“We Need 10 People to Declare Publicly That They Will Stand Together for the Proposition That Honest Posting Should Be Permitted. These 10 People Could Be Bloggers or Investment Advisors or Academic Researchers or Journalists or Policymakers or Whatever. They Do NOT Need to Support VII. They Need to Support Honest Posting on the Possible Dangers of Buy-and-Hold.”

Set forth below is the text of a comment that I recently put to the Joe Taxpayer blog:

“But I don’t believe that. I do not believe you have offered a valid correction to the safe withdrawal rate question. And I believe that retirement income strategies go much further than the question of a safe withdrawal rate. And so that is why I’ve had to endure your ongoing harassment for months on end now.”

Wade DID say these words. The quote is accurate.

Wade WANTS to tell the truth. He is like lots and lots and lots of other people in this regard. He is a good person and he wants to help us all out and he understands that by telling the truth he helps us all out. But he is AFRAID to do so.

Why would Wade be so afraid? Buy-and-Hold is the dominant model. Millions of people have their lives riding on Buy-and-Hold. They have inner doubts as to whether it works. They are TERRIFIED to see evidence that it doesn’t work. And this Wade Pfau fellow has conclusive evidence (peer-reviewed academic research) showing that it NEVER works. How do you think that makes those millions of people feel? And how do you think it makes Wade feel to know that they feel that way?

Wade is on our side. That is not an issue.

The issue here is that Wade is AFRAID to do what he knows he should do.

It’s not only Wade.

Jack Bogle said things in his book that helped me to understand that the Old School safe withdrawal rate studies get the numbers wildly wrong. That shows that Jack Bogle too is on our side and that Jack Bogle too is afraid to do what he knows he should do.

It’s the same with Bill Bernstein. When one of the Goons asked Bernstein whether the methodology used in the Old School SWR studies is analytically valid or not, he said that “OF COURSE” the studies are analytically valid (he said that part because he is AFRAID) while also saying that anyone who gave consideration to using one of those studies to plan a retirement (the purpose for which they were produced) would have to be out of his or her mind (he said that part because he is a good guy and wants to help us all out).

It’s the same with Scott Burns. When I let Scott Burns know about the errors in the Old School SWR studies, he sent me an e-mail back saying “You’re right!” He asked for my phone number because he was on a book tour and he wanted to interview me for an article he would write when he returned. He did all that because he is a good guy and wants to help. He got cold feet and failed to go through with the call because he became TERRIFIED of what would happen to him if he became known to the millions of scared people as The Person Who Brought Down Buy-and-Hold. He ended up writing an article that said that “some people” now believe that the Old School studies are analytically invalid. He didn’t say that HE believed this (although he obviously does) because he is afraid of what will happen to him if he does and he didn’t name the “some people” because he knows that the Goons would not appreciate him giving a link to my site. But he DID spill the beans in a cautious, convoluted sort of way.

I have people telling me to follow the lead of these people ALL THE TIME. They say: “Rob, don’t you get it? Lots of people make lots of money pushing strategies that are 100 percent contrary to Buy-and-Hold principles. There’s a market for non-Buy-and-Holf stuff. You could tap into that market if you would just stop antagonizing the Buy-and-Holders. You make them mad when you point out that there’s 32 years of peer-reviwed academic research showing that there is precisely zero chance that Buy-and-Hold can ever work for a single long-term investor. Just stop doing that!”

I don’t WANT to stop.

I want to bring Buy-and-Hold down.

Not because I am a meanie, as the Buy-and-Holders will claim.

I want to bring it down because I BELIEVE in the Buy-and-Hold project. And the Buy-and-Hold project is NOT to forever push whatever strategy the Buy-and-Holders once thought might work. The true project is to root investing advice in the academic research. That’s what Bogle and all the other Buy-and-Holders started out believing should be done. I think they were right. I want to take it back to that. I don’t want to offer a strategy different than Bogle and all the other Buy-and-Holders. I want to work WITH the Buy-and-Holders to promote the strategy that is in accord with the core Buy-and-Hold belief (that advice should be rooted in research) TODAY. That’s Valuation-Informed Indexing, NOT Buy-and-Hold.

I am not against the Buy-and-Holders. I am against the idea of the Buy-and-Holders not correcting their mistakes when they discover them. That’s why I am seen as such a threat. But I am not trying to threaten anyone. I am trying to help EVERYONE. We all want the same things. We all want to get this stuff right.

Wade said opposite things after he was threatened because he became afraid to tell the truth. Is that really so hard to understand?

Bogle also does not tell the full truth because he is afraid to do so. Same with Bernstein. And Swedroe. And Burns. And on and on and on.

That’s the problem we need to solve.

People are trying to do things in the wrong order. People want to be 100 percent sure that Valuation-Informed Indexing is the answer before letting anyone post honestly about Valuation-Informed Indexing. If you set things up that way, you will go around and around and around in circles. I am 99.99999 percent sure that VII is the answer. But we are not going to see lots of people make the switch so long as it is only me posting honestly about this stuff. People want to hear what Pfau and Bogle and Bernstein and Swedroe and lots of others believe. AND THEY ARE NOT GOING TO TELL US UNTIL WE MAKE IT CLEAR TO THEM THAT IT IS SAFE FOR THEM TO DO SO.

The first thing we have to do is to open the entire internet up to honest posting on safe withdrawal rates and LOTS OF OTHER critically important investment-related topics. That will lead over time to everyone switching from Buy-and-Hold to Valuation-Informed Indexing. But we won’t see that switch until we first permit the discussion. It is through honest discussion that people come to gain confidence in the new ideas. There is no other way that we can bring this economic crisis to an end. We MUST first work up the courage to permit honest discussion. All the other good stuff follows from that.

Are the Goons going to attack us when we say that we favor permitting honest discussion?

Yes.

But you know what?

The Goons are WEAK today. I was there in May 2002. Things are not going well for the Goons. They are at about 25 percent the power that they possessed in May 2002. The Goons are paper tigers at this point.

The Goons’ favorite tactic is to destroy people one by one. Once they have you isolated, they feel they can scare you. If ten of us stuck together, the Goons would have nothing to work with. They would go down in days. We need ten people to declare publicly that they will stand together for the proposition that honest posting should be permitted on safe withdrawal rated and other critically important investment-related topics. These ten people could be bloggers or investment advisors or academic researchers or journalists or policymakers or whatever. Ten people. That’s all we need. They do NOT need to say that they believe in Valuation-Informed Indexing. They need only to say that they believe that HONEST POSTING on the possible dangers of Buy-and-Hold should be permitted.

We are at the 99-yard line. We are close.

Lots of people are going to become very famous, very well-loved, very rich. Lots of people are going to do an amazing amount of good for millions of other people. This is the biggest turning point in U.S. economic history. On one side is all good, loving stuff and on the other side is all bad, smelly stuff. All we need is 10 brave souls who can publicly attest that they believe that free speech (an idea that has been core to our way of living since the founding of our nation) matters and that intimidation tactics are a big waste of everyone’s time and energy.

I think we are going to make it to the other side and enjoy all the fruits that follow from having a little bit of faith in our system of government and in all the good (but scared) people suffering from the results of this ultimate Buy-and-Hold crisis. Call me madcap.

I tell my Goon friends all the time that they need to understand that I peeked a look at the final chapter of this drama before working up the courage to go forward with that fateful May 13, 2002, post. Love wins in the end. In the end, it’s not even a close call.

It’s not just Rob Bennett saying that. That’s what’s written in the book.

So there’s that.

Rob

Comments

  1. Anonymous says

    No one is afraid. The only one trying to make them afraid is you, with your threats of prison and lawsuits and it isn’t working. People see you mostly as a goof and a troll.

    So you say you need 10 people to support your cause. You have had over a decade and you can’t even put together 10 people.

    Notice that many people won’t even talk to you. Why? Because you twist their words to make it sound like they are in total agreement with you and when they make comments that you don’t like, you suddenly attack and say that they are influenced by goons and that they are afraid to tell the truth.

    You are a very twisted and sick person.

  2. Rob says

    That makes perfect sense, Anonymous.

    That’s what has been going on here.

    I believe you. And I’ll still believe you following the next price crash.

    It’s all good.

    Rob

  3. bizarro says

    We need ten people to declare publicly that they will stand together for the proposition that honest posting should be permitted on safe withdrawal rated and other critically important investment-related topics.

    More precisely, you mean you need ten people to complain about Rob Bennett being banned.

    If your brain hadn’t completely lost its ability to assimilate new information, you would realize that no one cares about Rob Bennett’s bannings except Rob Bennett. Which is why you won’t find ten people. You won’t find one. And you haven’t.

    To save you time, I will add your automated robotic response: You have thousands (perhaps millions) of supporters, but they are all terrified of the Goons. Terrified even though you claim they are “WEAK”. But after the next price crash they will come out of the closet and sing your praises. You will be rich and famous, and I will be in prison. But you will do what you can to reduce my sentence.

    Well, thanks for that. But frankly your repetition has become tiresome. I’ll check back in a few months to see if there is even a hint of new content.

  4. Anonymous says

    The lack of any supporting comments on this board speaks volumes, Rob. No, people are not afraid to post here as they would be anonymous.

  5. Rob says

    I don’t need ten people just to complain about Rob Bennett being banned, Bizarro.

    I need ten people to complain that Jack Bogle does not feel safe posting his sincere views.

    And I need ten people to complain that Wade Pfau does not feel safe posting his sincere views.

    And I need ten people to complain that Bill Bernstein does not feel safe posting his sincere views.

    And I need ten people to complain that Larry Swedroe does not feel safe posting his sincere views.

    We won’t all be saying the same thing. We all have somewhat different perspectives. But we all want to do good work. We all want to post honestly.

    And when we all do, we will all move forward together. There is no other way it can be done.

    I don’t want Rob Bennett banned. But I don’t want Jack Bogle banned either. I want to hear what Jack has to say and I want Jack to hear what I have to say. That lets us both participate in a wonderful learning experience. And that’s what it is all about.

    Those are my sincere thoughts re these terribly important matters, in any event.

    Take good care, man.

    Rob

  6. Anonymous says

    Rob,

    Don’t worry. Jack, Larry, Wade and Bill aren’t afraid. They are just fine. Too bad you are not.

  7. Rob says

    The lack of any supporting comments on this board speaks volumes, Rob. No, people are not afraid to post here as they would be anonymous.

    The lack of supporting comments certainly tells us something important, Anonymous. You and I do not agree re what it tells us. But we are 100 percent in agreement that it is a telling reality.

    You are of course correct that people are free to post anonymously here. So it is not that they are afraid that the Goons are going to come after them and kill their family members or whatever. That is not the sort of fear we are dealing with in this case.

    We’ve talked about Joe Taxpayer recently. I have said that I would like to see more from him. He had been supportive. He opposes the Ban on Honest Posting. But I would like to see him go another step. I would like him to write a blog entry saying that he thinks the Ban on Honest Posting is a shameful thing and that all bloggers should oppose it. I would like him to try to organize all his blogger friends to speak up against this stuff.

    Is Joe afraid? Yes, he is afraid. If he wasn’t afraid, he would do what I describe above.

    He is not as afraid as some others. He worked up the courage to say that he believes the Ban on Honest Posting is wrong. He worked up the courage to call you Goons out on your nonsense. So he is less afraid than most. But he takes some steps and then he fails to take others. He is a hero. But he is not a perfect being. None of us are, of course.

    I was afraid. I didn’t post about the errors in the Old School studies from May 1999 to May 2002. What do you think was up with that? It’s hard to believe today that I kept it zipped all that time, isn’t it? But I did. Why? What was I afraid of? I never dreamed that any of the Goon stuff that we have seen over the past 12 years was even remotely possible back in those days. But I never spoke up. Why? What held me back?

    Humans are social creatures.

    If you don’t get that, you cannot get any of the rest of it. That part is fundamental.

    Bull markets are social phenomena.

    You could never have a bull market if people were not afraid to speak up. We obviously had a huge bull market. So there obviously were a lot of fearful people. That’s by definition. You know that just by looking at the P/E10 level. When you have a P/E10 level of 44, you have millions of fearful people. You couldn’t have it any other way.

    It’s not cartoonish things that people are afraid of. People are not afraid that you are going to come to your house and shoot them. People are afraid that they will be out of step with the majority. People are afraid that lots of people will think they are dumb. People are afraid that people will yell at them. People are afraid that, if they talk openly about another crash, that will somehow cause one to come. People are afraid that we are going to see a deepening of the economic collapse and don’t want to talk about it or hear about it because it scares them. People are afraid that there are groups starting to lose confidence in our political system. People are afraid that they will not have enough money to retire and that they will lose access to the comfort offered by the Buy-and-Holders if they think things through carefully and come to realize why those comforts are illusory.

    People are afraid of all sorts of things, Anonymous.

    Wade talked about it in the comments he posted here after his flip. He wrote one on which he said: “I don’t see how you are going to end up being seen as the good guy.” He said almost the same thing at the Bogleheads Forum. He said: “Some of you see anyone pushing market timing as a snake-oil salesman and you are disdainful of it. I don’t want you to think of me that way.”

    He does’t want you to dislike him, Anonymous. That’s his fear.

    I know how it goes. I don’t want you to dislike me either. The difference with me is that I have an even bigger fear of selling out my fellow community members. I feel that I am worthless to you and to everyone else if I do not post honestly. So I stick to that one no matter what. I don’t give an inch on that one.

    My famous May 13, 2002, post ended not with a period but with a question mark. That was fear.

    My apology on the night of Day Three was rooted in fear.

    I held back for a long time from saying the words “analytically invalid.” That was fear.

    I held back for a long time from saying that I know more about how stock investing works than Jack Bogle. That was fear.

    I held back for a long time from saying that you Goons are headed to prison. That was fear.

    It’s all about fear. There is no intellectual debate here. If you Goons believed that Buy-and-Hold could survive a civil and reasoned debate, you would invite a civil and reasoned debate. You don’t believe that for two seconds. You believe that Buy-and-Hold can survive only for so long as effective challenges to it are prohibited. That’s why you behave as you do.

    You follow Buy-and-Hold yourselves. Following a strategy is a sign that you believe in it. You pass that test. There is a sense in which you believe.

    But you do not possess confidence in the strategy you follow. It causes you great emotional pain to hear it challenged effectively. Confidence is another marker of belief. You fail that test. There is a sense in which you do not believe at all.

    You are in the worst of all worlds. You believe enough that you cannot bear to listen to challenges. So you will stick with Buy-and-Hold until prices are at rock bottom. But you lack the confidence to continue holding when prices hit rock bottom and when every media organ is saying that no middle-class person should ever even consider putting money into stocks. The same social pressures that caused you to tune out the last 33 years of peer-reviewed academic research will cause you to sell your stocks when prices hit rock bottom.

    That’s called capitulation. It’s when the last Buy-and-Hold Goon sells his shares that the market (that’s us!) is able to turn up again for an extended period of time.

    You happened to be born at a time that led to you investing heavily in stocks at the worst time in history for doing that. You know it on one level of consciousness (while fiercely denying it on another). You are scared out of your freakin’ wits. So scared that you can’t even let it in that you are scared at all. And you will be even more scared after the next crash.

    I didn’t do any of that to you.

    I don’t say that the people who did it to you meant to hurt you. I don’t believe that. Those people are scared too.

    I say that I am not playing my role if I don’t post honestly. I am saying that it cannot possibly be the right answer for me to agree to say things I don’t believe for two seconds.

    And I wish you well in all your future endeavors, my old friend.

    Rob

  8. Rob says

    Don’t worry. Jack, Larry, Wade and Bill aren’t afraid. They are just fine.

    Their behavior tells a different tale, Anonymous.

    The entire Vanguard Diehards community was moved over to the Bogleheads Forum when I announced that I would be attending the annual meeting and asking Jack some questions about the effect of valuations on long-term returns.

    That happened because Jack was afraid to be in the same room with me and answer the questions that he knew I would put to him.

    Nothing could be more obvious.

    When one of the leading figures in investing analysis is afraid to face questioning from some fellow whose only claim to expertise in this field is that he figured out how to get his words posted to the internet, there is a good bit of funny business going on.

    Jack Bogle is afraid of Rob Bennett. He doesn’t believe that he can offer good answers to my questions. That’s sad. All of us who are Jack’s friends should be trying to do something about that.

    My sincere take.

    Rob

  9. Anonymous says

    Rob,

    I don’t want to be in a room with someone that exhibits poor behavior. It doesn’t mean that I am afraid of them, it is just that I don’t want to waste my time on some kook that talks nonsense.

  10. Rob says

    I don’t want to be in a room with someone that exhibits poor behavior. It doesn’t mean that I am afraid of them, it is just that I don’t want to waste my time on some kook that talks nonsense.

    I don’t want to post dishonestly on the numbers that my friends are using to plan their retirements, Anonymous.

    It looks to me that we have a standoff.

    You have my best wishes for a healthy and prosperous New Year in any event.

    Rob

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