Set forth below is the text of a comment that I recently posted to another blog entry at this site:
Ok, that’s reasonable. But that’s very different from:
I don’t see the big difference between Form A and Form B.
I do not feel bound in conscience to use Form B.
If the Buy-and-Holders were to tell me that they prefer that I use Form A to make this point, I would be happy to give up Form B.
I have suggested elsewhere that someone offer particulars of things that I say that Buy-and-Holders find objectionable. I would happy to let them know whether I can go along with the suggested phrasing or not.
In the case at issue here, I would have no problem going along with the suggested phrasing.
If it were suggested that I say “the Old School SWR studies are analytically valid,” I could not go along.
But even in that case, there are lots of things that I would be okay with saying. I am happy to say that the Old School SWR studies constituted a big advance from what we had before they came along. I am happy to say that the people who prepared the Old School studies possessed a sincere desire to help people. I am happy to say that the Old School SWR studies accurately report the Historical Surviving Withdrawal Rate (HSWR). I am happy to say that there is always a chance that a 4 percent withdrawal will work and that, except when valuations are very high, the odds that 4 percent will work are very high. I am happy to say that none of this is pure science and that we are still at a stage where we are learning lots of new things and that thus all of us should try to avoid dogmatism. I am happy to say that the authors of the Old School SWR studies are good and smart people.
There’s one scenario in which I could even see myself saying that it is okay for an Old School SWR study to remain up at a site in Old School form. If the author of the study included language in the study explaining that there is a New School of thought that maintains that an adjustment for the valuation level that applies on the day the retirement begins must be included in the calculations and linked to places where more background on that school of thought could be obtained, that would show good faith and put the readers of the Old School study on notice that there are good and smart people who have issues with the way the retirement study they are reading was set up.
In that case, I think it could be argued that the burden has been moved to the reader to decide whether a valuation adjustment is required or not. In those circumstances, I think it could be argued that the author of the Old School SWR study has placed himself on the right side of the ethical divide.
I acknowledge the sensitivity of these discussions. If there are things that can be done to reduce the friction, I am all for us working together to see that those things are done. The words above suggest that in this particular case, an acceptable change in wording would help. In those sorts of circumstances, I am of course happy to agree to state things in the acceptable way.