Tuesday’s blog entry set forth the text of an e-mail that I received from Mike Piper explaining his decision to delete a comment that I put to a blog entry at his Oblivious Investor blog reviewing the Bogleheads’ Guide to Retirement Planning. The comment pointed out the role of the authors in imposing a ban on honest posting on safe withdrawal rates and other important investment topics at the Vanguard Diehards board and at the Bogleheads.org forum. Set forth below is the text of my response to Mike:
I believe that you are trying to take things in a positive direction. I applaud you
for that. We need some people from “your side” taking more constructive and
If you do not object, I will run the text of your e-mail as a blog entry at my site
(if you do object, I will summarize it). Your e-mail is news. It tells people how
those among the Passive Investing advocates who are trying to take things
in a positive direction are handling these sorts of issues today.
I would be grateful if you would include a note in the comments section of
the blog entry saying that Rob Bennett posted a comment that you deleted on
grounds that it was not on topic and that I will be reporting on the matter at my
My view is that integrity issues are always on topic. Mel and Taylor would
not have a book contract but for the work done at those boards by thousands of
good and smart and honest people. The ban on honest posting is a betrayal
of those people and their intent in building the board. People thinking of
taking the retirement advice offered in the book into consideration need to
know whether the authors can be trusted. The fact that they favor a
ban on honest posting on safe withdrawal rates (SWRs) goes to this question.
I am happy to hear that there are few references to SWRs in the book.
That is obviously a good thing and I think it would be fair to say that it is
my efforts (supplemented by the efforts of the thousands of community
members who have expressed a desire that honest posting be permitted)
that are primarily responsible for that encouraging reality of today. The darker
reality is that Taylor and Mel have not learned what they could have learned
from their discovery that the Old School SWR studies got all the numbers
wrong. Everything that I have learned about investing over the past seven
years followed from my discovery of the errors in the Old School studies
and what I learned by thinking through the implication of the reality that
so many good and smart people could get their retirement planning advice
so terribly and dangerously wrong and fail to fix things for so many years
after the errors were brought to their attention.
Thanks for the tone evidenced in your e-mail. I of course do not agree
with your decision to delete the comment. I certainly understand why
the comment causes discomfort. I interpret your reasonable tone as
evidencing a desire to see these matters handled in a constructive and
positive way. If that happens, I am confident that every single member of
the Indexing community (including Taylor and Mel and John Bogle,
to be sure) will be feeling a whole lot better about themselves and about
their advocacy of the indexing concept in days to come.