Set forth below is the text of a comment that I recently posted to another blog entry at this site:
Then where are they? Why aren’t they posting here? They can certainly do so anonymously, without any threat of “intimidation”
Say that you were a white person living in a Southern state in the early 1950s, Anonymous. You notice that people with black skin are not permitted to sit where they like on buses, as you are, or to drink from the same water fountains or to go to the same schools. Say that you are not a bitter, hateful racist. You are just an average sort of person. You have an average sort of job and you do average sorts of things. You have grown to like most of the black people you have come to know just as you have come to like most of the white people you have come to know. You don’t think it is entirely fair that the rules are different for black people. But the rulebook that applies is the only rulebook you have ever seen. You cannot imagine life being different for black people. Things have ALWAYS been this way. You presume that things always WILL be this way.
A friend of yours becomes a civil rights advocate. He asks you to get involved, to speak out, to put yourself on the line. Do you do it?
Say that there’s an opportunity to get involved anonymously. Your friend asks you to show up at a protest. There will be hundreds of people there. No one will take your picture or write down your name. You of course have a legal right to show up at a protest. Do you do it?
Most people didn’t participate in protests. At least not until things had changed enough that participating in civil right protests became a norm instead of an “out there” thing to do. Human beings are social creatures. We don’t just do what we think is right. We do what we think is right and SAFE.
People look to leaders to figure out what is safe. This is why I say all the time that the key to overcoming this economic crisis is for Jack Bogle to walk to the front of a room and say the words “I” and “Was” and “Wrong.” LOTS of people see the holes in the Buy-and-Hold dogmas. There is a Social Taboo that stops us from speaking out about them in clear and firm and frank terms. THAT IS WHAT NEEDS TO CHANGE. Once Bogle gives his speech, you are going to see THOUSANDS of people speaking out. But people want to first see that it is SAFE for them to do so.
New ideas don’t start out with ten million supporters. They start out with one. Then one becomes two. Then two becomes two-hundred. Then two-hundred become two-thousand. Then its two million. And on like that.
I was the first person to work up the courage to say publicly that the Old School retirement studies got the numbers wildly wrong. Good for me. That was great stuff. That had the potential to save millions of middle-class people from suffering failed retirements.
Lots of people have come around in recent years. The Wall Street Journal now says that I was right all along. So does the Economist magazine. So does Bill Bernstein. So does Wade Pfau. So does Todd Tresidder. So does Vanguard. And on and on and on.
So I was right.
Why do all of these people not also say that the 13-year cover-up of the errors in those studies is the most massive act of financial fraud in the history of the United States? It obviously is that, right?
Because they are scared, Anonymous.
It’s not just that they are scared of someone taking their name down and coming to their house and killing members of their families, as Greaney threatened to do with me. They are scared of breaking the Social Taboo. People live in communities. People do not like to violate the norms of their communities.
People saw what happened to me when I worked up the courage to “cross” Greaney by posting honestly on the safe-withdrawal-rate topic. And, if they haven’t seen what happened to me, they have seen what has happened to others who tried to speak honestly about stock investing in other ways. People try not to violate Social Taboos. People have learned from many experiences in life that it is best to keep it zipped when Social Taboos forbid pointing out that the emperor is wearing no clothes.
But societies that survive find ways to overcome Social Taboos that are causing too much destruction. There was a time when no one spoke up about racism. Then that changed. There was a time when no one even imagined asking others not to smoke in a restaurant where they were eating. Then that changed. There was a time when no newspaper other than the Washington Post wrote about the Watergate matter. Then that changed.
When the Social Taboo falls, EVERYONE will be speaking out about the wonders of Valuation-Informed Indexing, Anonymous. There are hundreds of billions of dollars to be made helping people learn how stock investing works in the real world, according to the last 34 years of peer-reviewed research in this field. Everyone in this field wants to get in on that action.
Lots of people are just waiting until the time is right. They want to see OTHERS speak out and receive rewards for doing so. Then they will feel that it is safe for them to do so as well. The ability of the Buy-and-Hold Mafia to destroy people’s lives because they tell the truth about these matters is growing weaker and weaker by the day. Following the next crash, more people will work up the courage to violate the Social Taboo in clearer ways. And then the entire smelly Buy-and-Hold house of cards will come crashing to the ground.
If Buy-and-Hold were a legitimate strategy, there never would have been a single death threat. People who are promoting legitimate strategies don’t behave that way. Not ever. No exceptions.
But the Buy-and-Hold Mafia does have lots of power and lots of money and lots of influence on its side. So it has been able to keep the Social Taboo in place for 14 years now despite my best efforts at tearing it down.
But how much longer do you think that will remain so?
I don’t think it will be for much longer.
But we’ll see, you know?
I am not God. I don’t know everything. But I truly believe that the Social Taboo that keeps us trapped in ignorance is in the process of tumbling to the ground. I even see a change in the way you Goons talk about this stuff. I see a lot of good stuff up ahead in the distance.
We will all get to see how it turns out. It’s just a question of time. And not all that much more time at this point. Fair enough?
I naturally wish you all good things, my long-time Goon friend.