Jack Bogle and the Presidential Medal of Freedom


Jack Bogle 

Jack Bogle on why he started Vanguard

Above is a picture of Jack Bogle, the founder of Vanguard, the creator of the modern low-cost index fund and my personal hero. If you aspire to be wealthy and financially independent, he should be yours as well.

Before Mr. Bogle the financial industry was set up almost exclusively to enrich those selling financial products at the expense of the customers. It mostly still is.

Then Mr. Bogle came along and exposed industry stock-picking and advice as worthless at best, harmful at worst and always an expensive drag on the growth of your wealth. Not surprisingly, Wall Street howled in protest and vilified him relentlessly.

Mr. Bogle responded by creating the first S&P 500 index fund. The wails and gnashing of teeth continued even as Bogle’s new fund went on to prove his theories in the real world:

The best performance over time is achieved by buying and holding all stocks in a low-cost index fund. Stock picking, and the actively managed funds that employ it, are fated to fall behind, dragged down even further by their higher fees. So rare is the active manager who can actually outperform over time, the few that do become famous house-hold names:  Buffett, Lynch, Price.

As the years rolled on and the evidence piled ever higher, Mr. Bogle’s critics began to soften their voices; mostly I’d guess because they had begun to sound pretty silly. Other fund companies, realizing that their customers were becoming ever less willing to accept high fees for questionable performance, even began to offer their own index funds in an effort to keep them from walking out the door. Personally I’ve never believed their hearts were in it, and for that reason my money stays at Vanguard.

Almost everyday now I get an email or a comment on this blog thanking me for the investing information I provide, especially in the Stock Series. I’m deeply honored by this and such messages are deeply motivating. But everything here has it’s roots in the work Mr. Bogle has done and it is he who has provided the essential tools we need to most efficiently and quickly reach financial independence. If I’ve provided a flickering candle to light the way, his work has been a white-hot sun.

So, if you are one of the many readers who have written to me in thanks, or if you haven’t but have felt you’ve found benefit here, I ask you to join me in making possible a honor that my personal hero and our collective financial saint, Mr. Bogle, truly deserves:

Presidential Medal

The Presidential Medal of Freedom

The fact that Mr. Bogle is being considered for this honor was recently brought to my attention by my pal Gouri, who I met and got to know at this year’s Chautauqua.* If you want to join in this effort, Gouri’s email to me below tells you how:

As you probably know, Boglehead leaders submitted a letter nominating Bogle for the Presidential Medal of Freedom, one of the highest civilian honors:


Given that Jack is 85, has had at least six heart attacks and one heart transplant, time is precious to have him receive the honor in his lifetime.

Please consider sending a personal card, letter, postcard or email via White House website, however simple or detailed, to President Obama to help nudge the cause forward:

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Alternate address per http://topic-finder.com/finance/investing/general/37524-john-bogle-presidential-medal-of-freedom.html :

Executive Office of the President
The White House
ATTN: Executive Clerk’s Office
Washington, DC 20502

 Thank you, Gouri, for bringing this to my attention and thank you in advance to those of you who chose to help. I gather that the decision will be made in the next 30 days or so, so if you are going to do it, please do it now.

The truth is, my guess is that the unpretentious, clear-minded, straight shooting Jack Bogle doesn’t give a rat’s ass about receiving this award. If you click on the link below his photo above you’ll see the list of those he’s already received is extensive. But he deserves it nonetheless and his receiving it will send an important message to an industry that sorely needs to hear it and, perhaps, to those investors yet to see the light.

Subscribe to JL’s Newsletter

Important Resources

  • Talent Stacker is a resource that I learned about through my work with Jonathan and Brad at ChooseFI, and first heard about Salesforce as a career option in an episode where they featured Bradley Rice on the Podcast. In that episode, Bradley shared how he reached FI quickly thanks to his huge paychecks and discipline in keeping his expenses low. Jonathan teamed up with Bradley to build Talent Stacker, and they have helped more than 1,000 students from all walks of life complete the program and land jobs like clockwork, earning double or even triple their old salaries using a Salesforce certification to break into a no-code tech career.
  • Credit Cards are like chain saws. Incredibly useful. Incredibly dangerous. Resolve to pay in full each month and never carry a balance. Do that and they can be great tools. Here are some of the very best for travel hacking, cash back and small business rewards.
  • Empower is a free tool to manage and evaluate your investments. With great visuals you can track your net worth, asset allocation, and portfolio performance, including costs. At a glance you'll see what's working and what you might want to change. Here's my full review.
  • Betterment is my recommendation for hands-off investors who prefer a DIFM (Do It For Me) approach. It is also a great tool for reaching short-term savings goals. Here is my Betterment Review
  • NewRetirement offers cool tools to help guide you in answering the question: Do I have enough money to retire? And getting started is free. Sign up and you will be offered two paths into their retirement planner. I was also on their podcast and you can check that out here:Video version, Podcast version.
  • Tuft & Needle (T&N) helps me sleep at night. They are a very cool company with a great product. Here’s my review of what we are currently sleeping on: Our Walnut Frame and Mint Mattress.
  • Vanguard.com


  1. Mr. Frugalwoods says

    He really does deserve it.

    My folks talk about the days before index funds like some people tell ghost stories.

    It cost $40 to make a trade! (Wooohhhhhh)

    You had to call a guy, who would try to sell you more stuff! (OOoooooooo)

    Diversification meant holding tons of individual stocks or trusting some fund which inevitably underperformed. (Aaaaaaaahhhh)

    It’s remarkable how cheap, easy and accessible investing is today. Even though I use Fidelity (our 401ks are there, so might as well consolidate accounts) I still only use funds that are directly inspired by the Bogle philosophy. Would the Spartan funds exist without Vanguard forcing Fidelity to change fee-grubbing ways? I doubt it.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      It really is remarkable how bad it was in the old days.

      I am continually reminded of this by the comments and questions from my international readers who don’t have access to Vanguard. They are living the “bad old days” right now!

      I doubt it, too. 🙂

      And I’d rather do business with the company that invented, preaches and thrives on index funds than a company that was dragged into them kicking and screaming. 😉

      • Jonathan says

        “It really is remarkable how bad it was in the old days.”

        All the more tragic, then, that so many people today don’t save adequately for retirement.

        • jlcollinsnh says

          Very true.

          Never have we had better or lower cost tools.

          It is also tragic that so many who do save still fall into the high cost, market timing, stock picking traps.

  2. Sbvol98 says

    Mr. Collins,

    You don’t know me but I started reading your blog earlier this year and I have really learned a lot.

    While I have always considered myself financially savvy, you opened my eyes about investing, specifically:

    -The many advantages of Index funds
    -John Bogle and Vanguard
    -Disadvantages of Investment Advisors

    Due to your blog, I I moved my IRA’s from a discount online brokerage to Vanguard actively managed funds and purchased Vanguard index funds. I also started reading blogs from the Mad Fientist & Mr. Money Mustache, and picked up “Common Sense on Mutual Funds” from John Bogle.

    The way you write about investing makes so much sense and is easy to follow. I recommend your Stock Series to any friends or family that will listen.

    Just wanted to let you know the knowledge you are providing is very much appreciated.


    • jlcollinsnh says

      Thank you Sbvol98…

      for your very kind words. It is wonderful to hear it has made a difference for you. You made my day and I’m honored to be mentioned in the same breath as MF and MMM.

      Thanks, too, for passing the blog on to your friends and family!

  3. Done by Forty says

    I’d love to hear a poll to compare how many people know the name “Bogle” compared to how many know the name “Buffett”.

    A great idea and I really hope he gets it. Cheers.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      My guess is that it would be Buffett in a landslide, and I think that’s too bad.

      While I have great respect for Mr. Buffett, no one has done more for us individual investors that Mr. Bogle.

      Me too! 🙂

  4. Maverick says

    He was the commencement speaker at my college graduation. Thanks, Jack! Without your vision in creating index funds in 1974 I wouldn’t have been able to retire early.

  5. Chris @ Flipping A Dollar says

    Very true stuff here. You’ve definitely helped me out from an investing and house standpoint. Although we did buy a house, we really scrutinized the purchase and may rent it out in the long run. Either way, we plan on living in it for a long time and will most likely pay it off early (I’d rather the guaranteed 4.25% return).

    I just got asked today if I had any of my previous company’s stock since it just announced a new product and I said “Nope, I just buy index funds. Their stock will dip when some new product of theirs doesn’t pan out, so it’s not worth it for me.”

    My investing and eBay outlook are of the same vein – “purchase it and forget it” for investing and “list it and forget it” for eBay!

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Hi Chris…

      Great to hear you’ve found my posts useful. Thanks!

      For what it is worth, those on houses are not meant to dissuade anyone from buying but rather to help them consider the decision with eyes wide open, as it sounds like you did. 😉

  6. Even Steven says

    Very few people make an impact on so many and get honored for such accomplishments while still alive, it would be a great thing for Mr.Jack Bogle to be honored with this award. I remember reading his book thinking “Is there a reason we all don’t invest like this”?

  7. Mr. FC says

    Had no idea that Bogle was up for this until I read your comment yesterday on MMM. I think it’s a fantastic idea and thanks for the links.

    And thank YOU for your work here as well. Your blog is an inspiration and the work you and select others do in this space is invaluable. It is such a needed and valued check against the tidal wave of garbage out there that passes for financial advice.

    Wish I could make the Chautauqua but with two small kids it’ll have to wait a little while. Would be awesome to meet you and Pete and Jesse and the others. If you ever did a live / remote session or put the presentations on the net somewhere that would be amazing…

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Until Gouri brought it to my attention a couple of days ago, neither did I. 🙂

      Thank you for the very kind words.

      If and when the timing works for you, it would be great to have you join us for the Chautauqua! But you don’t have to spend a week in Ecuador to meet me.

      Make your way here to New Hampshire and I’ll even buy the coffee. Of invite me to visit wherever you are. But be careful. I just might show up. 😉

      • Mr. FC says

        Come on out to sunny LA! It’s 6pm and just cracked below 80. If I could find my way to NH surely would do so and thank you for the invite!

        Perhaps there could be a Palm Springs-area pow wow as an adjunct to the Ecuadorian Chautauqua…

        • jlcollinsnh says

          Actually I have been thinking about getting out to LA one of these days.

          Last year, I think, I received an invitation from a guy who works at Dreamworks. Seems I have a little fan base there.

          My problem is I get all these cool offers and then forget who offered what when. 🙂

          That said, if you want to put together a pow-wow, with a bit of advance notice I’ll be there!

  8. Justin @ RootofGood says

    I wish I could shake the guy’s hand. He’s saved me tons in investment fees at Vanguard and even saved me tons in fees at other fund companies like ishares and Fidelity due to the competitive pressure.

    And with some of vanguard’s awesome funds like Lifestrategy or Target Retirement, I have a quick recommendation handy for the DIY investor that doesn’t want to be a DIY investor (“put it all in Lifestrategy whatever”).

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Me too, Justin…

      …and you’re right. Bogle’s work in creating Vanguard has saved countless investors countless fees as those other firms were dragged kicking and screaming into the low-cost index world. 🙂

  9. EarlyAndOften says

    Hi Jim,
    Thank you so much for such a characteristically articulate post.

    Hope all’s well in NH, and hope to see you in NYC at some point (we live blocks away from Columbia University and we have a guest room with your name on it)

    • jlcollinsnh says

      You are kind to say so, EAO…

      …but the thanks for this one go to my pal Gouri. 😉

      NYC, eh?

      We’ve been talking about making our way down to NYC…

  10. Shan says

    This is a great idea. I just sent my e-mail (via the White House website). All of our investments are with Vanguard. We certainly appreciate paying lower fees and it’s also nice to know that we are not enriching the charlatans that make up much of the industry. So we very much appreciate Jack Bogle. However, I must say that it is entirely due to reading your blog that I moved our investments over to Vanguard. I feel that I have learnt a great deal and have benefitted from reading your posts. So thank YOU very much for sharing your knowledge and advice – since you made the case for why we needed F-you money, we haven’t looked back.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Thanks Shan…

      I appreciate you taking the time to cast your “vote” 🙂

      Thanks, too, for the kind words about the blog. I’m delighted to hear it helped guide you to Vanguard and on your journey to F-you money!

  11. Jeremy E. says

    If anyone is like me, you probably have no idea how to write a letter to the president, here is an example of the one I did to give you some ideas, I’m not sure I did it exactly how it’s supposed to be done, but hopefully I at least got my point across.

    Dear Mr. President:
    I am sending this letter in hopes that you might consider presenting one of my personal heroes, John C. “Jack” Bogle, with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Jack has done more for the investing world than any other person. I’m sure you know about the contributions he’s made, through creating the S&P 500 and starting The Vanguard Group, so I’ll just say what he means to me.

    Jack has given the middle class Americans a chance to prosper and achieve Financial Freedom, something I didn’t even think was possible. Financial Freedom means being free from the need of money, free from stress, free from the heavy bonds of your employer, free from the chains in Plato’s Cave, finally able to go experience the world. Financial Freedom means being able to live life to the fullest and pursue utmost happiness.

    To me, Financial Freedom means being able to travel this beautiful country, visit National Parks, volunteer wherever possible, and commit my time to being the best I can be. Before learning about Dr. Bogle’s incredible company and funds, I invested with a financial advising company who charged a 5% management fee, on top of a 1.3% average expense ratio of the funds it put me in. Even when the market did well, and Bogle’s S&P 500 grew substantially, I lost money. The financial advising company was getting rich off of my stupidity. The Vanguard Group is incredible, it is owned by the people that invest in its funds and is extremely ethical, a very rare trait in investment companies.

    Please Mr. President, give Jack Bogle a strong consideration for the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

    Thank you for your time and consideration,


    Jeremy Exxxxx

    Again, I’m not sure this is the exact format or what not, just to help give ideas.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Thanks Jeremy….

      It is a fine letter and others can easily pick it up and use it with their own modifications. I problably should have included one myself in the post.

      But the important thing is to just send something! Even as simple as: “I nominate Jack Bogle for the Presidential Medal of Freedom.”

      Truth is, I doubt anyone is going to read these. But, hopefully, they’ll be saying, “Gee, here’s another for that Bogle guy. Maybe we really should give him a look…” 🙂

      • Jeremy E. says

        I thought about if it would actually be read while writing it, my best guess was that there would maybe be some intern reading them and replying with a copy paste of some predetermined response and changing the name in it(for the email letters). But whatever the case, it couldn’t hurt trying

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *