Set forth below is the text of a comment that I recently put to the discussion of another blog entry at this site:
I think there may be something to what you are saying here, Pink. J.D. likes me. We are friends. But, when I asked him to get involved to bring the Ban on Honest Posting to an end, he declined to get involved. There’s got to be some reason for that. He’s not at all a bad guy. I think he is a great guy and everyone else I have spoken to feels the same. So there is certainly something odd going on here. I think it is entirely possible that part of what he is trying to convey when he says that my arguments are “overpowering” is that I am too verbose. Maybe what he is trying to say is “you’re just too much, people cannot handle it.”
You are also right that it is off-putting to a lot of people when I put forward long posts. That’s been so going back to the first day. That’s a real issue.
I strongly disagree with your other points — that it would be possible for me to make my points effectively in a single, simple paragraph and that I take things out of context.
Perhaps you feel that I take things out of context. I think it is likely that you genuinely have that feeling. I can assure you that there is ZERO desire on my part to take anything out of context. I write long posts. I go into background and that sort of thing. But never have I put forward a single word with the aim of distracting people from the real issues. I RESPECT the people who challenge my views. I SHOW that respect by taking their challenges seriously. That’s part of the explanation of the long posts. I take the time to write long responses because I CARE. If you go to the trouble to give voice to some concern you have, I feel that I owe it to you to do all in my power to see that that concern is addressed. Never in a million years would I intentionally take something out of context. That would be a mortal sin in my book. It may well be that you perceive it that way. It is my belief that you really do. But that is not what is in my heart.
Why are the posts so long? That’s an issue that very much needs to be examined by people of good faith.
There are millions of people who today believe in Buy-and-Hold. They have been talking about and following the strategy for 40 years now. The core Buy-and-Hold beliefs have been repeated over and over and over again. When you say “timing doesn’t work.” you don’t need to offer any explanation of why you said it because the vast majority of the people reading the words already believes that. So you can indeed make your points in a single, simple paragraph.
That’s not the case for me or for other Valuation-Informed Indexers. When I say “long-term timing always works and always is 100 percent required for those hoping to have some realistic hope of long-term success,” the reaction of the vast majority of my readers is to have lots of questions. If this is so, why haven’t we heard about it from lots of people long before this? That’s the biggest question. If I am to have any hope of convincing those people of the merit of my case, I MUST give the background. I MUST explain how it came to be that 32 years have passed since Shiller published his peer-reviewed academic research showing that there is zero chance that a Buy-and-Hold strategy can ever work for even a single long-term investor and that Buy-and-Hold remains the dominant strategy to this day. The realities that we all face today do not permit me to make my case effectively with responses of just a few words. I must provide background and context or fail in the important work that I do in getting word out about the first true research-based strategy to the millions of middle-class investors who very, very much need to know about it.
There are ways that things could be set up so that I could write shorter posts. One that I mention all the time is that Bogle could give an “I Was Wrong” speech. When Bogle gives that speech, it is going to be written up everywhere. There will be a national debate on these questions. And then people will know what I am getting at when I say something like “long-term timing always works and is always required.” Once that national debate begins, my job gets a lot easier. I can still post and share my thoughts. But I no longer will need to carry the burden of being the only person talking straight to people about this stuff.
Do you want Bogle to give that speech? Are you willing to help me persuade Bogle to give that speech?
Until now, you have not been willing to help. That’s why the ugly stuff continues.
The answer here is not to continue to try to cover things up. The answer is to get everything out in the open. Then the need for long posts disappears.
Say that you believe in Buy-and-Hold 100 percent. If that’s so, then it follows that you should believe that Buy-and-Hold can withstand the challenges that will be put to it in a national debate. If Buy-and-Hold withstands the challenges, confidence in it will be stronger than ever before. So there is no possible way that a national debate could produce a negative result for you. Either you end up switching to a strategy that permits you to retire many years sooner or you are affirmed in your confidence in the strategy you believe in today. Having the national debate is a win/win/win/win/win.
And I will never again need to put forward a long post after we have the national debate because everyone reading my words will “get it” when I say something like “long-term timing always works” or “it’s not possible to identify the safe withdrawal rate without taking into consideration the valuation level that applies on the day the retirement begins” or “stocks today are a virtually risk-free asset class for those who are informed about the last 32 years of peer-reviewed academic research in this field.”
Long posts shouldn’t be necessary. But they are because of the unusual circumstances that apply in the investing field today. As a society we once believed that Buy-and-Hold worked. Now doubts are growing. But to get people to convert from Buy-and-Hold to Valuation-Informed Indexing, we must explain to them what happened, why it is that so many experts still advocate Buy-and-Hold 32 years after the research was published discrediting it? We need to stop trying to suppress discussion and instead ENCOURAGE it. We need everyone (Buy-and-Holders and Valuation-Informed Indexers alike) giving voice to their SINCERE beliefs about how stock investing works. In cases in which experts have come over time to believe that they made mistakes re certain points, they need to SAY THAT in clear and certain and simple terms so that we can all process the message and move forward in a mutual Learning Experience.
We ALL want to learn, Pink. That’s why we all are here. We all need to pull together to insure that this wonderful and important Learning Experience moves forward. We do that by changing the tone. You need to drop the Goon pose and work up the courage to say “Thank you!” to the fellow who brought these issues to the table on the morning of May 13, 2002, and thereby opened up the opportunity to learn things about stock investing that you never knew before and that make your life richer in scores of different and important ways.
I am 100 percent happy to begin today working with you to take this to a very positive place, Pink.
Can you grasp the hand of kindness this time?
Or will you fire back with more of your Goon sludge, sinking ever deeper in the negativity that in earlier days you have brought to the table again and again and again.
Greaney’s retirement study does not contain an adjustment for the valuations level that applies on the day the retirement begins. That is a stone cold objective fact.
Until we answer that question, our work here is not done. I have put forward hundreds of thousands of long posts explaining why I believe he made that mistake. What’s your take? Do you agree with the explanations that I have advanced or is there some point re which you have a somewhat different take? And, if you have a somewhat different take, are you capable of giving voice to it according to the posting rules that you agreed to follow when you were first permitted to participate in any of our discussions?
My best and warmest wishes to you and yours, my old friend.