Past Present Podcast: Stolen Valor, MLMs, and Private Roads


In this week’s episode of Past Present, Neil, Natalia, and Niki debate lying about Vietnam, multi-level marketing companies, and the privatization of public roads.

 Stolen Valor

Donald Trump has attacked Sen. Richard Blumenthal for lying about his military service in Vietnam, something that was uncovered during his 2010 run for office. Niki commented on the Stolen Valor Act of 2005, and Natalia noted that B.G. Burkett’s book, Stolen Valor, showed that the habit of journalists relying on personal accounts as evidence of military status resulted in many misrepresentations of wartime service.


After a crackdown on multi-level marketing companies’ predatory practices during the Obama Administration, the Trump presidency looks to be a boon for MLMs. We discussed the Quartz article that argued MLMs like LuLaRoe are forcing people into debt and psychological crisis. Natalia compared the “mompreneurs” of MLMs to the “teacherpreneurs” we discussed in Episode 1. Neil explained why MLMs are so popular with Mormons, and Natalia shared an Al Jazeera article that showed MLMs also appealed to those involved in prosperity gospel churches. Natalia also recommended watching John Oliver’s takedown of MLMs.

Private Roads

A Bay Area couple has bought Presidio Terrace, an exclusive street in San Francisco, for about $90,000. We discussed the development of roads and the history of privatization.

What’s Making History

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