“My Parents Gave Me My Inheritance With Certain Unspoken Expectations. They Had Values They Instilled In Me As a Boy That They Hoped I Would Follow As An Adult: Honesty, Caring About Others, and Doing Solid Work. If I Were to Post Dishonesty on Safe Withdrawal Rates, I Would Be Dishonoring My Parents.”

Set forth below are the texts of three comments that I recently posted to the Goon Central board:

Not true, since most of what you have you inherited.
My father and mother worked very hard for a long number of years for the money I inherited from them, GW. My mother had to leave school after eighth grade to work in a factory so that her family had enough to eat in the Depression. They lived in the row-house they bought (mostly with checks he sent back to her while he was in the service) when he got back from the war until the day they died. They were insanely generous when it came to helping me or my brothers finance our educations (leaving school after eighth grade left a scar on my mother that she addressed by pushing her boys to go much farther — education spending was in a different category than any other kind). The only thing that I would call luxury spending that they ever directed to themselves is the money they used in their old age to play the slots at Atlantic City. I remember as a boy listening to my father negotiate the price of our week-long stay at the Emandee motel in the beach town of Wildwood, N.J. (he would walk if the weekly price wasn’t brought down to $100).

That money meant something to them. They gave that money to me and my brothers as an expression of their love.

They gave that money with certain unspoken expectations. The had values that they instilled in me as a boy that they hoped I would follow as an adult.

One of those values was honesty. Another was caring about your friends and neighbors and co-workers. Another was doing solid work.

If I were to post dishonestly on safe withdrawal rates, I would be dishonoring my parents as much as I would be dishonoring myself and as much as I would be dishonoring the Buy-and-Hold pioneers who laid the groundwork for the huge advances we have achieved over the past 10 years with Valuation-Informed Indexing.

Given the abuse that I have taken from you Goons, I think it would be fair to say that I earned the money I obtained via an unspoken promise not to shame my parents to a far greater extent than I ever earned the hundreds of thousands I saved in the nine years prior to my early retirement (when I did not know that I would be receiving a penny in inheritance).

Either way, I possess zero willingness to dishonor them today by joining forces with you Goons. I’ll take the electric chair before I will do that. I might cry about it if it comes to that. But I’ll never look back at regret on the decision. If I agree to post dishonestly on safe withdrawal rates, I’m not the same person that I have been in the process of becoming for 56 years. If I agree to post dishonestly on the numbers my friends use to plan their retirements, that person is dead. Taking the electric chair instead lets the person who is called “Rob Bennett” live at least a wee bit longer.

I will continue to post honestly on the numbers that my friends use to plan their retirements.

And I will continue to wish you and all the other Goons the best possible luck in all of your future endeavors.

There’s zero give on either one of those two.

My best wishes to you, my good man.


I’ll add here that one of the reasons why I am so effusive in my praise of John Bogle is that, whenever I challenge the wisdom of Buy-and-Hold or of the Bogleheads, I can see my father looking down at me with a skeptical eye. My father is one of those people who referred to Bogle as “Saint Jack.” There’s only one discussion that I can recall us having about investing. He basically took me aside and said that “the one rule that matters is that you only invest in Vanguard funds.” He liked those low loads!
So for a number of years whatever savings I had went into the Wellington Fund and the Windsor Fund. Then I started planning my Retire Early escape. I looked into the safe withdrawal rate concept and liked the general idea but something about the way it was being done didn’t sit quite right with me. In the course of my investigations, I borrowed Bogle’s book from the library and learned that “Reversion to the Mean is an Iron Law of stock investing.” Ah-ha! That was it! The old SWR studies did not adjust for the valuation level that applies on the day the retirement begins. Noting that the SWR that applied at the time was obviously a whole big bunch less than 4 percent and that a 4 percent real return was available at the time from Certificates of Deposit, I moved my money out of stocks in the Summer of 1996. The rest is internet history.

It’s all Bogle’s fault!

And my dad’s!

Heaven help us all!


What does he troll against?  The exact firm (Vanguard), person (Bogle), and investing philosophy (buy and hold) that his dad favored*.  
You couldn’t possibly be more wrong, GW. Valuation-Informed Indexing is what Bogle was trying to develop when he entered this field. The idea was to get it right, not to get it wrong.

He got it wrong on his first draft because his thinking was limited by the research available at the time. The essential piece provided by Shiller in 1981 was not available when Bogle founded Vanguard in 1976.

Now the piece is there and now it all works.

I love my dad and I love John Bogle.

The difference between me and you is that I love John Bogle enough to know that deep in his heart he wants to help people by getting it right and not to destroy millions of middle-class lives by remaining too proud to acknowledge a mistake. You insult the man by assuming that, because he has associated with the sorts of individuals who have posted in “defense” of Mel Lindauer and John Greaney, that he himself is a Goon through and through.

Bogle is not a Goon through and through. He is a human. He has goonish inclinations that at times hold him back. But he is not a Goon through and through. He needs his friends to lend him a hand helping him to overcome his goonish inclinations from time to time.

I’ll let you in on a little secret, GW. You need the same from your friends from time to time. So does Mel. So does John. So does Rob.

Talk about your powerful, mind-blowing investing insights!

Take good care, man.




  1. what says

    I feel fairly confident in saying that if your parent’s saw the kind of Internet baffoon you have developed into they would have re-considered their will.

  2. Rob says

    I don’t think that’s so, What.

    If they saw the kind comments that many big-name figures in this field have offered in support of my investing work, they would be proud of what I had accomplished (and properly proud of the hard work that they both put in to getting me started on the right track).

    I think it would be fair to say that I know my parents a whole big bunch better than you do, What. You are letting your anger at having been taken in by a Get Rich Quick scheme affect your judgment. You need to let that ugly, sick stuff go, my old friend.

    I naturally wish you all the best, regardless of what investing strategies you elect to pursue.


  3. Rob says

    An inheritance is a gift, Critter.

    You don’t arrange a gift.

    You express gratitude for it when it comes your way. And, if you’re smart, you accept the responsibilities that come with receiving such a gift.

    I wish you all good things, my emotionally wounded friend.


  4. what says

    Really? I can’t imagine anyone who would be proud of their son behaving as you do. Perhaps your parents were already used to your idiosyn..crazies.

    Imagine your good ol’ pappy after he reads the type of crud you swim in day after day for decade(s?) at that SeWeR forum.

    Oh ya, if you only showed him 2% of the story he might be proud but I imagine he would be pretty horrified by you if you showed him the whole picture.

  5. Rob says

    Perhaps your parents were already used to your idiosyn..crazies.

    I think I have to give you this one, What.

    Take care, man.


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