Set forth below is the text of a comment that I recently posted to the discussion thread for another blog entry at this site:
We are all so lucky to have you, Rob, as the sole honest person when it comes to investing as everyone else is lying and committing fraud.
Some are committing fraud.
Some are suffering from cognitive dissonance.
Some have never educated themselves re these issues.
Some have tried to educate themselves but to this day suffer from a genuine confusion.
Some have tried to do honest work, have been frightened by the response of the Buy-and-Holders and have pulled back from doing so, rationalizing that they can do more good through that approach than by sacrificing their careers in an overly idealistic quest (I was in this group from May 1999 through May 2002).
Yes, I try very hard to post with complete honesty, even when the price associated with doing so is high. I have seen too clearly what results when those of us who have come to at least a partially clear understanding of these issues fail to do so. Shiller published his “revolutionary” (his word) research findings in 1981. Had Shiller or someone else been uncompromising in his or her insistence on his or her right to post honestly re what that research tells us about Buy-and-Hold, our board and blog communities would not have been put through what they have been put through over the past 15 years. I think it would be fair to say that every single community member (including Lindauer and Greaney) wishes that someone had done what I have done over the past 15 years back in 1981. Those acts of cowardice, however understandable, have hurt each and every one of us in very serious ways. I don’t want to engage in such cowardice, knowing where it takes us. Sue me, you know?
I don’t say that I am better than everyone else. We all try to make positive contributions. Again, I include Lindauer and Greaney in that; I believe that Lindauer and Greaney started out with an intent to make positive contributions. But here we are. It’s not all Lindauer’s fault or all Greaney’s fault. It’s the fault of all of us who failed to speak up when we saw them engaging in ugly behavior. I did that. I am ashamed that I failed to speak up from May 1999 through May 2002. I engaged in all same rationalizations that Bogle and Shiller and Pfau and Bernstein and all the others engage in today. I know how they feel and I sympathize. No one should have to see his or her career destroyed because he wants to post honestly re an important subject. But again — here we are. How are things going to change if we all keep on doing the same things?
I will post honestly, Goonie. I made that decision on the morning of May 13, 2002, and I have never seen any good reason to change it for 15 years running now. The answer is not for one more person to rationalize dishonesty. The answer is for those who are not speaking up against the abusiveness to begin doing so. We all would be better off if we all did that. I cannot force anyone else to do anything, no matter how important I think it is that they do that thing. All that I can do is to set an example by doing the right thing myself. That much I will do. And I will offer precisely zero apologies for doing so.
If Buy-and-Hold can only be defended with death threats, Buy-and-Hold belongs in the trashcan of history.
I am 100 percent sure.
If Buy-and-Hold can be defended through civil and reasoned discussion, then every Buy-and-Holder alive should unite in opposite to the tactics that we have seen employed for the past 15 years by the Lindauerheads and the Greaney Goons. There should be zero controversy re this matter.
Again I am 100 percent sure.
You are lucky to have me, Goonie. And you are lucky to have the thousands of our fellow community members who dared to put their lives and their careers on the line by posting once or twice that they would like to see our boards and blogs opened up to honest posting on safe withdrawal rates and scores of other critically important investment-related topics. And you are lucky to live in a country that has laws against financial fraud that protect you and all of us from the sort of behavior that you have been engaging in for 15 years now. And you are lucky that you have a conscience that makes you feel bad about your behavior without me even needing to explain to you why you should feel bad.
We are all lucky. And we are all going to make it successfully to the other side of The Big Black Mountain. I wish that it wouldn’t take all the human misery that will accompany the next price crash to get us there. But you know what? The good news here is 20 times more good than the bad news here is bad. So I’ll take the package as delivered. The truth is that we are very, very lucky indeed and that we should work to keep focused on that important and encouraging reality.
You are lucky. I am lucky. And here we are quarreling for 15 years whether errors in retirement studies should be corrected within 24 hours or not. It’s a big old goody world, just as John Prine once argued, is it not?
Take care, my good friend.