An IR View: Cash for vaccines, pyramid schemes, low voter turnout

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Kudos to the organizers of an upcoming Helena clinic where people can get $50 to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The one-day Pfizer vaccination clinic is scheduled for 2-7 p.m. Nov. 17 at the Lewis and Clark County Fairgrounds. It is open to any residents of Lewis and Clark, Broadwater, Jefferson, Meagher and Powell counties who are at least 18 years old and have not yet received a COVID-19 vaccine.

The clinic is being funded by a donation from Mountain Health Co-Op and two other private donors through the St. Peter’s Health Foundation. Five hundred appointments are available, which comes out to a total of $25,000 in cash incentives alone.

Don’t think this as unfair to the many responsible residents who already got the vaccine without receiving a dime in return. Think of it as a wonderful gift that will further prevent unnecessary sickness and death in our communities.

We hope those who are not yet vaccinated will take advantage of this great opportunity to earn some extra cash by helping themselves and others.

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Thanks to the office of the Montana State Auditor, Commissioner of Securities and Insurance for cracking down on pyramid schemes in Montana.

In a pyramid scheme, which is illegal to operate in Montana, a member’s compensation is mostly based on recruiting new members rather than earning commissions or selling products. If this sounds a lot like a multi-level marketing company, that’s because many of them operate this way.

State Auditor Troy Downing said his office has recently investigated six MLMs that were operating in Montana illegally. The companies were selling everything from clothing to cleaning supplies, and some of them ended up paying thousands of dollars in settlements and restitution.

Not all MLMs are pyramid schemes, however, and Downing is willing to strike a deal with those that have not yet registered with his office but are otherwise following the law. Under his new “amnesty program,” those that register by Dec. 15 will only be fined $1,000 instead of up to $5,000 per violation.

If you are operating a legitimate MLM, you have nothing to worry about. By registering with the auditor’s office, you will be proving your business is not a scam.

If you are operating an illegal pyramid scheme, we aren’t going to miss you when you’re gone.

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Although most people in Helena seem to have something to say about the way city government is run, only 48.15% of registered voters cast ballots in the municipal election earlier this month.

And many local residents aren’t even registered.

We get it. It takes time to research the candidates and fill out a ballot.

But that’s a small price to pay for our hard-fought right to vote, which more than half of the people in our community don’t seem to appreciate.

If you live in Helena, it’s probably safe to say that Mayor Wilmot Collins and City Commissioners-elect Eric Feaver and Melinda Reed will affect your everyday life more than Joe Biden or Donald Trump.

It’s time to start giving our local elections the attention they deserve.

This is the opinion of the Independent Record editorial board. 

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