Set forth below is the text of an e-mail that I sent to Cassy Fiano, owner of the Cassy Fiano blog, on February 1, 2010.
My name is Rob Bennett. I am the author of the “A Rich Life” blog (http:arichlife.passionsaving.com).
I was impressed with your article on Lila Rose and Planned Parenthood, which appeared today at the “Hot Air” site. I have a concern that there is a move in our society to the greater use of intimidation tactics to silence views that those practicing the intimidation do not want others to hear. I am a journalist by trade and a big-time believer in free speech, so this naturally alarms me. I have my own story to tell about the use of intimidation tactics being used to silence a minority viewpoint. I will outline my story here with the hope that I can interest you in writing about it at your blog. Everything I say below can be documented in the event that you develop an interest in pursuing this.
I was the most popular poster at the Motley Fool site during the days when I was writing only about saving issues. On May 13, 2002, I put forward a post that pointed out an analytical error that causes the studies that financial planners use to help us to plan our retirements to get all the numbers wildly wrong. The post was well-received in my posting community and numerous big-name experts have in the years since confirmed that I was right about the flaws in the retirement studies. In the event that stocks perform in the future anything at all as they always have in the past, these errors will result in failed retirements for millions of middle-clas investors.
There was an individual who posted at the Motley Fool board who had produced one of the studies using the flawed methodology and who posted it at his web site. His numbers made people feel that they could afford to retire many years sooner than they actually could and this made him popular among many investors. He launched a smear campaign against me and against the Motley Fool board community as a means of blocking people from learning about the errors in his study. This smear campaign has continued now for nearly eight years and has spread to scores of discussion boards and blogs. He and his Goon Squad meet every day on the internet to plan new strategies for destroying boards and blogs that permit honest posting on the investing questions at issue. His tactics include threats to kill the loved ones of posters who post honestly on these matters or who speak in defense of others who post honestly.
It gets worse. I have contacted numerous big-name experts for help. The same pattern applies in nearly every case. The expert acknowledges that I am right on the substance question. But the expert declines to get involved to help me and the thousands who have expressed a desire to be able to post honestly on these matters. The root issue here is whether Buy-and-Hold Investing works or not. As I researched the matter trying to learn why so many experts in this field are not willing to speak out against the abusive posting, I learned that the academic research has been showing for nearly 30 years now that the chances of Buy-and Hold working for the long-term investor are precisely zero.
Buy-and-Hold has brought in hundreds of millions for The Stock-Selling Industry. A “decision” has been reached (I believe with a great deal of cognitive dissonance influencing the thinking of the parties involved) not to let middle-class investors know about a mistake that is costing them their retirements and that was the primary cause of today’s economic crisis (the loss to middle-class investors was roughly $12 trillion and a loss of $12 trillion in wealth is obviously going to wreck a consumer-based economy for many years to come).
There has been much discussion of the research showing that Buy-and-Hold can never work. Knowledge of the problem is growing all the time, especially since the stock crash. But for a large number of people to come to a full understanding of what is happening, we need to have open discussion of the realities. Most of those viewed as “experts” in the field do not want to talk frankly about this, knowing that it would be career suicide to do so. I believe that the answer is to go directly to middle-class investors, to explain to them the realities, and thereby to create pressure for those in The Stock-Selling Industry to come clean. My strong sense is that many would love to do just this, if only they were first provided the “cover” that would be provided by open discussion of these matters on the internet.
My problem is that most personal finance bloggers do not today possess a strong understanding of the realities. In ordinary circumstances, a learning experience could be started by bringing the matter up for discussion and by responding to questions and all this sort of thing. But numerous bloggers have let me know that they are not willing to participate in such discussions because of what they know the Goon Sqauds will do to them and their sites if they permit honest posting (numerous boards have been burned entirely to the ground by the Goons Squads over the past eight years).
I need help to break this logjam. I would like to get some political blogs involved to bring pressure on the personal finance blogs to stand up to the Goons and to begin discussions on the key isssues and thereby to take things over time to a good place.If you have any interest in pursuing this, or if you know of someone else who might, I would be grateful if you would contact me with any questions you would like to pursue before getting involved.
I don’t want to burden you with too much materal in my first e-mail. I will set forth just one link, to a Google Knol that I recently wrote that provides background on the nature of the analytical error that has caused all the trouble and that needs to be corrected for us to get out economy back on the right track. The Knol is entitled “Why Buy-and-Hold Investing Can Never Work.”
Thanks for listening. I wish you continued success with your blog.