If they give you the results you want, does it matter?
Does it matter if they're just getting rich out of it if you walk away happy and successful? Actually I've probably partly answered something there because that question presumes you can walk away. That you're not then paying more and more until you're broke or dead. One of these groups that, to me, seem like a money-hungry cult I wouldn't be so sure about when it comes to walking away. Okay, so someone could throw out the bullshit overused mantra of people who live to shaft other people and say they aren't holding a gun to your head. I don't know that they aren't but, even without that, mental reprogramming, threats of lawsuits and whatever don't amount to free choice.
Does it speak volumes that I'm actually not mentioning them by name? They scare me. And they scare me because I've spoken to them. For hours. And they can be very straight up about the lawsuit tactics, telling me that the idea isn't actually to win a lawsuit. It's to keep it going long enough that they bleed their subject dry and destroy them. For me, that would be about six minutes (I know what lawyers charge).
But, hey, even that particular group seems to deliver on its promises. It does seem to make its people happy. And we know many are hugely successful so it's not just turning them into lifeless sheep. So, in a way, you could say people are getting exactly what they're paying for. Is that wrong?
I knew someone that was in a different group, one that seems to be more of a self-development group (yet calls their top people 'wizards' for some reason and I think is possibly still classes as a cult in Germany - I'd look it up if I could remember their name). I asked about the amount of cash they were taking, because it was pretty damn expensive. I was told that unless people pay for the help, they won't put any value on it and it will mean little to them.
Well that's convenient.
I'd also call it bullshit, personally. If you've got real gems that can help people, give it away. Help even more people.
And then there's the self-help gurus. The Anthony Robbinses and even the nice Dr.Phils. There are varying degrees of these people and some promise to make you a millionaire which sometimes reeks of bullshit too but I have far more respect for these people because they seem far more honest about what they're doing. They aren't classing themselves as religions. They aren't trying to 'convert' people. They're gathering clients. Is that just a difference in terminology? Possibly but I think it's a bloody big difference.
They're running a business. They're making a living and when you go to one of those guys (or girls) or buy one of their books, you do so in the full knowledge of what transaction is occurring. They aren't making up some stupid-ass excuses as to why they aren't giving away their tips, they aren't making out like they have all the secrets to the Universe (well, most of them aren't) and they aren't based on the machinations of a science fiction writer with a documented interest in mind control hiding their dumb-ass alien shit until you're conditioned enough not to laugh your ass off when it's brought up.
What I find kind of weird about the aforementioned group/cult/whatever is that when they take you in and try to suck you in, much of what they show you in the videos or whatever are a bunch of people running a business, using all-business terms in business departments. I can't help feeling if they just came out and said, "okay guys, it's not a religion, it's a business and we're making a fucking fortune but we can actually deliver this, that and whatever", they wouldn't come across as scary bastards.
Or not as much.
For me, I have spent a large amount of money on animation books, a grand on a Cintiq, who knows what on computers, Flash and stuff like that, and stupid amounts on cartoon DVDs.
Paying money to make more of my life. I'm not sure that it is really any different.
But even I'm not going to allow myself to get sucked into the depths of paying a million pounds (or whatever it is) for that 16-DVD Richard Williams set. That's one step too far. That's for the people who have demounced their family and have pledged their allegiance to the Almighty Roger Rabbit or the Great Gazoo or some other crazy deity.