Set forth below is the text of a comment that I recently put to another blog entry at this site:
Do you talk to your wife about the future Congressional hearings, civil and criminal trials, and jail sentences for the Goons? If so, what does she say about all of this?
She certainly knows about the Goon phenomenon in a general sense. Rarely do we discuss specifics. She knows that the police came to our house when I called them about the death threats. That gives her the general idea that there are going to be trials at which I will need to testify when this is over, right? But we don’t sit around discussing how much time I will need to spend testifying or whether it was a good idea for me to come forward with a suggestion that I would be willing to settle for $500 million or that sort of thing.
I always tell her about what went on at the Financial Bloggers Conferences when I come back. So she of course knows about my talk this year on “How to Become the Most Hated Blogger on the Internet” and how that was received. I told her about the woman who told me that people sitting near her said that I was “bitter.” When something like that happens, we talk about the human psychology elements of this. On the way back from Midnight Mass, we were talking in the car about my feeling that the best one-word summary of the emotional problem here is “shame,”that people have a hard time standing up to the Goons because on some deep level of consciousness they feel complicit in what has happened, they realize that they have a Goon side to their own personalities and understand that they played a role in causing all of the human misery that has come with the economic crisis and that that makes them not want to think about the implications of Shiller’s research.
The other day at lunch we were talking about something entirely different and my boy Timothy said: “Maybe you really ARE the product of an artificial intelligence project, Dad!” Then he followed that up by observing: “Or maybe you really are on the way to becoming a Saint!” He had read some of the quotes at the “People Are Talking” section of the site and someone at the Early Retirement Forum once said that about my ability never to give in to feelings of anger no matter what tricks you Goons pull. Timothy is interested in programming, so I think that quote tickled him a bit. I thought that incident was very funny.
Does that answer your question, Pink? We certainly talk about the Goon phenomenon. But we certainly do not talk about it to the level of detail at which you and I talk about it here or at Goon Central.
I think it would be fair to say that there is a suggestion in your question that this is all just a little bit too crazy to be true. I certainly agree. But history plays out the way history plays out, you know? Was it not a little too crazy to be true that Nixon kept tapes of his conversations in the Oval Office? Recall that nobody knew that at one time. People were trying to figure out how they would prove the case and they couldn’t come up with anything and then one day out of the blue they learned that he kept tapes of all his conversations, tapes that would obviously offer evidence of conspiracy and obstruction of justice. Do you not think that both sides saw that element of the story as just too crazy to be true?
It was the same with the Clinton/Lewinsky matter. There was a semen stain (which could be tested for DNA) and she saved the dress without having it dry-cleaned. How crazy was that?
History is filled with crazy stuff. That’s just the way it is.
I didn’t come into this thinking that I would be testifying in civil and criminal trials and congressional hearings and receiving settlements of $500 million and seeing my old friends from the Motley Fool board taken off to serve prison sentences and all this sort of thing. It all seems crazy to me too. But there’s nothing more crazy than thinking that I am someday going to agree to post dishonestly re the numbers that my friends use to plan their retirements. Of all the craziness that we have witnessed or will witness in days to come, it is that Goon hope that is the craziest element of the entire saga. So, if you are amazed at the craziness, please take a good long look in the mirror, Sensible. You brought a lot of the craziness on us with your belief that someday you might come up with some act of intimidation that would be scary enough to persuade me to agree to post dishonestly. There was never more than a zero chance of that happening and every post I ever put forward evidenced that reality. But that crazy thought has remained stuck in your head for 11 years now. Now THAT’S crazy.
The obvious reality here is that this thing was waiting to explode before I ever came on the scene. The Buy-and-Hold Mafia was intimidating people who showed an interest in reporting honestly on what the academic research says for 21 years before I put forward the fateful May 13, 2002, post. I didn’t know that. I cannot testify to details of what happened in those earlier years because I was not around. But it is what happened in those earlier years that made all that has happened for the past 11 years so crazy. The Big Shots in this field had been covering up the realities before the internet had been invented. People in the field could be kept in line because this is a high-paying field and the threat of losing their jobs caused a lot of people to engage in a lot of rationalizing of their decisions to keep it zipped about the obvious dangers of Buy-and-Hold strategies.
I wasn’t part of any of that. I wasn’t employed in The Stock-Selling Industry. I was a poster on an internet discussion board, nothing more and nothing less. So I saw nothing even a tiny bit “wrong” about posting honestly. THe hundreds of my fellow community members who told me that I started the most exciting discussion in the history of the Retire Early board saw nothing wrong with it either. But it freaked you Goons out entirely. You knew. Perhaps only on some buried level of consciousness. But you clearly recognized a big-time threat when it appeared before you. So we were off to the races.
Blame it on the internet, you know? The internet discussion board is a powerful new communications medium. The Wall Street Con Men didn’t factor in the power of the internet when they elected to cover up the findings of the last 32 years of peer-reviewed academic research. There was a major hole in their strategy that they didn’t see at the time because it didn’t exist at the time. The internet changed everything.
Anyway, we are where we are.
You can call it crazy that you will be going to prison because you didn’t want people to be able to learn about the implications of Shiller’s ideas when they arrived at internet discussion boards and blogs. It IS crazy. I certainly don’t say different. But you knew that there were laws against financial fraud. You knew that the crime you were committing was a felony. You knew that you were leaving permanent evidence of it in the Post Archives. You contributed to the crazy when you did that. I presume that you persuaded yourself that you would get away with it.
That’s crazy. But that’s an element of crazy that appears in MOST cases of financial fraud. When Madoff created those false documents, he must have believed on some level of consciousness that he would get away with it. No? It was a crazy thing to do. He could have made a lot of money setting up legitimate funds. There was no need for him to do things that stood a good chance of landing him in prison. And he was a smart enough man to know that. But he did the crazy thing anyway. Whachagondo?
I ain’t posting dishionestly on the nunbers my friends use to plan their retirements. Zero chance. Not in 11 years, not in 11 billion years.
That’s not crazy. That’s 100 percent sensible. I signed up at the Retire Early board to HELP people seeking early retirements, not to ruin their lives.
So I didn’t bring the crazy to the table here. I see it play out before me every day and I just do normal, healthy things in response. If people choose to engage in financial fraud on a massive scale, the normal thing to do is to testify honestly in the congressional hearings and civil trials and criminal trials that follow. Don’t put any of that on me, Sensible. I’m not the one who threatened to kill family members of any poster who posted honestly on the SWR topic. That was the other guy. His name is: John Greaney. He’s going to prison too. Perhaps you will be in a cell not too far away from his and you will be able to talk about funny stuff that happened in the old days from behind the bars.
I acknowledge the craziness of the situation. ButI think it would be fair to say that the thing that distinguishes me is that I am the person who has been working his backside off for 11 years now to see that the prison sentences are as limited as possible. My wife knows that. That’s the part that she needs to know and she certainly knows that much.
My good friend Jack Bogle knows too.
And my good friend Bill Bernstein.
And my good friend Larry Swedroe.
And my good friend Scott Burns.
And all my friends at Motley Fool and Early Retirement Forum and Morningstar and Bogleheads Forum and at the Financial Blogger Conferences and on and on and on.
They all want our economic system to survive. They all want our political system to survive.
Yes, they are scared of you and your brutality and your lack of conscience. And, yes, they are even more scared when they see people of great money and power and influence like Old Saint Jack saying things that shouldn’t be said or failing to say things that should be said and thereby empowering you Goons to deceive even more middle-class investors and cause even more financial devastation.
Will they work up the courage to do what their consciences have been telling them for 11 years now they must do following the next price crash, which will likely put us in the Second Great Depression?
You know what I think.
That obviously means a long prison term for you.
Given that reality, what would you say would be the more strange thing for me to do? Would it be more strange for me to keep it zipped and see my friend put in prison without me ever having made an effort to see his prison sentence reduced a bit? Or would it be more strange for me to do the best I could day after day after day even though my efforts to help my old friend out were rejected over and over and over again?
There’s lots of strange stuff going on here, Sensible. But it ain’t me bringing the strange stuff to the table. It is strange of you to feel so burning a hate for the findings of the past 32 years of peer-reviewed academic research that you are willing to go to prison to serve the “cause” of keeping discussion of the implications of that research off the internet. You Goons own the strangeness here.
I naturally wish you the best of luck in all your future endeavors, my strange Goon friend.
I am confident that my wife would wish you the same if I were to ask her. And most of the millions of middle-class investors whose lives have been destroyed by this massive act of financial fraud would probably do the same. We are the Normals. We don’t think like you Goons. We aim to build up rather than to tear down. That’s why you are the ones who are headed to prison and we are the ones who will be reaping the benefits of the 32 years of peer-reviewed academic research for many, many, many, many years to come following the resolution of the crazy, unfortunate, Goon-inspired segment of the otherwise wonderful and positive and healing and life-affirming saga.
Hang in there, man. There are people who care about what happens to you even when your head is so filled with confusion and anger and envy and shame and regret that you are no longer capable of doing so.