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Subject:  The Art of TMF Criticism Date:  3/3/2001  12:24 AM
Author:  dwf154 Number:  14766 of 18386

Well, I guess the Rule Maker board has the misfortune to get this post.

I have been very actively reading many areas of TMF for two years. I used to be much more active on the RM board until my attention was drawn to mechanical investing. Then, I had personal distractions that kept me away from the computer for several months. I returned in earnest about 6 months ago via the Retirement Seminar, and I just finished as a co-leader in the Beginning Investment Seminar. I decided I needed to catch up on the RM board as well. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised at the tone of the conversation.

As the stock market has gone down and down and down, the criticism of TMF has gone up and up and up. The criticism is throughout the TMF site. I just don't understand. Did TMF ever promise that the bull market would continue unabated forever? Did TMF say that we each should mimic the RM portfolio? Did TMF ever say that the RM approach was the best? Infallible? TMF did state the belief that the RM approach would beat the market and, at first, it did. Now, this belief is seriously questioned, and rightly so. The whole concept of QuaVA is seriously questioned, and rightly so. But does this justify criticism of TMF in general? Of criticism of the Gardners? I think not. Please don't misinterpret me. I wholeheartedly embrace constructive criticism. It is vital to progress in any endeavor. Constructive criticism of the RM approach is helpful and necessary to accurately determine its validity as an investment approach. Several Fools have posted very insightful questions and appropriate criticisms of TMF- your input is highly valued. Others, however, have posted pot shots and unwarranted derogatory comments. Why?

"Why" is difficult to answer, but my own opinion is that some people do not want to take responsibility for their own actions. The stock market has tanked, and some people need to blame anyone other than those responsible for their investments- themselves. It is much easier to blame someone else for leading them down the primrose path to investment success than to accept responsibility oneself. Well, there is no one to blame but ourselves. I was convinced that QuaVa was a legitmate concept, and I have paid a heavy price for that belief during the past year. Whose fault is this? Mine. TMF did not force me to accept the RM approach. In fact, I read rather extensively in other sources. I am a member of the AAII (American Association of Individual Investors), and I took one of their valuation seminars. I assimilated all the information and made my own choices. Do I resent TMF because my investments have done poorly? Absolutely not.

I applaud TMF for fulfilling its mission to "educate, amuse, and enrich." TMF has educated thousands of people on how to prepare to invest by eliminating debt and decreasing living expenses. Simply describing IRAs to people without them has been financially transformative. Promoting index mutual funds to those who have never invested before is laudatory and commendable.

TMF has always stressed, "Do your own research. Don't mimic us." In other words, take responsibility for your own actions. Has TMF made mistakes? Definitely. Will they make more mistakes in the future? Definitely. Is TMF responsible for the market or any individual financial success or failure? Definitely not.

Do I have blind faith in TMF and support it at all costs? No way. I'm critical and will certainly argue when I disagree.

Educated, amused, and enriched,

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