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What's with society and ER?
Old 11-22-2010, 01:48 PM   #1
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What's with society and ER?

So few people I know of are planning for or even think about ER. It seems, as a rule, the way it works in North America is to work your whole life, making payments on houses, cars, boats, shopping for a hobby etc. Putting the very minimum or zero away for retirement. Living beyond their means, not even caring about prices of these things as long as they can make the monthly payment. Their banks make their financial decisions, "yes we can lend you the money for that, it will be this $$$ a month". Everytime someone I know buys a brand new vehicle, I'm thinking, well you just added 5 years to your retirement age. I even hear people that are making very good money say " I'll have what I'll have when I retire, the government will take care of me".
Of course everyone is free to do as they wish, I just find it shocking that so few are actually taking positive financial steps so they don't have to work until they're dead.
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Old 11-22-2010, 01:51 PM   #2
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Old 11-22-2010, 03:31 PM   #3
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... I just find it shocking that so few are actually taking positive financial steps ...
Okay. Assuming you could talk the whole world into driving old clunkers and spend their money only under protest. How would that work? Are you employed by some entity that doesn't need to sell something in order for you to be paid? Where does the funding from your retirement come from if not from some spendthrift?

(And FWIW, I know of many, that always had a brand new car in the driveway, that retired quite comfortably.)
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Old 11-22-2010, 03:39 PM   #4
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A few points....

There are many of which you post. It could get really ugly when the reality sets in. beware of hungry people who can vote.

Of course not everyone is like them. Some of us live modestly and put something aside. There are many like us and varying degrees between the two choices.

But on the other hand, who are we to say how others should live their lives. If they want to work until they drop then they should be entitled to do just that. It is somewhat presumptuous to assume that the path we choose is right for everyone.
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Old 11-22-2010, 04:14 PM   #5
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With the demise of the company pension (aka defined benefit) at least in the private sector, I fear many will find themselves with an uncomfortable retirement at best. This is a something that has been on my mind for quite a while. Let us say to secure 50K pretax in a completely safe manner, such as Treasuries, one needs about 2 Million and this would be pretax interest, not inflation adjusted. Surprised not more in press or TV about this topic.

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Old 11-22-2010, 07:37 PM   #6
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I don't want to change the world and basically happy with the way the economy works. I agree, there are alot of people with new vehicles all their life that retire comfortably. I wasn't referring to those people. Like I said, it's a free world, just surprising so few plan ahead.
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Old 11-22-2010, 07:50 PM   #7
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With the demise of the company pension (aka defined benefit) at least in the private sector, I fear many will find themselves with an uncomfortable retirement at best. This is a something that has been on my mind for quite a while. Let us say to secure 50K pretax in a completely safe manner, such as Treasuries, one needs about 2 Million and this would be pretax interest, not inflation adjusted. Surprised not more in press or TV about this topic.
I have seen a lot of articles and TV that suggest that we now have the "new retirement". This usually includes working part time in order to have enough income to live on. That's not my definition of retirement. But according to the media, this is supposed to be the new retirement we are all going to want, just on a whim, I suppose.
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Old 11-23-2010, 01:10 AM   #8
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Okay. Assuming you could talk the whole world into driving old clunkers and spend their money only under protest. How would that work? Are you employed by some entity that doesn't need to sell something in order for you to be paid? Where does the funding from your retirement come from if not from some spendthrift?(snip)
This is something I have wondered too. It seems obvious to me that consumption cannot increase indefinitely. Eventually, we humans will have to find some other basis for our economy than "produce more, borrow more, spend more, consume more". I wonder what that "other basis" is, and what a sustainable economic system—one that can continue indefinitely—would look like.
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Old 11-23-2010, 05:36 AM   #9
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This is something I have wondered too. It seems obvious to me that consumption cannot increase indefinitely. Eventually, we humans will have to find some other basis for our economy than "produce more, borrow more, spend more, consume more". I wonder what that "other basis" is, and what a sustainable economic system—one that can continue indefinitely—would look like.
Eventually there will only be two Employees -- a man and a dog. The man will be employed to feed the dog. The dog's job will be to prevent the man from touching the machine.
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Old 11-23-2010, 06:39 AM   #10
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Eventually, we humans will have to find some other basis for our economy than "produce more, borrow more, spend more, consume more".
I don't see why we will have to.
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Old 11-23-2010, 06:59 AM   #11
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I don't see why we will have to.
Even if you're not a tree-hugging hippy, simple mathematics should suffice. At some point - even if it's in a million years time - we will run out of the raw stuff which we currently turn into added-value stuff.

And if you really want to get all freshman physics about it, there's entropy as well.
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Old 11-23-2010, 07:17 AM   #12
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At some point - even if it's in a million years time - we will run out of the raw stuff which we currently turn into added-value stuff.
"At some point" is such a long time. Why, they found water on the moon, recently, haven't you heard?

water +moon - Google Search
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Old 11-23-2010, 08:02 AM   #13
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You have to believe in it before you will see it.
I don't think that "everyone" can achieve early retirement, and early means different things to different people.

I do think that if one is smart enough to LBYM and blessed enough to have stready emplpyment throughout their working years, and no financial catastrophies, that if one starts saving early (late 20's at latest), many more could do it.

MY DH will be done spring 2011 at 55. I will work through 2011 at which time I will be 55, then we are done. Our daughter recently said to us that you hear lots of people talk about retiring early, but that not many actually do it. She and her husband are mid-late 20's, and have put together a plan (helped tremendously by the Roth) and if they stay the course, they too may be out at 55. They do not make that much money, but pay cash as they go, and LBYM.

Like anything, it is a choice. Stuff now, or time later....
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Old 11-23-2010, 08:14 AM   #14
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Even if you're not a tree-hugging hippy, simple mathematics should suffice. At some point - even if it's in a million years time - we will run out of the raw stuff which we currently turn into added-value stuff.

And if you really want to get all freshman physics about it, there's entropy as well.
I don't understand how any "simple mathematics" could possibly get you to the conclusion that "we will run out of the raw stuff", even if we are limited to stuff here on Earth. And what's this freshman physics entropy? If you mean the "heat death", that's old hat. You couldn't get cosmologists to agree these days that such a thing will ever happen, even after many billions of years. (And after billions of years, anyway, it seems unlikely that there will still be a "we" to run out of anything.)
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Old 11-23-2010, 10:51 AM   #15
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(snip)It seems obvious to me that consumption cannot increase indefinitely. Eventually, we humans will have to find some other basis for our economy than "produce more, borrow more, spend more, consume more". (snip)

I don't see why we will have to.
Even if you're not a tree-hugging hippy, simple mathematics should suffice. At some point - even if it's in a million years time - we will run out of the raw stuff which we currently turn into added-value stuff.

And if you really want to get all freshman physics about it, there's entropy as well.
I don't understand how any "simple mathematics" could possibly get you to the conclusion that "we will run out of the raw stuff", even if we are limited to stuff here on Earth. (snip)
Please explain how continued or increasing production will not at some point completely use up one or more essential raw materials, all of which are finite in quantity and some of which are non-renewable or being used faster than they renew. Even if everything were recycled to the maximum extent possible (which I doubt is the case at present) could 100% of the raw materials that went in be recovered at the end of the product's usable life? What about the energy used to produce, transport and recycle it? Unless that was all renewable energy it's gone and can't be recovered. So that's the simple math: it's impossible to continually subtract non-infinitesimal amounts from a finite quantity without arriving at zero.

And that's completely leaving out the spiritual aspect of the question. What if it ever really penetrates the minds of a majority of people, that "more" is never enough, and increased consumption doesn't necessarily result in contentment and peace of mind? What if most people, or even a significant minority of people, decided to opt out of the pursuit of more, more, more? What if humanity as a whole decided to live within our means?
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Old 11-23-2010, 01:49 PM   #16
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This is something I have wondered too. It seems obvious to me that consumption cannot increase indefinitely. Eventually, we humans will have to find some other basis for our economy than "produce more, borrow more, spend more, consume more". I wonder what that "other basis" is, and what a sustainable economic system—one that can continue indefinitely—would look like.
New World Economy - Memory Alpha, the Star Trek Wiki
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Old 11-23-2010, 03:26 PM   #17
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So that's the simple math: it's impossible to continually subtract non-infinitesimal amounts from a finite quantity without arriving at zero.
I suppose you mean that it's impossible to do that subtraction an infinite number of times. Well, here is what's wrong with that. There will not be an infinite amount of time to do this infinity of subtractions, probably. But more relevantly, what finite quantity of what stuff are you talking about? Wood? Oil? Gold? I don't know. You're not taking account of other sources of supply or the possibility that in a few hundred years, we will need different raw materials than these.

Maybe the spiritual/religious argument for some green philosophy can be made persuasively, and I'm not necessarily against that. I'm just saying what I said: mathematics won't get you to your conclusion.
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Old 11-23-2010, 04:07 PM   #18
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I know of an enormous source of raw materials, far more than the human race has touched in it's entire existence, and a convenient nearby power source developing 3.86 x 10^26 watts that can be used to process, power, and recycle materials as needed.

I'm not worried about running out. I suspect we'll reach some other nonlinear event far sooner than we'll approach local resource limits.
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Old 11-23-2010, 04:37 PM   #19
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I suppose you mean that it's impossible to do that subtraction an infinite number of times. Well, here is what's wrong with that. There will not be an infinite amount of time to do this infinity of subtractions, probably. But more relevantly, what finite quantity of what stuff are you talking about? Wood? Oil? Gold? I don't know. You're not taking account of other sources of supply or the possibility that in a few hundred years, we will need different raw materials than these.
No, I mean that after a finite number of subtractions, a finite beginning quantity will be exhausted. Granted, it would take longer to empty a swimming pool a teaspoon at a time than with a bucket, but if the subtractions continue, sooner (with the bucket) or later (with the teaspoon) all of the water will be removed. An infinite amount of time is not required.

What finite quantity of stuff am I talking about? Your question mentions without differentiating two different types of raw materials: renewable (e.g. wood) and non-renewable (e.g. gold). Quantities of the latter type are finite—each of them is some fraction of a finite whole (the mass of the earth). Even with renewable materials, it's possible to use them up faster than they grow back, or even to overuse them so severely they lose the capacity to renew themselves. Overgrazing, over-fishing, deforestation are all examples. Any replacement resource is subject to the same limitations. They are all finite, all potentially exhaustible. If I may venture a guess, ISTM that fossil fuels are a likely candidate for first to run out. Various kinds of minerals might possibly be obtained in space if necessary, but to the best of my knowledge, earth is the only life-bearing planet, and hence the only possible source of fossil fuels. I don't know how possible it is to replace fossil fuels in all the roles they play in the economy. I do not know this to be true, but it is at least possible that fossil fuels are literally irreplaceable in one or more specific uses.

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Maybe the spiritual/religious argument for some green philosophy can be made persuasively, and I'm not necessarily against that. I'm just saying what I said: mathematics won't get you to your conclusion.
Actually, I think both aspects are probably required. Unless people become convinced that creating a sustainable economy is both necessary and desirable I don't think we will do it.
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Old 11-23-2010, 04:59 PM   #20
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No, I mean that after a finite number of subtractions, a finite beginning quantity will be exhausted.
In general, this is false. Here is a counterexample: begin with 5 (the finite beginning quantity), subtract 1 3 times (3 is the finite number of subtractions), then the remainder is 2, not 0, so the beginning quantity is not exhausted.

In your story about the swimming pool, as the amount you remove each time decreases, the length of time it takes to remove all the water increases without limit (ignoring the molecular nature of water). So unless you allow an infinite time, if the amount removed each time is sufficiently small, there will be some water remaining at the end of the allotted finite time.
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