Set forth below is the text of a comment that I recently posted to another blog entry at this site:
All the people you mentioned do post honestly and are free to post on boards of their choosing. You, on the other hand, can’t post on many of the boards due to your behavior. Those boards have a right to block you, just like you block posts on your board. I would also take issue with what you call “honest” posting.
We disagree as strongly as two people could possibly disagree, Anonymous.
I delete posts for the perfectly good reason that this is a personal finance site and there is no place here for death threats and other forms of intimidation. Normal people cannot have civil and reasoned discussions if I don’t block that sort of thing. I have no choice if I want the site to serve its purpose.
The Buy-and-Holders block posts that make research-based challenges to Buy-and-Hold because those posts make research-based challenges to Buy-and-Hold. In an objective sense, that is pure financial fraud. They are telling lies about how stock investing works and making money from it and they block posts that call them out on their lies because they don’t see how they can get anyone to believe the lies if they are exposed and discussed. That ain’t financial fraud? Huh?
It is obvious financial fraud. Nothing could be more clear in an objective sense.
I add the phrase “in an objective sense” because there is another angle to the story here and that angle is important and needs to be considered. The people who are doing the blocking believe in Buy-and-Hold in one part of their consciousness and indeed follow Buy-and-Hold strategies themselves. And, even if they were personally willing to permit research-based stuff to appear at their sites, they have a marketing problem in that the research-based stuff drives away their readers.
That’s a serious problem. That cuts the other way a bit. So I doubt that all of those people will be going to prison. Some of them no doubt will be going to prison. But not all of them. I don’t think any of us can say how many of them will be going to prison. There’s never been a situation like this before. We are in uncharted territory. But it’s pretty darn remarkable that even one person has put himself in circumstances in which going to prison is even a remote possibility. So I think that the prison thing really must be mentioned from time to time. It is part of our story.
There was once a post by my good friend Wanderer that has stuck with me through all the years since he advanced it. Wanderer felt bad about the smear campaign that they were directing at me back at the FIRE board. So at one point he said something to the effect of: “It’s not like we are the Amish and are shunning him everywhere in the Amish world. He can always go post somewhere else.”
That’s not true, is it?
I could post somewhere else if I played it the way Todd Tresidder plays it. Todd gives his readers research-based stuff on issues of substance. But he stays far away from telling his readers the truth about the process-oriented questions. He doesn’t explore why the errors in the Old School retirement studies have been covered up for 13 years. He doesn’t tell people how it was the continued promotion of Buy-and-Hold strategies for 34 years after the peer-reviewed research showed that there is zero chance that they could ever work for even a single long-term investor that caused the economic crisis. Todd went so far as to call me on the telephone and threaten to ban me from his site if I continued addressing the process-side questions in comments put to his site.
You Goons would permit me to post at other sites if I dropped the process-side stuff, Anonymous. That is the thing that you do not want to so. You don’t want me to say “the Buy-and-Holders got it wrong” like I did when I showed that Greaney got all the numbers wildly wrong in his retirement study. And you don’t want me to report on the intimidation tactics that you use to block millions of middle-class investors from learning how the Buy-and-Holders got it wrong . We are working at cross purposes. The thing that you most do not want to see is the thing that I most DO want to see. I want to show people the DANGERS of Buy-and-Hold.
I had a long series of discussions with Mike Piper at the Oblivious Investor blog about these questions. Mike acknowledged that he thinks Valuation-Informed Indexing is a perfectly reasonable strategy. He doesn’t follow it himself. But he sees nothing even a tiny bit wrong with it. If it didn’t upset his readers, he would be happy to permit me to post at his site. But it DOES upset his readers. A LOT. He had readers writing to him to complain about me all the time when I was posting there on a daily basis. I was driving them crazy. I was posting research-based stuff that showed that Mike’s strategies were going to provide horrible long-term results. They very much wanted to believe in Mike’s strategies. So they told him that either I went or they went. Mike didn’t like being put in that situation. But he makes his living from his blog. So eventually I went.
Is Mike liable for the losses that his readers are going to suffer in coming days in the event that the stock market continues to perform as it has unfailingly performed for the 140 years for which we have records available to us?
I like Mike as a person. So there is a part of me that is sympathetic to his circumstances that says “maybe he will not be held liable for those losses.”
But my strong hunch is that I would like a lot of his readers too if I got to know them. So there is another part of me that says “obviously he is going to be held liable. That is an outrage. To ban honest posting is a violation of all this country’s basic beliefs and in fact is a felony under the laws of the United States. How could he possibly not be held liable? How could he not be sent to prison for a long time for doing something like that?”
I am not God, Anonymous. I don’t know with certainty how things are going to turn out.
I know that I don’t want to find myself in the circumstances in which Mike is going to find himself in the event that stocks continue to perform in the future anything at all as they always have in the past.
And I know that I don’t want to find myself in the circumstances in which Todd Tresidder is going to find himself either. Todd is Mike’s friend, as I am. But Todd plays it differently. Todd acts like he thinks there is nothing ethically or legally wrong with Mike’s ban on honest posting at his site. So Todd is not much of a friend, is he? Todd is going to have to live with his conscience if Mike is sent to prison or found financially liable for the losses suffered by his readers.
I don’t want to find myself in those circumstances. So I am not going to play it the way Mike is playing it or the way that Todd is playing it or, heaven help us all, the way that you Goons are playing it.
It’s not even a matter of me deciding not to play it that way. I am physically incapable of playing it that way. I have never given the idea two seconds of consideration in 13 years of posting re these matters. If you never consider something, you can never agree to that something. And in 13 years of discussions about whether honest discussions should be permitted, I have never even considered the idea. So I really believe that even a Goon like you should get the picture at this point.
I have gotten the picture from the other side of the table. I once believed that you Goons would eventually break and permit honest posting if enough pressure was applied. But I believe that we passed the point at which that was possible when you threatened Wade Pfau. At that point it became impossible for any reasonable person to believe that you would not be going to prison once all of this goes public. And people who are going to prison don’t generally permit the stuff that is going to get them sent to prison to get out.
So I am resigned on my side to the idea that we are going to have to wait until the next crash to resolve these matters. I obviously don’t like the idea. And there’s always that tiny bit of hope that causes me to write comments like this one. But I put those odds at about 10 percent at this point. The odds are very long today.
So what do you want from me?
I obviously cannot change course and you obviously don’t feel that you can change course. So we wait for the crash. No?
When you put up comments that may help people in future days understand some aspect of this matter, I will continue to permit them to show up. I am never going to prohibit you from posting here. That one is not in me either. But I cannot say that I understand what purpose is being achieved by you continuing to comment here. You are not ever going to break and I am not ever going to break. So my suggestion is that you find something else to which to direct your posting energies.
I wish you all the best that this life has to offer a person, in any event.