Belief in money for nothing leaves people in dire straits

Prof C Explains
3 min readAug 6, 2006

by J Scott Christianson, Columbia Daily Tribune Columnist

The July 25 Tribune chronicled the plight of the Troms, who lost $175,000 to a neighbor’s scheme that promised to earn back their initial investment in 14 days, after which they “would then get $500,000 a month for 10 months, for a total return of $5 million.” You can certainly feel for the Troms, but I imagine most people who read the article were wondering: How could anyone think they can get rich that quick?

Well, it’s the age-old lure of easy money-a fairy tale that is constantly re-enforced in our society.

Television is almost a nonstop catalog of easy ways to get rich. Reality shows are all about “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” “Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire” or who wants to work for a millionaire. “Extreme Makeover” shows will pick one lucky person or family and either alter their home, body or psyche for the better. Late-night commercials advertise videotapes and books on how to buy houses with no money down and then sell them for thousands or millions of dollars in profit. For a small fee, SMC Corp. will help you learn how to become financially independent by selling their bric-a-brac. It is just amazing that someone would be so nice as to share these secrets on how to make easy money.

These hypnotic messages have us believing we will all be millionaires soon and that someone will come “fix” our lives. While we are in this trance, we don’t question why real wages for working Americans have been declining for the past 30 years, or why affordable housing and health care is not available to some Americans.

Unfortunately, the government is a conspirator in promoting the idea that you can get something for nothing. I am not talking about running a state fee office, I’m referring to the Missouri State Lottery. I am still amazed that some newspapers report on lottery winners as though they had accomplished something meaningful. Why don’t they report on the millions of people who lost the money this one person wins? Why not report on the millions of people whose hopes and dreams were dashed when “their” numbers didn’t come up? Or were at least deferred until the next drawing.

But it is not just individuals who fall in love with the idea of easy money. The Tribune recently reported on the demise of Fera Technologies, a company whose new owner was under the delusion that there was lots of money to be made…



Prof C Explains

J Scott Christianson: UM Teaching Prof, Technologist & Entrepreneur. Connect with me here: