IS IT WRONG TO MIX MONETARY Awards
WITH THE FREEDOM MISSION?
© 2004 - 2006 by G. Edward Griffin. Updated 2006 October 14
We recently received a letter from a gentleman who was concerned that Freedom Force has an incentive program. He questioned if we were a pyramid scheme or a multi-level marketing program in disguise. He thought it was wrong to pay people for participating, and that one should not expect money for doing something worthwhile. This is my reply.
Thank you for your thoughtful note about our incentive program. In reply, I would like, first, to address your specific concerns and then add a general commentary at the end.
There is nothing about the Freedom Force incentive program that would cause it to be classified as a pyramid scheme or a multi-level marketing program. Like the Pulitzer Prize, it merely gives monetary awards to individuals who have distinguished themselves by outstanding achievement. However, instead of making a few large awards each year, it is our intent to make smaller awards to many recipients in every country where we have members. The purpose of the awards is to provide incentive and recognition for outstanding achievement in the cause of freedom.
In a pyramid scheme and in many MLM programs, early participants receive most of the entrance fees from later participants, and the primary purpose of the program is to keep new people coming in to sustain the cash flow. If participants are unable to recruit new people, they fail to recover their investment, but their recruiter keeps his portion and moves on to the next prospect. When the pyramid finally stops functioning, as they always do, a few people will have made a lot of money at the expense of the many who paid entrance fees but received nothing in return.
It may appear that Freedom Force is in this category because it rewards its members for recruiting. That, however, is where the similarity stops. None of the other elements are present. There are many traditional businesses that provide Awards for customer referrals and membership recruiting, but that does not make them pyramids or MLM programs. Send a referral to an auto dealer and receive a cordless telephone. Give your insurance agent the name of a friend and get a coupon for dinner at a local restaurant. Refer someone who signs a cell-phone contract and receive two-months free service. Convince a friend to open an account at your local bank and have $25 deposited into your account. These traditional incentive programs merely reward people for introducing new customers, and that is exactly what happens at Freedom Force. There are no down-lines or overrides or any of the other features found in multi-level-marketing programs. Furthermore, recruiting is merely one of many factors that are monitored. The bottom line is that our incentive program is exactly as we describe it: valuable awards for outstanding achievement in the cause of freedom.
In your note, you ask why we compensate our leaders rather than ask for volunteer service. Actually, volunteer service is the foundation of our movement; but professionalism is essential at the leadership level. Freedom Force is pitted against a virtual army of agents receiving salaries or other financial benefits to devote full time to the building of collectivism. We cannot match that effort unless we, too, have full-time warriors in the field. That means we must make it possible for them to derive sufficient income for at least a part-time job and, under favorable circumstances, a full-time endeavor. Otherwise, positions will go by default only to those who have achieved financial independence, which, in many cases, will eliminate the younger leaders regardless of their talent or desire to serve.
If a leader does not need the money and wishes to serve without compensation, there is nothing to prevent it. Payments can be redirected to specific projects or given back to Freedom Force to accelerate growth just like any other donation. So this is the best of both worlds. Those who wish to serve as volunteers may do so, and those who need income to support their families have that option.
Now for my general comments: I understand your apprehension about adding financial Awards to our program. I gave a great deal of thought to this issue before launching Freedom Force and, like you, I felt that it should not be necessary to offer monetary Awards to defend one’s freedom. Also, I was concerned over the possibility that, by doing so, we might shift the focus away from our mission and become overly occupied with money.
Then I looked back over my years in the freedom movement and recalled how many times people “burned out” and dropped by the wayside. In most cases it wasn’t that they lost faith or became less devoted to the mission. It was that their motivation could not be sustained at the high level it was when they first joined our ranks. That often was because progress was not as fast as they had anticipated, but in many cases it was because their income suffered from too much time spent on organizational work. Economic pressures forced them to drop out. These were not the older folks with good paying jobs or well-established businesses, but young couples struggling to provide for their new families. Under more favorable circumstances, they could have become strong leaders. Those who were able to derive at least some income within the movement usually stayed the course. Instead of burning out, they became more dedicated and active with the passage of time. This was not because they were more interested in money than in the mission. It was because they were able to sustain their families while doing the thing they most passionately wanted to do anyway, and they became better at it with experience.
The belief that one should never profit while undertaking a worthy cause is based on the concept that money is evil and profit is selfish. However, there is nothing dishonorable about being paid for services rendered even for a worthy cause. The profit motive is one of the most natural instincts we have. Profit is merely payment for our effort or risk. Without the profit motive, mankind would be living in caves.
When I took all of these factors into consideration, I realized we were looking at two of the most powerful motivators for human activity: the desire for freedom and the desire for financial security. The potential reward for successfully harnessing them together was too tempting to ignore. I realized the danger of having the profit motive become dominant, and steps have been taken to prevent that from happening. No one comes into Freedom Force because it is a “business opportunity.” However, as our program ramps up and as awards begin to materialize for those who are the most active and who provide the most effective leadership, I am confident these Awards, not only will keep our best members from burning out, they will propel them to even greater achievement.
The truth is that this concept must be viewed as an experiment. To my knowledge, nothing like it has ever been tried before, but it seems like a favorable gamble. Instead of concluding that it can’t work or that it will produce negative results, I urge you to come on board and give it a try. If we have problems along the way, we can make corrections as we go, and your watchful eye and constructive suggestions will be greatly appreciated.