Set forth below is the text of a comment that I recently posted to the discussion thread for another blog entry at this site:
“No one has ever complained about it.”
I absolutely guarantee that someone has complained. As you did with so many message boards and blogs, you’re putting Al-Anon’s “all are welcome” policy to the ultimate test.
Your comment here illustrates the addiction problem, Anonymous.
We cannot overcome the addiction until we acknowledge it. The very first step to recovery is being able to say “I have hit bottom and I need help.”
We hit bottom as a community of investors on the day that John Greaney put forward his first death threat. That should never have happened. The Wall Street Con Men pretend that there is peer-reviewed research supporting the Buy-and-Hold “strategy.” If that were so, we never would have seen any death threats. If Buy-and-Hold were a legitimate strategy, the Buy-and-Holders would just point to the research supporting it, they would never dream of advancing death threats or of encouraging the advancement of death threats. But here we are.
My favorite saying that I have learned from reading the literature of the 12-step programs is: “You are only as sick as your secrets.” The fact that the Buy-and-Hold retirement studies get the numbers wildly wrong is one of our most carefully guarded secrets, no? We must keep that secret to keep the addiction from being exposed. You could see how important it was to the Buy-and-Holders to keep that secret when our board community exploded following my post from the morning of November 23, 2002, urging Greaney’s removal from the board community. I think it would be fair to describe the follow-up discussion to that post as the hottest moment in the history of this new communications medium. Why did our board community explode at that time? Because I had publicly exposed the sickest of our Buy-and-Hold secrets.
When I used that phrase “Stock Drunk” as the name of one of the sections of the site a number of years back. I was really just making a joke. I was sincere about it. But it was not my intent to say that Buy-and-Hold is literally an addiction. But I thought about it more over time and I came to believe that there really is at least a small literal truth to the idea that Buy-and-Hold investing is an addiction. I cannot refer to anything said at meetings because of the anonymity rules. But much of the literature is available on Amazon.com; there are no anonymity rules that apply to much of the literature. So it is fair for me to report how the observation that “you are only as sick as your secrets” applies to the Buy-and-Hold phenomenon. And of course there are lots of other observations developed by those trying to help others escape the pain of addictions that very, very, very much apply in the Buy-and-Hold context.
We are not dealing with a rational phenomenon, Anonymous. Not when we see death threats. Not when we see demands for unjustified board bannings. Not when we see tens of thousands of acts of defamation. Not when we see threats to get academic researchers fired from their jobs. And of course the behavior of you Goons is only a small part of what we are up against. There are Goons everywhere on the internet. Responsible people stand up to them and they are overcome. We don’t see that in the investing realm. Freakin’ Jack Bogle has ENDORSED Mel Lindauer’s freakin’ book! What the h? How does something like that happen?
Crazy things happen when addictions enter the picture. That’s the story here. It’s my job to tell this story as completely and charitably and honestly as I possibly can. I cannot tell the story effectively without addressing the addiction side of it. So that’s what I am going to do.
Please understand that the 12-step literature is a literature rooted in love. I have often noted how I intend to do what I can to get your prison sentence reduced a wee bit. This is part of that. The 12-step literature refers to addictions as a “disease.” If your jury members become convinced that you Goons are suffering from a disease, I could see them seeing fit to reduce your prison sentence a bit. That’s fine by me. I want to see your jury do what is right. I believe that you are indeed suffering from a disease. So I have no problem accepting that my words re these matters may cause your jury to give you a shorter prison sentence. I believe in our system of justice. If a shorter prison sentence is the result of my efforts in this direction, then so be it. So long as that shorter prison sentence is a result of the proper functioning of our system of justice, I see it as a good thing.
Addiction are real things. Addictions hurt us. They don’t just hurt the addicted. They hurt the people who live with the addictions and who are seen by the addicts as threats to their addictions. We are all suffering from our collective addiction to the Buy-and-Hold investing strategy. We need as a nation to find our way to recovery. I offer no apologies for doing what I can to take us to a good place.
You are an addict, Anonymous. That is why you are headed to prison. Your first step to recovery is acknowledging that you have hit bottom. It’s my job as your friend to say that to you. I know that the odds that you will take the message to heart are very small. But I need to say the words to be able to live with myself and to avoid getting caught up in the craziness that you bring to the world. I hope that in days to come that we will be able to be friends again. It will certainly be my intent to do everything in my power to make that possible.
My best and warmest wishes to you, my long-time Buy-and-Hold addicted friend.