Well, unfortunately Tom has arrived with the same attitude as

most pro-MLM people here – ask for our opinions, but get negative & stand-offish the moment we don’t validate his own opinion of MLMs.

If he is truly interested in making money, he should examine his own skill set vs. what is going on in the economy and find an growth area of business to get involved in (and this isn’t MLM). Being in sales myself, I feel like I am running my own business – since my activities and sales directly effect my bottom line – the better I do, the more money I get paid.
Although sales is a tough business (in any industry), it can be extremely rewarding for those people with the knack & patience for it. I had several associates in the past that earned almost or just over a million dollars a year – just in sales (commercial office furniture). Were they overnight successes? No. They had to work very hard to cultivate the contacts and find the projects that earned them that money.

MLM promises something for practically nothing – which is not the way life or business works. If Tom truly wants to get ahead, he should see where he has been successful in making money and try something along similar lines.