Set forth below is the text of a comment that I recently posted to the discussion thread for another blog entry at this site:
If what you are doing is not working, perhaps you should try a different path.
I am not capable of posting dishonestly re the numbers that my friends are using to plan their retirements, Anonymous. It’s just not in me.
For good or for ill, I think it would be fair to say that I am stuck for life on the path that I walked onto on the morning of May 13, 2002.
Please don’t think that I am complaining. I believe that the opportunities that have become available to me by walking this path are enormous, just breath-taking. I believe that I have opportunities that I will be cashing in on in days to come that will make me one of the richest people in the world. I obviously don’t want to appear to be whining about that.
My point is that I would be stuck on this path even if I knew with certainty that it would never put a dollar in my wallet. I cannot post dishonestly re this stuff. When I was planning my early retirement, I worked it hard. I wanted to get the numbers right. That was very important to me. So it is just impossible for me to imagine how I could ever deliberately post dishonestly re the numbers being used by others. I could make mistakes. We all are capable of making mistakes. Even that scares me. But the thought of DELIBERATELY putting forward retirement-planning numbers that I know with certainty are wrong just doesn’t compute for me. It is not even possible for me to imagine circumstances where that could ever change.
I once told a friend of mine that I would die for Valuation-Informed Indexing if it came to that. He laughed. He said “That’s the kind of investing strategy that I need to learn more about — the kind that the guy who came up with it is willing to die for.” I thought that was funny. I got the joke. And I don’t mean to be morbid by talking about dying. I certainly don’t believe that I am going to have to die over this stuff. The point is just that there is no circumstance in which I could ever post dishonestly re safe withdrawal rates. If it came to it, I would prefer death to doing that. So obviously I am going to accept any other penalty that is imposed on me for my unwillingness to engage in fraud re these matters.
Say that you got hit by a car and were stuck in a wheelchair for the rest of your life. That would be very bad news, right? That’s not something that you are expecting to see happen and it would be a major setback. But life would still be worth living, right? There are people who can only get around in wheelchairs who live very rich lives. They are not happy to be in wheelchairs but they are thrilled to be alive and they make the most of it.
That’s how I look at the situation that I am in. It is my sincere belief that I will be making millions on the other side of the Big Black Mountain. I am just waiting for the first person to come up to me and exclaim “You are so lucky to have been the person to discover this!” I am going to punch that person in the nose, you know? I swear. But I do believe that, when people look back at these days, they will be thinking how lucky I was to get there first and to have so few competitors and all that sort of thing. What good fortune!
But if it doesn’t happen that way, at least I gave it my best shot. At least I never sold out my fellow community members. If I never earn a dime, you could compare that to me being trapped in a wheel-chair for the rest of my life. It’s not something that I want to see happen. But I would still be thrilled to be alive even if I never earned another dime, you know? Worse things have happened to people in this big old goofy world of ours. If people have lived through worse and maintained their good cheer, it seems to me that I should be able to do the same with this smaller bit of bad fortune. And of course if I receive that $500 million settlement check, all the better, right? If I can hold up to never earning another dime, I can surely hold up to having to figure out how to invest $500 million without it causing me to go into too high a tax bracket.
If you come up with any ideas that put me on a different path and that don’t require me to cross to the wrong side of the felony line, please let me know. I am very much in the market for those sorts of ideas! But nothing on the wrong side of the felony line gets two seconds consideration from this boy. That’s just not the way that I am wired, Anonymous. I am a non-felony-committing fool any way you look at it. I am not offering any apologies. I am happy that I am a non-felony-committing fool. I like it that I am that, $500 million settlement payment or no $500 million settlement payment. But that is certainly what I am in any event. I have certainly never sensed even the slightest inclination in me to reverse myself on that particular call.
I hope that helps a small bit. I love all my FinCon friends and I 100 percent believe that we will all be able to form tighter bonds in the days following the next price crash, when all the resistance to talking over the far-reaching implications of the last 36 years of peer-reviewed research will melt away into nothingness. But we are just going to have to wait a bit to see how things play out following the crash to know for absolutely certain.
My best and warmest wishes to you, my long-time Buy-and-Hold friend.