Set forth below is the text of a comment that I recently posted to the discussion thread for another blog entry at this site:
Clearly your responsibility to the world (as you see it) is equal or higher priority than your family responsibility. This is a point of view that we ordinary family guys just cannot grasp. If people in Syria are suffering, that’s a shame. But I can’t help them and it doesn’t directly affect me. If my wife is suffering (for an hour, let alone 15 years) that is my immediate top priority.
Could you try to explain your position in terms that we simpletons can understand?
There’s no conflict between meeting my responsibilities to the world and meeting my responsibilities to my family. To be able to meet my responsibilities to my family, I need to do good work. To do good work, I need to be honest. When I am honest, I am meeting my responsibilities to the world.
The reason why people get paid for their work is that they are contributing something of value to the world. If I lie about the numbers that my friends are using to plan their retirements, I am subtracting rather than adding. I would not be earning any pay in that case and in all likelihood I would not earn much. It is by adding to the world’s knowledge that I earn what my family needs.
The stock investing world was turned upside when Shiller showed in 1981 that Buy-and-Hold cannot work and yet Bogle continued promoting the strategy, ignoring what Shiller had done. Today everyone working in this field faces a question — Do dishonest work and make a temporary killing with the possibility of going to prison at a later date or do honest work and see your career destroyed by Bogle’s various Goon squads. It would not help my family for me to go to prison. So I intend to avoid committing felonies. I have never even given the matter two seconds of my consideration.
I didn’t begin doing this work with the idea of saving the world. I expected that Greaney would be abusive when I put forward my May 13, 2002, post. But I also expected that the community would support me once they looked seriously at the historical return data and saw that I was right. No one could have anticipated what happened. Once it happened, I was stuck. I obviously cannot agree to commit felonies. And you Goons do not feel that you can permit me to post honestly because it would mean prison sentences for you for the word to get out re this massive act of financial fraud.
I have always offered to work out any deal with you Goons that does not involve me committing a felony under the laws of the United States. I continue to make that offer today. You Goons don’t feel that you can give an inch. And I think it would be fair to say that Jack Bogle and the other Wall Street Con Men feel that they cannot afford to give an inch either. Is that my doing? I am trying to help everyone out, to bring us all to a better place. But I obviously cannot do it by myself. I have always offered to do anything of a positive nature that I can possibly do. It’s not even a tiny bit reasonable to expect me to commit crimes that might well get me sent to prison in days to come.
I love my family and I want to do right by the people in my family. And I love my country and I want to do right by the people of this country. There should be no conflict in serving both goals. And there should be no conflict with Wade Pfau wanting to serve his country and his family or with Jack Bogle doing so or with Robert Shiller doing so or whoever. We ALL need to serve both our families AND our country. The fact that this has even become a controversy shows how messed up the investing realm has become in the Buy-and-Hold Era.
When I am free to serve both my family and my country, everyone else is too. When everyone else is free to serve his or her family and his or her country, I will be too. We need to apply the laws of the United States to the investing realm. That’s the only way to put the nasty stuff behind us and move on to better days.
I did not volunteer for this. It’s not like I said on the morning of May 13, 2002, “Oh, I know what I will do, I will start a revolution in our understanding of how stock investing works!” I pointed out that Greaney’s study does not contain a valuations adjustment and that perhaps the people in that community needed to consider what the SWR would be if valuations were considered. I received a very, very strong positive reaction from my fellow community members. Then you Goons stepped in and caused all the problems.
I am not seeking to be a hero. I believe that I will be perceived as a hero when we all make it together to the other side. Millions of people’s lives will be saved. That’s going to be viewed as hero stuff. But that’s not happening because I made a decision to sacrifice my family to make it happen. I put up a post relating to retirement planning at a retirement planning board and a bunch of Buy-and-Holders went freakin’nuts. I was faced with circumstances in which I had to either agree to commit financial fraud or develop the understanding of how stock investing works to the degree necessary for me to overcome you Goons. It turned out that doing that meant revolutionizing the field and me becoming a hero. I can live with that. But I certainly didn’t go into this with the intent of making that happen.
I believe that my wife will come through this just fine. But I wouldn’t agree to commit financial fraud even if someone could go into the future and tell me that me refusing to do so would cause her to not end up just fine. I cannot post dishonestly re the numbers that my friends use to plan their retirements. It is not in me. Asking me to do that is like asking me to flap my arms and fly over traffic jams. It’s an absurdity. It is something that can never happen.
If my wife gets hit by a meteor, I cannot do anything about it. I would’t like it. But there’s nothing I can do about it. If InvestoWorld has gotten so messed up that a man cannot post honestly on safe withdrawal rates without his wife being forced to pay some sort of penalty, that’s the equivalent of getting hit by a meteor. It is something that no one could expect or even understand. You are asking me to buy into something that cannot be understood. I don’t live my life that way. I try to stay rooted in the realities of life.
It is a reality of life that Shiller showed in 1981 that valuations affect long-term returns and that Greaney’s retirement study does not contain a valuations adjustment and that financial fraud is a felony publishable by a prison sentence. I of course acknowledge that some weird things have played out re this matter. But it is more than a little hard for me to believe that there is not going to be a day when the laws of this country are enforced and you Goons are placed in prison cells. On that day, I will be freed to help out the thousands of my fellow community members who have said that they want to be able to hear my message and the millions more like them out there in the real world who did not happen to participate at the discussion boards and blogs to which I have taken this matter over the first 15 years of our discussions. So I cannot imagine that this will not eventually be brought to a successful conclusion.
I love BOTH my family AND my country. I don’t see a need to choose one and sell the other out. I am working to serve both very effectively. And I have reason to believe that that plan will work out more than fine for all concerned. We know that there are millions of people who want access to a better way to invest, the first true research-backed approach. And we know that most of the people who work in this field are anxious to be able to do honest work again — those people are going to be thrilled when we make it to the other side and will be friends of mine for life. Even you Goons end up better off when I overcome you. The fewer lives you destroy, the shorter your prison sentences will be. Shorter prison sentences are better than longer prison sentences.
So I just don’t buy into your premise that there is some sort of conflict here between serving my family and serving my country. Doing good, honest work serves both. That’s my plan and that has been my plan going back to the first day.
I hope that helps a small bit.