Set forth below are some words that I recently posted in response to a comment on the column that I wrote titled Author Banned from 15 Investing Sites. Mike Piper, author of the Oblivious Investor blog, had commented that: “For the record, I never made any tea party comparisons. I suspect you’re thinking of somebody else.”
Thanks for stopping by. It makes me happy when I run into you from time to time on Twitter. I am hoping to be able to meet up with you in person at the Financial Bloggers Conference in Chicago in October. I don’t know for sure that you are attending. But I have a vague recollection of seeing something that indicated that you might (perhaps it was that you tweeted something about the conference). Anyway, I often see your name or your blog’s name come up in my travels and that always makes me happy as I have warm feelings about you from the days before the (grrrr…) ban.
Here’s a link to the blog entry I wrote reporting on your e-mail:
Here are your words:
“These people–good people–have described your comments as “spammy”, “obnoxious”, and “like the guy in a town hall meeting who won’t shut up about something everybody else doesn’t care about.” ”
You sent the e-mail in August 2009. That’s the time-period when Tea Party people were showing up at congressional town hall meetings and asking challenging questions about the health reform law and about the Federal deficit. The people you were referring to were comparing me to Tea Party members and you were citing their comments without criticism.
I don’t take offense to being compared to Tea Party people. I have never attended any Tea Party function. But I am a big Sarah Palin fan and I think there’s a lot of overlap between Palin supporters and Tea Party people. I have a lot of respect for the Tea Party and what it is trying to do.
And I do see a connection between the Tea Party issue and the issue that I raise that we need to open the internet up to honest posting on the dangers of Buy-and-Hold strategies. In both cases, the point being raised is obviously true (we really must do something about the deficit and we really must open the internet up to honest posting on the dangers of Buy-and-Hold). And in both cases there are people on the other side of the issue who sometimes feel a need to engage in tactics that can fairly be described as dirty pool.
There’s a case that can be made by those who support the health care overhaul or who do not want spending cuts to be the focus of the solution to the deficit problem. And there are good and smart people who believe that Buy-and-Hold can work and who have a right and a responsibility to make that case.
But there is no justification for some of the tactics we have seen. Those who oppose the Tea Party hurt themselves when they smear members of the Tea Party for speaking out on issues that matter to them (there have been cases where members of Congress have compared Tea Party people to Nazis). And Buy-and-Holders hurt themselves when they engage in intimidation and deception and board bannings. That sort of thing makes you guys look very, very, very bad in the eyes of many middle-class investors, Mike. I think it is fair to say that, as the economic crisis worsens, there are going to be more and more questions asked by more and more people about the tactics that have been employed to protect from questioning what I think can today fairly be described as the purest and most dangerous Get Rich Quick investing strategy of them all.
I am your friend and I will do whatever is in my power to help make you look not quite as bad as you make yourself look when you ban honest posting on important investing topics at your blog. I cannot change the facts of the matter. The fact is that the academic research has been showing for 30 years now that valuations affect long-term returns and that you still promote Buy-and-Hold strategies at your site to this day.
For so long as you do that while following community norms, you are on solid ground. When you ban comments pointing out in fair and polite and even warm tones the dangers in the strategies you recommend, you cross a line that no blogger who genuinely cares about his readers and the long-term success of his blog should cross.
I think you want your readers to achieve good results. I think it caused you distress to ban me. All that is good. But you did ban me. And that has certainly hurt your readers. They are hearing only one side of the story and you pretend to present them with both sides (nowhere at your blog do you tell your readers that it is only comments supportive of you that may be posted and that those who refer to the 30 years of academic research showing that Buy-and-Hold can never work will be banned).
I will continue to work with you and with all the other bloggers and discussion-board site owners who have banned honest posting on this critically important matter to come up with solutions to our troubles that make more sense than those that have been tried in the past and that have failed us so miserably so many times now. I also am going to continue to keep the needs of my readers and your readers in mind when I do that. I am going to continue to post honestly on what the academic research of the past 30 years says.
I hope that makes some sense to you. If there is ever a time when you or any others in the Personal Finance Blogosphere would like to talk this over with the aim of coming to some more effective solutions than the foolish and dangerous ones that some have adopted in days past, I hope you will contact me and let me know of a desire to be more constructive. I can promise you that the hand of charity will be outstretched to you and to any others who elect to get involved in an effort to try to achieve some good forward movement re this matter.
Please take care, my good friend. And I do hope that we have a chance to talk things over in person in Chicago. Perhaps that will help. I might even be able to hook you up with some Tea Party friends of mine who live there! (That’s a joke.)