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Old 08-11-2013, 01:16 PM   #81
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I thought the essence of the OP's original question spoke to a more basic human behavior. I divorced it from SS, even though that was the example given. I thought about it as would equal individuals take from an unlimited supply what he/she needed? Or what they wanted? Would that behavior change if the supply were limited? Rationalization works wonders. I hope that I would just take what I needed, but then again, I have a lot of possessions that I don't really need. Do my wants trump others' needs? If so, then I see the moral dilemma.

You got it.
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Old 08-11-2013, 01:52 PM   #82
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If SS were set up as a pure welfare program, then I would see the analogy.

But as it is a mixture of welfare and retirement benefits, then I do not see how a person should not plan the access to that fund as an income source for retirement.

Here's a counter example. It's greedy and bad manner to load up at an all-you-can-eat buffet, just to squander and leave food on your plate. It's also bad if you sneak some food inside your purse to take home.

However, if you walk into a restaurant and get charged for a filet mignon, would you accept a hamburger to be "nice"? Or worse, just take a drink of water?
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Old 08-11-2013, 03:02 PM   #83
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“Beware of altruism. It is based on self-deception, the root of all evil.

If tempted by something that feels ‘altruistic,’ examine your motives and root out that self-deception. Then, if you still want to do it, wallow in it!"

- R. A. Heinlein--Notebooks of Lazarus Long
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Old 08-11-2013, 03:19 PM   #84
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Most of us here have already done our part by retiring early so some whippersnapper can have a job.

I haven't come across anyone that is willing to turn down money but then I'm only in my early 60's, maybe in another 25 years I'll find that oddball.
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Old 08-11-2013, 03:24 PM   #85
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Originally Posted by Bob Adams View Post
I thought the essence of the OP's original question spoke to a more basic human behavior. I divorced it from SS, even though that was the example given. I thought about it as would equal individuals take from an unlimited supply what he/she needed? Or what they wanted? Would that behavior change if the supply were limited? Rationalization works wonders. I hope that I would just take what I needed, but then again, I have a lot of possessions that I don't really need. Do my wants trump others' needs? If so, then I see the moral dilemma.
But it was framed in terms of SS, so that steers the discussion that way. And we put into SS, and your benefits are reduced (in relative terms) as you put more in. So an analogy:

You and a friend start a community garden (a community of two). You agree that the harvest will be shared with some consideration to how much effort each of you put in. You end up putting in ten times as much work. Without your efforts, there might be very little harvest at all. When harvest times comes, would you feel bad about taking 2x as much as your friend? That is still low compared to the 10x work you put into it.

Even if you do not 'need' that many tomatoes or whatever, you might want to give them to friends of your choosing.

-ERD50
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Old 08-11-2013, 04:17 PM   #86
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Basic human instinct is looking out for #1 first. When you are hungry, cold, without shelter there is unlikely to be an inclination for charitable acts unless it comes to your kids or wife/husband.

If you have never been rally hungry, ie. not just ready for dinner, self interst is a very alien and foreign concept. It is easy to be altruistic when one is in cushy surroundings warm and fuzzy, while carrying on some intellectual mastrubation.

Lenin and Marx were great examples of such mush.
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Old 08-11-2013, 04:31 PM   #87
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Originally Posted by NW-Bound View Post
If SS were set up as a pure welfare program, then I would see the analogy.

But as it is a mixture of welfare and retirement benefits, then I do not see how a person should not plan the access to that fund as an income source for retirement.

Here's a counter example. It's greedy and bad manner to load up at an all-you-can-eat buffet, just to squander and leave food on your plate. It's also bad if you sneak some food inside your purse to take home.

However, if you walk into a restaurant and get charged for a filet mignon, would you accept a hamburger to be "nice"? Or worse, just take a drink of water?
No, I would not accept a hamburger for a filet mignon, but I don't understand how that relates to only taking what you need from a limited supply. Don't get me wrong, I plan on taking my SS but as I said in my previous post, it's because I don't know of a way to predict my needs with certainty. If I could meet my needs and all that entails, and didn't need SS, then I hope I would not take it.
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Old 08-11-2013, 04:39 PM   #88
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If I could meet my needs and all that entails, and didn't need SS, then I hope I would not take it.
By extension, you would also give all your other money, over and above your "needs," to the US government? Because that's exactly the same thing. There's nothing that distinguishes the SS "pot" from any other government "pot"--any shortage in SS will be filled by cutting other spending programs, increased taxes, or more borrowing by the government. The funds are entirely fungible. So if you believe there's no higher good that the SS money owed to you can do than leaving it with Uncle Sam, it is logically consistent that you would send the rest of your excess to the US Treasury as well. You wouldn't give it to a family member, a charity, etc. You'd choose the US government as the recipient.
Right?
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Old 08-11-2013, 04:45 PM   #89
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Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post

But it was framed in terms of SS, so that steers the discussion that way. And we put into SS, and your benefits are reduced (in relative terms) as you put more in. So an analogy:

You and a friend start a community garden (a community of two). You agree that the harvest will be shared with some consideration to how much effort each of you put in. You end up putting in ten times as much work. Without your efforts, there might be very little harvest at all. When harvest times comes, would you feel bad about taking 2x as much as your friend? That is still low compared to the 10x work you put into it.

Even if you do not 'need' that many tomatoes or whatever, you might want to give them to friends of your choosing.

-ERD50
I understand your point and acknowledge that many others feel the same as you. I worry less about getting what I think I'm owed and more about getting what I need. The benefit to me is that it cuts down on the BS to worry about. BTW, what I would do in your example would be to take what I could use, up to 50%, not scorch my friendship, and choose my gardening partner more carefully in the future.
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Old 08-11-2013, 05:34 PM   #90
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By extension, you would also give all your other money, over and above your "needs," to the US government? Because that's exactly the same thing. There's nothing that distinguishes the SS "pot" from any other government "pot"--any shortage in SS will be filled by cutting other spending programs, increased taxes, or more borrowing by the government. The funds are entirely fungible. So if you believe there's no higher good that the SS money owed to you can do than leaving it with Uncle Sam, it is logically consistent that you would send the rest of your excess to the US Treasury as well. You wouldn't give it to a family member, a charity, etc. You'd choose the US government as the recipient.
Right?
Nice try, but I'm not going to take the bait. Your passion is evident but I hope it is tempered by tolerance for other perspectives.
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Old 08-11-2013, 05:36 PM   #91
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No, I would not accept a hamburger for a filet mignon, but I don't understand how that relates to only taking what you need from a limited supply. Don't get me wrong, I plan on taking my SS but as I said in my previous post, it's because I don't know of a way to predict my needs with certainty. If I could meet my needs and all that entails, and didn't need SS, then I hope I would not take it.
If you were to make this statement in a forum attended by rich people like Warren Buffet and the like, you would have more people in agreement. Few people here are that rich, I don't think.

As far as people in this forum, most of us plan our own retirement funds to supplement SS. And as a frugal member has stated in an earlier post, he is managing to get by on just $17K/yr, and one can easily say that because he survives on that for a decade prior to SS, he should continue to do so for the goods of others. I may be able do without SS, but that means my effort to save my whole life to supplement SS is for naught.

I prefer a system like the Australian superannuation, where the basic floor of retirement income is a welfare which is means tested. Anything above that belongs to the individual according to his contribution. He may give excess to charities as he sees fit, but he needs not feel guilty about taking it, as his contributions to the welfare are already well-defined. It should be similar to a tax system. As long as you do not cheat on taxes, you do not have to feel guilty about having more after-tax money than your neighbor because you work harder, or are smarter, etc...

I described this Australian system elsewhere in this forum.

Quote:
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I understand your point and acknowledge that many others feel the same as you. I worry less about getting what I think I'm owed and more about getting what I need. The benefit to me is that it cuts down on the BS to worry about. BTW, what I would do in your example would be to take what I could use, up to 50%, not scorch my friendship, and choose my gardening partner more carefully in the future.
We did not get to choose partner regarding SS contributions.
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Old 08-11-2013, 05:41 PM   #92
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...

We did not get to choose partner regarding SS contributions.
You beat me to it, practically word for word!

-ERD50
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Old 08-11-2013, 05:46 PM   #93
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Nice try, but I'm not going to take the bait. Your passion is evident but I hope it is tempered by tolerance for other perspectives.
All you really NEED is a sack of beans and a bedroll in the bunk-house. The rest of everything else is nice to have, but not required.

For those who say you don'tneed your SS, I say that unless you yourself are living like Ghandi, then your suggestion for others to forego SS is without merit.
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Old 08-11-2013, 06:39 PM   #94
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No moral dilemma for me, I plan to take my SS and if it's not needed, then I'll be able leave a better inheritance to my family or enjoy spending it.
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Old 08-11-2013, 07:13 PM   #95
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... Do my wants trump others' needs? If so, then I see the moral dilemma.
Almost everyone places their own wants over the needs of others.

For example, $10 will buy a movie ticket in the United States or it will buy a week's worth of food for a hungry child in an impoverished nation. So by spending $10 on a movie ticket rather than giving the money to an international charity, I am valuing my trivial entertainment wants over the life and death needs of another person. I can rationalize this all day long. Morally, I should help the starving child but clearly I am too selfish to do so. I am not the late Mother Teresa.

I find it ironic that the "moral dilemma" question is asked on an ER forum. Wouldn't it be better to ask about the moral dilemma of early retirement itself? ER typically means a reduction of income taxes and the elimination of SS contributions. ER means less money for the government and less money for social security. Is ER a moral dilemma for people physically able to work? Should the government ban ER?

Yes, I am going to take SS even if I do not need the money. I am going to ER even if I am physically able to work. I am going to drive a car even if it impacts the environment. I am going to buy a movie ticket even if it means less food for a hungry child in another country. Moral? That is a decision for God (and likely, God would rather me be less selfish). But a dilemma? No.
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Old 08-11-2013, 07:57 PM   #96
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No moral dilema here. I'm paying 6.2% into the program matched by my employer's 6.2% contribution. I'd love to have had the option to divert that 12.4% to my 401k. Regardless, this is money I and my employers have paid into the system for 40 years. It is not money given to me by the government. SS is one of the planned components of my retirement plan that I have paid into just like my 401K and IRA. Time will tell whether it is "needed" - similar to whether I will "need" my 401K contributions.
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Old 08-11-2013, 08:02 PM   #97
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“Beware of altruism. It is based on self-deception, the root of all evil.

If tempted by something that feels ‘altruistic,’ examine your motives and root out that self-deception. Then, if you still want to do it, wallow in it!"
- R. A. Heinlein--Notebooks of Lazarus Long
+1000. "Altruism" is 99% of the time a sneaky way to assert one's superiority to those ordinary, supposedly less altruistic slobs. Heroic acts in emergencies or extreme environments I believe are a different, more instinctual thing.

Ha
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Old 08-11-2013, 08:03 PM   #98
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The only sensible solution is structural change. .
......... that works to the benefit of ole number one!
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Old 08-11-2013, 08:09 PM   #99
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Lenin and Marx were great examples of such mush.
In the case of Lenin, there was also clearly a lust for power over others. And he did not use it very prettily.

Ha
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Old 08-11-2013, 08:16 PM   #100
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I know several relatives who were fairly knowledgeable about investments and retired. But things they thought were good ideas or that had been suggested by well meaning friends turned out to be bad ideas and considerably reduced their means in ways that they did not recover from. For those who had just barely enough, they ended up in considerably reduced circumstances and retirement was no where near what they hoped it would be. Even with best intentions, mistakes can be made. For those who had some cushion in their planning, the unfortunate reductions in assets were unpleasant, but not life changing. Moral dilemma or not, I don't think a plan that gives SS I earned back to no one in particular but adds risk to my retirement is a good idea.
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