours .. LATER .. after you’ve made it. in the beginning you’re working 80-100 hours a week, and the beginning can last for years. i waited to have my kids until things were far enough along that i could pay someone else to do the work. haha, and i mean the business work not the kid work — i wanted to do that myself.

      • SALT

        Work Day is a scam. 80% of what we call work is a total waste of time, doing nothing for the bottomline. Further, only a small % of “work” is useful and fullfilling. I’m a big believer in the “4 hour work week”. BTW, Lori, Read the book by the same name. I’ts great. IMO laziness and efficiency (only doing the necessary) are often the same thing.

  • Christopher

    For your card deck?  The judicial system.  You may think you’ve covered it under “Politics” above, but it deserves a separate card.  We put somebody in a black robe and have him sit on a bench so we can tell ourselves he is beyond politics and self-interest, and that his decisions are wise, or better than ordinary folk could come up with.  He isn’t.  They aren’t. At best, he’s angling for a gig on the next pseudo-judicial reality TV show.  So he can fill up that time between commercials.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      yeah!

  • Gal

    Academia

  • Amelia

    Authenticity.

    I enjoy The Authenticity Hoax and I think it would work well for this card deck.

  • http://jimgrey.wordpress.com/ jim

    I wrote a book once. It was about Microsoft PowerPoint.  A copy is displayed prominently on my shelf at work.  Bosses and co-workers murmur approvingly when they see it, and assume I must be the greatest PowerPoint user who ever lived.  What they don’t know is that I had been a lowly technical editor for the publisher when negotiations fell through with their favorite PowerPoint author.  The publisher turned to me in desperation and lowballed me on the fee, but I had debt so I did it anyway.  So while the publisher scammed me when I wrote it, I’ve turned it into a plenty enjoyable scam (for funsies) on everyone else. It’s not like PowerPoint is that hard to use.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Ha, and an expert was created.

    • Hal34

      What do you think of Edward Tufte’s argument that we should avoid Ppt because it stifles creative thinking?

      • http://jimgrey.wordpress.com/ jim

        PowerPoint has its uses. It’s not as evil as some make it out to be. It does force presentations into a common mold, if you will, which does harm creativity.  But is creativity always the goal?

  • Isaac Zaetz

    The War on Drugs, The War on Terror, The Prison Industrial Complex, The Military Industrial Complex, Cell Phone Contracts, Gym Memberships, Credit Cards,… 

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Ahh yeah, i forgot about cell phone contracts. Tell me what the prison industrial complex is.

      • Isaac Zaetz

        Hi James, 

        There’s an article on Wikipedia; but basically Prisons are a big business. It has become an entire industry, complete with its own trade shows and periodicals. There are entire prison systems that have been contracted out to be run by private corporations and there are entire towns whose economies depend on the Jobs provided by the local prison. This in turn puts pressure on Politicians and Courts to keep feeding prisoners in to the system, and might partially explain why almost 1%(!) of the American population is incarcerated.

        P.S. Love your Blog

      • Dave

        The private prison lobby is behind the criminalization of illegal immigration.  They wrote “sample legislation” and gave it to congressman to pass.

        The more people in prison, the higher the profit for private prisons.

        That is basically it. Though I could be a little off base.

        • http://www.organiclifestylemagazine.com jMichaelEdwards

          You’re not off base

      • truzo

        kids for cash..

        http://www.chron.com/news/article/Ex-Pa-judge-sent-to-Okla-prison-in-kickback-scam-2158867.php

        there are definitely better articles out there i’m just lazy
         

      • David Hollander

        This wouldn’t fall under the category of things your average reader encounters every day, but the big problem with the American penal system is the perverse incentives that structures unrehabilitated prisoners as assets:

        1a. The standard contract for private prisons seems to be money per prisoner housed rather than money per prisoner rehabilitated.

        1b. Each prisoner generates further revenue for the private prison as a labor source.

        1c. Thus on a balance sheet, each additional unrehabilitated prisoner becomes an asset to be kept rather than a liability to be reduced.

        2. Allowing drugs inside prisons becomes an efficiency gain, as prisoners failing drug tests results in assets being held longer.

        3a. When prisoners are housed in prisons in rural districts, they count towards that districts population for purposes of calculating representation in state legislature. Even though prisoners cannot vote and are primarily from urban districts.

        3b. Prisoners then also become an asset rather than liabilities for politicians in rural districts by giving them undue representative power. Politicians then are incentivized to increase this asset by supporting minimum sentencing laws.

        Now there may be no direct agency or conscious intent to the above, but historically changing the underlying structure of economic incentives can have profound positive effects on individual behavior: http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2010/09/09/129757852/pop-quiz…

      • Benjamin Dunphy

        In the 1980’s President Reagan turned over the responsibility of building prisons to the private sector. As many others have pointed out, this is very lucrative for all parties involved, from the construction companies to the electric and phone companies. This incited a mass lobbying effort by many of these industries to thicken the penal code. It’s no coincidence that the war on drugs started in earnest under Reagan in the early 80’s. 

        Thus with a privatized prison industry, you have a supply of prisons and a demand for prisoners rather than the other way around. 

        Like ashes in the fall..(RATM)

    • Kelley

      Gym Memberships! Arrghhh those are the worst! Credit cards and cell phone contracts rate right up there with them. Good call, man.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KTSTXIVQ7PW3LNS5KGGW5CY7LY belle

        That’s why I have a personal trainer. He lives in my building and charges only 60$ per couple. Yoga is a scam too.

    • Rich.

      Cell phone contracts: Bingo!

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LNHI42TXOK57GN2M5TYQFBH5YE Borat69

      The best scam ever: Child Support Services, especially against Single Males.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LNHI42TXOK57GN2M5TYQFBH5YE Borat69

      The best scam ever: Child Support Services, especially against Single Males.

      • Janet

        so true- why would it be ok for me to kick my kids out of the house at 18, or not pay for their college, but my friend has to pay 500.00 per month for his daughter, up to age 22 if she goes to college

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1676832039 -Richard Simpson-

      Liked, but I have to express issue with cell phone contracts.

      You are free to purchase a phone without a contract, but you’ll pay a larger price for the handset.  If you like the discount, you get the contract.  The contract made expensive phones affordable to a lot more people a lot earlier than the technology’s natural maturation could.

      I sold phones for years, and my customers came back to me because I helped them understand their options and make good choices based on their needs.  

      I was a middleman, and I think James underestimates the job that middlemen do.  I sure am not going to visit the dairy farm for my milk, or the slaughterhouse for my meat.  I can’t afford to go to Colombia to pick my own coffee for breakfast.  I like the grocery stores, distributors, and other middlemen that make distant pleasures more accessible to me.  The middlemen I have a problem with are the ones who inject themselves involuntarily into the middle of things that don’t involve them, esp monopolists protected by govt, and I suspect those are the sort he had in mind when he mentioned them.

      • Jeff

        Richard, what you describe about your cell phone sales is commonly called Customer Service, and is not the behavior of a Middleman. A Middleman, by definition, is extracting value out of a transaction, to your detriment and his benefit. :)

      • Ira

        Actually, what I find most a scam is the pricing of cell phone service. First you can’t get a plan exactly tailored to your needs, and second, you pay a huge per-minute rate whenever you go over the plan limit. Cell phone service is one of the few commodities where the more you buy the higher the rate. I would like a cell phone contract where I get charged only for what I use and at a declining unit price to encourage usage.

    • Jeff D

      Oh please, Issaac, grow a friggin brain.

    • sweep

      It should be: “the Congressional-Military-Industrial Complex.” That trillion dollars has to be spent in some Congressman’s District.

  • HJ

    The insurance industry. Charities. Non-profits. FEMA. The girl scouts. All medical research outfits (maybe this is the same as charities). Hmmm…I think about this all the time…I should be able to come up with more. Magazines. Diets. Commercial farming. Fashion. I’ll keep thinking :-). I love your writing…thank you! Oh–just thought of another one–toys…especially those made from the big toy manufacturers…kids always just like to play with the boxes the toys came in.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      These are all great. Explain: commercial farming. I don’t know what that is. And the girl scouts DO have those great cookies althogh they’ve gotten worse since I was a kid.

      • HJ

        Commercial farming–all of the subsidies that big farms get all while using too many chemicals to produce shiny food that looks perfect in the grocery store. Which reminds me of two more…grocery stores and jobs. :-).

  • Marc

    I think those emails from the wives of Nigerian Generals are scams but I’m not certain.  James, can you check that out?

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Those are definitely real. I’ve made $716 million from all the dead Nigerian Generals and Kings who needed my help and my help alone to get their money safely laundered.

      • Roger H

        Yes!

      • Catwood2

        Ok, I just read this article yesterday – “The Perfect Mark” – about one of these 419 scams. The guy fits a few scams already listed – religious, psychotherapist who published a system that he sold to churches, businesses, people for improving something or other. Unfortunately, he wasn’t a good saver and when the Nigerian in distress contacted him he decided to act. Then, proceeded to scam friends, family, and clients to get money at different points to send over to cinch the deal.
        http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2006/05/15/060515fa_fact?currentPage=all

    • http://www.seoconsultantz.com/alan-cliffe/ Alan Cliffe

      Ive had 419 of those ;-)

  • Roger H

    Diet / Exercise routines.   The whole industry is set up on complicate to profit.  Tim Ferris has some interesting things to say about this.   Weight loss / body transformation requires serious discipline and change in behaviours and lifestyle…no one wants to hear that….give me a diet “candy bar” and an exercise machine that has a TV on it.

    • troglodyte

      Gaaa! I was with you until you mentioned Tim Ferris. Mr. Ferris is an incredibly talented scam artist.

      • MikeH

        I hate personal branding and it’s self-proclaimed poster child Tim Ferris. On the other hand, I actually admire him for scam talent. Like a well thought out crime versus a smash and grab. 

  • Dave

     I was in a crappy (no pun intended) mood until I read the opening of this post.  Thanks, it lightened my day up.

  • Sooz

    Insurance(Health,Auto,Homeowners)

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Funny – those are actually scams by definition. Which is why they are the best businesses in the world (its no wonder that the biggest insurance company is owned by Warren Buffett). They basically know the odds are massively on their side and everyone takes the bet.

      • Tom

        Disagree. Please see below.

    • Sooz

      calc expense in past 5 yrs(if I chose to go along with the scam) approx. 75k to save my life(haha)rebuild my home if it burns to the ground(haha) replace side panels that cost little compared to collision fees(haha) .
       scam..scam..scam…
      (this does not inlude my children who are covered under a different policies all three health and one teen auto)

      • Tom

        I disagree. Just because it isn’t tangible doesn’t mean it’s a scam. Insurance transfers risk at a price. Properly valued, it protects you from incurring catastrophic (and rare) costs, at the price of processing your claims and the expectation of you incurring that risk. Poorly priced insurance is a scam.

  • http://kashkawan.squarespace.com Luisa Perkins

    Weight loss, James! Not just the crazy stuff you see on late-night infomercials, but ALL diets EVER.  

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Yeah, I agree. There’s lots of facets of the whole diet industry that are not only scams but very harmful to people. Harmful medically and psychologically.

      • Anonymous

        The entire “obesity kills” mantra is a huge scam too! Only the most extreme cases ever cause premature mortality. Underweight and “normal weight” people actually die sooner than their “obese” peers. Few people know this because any research that proves obesity isn’t deadly is buried. It’s all about the $50 billion-per-year weight loss industry.

        Re diets: 98% of the people who lose weight regain it within 2 years. The remaining 2% who keep the weight off do so by maintaining starvation diets, caloric intake well below the recommended levels. Starvation and underweight kill faster than any other weight condition.

        To find links to the real research and facts about the Obesity Myth, go to junkfoodscience.blogspot.com . There haven’t been new posts for some time, but everything there is well worth reading. Prepare to have your eyes opened to the massive scam called health care in this country.

        • None of your business

          I agree that an underweight condition is very dangerous. I think health insurance providers share in promoting an unhealthy focus on weight loss. I think health insurance providers know that a skinny, weak individual contracting a serious illness will be more likely to die before he has a chance to generate many claims.

          It seems the insurers are also reducing what is supposed to be “high blood
          pressure” when it used to be that 120/80 was textbook perfect, normal
          blood pressure… Now they say that’s “high” and try to pressure you
          into getting “treated” for it. If I were to visit my primary care
          physician and say I need to be treated for my 120/80 blood pressure
          she would laugh me out of the examining room.

  • Roger H

    Networking.   At least how most people do it, just BS’ing and name dropping and exchanging cards.   No value provided.    Just another excuse not to work….maybe call it NOTworking

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I like “NOTworking”. That title alone is worth a blog post.

      • Kevin Faul

        One more a friend of mine coined: “Meeting Off” since most meetings are worthless waists of time. Used in a sentence: ‘I would have done some work today but I spent the whole day meeting off.’

    • SJP71

      I kept reading about how I should be networking while I was out of a job for 4 months but couldn’t imagine the value. You might as well go to the Starbucks and ask people if they got any jobs.

  • Anonymous

    I want to go into advertising. People roll their eyes when I tell them that. Yes it’s a huge scam to get people to buy products. But what I realized is that the majority of the people want to be told what to buy. If we were to stop all ads from tv and magazines people would be confused. They wouldn’t have the same feeling wearing a shirt with a brand name screen printed across the front. It’s like when I go running, having that Nike check across my chest makes me feel a certain way. I think about the athletes who wear  it, and I think I’m as great as them. I know, stupid. But the feeling is there. I want to create that feeling.

  • DK1

    Weddings are a huge scam.

    • Amelia

      Yes.

      • Brian

        Not if you have 100% creative control, pay for it yourself, and have no fear of ignoring what everyone else wants.

    • Jarjar

      Yep.  Thank god my future father and mother in law have enough money that they’re not going to miss 40 grand.  I’d have no way to justify this wedding otherwise.  Plus, the wedding is mostly a chance for my mother in law to show her friends that she can throw a good party.  I’m just the entertainment.    

  • Roger H

    Office Meetings.    See comment on NOTworking.   Just another excuse not to work.   But it is worse than that, it is group procrastination.    No one wanting to step up and make a decision or confront someone who is going in the wrong direction.    Almost no one gets fired for being useless, but everyone is paranoid to make a decision that does not work out.   They have this fantasy of when things do go wrong, they will say “Well we all sat in the meeting and made this decision together”.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Here’s how companies should do meetings: no chairs. if everyone has to stand up for more than two minutes it will be a fast meeting. Also, no donuts.

      • Tuzo

        Actually, agile software development already does stand up meetings: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stand-up_meeting .

  • AP

    The Food Industry, in all its incarnations.  From farm subsidies, to pesticides on crops, to supermarkets, fast food conglomerates, the declining nutritional value of the food that’s available, higher prices in supermarkets that are in bad neighborhoods… I could go on.

  • Euros

    Christmas / Birthday cards – “all cards”.
    Funerals – How they sell you a timber and brass coffin that is actually plastic.

    • Hal10034

      Jessica Mitford covered this one over 50 years ago in The American Way of Death.  It’s still worth reading.  

  • YourBoy

    Fashion, Cosmetics, and the Health and Beauty product industry (other than tooth paste and the basic things you need to maintain good hygene…and while I think of it, what we consider proper hygene these days might be a scam too…removal of all body hair, perminantly manicured fingers and toes, artificially white teeth?)

    All these industries aim to tell me what to find attractive.  When I see people in the real world, wearing the latest fashions and made up to look artifical, they look cartoonish to me.  Give he a girl in a tee shirt with some nice fitting Levis and a pony tail any day!

    • guest

      Cosmetics is not a scam.  It’s in every culture on earth and has existed for tens of thousands of years.  Women naturally want to look beautiful and men naturally want to pick beautiful women.  What’s wrong with that?

      • http://twitter.com/jamesjansson James Jansson

        The reason why it is a scam is not because women want to change the way they look and these companies conveniently provide a service. It’s because these companies actively encourage women to think that everything natural about themselves is wrong.

    • Anonymous

      The idea to shave body hair was the brainchild of Gillette in the early 20th century. They “invented” the disposable razor and wanted to increase their market share by selling to women, so they started a women’s magazine campaign denigrating underarm and leg hair as “unhealthy” in order to sell women on the idea they need to shave. The expectation that women will be hair free is a marketing scheme.

  • Roger H

    Taxes.   Pay your fair share / the Rich don’t pay any taxes….what a lie.   Anyone can read the statistics.       

    • Foljs

      Apparently not.

      • Brian

        Alarm bells go off when I hear anyone say “fair share”.

        • sambking

          Amen to that

  • http://freefrombroke.com Glen Craig

    How about taxes?

  • http://manonthestreet.com manonthestreet

    Religion, Patriotism, Marriage, Morality, Government, and Sea Monkeys can all be summed up as scams. Did you ever have sea monkeys?

    • Cathy0

      I always wanted to order sea monkeys off the back of the comics! What were they?

  • GSL

    Graduate school (spending your 20s not working and not learning practical skills will not make you wealthy or productive)
    Labor unions
    Management consulting
    Organized religion
    1-Year apartment leases (vs month-to-month)
    City living

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1454545590 Cary Duke

      I can’t believe I had to go this far down the page to see labor unions. A huge scam imho…

  • Aaron

     @font-face {
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    }p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0in 0in 10pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: “Times New Roman”; }div.Section1 { page: Section1; You want
    to go to the trouble of making a card deck about scams? Why not make a card
    deck about something you love, not something you despise? (I’m assuming you don’t
    love scams). You get what you focus on. I can think of lots of scams, and it’s
    good to know and avoid them as much as possible. But don’t let the negative be
    your focus. There is too much awesomeness in the world that we don’t pay enough
    attention to.

    • http://opally.blogspot.com Opal

      here’s an example of how MS Word is a major scam. Include Windows OS and MS Office in that pile.

  • Jason

    Credit bureaus 

  • GSL

    Facebook

  • Roger H

    Government Sales and Consulting.   I had a friend that worked for government sales at the hipster trendy overpriced electronics company.   She would talk about all of the great things they were doing and how stupid these government agencies were for using PC’s and blackberries.    Alot of discussion about how much “better” their stuff was.   

    If you are accomplishing nothing, it does not matter how efficiently you do it.    Zero times anything is Zero.     

    These organisations are all clustered around the beltway and exist solely to bilk the government dollar.   Anybody dedicated to providing value and with any self respect would not bother with the endless hassles and time wasting associated with the government contracting.    

    • john

      “Accomplishing things” is also a scam.

      • Mike Periboob

        Not really a scam, but mostly a self-delusion.

  • Andrew_Ferri

    Scams: caffeine, airport security, Wholefoods, immigration, bottled water…I love your stuff James, you are the fucking man!

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      All of those are scams. Its amazing when you think about it how deep the list is. Wholefoods! and then people complain about inflation. Well, those people should stop shopping in  Whole Foods, the fastest growing supermarket chain in the country. I shop for groceries in Walmart whenvever I can. And I don’t understand why people don’t’ see that in many cases bottled water is less healthy than tap water. And crap like “Vitamin Water” is filled with sugar, dye, etc.

  • Super88

    The TSA and airport security.  Keeping us “safe” on a plane, by having us stand in a vulnerable group of a few thousand outside the security checkpoint.

    • Cathy0

      This is SO TRUE. 1000 likes. Does anyone really believe that all that bullshit scanning and taking off your shoes and putting your makeup in a plastic bag makes one teeny weeny bee’s dick worth of difference? That it stops terrorists? Oh no! I can’t blow up that plane because they made me empty out my sealed bottle of water! Do those machines even work? All this is, is a complete cynical scam aimed at creating the ‘perception’ of safety so that we’ll all follow the rules like uncomplaining docile sheep. Baaaa.

      • Anonymous

        Actually, taking off shoes can help move things along through the metal detectors. So many shoes, even running shoes, have metal shanks in them that set off the metal detector, meaning additional screening. It’s one bit of common sense added to the process. The shoe bomber justification for it is all wrong, but it actually helps.

        • Travis_Alan

          Many European airports do not require that passengers take their shoes off and I do not see any additional screening issues.

  • Anonymous

    NUTRITION FACTS AND LABELS! hahahaha

  • Anonymous

    Add to the list:
    – Financial advisers
    – Trading education

  • YourBoy

    Alcohol. 

    Don’t get me wrong, I like tying one on as much as the next guy.  But it all basically tastes like crap, and requires you to “aquire” a taste for it.  Its been around since the dawn of time and hasn’t changed, but companies put it in an interesting bottle or get P. Ditty to drink it, and we pay up for the same rotten fruit that cavemen drank. 

    • Jeff

      Yes – expensive wines are like a tax on the stupid. 

      • Cicerone

        Not only expensive wines, but the wine industry in general is a huge amount of BS. I dare anybody to refute the fact that nobody knows sh*t about wines, and cannot differentiate between brands, types, etc. Paying more thatn $10 for a bottle of wine is just stupid.

        • Mike Periboob

          We drink box wine–~$13 for 5 bottles-worth. But the wife makes me get bottles when we have friends over. Cant convince her how phoney that is.

          • http://twitter.com/sarahcthompson Sarah Thompson

            Pour the boxed wine into a nice earthenware pitcher and serve to guests.  Now you are doing it like the French and Italians, which makes you classy, of course.  That’s what I do. BotaBox, baby. (Although there is definitely a difference in how wines taste, just like whiskeys and beers and what-all-else, but taste is subjective and not dependent on price tag).

          • Anonymous

            Good wine is essentially grape juice with the natural yeast that comes along with it, which ferments together to give it it’s flavour.
            Many wine producers now add in a secondary flavouring yeast that gives wine the other fruit flavours that one might associate with certain grapes, unless you’re buying ‘rough’ wine from the area that it’s grown you’re most likely buying the cheapest grapes with the most flavouring, of course if you enjoy the flavour and like the  price then there’s nothing wrong with it at all, however you might be surprised to know that even very expensive wines aren’t entirely the natural product that they claim to be! 

  • http://www.andrewriley.net Andrew

    “GREEN!” is the scam that annoys me.  Everything is “green” now, when you know damn well that everything is not green.  But it makes people feel like they’re being responsible when they buy the “green” product.

    • http://twitter.com/PaulMaxime Paul Franceus

      Yes Yes Yes. I live in Boulder Colorado and I get sick of people giving you a hard time if you accidentally throw a soda can in the trash while they drive their huge SUVs.

      How about Carbon Credits. Does anyone really believe that this money goes to anything real? They continue to cut down virgin Amazon rain forest for the oil palm plantations so that we can drive our SUVs using “renewable biofuels”.

      • http://www.andrewriley.net Andrew

        I’m down in Parker, where it’s not as bad.  Boulder is beautiful but I know exactly what you mean.  And that whole “Carbon Credits” thing is terrible.  I used to kind of like Al Gore until he started selling that snake oil.  I think Carbon Credits should be the Ace of Spades in Mr. Altucher’s deck of scam cards.

  • Kevin Meyers

    The conventional nutritional wisdom that saturated fat is evil and that we all need to eat rabbit pellets and bird seed to stay healthy is a scam. Cholesterol is a scam to sell drugs. “Heart healthy whole grains” are a scam.

  • Roger H

    – 401k’s.  Inflate the stock market / limit your options
    – Most accountants (only needed because of over complicated tax code).    
    – Trade associations created to limit competition and complicate simple things.
    – Most city regulations / building codes / inspectors / fee generation.    
    – Traffic Cops / tickets
    – Facebook
    – Insurance
    – Medical billing  – most of the system
    – Eye doctor.   Perscriptions that expire?  How about I get my eyes checked when I can’t see

  • http://www.rossgreenspan.com rossgreenspan

    “Clean” coal, hybrid cars, corn ethanol

  • Anonymous

    Hi James,

    Recently found your site after a friend pointed me towards some of your articles on self-publishing. Very interesting and useful stuff, please keep it up!

    One of the most prevalent myths among my generation is that there are “safe” career choices available for people who just want a stable, comfy, middle-class life. Many of the career paths that used to be a near-guarantee of that life are leaving people high and dry with six figures of debt.

    I wrote about four examples (law, teaching, public service and academia) here:

    http://www.freedomtwentyfive.com/?p=217

    I’m also curious, what would you suggest a non-wealthy person do with their wealth? You seem to rule out all of the traditional investment paths, but I think you’ve left out one major asset class that’s also a scam – cash. Given the speed at which new dollars are being printed, the looming realization by central banks that the dollar is a pretty crappy reserve currency, and the continuing stagnation of the American economy, I think dollars and dollar-denominated assets are going to wind up the scam-iest scam of them all.

    I’m young and relatively poor, but I keep what money I have in a diversified portfolio of international equities and precious metals. I think that gives me a better chance of holding on to that wealth in the long term, but I’d be interested to hear your thoughts as well.

    Other scams you may want to consider off the top of my head:

    – The pharmaceutical and psychiatric industries. Check out a blog by a guy who calls himself The Last Psychiatrist

    – Mainstream diet and nutrition advice. See Gary Taubes, Good Calories, Bad Calories

    – Keynesian economics

    – Mainstream dating advice

    – Monogamy and traditional marriages

    I’ll jot any others that come to mind on my notepad over the course of the day, and please let me know if you want more details or clarification on any of this. Least I can do since I’ve gotten a lot more value from you than the 99 cents I’ve paid =)

    Cheers,

    Frost

    • john

      It’s unfair to single out Keynesianis when the entire field of economics is a scam.

      • Syren

        No, Frost_25 is right.  Keynesian economics is a total and complete scam and was designed to be. Austrian economics, however, is a scholarly field which attempts to explain human behavior as the actual driving force of an economy, not manipulations as in Keynesianism.

        • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

          Agree about all economics. At the end of the day, economics is a social science at best and astrology at worst. We all want to maximize our own personal gain and we live in a $50 trilion economy. So no matter what economists tell me, Im going to ignore them and do my own thing.

        • sambking

          Exactly. Read von Mises and the other Austrians. Mises.org is not a scam. So much FREE, downloadable material there by excellent authors. The Austrian School explains economics in terms of human action not convoluted math.

  • Roger H

    Hybrid cars.   Cars 20 years ago were getting better mileage than these, without the hundreds of pounds of toxic batteries that will someday need to be dealt with.   Really funny is the bix Lexus that is 400+ Horsepower and gets terrible mileage….but its a hybrid.    Tax scam, environmental scam…manipulation of the system.

  • Anonymous

    The cosmetics industry.  I worked as a chemist for a major cosmetics company and I can tell you that ALL of these skin care products that are supposed to make your skin look ‘younger’ are all a giant scam.  A marketing scheme to allow these companies to sell basic skin moisturizers for hundreds of times the actual cost of manufacture.

    The best advice I can give you is ‘wear sunscreen’.

    • Kevin Meyers

      Sorry, sunscreen’s a scam, too.

      • Anonymous

        Why?

      • Anonymous

        No – sunscreens are the one skin care product you can buy that truly medically benfits the customer. 
        Everything else is basically hand-cream with miniscule amount of make-up like ingredients that give the customer the impression that their wrinkles just disappeared or their sun spots skin lightened.

        • Freetorun34

          Actually, sunscreen IS a scam. Using it CAUSES more skin cancer among others.  Sun Screen stops the ability of your skin to make vitamin D, of which most Americans are severly deficient.  It’s better to gradually get your skin used to the sun.  1 hour of sun a day can dramatically decrease your chances of cancer of any kind.

      • Jdhambrick

        As a fair-skinned Irishman with many trials under my belt, I can personally vouch for the effectiveness of sunscreen.

      • Jdhambrick

        As a fair-skinned Irishman with many trials under my belt, I can personally vouch for the effectiveness of sunscreen.

  • YourBoy

    Weathermen and the Doppler Radar on weather forcasts. 

    Weathermen are just jokes period. 

    The Doppler Radar isn’t a scam as much as much as the people who watch the news and think they know everything about a storm because they saw a big green blob on the morning weather report.  They can’t even tell you what the Doppler Effect is…but they like to feel smart and inform others about something they have no idea about 

  • Linpet

    Ok, I am not a scam.  But how do you differentiate between being a scam and a fraud?  Branding is indeed bullshit, so how does one promote oneself honestly if you haven’t yet built up the confidence?  Any self-promotion then feels like a fraud you’re perpetrating, until you believe in yourself.  Which is the hard part.

  • http://waqasaday.wordpress.com Waqas Ali

    There are some real big scams going on in South Asia, i.e education, news, and religion.

    People mostly from middle, and lower middle classes are starting taking loans for the higher education of their children, seeking for foreign universities. People are afraid to left behind and they seek only solution is to get higher education for their children.2ndly media is always seeking for some kind of fear to fulfil the spaces between ads, on TV and print.Also they’re spending lot of money on houses to look rich and happy. But they’re not rich, nor happy at all.Finally, they turn to religious guys, who take advantage of the all fears, add some more, and make money and build influence.What’s going on?

  • Myangan

    James,
    It’s off topic, but have you ever had to talk to a foreigner whose English is not that great? It’s really frustrating because I’m that foreigner. I go to a college in the states, but my spoken English is horrible. Most of the time, I say something that either doesn’t make sense or is stupid, and I know it. It’s embarrassing. I don’t know what is wrong with me. I lived in the states for over 4.5 years now. My GPA is currently 3.9 (I’m a junior). I’m good at math, and I guess this is the only ability that is taking me through college. My pronunciation is bad also. And here is my future plan:After I graduate from college (hopefully), I want to work in the states for at least 1 year. Also I want to start and do my own business in the states (I have several ideas). However, it seems to me that everything in real life requires good communication skills (It is even difficult for me to talk on the phone with someone about my credit card charges). How can I do all this if I can’t even speak English like a 6-year old kid?I don’t know If you are the kind of person who can give me some advice on how to speak English well, but I read your blog everyday (since there was an article on yahoo why we shouldn’t go to a college), and I know that you know a lot about a lot of things like building businesses, creating good websites, stocks, etc. What should I do? What would you suggest? I just want to speak English like a native so bad! To me, the whole point of going to a college in the states was to learn to speak English well. But I’m a junior already, and my English is still bad! If I could speak English like a native, I wouldn’t even consider going to a college in the states!

    • Buzz McCool

      Get an American girlfriend/boyfriend so you have to speak English. Get a job (even as a volunteer) where you are forced to speak English. Change your name (nickname) to something that Americans can pronounce and determine your gender so they won’t feel intimidated talking to you. 

  • http://governmentofficeworker.blogspot.com/ TG

    First of all we need these scams or unemployment would be 60%.

    Nevertheless, building sprinkler systems are a scam in most cases.  We put them in non-combustible buildings and they don’t activate unless there is an inferno.

    • Roger H

      Yes.  50% of the population does not work now, so what is the difference.    It would be a temporary disruption, no doubt.   But would we be any poorer if people stopped doing things that were useless to begin with?

      Fire sprinklers..Totally agree.   Goes in the general category of government regulations that are desinged for your safety, but in actuality were designed by lobyists, trade associations, and special interest groups!!!    Good one

    • Scotthambrick

      We do not need these scams for the jobs.  It would be cheaper and more efficient to pay these people to do nothing than to take their calls, drive in traffic with them as they head to their bullshit jobs, have them “inspect” our buildings and generally fuck with us. 

      Pay them to do nothing, instead of pay them to fuck with us would be better, not the best but better.

  • Kevin Meyers

    Diet soda’s a scam. Makes you fatter and crave actual sugar.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1454545590 Cary Duke

      is this true? can you refer a site for more info?

      • http://twitter.com/weezrichardet Weez Richard

        Its because your body taste something sweet and thinks that it has calories/sugar coming shortly. After several diet sodas, your body’s understanding of how many calories sugar is is “miscalibrated” so it thinks that it needs even more of the sweet taste to get the calories your body needs. So you go on a binge because last time you tasted something sweet it was zero calories. 

        • Rick

          I drink diet soda all the time and I NEVER feel like bingeing (binging?) on sweets.

  • VB

    MLM – its only amway making money, Women are from venus and men from mars is a scam, conference rooms – specially the big imposing ones, Porn is scam and I think parenting is also scammed with so many expectations and Todo’s already decided by other people you need to do for you child so that you have chance to brag about it in the next dinner meet up, although personally  i love travelling but now that we are on a roll travel package industry is big scam – 3 nights 4 days …pack them like cattle.

  • http://www.736hundred.tumblr.com 736hundred

    I think Santa Claus, and everything that goes with it, is a scam.

    • whatevadude

      The best way to spread Christmas cheer, is singing loud for all to hear

      • http://www.736hundred.tumblr.com 736hundred

        Parents do all the work, they pay all the money, they suffer from all the pressure, wrap all the presents, do all the decorating, and then they LIE to their children……and to top it off….Santa gets all the credit.

        Santa isn’t even a “God” or a “Saint” – just some fat (usually white) dude, in a red suit.
        ——-
        Think how different it would be if Santa task was feeding the hungry and providing  clean drinking water for the thirsty?

      • http://www.736hundred.tumblr.com 736hundred

        Parents do all the work, they pay all the money, they suffer from all the pressure, wrap all the presents, do all the decorating, and then they LIE to their children……and to top it off….Santa gets all the credit.

        Santa isn’t even a “God” or a “Saint” – just some fat (usually white) dude, in a red suit.
        ——-
        Think how different it would be if Santa task was feeding the hungry and providing  clean drinking water for the thirsty?

    • Anonymous

      Even rudolf?  Now I’m depressed.  ;)

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Wait. What?

  • Roger H

    Retirement.   Stay useful and relevant to stay alive.   Do things you want to do for your whole life, not just after you quit working.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Great pont!

    • Mike Periboob

      I disagree. If I had done what I wanted, when younger, I would have run out of money (having been born without the sliver spoon).

      If you think retirement is a scam, either you have not tried it, or you are doing it wrong. Does not work for everyone, I admit, but I have been retired for 11 years, and it has been wonderful. Timing is important, you want to retire while still able to do the things you enjoy, but you have to wait until you have set aside resources to allow you to do those things. And if you think retirement excludes being useful and relevant, again, you are doing it wrong. Work is the “scam”.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1676832039 -Richard Simpson-

        You’re making a case for saving, not for retirement.

        Roger’s point was to enjoy life at all ages.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1676832039 -Richard Simpson-

        You’re making a case for saving, not for retirement.

        Roger’s point was to enjoy life at all ages.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1676832039 -Richard Simpson-

        You’re making a case for saving, not for retirement.

        Roger’s point was to enjoy life at all ages.

  • Darkmonsta

    I think this article is fuelled more by cynicism and a lack of understanding of how a lot of things work, and provides no real great revelations about the world. It reads as more of a rant than anything of value.

    Modern advertising budgets focus heavily on social media and outlets that involve interaction and content value, and fully acknowledge the devaluing of TV advertising. This is why so many stations are closing down and cutting back on investment in programming. 

    Housing is still a solid investment in a lot of cases. The nature of how banks make profit doesn’t make your savings (in bricks and mortar) any less valuable, and with interest rates being at an all time low, and pension funds being squeezed more and more, it is still a sensible option for many people.

    Education isn’t a scam as in a lot of cases it can offer something that parents are not able too… helping those less fortunate, with less opportunities to better themselves. Not every parent can afford to give up work and home school. The education system is far from perfect, but it’s hugely important.

    Agree on your points on Happiness, I think this is why depression in the western world is so high. 

    Yes the political machine is an expensive one, and individuals at the top don’t necessarily wield a significant amount of power, but this is where the democratic political system is today, and it will evolve on from here. No, don’t believe the hype, but until politics becomes about policy and not a popularity contest, it’s not a bad thing that decisions are made by multiple individuals.

    News isn’t a scam, it’s just saturated with awful reporting and editorial decisions (Thanks Mr Murdoch). There are numerous news outlets that offer outstanding reporting and investigative journalism. Until people have an appetite for high value news, then it will continue to be led by sales and advertising revenue. This highlights why education is even more valuable.

    Middle men tend to mediate between different groups, and while yes, there are people who skim off the vulnerable and uneducated, some are incredibly useful. I love my accountant, he easily saves me more than I pay him, and it means I don’t have to spend years learning about the intricacies of the financial system. Not everybody has the knowledge or the time to do everything themselves and middlemen can save time and money for you.

    Sounds like your opinions on money are borderline conspiracy theory. Are you suggesting a move towards a more socialist approach? Do you not think that through considered social policy and good governance the system can be swung around from the current top heavy structure to a more balanced, and even system? It will take time (generations) but modern economic theory is explicitly addressing the shortcomings of the incentivised greed that has been prevalent in the last 50 years.

    I also think you don’t understand the true nature of the art world. To say that two pieces that are equal in creativity but can vary by millions of dollars is a massive over simplification. Art exists as part of a free market and value is based on what people are willing to pay for it. If you see something as amazing as a million dollar piece of art – buy it! Artistic integrity and heritage add to value, and as with anything some things ARE over priced. But that doesn’t make it a scam. And when people now write amazing pieces of classical music, it often packs out theatres. There are numerous child prodigy’s playing today all over the world. 

    9995 books in the book store are unreadable and designed to be that way? Really? So publishing houses, aren’t trying to maximise their profit and consistently make poor decisions on what to publish? Or provide access to literature and knowledge? I’d suggest 99% of books there are readable, and the ones that aren’t are either academically complicated or just very niche. Not all of them are that good, but that’s a given. If you are bitter as nobody bought your first few books and you didn’t make millions it doesn’t mean that all books in stores are rubbish, it means you were naive and probably didn’t write very good books. 

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Hmm, we agree to disagree.

    • Raj Against The Machine

      “The nature of how banks make profit doesn’t make your savings (in bricks and mortar) any less valuable…”

      Bullshit.

      The nature of how banks made their profit, by offering interest-only loans on people who couldn’t even afford the interest, let alone the McMansion homes, eventually resulted in the home foreclosure crisis and made ALL homes less valuable – mine too. Moreover, it vaporized any equity that more responsible homeowners might have had – mine too. 

      • Sooz

        where have you been since autumn of the 20th century(all of this shit was seriously unfolding  back then)

      • Sooz

        where have you been since autumn of the 20th century(all of this shit was seriously unfolding  back then)

        • Sooz

          autumn of late 1997~99

          • Sooz

            are we not now in the 21st century?

  • Mansal

    Only article of yours I do not agree with, but interesting perspective nonetheless.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Which part.

      • Mansal

        Well – I find it somewhat ironic that you consider the news a scam because of their fear mongering (something I partially agree with). Yet, this article in itself is scary for a lot of people – you’re saying many of the things they have grown accustomed to are false and a scam. That is too black-and-white.

        I have a lot of respect for almost everything you write, so I’m worried about being too nitpicky here.

        First of all, education certainly is not a scam. Your college argument is valid, but mandatory public education is a godsend for millions of people who can’t afford to stay at home or homeschool their children. You and I both take for granted our education in K-12 because we had it. Also, do not forget the social aspects of K-12 that are just as important for the real world as anything else we might learn. How to deal with people (for example, how to deal with people after pooping on them). How to deal with authority (teachers) etc. etc.

        Your point about middle-men doesn’t take into account many of the service jobs. Accountants, mechanics, construction workers – they are all “middle men” as technically you could learn how to fix the car yourself, or build a garage yourself. Not things we have time / ability to do…

        So I guess it is more a matter of not agreeing enough to consider all of these things scams. Things aren’t as black and white is my point…

  • http://twitter.com/alycecraddock alyce byrd craddock

    NCAA 

  • http://opally.blogspot.com Opal

    Lots of great scams listed here. You’ve opened a lightly-scabbed-over wound in our modern consumer-drone consciousness. Here are two of my many faves:

    1) so-called “Homeland Security” and the “War on Terror.” The official narrative that boogey-men Muslims are out to get us, and that warrants a multi-billion dollar secretive military-industrial-technological complex, and is used to justify the denial of our constitutional rights. But hey, having a boogey-man is the oldest government con game in the world, to encourage citizens to willingly collaborate in their own oppression, through fear. The power of nightmares. Vive our Corporate Overlords! By the way, there is no reasonable, achievable definition of winning these deceptively-named “wars.” The result is that we now have institutionalized spying on Americans. Yes, we are living the Orwellian nightmare. We are what the Soviet Union used to be.
    2) related to #1 above: the official 9/11 narrative, fully hatched within hours of complex, confusing, and multiple highly improbable and bizarre events. Investigation? We don’t need no stinking investigation. We already knew who did it. Shut up and be patriotic. How else are we going to convince our young people to die for Halliburton? If we had a draft, it might become well known that these overseas military adventures are not in our national interest.

  • http://www.736hundred.tumblr.com 736hundred

    Illegal marijuana is a scam. 

    Compare the side effects of today’s prescription drugs to marijuana.  Hands down prescription drugs are far more dangerous.

    Compare cotten to hemp.

    But hey who’s making the money?  Oh yeah……those people

    • S.G.

      Sadly, so true.  The whole “war on drugs” thing is a giant scam. Has its roots in class warfare.  So in this sense, Nancy Reagan and her whole agenda was a scam, designed to bolster her husband’s image with the ultra conservatives.

      On the same plane, the whole “historical memory bank” about Reagan (as a politician, not as an actor) is a giant Scam!

    • dspence

      Compare the effects to alcohol: Imagine someone abusing their family or driving aggressively while they’re loaded. Not.

  • casper

    Smart tablet “Apps” are a scam : eg “facebook app”, “google app”, “news app” , “youtube app” , “email app”
     – heck, if tablet browser was good enough, wouldnt all these apps be accessed in browser itself ? (like we do in PC) ?
     – so now we have “news site1 app”, “news site2 app” , “news site3 app” …. which can all be ideally should be in browser
     – these apps are scammed like this, so we buy each from the tablet makers monopolistic “marketplace” and the tablet makers get a 30% cut

  • casper

    Smart tablet “Apps” are a scam : eg “facebook app”, “google app”, “news app” , “youtube app” , “email app”
     – heck, if tablet browser was good enough, wouldnt all these apps be accessed in browser itself ? (like we do in PC) ?
     – so now we have “news site1 app”, “news site2 app” , “news site3 app” …. which can all be ideally should be in browser
     – these apps are scammed like this, so we buy each from the tablet makers monopolistic “marketplace” and the tablet makers get a 30% cut

  • Nothanks

    Love is a scam. At least the kind of love you see portrayed on television is a scam. 

    I’m happily married to a woman I love, but it isn’t anything like what you see on television.

    • Anonymous

      Best suggestion in my opinion.  Double like.

    • Tangbu

      Related, but I’ve always thought “happily ever after” – i.e. how the children’s stories end, is a terrible expectation to put on a child.  How many people get married because they subconsciously expect to live “happily ever after” – and are then disappointed that marriage didn’t make them happy?

      • Guest

        Yeah, but television programs are made to keep your attention to the next commercial, they are not about “real life”. Hell, even so-called reality shows are rigged six ways from Sunday. 

  • mre

    Retirement…

  • http://twitter.com/alycecraddock alyce byrd craddock
  • Steve

    American Football is a huge scam. The average game has only about 15 minutes of the ball actually being handled. The other 2.75 hours are spent on beer commercials and watching millionaires stand around on the grass.

    • Canadian reader

      Not just football – ALL “professional” sports!!!  Especially horse racing!

      • Anonymous

        I agree overall.  Use to watch sports a lot, but it took up too much of my time. (I’m down to the New York Jets.  Guilty pleasure.)  

        • anony

          Tivo. Tivo. Tivo. I watch most football games in 45 minutes. I don’t just skip commercials. I use the 30 second jump to go from play to play without having to listing to the blabbering idiot “analysts”

          • CoCo

            I lost all respect for pro football when I was a kid (and I was  HUGE fan at the time). My dad took me to a game. And at one point the players were just standing around. So I asked, “Hey dad, who called a timeout?” 

            He said, “No one, they’re taking a break for the commercials.”

            I was flabbergasted. And I was maybe 12 years old. 

            Years later I watched the World Cup and the US station would actually break away from the game for commercials. Crazy. Inevitably, someone would score. It was awful.

            It was around then (mid-80s) that one of the big US broadcasters was working with FIFA for because they wanted to carry the WC broadcast. The executives said “we need to stop the game here, here, and here for commercials.” 

            Thank god they were laughed at.

            I wonder if that’s the reason soccer has never caught on here.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1676832039 -Richard Simpson-

            I think we’re just less impressed these days with 20 grown men coming up with one ball and a field of grass to play a pastoral game more boring than baseball.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1676832039 -Richard Simpson-

            I think we’re just less impressed these days with 20 grown men coming up with one ball and a field of grass to play a pastoral game more boring than baseball.

      • Steve

        Agreed. I don’t really care for any of them, but football has always stuck out to me as the most idiotic and also (sadly) the most popular sport in the USA. That certainly says something about the ignorance of the masses IMO.

        • Jarjar

          You HAVE to give football another shot.  My fiance is a lifelong fan and got me into it.  I’m a doctor and football is just as intellectually demanding if you really pay attention to the strategy.  

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1676832039 -Richard Simpson-

            Agreed, a coworker got me into fantasy football about 6 years ago, when I’d previously been a typical fairweather fan for my home team, the Steelers.  There is a lot of thinking, planning, and management going on behind the few minutes of athleticism and aggression, and it changes every play.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1676832039 -Richard Simpson-

            Agreed, a coworker got me into fantasy football about 6 years ago, when I’d previously been a typical fairweather fan for my home team, the Steelers.  There is a lot of thinking, planning, and management going on behind the few minutes of athleticism and aggression, and it changes every play.

      • Mitch

        The irony strikes me as I say this “Canadian reader”, but I wouldn’t call hockey a scam… at least not on the basis Steve uses to point out the silliness of football.  In hockey, they play a full 60 minutes. 

        • Agd21

          Professional hockey is just as much a scam as
          the other pro sports. I laugh at how the team owners get to charge you $30 for
          a T-shirt with their team logo on it so you can walk around advertising for
          them. Then charge you >$100 to actually watch a game so they can flood you
          with more advertising and sell you more stuff inside the arena. Not to mention
          the mandatory fights in every game to really froth up the team loyalty. Then
          there’s the way they drag a best-of-seven game series out to the seventh game
          with close wins so they can sell you again and expose you to yet more
          advertising.

           

          I can’t believe so many suckers continue to patronize pro sports.
          Like a bunch of sheep.

      • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

        ha, good points.

    • eric obrien

       Most people will look at you crazy when you tell them that you don’t watch sports.  I never got why people have a favorite football team when most of the players that make up that team aren’t even from that state.  I also don’t understand why one would add extra stress in their life on worrying if their team is going to win or not. 

  • Canadian reader

    James – amazing post – you da man!

    As a Canadian reader and follower – I simply cannot believe that no one has added the NRA, the gun lobby and the whole “right to bear arms” as a scam.  Seriously?  “Guns don’t kill people, People kill People????”  Are you kidding me?  As a retired police officer – I was only involved in 20 or so gun incidents in my career – mostly suicides.

    The whole “I need to protect myself” from the lunatic fringe who are carrying guns leads to thousands of needless deaths a year.  Think of all the wasted young lives from gangs and punks who for some reason thought they had to shoot someone else to prove their mettle!  And the thousands of children whose lives were cut short by parents careless storage of loaded guns in their houses for “protection”. 

    Thinking about this even more – the whole Tea Party “movement” is a scam as well – I was watching the “news” of the debate in Florida the other day (why – i’m not sure) and was absolutely amazed at some of the positions that these candidates are advocating….Hey – let’s give everyone an Uzi, cancel Health Care, abolish taxes of any sort and let the last people standing figure it out!

    OK – maybe I live in a nanny state – and believe that governments (in general) are too intrusive in our lives, but the alternative – to me – is unthinkable.

    Thanks for letting me vent; your posts continue to uplift me, make me think deeper about myself and the things that affect me – and make me a better person.  I appreciate you!

    • http://twitter.com/fbliss Fred Bliss

      A couple scams – one – that gun owners are nutty – absolutely ridiculous. More people shouldn’t be driving cars than shouldn’t own guns. Second, that it is all about protection – its not. It’s about freedom of choice. Anything more specific is splitting hairs. And how about competitive shooting? It has nothing more to do with violence than lumberjack competitions have to do with felling trees.

      The true scam is the thought that some people have to control individual rights to that degree to avoid a potentially life-threatening situation. We’re in them every day, Cars, knives, chainsaws, power tools, water, cliffs, airplanes, on and on. Guns get a bad rap. I don’t own a gun, but don’t tell me I can’t because they are dangerous. Utter bullshit.

    • Rob

      If you as a Police officer are coming at me with a gun, why shouldn’t I have a gun too?  Are you such a saint that you’ve never done anything wrong in your life?  Do you police really think you’re that perfect?

      In my personal experience, you’ve failed me on 5 specific occasions, most importantly the murder of my brother.  Where the heck were the police to protect him?  You guys are always there to harass the crap out of me for stupid things like no front license plate, or some stupid parking fine.  On top of that, I get interrogated like a criminal.  “Where are you headed tonight?”  None of your GOD DAMN business.

      Yeah, we need to guns to protect ourselves from the POLICE.  Not gangs, not druglords, but people like YOU!!!

      Furthermore, the Tea Party has never said “abolish health care”.  We say get the government OUT so we can actually HAVE health care.  Maybe as part of the Federal Mafia who aids in stealing our money at gunpoint, you get decent health care, but having to bow to our overlords while we take it up the ass…we have shitty health care.  Not quite as bad as Canada…yet.

      STOP misquoting us.

  • Jim Steele

    Scientific research, not all of it but a lot of it is and you can’t tell the difference unless you have a PhD. A friend of mine admitted to me that there is a lot of tweaking of the data to get the “right” result even if it is totally wrong. It can take decades to unravel these scams. One example – Andrew Wakefield. He flat out lied about vaccines causing autism and now measles is killing kids because parents are still afraid. For more you can check out Ben Goldacre’s book Bad Science (www.badscience.net). He goes more into big pharma’s role in research and getting potentially dangerous drugs approved for sale.

  • cindyluwho

    Throwing people in prison for drugs!! They say addiction is a disease right? It’s illegal to imprison someone for having a disease. So how is this legal? It’s not, but there is billions of dollars and countless jobs that depend on having a steady supply of people in prison. Most prisons are privately run and get money from the government. the more prisoners….the more money. I know a couple of people who found themselves on the wrong side of law in their early 20’s. Wound up at “camp” as they say. They said if you really want to learn how to be a criminal spend time in prison. We are actually creating criminals with our justice system.

    Also the legal profession is scam. I worked for a Yale/UVA educated lawyer who ended up faking his disapperance and leaving the coutry with millions from clients trust account. I have met lots lawyers and not a one of them was honest. However we have allowed the law makers to be lawyers.They have set it up so you have to have them in order to get anything done.

    It is very hard to not be part of some these scams if you are just regular broke person. I am someone with no money and no connections. I know that I am not a scam. However, in order to keep food on the table I participate in perpetuating a scam. That really sucks.

    • Guest

      I agree with the imprisonment for marijuana possession as a scam. Considering the usage of hemp before WWII — pretty widespread. Consider Dupont began making synthetic fibers before, during and after WWII, were we scammed?

  • Roger H

    The Fire Department.  Maybe in a big city, but most places is a scam.   Drive 2 or 3   $2 million truck out to put out a fire on a $100k house.   Maybe they keep it from burning to the ground, but they total it anyway by the time they are done.   Nevermind the traffic accidents they cause on their way to the fire.
    Pay guys to sit around the fire house…lift weights, wash their car, eat, and play poker 1 day out of 3…so they can retire after 20 years with 80% of their salary.   They work so little, most of them have second careers.

    Give out free smoke detectors and send out a recon team in a fast car to make sure no one is trapped.    

    • Alfie

      Now Roger, that is just plain wrong. You obviously have never had your house burn down ( i have). Tell that to the children who have been pulled out of burning bedrooms. But it really is about suppressing the collateral damage.
      I dont know enough about their pay structures /maybe they are  overpaid in these current slummer times. And yep they may play some poker…but believe me when your neighbor’s house goes up in flames you’ll be dialing 911.

  • Oakeshott

    I work in high tech, but used to be in a liberal arts doctoral program.  My choices are influenced by both of these experiences.  Here’s my list:

    MBA programs and Business Degrees in general.  As far as I can tell, they don’t actually teach anything about running a business and instead turn out graduates who cannot think for themselves.  There is the useful exception of those who study accounting and actually graduate with some set of specific skills.

    Dissertations.  The vast majority are never read, excruciatingly dull and of no importance whatsoever.

    Public School and the Standards of Learning requirements.  If you have children in the public schools, then you know what I’m talking about.

    Diets.  Simply no data anywhere to support the efficacy of any diet for long-term “permanent” weight loss.

    The “Cloud”.  C’mon.  Enough already.  VC’s are drooling over this latest buzzword, but it’s just another way of storing and retrieving data that has its own set of limits and weaknesses.  It’s nothing new.  Remember the ASP’s of 1998?

    Alternative Medicine (especially Homeopathy).  Simon Singh has a great book on this called Trick or Treatment.

    Fashion.  It’s especially cruel to women, but men are no longer spared.  You pay the highest amount for the most current fashion which, by definition, has a shorter lifespan precisely because it is so of the moment.  Crazy waste of money.

    All of Los Angeles.

    Social Networking.  Why is nearly every american willing to give up his/her list of friends in exchange for a 5 dollar coupon?

    VC’s under 30 who “advise” their startups.  Really?  Really?  How much can they know?

    Reading over this, I sound pretty damned curmudgeonly, so I’d like to ameliorate that with a few things that aren’t scams and worth every penny you pay for them:

    Real Whipped Cream.  Whoever invented it is a genius.  It never fails to satisfy.  Cool Whip on the other hand is a scam.

    High quality shoes for men.  They last for years, can be resoled and only improve with age.  Worth the spend. 

    Good tools.  I’m a lousy handyman, but what little I’ve done has proved beyond any doubt that the right tool, and a well made one at that, pays the money back.

    Great music.

    Hot Krispy Kreme donuts.  They could double the price, I’m still in for a half dozen.

    Fresh cut flowers are always a scam EXCEPT when you’re in trouble with your wife or it’s Mother’s Day.  Then they’re a bargain.

    Home Schooling.  It works and the kids lucky enough to do it kick ass when they get into college or the job market. 

    • Anonymous

      Great music is a scam?  Sorry dude.  I’m as cynical as anyone, but that’s one place I have to keep the dream alive or I’m gonna’ have to slit my wrists.  If you mean the music BUSINESS I’m with you.  But don’t blame actual music for that. 

      • Buzz McCool

        He said great music wasn’t a scam. Actually James’ original question was asking what wasn’t a scam.

        • Oakeshott

          Exactly.  I’m with Schopenhauer here.  Music is the best of all the arts.  (What he actually said, is that it was the purest expression of “the will”, but it’s close enough).  I went on to list things that weren’t scams because showing 2 things in opposition always seems to make the argument clearer.  Sorry for the confusion.

    • Kim

      “Public School and the Standards of Learning requirements”…I agree and am glad someone else posted this. (And about homeschooling not being a scam!) I’m adding that standardized testing is a scam, too, and “No Child Left Behind”, if it hasn’t already been posted.

    • on second thought

      Real whipped cream sours quickly when applied to the body.  Cool whip will allow you ample time.  jus sayin’

    • on second thought

      Real whipped cream sours quickly when applied to the body.  Cool whip will allow you ample time.  jus sayin’

      • Oakeshott

        If my memories of college serve me, I recall whipped cream melting long before it sours.  Of course, the rate of souring is probably in direct proportion to the heat of the substrate on which it lies.  You must be with exceptionally hot partners.

    • Anonymous

      Hmmm. I’d say that standard medicine is a scam. I stopped going to doctors years ago. They never seemed to do much for me. I Solve all my medical problems with homeopathic/non traditional medicine now.

      I’d also add most of the pharmaceutical industry.

      • http://twitter.com/jamesjansson James Jansson

        You mean to say you cured all your problems with pure water?

        • JC

          Careful. The word homeopathy has different meanings in different parts of the world. Where I grew up it commonly refers to using herbs as opposed to pharmaceuticals. I.e. taking Valerian root (not the diluted nonsense) would be considered homeopathic treatment in The Netherlands.

          Most of conventional medicine is a scam indeed as it treats symptoms instead of root causes, and it creates dependencies/addictions.

          Also most MDs don’t know the difference between (1) no evidence of efficacy, (2) evidence of non-efficacy and (3) absence of evidence in either direction.

        • JC

          Careful. The word homeopathy has different meanings in different parts of the world. Where I grew up it commonly refers to using herbs as opposed to pharmaceuticals. I.e. taking Valerian root (not the diluted nonsense) would be considered homeopathic treatment in The Netherlands.

          Most of conventional medicine is a scam indeed as it treats symptoms instead of root causes, and it creates dependencies/addictions.

          Also most MDs don’t know the difference between (1) no evidence of efficacy, (2) evidence of non-efficacy and (3) absence of evidence in either direction.

    • Steven Scotten

      Fresh cut flowers are a scam when you’re in trouble with your wife; it’s just you that’s running the scam, not the florist.

      • Oakeshott

        Hmmm.  Good point.  Good point.

  • http://twitter.com/phb1 Paul Barlow

    Perhaps it is redundant to say, but Warren Buffet is the investment worlds #1 scam, period.

    • Brian

      How so?

      • http://twitter.com/phb1 Paul Barlow

        No offense, but if you need to ask how, you are likely subject to his scam. Trumpeted as the worlds best investor and advertised daily on CNBC as such…he is easily one of the 200 mentioned in the post.

        • Brian

          Thanks for not explaining how. Try reading his original partnership letters. The guy didn’t make his first billion by scamming. He started with nothing. He was in micro-caps and doing merger arbitrage and workouts when very few others were.

          • http://twitter.com/phb1 Paul Barlow

            Folklore there Brian in his partnership letters. Very clever marketer though. Dig a little deeper.

    • pjc

      Please indicate 5 year period in which BRKB or BRKA failed to beat S+P 500.

      (S+P pays a small dividend, feel free to include dividend re-investments).

      Warren actually doesn’t advise people to buy Berkshire. He tells them to buy index funds.

      • phb

        I’ll repeat it slowly for you pjc, 200 people, rigged system, Buffet is first on the list.  Kinda easy to look so impressive and create a self-fulfilling prophecy if you deal the cards at the house.  Total scam. 

        • pjc

          So, BRKA and BRKB keep beating the snot out of 95%-99% of the retailer investment vehicles out there? 

          But Buffet is the con-man?

          If your point is – “the whole thing is a scam” – then yeah, that’s a stronger argument. But in that universe, Buffet is the nicest of the con-men. He returns the largest of return to retail investors.

          • http://twitter.com/phb1 Paul Barlow

            My mistake, I am completely wrong, you are right. The wonderful Mr. Buffet is indeed a benevolent genius! How could I have been so wrong? Shocking how he just beats the “snot” out of everyone so regularly without being a a part of the inside circle. You are right – those were not the droids I was looking for…

  • Jim Steele

    Scientific research, not all of it but a lot of it is and you can’t tell the difference unless you have a PhD. A friend of mine admitted to me that there is a lot of tweaking of the data to get the “right” result even if it is totally wrong. It can take decades to unravel these scams. One example – Andrew Wakefield. He flat out lied about vaccines causing autism and now measles is killing kids because parents are still afraid. For more you can check out Ben Goldacre’s book Bad Science (www.badscience.net). He goes more into big pharma’s role in research and getting potentially dangerous drugs approved for sale.

  • Anonymous

    You left out the Love Game—which include the adornment industry, the smell good industry, the bridal industry, divorce industry to mention just a few. 

  • Leonard

    Organic agriculture: yields are poor, so it requires more land, more work and therefore more energy to produce the same amount. Contrary to popular belief it requires a lot of chemical treatment, (but the chemicals are certified as “organic” by the state) and it’s unsustainable because we don’t have enough “natural” fertilizer, (i.e. dung). People sometimes pay as much as 200% more for organic products, just for the feeling of being holier and more in tune with nature than the rest of us, poor unaware people.
    Thank you for the space.
    L.  

    • pjc

      Nailed it!

      • Sooz

        I’ve been talking my talk about this ‘organic’ nonsense for a very long time.
        Although,Leonard, you are much more articulate.
        I agee with pjc, you ” Nailed it!”

    • Andrewramponi

      It depends where and how you draw the boundaries of the energy system in question.

      If you consider the hydrocarbons behind mining and transporting the materials and the fuel involved in industrial agriculture, including energy embodied in the manufacture of equipment, then organic agriculture uses far less energy. For a sensible comparison you have to look at the total energy in and the total energy out.

      I agree that there is scamming going on behind some of the pricing of organically labelled products. “Sustainable” is also a worthy candidate.

      • Leonard

        Conventional and Organic agriculture happen within the same “boundaries”.  They use the same equipment and they transport the products in the same way; but organic farming yields are between 15% and 30% lower. Therefore, if you want to obtain the same amount you need more land. Producing using “traditional”, meaning antiquated, ways is very wasteful. For example: when we farmed employing animals, a huge portion of the land was farmed to produce the feed, (for the farm animals). If you want to preserve the wilderness, as I do, you have to increase yields with fertilizers and genetic engineering to use less land.
        For example, in Italy, (Mr. Ramponi, I’m Italian too), in the 1930’s they produce 75 million metric quintals of wheat (kg 100 each) in 5 million hectares. Today they produce the same in 1.2 million hectares. That’s the way to go; and you can’t do that with organic farming.
        Thanks for your time.
        L> 

        • Andrewramponi

          Very similar arguments went around when corn ethanol was being promoted as a substitute for oil. You can’t really make a sensible argument without all the facts and they are just too complex for discussion here.
          I will say Leonard that I am not either kind of farmer and have only minimal direct experience of both (although my Italian family are “conventional” farmers in the Po valley). My opinions are all based on mainly 2nd hand experience. If you have have some substantial personal experience on both types of farms I will be very interested in hearing why it leads you to conclude as you do. Otherwise I think we could both better spend our time identifying scams as facts rather than theories.Again, I agree much of the marketing and pricing of organic products is a scam.

        • Andrewramponi

          Very similar arguments went around when corn ethanol was being promoted as a substitute for oil. You can’t really make a sensible argument without all the facts and they are just too complex for discussion here.
          I will say Leonard that I am not either kind of farmer and have only minimal direct experience of both (although my Italian family are “conventional” farmers in the Po valley). My opinions are all based on mainly 2nd hand experience. If you have have some substantial personal experience on both types of farms I will be very interested in hearing why it leads you to conclude as you do. Otherwise I think we could both better spend our time identifying scams as facts rather than theories.Again, I agree much of the marketing and pricing of organic products is a scam.

  • Anonymous

    I haven’t read all the comments but I don’t think anyone has this one:

    AWARDS!!!!  In my industry, (advertising, natch), there’s an award that is CLEARLY a scam.  A PR guy I know says, “you can enter that and the chances are 3 out of 4 that you’ll win something because the give awards to everyone.  Wanna’ know why?  The company that throws the event is owned by a trophy making company.  When your company wins, (which most do with this particular award), you have to “buy” the trophy so you can show it off in your office.”  TOTAL scam!  (There’s on on my desk as I write this.  Guilty!)

    • aaron

      This is so true. All of these awards were started by people who all got trophies in little league. You get a trophy for showing up. Everybody’s got cases full of showing up trophies. I’m sure this “confidence building” really helps these kids later on.

      • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

        That’s a great one.

  • Soul

    Economics.
    And I am an economist.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Haha

  • Sal

    scarcity.

  • Anonymous

    James, as the founder of Stockpickr and promoter of StockTwits – does that make you a scammer?

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I’m not a promoter of buying stocks. Stockpickr was a financial site which stripped out “news” so I thought it would be of benefit to the financial industry. It scraped obscure SEC filings and allowed people with a similar passion to talk about their passion.

      Stocktwits hosts this blog and I love the team there but I’m not a “promoter” at all.

  • http://twitter.com/sandman_va Dave Sandrowitz

    First off, I love this post.  Second, be as corny as you want – it is the truth.  And, third, I really like Tony Robbins.  One of the biggest changes I’ve made in my adult life has been to move from a negative, overly skeptical person to one who can be open to new ideas and possibilities.  I’m still skeptical, but I’ve bought some of Tony’s work and can honestly say that is isn’t bullshit.  He is a goofball and gets very cheesy, but he also has a load of good advice and cannot simply be dismissed as some scammy guru who just wants to make money.  He really does help change peoples’ lives.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      His first two books really helped me in 2002.

      • John

        Doesn’t matter where you find the things that make the penny drop nor what age you are as long as you find them.

  • Greystache

    Sales!  Back to school sales, Holiday sales, whatever.

    Save (up to) 60% off!

    Whatever.

  • Akbrush

    Insurance is a scam

  • Greterachel

    THANK YOU for affirming what I sometimes lose the heart to believe!

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      You’re very welcome.

  • Brian

    It isn’t hard to do well in stocks. The dogs of the dow continue to work. “Time arbitrage” works-having a time horizon longer than others. Value still works-just avoid leverage, all the time. Your example of the programmer who looks through FDA documents-that’s very specific to that industry. You can’t extrapolate that to the rest of the market.

    Love isn’t a scam. Love your enemies-pray for them to get what they want. Smile at people, engage strangers. Be kind. It’s not going to revolutionize the world-the human ego is consumed with that-but it will make a small difference, and it comes back to you five fold.

    James, love your stuff but you may be getting a little nutty with your eccentric lifestyle.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Well, I live a pretty simple lifestyle. But I don’t agree with u on stocks for the reasons I’ve outlined an earlier post. Most people can’t stick with the dogs of the Dow when they are down lke they were in 2008.

  • http://twitter.com/bjnortier Benjamin Nortier

    Schengen Visas.

    Many people from many countries who want to travel to Europe for business or tourism need a Schengen Visa to do so. They require a dosier of documentation, cost you £70 and a half day’s work to appear in person, and you need fully paid travel and accommodation reservations even though you might be refused. You only get it for 3-6 months at a time, then you have to apply again. I’ve had to get about 5 in the last 5 years. Oh and you have to go through a corporation (VFS Global) which has a monopoly as an agency for the embassies.

    • Sooz

      bogus scam
      VFC Global needs some competition..

  • DRAZ

    Globalization, Tax “Incentives” and Free Trade

  • aaron

    High end jewelry industry. There can be a 10-20x (or more) difference in price based on clarity differences that are invisible to the human eye

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      100% agree. i’ve build websites for diamond manufacturers and saw the proccess from beginning to end. What a scam. Best thing is to go to a pawnshop in a ghetto and try to buy jewelry there. Can get 1/10 the price of Tiffany’s for the same piece of jewelry.

  • http://twitter.com/ArtGow Art Gow

    We need results based medicine… 

    “If breast cancer could be cured by shopping it would be cured by now”
    Enough with the pink ribbons until they stop taking money from the drug companies that benefit from you having cancer.  Want to really blow your mind… find the 20/20 piece on Dr Bjorn Nordstrom on youtube… do a little research on that Chair of the Nobel Prize for Medicine… you’ll learn that nobody has poked a hole in his theory though many have tried… and you’ll realize why he was basically run out of the country years ago… when Barbara Walters & John Stossell appeared young…

    Physical Therapy – complete scam… MULTIPLE physical therapists in the US told me a derivative on this quote “That’s pretty impressive what you did on my patient, but if I use your device/techniques I will go broke.”  Me – “Why is that….”  Them… “You fixed them in 6 days and I could have billed them for 6 weeks.”  Wish I were kidding…Soft tissue surgeries… 90+% of all soft tissue injuries DO NOT need surgery… this includes hip replacements, knee replacements, back pain, partially torn acl etc…Eliminate inflammation and restore strength…  most people with inflammatory diseases such as MS, Lyme’s, Fibromyalgia could be getting DRAMATIC relief from proper therapy which focuses on eliminating inflammation and restoring strength…  There is a single most efficient method for doing all this, as your body is a closed electrical circuit, but medical community won’t have enough money to cover their yacht payments this way… 

    We need results based medicine.
    The truer.  The fewer.

  • Anthony

    1. Religion
     
    Kings sitting around wondering how they can make morons live their crap lives without revolution – “I know we will tell them that their heaven awaits after they die”
     
    2. Democracy
     
    The illusion of choice where people can vote for “their” president as long as the guy can raise $1b from all of the various special interests groups that back both sides.
     
    3. The American dream
     
    Anyone who works hard can make it however in reality the vast majority will work hard only to retire not being able to afford medicine and die two years after retirement

    • http://fontwords.com Mitchell Powell

      I can see you’ve never studied the history of religion in any depth, Anthony. If you did, you’d know that the Judeo-Christian tradition’s oldest documents (almost all of the Hebrew Bible) rarely mention the afterlife at all, and then usually only give foggy indications of it being a bad thing. Call religion a scam if you like, but there’s simply no truth to the idea that it arose to keep people in their place through fear of the afterlife (unless you’re specifically talking about Hinduism. Even then, I’m not sure.)

      As to Christianity, it spread among the slaves of the Roman Empire, officially persecuted off and on for three hundred years by a succession of kings who most certainly did not see the new movement as an ally of oppression. Again, you can call Christianity a scam, but anyone well-informed, Christian or not, can tell you that it wasn’t originated as a control measure by kings.

      • John

        How true because everyone who was around when Christianity was invented are now dead!

  • http://www.facebook.com/wes.dearborn Wes Dearborn

    Surprised nobody’s mentioned the pharmaceutical industry – diagnose people people with fictional diseases, then sell them addictive drugs that are “okay” to be addicted to because they’re “what the doctor ordered”.  

    • http://www.andrewriley.net Andrew

      I had a (former) family doc tell me I was depressed and needed to be on Celexa.  It took me ten years to learn that her diagnosis was flat wrong, and another year to gradually ween myself off that highly addictive garbage.  I didn’t need an antidepressant, I needed to lose 40 pounds and eat right.  The pharmaceutical scam is one that many doctors, who a lot of people think they can trust blindly, have bought into.

      • pjc

        Great post Andrew! Good for you.

        The first step in treating depression (or depression like syndromes) should be what James calls the Daily Practice. 

        Eat healthy food. (Doesn’t have to be expensive, organic, etc. Frozen fruits and veggies are cheap and work great).

        Exercise (Doesn’t have to be with a personal trainer. Crossfit classes can teach you how to get a super intense workout with minimal gear and space. Take a few classes each work and do the rest at home).

        Sleep (8 hours if you can manage it. Otherwise, just prioritize it after eating and exercising and as much as you can).

        Sounds like you already figured it out on your own. Good for you.

        • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

          Andrew, it turns out that the averge time it takes someone who is clinically depressed to find a drug that is “correct” for them is 8 years. The Pharma industry will deny this (the data gets skewed because people drop out often so you have to account for that.

          I’m even directly invested in this industry. A company I invest in has 10,000 brain scans of patients where the drugs worked (for all the different varieties of depression). They then take a new patient andmatch the brain scan against their database and prescribe the drug that mataches the best. I don’t know the exact data but its close to 100% effective and starting to be rolled out.

          • Jarjar

            Out of interest, what’s this company’s name?  I want in on that action…I mean…I want to learn more about this nifty super science.

            Seriously though, that’s really neat and it’s something people have been praying decades for.  Where can I learn more?!

          • http://www.facebook.com/zafkastudios Jim Kasper

            I like the idea, but I doubt that they recommend any drugs that are not patented. 

        • Sil

          Those steps are helpful for depression but in most cases they are not enough to cure this illness, which, like many other illnesses, must be treated with medication. And some of the antidepressants are very good at treating it.

  • Smithc21

    Trade Schools are important: Where do you think the cloud exists?  In the black mater of the universe.  No, it sits in massive servers all over the world.  These servers require construction workers to create the building.  Then machinists, fabricators, welders and massive metal forming equipment construct the actual server housing.  If anything technology has made trades more important than ever.
    The Illusion of freedom through, marriage, mortgage, career, 401k and retirement. 
    Most inspirational speakers
    Precious metal bracelets,  Promoted as life savers that enhance balance and increase health
    Its Americas obligation to police the world

  • S.V.

    Buffet and Gates play bridge. Do I have to learn how to play bridge?

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Yes.

      • Sooz

        No

        • Sooz

          I think they just pretend..:)
          great photo op
          scam..
           

  • Sussan

    James:

    A BIG scam come to my mind: TRADITION, STEREOTYPING, (PREJUDICE)”: i. e., the ancient idea that a person’s religion, ethnicity, place of birth, tribe, race, or gender determines who we will be, what we will do and how successful we can become. No joke here, caste systems, gender-segregation, inequality, dertive from the idea that we have to repeat what our parents did in order to “keep faith” with our “identity.” Tradition cripples human potential in an age where UTTERLY NEW IDEAS, new solutions are needed in every possible venue of human existence. 

  • Anonymous

    Religion
    is a HUGE scam. It’s a way to control the masses and keeping them down. Its
    pure and simple brainwashing/control. If you are a good little boy or girl that
    god will reward you when you are dead and if you are bad he will punish you
    (some even believe he will torture and kill you).

    I’m a
    parent and I love my child more than anything. I would never harm my child
    ever. Yet, the god that people worship is supposed to love you more than
    anything yet, they will punish/torture and kill you if you are bad. If a parent
    did that to their child, they would go to prison.

    Besides
    the fact that the majority of the religious stories are recycled over and over
    from history.

    I
    believe in being a good person and not fairy tales.

    • S.G.

      That was going to be #1 on my list of scams!  But, you’ve said it so well, I’d feel like a scam re-listing it :)

      • Guest

        I used to think Social Security was the greatest Ponzi scheme ever. 
        I was wrong: religion trumps it by a longshot.

        • SJP71

          Social security can’t be a Ponzi scheme because the last ins have no expectation of return – just the full armed force of the government surrounding their house if they refuse to pay.

    • Kusokurae

      A straw man is so easy to knock down, and faulty understanding of religion (and faulty religion, for that matter) is the most prolific straw-man factory there ever was.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1676832039 -Richard Simpson-

      That’s why I turned my faith to democratic govt, which would never ever punish, torture, or kill you if you’re bad.  I joined the military which defends the freedoms of American citizens on US soil, rather than generally supporting overseas dictatorships, colonies, client states, and international corporate interests.  It would never violate the rights or liberties of its own citizens, or try to force them to believe or not believe something (like the ever-evolving food pyramid, for instance), or imprison them for trying to protect their own money from excessive taxation.  So much better than getting shaken down in church every time the collection plate went by, regardless of the quality of the ‘service’.  Imho, you can’t even compare the quality of govt service to the efforts of the religious at things like feeding or clothing the poor, but then, churches are admittedly at a disadvantage as they refuse to force the unwilling to subsidize their efforts through involuntary taxation.

  • Anonymous

    I will be vilified for this one…Feminism is a scam. Feminists are not for all women and don’t really look at policies that help all women. NOW is a dinosaur. We crucify women who choose to stay home, who choose traditional gender roles etc… And I say this as some who works in Academia…

    • YourBoy

      BAM,  Nailed it!!!

      The Fem’s had their chance to not be frauds when Clinton lied about diddling a female subordinate while giving testamony in a sexual harassment case brought against him  by another female subordinate.

      They liked his politics, eventhough he was everything  they swore to stand against.  In not crucifying him, they crucified themselves

      Hey Femanism, welcome to scamsville…population you!

      • avray

        I have never felt scammed, as a woman, by a man liking sex.  Not any man, not once, ever.  That Bill Clinton likes sex is his business, and you sound jealous, frankly.   That he lied about it is another kettle of ethics.  

        • YourBoy

          If a male boss (Clinton) sexually harasses a female subordinate (Paula Jones) and then lies about having sex with another female subordinate (Monica) in order to evade responsibility for the harassment….and Femanists don’t speak up (because they like his politics)…then Femanism is a sham.

          I never said men liking sex was a scam, I said Femanism is a scam…and I used this as an example of why. 

          • avray

            I wish.   I wish every time anyone saw unethical behaviour they would pursue justice at whatever cost.  No matter the qualities of the person who behaved unethically they should always be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and beyond, no exceptions.   I can see your point, though I am not sure I am ready to live in a world without any shades of grey in it, not just yet.  

          • YourBoy

            It happened 15 years ago, and I don’t want to argue the Clinton/Lewinsky thing all over again, but…

            I just don’t see any shades of grey with this scenerio and Femanists’ response to it. The tenants of femanism are diametrically opposed to his actions.  The Femanist mission statement basically reads “our purpose is to stand against this exact behavior”…and  they didn’t. 

            NOW stood behind him and his support among women (in particular femanists) increased.  Not to mention the actual victim (Paula Jones) was publicly villified and criticized for even bringing the charges in the first place.

            That’s as black and white as you’re going to get in this world.

            That makes Femanism, as it exists right now, a fraud and a scam.

          • avray

            I wish.   I wish every time anyone saw unethical behaviour they would pursue justice at whatever cost.  No matter the qualities of the person who behaved unethically they should always be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and beyond, no exceptions.   I can see your point, though I am not sure I am ready to live in a world without any shades of grey in it, not just yet.  

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1676832039 -Richard Simpson-

            Is there anyone Clinton could have had sex with, besides Hillary of course, who would not have been called a subordinate at the time, regardless of their professional position?  I’m not so sure that an unpaid intern could have found it so difficult to say no in order to preserve her ‘job’.  I also find it surprising that women would seek to surround themselves with men of power, then act surprised when they act as powerful men do.

            But I get your point.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1676832039 -Richard Simpson-

            Is there anyone Clinton could have had sex with, besides Hillary of course, who would not have been called a subordinate at the time, regardless of their professional position?  I’m not so sure that an unpaid intern could have found it so difficult to say no in order to preserve her ‘job’.  I also find it surprising that women would seek to surround themselves with men of power, then act surprised when they act as powerful men do.

            But I get your point.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1676832039 -Richard Simpson-

            Is there anyone Clinton could have had sex with, besides Hillary of course, who would not have been called a subordinate at the time, regardless of their professional position?  I’m not so sure that an unpaid intern could have found it so difficult to say no in order to preserve her ‘job’.  I also find it surprising that women would seek to surround themselves with men of power, then act surprised when they act as powerful men do.

            But I get your point.

        • SP_hfx

          what does the Clinton scandal has to do with feminism? Feminism is wide,they’re is different types of feminism. How can you generalize about something like that? If you can’t even write the word properly,how can you pretend to have an idea of what it’s about? Go read some books…

          • YourBoy

            I admit that I don’t spell check when I write these, because I have a job and it takes too much time. But this is why YOU shouldn’t criticize people’s grammar and spelling…

            ‘what does the Clinton scandal HAS to do with feminism’

            ‘THEY’RE IS different types of feminism’

            Not only can’t you follow a simple argument…your grammar sucks major donkey balls

    • Avray

      Being expected to be a wife, mother, housekeeper, hostess AND full time paid employee at Acme industries is definitely a scam.  Not so much having it all as doing it all.  All on your own.  My view, I don’t shout about it though.  

      • None of your business

        I agree with you wholeheartedly, avray.

    • Anonymous

      Eric Fromm wrote “The Art of Loving” in the 50’s. If you can find a copy (it’s out of print) you’ll find a section he devoted to “Women’s Liberation” where he calls it a scam and says the whole point is to increase the supply of undifferentiated workers (ones who don’t receive different treatment from employers based on gender) for industry, not to improve the lot of women. His point resounds even better now.

    • None of your business

      I absolutely agree with Betmo. The Feminists have sold a bill of goods as “women’s liberation,” but what they are peddling is nothing of the sort. Feminism has worked beautifully, and exactly as intended: It has driven wages down by nearly doubling the workforce.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nils.meyer3 Nils Meyer

    Recycling

    • Sooz

      total scam.
      besides the fact that my recycle pick~up dude is like the crazy mailman from the movie ‘Funnyfarm’.
      When I hear him coming and I take cover.It never fails to amaze me how far he can chucks the lid to my recycle bin.

  • Scthms0

    I work in an industry which I feel is significantly scamming people every day and I’m writing a book about it. I’m taking your advice and plan on self-publishing with createspace, but I want to write it under a pen name and remain completely anonymous. Do you think it’s possible to remain complete anonymous while writing an “insider tells all” type book, or can people learn my true identity if I sell it on amazon? (createspace requests your legal name and bank account number for royalty distributions … who will have access to this info?).

    Thanks for any thoughts.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Createspace will let you be anonymous. I’m pretty sure. But you should call and ask. They have excellent customer service. Somehow let us know when the book comes out.

  • pjc

    I’ve to call you out here James.

    You consistently right these articles about “American Scams”, without every mentioning the Secular Religion that is Green. 

    The environmental movement in America is largely a scam. Stressing over your food comes from (as if transporting food were some sort of crime). Stressing over the carbon impact of your clothing (if you really wanted to reduce your carbon impact, you’d live in NYC, take subways and walk everywhere, and let your downstairs neighbors ceiling heat your floor). 

    People’s lives have been **seriously harmed** by factoring “good for the earth” into their major life decisions. Whether or not to have kids (and thus who to marry), where to live, what career to pursue, all twisted and distorted by the fuzzy math of the “save the planet” preachers. 

    It’s. A. Big. Scam.

    The purpose of the environemtal movement (with a few exceptions) is to solicit donations for environmental organizations and provide nice jobs for the people that staff them. 

    Cmon James. Be Brave. Call it. 

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I 100% agree. I’ll tell you an anecdote: For my book, “The Forever Portfolio” I pointed out that there were many many Nobel prize winning scientists, etc who were pointing out the flaws in the global warming science. I didn’t take a stance but simply pointed out that there were people on the other side.

      My editor, who was really an assistant to an editorial assistant, wrote an entire note saying this was ridiculous and needed to be taken out. She was furious with me, refused to meet me when i came to the office for meetings, etc.

      I refused to take it out. They left it in. But it struck me how religious the “green” movement is. Meanwhile, lives are saved with the greenest energy of all: nuclear energy but now because of the media scares about Japan you’re not even allowed to talk about that anymore.

      • pjc

        Thanks, I’m glad you agree.

        I think you should include it in your “American Religion / Fraud” theme. It’s as least as important to most people as “Education” and “Buy a House”… 

  • Boxofocereal

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that World Wrestling or whatever it is currently called is a scam. 

  • Marshall

    – Reality TV is a scam within a scam. It’s the Inception of scamming.

    – Black Friday is the uber-retail scam.

    – Tying religion and marriage together is a scam.

    – While we’re at it, the notion of an “official” marriage is a scam, whoever does the officiating.

    – Industry certifications are scams, for the people getting them and the companies hiring those people.

    • http://kashkawan.squarespace.com Luisa Perkins

      “The Inception of scamming”–hahaha. Awesome.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Totally toatally agree on the “industry certifications”.  Marriage also is a hard one. I like being married but almost all the trappings around it (the notion of an expensive wedding, for instance and diamond rings, etc) have the feeling of scam around them.

      Reality TV is almost like an FU to the consumer. But people eat it up rather than reading a good book.

  • Boxofocereal

    Personal electronics/technology/hardware are a scam.

  • Lori

    James, you’re on fire except for one thing — books are not a scam. And a bookstore has more than 5 readable books, unless it’s a new age bookstore.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Books are not a scam but the book industry is. Its a shame how publshing has not caught up with modern technology. Its only hurt authors, bookstores, readers, and ultimately the publishers themselves.

      • Tom

        Hey James, could you outline your ideas / vision on how the future of publishing could look like, what has to change? Thanks, Tom

      • Lori

        ha, okay then, we’re back on the same page. i’ve owned a publishing-related business for a long time and i agree with you completely. we’ve always said that publishers are 10 years behind the technology. we tried to interest our publ. co. clients in creating and selling e-versions of their books umpteen years ago and they would have none of it. they’ve always been complacent.

  • http://twitter.com/life_as_paul Paul Lambert

    I clearly jumped in on this far too late as my ‘favourite scams’ have been mentioned but it’s refreshing to find so many like-minded people.  Thanks for raising this topic James.  

    I have to agree with the war on drugs; the war on terror (and the ridiculous charade of airport security you have to tolerate in the U.S. these days because of it); the U.S. military industrial complex; most countries’ governments; the pharmaceutical industry; religion (!), love the reference to Keynesian economics (I believe it was Keynes who recommended the graduated tax system, another scam… and while we’re at it, the tax system in itself is a scam). 

    When are we going to take “Howard Beale’s” advice and, “…go to the window, open it, and stick your head out and yell, ‘I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!’ Things have got to change my friends.  You’ve got to get mad….”

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      The War on terror is perhaps the most disgusting scam we’ve seen in modern times. It truly lends credence to my prior post of abolishing the Presidency. Why are we in Libya right now, for instance. Or Iraq? Or anywhere (we have military in 120 ountries even though the last legal was was declared in 1941).

      • None of your business

        There is no war on terror. There is only terror. The US is becoming a terror state.

  • Anonymous

    You have young kids so you will probably be exposed to the youth sports scam.  

    When I was growing up, our sports consisted of playing games in the front yard using an old bicycle tire as the ball.  

    Now kids are pressured to play for elite traveling teams that cost thousands of dollars and destroy any possibility of a descent family life.  The coach comes to you and says “little billy/ susie (age 6) has tremendous potential but we need to get him/her into training right now or they will be left behind.  In this sport (gymnastics, soccer, basketball, baseball, football, softball, volleyball,  etc., etc.), it’s all over by the time they are 8 years old.”  

    The end result is that, instead of living a descent life with your family, and learning how to enjoy the best years of your life, you are on the road every weekend with 6 kids packed in the car going to exotic places like Turlock, California for the big tournament.  

    The scam is that 99% of these kids will be burned out by sports and the all consuming commitment that it demands.  They will run from all organized activities and dread any form of commitment. 

    Meanwhile, “coaches” will pad their incomes by basically sitting around all weekend in a chair yelling dumb stuff out from the sidelines while parents fall all over themselves to kiss the coach’s behind.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Totally. Somehow playing kickball in the street and riding your bike around the block and even playing touch football in a field has disappeared and an entire ecosystem of expensive kid activities that require planning, driving, and money, has taken its place.

      • Kevin Faul

        Even if they do ‘make it’ they will make league minimum and end up like war vets once they get out (not that I feel so bad if someone can’t save their money making $600-$900K/year, but throw in head trauma and you’re scammed into sacrificing yourself for a sport): http://www.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/09/08/nfl.life.after.the.game/index.html

      • Sooz

        high school,in this district,has upped the game (travel team status as of late).
        The last 3 weelends have been away tournies including 3hrs plus travel time to destination and hotel reservation costs.
        Seriously, you have no idea how rediculously ticked off am am about it all.

        I would like all my money back on organized sports and now high school (from the time I gave birth to all three of my children)

      • Lori

        this goes along with the gym membership scam for adults. physical exercise is free.

        i hate that adults (mostly really douche-y adults) are bossing and micromanaging kids who could easily organize their own ball game (the way we used to in the olden days) where they would have MORE fun and get more exercise.

    • Anonymous

      I never had the time or money for soccer or any of the other sports teams for my kids. They felt deprived at the time but look back now and realize they did other things on their own instead (like explore the woods).

      What I have encountered in the youth sports community is despicable. It’s all about the parents’ prestige, not the kids. Better off without it.

  • Tim Duffy

    Wall Street Analysts

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I think the way you can get Wall St Analysts to not be a scam is to require them to put serious money in every stock they recommend. Then I bet a lot of ratings would change.

      • Tim Duffy

        Agree. They seem to have as much accountability as a weather reporter. I’m a relative newbie to investing and, although the first to admit not the smartest guy in the room, figured that out in a few weeks.

        BTW – excellent blog pal.

      • sambking

        Right on target here. Just imagining the aftermath makes me smile.

  • YourBoy

    There are too many to read, so sorry if this was already said… Bond Ratings and Bond Insurance

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I agree. Take municipal bonds as an example. The news has convinced us that 80% of cities are going bankrupt (impossible, by the way). Maybe 2 or 3 municipal bonds out of 10,000s or more have not paid 100 cents on the dollar (even Orange County, the biggest municipal bankruptcy in history, paid back 100 ccents on the dollar).

      And yet companies make a zillion insuring municipal bonds. I can go on about this and about bond rating agencies. I wrote an article for a major newspaper abotu what they should do with the rating agencies but the article got cancelled. Bonds should be rated on yield alone (i.e. the market decides).

      • sambking

         

        Personally,
        I think the object should be to rate the scam…which of all the scams mentioned
        is the greatest scam of them all? My pick is the so-called “Federal Reserve
        System” which includes so-called “Fractional Reserve Banking.” Of course there
        are so many scams that are attached to the (again, my opinion) ultimate scam
        being just the concept of a “Central Bank.” So of course this is my choice as
        the ultimate scam. I will leave out my defense of my position but I think this
        would be a better object.

         

        [I
        can’t post this without mentioning a possible tie-ing scam and that would be
        the income tax. Since most of us need to work in order to survive no one should
        be taxed on their labor. Ethically it is plain wrong. We can all choose to buy
        a cheaper car or live in a smaller house, eat less expensive food and thus make
        our choices accordingly. But we all must work. Time working should not be
        taxed. A great book on what a huge scam this is is “Cracking the Code, Third
        Edition.” If you can find it in print you will be lucky. Look on a torrent
        site. Maybe it’s there. It explains the word games that the governments in the U.S.
        play in order to get us all to think that we must pay income taxes. The word “income”
        itself has a very specific meaning in Title 26 of the US Code, this being the
        branch of the “code” that pertains to “income” tax. It’s a real eye opener.]

  • http://Www.brookefarmer.com Brooke Farmer

    Not all books are scams.

    The news might be the biggest one of them all. I have probably mentioned this here before, but my father works for one of the big three news networks. He describes his primary work responsibility as, “Scaring the shit out of people unneccesarily.”

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I agree. not all books are scams (note i said 9,995 out of 10,000 – which is part of the reason Borders is going out of business) but I do think the book industry is a scam in every way.

      And yes, the news is probably scam #1.

      • http://twitter.com/09thehippy Craig Ross

        Borders in Australia is already gone. Its huge stores killed the other stores before it killed itself with lack of focus and really high prices. Twice what you pay in the US.

  • http://twitter.com/piptopia Rob Booker

    dieting
    self-cleaning litterboxes
    “you must do this now”
    any mac and cheese besides Kraft
    that’s about it.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Haha, self-cleaning litterboxes.

  • Bob O

    Gizmo Addiction: iphone/ipad/iod/GPS – we’re brainwashed into believing you must have a convenient distraction at all times

    POLITICS! – Dem vs Repub – It’s all like watching professional wrestling.. They are the same! CSPAN is just a live feed for the WWF.

    Marriage : “Till death do you part” is really “til one of us opts out” while the lawyers chuckle

    Prisons: Big money pretending to keep fat white people safe from the brown people smoking plants.

    Judges: Judges have absolute power and are self regulated and a bad one will ruin hundreds if not thousands of lives and have total immunity. That judge who was taking kickbacks for sending kids to prison.. Or the one that was jerking off at rape trials?

    Cops : A paramilitary force, period. They used to be to serve but lately it’s all about abusing power. Notice how police uniforms look like those in Nazi germany.

    Political Correctness: Group think mind control. ZOMG! He said the “R” word!

    James Altucher: You are a scam! You make money working on hedge funds and then tell us not to invest. You show up on TV and spout that the DOW is going to a zillion and then the markets tank. You say you don’t answer emails, but spend your time responding to every crank that says something bad about you. I guess that’s what makes reading your blog so much fun

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Ha, ok, I agree with everything except me. I do think the Dow is going up but it doesn’t mean it goes up every day. And NOTE: I don’t say you should buy stocks.

      But you make a point I tend to respond more to cranks so I’m stopping that.

      • sambking

        Priceless.

  • http://twitter.com/Just3Group Just3Group

    the FDA! it’s a revolving door of ex big pharma and big food exec’s who then go on to be lobbyists.

    Also, Flouride for strong teeth! it’s a freeking poison!

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Hmm, I didn’t think of fluoride. Good one. The FDA: total scam. The FDA combined with the insurance company has become our de factor doctors and yet they hate us.

  • Syren

    Things that are not scams:  mathematics.  Even if you hate it, it is infinitely important to human civilization, culture, and happiness in countless ways.  Most of all, rigorous mathematics study develops the brain like nothing else (and I hate math). 
    Latin:  same thing.  Just the study of latin develops your brain plus giving a person a huge advantage in modern western language grammar and word origins, esp. romance languages like French, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese if you care about that.  Even if you don’t, latin is a great vocabulary builder which makes it easier to express oneself effectively and think more clearly.  A great life enhancer.
    Card games, chess, memory games.  Not only fun but helpful.
    As someone else mentioned:  music.  All types actually but it’s good to have a familiarization with classical music.  Not just because it’s beautiful and pleasurable, but like math and latin, is a language all its own.
    One of the great non-scams of all:  humor!  What is better than a huge laugh that lasts for 10 minutes and hurts your gut and face?  Pretty much nothing. The best senses of humor are usually found in intelligent people, so all the above I mentioned contribute to the development of a great sense of humor.  Humor spreads love everywhere.

    Peace out, James!

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I agree with everything you said. Maybe Latin I’m borderline on. I think if you learn ANY latin language its just as good as going to the source. Except nobody speaks Latin but many speak Spanish. And yes, Humor is not a scam. When you laugh, it comes from the heart.

      • Syren

        If you learn Latin – not to speak, just to learn – you’ll learn Spanish/French in a snap. It will help you immeasurably in medical school and law school. The grammar of Latin helps develop your brain much like math.   A year or so of Latin in late elementary or middle school puts kids at a huge advantage later.  Huge.  It’s a cornerstone of Western intellectual thought.

        But I agree that it is definitely not for everybody.  For most, learning Spanish is enough, and that’s cool too.

        • Syren

          The reason for my sales pitch is that Latin is not a scam.  If you want what it has to offer and you put in the time, it will most certainly deliver, as with the other things I mentioned.  You’ll get what you came for.  Scams rarely, if ever, deliver as promised in my experience with many of the numerous scams people have listed here.

  • Travis M

    That shit my pants story is one of the funniest things I’ve read lately. Thanks

  • Moshkosh

    mail in rebates are the biggest f’n scam out there
    So I dont buy anything anymore unless my life depends on it.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Yeah, mail in rebates are the type of “float” / scam that Warren Buffett likes to invest in. It basically works like insurance. You give money, and in most cases, you never get that money back. But it was marketed to you as free money.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_UNKTOCVSJOQDFUJJDJT5T5HXEQ Excelsior!

    James,
    Love your writings (hated you on Yahoo clips with Henry and Aaron though. Do you still guest there?), but you’re very wrong on advertsing being a waste. Yes, branding’s a huge joke perpetrated by Madison Avenue. Pay-per-click is NOT a waste and it can be a spectacular lead source and business growth catalyst when done correctly. Look at the client testimonials on our website, most resulting from PPC and on Google’s https://www.google.com/intl/en_us/adwords/select/success/archive.html.
    These results are not uncommon. Most of Google’s revenue is from these small text ads that you see on every search and they work because they are targeted based on the needs of the searchers with excellent filtering features to narrowcast to targeted prospects. This has revolutionized advertising and made print directories obsolete. 

    PJC
    http://www.targetmarketingsolutions.us

  • Adam T. Isom

    Hi Mr. Altucher, here are some…  unusual… schemes/scams that I think you will enjoy.

    Reading your article reminded me of Ryan Holiday, and I think you would understand what he means in this article:
    http://www.ryanholiday.net/schemes-and-scam/

    I have a stolen quote for you, by the same man, my favorite author, Ryan Holiday:
    http://www.ryanholiday.net/schemes-scams-pt-ii/

    Good luck.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      That was hilarious. Thanks.

  • http://www.dinosaurtrader.com dinosaurtrader

    Post capitalism. Is that what we’re moving towards? I get this, I just don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel if I have to feed myself and family.

    Thinking lately, how do I monetize myself… a very depressing thought.

    Here’s one for you to check on youtube. No girls with hula hoops, but pertinent to the post.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNail6JjEiE

    -DT

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I think post-capitalism is real capitalism. The real “hidden hand” as Adam Smith points out of honesty and ethics that drive people to products that truly help people, made by people with passion, and priced according to a real market instead of a manipulated one. In that environment its easier to “monetize yourself” as your “self” will be competing against real people instead of ponzi schemes and liars.

  • Michelle

    Thank you!  I think about this stuff all the time.  People live in this world blindly and refuse to see things for what they really are. 

    What is NOT a scam.  Meaningful relationships based on unconditional love.  We say/hear this, but people usually don’t want to put themselves into it so its really a great thing.  It requires sacrifice, love, selflessness and becoming vulnerable.  It only works when we are honest and willing to work at it.  Also, true honest selfless giving is NOT a scam.  If you give of your time, money, energy, love or many other things we tend to NOT want to give…especially to those who do not ask and for those who want no recognition.  I have found very little of either of these non-scams in my 38 years.  I live my life so it centers around these two things because I believe we are not hear to be drones…but instead to give of ourselves for GOOD. 

    Something as simple as buying lunch for a friend who can’t afford to go out because you want their company for the afternoon.  When I had enough money to go out for lunch daily and buy nice things…I might buy my buddies lunch.  They didnt ask, but I felt like giving that day.  I remember thinking…nobody does this for me…but whatever.  Years later, when I was the one who could barely pay rent let alone go out, I had friends who did this for me and i never asked.  When I needed help paying that high NY rent, I had friends send me $$ (again, without asking) to help me out.  Karma, God, whatever you want to call it….its out there.

    ~michelle

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      You ask the real difficult question: what is NOT a scam. You mention honest selfless giving and I think this is true but rare (which is why its not a scam). I’ve asked this question to quite a bit of people. Here’s one, sort of funny, consistent answer: someone who plays the guitar outside and has his friends come and listen.

      But I do think selfless giving: to loved ones, friends, etc. is not a scam.

      I just spent a day going from doctor to doctor dealing while Claudia and I try to figure out her lyme disease and its amazing what you encounter along the way in doctor’s office after doctor’s office. The entire medical industry has issues.

      One SMALL example: we got a new prescription for an antibiotic that we already had a prescription for. The insurance company won’t let us get it filled until Sep 17 (two days from now) because “she shouldhave enough to last her til then”. Which is fine. But I really wonder if they thought we were taking these obscure antibiotics recreationally or selling them on the street somehow. Just one link in the chain of a massive scam.

      • John H

        Truly there is not much difference between scammers and the tick that bit Claudia (I hope she is feeling better). When it comes down to it everything is a scam as the human race is barely much more than a parasite on this planet. I think it is more important to discern who is not an intentional scammer rather than what or what is not a scam.

        • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

          very good point.

        • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

          very good point.

      • Sooz

        being at the medical fields(test, proper meds etc..) mercy is the worst kind of scam.

        will continue to send positive thoughts

      • Christos

        I believe that selfless giving is a scam.  Short of taking a bullet for someone and dying in the process are there really any selfless acts?  

        If you give something to another person in a selfless act, aren’t you getting pleasure and satisfaction for performing that act and therefore acting selfishly?  I would argue that almost everything you do is selfish even if that act mostly helps others.  
        James, I think Harry Browne’s “How I found freedom in an unfree world” is not a scam and he discussed what he called the selfishness trap in it.  It’s available online as a pdf if you search for it.

  • Jamespark232323

    Amway and other MLMs

  • bez

    Pet Health is a scam.  People spend way too much money on Vet bills.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1676832039 -Richard Simpson-

      Ya, maybe if we got govt insurance involved like we did for human health…

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1676832039 -Richard Simpson-

      Ya, maybe if we got govt insurance involved like we did for human health…

  • avoidsex

    Sex is scam.  It’s your body scamming you into creating another person that you are responsible for.

    • Anonymous

      Great while it’s happening, though. Spend some scam money to buy some scam rubbers.

    • Benjamin Dunphy

      lol

  • http://twitter.com/CloudSecDC CSADC

    Our judicial system is a scam. If you have enough money to pay for a good lawyer, who golfs or dines with the District Attorney or their officers you stand a good chance of getting off completely or with a very reduced sentence. If you attempt to address the Judge with reason and logic, but without legal representation, the chances are you will end up being found guilty. 

    I’m not just talking about felony crimes here, the same applies for traffic tickets.

    • http://fontwords.com Mitchell Powell

      Speaking of traffic tickets, there’s the scam of the century right there. Ridiculously low speed limits effectively turn the “speed limit”, at least here in Ohio, into what is really more like “drive this slow and you’ll have every other car on the road on your tail.” And so you do the reasonable thing, driving a few miles above, say, 55, and now you’re completely at the mercy of what mood a police is in.

  • Mark

    Speeding tickets are a scam. The are supposed to be in the interests of safety. But they are just revenue vehicles for government. 95% People know how what speed is safe but that same percentage drive somewhat over the legal limit. And the cops/courts (a corrupt pair) make most of their speeding ticket money for modest infractions that did not result in property damage or bodily injury.

    • Raj Against The Machine

      …plus “court costs” and “administrative fees”.

  • Rich.

    This may be your best post yet, James.  I’m showing this to my wife when she gets home.  I’ll probably bang her first, though.  No scam!

    Add fad diets to the list of scams: this food is a miracle cure; that one causes cancer; this saps your energy, especially if you eat it with THAT; a new study finds that eating a lot of this will kill/cure you…  Exhausting, isn’t it?  Eat whatever maintains a healthy body weight.  Exercise.  Get on with your life.  

  • AjBaker

    Buying a diamond for an engagement ring is a scam thought up by DeBeers. Two hundred years ago no one did it. Two months salary? Who do you think came up with that?  ps  I am a jeweler so keep buying those overpriced shiny rocks.

    • Anonymous

      Sorry. Opted out of that one two marriages ago.

    • Benjamin Dunphy

      If you liked it then you shoulda put a — transgenerational indoctrination marketed by a tyrannical englishman who invaded a country and named it after himself so he could among other things sell you their diamonds and make you believe that the enslaved kids and ruined families it took to bring it out of the ground symbolizes everlasting love — on it.

  • AjBaker

    Buying a diamond for an engagement ring is a scam thought up by DeBeers. Two hundred years ago no one did it. Two months salary? Who do you think came up with that?  ps  I am a jeweler so keep buying those overpriced shiny rocks.

  • Anonymous

    Teachers are a scam. I am a high school teacher in South Florida. We like to call ourselves professionals. No one else does. I have come to the realization that we are pawns for the system and the district tells us what and how to teach. We are assembly line workers. We are charged with keeping kids occupied until they are 18. Then we can arrest them. 

    What’s not a scam? Surfing. You and nature. Alone. Pure. 

    Awesome posts. I read them all. I am 42 years old, must be our age group. For me it all went down hill when Michael Hutchence killed himself.  

  • Sooz

    I feel so ripped off!
    gosh darnit,J.A., thanks a whole hell of a lot…

    ;)

  • Anonymous

    Excellent. Reposted.

    If we were gay i’d ask you to marry me.

    Hey, there’s another scam for your deck: Monogamy.

  • cindyluwho

    The pet industry. Don’t get me wrong I love my dog.She’s the most loyal friend EVER!!! However, she does not need a sweater, hat, crystal encrusted collar with matching food dish or a $500 bed. I mean really…do you think she cares how muchI I paid for her dog bed. She only cares that it sits at the foot of my bed.

    • http://asaneapproach.com Jeanne

      or a STROLLER!!! i saw a lady walking her dog in a doggy stroller the other day. somebody needs to tell these people that dogs actually LIKE walking.  

      • S.G.

        LOL, YES!  I have had to tamp down an urge to say that to many people I’ve seen doing this ridiculous thing!  My dog LIVES for her daily walks, and would probably run away from home if I tried putting her in a stroller!

      • Mfradin1

        I want a stroller for my dog. She’s arthritic and a cardiac patient…then we could go everywhere as we did dor over a decade. Dont get your exercise by jumping to conclusions

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1676832039 -Richard Simpson-

      I spent 4 months income (not as much as it sounds like) at the vet recently when my cat got sick, bc I was afraid she was going to die, and I’m glad they were there for me.

      If you’re tempted to buy $500 beds for your pet, then someone guessed right when they made it and put it up for sale.

      • Mike

        You spent 1/3 of your annual income on a frickn cat!!!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1676832039 -Richard Simpson-

      I spent 4 months income (not as much as it sounds like) at the vet recently when my cat got sick, bc I was afraid she was going to die, and I’m glad they were there for me.

      If you’re tempted to buy $500 beds for your pet, then someone guessed right when they made it and put it up for sale.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1676832039 -Richard Simpson-

      I spent 4 months income (not as much as it sounds like) at the vet recently when my cat got sick, bc I was afraid she was going to die, and I’m glad they were there for me.

      If you’re tempted to buy $500 beds for your pet, then someone guessed right when they made it and put it up for sale.

  • Anonymous

    The funeral industry. Seriously. My meat won’t give a fuck what you do with it once i’m dead, so dispose of it fast, simple, and cheap. Remember me over some pints down at the pub.

  • Frank

    A special category of books – College Text Books. 

    Ah yes, we can’t use the last edition because an Accounting rule has changed, or a new French word has been invented, or whatever. Scam the folks who can least afford it, the tuition-paying parents of college kids.

    • Raj Against the Machine

      Even worse in science, mathematics, and engineering. Did the laws of physics change since last semester? Did Newton’s Second Law change? Did the nature of matter and energy change?

      • guest

        Actually, our knowledge of physics has dramatically changed in recent times with  increased knowledge of atomic particles.  Newton’s Laws are no longer completely explanatory on that level.

        • http://twitter.com/jamesjansson James Jansson

          As a physics grad, I can tell you that ALL undergrad physics has not changed in the last 40 years. Newton’s laws were explained away over 100 years ago by Einstein (special relativity published 1905).

        • Rob

          That’s never taught to undergrads though.

    • Sooz

      I must say,years past experience, that most profs are  preplexed by this most obvious scam and wish that the most recent edition had not changed(by a paragraph).
      They will  let you know(insert)..the paragraph that has been changed if you borrow last edition.

      • Sooz

        edit: perplexed (I was thinking pre~anything college text before last Sept/10..:)

    • Guest

      I had a prof who wrote one of the popular accounting books.  When I was in his class his book was on version 7.  He required version 4 or 5 for his class.

      Our first day he told us the new versions are just to make him and the publisher more money and he didn’t want to take his own student’s money.

    • Anonymous

      Publishers are now getting around the profit-killing used book sales. They offer professors interactive web site access for homework and other class activities. Even if students find used books, they must purchase “access codes” in order to complete assignments. My daughter spent $70 on books this fall and more than $200 on codes. She had to buy one code for $97 just to complete one assignment! Total scam, because the school has Blackboard available to all the faculty for assignments, etc., so they don’t need the publisher’s websites. It all comes out of Financial Aid (no loans) but it’s still infuriating.

  • Anonymous

    Health Insurance. 

    We stay in jobs we hate and fail to do the million things we would love to do because of it.  We have been conditioned to believe that it provides security and the scare-machine constantly reinforces the catastrophic, disastrous, worst-case scenario.  It is through that fear that we allow others to control us. 

    Our society has created a series of traps to keep the average person
    enslaved.  Those who were able to free themselves from mortgages, car
    payments, credit card bills and student loans are told that they can
    never be free because they should always have health insurance. 

    But health insurance did not exist a few generations ago.  Most of the world’s population is self-insured.  And most of the world’s population is healthier than we are. 

    Please don’t confuse this as a political argument.  It is not.  I would like to live in a world where we do not need to worry about receiving medical care.  Other countries have systems that work.  Our system is broken. 

    By participating in it we perpetuate it.  Refusing to participate encourages needed change. 

    Self-insurance is an alternative. 

    • C Pennybrown

      I agree heartily.  My insurance went up 3 times last year (I’m individually insured – not covered by work) and I just said,  “Enough is enough.”  

      So now I just focus on staying healthy.  If more people opted out it would add to the pressure but so many people are too afraid or too sick to do this.

      I don’t know the answer but if a poor country like Ecuador can give everyone decent insurance why can’t we have it?

      Insurance companies are in the business for paying for least amount of care they can get away with paying for. 

      Doctors are in the business for prescribing as many treatments and procedures as they think they can get reimbursed for.

      Maybe we just have to wait for the whole system to collapse.

      In the meantime I hear you can get good heart surgery at one third the price in places like India and Thailand.

      Maybe we all should just  start outsourcing our health care needs en masse.  Hit em where it really hurts:  the pocket book.

  • Raj Against The Machine

    This might fall under “advertising” and “middle-men”, but car companies and especially new car dealers are a scam, for a variety of reasons.

    a) Cars are supposed to be durable goods, which by economics definition means they generally last at least 3 years. In many cases with care and maintenance they last much longer. So why do I need an “all-new” model foisted upon me every 4 years?

    b) Car dealers are scams, though they probably fall under the “middle-man” category, because one can only purchase a new car through a dealer and not directly. Even those car-buying services refer you to a dealer and/or charge fees to recommend and find “the best deal”. They make so much of their money on the back end through financing, extended warranties, rust protection plans, “dealer prep”, “advertising fee”, etc. Why the hell should I pay for your advertising – that’s your cost of doing business and is a tax-deductible business expense!

    c) Car service departments charge huge amounts for parts and service. What the car companies pay their suppliers a few dollars for at vehicle assembly, will cost you hundreds of dollars to purchase as a replacement.

    d) Extended warranties, purchase protection plans, etc., are scams. This may fall under point D, “Happiness”, but is usually labeled as “Peace of Mind”. The vast minority of extended warranty programs purchased are ever used by the purchaser. It is pure profit for the retailer. Cars are so thoroughly tested for durability and reliability nowadays that there should be no good reason, other than design flaw or lack of maintenance, that they should break or wear out prematurely. On the other end, household appliances and electronics are so cheaply made and sold that they are virtually throwaway items.

    • Raj Against The Machine

      P.S. – I’m an automotive engineer so keep on buying those shiny new cars. Better yet, lease.

      • Tt774411

        The automotive industry, just like the clothing industry, is a scam. Its all about fashion and keeping up with the Jones’. Nobody needs a car with aluminum mag wheels, leather seats and 400 HP V8 engine – its all just to appeal to egos in need of bolstering.

  • Isaiah

    All forms of government are scams. None of them are there to benefit the people. They are there to benefit the State. Sure, a police force is useful for keeping us and our property safe. But every government theory (Republic, Democracy, Communism, Socialism, etc.) are just different ways of people scamming themselves into power. 

    • Isaiah

      Oh yeah and the military-industrial complex. 

    • Isaiah

      Oh yeah and the military-industrial complex. 

    • Anonymous

      The idea that police protect you or your property is also a scam. Police serve and protect the state, and are an essential part of the scam of government.

  • Isaiah

    All forms of government are scams. None of them are there to benefit the people. They are there to benefit the State. Sure, a police force is useful for keeping us and our property safe. But every government theory (Republic, Democracy, Communism, Socialism, etc.) are just different ways of people scamming themselves into power. 

  • http://www.736hundred.tumblr.com 736hundred

    Some chocolates are a scam.

    http://tinyurl.com/5u5s9xe

  • Raj Against the Machine

    I really wanna say something bold and incisive about the airline industry being a scam. But when I think of them I’m just filled with too much hate that I can’t think straight. People forget now the multi-billion-dollar federal bailout that the airline companies received after September 11th.

    Wouldn’t that money have been better-spent on upgrading our nation’s antiquated rail system to a high-speed rail system rivaling those of Europe and Asia? Uses less fuel, is less weather-dependent, is more on-time, and is a lot harder to run into a building.

  • Raj Against the Machine

    OK, this is just coming off the top of my head now: Greek Yogurt. I LOVE Greek Yogurt, but I hate that I pay an exorbitant premium for what is essentially regular yogurt which has been strained through cheesecloth, presumably by some high-volume industrial method, to remove excess water.

    • SALT

      Check the labels, Raj. Most of the new so-called Greek yougurts are made by the big North-American food conglamerates.

  • STan

    Vancouver, BC real estate and the belief that ” hot Asian money” will keep prices rising is a scam. The sooner people realize this the better.

    • http://twitter.com/BoundsAuctions Omar P Bounds III

      Bam! On Spot STan. “Hot Asian Money” is not “Dumb Money”. I have been hearing about this ” Hot Asian Money” all over the world and haven’t seen a whole lot of it step up to the plate with a decent bid. Slink in and make a ” can we steal it offer”, occasionally.  
      A myth to feed a scam.

  • Raj Against the Machine

    What’s not a scam? Cleaning. I’m not a clean-freak, and by no means well-organized or OCD. My condo is very messy inside, even after I clean. But I always like the feeling I get standing back and admiring the results of a good cleaning job, whether it’s vacuuming, cleaning the bathroom, cleaning the kitchen, scouring the burned crust out of the microwave, etc. I cleaned out my car a few years ago when I was getting ready to sell it, and it was very satisfying afterward (even though it didn’t sell right away).

    Even in those very rare occurences when I don’t clean myself, the results of a job well done are satisfying. I recently had my car professionally detailed, after having previously sat in the backseat and seeing all of the dirt and grime on the interior which I never noticed from the driver’s seat. They cleaned every single visible interior surface, including the cupholders and headliner, and even a tiny discoloration which had transferred off a blue plastic bag I had been using for trash. The results were astounding, and because I had it done in Detroit, it was relatively cheap. (I might say that it helped maintain or improve my car’s value, but that’s a baseless claim and therefore bordering on a scam.)

    Cleaning products, however, are a scam. I have so many partially-used bottles of different cleaners that either didn’t work as-advertised or gagged me with their fumes. One even discolored the chrome finish on my bath faucet. Now I clean my tub, shower tile, sinks, and countertops with baking soda and a damp cloth. The shine is incredible.

  • Rodney Long

    The consumer economy — total scam.  A Walmart worker buying a hamburger at McDonalds does not an economy make.  A McDonalds employee buying crap made in china from Walmart doesn’t amount to much either.  Consumerism and service based economies are total scams that just breed all the other scams you encounter in your life…

    • http://twitter.com/BoundsAuctions Omar P Bounds III

      Bam! On spot Rodney!

    • http://twitter.com/BoundsAuctions Omar P Bounds III

      Bam! On spot Rodney!

  • Kevin Faul

    Personal credit – I’ve never had a credit card or seen a reason to worry about that ‘credit score’. Don’t leverage yourself because you’re afraid someone will think you’re ‘poor’ because you didn’t take out a loan to buy something fancy.

    Social Media – Wait, I give you all my information, including private photos and videos to ‘share’ with my friends, yet you own them, charge for my information and then allow advertisers to target market back to me? (I still use FB and other sites, cuz I’m a sucker)Quick-fitness plans – I was a sponsored climber, ultramarathon runner, triathlete; am a road/mountain cyclist, runner and surfer and I haven’t been a gym member for 8+ years. Anyone can do these things. Anyone can get fit. it just TAKES time and WORK. YOU can do more than you think, just quit believing that you are not capable.Country Clubs.Las Vegas.

    Most Consulting Firms/Consultants.

    Toll Roads.

    That grabber toy in all the high traffic areas filled with cute loveable plush things that make you spend at least $5 for the thrill of just….quite…almost…but not ever getting that poisonous chinese-made worthless plush toy. I’m gonna buy me one of those scam boxes and retire, but I will make them so that everyone wins the toy and I will say so right there on the sign.

  • Raj Against the Machine

    Auctions are a scam. I must admit I’ve only been to one auction in my life, and I only stood around and watched for a few minutes out of curiosity after I’d decided I had no interest in buying. For some reason I love watching auction shows on TV: Auction Hunters, Storage Wars, Mecum Auto Auctions, Barrett-Jackson, etc. But I cannot come to grips with the notion that the auction process starts with a price that goes up. And oh yeah, I have to pay a non-refundable fee to participate.

    • http://twitter.com/BoundsAuctions Omar P Bounds III

      I am a professional auctioneer. Admittedly, what TV is doing to auction via Auction Hunters, Storage Wars etc – same thing that Road Show did to honest appraisers is annoying, but the auction process is much less a scam than the set pricing in real estate. Without writting an entire book on auction, I can only say that you aren’t seeing the entire picture or have experienced only a bad auctioneer.
      Traditionally, an auction starts with a ” bring down”, where by the auctioneer asks for a bid and comes down until he gets one. While there are other models, that is the proper way to open an auction. 2ndly: I have never seen any auction that required a non refundable fee to participate. If I saw such, I would never return to that auction. I know Barrett Jackson auctioneers and they are straight shooters. Any auction is only as straight as the participants. Bidders run more scams than sellers. Like any sort of Broker, there are legit auctioneers and the other kind.

  • Tom

    Charities and non-for-profits are a huge scam. One of the biggest and most transparent.

    “Doing what you love/following your passion” is a scam.

    Buying ‘stuff’ is a scam. Like George Carlin said, “my stuff is stuff, your stuff is shit”

    Long-term monogamy is a scam.

    Vitamin supplements are a scam.

    Bottled water in the U.S. is a scam.

    Recycling is a scam.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jesper-Leung/608813295 Jesper Leung

    Many products and concepts are not scams by themselves, but the ways that people market them and make money from them are scams. Like Gym itself is not scam, but the devils in the membership terms and the ways that the staff force you to make 5-year prepayment are definitely scams.

    Stop simply following what people say no matter he/she is your mom, dad, Obama, Steve Jobs, or even James and all commenters here! Think logically. Ask for proofs. Recall your past experience. These are the best ways to avoid scams.

  • http://www.shampooprank.com John

    I think democracy is a scam…this illusion of freedom that we supposedly have…
    -anything related to banking is a scam…
    -the organic foods industry (i have been told) is a scam
    -the weighloss industry
    -reality shows
    the pharmaceutical companies and how many doctors today get taught and operate is a scam

  • http://zacharygrove.com Zach

    RACISM IS A SCAM!
    Let me explain: we get assured on job applications that our age, country of original, sexual preference, handicaps, and race aren’t considered–and they shouldn’t be. But what’s the reasoning behind our societal stance against prejudice? It’s that factors such as race and age are irrelevant to our qualifications for the job, so they’re not considered.But what about networking? “Who you know” isn’t an indicator of your job qualifications any more than “Who you worship”…I feel that we as a society parade against racism and religious discrimination so that we don’t have to feel bad about the many other unfair avenues for prejudice that we indulge in.

    Great post, by the way! Please check out my proposal in your inbox regarding Session. 

  • Anonymous

    Here’s a biggie: the idea that you have to ‘love yourself first’ in order to have a good relationship. As if you can even know yourself in isolation, let alone love yourself…craziness – but a good way to keep everyone alone for longer so that awful events hurt more and they’ll buy more stuff to take the pain away/improve themselves so that one day they’ll be worthy of love. What a racket!

    Ethanol – subsidize the farmers then burn the food to make oil. Oh, and give money to Saudi Arabia for strategic goodwill (and then let the Saudis spread their wacky/troubling form of Islam by vast donations).

    Cloth grocery bags. Stop using the old free biodegradable grocery bags for kitchen garbage and buy the special expensive polyethylene garbage can liners instead – oh, and buy indestructible ‘cloth’ bags for your groceries. This must be the number one idiotic non-green measure of the decade.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LNHI42TXOK57GN2M5TYQFBH5YE Borat69

    The best scam ever: Child Support Services, especially against Single Males. You should see how they (the government organized mafia Judge and Child Support Service) play Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide in court. As they (organized Mafia) support single females (most of them over 30 years old to late 40 years old) seeking sperm donors in clubs, bars, etc…. just to get the free check and tax payer money for the 18 years. It happened to 2 of my good guy friends. It’s beyond communism and slavery, it’s insane that it’s happening in USA and they get away with it.

  • markulus

    Shaving cream. When I threw away my last can 5 years ago I was shocked to find there were absolutely no repercussions. I was scammed for so long. Water was all I ever needed.

    • S34ndad

      Soap also? This makes me wince tothink about

      • Benjamin Dunphy

        Yep, all I use is soap. The razor glides even better than with shaving cream.

  • Joe Andelin

    Scams: timeshares, tariffs, taxes, war, religion (in many cases), title insurance, mutual funds, government, nutraceuticals, sports worship (particularly in young kids), gifts (the materially type).

    Not scams: kids, love, reading, time in nature, service, Disney, cooking.

  • Alfie

    Great post. love the comments, …. As usual I leave this page with some new thoughts.  SO what isnt a scam? Probably all that engages  the 5 senses in an immediate way (like real whipped cream)….. Creativity and altruism. The empathy you feel when your heart aches for another’s misfortune.  The transformative power of love.
    It seems like if you throw enough money at something it ends up being a scam.

  • http://www.shampooprank.com John

    beauty pageants like miss world and miss universe are also a scam

  • C Pennybrown

    The “War on Cancer” is a scam.  It is a money making scheme by the manufacturers of chemotherapy and radiation machines.  We are not winning.  We are losing but that’s okay because the hospitals would go broke if there were not a new group of people to take in and operate upon.

    Very little money is spent on prevention.  No one makes money off of prevention.

    Meanwhile we indoctrinate people into thinking that if they go in for mammograms and colonoscopies that they will “beat” cancer.  Untrue.

    We now have screening tests that are so subtle that they can detect cancerous cells that never would turned into cancer anyway. (This happens all the time with breast cancer.)  People get overtreated and the cancer  industry pulls in the profits.  The cancer juggernaut rolls on on on…..

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Louis-Lo/100001574239067 Louis Lo

    When A is telling B:

    “You never listen to others’ opinion, you are so opinionated, you won’t be succeed”

    A scam because in the meantime it means:

    “You don’t adopt my opinion and so you are opinionated.”

    The one who really opinionated is A.

  • acorn

    luxury cars, luxury handbags, luxury anything

  • Andrewramponi

    The idea that heaven and hell are somewhere else.

    • http://www.organiclifestylemagazine.com jMichaelEdwards

      Agree!

  • acorn

    college admissions (not merit based)
    merit
    most college courses
    any monarchy
    pedigree animals (see also monarchy)

    Two decks of cards would be good – one for scams, one for not scams.  Funny how most of us spend so much focus on the scams and little focus on the not scams.

  • acorn

    SATs, LSATs, GREs…

  • Katch

    I was telling my wife about the various scams mentioned in this post/comment section.  She said “I don’t know if this is good for you to read”.  Is marriage a scam?

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I don’t know. What do people think of this one?

      • cindyluwho

        YES!! Marriage is definitely a scam. It is fine for some but it is not a one size fits all thing. It is sold that way though. An even bigger scam is the wedding. I have so many friends that have spent $30,000+ on weddings and their marriage didn’t last 5 years. $7,000 for a dress that you will wear once, $2,000 for a cake …Giant Scam!!!

        • YourBoy

          It depends what your expectations are going into it. 

          If you recognize that it’s more than a romantic relationship, and that cultural/legal/economic/emotional/physical/psychological/many other elements are at play, its not a scam.

          The Brady Bunch version of marriage is a scam…but the real deal isn’t

          Weddings and Divorces ARE a scam though

          • http://frederickdoar.com Fdoar

            I’ve been married for 26 years.  (Just saying that suddenly makes me want to take a nap).  

            Marriage is not a scam.  It is the initiation of family which I think is ultimately the most important aspect of our life.  

            I think there needs to be more leeway given to people in marriage.  You are not going to get an A+ and if you expect that from your spouse going in, it won’t last.  If people were more flexible, more marriages would stand the test of time.   

      • http://www.736hundred.tumblr.com 736hundred

        The idea of marriage is fine, but unfortunately in our society, being married changes personal rights and benefits. 

        To each his or her own – but grandpa and his new wife will be shacking-up to get their late spouse’s social security…. ( and they were the ones appalled at the younger generation for living together)

  • Dlgandy

    I’m a retired military officer – Military scam – 4 individual services that do the same thing — each service has aircraft and back up systems – try to save a buck by combining the army -navy -air force and marines

    • Mike Periboob

      A mild objection to that idea, just my feelings, I was Air Force for 20yrs. I would never have joined a service that might have changed its mind and assigned me to fighting from fox holes, or six-month sessions at sea. There are many service differences that attract  different types of individuals. As for the redundancy, some times, a little competition in the form of inter-service rivalry is a good thing.

  • Dlgandy

    I’m a retired military officer – Military scam – 4 individual services that do the same thing — each service has aircraft and back up systems – try to save a buck by combining the army -navy -air force and marines

  • Noname

    How about not using electronic devices on airplanes at take off and touch down?  Seriously, if they really could impact the plane, don’t you think they would be banned entirely? 

  • Noname

    How about not using electronic devices on airplanes at take off and touch down?  Seriously, if they really could impact the plane, don’t you think they would be banned entirely? 

  • Loek van Gool

    Vegas is a scam. It’s nothing like any media (most importantly movies) suggest, even if you compensate for the fact that they are movies and therefore a bit overly dramatic.

    Those suckers on the street constantly tapping their hooker flyers piss me off.Already mentioned before, but it needs a dedicated reply.

  • http://asaneapproach.com Jeanne

    I play this game with my kids when we’re driving or sometimes when we’re watching tv at someone else’s house (i don’t own a tv).  The game is “what’s the lie?” So if it’s a McDonalds commercial, they’ll answer with something like, “the lie is that the food is healthy”, or “the lie is that their hamburger actually looks that good, because it never does!”  We’ve been doing this since they were 4 or 5 years old and now they are really tough to bullshit.  i hate marketing that aims to psychologically manipulate the consumer.  i do believe the game is changing, though.  

    • S.G.

      That is a really creative, interesting and productive way to teach your children to think for themselves and not be brainwashed robots!  I applaud you, and will have to “steal” your idea one day if I have to care for or raise kids.

      Marketing, by definition, aims to “psychologically manipulate the consumer”.  Marketing majors are required to take a significant amount of Psych classes, go figure!

      • S.G.

        I forgot to mention; call me cynical, but I have to disagree with you about the “game changing” though.  I think its getting worse; more manipulative and sneaky than ever before.  And, the government agencies that are supposed to work for “us the people” (i.e. FDA, USDA, FCC, etc) actually enable these practices because they are really owned by the manipulators and not the people.

        • http://asaneapproach.com Jeanne

          i say it’s changing because i’m in digital marketing and i’m lucky enough to work with clients who are doing good things and making the world a better place.  there are ways to get their products out there that do not involve manipulation and the more honest and sincere the message is, the better it works. however, those with the big marketing budgets will always take whats good and natural and twist it into something fake and commercial…i think it’s the consumers who are changing. 

  • http://asaneapproach.com Jeanne

    Charity…. the vast majority of non profits working in underdeveloped countries are perpetuating the conditions they claim to be changing. it’s managed poverty and a big scam.

  • http://twitter.com/fbliss Fred Bliss

    Commercial healthcare is a scam… Money is the prime directive ergo cures are clearly not good business.  Treat the symptoms, not the illness.  Cliche?  Yes, true? Absolutely.

  • Jradxit

    The idea of medicine promoting health.  Modern medicine in America is 99% focused on treatment of PREVENTABLE disease.  With a healthy diet of whole unadulterated foods that have high nutrient and low caloric value coupled with reasonable exercise, most diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery disease, stroke, osteoarthritic back and joint problems, and depression would be prevented and the severity of other diseases much lessened.  Our government encourages production of the worst possible disease inflicting foods for the cheapest price and greatest volume which is the biggest driver of disease and medical costs in our country.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=561270894 David Crowe

    Insurance. Extended warranties. Maintenance packages. Canada. That’s just a few off the top of my head. I still owe you a review on Amazon for your book…. :-o

  • Tim Madden

    Home Warranties. Anything that prevents or distracts someone from reaching their full potential.

  • mimi
    • http://www.736hundred.tumblr.com 736hundred

      I love that site.  :)

  • Anonymous

    I couldn’t comment here for some reason, so I emailed you this. Now I can comment for some reason so here it is again for you:

    Hey James,

    just read your scam article today. Hated it. And then I got passed that and I loved it! LOL

    You asked more scams for your deck of cards (great idea btw):

    #1. You forgot the biggest one…religion!!! The whole concept of hell is just a scam to get people to do what you want. And let’s not even get into the money side of God right!!

    that’s all for now. Cheers

    (and thanks)

  • Jason

    Illegal Prostitution – nothing I’m interested in, but people should have the choice

    Illegal Gambling – something I am interested in and is illegal in many areas.  Who the heck does it harm if I want to play poker for $100 or bet $20 on the Bears to win on Sunday?

    Teachers Unions (and unions in general) – My wife is a teach and makes very good money, but all we ever hear about is how teachers are underpaid.  She only works 8-9 months a year, but makes over twice the average American.  Additionally, she gets 17 “sick” days which are banked every year (and then paid during maternity leave).  She teaches 5 45 minute classes a day.  And the biggest scam of it is……

    TENURE – Once a teacher is tenured they have literally no incentive to be good at their jon

    Real Estate agents – I know you mentioned agents, but with the internet there is literally no need for a real estate agent if you’re willing to do your own research.

    Valentines Day

    Sweetest Day

    Most other Holidays.

    • TT77

      Yes, Real Estate agents are a scam. You pay them $30k to simply put a listing online. Real Estate agents are a tidy monopoly industry perpetuated by the Real Estate boards.
      Most of them don’t even bother to do open house showings anymore. All of the “work” in selling the house you still pay for anyway – lawyers & closing costs.
      How about paying $50 to have a house listed – now there’s a business opportunity.

  • Sof1560

    CNBC and financial reporting in general is a total scam. Simply gives the illusion of control. 

  • Janet

    two come to mind;

    you are what you drive ( complete BS)

    Soul mates ( again complete BS, and I’ve been happily married for 27 years)

  • Cody McLain

    Those motivational/managerial books that are sold in bulk to corporate HR departments. Examples: Who Moved My Cheese?, Fish!, One Minute Manager, etc.

    Damn! Those books are awful.

    I definitely agree with you about the news. If you don’t mind a bit of shameless blogwhoring, I wrote a post about that a couple of weeks ago:

    http://brewingthechaos.blogspot.com/2011/09/ignore-news-and-be-happy.html

  • judy

    Today’s plastic surgery industry is a huge scam. Greedy doctors, greedy advertisers, and even greedy TV execs with their TV shows promoting it.  Hour long infomercials selling it with pictoral promises of looking younger and beautiful and sexier.  It doesn’t make you look much younger, just different.  Most of the women I see who have had facelifts and fills, look like they are going thru a wind tunnel, with lips blown up like a fish on the line, all looking like carbon copies of each other with a very strange look.  And most lifts start to droop within a year causing other strange effects.  And as far as being sexier, well that comes from within, not plastic surgery.   And of course the last but not least of it all:  the bad outcomes, some very bad as we have all seen on some of the rich and famous who just bought themselves a ‘bad face’ or just overdid it. This industry is so overadvertised that this alone should make us all beware. Anything really great doesn’t need redundant constant ads.

    What happened to accepting who you are and making the best of it, loving each other for who one is in their heart and soul, and of course what happened to aging gracefully……..

  • Cindymosqueda

    I wish I could shout this to every person in jeopordy of losing their home, after losing their job and now losing their ass…………MORTGAGE LOAN MODIFICATION IS A SCAM-O-RAMA!

    Just listened to another crying family that should have stopped paying their mortgage over a year ago but were talked into making smaller payments (in reality enough to service the interest) while the bank worked on a “MODIFICATION” program for them. But surprise, they; along with the thousands of others who have been swindled into continuing to pay on a house in the foreclosure process; “DID NOT QUALIFY FOR MODIFICATION”. Now the family has a few days to find somewhere to live, no money (paid it all to the bank in hopes that if they were very, very good they could have their loan modified), no time and screwed credit.

    This is not my personal vendetta but I am as distressed about this as if it were. It’s a given the banks win, this is just one more way to take every penny they can from people who are vulnerable. Shame on every person involved in this scam, either you know what your doing or too stupid to be doing it.

    Mortgage loan modification is just a way for the lender to keep the homeowner paying the interest on a mortgage as it goes through the foreclosure process. I know a couple of people actually have been given modifications but that is more than balanced out by the thousands who have been tricked into “keeping that money rolling in” until days before they are tossed to the street.

  • Mike Periboob

    Every type of activity you can think of has plenty of scams associated. Love, credit cards, gym memberships, stocks, education, home ownership can all turn bad. But these have all worked well for me. And I think it is excessive to define the whole class as crap–greed, ignorance, impatience, and laziness will make a mess of any enterprise. You just have to learn how to filter out the good from the bad.

    Coincidentally, I just rediscovered and started re-reading
    “Filters Against Folly: How To Survive Despite Economists, Ecologists, and the Merely Eloquent” by Garrett Hardin. An excellent guide on how to detect scams and such. Reads just as well as it did ~25 years ago.

  • http://stephaniscoe.com Stephan Iscoe

    Great post, James – and not just because I agree with it:)
    And I admit I have not read the 374 comments that proceed mine,
    however my additional list includes War, Space Exploration, and Nutritional Supplements…

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I wrote about War being a scam on a pro-peace site. It’s amazing the vitriol I got back in response. Everyone assumes that some wars are practically holy. But you can’t pick and chose where you send your 18 year old children to their deaths.

  • Mike Periboob

    I was going to challenge the idea that stocks are a scam. After reading all the comments, I thought there might be some good investment opportunities in companies that make paranoia meds. Unfortunately with paranoia meds, once the patient sees the list of 40+ possible nasty side-effects, you have to tie them down to make them take the pills.

  • http://www.preemptiveplacebo.com Preemptive Placebo

    Stress is a scam.

    My particular area of interest is the placebo effect.  There is an equal but negative evil twin of the placebo response known as the nocebo effect. 

    If a drug company warns people about certain side effects of a medication then most people will manifest that effect even when given an inert pill.  For instance, if the package says that a medication can upset my stomach, I will indeed feel a stomach upset when taking the medication even if it is a sugar pill.  I produce a nocebo response. 

    In the same way, if society tells me that I should be stressed and I read articles about how stress manifests, then a nocebo kicks in and, viola, a self-fulfilling prophecy, I am stressed. 

    Don’t get me wrong, the stress response exists.  Cortisol levels do indeed rise.  We are told that we are a victim of stress.  It is like radiation poisoning, something from the outside that is happening to us.  Doctors, teachers, family members and friends reinforce this believe.  Our stressed out manic friends can undermine us when we do not respond in the way they believe we should be responding to stress.  We are scammed when we are made to feel powerless over it.

    Powerlessness is the first step to dependance.  Once I feel powerless I am more willing to turn responsibility for the problem over to the healers and the makers of little pills that can fix everything. 

    There are a million productive ways to take control of stress.  James offers his daily practice as one example.  The key is to foster the believe that it does not control you, you control it.   

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      That’s really true. Hard to do in practice which is why its a daily practice to take that control back.

  • http://mickeythobart.wordpress.com Mickey T. Hobart

    Government. Claiming to serve you yet they: forbid you from selling your labor below a certain minimum wage and tell you under what other compensation and work conditions you can get employment; in the name of murdered innocents they slap sanctions and drop bombs on non-combatants, and invade and occupy their communities with soldiers; they threaten to throw you in a cage and/or take your property away from you if you consume something they forbid or if you practice a trade or profession without their permission, and if you resist them taking away your property in order to “serve” you; and so on, 

    • vub

      Agree big time with the minimum wage thing. As a kid I always wondered why it’s legal to work for $0 an hour, legal to work for $10 an hour but not for $5 an hour, I’ve always wondered how a contract can be ‘unconscionable’ if both parties clearly think it’s conscionable enough to sign it – it’s surprising how powerful and pure a child’s sense of logic and ethics is – as adults, we seem to lose the requirement for the world to _make sense_.

      Anyway, now (as I am finishing school), if the minimum wage were enforceable on the internet, I would either had no employment experience whatsoever or been stuck at a much more boring job washing dishes rather than being a part-time writer.

  • Anonymous

    I agree philosophically with everything. 

    But I challenge the reality of a few. Take, for example, advertising. People are dumb. You know how many idiots think a financial institution is better because they recognize the name? Billions. You could say the same for a lot of products. Advertising works.

    James is very intelligent, and so are probably most of the readers. That tv exec most likely is, also. But the masses are morons. (Yes, I’m assuming I’m more intelligent than most people on this planet and my commentary makes me an arrogant asshole. But the theme of this blog is transparency, right?)

    Government is one of my favorites. I can tell you who will win any governor or presidential election with ease. It’s whoever you’d rather have a beer with. Obama or McCain? Bush or Gore? Clinton or Bush Sr.? In CA we had Whitman vs Brown. Former CEO vs career-circus-clown-who-already-failed-once-as-governor. Whitman was trying to take the debates and campaign seriously while Brown was cracking jokes and winning the crowd. Yup, we’ve got Brown again. He replaced the highly qualified Arnold Schwarzenegger. I’ll never vote again.

    I love George Carlin’s take on self-help. “There’s no such thing. If you did it yourself, you didn’t need help. If you need someone else, it’s not self-help. That’s help!”

    Anyway, billions of morons give their hard-earned money the the intelligent few every day. It’s only a scam if you’re on the wrong side of it.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Haha, I’m going to have steal that from Carlin. As an anecdote, I once interviewed Carlin for a job right after I interviewed Rodney Dangerfield. In between interviews they ran into each other in the street and joked around a bit. Then Carlin came inside and said to me, “man, that guy was high as a kite.”

  • James E. Miller

    At my age (23) dating girls is a scam.  None of them are looking for prince charming, they all want pieces of sh*t that will treat them worse than a piece of sh*t.  I hear it gets better as you get older though, I can only hope.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      It gets better. But you have to get better also.

  • Pkga667

    When your boss tells you his main job is the welfare of you and all the people that work for him. Then a week later he walks in your office and fires you after 15 years of service telling you all the way out the door how hard it was on him to do this. He didn’t feel bad enough to cancel his dinner reservations at the steakhouse….. 

  • cindyluwho

    Wow! I really think you hit on something here James. Love reading all these comments. I think I understand why Cody Willard would refer to you as the Jedi Master.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      :)

  • Dgarber

    Insurance, for the most part. You’d be better off using a bookie…..

    Hmmm…

    I’m not sure there’s a lot of difference.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Insurance might be biggest of all. thats why when he was just a teenager Warren Buffett decided that was the business where he would make his billions.

  • Tuzo

    Late to the party here and there has been some great scams posted already.  James, you seem to have struck a nerve!  I’m going to add 12 step programs as a scam with Alcoholics Anonymous being the most famous program.   

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Tuzo, can you elaborate more?

      • Tuzo

        James, I’ll try to be brief.

        What I mean is that it probably isn’t efficacious. It looks like the rate of people who recover on their own is similar to AA.  I don’t think I’ve seen any compelling scientific evidence.
        I think the biggest scam is how these programs have been positioned as the only way for people to overcome their issues when there are other alternatives.  So much so that the programs are supported by the government and the courts will even force people to attend meetings which brings up church/state constitutional issues given the quasi-religious nature of AA (half the steps reference god).  

  • Honest Bob

    You, you fools who are providing this guy who shits on his classmates (and now you readers) all your best scams so he can profit from them.  Altucher, at a minimum, give everyone who provides you with a scam you steal $100. 

  • http://twitter.com/joecomerdotcom Joe Comer

    Advance cash settlements… It’s my money and I need it now!

  • Lmoen

    Scams-
    Bottled Water
    The Baby Industry (strollers bigger than your car!) I always thought that one of the best things about babies is that they are tiny and portable. Hold your baby-don’t put him in a plastic container- they’re not little for very long!
    Spandex and all the ridiculous stuff people think they need to wear to go running, biking, camping.
    Experts
    Various industries- Banking (#1!),Religion (shares #1 spot with banking), Funerals, Wedding, Cosmetics, Education (except Khan academy), Automotive, Health Foods (vitamins & supplements), Financial advisors…

    What ever happened to apprenticeships? Learning 1 on 1.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      All of that. People don’t realize how much happier they would be if they would avoid these scams (Education for instance).

  • Snowb888

    James, you need to be more specific about the trading stock scam and price manipulation: are you talking about HFT, dark pools, inappropriate use of liquidity? Illegally cancelled orders? 

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Yes, that and also the fact that psychologically, people can’t hold through downturns. Some can but most can’t. it’s statistically shown that people sell the most at the low point. So what’s the point in buying stocks if one is almost genetically hardwired to self-sabotage.

      Combine that with the fact that I’ve seen clear manipulation of stocks and there’s just nothing anyone does about it. (shorting through all the stocks, for instance, and then buying back at much cheaper prices. manipulating futures right before market open on OED, etc).

  • Benjamin Dunphy

    Justice.
    To feed the prison-industrial complex, this has to be a scam by design. “It ain’t a secret don’t conceal the facts, the penitentiary’s packed, and it’s filled with blacks” (Tupac Amaru Shakur). The underprivileged cannot afford defense for the petty crimes they committed like choosing to smoke a harmless, natural herb. Yet bankers who kick millions of people outside of their homes are rewarded with the tax dollars of the very people they are scamming. Most lawyers won’t even go up against the banks when they foreclose on people who do not even hold a mortgage with them. See the following: http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-august-8-2011/the-forecloser

  • http://statspotting.com Statspotting

    Here is one more, maybe obvious: All surveys are scams. 

    http://statspotting.com/2010/12/the-problem-with-the-pew-study-2/

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Yes, and usually politically designed to shape opinion.

  • Mike Periboob

    Finally finished 400+ comments. It appears there is nothing that is not thought a scam by someone. It comes across as whiny. Maybe whiners are the only ones who post? Maybe the winners are too busy winning to visit such entertaining blogs as this.

    The game of Life is a complex one. The rules are not always written down, but one rule is that smart/strong people will frequently take advantage of stupid/weak people. The rules change frequently, so you have to be on your toes to enjoy this game. And you ARE going to play, there is no choice (well there is one, alternative, but it is so final), so learn a few of the rules, and it will reduce the odds of you feeling cheated.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I don’t think what you say is in conflict with identifying scams. It’s important for the winners to identify situations where players in the system are either brainwashed or are being treated unfairly in a systemic fashion. this is not so one can whine about these situations (nobody below appears to be begging for change) but to take advantage and perhaps not fall into the ready traps.

  • Benjamin Dunphy

    James — so money’s a scam, and by default the economy it runs would be a scam as well.

    I’m curious what your thoughts on Austrian economic theory are. 

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      All economics is garbage and has nothing to do with the success or failure of any endeavor I do. My goal is to find happiness so I can be creative, spend more time with the people I love, and have time for spiritual pursuits. No economic theory is going to help me. And look how many businesses that started in recessions became enormous successes. It just doesn’t matter what the economic environment is.

  • BraveCon

    Has anyone mentioned credit scores yet? TOTAL scam – a sucker’s system devised by private corporations using a secret formula to provide an artificial “credit worthiness” rating which will have significant implications on the individual’s financial life. There is absolutely no transparency in how these scores are calculated, making it impossible for people to take ownership of their rating. Doing everything right can sometimes backfire – I know people who pay cash almost all the time, have very little debt, make mortgage payments on time and have lower scores than people who have declared bankruptcy. And of course, the lower your score, the higher your interest rate so you end up paying exponentially more than purchase price if you finance ANYTHING, ever. And sadly, most of us have to finance something or another along the way, or have our credit checked by landlords or employers, so it’s almost impossible to avoid this BS.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Everytime my credit rating goes down (and when I need it higher) i just hire a company that boosts it up. It takes about 2 weeks and suddenly I’m at 780 again. So I agree, its a scam.

      • Michael3223

        why do you need a 780? Going for a mortgage?

      • AMS

        Any suggestions on a good company? :)

  • BraveCon

    Has anyone mentioned credit scores yet? TOTAL scam – a sucker’s system devised by private corporations using a secret formula to provide an artificial “credit worthiness” rating which will have significant implications on the individual’s financial life. There is absolutely no transparency in how these scores are calculated, making it impossible for people to take ownership of their rating. Doing everything right can sometimes backfire – I know people who pay cash almost all the time, have very little debt, make mortgage payments on time and have lower scores than people who have declared bankruptcy. And of course, the lower your score, the higher your interest rate so you end up paying exponentially more than purchase price if you finance ANYTHING, ever. And sadly, most of us have to finance something or another along the way, or have our credit checked by landlords or employers, so it’s almost impossible to avoid this BS.

  • Agd21

    The entire insurance industry IS a scam. They’ll gladly
    take your premium payments, but just try to collect if you have a loss. After having
    to prove you actually experienced a loss, fights over whether the insurance
    company thinks it needs to pay at all, hiring a lawyer to argue through all the
    policy loopholes the insurance company uses against you, deductibles,
    depreciation, waiting a year or more to receive a much reduced payout (if
    anything), and you’ll wonder why you ever paid the premiums for all
    those years. 

    I’ve found I’m better off self insuring and just being careful.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Almost by definition the insurance industry is a scam. I like how Warren Buffett went on TV in 2001 and said there’s almost a near certainty that there would be a nuclear explosion on US soil before 2050. Oh, and guess what, insurance premiums just went up for major events like the Super Bowl. Genius!

  • http://twitter.com/OgFOMK Alexander B. Nuttall

    James, thanks for being smarter than me… Anyway… How many times did I go into the book store and look at all of the books.  I am good at it. I can find anybook anywhere. I always wanted to right a book called: “Bullshit Made Easy”, By Alexander Blair Nuttall. It sounds so regal. Like my whole name is so regal. Alexander (The One Who is (a)lex(icon) (anndros) without words from man(kind)) Blair(A girl from the facts of life or a battle-field) Nuttall (One who came from Nottinghamshire in a place called “Nuthall” where they had nut trees.) Poppy-cock!

    Jim, you are one good typing cat!

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Alex, thanks. Write that book!

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Alex, thanks. Write that book!

  • Michael3223

    Tony Robbins? you’re kidding right?

    By the way.that last market call of his was classic.

    It’s all a scam dude.. even here….lighten up…

  • Anonymous

    Promises of future rewards if you just keep at it…forever;  SSI and Medicare.  I both like and hate the word Ponzi.  It has an exhuberant sound but causes a twinge up my back for both its ultimate effect (the crash) and the fact that people will ignore the coming brick wall.

    Retirement: as if retiring is a good thing.  The lower income people I see are not retired; just barely getting by and getting royally fat in many cases, which will limit the amount they extract from SSI to pay for their food.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Social security is the worst because it hasn’t kept up with inflation (so nobody can live off of it) AND its unaffordable.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Social security is the worst because it hasn’t kept up with inflation (so nobody can live off of it) AND its unaffordable.

  • http://twitter.com/Cool_Hand Rob Prince

    As you pointed out in your Boston Tea Party post, History is a scam.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      It’s a shame that we take that for granted. I send my kids off to public school and its just a given that later on they are going to learn the complete opposite of what they are learningnow.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      It’s a shame that we take that for granted. I send my kids off to public school and its just a given that later on they are going to learn the complete opposite of what they are learningnow.

  • JimmyK

    Charities that want to cure diseases like cancer. If they actually cured cancer, which my doctor told me they cannot, there would be no further need for the charity. Like most charities, they exist to support themselves, not to find a cure or answer to anything. I no longer give to charities

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I agree. i did an analysis in one of my posts that if you contribute $100 to a big charity then approximately $1.50 a year of it actually gets spent on anything related to that charity, if that. Science cures diseases and science is normally funded in the public markets, not by charities.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I agree. i did an analysis in one of my posts that if you contribute $100 to a big charity then approximately $1.50 a year of it actually gets spent on anything related to that charity, if that. Science cures diseases and science is normally funded in the public markets, not by charities.

  • Anonymous

    You could fill a dozen cards from food…dairy, how much protein people think they need, etc. Organic food isn’t a scam in theory but it is in practice for many people.  High fructose corn syrup.  Most diets are scams.

    Reality shows and many game shows are scams.

    The majority of charities are scams, but I will still be growing a mustache for Movember because it happens to be a good one.

    IP/patents, etc are mostly a scam.

    Most insurance is a scam – again not in theory but it is in practice for most.

    Snail mail is a scam.  I cant remember the last time I received something meaningful by mail that I could not have received for free electronically.  Maybe invitations and personal holiday cards are the exception.

    Man this comment makes me sound bitter, but I’m not.  I just feel bad for people that continue to get sucked in to a lot of BS as well.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      It doesn’t make you sound bitter at all. Its reality. You have seen the light on these idustries and are helping to spread that light. Thanks.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      It doesn’t make you sound bitter at all. Its reality. You have seen the light on these idustries and are helping to spread that light. Thanks.

  • Anonymous

    Hi James.  Been reading your blog after linking in from LewRockwell.com a few days back.  I know you’ve heard this before, but man you have great stuff, real life changing stuff.

    Anyway there are so many scams out there, but I think a big one, that’s also part of the American religion, is the idea that democracy works (even though we were supposed to have a republic).  Democracy is a great way to make people think they have a voice only to have them bend over for you and take it you know where, yet they remain steadfastly believing that this is the best and only way of doing things.  There’s no one more hopelessly enslaved than one who thinks he is free.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Great quote. I guess the only real government is one where people from the inside have explored all of these issues. Unfortunately that will never happen in my lifetime, I believe.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Great quote. I guess the only real government is one where people from the inside have explored all of these issues. Unfortunately that will never happen in my lifetime, I believe.

  • Deb

    I agree with pretty much what you have to say..but..you like Tony Robbins’ stuff? He is another super scam..check out http://saltydroid.info and the section on this fraud and his frauducts. I don’t pretty much care for the language there..salty..yeah but you will get an idea of scams galore on self help, gurus, make money, internet and what not. 

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I will. I was just responding to the people who claim he saved their lives. I have no problem with that. if someone got inspiration from him than power to him. In general I have a problem with the entire self-help industry.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I will. I was just responding to the people who claim he saved their lives. I have no problem with that. if someone got inspiration from him than power to him. In general I have a problem with the entire self-help industry.

  • dspence

    Unenforceable laws against things like prostitution, drugs, gambling and holding a phone to your ear while driving. Education and taxation seem far more sensible (except for the phone law– it’s just plain lunacy).

  • Buckleyka

    What we do purely for love is not a scam. Love is a verb, and our unconditional actions of love are not a scam. Loving ourselves and others, being good to ourselves and others, respecting ourselves and others, are not scams. Loving actions have no strings attached. Most of this artificial society we have created is a scam’ i.e., not real, think matrix. So James, I think the answer to your question “What is not a scam?” embodies love, compassion, empathy, and a way of living that is honest and direct.

  • Buckleyka

    What we do purely for love is not a scam. Love is a verb, and our unconditional actions of love are not a scam. Loving ourselves and others, being good to ourselves and others, respecting ourselves and others, are not scams. Loving actions have no strings attached. Most of this artificial society we have created is a scam’ i.e., not real, think matrix. So James, I think the answer to your question “What is not a scam?” embodies love, compassion, empathy, and a way of living that is honest and direct.

  • http://jaydinitto.com Jay DiNitto

    Some good ideas here, but it sounds like you’re calling things “scams” simply because you don’t know the reasons why people spend resources toward them–and you even admit this in some of your explanations.

    That’s fine, but the hasty label of “scams” here is a subjective value judgment in some of these cases. Was it just for the shock value in the post title?

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I view it as a scam when someone has to lie to achieve a goal. For instance, “advertising”. There’s a picture of the beautiful girl on the car in the TV ad. There’s a subtle lie there – I will get the girl.

      Or “News” – someone analyzes the ways the world will end if Greece defaults. the world is not going to end. Just like it didn’t end with nuclear disaster in Japan. Its just subtle lies to sell more papers.

      Without apologies afterwards when i don’t get the girl or the world doesn’t end.

      “Well,” you can say, “why did you even expect to get the girl.”

      And that’s the scam. that its so built into us to assume these things are lies that there’s nothing actually wrong with spreading them.

  • http://jaydinitto.com Jay DiNitto

    Some good ideas here, but it sounds like you’re calling things “scams” simply because you don’t know the reasons why people spend resources toward them–and you even admit this in some of your explanations.

    That’s fine, but the hasty label of “scams” here is a subjective value judgment in some of these cases. Was it just for the shock value in the post title?

  • http://www.facebook.com/JamesCBabb James Babb Ⓐ

    I can’t believe religion didn’t make the list. Talking snakes, jewish zombies, paying money to avoid eternal damnation… That’s the best scam ever!

  • Lloyd in Oregon

    Hollywood is a hugh scam.  Some 25 year old brat actor makes a movie and overnight we’re all to believe he’s a political genius with answers to all of the worlds problems. Especially poverty.

  • Lloyd in Oregon

    Hollywood is a hugh scam.  Some 25 year old brat actor makes a movie and overnight we’re all to believe he’s a political genius with answers to all of the worlds problems. Especially poverty.

  • Van

    Professional licensing.  1 in 50 jobs required it in 1950, 1 in 3 today.  Only license necessary these days is learning how to search technical videos on youtube…  Bastards may actually do that one day.

    PhD’s. 

  • Van

    Professional licensing.  1 in 50 jobs required it in 1950, 1 in 3 today.  Only license necessary these days is learning how to search technical videos on youtube…  Bastards may actually do that one day.

    PhD’s. 

  • Dan Limbach

    The way new and used cars are sold at a dealership is a scam. Most consumer goods are non-negotiable. You can shop around (retail stores, the Internet, etc.) but the folks selling it to you will not negotiate. Why is there so much confusion built into buying a car? Because car companies and finance companies want you to be confused, and they want to boil everything down to selling you a monthly payment you can live with – regardless of how much you wind up paying for the car and to the financiers.

  • Dan Limbach

    The way new and used cars are sold at a dealership is a scam. Most consumer goods are non-negotiable. You can shop around (retail stores, the Internet, etc.) but the folks selling it to you will not negotiate. Why is there so much confusion built into buying a car? Because car companies and finance companies want you to be confused, and they want to boil everything down to selling you a monthly payment you can live with – regardless of how much you wind up paying for the car and to the financiers.

  • Dan Limbach

    The jewelry business is a scam. Why should jewelry appraise for double or triple what a store will sell it to you for? The answer is so you think you are getting a great deal – and so you pay more to insure the item. The likelihood of losing a wedding ring or diamond necklace is very low, so insurance companies rarely have to pay claims on these items. Why not jack up the value of the insured items? Insurers make more money this way. In the future, I will only insure jewelry for what I paid for it. Better yet, buy synthetic diamonds at a fraction of the cost and with no blood on your hands – nobody can tell the difference anyway.

  • Dan Limbach

    The jewelry business is a scam. Why should jewelry appraise for double or triple what a store will sell it to you for? The answer is so you think you are getting a great deal – and so you pay more to insure the item. The likelihood of losing a wedding ring or diamond necklace is very low, so insurance companies rarely have to pay claims on these items. Why not jack up the value of the insured items? Insurers make more money this way. In the future, I will only insure jewelry for what I paid for it. Better yet, buy synthetic diamonds at a fraction of the cost and with no blood on your hands – nobody can tell the difference anyway.

  • Anonymous

    Well, duh!  The ultimate scam, religion.  Politics is merely a secular spinoff of this most basic of a scams, “Believe in me and do what i say and life will be perfect, or at least really, really good!”

  • Mitchellallanmiller

    How about Landry Detergent?

    • Anonymous

      thats a scam?

  • Nbforrest

    The modern marriage contract is a scam. The State interferes with an institution, or custom or something as old as humanity that managed to get on quite well without the need for a “license.” Asking permission from the State to form a family unit? Actually paying the State for the piece of paper that gives one this “permission”? It is a scam. A scam designed to make sure that someone pays when it unravels, and that someone is usually the male half of the equation. 

  • mf

    the man needs therapy

  • Theross61

    “Higher education” is a scam. The claim is made that a college graduate on average will make a million dollars more in the course of a lifetime than will a person with just a high school diploma. Whether or not this is true, unless you have enough money to pay for college up front, you are forced to borrow the money to pay tuition. This then becomes indentured servitude. Once you graduate, you have to get a job and start working in order to pay off the loans you took out to pay for the education you received. However, given the sorry state of current college educational programs, the degree is not useful unless you get a Master’s or higher, subsequently indenturing yourself even more. As a result, without a graduate degree, you are competing for the same jobs a high school grads who have had four years of work experience and have no college debt to pay off. Even if you do land a decent job as a college grad you still have all of the debt to pay down, and will see your income severely depleted to do just that for the first ten or so years of your employment. Let’s say you do get that graduate degree. While it may open the door to more specialized jobs and more money, you are now paying even more on loans taken out to pay for the education. There has to be a better way.

  • Freetorun34

    Cholesterol drugs and ‘fat free’ products.  Actually the whole idea that you have to cut out fat to lose fat, or to be healthier or to prevent heart disease is a whole scam perpetrated by the food industry.  Saturated fat IS GOOD FOR YOU, and people that consume a diet that is high in natural fats (animal fats, coconut oil, olive oil) are healthier and thinner.  Eating fat keeps you satisfied longer and helps cut cravings for carbs. Full fat raw milk is one of the healthiest foods you can drink.

    Low cholesterol puts a person at a much higher risk of dying of heart attacks and strokes.  Cholesterol drugs cause serious, a lot of times irreversible muscle fiber damage.  And it does this much more frequently than pharmaceutical companies will admit

  • Freetorun34

    Cholesterol drugs and ‘fat free’ products.  Actually the whole idea that you have to cut out fat to lose fat, or to be healthier or to prevent heart disease is a whole scam perpetrated by the food industry.  Saturated fat IS GOOD FOR YOU, and people that consume a diet that is high in natural fats (animal fats, coconut oil, olive oil) are healthier and thinner.  Eating fat keeps you satisfied longer and helps cut cravings for carbs. Full fat raw milk is one of the healthiest foods you can drink.

    Low cholesterol puts a person at a much higher risk of dying of heart attacks and strokes.  Cholesterol drugs cause serious, a lot of times irreversible muscle fiber damage.  And it does this much more frequently than pharmaceutical companies will admit

  • Freetorun34

    Cholesterol drugs and ‘fat free’ products.  Actually the whole idea that you have to cut out fat to lose fat, or to be healthier or to prevent heart disease is a whole scam perpetrated by the food industry.  Saturated fat IS GOOD FOR YOU, and people that consume a diet that is high in natural fats (animal fats, coconut oil, olive oil) are healthier and thinner.  Eating fat keeps you satisfied longer and helps cut cravings for carbs. Full fat raw milk is one of the healthiest foods you can drink.

    Low cholesterol puts a person at a much higher risk of dying of heart attacks and strokes.  Cholesterol drugs cause serious, a lot of times irreversible muscle fiber damage.  And it does this much more frequently than pharmaceutical companies will admit

  • David1965

    free trade and mass immigration

  • Victorkiriakus

    I think public education is overpriced and often not as effective as it is in other countries. However, some form of it is necessary. Where else are kids going to learn science, literature and math? I do think for most people, the cost of college is not worth what it delivers.

  • Paul

    Government. Is a scam. We’re led to believe that we need it. People want to see money go to other people, things, and causes that they believe in. Would this desire to help others somehow not exist if there wasn’t a government? This desire would still exist but some people want to see a government force others to contribute to their causes. Charity by force versus discretion. Instead, we are forced to give our money to a Government who skims a sizeable chunk in administrative costs and often inefficiently administers the funds as compared to whom would administer directly at their discretion and sans admin fees. So we funnel our money into this giant gaping sink hole, by force. All the while we’re told by Government officials and the Government Media Complex how important this giant lumbering middle man is.

  • eris

    The DEA is probably one of the most violent and lucrative scams that ever existed. Think Tanks, Social Security,  Insurance, the IRS, CIA,FBI, TSA, DHS, DoL, USDA, DoE (the government in general), the AMA, the Red Cross, PETA, Greenpeace, to name a few off the top of my head ..

  • dren

    Hmmm just a few…

    Religion as several others noted.  Well, organized religion is much more so a scam.

    Government, all of it.  Huge scam.  Biggest ever, always will be.  Religion most likely supersedes it on the timeline of history, but government blows it out of the water.

    Fake boobs, huge scam, yes pun intended.

    Those Nigerians via email.

    Extend my schlong pills, though I find these quite humerous.  So maybe the entertainment value isn’t such a scam as it is a welcomed side effect.

  • last in line

    Just behind #1 religion is #2 insurance (insert type here). I’ve always referred to any form of insurance that I’ve had as ‘unsurance’. Unsurance is just insurance where they tell you up front that you’re not going to be covered for ‘x’ or ‘y’ beforehand. Give me a company that provides unsurance and I’ll buy it.

  • Paula Fowler

    Charities are a scam: For years I have heard of this run for cancer, that event for this other disease etc. etc. and the list goes on. This has been going on for decades. What I never see or hear about, is where the money is actually dispersed. What percentage goes into the pockets of administrators, advertisers, general ‘lackies’etc. Nobody has yet to do the one thing that’s really necessary….FOLLOW THE MONEY!!!
    This also holds true for the ‘starving children of Africa’.  Does anyone really believe that some corrupt politician in an impoverished African nation will actually order those water pumps for some obscure village??? Really???
    IT’S TIME SOMEONE FOLLOWED THE MONEY…HONEY!!!!!!

  • Paula

    Extended Warranties: Now seriously, if you’re stupid enough to actually pay for this ‘service’…then you deserve it. In places like Future Shop for instance, when you are at the checkout with your electronic item, the cashier will push for you to buy extended insurance to protect you in case something bad happens (feeding on your fear) to your item/s.
    What most people don’t realize, is that this insurance is a kind of bonus for the employees. Better known as an upsell. Save your money and say no.

  • Paula

    Join the club/pay to shop:  Okay, I know some of you like shopping at places like Costco, but seriously…who came up with this concept?? You pay me and I’ll let you come into my store and buy things (and pay me again). This is a scam of major proportions. First of all, here in Canada, the prices at Costco aren’t that great and there are no extraordinary savings to be had. So what’s the big deal???
    Frankly, I don’t get that I’m made to pay up for the privilege of paying up…hahha!!

  • Steve

    Calling everything a scam except the people who commit them is a scam, and not a very good one. For every example of how someone was hurt by all the things everyone here is railing against, there are just as many examples of people being helped.

    James, I just can’t follow you down this rabbit hole.

  • http://twitter.com/ScuzzaMan Scuzza Man

    The two biggest scams I have encountered:

    1. “It’s not MY fault!” (EVERYONE does this one)

    2. “You pretend to believe my bullshit story, and I’ll pretend I believe yours” … This one you see people playing every day, and since everyone instinctively knows how to play, most people make this agreement without ever saying a thing … and a majority never even consciously realise what they’re doing.

  • http://twitter.com/ScuzzaMan Scuzza Man

    The two biggest scams I have encountered:

    1. “It’s not MY fault!” (EVERYONE does this one)

    2. “You pretend to believe my bullshit story, and I’ll pretend I believe yours” … This one you see people playing every day, and since everyone instinctively knows how to play, most people make this agreement without ever saying a thing … and a majority never even consciously realise what they’re doing.

  • http://twitter.com/ScuzzaMan Scuzza Man

    The two biggest scams I have encountered:

    1. “It’s not MY fault!” (EVERYONE does this one)

    2. “You pretend to believe my bullshit story, and I’ll pretend I believe yours” … This one you see people playing every day, and since everyone instinctively knows how to play, most people make this agreement without ever saying a thing … and a majority never even consciously realise what they’re doing.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AVLE74W5ASKXIILSLYG7R7Z7BA EARTHQUAKE

    scam: the holocaust.

    why it’s a scam: the internment camps were labor camps, not death camps. zyklon-b was used as a delousing agent by all countries during that time period, and zyklon-b leaves permanent stains when it is used.  there are no permanent stains in *any* of the so called gas chambers.

    the mathematics of jews in europe before and after the war both indicate that no where near 6 million jews alone died, however questioning this in europe WILL land you in prison for 7 years or longer.  as well, more laws are being passed around the world, pushed by zionist (politically correct way to refer to the race of people known as the jews) political lobbyists.  why is it illegal to ask questions?  shut up and be a good goy (goy/gentile is an insult used against anyone not jewish, much of the various racial slurs we have for other people) and shut up.  oi vey!

    smear campaigns will be rallied against you for questioning these things, and the fear of being labeled as a bigot or racist, a word with a broad set of definitions and is used too frequently; obviously in an effort to shut people up; keeps people from even leaving search history traces of the questions of the holocaust on their web browsing history.  why would we smear people for asking questions?  when do we learn to STOP asking questions when we are children?

    the bankers who make the trillions of dollars off of the housing scam are always jews.  banking is one reason why jews were booted out of europe one hundred and nine times in the past.  not because they were good neighbors amongst a world who “just hates jews,” but because they systematically bankrupt societies in an effort to control the broke, poor masses.

    back on track, the pictures of evil nazi’s shooting people are hoaxes and have been proven.  steven spielgbergs “shoah” is full of proven liars, including the black service man who claims to have been among those who freed the labor camps (proven that he was not even in europe at the time thru official records, yet he is still used as a talking head to drive the holocaust further into our psyche); further outtakes from the film include jews who said life in the camps weren’t so bad, who talk of the playhouses they had, music, arts & more.

    there is much more evidence to prove that the whole world has been played than i can state in this alone.  why the need to constantly resurrect hitler and the nazis by hollywood? why the need for thought control (much like “1984”) by means of laws against investigating the “holocaust?”

    why?  because it’s all one big – HUGE – fucking – LIE.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AVLE74W5ASKXIILSLYG7R7Z7BA EARTHQUAKE

    scam: the holocaust.

    why it’s a scam: the internment camps were labor camps, not death camps. zyklon-b was used as a delousing agent by all countries during that time period, and zyklon-b leaves permanent stains when it is used.  there are no permanent stains in *any* of the so called gas chambers.

    the mathematics of jews in europe before and after the war both indicate that no where near 6 million jews alone died, however questioning this in europe WILL land you in prison for 7 years or longer.  as well, more laws are being passed around the world, pushed by zionist (politically correct way to refer to the race of people known as the jews) political lobbyists.  why is it illegal to ask questions?  shut up and be a good goy (goy/gentile is an insult used against anyone not jewish, much of the various racial slurs we have for other people) and shut up.  oi vey!

    smear campaigns will be rallied against you for questioning these things, and the fear of being labeled as a bigot or racist, a word with a broad set of definitions and is used too frequently; obviously in an effort to shut people up; keeps people from even leaving search history traces of the questions of the holocaust on their web browsing history.  why would we smear people for asking questions?  when do we learn to STOP asking questions when we are children?

    the bankers who make the trillions of dollars off of the housing scam are always jews.  banking is one reason why jews were booted out of europe one hundred and nine times in the past.  not because they were good neighbors amongst a world who “just hates jews,” but because they systematically bankrupt societies in an effort to control the broke, poor masses.

    back on track, the pictures of evil nazi’s shooting people are hoaxes and have been proven.  steven spielgbergs “shoah” is full of proven liars, including the black service man who claims to have been among those who freed the labor camps (proven that he was not even in europe at the time thru official records, yet he is still used as a talking head to drive the holocaust further into our psyche); further outtakes from the film include jews who said life in the camps weren’t so bad, who talk of the playhouses they had, music, arts & more.

    there is much more evidence to prove that the whole world has been played than i can state in this alone.  why the need to constantly resurrect hitler and the nazis by hollywood? why the need for thought control (much like “1984”) by means of laws against investigating the “holocaust?”

    why?  because it’s all one big – HUGE – fucking – LIE.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AVLE74W5ASKXIILSLYG7R7Z7BA EARTHQUAKE

    scam: the holocaust.

    why it’s a scam: the internment camps were labor camps, not death camps. zyklon-b was used as a delousing agent by all countries during that time period, and zyklon-b leaves permanent stains when it is used.  there are no permanent stains in *any* of the so called gas chambers.

    the mathematics of jews in europe before and after the war both indicate that no where near 6 million jews alone died, however questioning this in europe WILL land you in prison for 7 years or longer.  as well, more laws are being passed around the world, pushed by zionist (politically correct way to refer to the race of people known as the jews) political lobbyists.  why is it illegal to ask questions?  shut up and be a good goy (goy/gentile is an insult used against anyone not jewish, much of the various racial slurs we have for other people) and shut up.  oi vey!

    smear campaigns will be rallied against you for questioning these things, and the fear of being labeled as a bigot or racist, a word with a broad set of definitions and is used too frequently; obviously in an effort to shut people up; keeps people from even leaving search history traces of the questions of the holocaust on their web browsing history.  why would we smear people for asking questions?  when do we learn to STOP asking questions when we are children?

    the bankers who make the trillions of dollars off of the housing scam are always jews.  banking is one reason why jews were booted out of europe one hundred and nine times in the past.  not because they were good neighbors amongst a world who “just hates jews,” but because they systematically bankrupt societies in an effort to control the broke, poor masses.

    back on track, the pictures of evil nazi’s shooting people are hoaxes and have been proven.  steven spielgbergs “shoah” is full of proven liars, including the black service man who claims to have been among those who freed the labor camps (proven that he was not even in europe at the time thru official records, yet he is still used as a talking head to drive the holocaust further into our psyche); further outtakes from the film include jews who said life in the camps weren’t so bad, who talk of the playhouses they had, music, arts & more.

    there is much more evidence to prove that the whole world has been played than i can state in this alone.  why the need to constantly resurrect hitler and the nazis by hollywood? why the need for thought control (much like “1984”) by means of laws against investigating the “holocaust?”

    why?  because it’s all one big – HUGE – fucking – LIE.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AVLE74W5ASKXIILSLYG7R7Z7BA EARTHQUAKE

    *boooooooooooo* thought police.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AVLE74W5ASKXIILSLYG7R7Z7BA EARTHQUAKE

    *boooooooooooo* thought police.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AVLE74W5ASKXIILSLYG7R7Z7BA EARTHQUAKE
  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AVLE74W5ASKXIILSLYG7R7Z7BA EARTHQUAKE
  • http://www.facebook.com/nicholas.casteel Nick Casteel

    CareerBuilder and Monster are huge scams, I said it years ago when they were at their height.  I also think that hallmark Holidays are huge scams.  And, weddings.  Everyone has to dress up all fake, give a gift, act happy for people even if your not.  Also many government programs are scams.  Consider the “cash for clunkers” which took working automobiles and destroyed them.  They could have been donated, or stripped down.  Plus, the discount on new vehicles was minimal, no better then normal sales.  Speaking of sales, basically every holiday sale in retail stores fits the bill here.  Which brings up the door busters which the retailers carry like two of.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nicholas.casteel Nick Casteel

    CareerBuilder and Monster are huge scams, I said it years ago when they were at their height.  I also think that hallmark Holidays are huge scams.  And, weddings.  Everyone has to dress up all fake, give a gift, act happy for people even if your not.  Also many government programs are scams.  Consider the “cash for clunkers” which took working automobiles and destroyed them.  They could have been donated, or stripped down.  Plus, the discount on new vehicles was minimal, no better then normal sales.  Speaking of sales, basically every holiday sale in retail stores fits the bill here.  Which brings up the door busters which the retailers carry like two of.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nicholas.casteel Nick Casteel

    CareerBuilder and Monster are huge scams, I said it years ago when they were at their height.  I also think that hallmark Holidays are huge scams.  And, weddings.  Everyone has to dress up all fake, give a gift, act happy for people even if your not.  Also many government programs are scams.  Consider the “cash for clunkers” which took working automobiles and destroyed them.  They could have been donated, or stripped down.  Plus, the discount on new vehicles was minimal, no better then normal sales.  Speaking of sales, basically every holiday sale in retail stores fits the bill here.  Which brings up the door busters which the retailers carry like two of.

  • safsfs

    Most research at most institutions. 

    Most papers will never be cited
    Most thesis will never be readMost research amounts to nothingMeanwhile Two Dudes in a garage started Apple and another two google

  • http://www.marketmentat.com GT

    For your ‘deck of scams’ you should consider the structure – in the same way as playing cards have four suits, and each suit has four ‘picture’ (key) cards (and an ace)… so perhaps a ‘deck of scams’ could have a similar breakdown (‘financial’, ’emotional’, ‘social’, ‘behavioural’ or whatever)… and the BIG scams in each category would be the pictures, the biggest being the ace.

    Also – this is your site, so you can do with it as you wish… but if you want to bang on about personal honesty consider this: when you respond to a comment with a question that (dishonestly) skews the comment, it’s dishonest to then prevent a rebuttal response to be posted (it makes it look as if the original commenter simply accepted your skew).

    Likewise: when you permit a snark-assed reply to be directed at a comment, refusing to permit the original commenter a right of reply again leaves readers with the impression that the commenter simply accepted the reply as legitimate, or had nothing to say about it.

    (Both of the comments that were subjected to this, were posted anyhow – on my own site: 5300 people read a piece indicating that your moderation technique is considerably more selective than ‘honesty’ would dictate).

  • Cubicpoo Peekaboo

    Normally I think Altucher is a sniveling ass, but this article was pretty entertaining.  He comes off as seriously jaded.  Wonderful stuff.

  • Citizen3

    Emphasis on the myth/scam of “Police Protection.”  Smarter folks than me have summarized better, but I’ll try.  The police are VERY good at arresting people after tracking them down.  The police have ZERO duty to protect any individual, only the community/city/town “at large.”  You and only you are responsible for keeping your butt alive in case of violent attack.  You can best judge the circumstance as a potential victim.  Countless court cases in multiple states, and federal district courts prove it.  You cannot sue the police if you get attacked…PERIOD.

  • Citizen3

    And now for the EASY one to identify:

    Fitness Devices or Programs that also rely on big changes in DIET to achieve results.  HEY, big secret….wait for it…EAT LESS and MOVE MORE and you will look better.  Duh?!  You can pay me $49.95 if you want…SUCKERS!  No shipping.  Let me know if you want my PayPal info….FREE SHIPPING.  BUY NOW!

  • Nathansk

    That’s what I like about your writing. It reads like ‘The Catcher in the Rye’.

  • Surfer Dude

    One of the greatest scams from government is: “We’ll create jobs.”  We all know the scam but people keep falling for it. 

  • gizzoose

    “The Dewey Decimal System, what a scam that was. Boy that Dewey guy really cleaned. up on that deal.” – Seinfeld  (couldn’t help myself)

  • http://tokyobling.wordpress.com/ TokyoTokyo

    Here’s a scam for you: “speed”. This whole modern “right now culture”. This instant gratification trip we are on. What’s wrong with slow? Taking your time, thinking things through, relying on yourself rather than other people what you need and when you need it.

    And tied in with the great scam of speed is another scam: “distance”. We as a species have never been further removed from the limitations of locality. We wake up in Tokyo, hop on a jet to Bangkok, buy an English ice cream made in Malaysia. Call our ex-girlfriends in Paris and then send an email booking tickets to Berlin. Why should we be the only creature on Earth that doesn’t need to live here and now?

  • http://tokyobling.wordpress.com/ TokyoTokyo

    Here’s a scam for you: “speed”. This whole modern “right now culture”. This instant gratification trip we are on. What’s wrong with slow? Taking your time, thinking things through, relying on yourself rather than other people what you need and when you need it.

    And tied in with the great scam of speed is another scam: “distance”. We as a species have never been further removed from the limitations of locality. We wake up in Tokyo, hop on a jet to Bangkok, buy an English ice cream made in Malaysia. Call our ex-girlfriends in Paris and then send an email booking tickets to Berlin. Why should we be the only creature on Earth that doesn’t need to live here and now?

  • Anonymous

    Libertarianism, BIG scam…

    • Anonymous

      responsibility as well

      • Anonymous

        and objectivity

  • Dave Dean

    Graduate school. Most students I met in graduate school had ambitions to become a professor. In steady state, each professor needs to train one student as a replacement over the course of their career. In the real world with periods of growth and contraction in particular fields, it can deviate somewhat from that figure, but not dramatically overall. How many graduate students does each professor actually train over the course of their career? Where do they really end up? Perhaps this belongs under education, already identified, but it is a self contained scam on its own. A scam within a scam maybe.

  • Amk2511

    James- I really enjoyed this article, and have laughed out loud with lots of your articles.  I actually printed this one for my wife to read, and told my 20 year old about it, who is struggling with the fact that he dozed through 12 years of a non-education in public school and is now trying to learn how to study (maybe to learn how to read).  So I fully agree that our government, education, banking, military-industrial complex, etc. is part of a “tapeworm economy,” as so well described by Ms. Catherine Austin Fitts.  Since reading it, I’ve been thinking about the concept of “scam” and I think the concept is a scam.  Well, not exactly a scam maybe, but its too slippery.  For example, my grandfather used to say “don’t sell the steak, sell the sizzle.”  In a way, that could be described as a scam.  But competition demands some advertising, and while word of mouth will eventually spread how great your steak is, does that necessarily mean that all advertising is a fraud?  I think the argument can be applied to all of the items on your list, to a point, and to those listed in the comments here.  I think the real question is, where do you draw the line? At what point does an enterprise become a scam?  Doesn’t it all come down to inflated prices and egos?  And if so, wouldn’t a truly free market reduce the number of mega-scams run or facilitated by our government, and leave us with the relatively simpler task of trying to weed out the snake oil salesman from the real doctor?  I think that the real scam is us.  We are the ones that blow smoke, put up mirrors, wear masks, brand ourselves, pretend.  Underneath, inside all that fat, behind the tatoos, fancy car and hair gel, is the real me, a great-looking happy skinny guy. 

  • Jimmymac

    Designed obsolescence.

  • I Love The System

    Big scam #1 – Retail banks (loan us your money at 0%, so that we can lend it back to you at +20% and then invest the profit with our investment banks)
    Big scam #2 – Investment banks (we can’t make money lending at 20%+ margin, so we bet it all on texas hold’em, lost, and now we’re f*cked, please bail us)
    Big scam #3 – Central banks (having just flooded the world’s poker games with newly printed face cards, we expect normal playing to resume shortly)
    Big scam #4 – Current Govts (for your own good we’ve stolen all your future wealth and “invested” it into the poker pot. We feel this extra liquidity will re-capitalise our banks, thus “saving” you all money)
    Big scam #5 – Future Govts (the reason the poker game is still looking unsteady is all the fault of the previous govt – to rectify things we plan to re-write the poker rulebook, and for your own good force a new “20% poker tax” on you. We feel this extra liquidity will re-capitalise our banks, thus “saving” you all money)

    • Zoolander

      Funny as f*ck

  • SJP1971

    Good point about “branding yourself”. You hear alot of this bullcrap in Corp America these days and almost everyone thinks it’s BS. I took it to heart though. I decided to brand myself as the loveable, incompetent layabout that everyone seems to love on TV. Whah happend?

  • http://www.thespeculativepig.com The Speculative Pig

    Most daily vitamins….

    I worked 2 summers in a sewage treatment plant in high school, where shit was not a dirty word, it was business. We had to do all kinds of wierd shit there, but one of them was scooping out millions of vitamins that were never digested. You would have to see it to believe it, vitamins and used condoms, used to get nightmares there were so many….

    Really looking forward to meeting you at the Big Picture conference…

    The Pig

  • http://bastardette.blogspot.com Marley Greiner

    My short scam list in no specific order:

    adoption

    safe haven (legalized newborn abandonment laws)

    The American Bar Association

    David Wilcox

    democracy

    People  who refuse to work because “money isn’t worth anything, so why bother.” Likewise, banks and the Fed.

    The Tea Party

    legislation and legislators

    home schooling

    social services

    The War on anything

    the family

    Cats are not a scam.  I’m not sure about dogs.  They are such suck-ups.

  • Anonymous

    Engineering is not a scam.   Financial Engineering is a scam.

  • mzlogical

    Psych tests like the Wonderlic Personality Profile test are a fraud, at least for honest people who have a very logical bent.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6D52Z5FHC2VP3CRTEQXTQOH6RU Upyors

    Anything George Lucas put out after Return of the Jedi.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6D52Z5FHC2VP3CRTEQXTQOH6RU Upyors

    Anything George Lucas put out after Return of the Jedi.

  • Miguknom

    Product upgrades.  iPhone5?  Seriously?  I work in tech.  Incremental upgrades every 3 years.  Stupid.  

  • Rob

    The election process.  

    Homeowner’s Associations.

    The government funded airlines.

    The TSA and Homeland Security.

    What I’m doing at work right now.

    What my company does.

    The highway system.

    Accusations of racism.

    Any business where you sign, and then they put a price…most often, hospitals, dentists, cell phone companies.

    Dating.

  • Rob

    100 different software packages that do the same thing.

    Linux. (the worlds second computer virus, Unix was first)

    Head hunters.

  • Rob

    Protein Shakes and bars.

    Food in wrappers.

  • Capitalistic

    1. News : Turn on the news. It’s either about Obama, Greece/Europe, Syria and some random scandal.
    2. “Job security” : The biggest scam ever.
    3. Trendy venture capital : It’s becoming like a nightclub. “You can’t get in without your name on the list.”4. Fashion : Why would anyone want to look like other people?5. Mortgages : You’re in debt for 30+ years lol. 6. Car notes : You want to own a depreciating asset?7. Politicians : Career-minded narcissists. 8. Religious figures : See # 79. Religion : Follow these ten laws and you’ll be in heaven! yayyyy!10. Bad sex : Waste of time.11. “Uncertainty” : Nothing in business is certain. 

  • http://www.michaels-massage.com/ Michael Rebman

    War, General Smedley Butler wrote a book on it called “War is a Racket.” Sorry if someone already mentioned it. I didn’t read all the comments.

  • Shane

    Girl scout cookies

  • Shane

    Software versions: Windows 2005, windows 7, windows 10… office 10… All versions are pretty much the same, 99% people dont even use any new features, it is just to keep us IT folks employed.

  • mrstone

    Bad scam = most of the shit in the grocery store that they call food.

  • soyroberto

    Casinos are a SCAM

  • http://twitter.com/priteshdesai Pritesh Desai

    Education in India IS a scam. In my four years in college (Computers) there were hardly 3-4 lectures I believed had anything useful to offer. Rest of the times we are taught stupid theory and nothing practical. Companies have to train freshers for 2 months before they can do anything productive.

  • http://twitter.com/priteshdesai Pritesh Desai

    PS. What are your thoughts on Bauhaus art form?

  • Rob

    Outsourcing for “cheap” programmers in India.  They’re usually not good, deliverables are a pain, and if they are good, they’ll cost just as much as American programmers.  

  • IL_CVT

    Far better to give to animal rescuers in the ‘backwaters’ (rural areas with animal controls (ACs) with no hold/3 day holds before gas euthanasia)  rather than giving to those who have $$ for national TV advertising. 
    Those organizations NEVER send along as much money as you’d think- it ends up in the development department to pay the rainmakers or the six-figure DVMs that they employ. 
    (Am a board-certified veterinary technologist- I used to work at one of these places and can vouch for these salaries, though *I* was never in those income stratospheres.)

    People like West Hancock Canine Rescue (IL- Anissa Sadeghi on Facebook), and folks Stephanie Meacham (Facebook) in Granite City, IL do the real boots-on-the-ground rescues, who go where AC won’t bother to go (IF AC exists in the town), and get NO corporate /institutional support.  
    Every state has people like these- seek them out and give them your money instead of the ‘big business’ concerns. 
    For that matter- give money to your local veterinary clinic for their ‘angel fund’ (for indigent/charity cases) or your local spay/neuter organization. 
    100% of your money goes directly to the animals in these cases, not the developmental departments.

  • http://danmar.posterous.com/ jmdanmar

    People just writing anything. My own scam: driver’s license. A driver’s license doesn’t prove you know how to drive (the evidence is overwhelming) it’s just another tax and another way for government to keep tabs on you. Have you ever noticed how people who don’t have a driver’s license are looked upon with suspicion? (yes I have a license and a car – Iive in a very big country. :-)

    I’m starting to think that everything related to money is a scam. Most humans appear incapable of doing the right thing when money is involved.

  • William

    Consultants… If you can’t fix the business you have been running for 20 years, how will a 22 year old stuck up little shit with a glorified Ivy degree help you? Save the $50K and take your family on an extravagant vacation. Problem solved.

  • Deneb

    Jajaja que gracioso el cartel!!!!.Mucha gente en España (Terrassa es un pueblo de España), no habla inglés, por lo tanto no saben el significado de la palabra SHIT. Es posible que incluso ni los dueños del cartel lo sepan.

  • http://jaredlanceknowlton.wordpress.com/ Jared Knowlton

    I think it has less to do with the world “SCAM”. More do with the people
    using those technologies or systems. Money can be bad and good in
    different hands. A perfect example is the myth of “Stars Wars”. Luke Sky Walker And Darth Vader. (Light And Dark). When one grows mature and knowledgeable it’s up to us to decide who we become in this world.

  • Lauren Robertson

    In my opinion, the greatest scam of all is that we are encouraged to live as if we are separate from each other by those who would profit from our separation. We have been scammed into a ‘them and us’ mentality which has lead to war, racism, false comparisons and a feeling that we are either better than the next guy or we are inadequite. Every other scam rests upon the bullshit notion that an individual survives by pitting themselves against another individual. When actually, we are all in it together. But of course, theres not a lot of money to be made in unity and acceptance. Separation= epic (and profitable) scam.

  • Patrick

    My high school history teacher ran out of time as well once we were approaching Vietnam…curious…she felt it was more important to skip over those details to instead have us memorize the names and length of terms of the UN Secretary Generals….this has served me well in life as I like to throw out the names of U Thant, Trygve Lie, and Kurt Waldheim at highbrow cocktail parties…i leave out old Dag Hammarskjold because there’s just no way to say his name in a pleasing manner…

  • Common-Sense Kidd

    Not-for-profit organizations. The execs in charge are all making HUGE profits in the form of a salary.

  • Raymond Bailey

    I love this fucking article!

  • http://jaredlanceknowlton.wordpress.com/ Jared Knowlton

    James,

    I agree with many of your perspectives. Though I believe it’s people who use those technologies and systems wrongly that are really to blame for it all. It’s a lack of maturity that leads to the issues you speak of above.

    I think of Star Wars: “Luke Skywalker & Darth Vader”. They both had powers, though they used it for means good or evil.

    A Fellow Traveler
    -Jared

  • http://jaredlanceknowlton.wordpress.com/ Jared Knowlton

    James,

    I agree with a lot of your points. One thing that I have seen is that this world is full of mature and not so mature people. Money is a tool though in the wrong hands or when prices are too high this causes inequity.

    I think of “Star Wars” with Luke Skywalker & Darth Vader. They both had power and though one used it for good and one for bad. Though in the end it’s up to us to have discernment about the decisions we make, right?

    -Jared

  • http://www.greig.cc/ James Greig

    ‘Healthy’ food is a scam. Some organic food. Good bacteria. Cereal. Low-fat spreads. Low-fat anything. Low-sugar anything. Super foods. Mineral water. Spring water. (Drink some fucking tap water!)

  • PJ

    All these are scams:

    Entertainment

    Information (overload)

    (Over) Communication

    social media !

    The idea being sold all over internet- ‘Whats your passion ?’

    Religion

  • jay jonz

    makeup is a scam

  • http://www.5toolgroup.com/ Jay Oza

    Aren’t detergents and shaving creams kind of a scam? You can make both on your own. For shaving cream you can use regular soap and even conditioner.

    Perfume industry and eye wear industries are one of the biggest scams out there.

  • Wors

    Scam :War on terror …. Terror ? I’ve never met ‘him’ .. Does he have a surname?

  • Charles Mowrey

    Cable Television Packages are a SCAM! Cable in general is a scam. Let me buy the channels and content I want from Netflix, or something else. I watch 10 channels at most in my household, unfortunately to get those channels I have to have the top tier package.

  • Rauno Merisalu

    Traffic lights, at least in DC. They could easily be timed/sensor-changed so that on the main roads you could go through a green streak. Instead, you need to stop at every light on the main roads do that you’d spend more and more gas.

    Auto mechanics, hook up to a computer, reset the warnings, do nothing else and charge $2500.

    Taxes. Especially in DC. Pay a buttload of hard earned cash for basically no services in return.

  • Nestor

    Hair regrowth products, or any sort of vanity maintenance products for that matter, such as make-up, but I’m bald and not the Joker, so I only have experience with the former. I spent thousands trying to hang on to my rapidly receeding hairline. My body then opened up a second theater of war in the form of a Friar’s patch, ultimately resulting in the signing of the Gilette Fusion Peace Accords. Yep, thousands of dollars over 5 years could have been saved if I had just bought a razor in the first place. Gentlemen, heed my words so you don’t make the same mistake I did, and tune out every chucklefuck that tells you to try Rogaine or any form of “hair re-growth therapy.”

  • http://www.organiclifestylemagazine.com jMichaelEdwards

    That is not how he big banks are making most of their money today. Now banks, on top of all the other BS, are leaning the government money that heyvhave printed and the government pays the banks interest. This is due to banks lobbying congress if course. It is an incredible scam.

    Loved he article btw. I feel I put myself out here. The real me. And I can coult on two fingers all of he oher people that I know hat do the same. Too are one. I appreciate it.