Free lunches, sucker’s bets and Ponzi schemes

You know the cliché about free lunches… right? There aren’t any. In the classic musical Guys and Dolls, based on the wonderful short stories by Damon Runyon, arch-gambler Sky Masterson tells the following story

“When I was a young man about to go out into the world, my father says to me a very valuable thing. ‘Son,’ the old guy says, ‘I’m sorry that I am not able to bankroll you a very large start. But not having any potatoes to give you, I am going to give you some very valuable advice. One of these days in your travels, you are going to come across a guy with a nice brand new deck of cards, and this guy is going to offer to bet you that he can make the Jack of Spades jump out of the deck and squirt cider in your ear. But, son, do not take this bet, for if you do, as sure as you are standing there, you are going to end up with an ear full of cider.’ ”

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