The Fixer: Getting professional thieves out of Trouble

January 6, 2009

fixtweedProfessional criminals have always relied on  The Fixer.

He is someone of high political, economic and career influence who solves a professional thief’s problem for a fee.

Secrecy and deceit are required because of the extra-legal nature of some of the work.

A historical example of The Fixer would be  William M. (Boss Tweed) Tweed of Tammany Hall. [see above]. Tammany Hall, likened often to a machine, ruled the City of New York from 1790 to to the 1960s.

People wonder why franchisors, franchise bankers, sales agents, the franchise bar, etc. can get away with [almost] bloody murder. A study of history of professional thievery can provide some hints:

The professional thief generally has a record in the Bureau of Identification as long as your arm, but after most of the cases “dismissed” or “no disposition” is entered. This is due to the thief’s ability to fix cases.

In order to send a thief to the penitentiary, it is necessary to have the co-operation of the victim, witnesses, police, bailiffs, clerks, grand jury, jury, prosecutor, judge, and perhaps others. A weak link in this chain can practically always be found, and any of the links can be broken if you have pressure enough. there is no one who cannot be influenced if you go at it right and have sufficient backing, financially and politically.  p. 82

Professionals within franchising make more money by fixing problems (sabotaging valid claims) than they do by solving them (reducing opportunism). It’s that simple: Less money is deducted from the theft when you fix a case, even after paying The Fixer’s fee. It is very easy for a franchise legal expert to lie to complaining investor [Credence good cheaters]. The lawyer knows that he is not under any legal duty to tell the truth until a solicitor-client relationship is created. And the proof is in the pudding: In 10 years, I know of no franchisee-lead case that would be considered a success by the investors themselves.

The fixer acquires his position with professional thieves by service. He tries to maintain a batting average of one thousand. Not all of them can do this, but their record is so good that the thief feels secure if a regular fixer is on the case. [Blonger, the Denver fixer for confidence men, had the reputation of not having one man sent to prison in twenty years under his protection.] p. 88

Modern franchising runs on political and economic influence. Our Australian friends are simply the latest who have been wised to that reality. Again, from the past:

Fixing is a mixture of finance and politics. It is primarily a financial transaction, bought and paid for by everyone concerned. But it is made possible by politics and often involves political favors as well…For the thief, fixing is almost always a financial transaction…from the point of view of coppers, clerks, and bailiffs, fixing is primarily a financial transaction…The prosecutor and judge are probably handled with more finesse.  p. 98-9

I have already used a tree as an analogy for Big Franchising (vast weight of organism is below ground: iceberg). Modern franchising has a visible and invisible nature (Overworld :: Underworld):

From the point of view of the fixer, also, this is a financial transaction. One fixer said to a thief: “Everything I get is bought and paid for, just as you pay me. No one gets any political or other favors.” The fixer can operate only if he has the consent and good will of those who are politically powerful. he may get a start on the basis of old friendships, but he can keep his position as fixer only if he kicks in. He must turn over to the political barons the larger part of what he gets from the thief, and his standing is determined by his reliability in dealing with them. p. 100

Thieves of nominally independent corporations (ie. franchisors, lenders, sales agents, legal, supply, etc.) would NEVER act with such arrogance if it were not for The Fixer’s protection racket. The weakest link is always the franchisee who 99% of the time goes away thinking they had a one-off bad luck with a cartoon-character type of franchisor thief. They are satisfied to receive 10% of their own money back and remain in silence via shame and contract. Professional franchising practitioners are, however, experienced and shrewd students of human nature.

No thief ever expects to have the bad luck to run into a case that cannot be fixed in some manner. This conclusion is not formed because of he thief’s conceit but because of his knowledge of the weaknesses and limitations of the average citizen and public official. p. 106

National franchisor associations act as a forum for coordinating Overground and Underground activities. The Fixer usually enjoys a very influential role such as Chief Counsel or Chairman of the franchisor controlled association. The Fixer is a lawyer because solicitor-client privilege harbours his clients’ extralegal activities. Politicians who are very often lawyers, know their political career is short and are not foolish enough to destroy their future legal earnings by crossing a mandarin partner of the some of the most influential and aggressive internationally-based, multi-line law firms.

It is sometimes believed that he fixer is the general boss of the thieves. This is an error. The function of the fixer is to get thieves out of trouble, not to control them. He often gives some advice to out-of-town professionals, after agreeing to take care of them. p. 107

The Fixer runs a monopoly on the most lucrative and industry-challenging cases [national, well-funded franchisees group or class-actions) while allowing the tactical fixing to happen to Tier 2 law firms who are seen as franchise experts within the franchise bar. The Fixer operates a protection racket that has the appearance of a law practice.

There is in every large city a regular fixer for professional thieves. He has no agents and does not solicit and seldom takes any case except that of a professional thief, just as they seldom go to anyone except him. The centralized and monopolistic system of fixing for professional thieves is found in practically all the large cities and many of the small ones. p. 87

Source: — The Professional Thief, Chapter 4: The Fix, The University of Chicago, 1937 [my emphasis]

I am at a serious disadvantage when discussing the subterranean nature of franchising. I am not a member of that brotherhood and have only caught glimpses of behavior that has piqued my interests over the years.

  • Professional thieves and modern franchise executives function in a similar way, in so much as they are primarily profit-making activities that need to manage risks and returns, under stealth.

They are highly energetic, charming, some exceptionally well-educated people who hold 2 conflicting ideas in their heads: They know they prey upon society but also want not to be an enemy of the state (which as profiting from crime, they surely are).

  • This internal, unresolved conflict (cognitive dissonance) accounts for their bullying, arrogant, irritable, defensive and plain mean behavior. They can’t ever quite buy their acceptance into respectable society.


  1. possess highly migratory and portable special skills (especially persuasion, and communication),
  2. rely primarily on on-the-job training (often passed down from father to son, mentorship, tutelage),
  3. are highly congenial and supportive of other professional thieves (including competing trademarks, are compelled to warn and bail out even those they personally dislike),
  4. steal in a full time, planned and methodical manner,
  5. converse privately in a highly-specialized language (argot: legalese, mumbo-jumbo)
  6. achieve recognition for competence from other peers (who you know is important),
  7. operate in a very rigidly adhered to code of behavior, and [above all else]

8. particularly loathe anyone that (a) would inform “squeal,” or “squawk” and/or (b) has yet to lose their integrity.

They inhabit a modern version of The Waste Land or purgatory. Their only defense is confusion and attempting to degrade those impertinent enough to hold up a mirror to their face.

Why are the franchisees that are coming into my office, more stupider?

December 8, 2008


That is a legitimate concern of all within the franchise bar.

  • It carries with it some troublesome class and cash flow implications.

A franchisor normally requires only two things from a franchisee:

  1. fog a mirror and
  2. sign a cheque.

The franchise bar has a higher standard for the half-baked franchise shlemiel – (Yiddish: a dolt who is a habitual bungler) must have the minimum cognitive ability and requisite cultural background to recognize a superior human being when they are in his presence.

  • …ahh. That would be the guy with the most letters after his name is smarter.
  • And that by being smarter, they are interested in you independently of ability to fund their services.

A few observations:

1. Could it be that our whole society is becoming dumber?  The way I quote Wikipedia may tip the balance on that.

2. Or maybe it’s only that only the less intelligent are becoming franchises these days (watering down the soup). That would suggest a mean intelligence drop. This seems to be confirmed by franchisors whining about not getting high-quality franchise candidates.

  • Correct me if I’m wrong but that would make for smarter non -franchised business owners and employees, wouldn’t it? Not a terrible idea.

3. Or it could be that only the stupidest franchisees are self-selecting NOT to even bother to show up to a franchise lawyer’s office. Once made wise to the scam they drop out entirely or hook up with a savvy, experienced regional commercial lawyers.

This would be reflected in a sampling error on the part of the, “Let’s-impress-by-insulting the class of investors I-appear-to-defend” type of  Wolf-in-Sheep’s Clothing franchise lawyer.

  • the word-on-the-street is that the franchise law game is fixed and
  • by definition, only the most moronic and pathetically delusional even grace a franchise lawyer’s office these days.

4. Could it that franchise lawyers and franchisors are being viewed as two heads on the same body? Franchisors have long behaved as if the maxim There’s a sucker born every minute as an industry maxim.

  • Could rapid and cheap digital information sharing allow any loser Black Swan to pee into franchising’s international pool?

Could a Big Idea such as All franchises are toast travel from obscurity to franchisee conventional wisdom in the blink of an eye because we were 90% of the way to The Tipping Point?

  • Naw…this internet, the tireless The Great Copier of Information in the Sky thing is just a fad.

Corn can’t expect justice from a court composed of chickens. African proverb

Be realistic: Expect an AU miracle

August 18, 2008

I believe that something extremely important will be happening in Australia as a result of their national franchise inquiry.

  • Something that will rock the industry, all-around the world.

I have no insider information nor any special plans. What I think or do is laughably unimportant. Don’t ask me to show a basis for this hunch because I can’t.

  • Tyrannies succeed for some time but they all, in the end, commit suicide.

I have confidence in our Australian former franchisees and allies. Their common sense, patience and fairness will sniff out the not-particularly well-laid out trap.

  1. They, like me, love the public law and are therefore compelled to defend attempts to have it purchased by commercial interests.
  2. Would prefer to abstain from giving the impression of giving credence to knowingly impotent McLaws (boycott dog-and-pony shows), and
  3. Will have no part in cynical influence peddling by franchise law sophists.

The franchise bar increases the NPV of their career future aggregate cash flow by fear mongering their clients [eg. 95% $ from the Fierce Bad Rabbit franchisors].

sophist n. 1 a person who reasons with clever but fallacious arguments 2 (usu. Sophist) Gk Hist. a paid teacher of philosophy and rhetoric, esp. one associated with moral skepticism and specious reasoning

sophism n. 1 a plausible but false argument, esp. one intended to deceive or display ingenuity in reasoning. Wikipedia

sophistry n. 1 the use of intentional deceptive or specious arguments or reasoning: esp. as a dialectic exercise

Canadian Oxford English Dictionary

Wikipedia: Sophism can mean two very different things: In the modern definition, a sophism is a confusing or illogical argument used for deceiving someone. In Ancient Greece, the sophists were a group of teachers of philosophy and rhetoric.

FranchiseFool: legal specialists paid to construct the pretense of investor protection; willing to auction their allegiance to the side that will pay them the most; will offer a “medium” policy solution that they know will be useless in a practical way; deception largely based in what they fail to say (see sins of omission); sl. intellectual whores

%d bloggers like this: