How to con respectable folk.
Alas, this verse is born not out of fancy nor from abstract reflections on the perversity of human nature, but rather by repeatedly watching as good people are caught by one version of this con after another. Sometimes I feel like the old adage “there’s one born every minute” has come to apply to con-men as well as their quarries.
This is related to, but distinct from, the other common con for the affluent: the “lazy and well managed” pitch that targets everyone from CEOs confused by their company to overworked homemakers.
Both of these cons remind me of Paul’s prediction: “after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” As Fred Brooks sagely observed, there is No Silver Bullet. I tried to work the term “ear scratchers” into verse, but it didn’t work with the meter I had selected.
The man with guilt for failing to try:
There is a con that can on him rely.
You tell him that it’s really not his fault,
Then wrap that lie in others like a vault.
You cite yourself, inventing evidence,
A looping paper trail like a fence
So that at first he thinks he’s found relief.
You give that free, to sucker his belief;
But guilt and doubt will linger, so you say
“It’s not your fault, but (for a little pay)
I’ll come and train you—shed a bit more ‘light’
so you can show credentials that I’m right!”
A training course is not the only hook;
The bait can hide a lecture tour, a book,
Or even a full pyramid approach
Where other con-men pay you as their coach.
It’s true that every con is built on greed,
But “free from guilt” is what the moneyed “need.”