Year in Review… 2017
I get a lot of friends asking why I do what I do… after all, it isn’t like I will gain financially from posting Principal’s misdeeds and crimes for people to see. Chances are clients of Principal couldn’t care less; they somehow mistakenly believe they have gotten back all the money they lost a decade ago, and life for them is rosy, at least for now. Everything in the above narrative is true, including the part that people THINK they have recovered their losses from 2008 and 2009, when the reality is that they will never know how badly Principal cleaned them out of their retirement savings. Most people want to believe they made all the right choices, especially when money is involved.
I once owned a diesel motor-home that wasn’t safe to drive. In fact, there were thousands of other owners that had the same problem. The chassis welds were breaking, and the coach bodies were literally falling from the chassis.
Did people care? Yes and no. They didn’t want to KNOW the problem existed, thinking in some crude fashion that if they don’t know about the problem, it didn’t exist. Five years later, after publishing a website and gaining no small amount of negative notoriety from other owners not wanting to know they had a problem, the RV manufacturer finally agreed to repair all the motor-homes. Unknown to the rest of us, the problem had caused serious accidents and possibly fatalities… but the problem got fixed because someone cared.
I could brag on myself that I care about the millions of Principal Life Insurance Company clients that got ripped off by an insurance company that knew all alone what they were doing, and did it anyway. Principal has a pretty logo, smiling friendly young folks are in all their ads, and they ALWAYS get high marks for employee satisfaction and being the best of companies to work for. President and CEO Dan Houston has a smile most people would die for…it’s like it is painted on his face. Former CEO Larry Zimpleman was handsome, but his face was a little crooked, so his motives could be questioned, I guess, but I doubt anyone questioned his moral character either. Besides, Larry was a poor little guy growing up, so being rich simply had to be something he deserved, or earned… or whatever.
The bottom line is that I don’t tolerate people that steal from other people. Why in the world would anyone want to keep such a thing a secret. It might be different if the evidence didn’t exist, but it does. I admit that I can make mistakes… but there exists on the plus side of Principal’s criminality so much proof that supports my accusations, that if Principal wants to take me to task for a mistake or two, so be it.
Another frequently asked question is “how do I know what I am doing really matters?” Another quick answer would be it doesn’t really matter. If I die tomorrow, this website will likely die with me, although I have taken measures to preserve it’s being published until hell freezes over. There may not be new posts published, but the ones still out there now will last until ad nauseam. I have perhaps 200 more posts to write before I have covered the full spectrum of my research, so we will see then.
With all that been said, the main question to be asked is does anyone really read this stuff? The resounding answer to that question is yes… My SEO optimizer helps me to be found in the search engines, and Google analytics shows me who has been on the posts or website, and even I am surprised. Sure, there is a lot of trash from Russia and other foreign countries finding it, but also a number of stateside corporations find it, or at least, someone sitting at a desk in Principal’s office is finding it, and that is what matters. A large number of law firms, government agencies, and educational facilities review my posts, and with the word “fiduciary” soon to be on the lips of more individuals, I expect the numbers to increase.
In 2017, about 4500 individuals clicked on my posts, mostly from California and New York. The chart below shows partial activity for 2017, which ends with 25 states including Washington, D.C. Every state with the exception of North Dakota viewed my website last year, but these are the more frequent visitors. I also can identify the server whenever someone visits, but for privacy reasons, I choose not to publish that list, which numbers almost 1000 servers. Besides the United States, 69 other countries have viewed my website, many of which were banking institutions and other financial institutions:
My logic for posting all the crap that Principal has done over the years may help bring closure at some point in my retirement. Besides, I have no money thanks to Principal’s greed, and living on social security benefits is no fun. I moved out of a $400,000 home (on a golf course) in a gated community that I have yet to sell in Branson, Missouri, because at the time Principal insisted it was their own money they stole, not my money, and for that reason I didn’t lose anything. With the money I had left, I bought a $60,000 house at a Fannie Mae auction, behind a used car lot, in front of an apartment complex, and down the street from a trailer park…. in fact, below WAS my home before Principal stole my money….. and it is still for sale if anyone is interested.
OK, so I have ranted a bit today… isn’t that what blogging is about? My words of advice have little value, because I don’t share the credentials that Principal has to argue their position, but… do NOT rely on your employer, nor the government, to do the right thing when your retirement savings is at stake. Your boss may simply be ignorant, or think he is doing the right thing. Your government sees you as an ant on an elephant’s ass, period. As for Principal, and hundreds of other financial institutions like them… they see you as a financial resource, and an ignorant one at that. Whenever one party to a transaction places themselves above the other party, there is a winner and a loser, and believe me, the deck is stacked in favor of Principal.
That RV manufacturer I mentioned a bit ago? I was a nobody to them, and for five years was told I was wrong, they were right, and I had no right to question the way they built motor-homes. But $12 million later, and 1000 or more coaches that were repaired, a ranking executive with that same company called me and thanked me… he knew all along the problem existed and could do nothing about it. The board had decided to ignore the issue since most RV’s were sold within 4 years, after which there would be no liability. But he also knew that their own customers were either dying, or could be dying, from a serious defect that needed to be corrected, and for that he thanked me.
Do I expect a “thank you” from Principal at some time into the future? Nope. I do not believe there is a culture of guilt, or gratitude, that has ever existed, or will ever exist, within Principal’s leadership. Few people die from financial hardship, and Principal views their clients as pawns on a chess board, to discard if necessary, to protect the king… period. Will one day there be a “checkmate?” Only you, the client, can make that happen. Unfortunately, that will never happen, because we all live in a fantasy world of trust and obey.