“Where I Do Not Agree With You Is Re Your Suggestion That, Because I Cannot Prevail Alone and Because I Cannot Prevail Today, I Should Give Up. Somebody Has to Do This. If No One Does This Job, We All Go Down Together. There Is Going to Come a Day When “Your Side” Is Going to Want to Take This to a Good Place.

Set forth below are the words of a comment that I recently put to the Goon Central board:

You are not the center of the universe.

Yes and no, Dab.

I cannot pull this off on my own. In that sense it is true that I am not the center of the universe. I could send e-mails to 10 million people and I could write 10 million articles and I could record 10 million podcasts and it won’t matter if I do not persuade at least a small number of my fellow humans to join hands with me and work together on this important project. You got that one right.

The other side of the story is that nothing great was ever accomplished without a single human mind dedicating itself to achievement of that goal. That’s how it happens. That’s the only way it ever can happen. If I am going to prevail, it is going to be because LOTS of people support my efforts. The way Yip likes to put it is that I am going to need to see comments appearing at my blog. He’s right about that in one sense. When I prevail, those comments will be there. If we never see the comments, I never will prevail. So he is making reference to something of great import.

Where I do not agree with you is re your suggestion that, because I cannot prevail alone and because I do not have comments at my blog today, I should give up. Somebody has to do this, Dab. If no one does this job, we all go down together. That is a terrible outcome for every single one of us. So that possibility must be rejected as the first order of business. It may well be that it will be hard for me to pull this off given the lack of comments and the intensity of the people standing in my way and all that sort of thing. It HAS been hard. It has been very, very, very hard. I give you all that. What I say is that I must continue pressing on no matter how hard it has been or how hard it is today or how hard it will become tomorrow.

There is no option here other than success, Dab. There is no Plan B because there can be no Plan B. Letting our society fall into the Second Great Depression is not an acceptable outcome. That’s out. So I soldier on NO MATTER HOW DISCOURAGING THINGS APPEAR AT TIMES. I don’t like it. I am trying the best I can to cope with the realities of a world that I did not create. It crushed my heart when I was banned from Motley Fool. That was May 2003. I allowed myself a little cry into my pillow. Then I pulled myself away from the pillow, brushed myself off, put bandages on my wounds and went out looking for the site of the next battle. Giving up is not an option. The stakes are too high.

We both know that there are not lots of people willing to say publicly “Rob Bennett is 100 percent right in everything he says about stock investing.” Depending on how you use the words, you wouldn’t be entirely off base to say that there is NO ONE willing to say those precise words. My brother Steven, whom I love and who loves me, said in response to me telling him the Rob Arnott story, that the difference between Arnott and Bogle and his brother is that “they have a life and you don’t.” So there you have it — My own brother is a Goon!” I can cry warm tears into my pillow one more time if that gives me some temporary relief, Dab. But the bottom line here is that, when I tire of the crying game, I am going to need to work up the energy to send some more e-mails. Because there ain’t too many other choices open to me.

That’s where things stand on the morning of January 6, 2013.

Most of what I report above is bleak stuff. Full truth be told, though, I don’t think I am being a Pollyanna when I say that the realities are not all bleak. Yes, I am hurting. Yes, I lack a life according to my brother Steven’s definition of the term (I am probably too close to the situation to speak objectively as to whether he is right or not — I do not have the option of giving up so I cannot in fairness to myself entertain consideration of the question of whether I today have a life or not). But, yes, there have been huge changes in a positive direction since the morning of May 13, 2002. You know what they have been as well as I do, so I don’t need to recount them here. Those things are real too, as real as the board bannings and the insults and the lack of book sales and all the rest. Both sides have their little “victories” they can point to. So there! Anyway, it’s not all bleak. If I can acknowledge how much it hurts to have my head slammed against a wall 20 times a day 365 days a year for 10 years running, I can also in fairness acknowledge that those on “your side” have had their heads slammed against a wall one or two or three times over the course of the past 10 years. It doesn’t make us even. But it makes us — well, something. 

What it has to make us to bring this all to a successful conclusion is — Equally in desire of a successful conclusion.

That’s where this is headed. There is going to come a day when “your side” is going to want to take this to a good place. Not because I have so many people contributing at my blog. Because I cannot get that without the cooperation and aid and encouragement of many people on “your side.” You’ll have to decide for your own reasons to give me that cooperation and aid and encouragement. When you do (I am not permitted to entertain the possibility that this will never happen, for reasons outlined above), I will get comments, plenty of them. Then there will be peace, a wonderful and exciting and rewarding and enriching peace.

You might be inclined to think this will never happen. Why would the side that has done such a great job of smashing my head into a wall 20 times a day for 10 years now ever want to start doing things that would help and encourage me? There’a a good reason, Dab. It’s because the work that I do helps “your side” as much as it helps “my side.” The secret, hidden truth here is that there is only one side. We all want the same things. John Bogle is a hero to the middle-class. He is the second most important investment analyst in history (in my personal assessment — I won’t argue too strenuously with someone who puts him first). Bogle’s work becomes 20 times more important when he snaps the piece that has been missing until today into place. So Bogle wins when Bogle starts helping and encouraging Rob Bennett’s efforts to do just that. And of course everyone associated with Bogle’s ideas also wins. Big time.

So I am going to win!

I am sorry if that breaks your heart, Dab. But that is the way it is. For Bogle to win and for Dab to win, Rob Bennett has to win. God elected to place us on this planet together and He expects us to figure out a way to make this all work no matter how much we get on each other’s nerves from time to time.

I win on the last page. So does Bogle. So does Dab.

There is no other way this can turn out. I know because I sneaked a peek at the last page before I put up that fateful first post.

Friend! Comrade!

Rob

Comments

  1. what says

    This is quite sad. Being so committed to trying to solve a problem that does not exist. Alienating yourself from the rest of humanity as you spiral out of control with escalation of committment based on a delusional sense of self importance and importance of mission.

    Just declare victory and move on. It is the best thing for you and your family. And the world won’t notice a bit either way. Or at least set some kind of internal milestone where if you continue to fail – it is not indefinite / infinite failure.

  2. says

    Just declare victory and move on.

    I was shown to be “victorious” on the afternoon of May 18, 2002, when John Walter Russell posted his sensitivity study showing that the numbers in the Old School safe withdrawal rate studies are wildly off the mark. But being right on the content issues is not a complete victory!

    We are in an economic crisis, What. That economic crisis was caused by the widespread promotion of Buy-and-Hold strategies. To overcome the crisis, we need to acknowledge as a society what caused the problem and get about the business of spreading the word about what the academic research really says. We will ALL be victors when that task is completed, my old friend.

    There are not two “sides,” What. Each and every one of us who lives under this economic system has an interest in seeing it survive. We are all in the same boat and we need to all be working together to help our neighbors and co-workers and friends learn what the peer-reviewed academic research of the past 30 years really says about what works in stock investing.

    I wish you well.

    Rob

  3. Rob says

    Or at least set some kind of internal milestone where if you continue to fail – it is not indefinite / infinite failure.

    If our economic system collapses, we all go down, What — you, me, John Bogle, everyone.

    We either all succeed together by learning things about how stock investing works that no one coming before us knew or we all head off into the Second Great Depression together. I cannot be a victor alone any more than you can be a victor alone. We are in the same boat. I need your help and you need my help.

    Please understand that my warmest wishes go out to you and yours.

    Rob

  4. Evidence Based Investing says

    I was shown to be “victorious” on the afternoon of May 18, 2002, when John Walter Russell posted his sensitivity study showing that the numbers in the Old School safe withdrawal rate studies are wildly off the mark.

    Do you have a link to this study?

  5. banned plop contributor says

    hocus| 03-31-06 | 12:45 PM
    I handed in a resignation from a six-figure paycheck at age 43 so that I could pursue my dream of living the life of a freelance writer of non-fiction books. My wife is a stay-at-home mom. Timothy is six and Robert is four. I’m counting on the long-term returns on my savings (supplemented by the small earnings that I believe it is realistic to expect from my writing and publishing work) to finance a nice middle-class lifestyle for four people for some time to come.

    Reply to hocus
    mel lindauer| 03-31-06 | 01:56 PM
    “Resigning” with a stay-at-home wife and two small children to pursue a pipe dream without having sufficient assets hardly seems like something a rational “cautious” person would do.

    Rob,

    I can add little to the wise counsel you have already received many times over. Please see a mental health specialist before you find yourself becoming a danger to yourself and or others.

  6. banned plop contributor says

    Professional writers and advisors took time out of their own busy schedules, to caution Rob on his unwise and cavalier approach:

    mlebuf| 03-31-06 | 11:32 PM

    Rob, I hope you have a boatload of money saved up, win the lottery or hit it big as a writer. As a guy who’s been kicking around the publishing world almost 30 years, I can tell you that the odds are clearly not stacked in your favor.

    Walking away from a six-figure paycheck with financial responsibilites such as yours doesn’t impress me as being so much lightweight as insane. Dreams have their place but dreams don’t pay bills. I’ve read a lot of self-help books and written a few. I get the impression you’ve been reading authors who tell you to throw caution to the winds and live your dreams because life is short. The authors I know who practice that philosophy fall into two categories: the very few who are lucky and the very many who are broke. Being broke isn’t a sin, but it’s damn sure no virtue either.

    As for staying out of the stock market for long periods of time, that just compounds the risk of running out of money. You’ve already taken one bad risk by quitting your day job prematurely. I think an intelligent asset allocation plan and the discipline to stick with it is what you need.

  7. banned plop contributor says

    Rob,

    Many of us who have followed your musings for a long time often wonder when you intend to follow through on your promises to be transparent with your own finances, even as you recommend a bizarre but nonspecific PE10 market timing strategy for others to follow with their own savings.

    You have often made promises like this one below, but have as yet failed to follow through:

    hocus| 04-01-06 | 02:35 PM

    One of the things I have planned for when some time opens up is to write a Research Report that will go through my plan line by line and through my budget item by item. I’ll start with the first budget that I ever wrote (January 1992) and go through the changes that Boo and I made on a year-by-year basis, what sorts of expectations we employed and how those worked out and all that sort of thing.

    I think there’s benefit in that sort of thing. But it has to be done properly.

    There have been lots and lots and lots of false reports of what is in my plan and what is in my budget and what my withdrawal rate is and what I am invested in and all other sorts of things. I don’t see how spreading false information helps anyone at all.

  8. Rob says

    Please see a mental health specialist before you find yourself becoming a danger to yourself and or others.

    I’ll jump right on it, Banned.

    Please don’t forget –

    Buy-and-Hold is Science!

    Rob

  9. Evidence Based Investing says

    That page you linked to is the “About” page on this site and was published on February 4th, 2011.

    I was looking for a link to the May 18, 2002 sensitivity study.

    Do you have that link?

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