Before we get to internet marketing, let's talk about the "Stupid Tax". According to the Urban Dictionary, it's:

The cost associated with engaging in any state sanctioned form of long odds gambling, i.e. playing the lottery.

Why "Stupid Tax"? As I wrote back in July:

I once calculated that winning the lottery is about like picking the right 1-foot stretch of I-80 between Lincoln, Nebraska and Evanston, Wyoming. Imagine all those hundreds of miles packed with people, each staking claim to their 1-foot of road. The winner is picked, and everybody else"¦well, I hope they enjoyed the scenery.

So the lottery is a way for states to raise money from people who don't get that they're not going to win. What's really stupid about it is that the people who play the lottery (and gamble in general) are mostly those who can't afford the risk. Which means more cost to the state in services to the poor.

But I digress.

Every once in a while, I see an ad on TV that makes me think, "are you serious?" For example, there's the one where a guy's showing off a "quadracorn" (a 4-horned unicorn) in his garage. It's an ad for a new slot machine at a casino across the river in Iowa. New slot machine = more fun? Doesn't make sense to me.

  1. Put coin in.
  2. Pull arm.
  3. Watch money go down drain.
  4. Have more fun looking at different pictures! Yee-haw!

Okay, so maybe it really is more fun to the kind of person who enjoys paying the stupid tax. What do I know.

In the United States, we have a tax called the Alternative Minimum Tax that's designed to ensure that people with lots of income don't get away with paying nothing by exploiting too many tax loopholes. I guess new slot machines are the Alternative Stupid Tax.

Reader Comment:
Matia Bryson said:
Great post about how to recognize and avoid the internet business scammers, Antony. I have given a lot of thought to the gist of what you are saying, and once I came across this verse in Proverbs 13:23 "[there is] much food is in the tillage of the p...
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The Alternative Stupid Tax on Internet Marketers

We have an Alternative Stupid Tax in internet marketing too. It's called the eBook. Not every eBook, of course. Just the next $37 eBook that promises to teach you how to make $10,000 a day eating Cheetos in your underwear. Or it could be the software that promises that with 3 clicks, you'll be raking in $2,514.87 a day in ClickBank commissions on autopilot.

If you paid the Stupid Tax the first time you fell for something like this, don't feel too bad. It happens to a lot of people.

If you paid the Alternative Stupid Tax the 20th time you fell for something like this, there's a problem.

Let's talk about the 3-click ClickBank fortune machine type Alternative Stupid Tax for a minute.

If someone had invented a way to rake in thousands of dollars a day on autopilot, how much do you think they'd sell the idea for? $37/month? Uh, no. $1,000/month? Uh, no. $25,000/month. Still no.

They'd be using it themselves to make thousands a day.

On the other hand, if someone had invented a credible sounding way to make people believe that with 3 clicks, they might have a chance to make thousands of dollars a day on ClickBank, how much would they sell that for? Whatever price the market would pay would be plenty.

The sales pitch might sound like this:

You might wonder why, if this system makes so much money, I'm willing to sell it for such a low price. The reason is that the system works better if more people are involved. In other words, I'll make more (and so will you) if there are 10,000 people involved than if I try to keep it all to myself.

"Credible sounding." If you don't think about it too hard.

Even if there is such a system, where everyone makes more if more people are doing it (I'm not saying that's impossible), would they sell access to it for $100/month?

No way! They'd outsource the work to 10,000 low-wage workers in India or the Philippines and keep most of the money for themselves. If the system makes multiple times as much in one day as they'd have to pay each worker in a month, they wouldn't sell access to the system. They'd hire the workers, hire people to manage them, and rake in the money while eating Cheetos in their underwear.

If it really doesn't rake in thousands a day with only 3 clicks, or only 20 minutes work, they'd sell it on the cheap to anyone willing to pay the Alternative Stupid Tax.

Friends Don't Let Friends Pay the Alternative Stupid Tax

"Friends don't let friends drive drunk. So why would we let each other pay the Alternative Stupid Tax."

Stop paying the tax yourself. And don't just do it silently. Speak out now and then. If you see somebody peddling lies to the hopeful, call their bluff. Share this post with someone who needs it.

Making money requires one or more of:

  • Hard work
  • Innovation
  • Risk
  • Connections
  • Patience
  • Luck
  • ...

Yeah, I included "luck" in the list. But if you'll read the article it links to, you'll see that I'm not talking about random chance. Sure, everyone once in a long while, somebody'll get rich by random chance. Every once in a while, somebody on I-80 between Lincoln and Evanston will win the lottery.

But it's not something you can count on. Not by a long shot. If that's what you're counting on...I don't know why you're reading this blog, because you're not going to like much of what I write.

Put your time and efforts into activities with the highest probability of an acceptable level of success. And encourage others to do the same.

Wouldn't it be great if we could abolish the Alternative Stupid Tax in internet marketing?