Set forth below is the text of a comment that I recently posted to the discussion thread for one of my columns at the Value Walk site:
You cannot commit financial fraud by giving unsolicited, unpaid, and un-expert theories on the Internet with zero direct control over actual client assets. To say otherwise is demented.
Which of your friends specifically was ruined?
I say that destroying the lives of millions of people by engaging in the behavior that Greaney and those who posted in “defense” of him engaged in is financial fraud, Laugh. You can say 10,000 times (and you have) that it is not and you are not going to convince me otherwise. And I say say 10,000 times that it is (and I have) and I am not going to convince you.
But you know what?
It doesn’t matter in the end what you say OR what I say. It is what the jury says that will matter in the end. To find out what the jury is going to say, we are both going to need to exercise a little patience. That’s where things stand. I will continue saying what I believe because conscience compels me to do so given that you are a friend. But please understand that I am under no delusions at this point in the proceedings that my words will have an effect on you.
Everyone who lives in the United States was affected by your massive act of financial fraud. The ones that I am making specific reference to are the ones who posted at the Motley Fool’s Retire Early board from the years 1999 (when I put forward my first post there) through 2003 (when I was banned). I got to know those people and I got to care about those people and it became impossible for me to lie about the numbers that Greaney was putting before those people and that those people were obviously using to plan retirements. I worked up the courage to tell the truth and I don’t regret it and it is impossible for me to imagine that I ever will. That’s that. Everything that can be said about that aspect of the question has been said many times over at this point in the proceedings.
We don’t know with absolute certainty what the jury will say. I have my opinion and you have yours. I believe that you are only pretending to have your opinion, that on one level of consciousness you know perfectly well that you are on your way to prison and that you say different only because you don’t want to acknowledge the awful reality of what you have done to yourself. But I of course understand that you can say the same thing back to me and so there is no point in pursuing any further discussions re this aspect of the question. The members of your jury will decide the matter and there is not going to be a jury appointed until we all experience the next price crash and we are not there yet as of 5:21 a.m. on the morning of September 25, 2016. So be it, you know?
I worked up the courage to “cross” Greaney because of the people that I got to know and care about at the Motley Fool board. In the days and weeks and months and years since I put forward that fateful post, I have come to care about thousands more. And of course in a less intense sense I care about each and every one of the millions whose lives have been destroyed. They are all my friends in a limited sense. I care about each and every one of the millions whose lives have been damaged as a result of the Buy-and-Hold Crisis. I will continue to think about the effects on those millions every time that I dare to push the “Submit” button re a new post.
And I care about you.
You too enter into the calculations that I do each time I advance a post. So my offer to do what I can to put forward some words aimed at getting your prison sentence reduced a wee bit remains on the table and will always remain on the table until the jury gives its verdict. I won’t commit financial fraud, obviously. The idea that I ever would is of course insane. But I think it would be fair to say that you get that loud and clear at this point in the proceedings. So, again, saying the same words over and over again doesn’t add much.
I believe that you will be going to prison following the next price crash.
For a long time.
I believe that action taken today could get that prison sentence reduced a wee bit. But I don’t believe that there’s anything that anyone can do today to get that prison sentence eliminated altogether.
And so I don’t believe that there’s anything that I can do to persuade you to come clean prior to announcement of your prison sentence. You don’t want to go to prison AT ALL. So you are not motivated to say words and take actions that would bring this crisis to an end. It is what it is. We are all in the soup together.
I will do what I can and I will not do what I cannot do, you know? It’s pretty simple when you reduce it to its essentials.
I have never had any options. I very much don’t want to go to prison myself. So it is unimaginable to me that I would ever commit any felonies. The error that Greaney made in his retirement study is so easy to understand that a five-year-old could grasp the essential point — leave out the most important factor and you are going to get the numbers wrong every damn time. I have to post honestly re that one or I cannot do work in this field and my entire life has been devoted to accumulating the skills to do effective work in this field and so I am not turning back re the core project. And there you are.
I’ll do my thing. You’ll do yours.
I am obviously not God. I have obviously been wrong about this sort of thing before. It is of course possible that I am getting it wrong again. If knowing that gives you comfort, I am happy that my Goon friend can enjoy that comfort. That’s nice for you (if you really feel comforted, which I personally doubt in my possibly wrong-headed understanding of where things stand).
I still like you, Laugh. I will send you a postcard when you are in prison. I will meet up with you after you get out and have a beer with you and laugh about all the craziness that went down in the good old days.
If that helps, good. It makes me happy if that helps. Because that is something that I can do.
The lying about the numbers that my friends use to plan their retirements is not something that I can do. You know, the financial fraud thing. Not this boy. Find somebody else.
But you knew that.
You knew that a long, long, long, long time ago. For at least 12 years now (since John Walter Russell declared The Great SWR Debate over and showed with numbers why that was so), you knew that.
You can continue, if you please. But there is no law mandating it. You are free to just to just wait it out and spend your time and energies doing more fun stuff. You have my permission and encouragement, for what that’s worth.
Anyway, I naturally wish you all the best that this life has to offer a Goon.
Hang in there, man. It gets better. A LOT better. Yes, even for those headed to a prison cell following the next crash.
Prison sentences come to an end. We tend not to see it that way before they are announced. But if you read the great philosophers, I think you will come to agree that the consensus view is that even long prison sentences, as feared as they are in the time we are seeking to avoid them, eventually come to an end and new things then rush in to fill our lives with joy and hope and fulfillment.