Set forth below is the text of a comment that I recently posted to the discussion thread for another blog entry at this site:
“That’s not a decision that I made lightly. In Chapter 12 of my book (Passion Saving: The Path to Plentiful Free Time and Soul-Satisfying Work), I examine the possibility that worse could come to worse and that I would not be able to provide for my family. I say that, in those unlikely circumstances, one has to conclude that that was what was meant (by God or by Evolution or by The Fates or by whatever you believe in — I believe in God) to be and that my wife and my children have to learn whatever lesson they were meant to learn from the experience.”
What lesson did your wife and children learn from all of this?
We don’t know yet, Anonymous. We’re still living through it.
The point is that things happen in this life for a purpose. That’s a core belief of mine. John Walter Russell said a long, long time ago (perhaps in 2003) that (I am paraphrasing): “I believe that this is going to work out better than anyone could possibly imagine.” That had the ring of truth for me at the time he said it and there have been scores and scores of things that have happened in the days since that have confirmed for me that we are in the process of seeing some amazing, positive, life-affirming developments here. As I often put it, the good that we have seen here has been 50 times more good than the bad that we have seen here has been bad.
What makes life hard is that you don’t get to see the conclusion of the process while you are working your way through it. You have to have faith in your fellow man that, if you do what is right, there will be a payoff at the end. I believe that. I love my country. I love the internet. I love Bogle’s idea of using the peer-reviewed research as guidance on how to invest. My confidence in those things is going to pay off in the long run. The great things about our economic and legal system are going to pay off big time for all of us. The invention of the internet is going to pay off big time for all of us. The peer-reviewed research is going to pay off big time for all of us.
I believe that strongly. But you never know precisely how it is going to happen. That’s the drama. That’s the scary part. That’s what makes faith hard. That what makes life hard.
And we cannot force God (or Evolution or whatever) to play it the way we want Him to play it. My mother once told me that maybe Valuation-Informed Indexing might catch on after I die. That one also had the ring of truth to my ears! Maybe I watched too many episodes of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” when I was a kid and I am just drawn to trick endings. But I could see something like that happening. It could turn out that Valuation-Informed Indexing really is the future and that in time it becomes dominant over Buy-and-Hold but that all this would only happen after I were no longer around. I would hate that! But it could happen. I don’t rule out something like that.
That could benefit my boys. They will be around after I am gone. It could be that that they will see it all play out in a positive way after I am gone and then realize for themselves the importance of being determined and perhaps make some change in their own lives as a result that will pay off in a big way for them or their children. I don’t know the specifics. We don’t get to know the specifics. But of course I wouldn’t know the specifics of staying at the corporate job either. Some people would describe that path as “safer.” But no one can ever say for sure. You might choose the safe path and then end up becoming an alcoholic because the work you do is so meaningless — Oops!
I have done the right thing for my country and for my fellow community members and for my profession and for my family and for myself and for my parents (who did so much to prepare me to do something like this) and for my friends (from whom I have learned things that made it possible for me to pull this off) and from the authors of my favorite books and for the writers of the songs that aided my determination and for the academic researchers who long for the day when they can do honest work again. I don’t have any doubt about any of that.
I have done the right thing for the Wall Street Con Men. The Wall Street Con Men never meant to cause an economic crisis when they came up with Buy-and-Hold. They thought they were doing a good thing. They never imagined in their worst nightmares that they were creating a monster and that some day things would get so horribly out of hand. I have done the right thing for you Goons. You cannot bear to acknowledge it. But I believe that 100 percent. I treat you like humans. I don’t make rationalizations for not standing up to you (I once did, but I have not done this since the morning of May 13, 2002). I show you respect when I treat you like humans. That’s charity. Failing to speak up is cowardice, not kindness. I am 100 percent sure re that one.
I cannot tell you what lessons my wife and children will learn from this. I can tell you that I know that I have done the right thing and that I BELIEVE that doing the right thing pays off in the long run. I have lived a blessed life in just about every other respect. Perhaps I have had it too good and God wanted me to experience some suffering to prepare my soul in some way for other things that I will be seeing in future days and perhaps the same is true for my wife and my children. I do not know. I believe that there is a purpose in life and I believe that abandoning all that you believe in because some Goon on the internet is embarrassed for people to know that he got an important number wrong in a retirement study posted at his web site is not the way to go. Not for anyone. Not even for that Goon.
That’s where I am coming from in any event, Anonymous.
I naturally wish you all the best that this life has to offer a person.