Financial Samurai “Can’t Understand the Rift” Behind Lindauer/Greaney Smear Campaign

The Lindauer/Greaney Goons took their Smear Campaign to a thread put up last week at the Financial Samurai blog entitled “The Dark Side of Early Retirement.”

I objected with these words (Post #47):

“Of course I have never spammed your site or any other site one time in my entire life, Sam.

“My “reputation” is the result of the fact that I am the person who discovered the analytical errors in the Old School safe withdrawal rate studies back in May 2002. The former owner of the Early Retirement Forum (Bill Sholar) was a friend of mine in our Motley Fool days. He developed the FIRECalc retirement-planning calculator, which gets all the numbers wrong (it doesn’t include a valuations adjustment and that is the single most important factor that determines retirement success or failure). When I posted the accurate numbers at his site, Bill went nuts. Hundreds of other people expressed interest in being able to have honest discussions. Bill nixed that.

“Do you now understand why there is such a deep hatred of me among some of the people who congregate there? How would you feel if you not only had gotten the numbers wrong in a retirement study but had thereby caused lots of your friends to suffer failed retirements and had also banned honest posting on the topic at a retirement board? You would feel pretty darn bad about yourself. That’s how those people feel about themselves.

“You could be helping them out by writing about this matter. We need to get this all in the open so that people can return to sanity. I encourage you and all other personal finance bloggers to do so. Lots of people have been hurt, lots of boards and blogs have been destroyed or seriously damaged and those of us who care about the future of these communities should be doing what we can to help out.

“You’re a brave fellow, Sam. You’re perfect for this!”

Financial Samurai said in response: “Rob, I don’t fully understand the rift, hence I’m not the best one to help you debate. Good luck in fighting for what you believe in!


  1. Rob says

    Okay. Starting today, I am going to not tolerate for one more second those awful, stuffy, pompous, bad-dressing, don’t-appreciate-good-music Goons!

    I’m joking around, Peter.

    I am grateful to you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts with us. My sense is that you speak for a good number of our fellow community members.


  2. says


    Do you think my response to you was fair? I’m not sure how you expect someone who doesn’t fully understand your plight to fight for you.



  3. sadface says

    “lots of your friends to suffer failed retirements”

    Who are these people? Can you name one?

  4. Rob says

    Do you think my response to you was fair? I’m not sure how you expect someone who doesn’t fully understand your plight to fight for you.

    Thanks for asking, Sam. I am going to answer you in an indirect way because I think there is more truth in the indirect response than there would be in a direct one.

    There was a day at the Vanguard Diehards board when I announced that I would be attending the annual meeting, at which Bogle would be attending. Lots of people were excited — my questions would now be put to The Big Man himself. Mel Lindauer was not one tiny bit excited. He declared that he saw it as his job to “protect” Bogle from my questions. The board was formed the next day and those loyal to Lindauer were asked to move over to a place where he had the power to ban people who asked Dangerous Questions.

    One of the things that struck me about that thread is that there were several people who had been friendly to me (a woman named Katherine Ryan comes immediately to mind — we had discussed nuns and poetry on some earlier threads) asked why I was being “mean” to “such a nice man” (Bogle). Yak! They were using my own language (the language of the heart) against me!

    I was not being mean to Bogle. Bogle has done great things. There would be no Valuation-Informed Indexing without Bogle. He’s half (Shiller is the other half) of the greatest investment strategy ever developed by the mortal mind. Bringing this out is being “mean” to him? I say no.

    The meanness that was done to Bogle was done by the friends of his who failed to speak up at earlier times. Just as the meanness that was done to Lindauer was done to him by people who presented themselves as his friends and the meanness that was done to Greaney was done to him by people who presented themselves as his friends. I have always been Lindauer’s best friend in the community and I have always been Greaney’s best friend in the community.

    I am your best friend in the community too, Sam. You are looking at this from a negative perspective. You are thinking “I would rather not be involved.” I am asking you to look at it from just the opposite direction. If you think creatively about this (and that is a particular skill of yours), you are soon going to be saying “Why am I so lucky as to have had this thrown into my lap without having done anything whatsoever to deserve such good fortune?” Your question shouldn’t be “Have I passed some minimal test of fairness?” Your question should be “Where do I sign up to do more, to spread the power of love and intelligence and progress and good to more and more of my friends and neighbors and co-workers and fellow community members?”

    Societies don’t get to discover the sort of thing we have discovered here more than once every fifty years or so. Guess what? The fifty-year opportunity showed up just as Sam was walking to the stage! You’re elected! For greatness!

    That’s the spirit that I would like to see you adopt re this matter. We will change the world together.

    There are lots of people who are worried about what will happen to them in a personal (legal!) sense if we let middle-class investors learn what works in stock investing. I get that message loud and clear. I cannot tell you that there will not be any nasty bumps in the road. This has gone on so long that a few nasty bumps are probably unavoidable at this point. I can tell you that it is Rob Bennett’s intent to keep the nasty bumps to a minimum and to put the focus heavily on all the wonderful stuff that is going to outweigh the nasty stuff by a factor of 200 to 1.

    Who knows? If I get enough help from enough smart and creative and kind people, perhaps we will be able to eliminate the nasty bumps altogether. It’s a little hard to see how that could happen at this point. But perhaps I too have an inclination to avoid taking in all the good stuff that is possible when the sun is shining so bright on our obvious and unavoidable-in-any-event path forward. I will aim to make it as positive as it can possibly be given the circumstances that prevail. That’s the promise that I can put forward.

    Would it be fair to Sam for Sam to deny himself the most fun and good and wild ride he has ever experienced in all his days? No, it wouldn’t be a tiny bit fair to Sam for Sam to do that. It would be a tragic mistake in one-hundred different ways. That’s my sincere take.

    I was put on this earth to heal the wounds that we have ripped in our flesh re this matter, Sam. It may be that you also were born to play a starring role. Think it through. Think hard. Think clearly. Think with your heart.

    And then do what you know in your heart is the right thing to do. Think back to when you were a little boy and the thought was in your mind to grow up to do impossibly great things. The day that you once saw as your birthright has now showed up unexpectedly on your doorstop. You have to check a box to make it happen.

    It’s so easy!


  5. Rob says

    Who are these people? Can you name one?

    Yes. Greaney used to push his safe withdrawal rate study on a daily basis at the Retire Early Home Page board at the Motley Fool site back in late 1999 and through all of 2000 and 2001. I was there. Those people were my friends. The Post Archives of the board are still available to all of us through the magic of the internet.


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