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Wikipedia Is More One-Sided Than Ever
Monday, 12 July 2021 14:17

The founder of Wikipedia says his own invention cannot be trusted as an unbiased source anymore.

I think he is correct. I'll admit that I've edited a few Wiki pages myself when I found the information to be misleading, incomplete, or factually incorrect. Some of my edits survive to this day. Others have been re-edited by basement dwellers that probably work as fact-checkers for the larger social media platforms. They are wrong about everything else, why not let them be wrong about insurance and personal finance topics on Wikipedia? I can't play whack-a-mole with them forever. I have phone calls to make.

This isn't the first time an inventor deplored what their invention morphed, regressed, and devolved into.

The founder of the "Financial Planning" industry, Loren Dunton, openly despised the various sordid associations and corrupt educational organizations that tried to guild an industry via legislative fiat, statist tyranny, and egalitarian collectivization of compensation methodologies that have tried to destroy the most valuable channels of advice while making that same advice unaffordable for all but the elite. At the end of his life, the so-called "financial planning industry" tried to have Mr. Dunton canceled before that was even a thing. He was right, too. The entire industry is a sham today. Grifters, charlatans, pikers, legions of "failed planners" (certified and otherwise), and parasitic rent-seekers are like a viral infection you brought home from Vegas that your doctor cannot cure with another dose of antibiotics.

The inventor of the 401(k) plan, Ted Benna, later admitted he had "created a monster" while his invention gutted, and then largely destroyed, the private pension plan business that many Americans relied upon for retirement income. Having examined hundreds of retirement plans sponsored by employers, I agree with him. These plans should be a way to supplement a pension with tax-advantaged savings, but largely it has become a way to enrich fund managers and plan administrators, using a design that's a plan to fail for way too many. We have congress critters drafting legislation to punish the likes of Peter Thiel and his $5,000,000,000 Roth IRA, but nobody is talking about the fact that the most misleading statistic in the craft of financial advice is the "average" retirement savings plan balance is $96,000. Why is it misleading? The median balance is only $5,000! The "average" is really skewed by the "mega" IRAs with multi-million dollar balances, like the one owned by Mitt Romney.

Every week, I meet someone who is literally at the threshold of (often involuntary) retirement who has less than $20,000, or even $10,000, saved. Some have literally nothing saved anywhere, despite having been eligible for a 401(k), 403(b), and 457 Plan at their place of employment. This is why I contend that the Norman Daceys, AL Williams, Charlie Givens, Suze Ormans, and Dave Ramseys of the world have done much more harm than all the good they and their sycophants can imagine.

The long-tailed life-altering effect of retirement plan "leakage" is horrific. I've been saying for years the biggest threat to retirement security in America is liquidity; that very high surrender penalties are an "owners benefit" because it's the best weapon we have to fight the spending disease that John Savage, CLU preached about for years. When one company that will go un-named started paying over $100 per click on Google to make sure their bait was properly positioned to lure the product of public education systems into selling their annuity, pension, and settlement income for deeply discounted lump sums of cash to spend on toys, the circle was complete; when reverse mortgages reared their heads (again), then the confidence game was now mainstream.

But it's been a windfall in profits for Wall Street, investment banks, the fund industry, and their respective lobbyists, as well as the rent-seekers posing as fiduciaries. Shame on them all for gaming the system to serve the elite while ignoring the masses who desperately need our help.

Instead of talking about how many Assets Under Management a "planner" has right after their names, journalists would serve the public much better by mentioning how many actual living human clients that advisor has?

I'm much more impressed by the advisor that has 10,000 living, breathing clients than the dude with a $500,000,000 book, but only 10 decision-makers in his database.

I know which of these two makes the more significant difference in the world around them: It is he who helps the most people.