Set forth below is the text of a recent comment that I put to the discussion thread for another blog entry at this site:
Does Jeff still talk to you, or was he scared away by the goons as well?
He did not respond to the words of the e-mail set forth above, Critter. That tells the tale.
Jeff is like all the rest of us. He wants to be friends with me because he likes me. That’s why he made contact with me. He finds the idea of the Campaign of Terror absurd, which is why he said what he said in his e-mail to me. But he cannot bear to go against all the people on the other side, all the people who either promote Buy-and-Hold strategies or who follow Buy-and-Hold strategies themselves. He is a social creature, like all of us. And he can’t go there. So he didn’t respond to the e-mail. And so the cover-up continues.
To end the cover-up, we have to call it out. We need to have articles about the cover-up appear at every site on the internet. We need to have it written up on the front page of the New York Times. That’s how cover-ups are exposed. That’s how we bring them down. We all know this.
The hard part re this particular cover-up is that exposing this particular cover-up does not mean just exposing “bad” people whom we have never met and whom we will never see in the future. In this case exposing the cover-up means exposing our friends and our neighbors and our co-workers and our fellow community members. Jeff liked talking to me at the bloggers conference. He wanted to stay in touch with me. But I am not the only person that Jeff liked talking to. He liked talking to LOTS of people who attended the conference. And 90 percent of the people he liked talking to have blogs where they have posted positive words about Buy-and-Hold. What are all those people going to think of Jeff if he comes back from the conference and writes a blog post saying that he spoke to this Rob Bennett fellow and he now realizes that the whole Buy-and-Hold thing is a con that is in the process of destroying millions of middle-class lives? Jeff would get closer to me by doing that. How many people whom he likes would he distance himself from by doing that?
That’s the story, Anonymous.
Humans are social creatures. Humans possess a Get Rich Quick urge. Buy-and-Hold exploits our Get Rich Quick urge. It sounds great in the short term. It destroys us in the long term. We are in the process today of moving from the short term to the long term. Buy-and-Hold stopped “working” in January 2000. From January 2000 forward, investors have done better (on a risk-adjusted basis) earning the 4 percent real that was available at that time with IBonds and TIPS. But the Buy-and-Holders are still not doing that bad. They did great before January 2000 and they can live with the results they have seen since. So the social pressure still favors continuing the cover-up. You’ll make more friends speaking in support of Buy-and-Hold than you will saying that Buy-and-Hold is a smelly Get Rich Quick scheme. I know whereof I speak.
But what happens after the next crash?
Do we continue to tell these lies? Do we continue to exert social pressure to keep people like Jeff from telling the obvious truths about this garbage investing strategy that is killing us all? Or do we decide that it is too darn important to provide some means for the millions of investors whose lives are in the process of being destroyed to continue tolerating all this nastiness?
I think we are going to make the change. I think that following the next price crash Jeff is going to feel free to speak out about what he learned from me. I believe that following the next price crash he is going to come forward with a statement saying that he felt funny about this ever since he spoke to me and that he wished that he had had the courage to come forward sooner.
But I could be wrong.
When I put forward my May 13, 2002, post, I thought that the smear campaign against me would last perhaps two days, three days at tops, and then people would see that the numbers support me and come to their senses and that would be the end of it. So I have a record of being terribly off base re this stuff. If you want to say that you think it’s happening again, there’s nothing that I can say in response except that I continue to believe otherwise and that I am physically incapable of participating in the cover-up myself regardless of what happens. So I will just soldier on.
It’s not personal, Anonymous. I cannot lie about this stuff. When I was putting together my plan, I worked hard to get it right and I cannot bear to say things that would cause someone going through the same experience to get it wrong. It’s not in me. I cannot go there.
That doesn’t mean that I don’t like you. That doesn’t mean that I don’t wish you well.
I’ll do my thing and you will do yours, you know? It would seem to me that the next price crash will tell us who is going to prevail. If some space opens up to tell the truth about the last 35 years of peer-reviewed research, I will become one of the richest people on the planet and everyone who reviews the record will say that I earned every darn dime that came my way. I will extend the hand of kindness to my many Buy-and-Hold friends yet one more time and this time it will be accepted and we will all work together from that day forward to rebuild our broken economic system. And we will meet with great success because we will from that point forward be able to speak openly about the most important 35 years of peer-reviewed research that has ever been published in the history of investing analysis (or in the history of economics, for that matter).
Or we will all go down together. That’s the other possibility. That’s where we end up if we all continue to live in fear following the next price crash, which I suppose is at least a theoretical possibility (one that I don’t permit myself to ponder much because I cannot bear to do so).
Or perhaps there is some third possibility that doesn’t occur to me because of my background or the set of life experiences that I have lived through, some possibility where the deepening of the economic crisis that comes with the next crash ends up not being so bad and people continue to lie about what the research says and nothing ever happens to stop them. I can’t see it but I have to accept that you must envision something like that playing out or you couldn’t continue to do what you do. I don’t think that something like that can happen. But I suppose that in fairness I should at least list it among the options given the possibility that I am once again getting it wrong, as has happened so many times before in my years of struggling to make sense of the things playing out before my eyes and failing miserably to do it properly.
Something is going to happen. I hope that we can all agree that that much is fair to say.
I will live with the results of that something. So will Jeff. So will Anonymous. So will Bogle So will Shiller.
I hope that we will do the best we can to see past our differences and remain friends no matter what that something is. That’s what I feel deep in my heart.
Is there anything else that can be said re these matters?
We still disagree. Obviously. I am never going to ban you from posting here no matter what. Obviously. I still believe what I believe and you still believe what you believe. Obviously.
I hope that helps. If it doesn’t, I don’t think that I have anything else to offer.
Please take good care, old friend.