Recently I noticed that someone had put up a copy of a very expensive Gas/ Electricity bill that he received after switching to (moderated) energy. The person was warning others not to fall for any sales pitch about cheaper energy bills because in the end the all of his savings were wiped out by one month’s inflated bill.
The thing is I saw this coming years ago. Actually, one of my friends called me to sell me a lower energy bill through one of these companies and I told him I didn’t want it and I told him he should get out of the business because it won’t end well. I don’t mean to pat myself on the back at other expense, not at all, I’m just trying to make a point. How did I know that this would fail? Simple. Because it just doesn’t make economic sense. There is simply no way the company that invested the hundreds of millions of dollars into their energy business, would allow a lucrative revenue stream (the actual energy) to dry up. I don’t care what the details are or what the chap is. These big companies are ruthless, smart and employ lawyers and chapsters by the dozens to outsmart, out legislate and out figure all of us ordinary folks.
But more importantly it reflects much bigger, much more sinister problem that we have to address. Why do most people not think these things through? Why do so many in our community fall pray to scams and fraudsters? The answer is that many people simply don’t have the ability, or sometimes willingness to work for a living. Again I’m not out to impugn the whole tzibur, all I’m saying is that to a person who is not willing or able to go to college, has no connections or experience in business, and has a family to support these get rich quick schemes (and that’s what they are) seem very attractive. Do you know why so many people get bilked in investors schemes? Firstly, because we trust our own community and thats not a bad thing, but mostly because these guys promise crazy guaranteed returns of 20% or more and desperate people believe them without even stopping to think that guaranteed results on any return are an economic impossibility.
Sure these things can provide some level of financial benefit at least in the short term, but did you ever hear of someone paying for a chasunah with (moderated)? Even if you will argue that there is real parnassah in all of these things it is for the few, the lucky, and the firsts. If you didn’t think of it first, your probably not going to make money, and that’s a just common sense.
Which brings us to the real point, Hashem runs this world with infinite mercy and and gives us everything that we get, and we are expected to do our hishtadlus. The current model of hishtadlus in the American economy for any non criminal is the following; Provide goods or services that people want or need at a price people are willing to pay. So before you plunge into any parnassah venture please analyze it under this microscope and ask yourself “Am I providing a good or service that people want” . (Hint 1: applying for credit cards for points and promotions is not a good or a service).
There is no argument against these facts, (Before you argue I beg you to think of a legitimate reason you should be receiving income from any source without providing one of the two things above).
People can argue with me but I’m telling you this as advice, not mussar. It is heartbreaking to me when is see people throw away money and worse yet their time. What I mean is that if a person needs a parnassah when he is 30 and a small family and he begins dabbling in these short term benefit ventures instead pursing a real career or education. A few years down the line all these revenue streams dry up or they don’t provide enough support for his family and he is stuck high and dry at with a larger family, bigger expenses, less flexibility and much fewer options.
I hope that I have given people something to think about.
Concerned for people’s paranassah in Lakewood.
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