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Old 12-13-2007, 08:21 PM   #21
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Depends on your definition of selfish, I guess. Everybody I know is motivated primarily by self interest. Even when we do things for our kids or charity. In those cases, we're motivated by our selfish genes or feel-good endorphins.
Well, maybe. Maybe acting selflessly is in your self interest or in the interest of your genes. But I don't spend a lot of time thinking about that or thinking about the endorphin shot I'll get if I do something good.

I think people have various duties and these duties need to be met, whether or not it feels good.
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Old 12-13-2007, 08:30 PM   #22
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I feel that I provided enough benefit to the country during my 24 years of service to be able to enjoy at least the next 24 at my own pace.
As an anarchist I say "society can go hang". LBYM and stick it to the MAN , poor MAN!
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Old 12-13-2007, 08:30 PM   #23
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I think people have various duties and these duties need to be met, whether or not it feels good.
And I think that was Ted's original point: members of society have a duty to society to be "productive." If you believe that, then ERs are shirking their responsibilities by not working.

In reality, most of us define duty in a way to fit our self interests.
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Old 12-13-2007, 08:56 PM   #24
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And I think that was Ted's original point: members of society have a duty to society to be "productive." If you believe that, then ERs are shirking their responsibilities by not working.

In reality, most of us define duty in a way to fit our self interests.
At the certainty of prolonging the trollishness, a passage that I think of from time to time. From Robert A Heinlein in "Time Enough for Love"

Do not confuse "duty" with what other people expect of you; they are utterly different. Duty is a debt you owe to yourself to fulfill obligations you have assumed voluntarily. Paying that debt can entail anything from years of patient work to instant willingness to die. Difficult it may be, but the reward is self-respect.

But there is no reward at all for doing what other people expect of you, and to do so is not merely difficult, but impossible. It is easier to deal with a footpad than it is with the leech who wants "just a few minutes of your time, please — this won't take long." Time is your total capital, and the minutes of your life are painfully few. If you allow yourself to fall into the vice of agreeing to such requests, they quickly snowball to the point where these parasites will use up 100 percent of your time — and squawk for more!So learn to say No — and to be rude about it when necessary.Otherwise you will not have time to carry out your duty, or to do your own work, and certainly no time for love and happiness. The termites will nibble away your life and leave none of it for you.

(This rule does not mean that you must not do a favor for a friend, or even a stranger. But let the choice be yours. Don't do it because it is "expected" of you.)
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Old 12-13-2007, 09:03 PM   #25
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I think you've nailed it, samclem. People are either internally motivated or externally motivated. FIRE is the ultimate expression of internal motivation. Working is a kind of externally motivated slavery. Which is more noble?
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Old 12-13-2007, 09:12 PM   #26
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I have not run into folks who described ER as "selfish" so I'm not sure what to think of this. I've had incredulous reactions and people who were either jealous or disbelieving. I have a sister who thinks I'll be bored. But no one has ever suggested that my ER plan was selfish.

And speaking of selfish. I know of plenty of people working at jobs who are producing no real positive value to society, but who are paid for what they do. Sometimes paid handsomely and sometimes paid more for anti-social behaviors. If "not working" is selfish, then what do we call occupations that reduce benefits to society.
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Old 12-13-2007, 10:02 PM   #27
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If you have people depending on you then I can see the argument that it's selfish in that you can't provide as much cash than you could if you were slaving away. I am struggling with this a bit myself around a parent whose long term retirement plan seems to be waiting for me to go back to work to support them.

But thank heavens I'm ER now because if I was still working my parent's spending would probably just increase even more beyond their means and then we'd be in the same situation with more stress and slavery.

Everything is selfish. So called "Family Values" are about the most selfish: tax breaks so others pay for your kids and house, hiring military to kill civilians abroad for the perception of safety at home, throwing nonviolent offenders in prison for life to preserve your property values, eroding constitutional rights to try and maintain a bubble of innocence around your kids.

While ERs might not "contribute" as much as others, they more than make up for it by not being burdens on family or society. ERs consume minimally and most always pay their own way. Selfish or not, that ends up being a net plus for society.
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Old 12-13-2007, 10:22 PM   #28
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bongo2,

I am glad you chose to start the topic!

Much to think about; I'll probably not post on it until Saturday or Sunday.
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Old 12-13-2007, 10:46 PM   #29
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I am very selfish because I do not waste gas to drive to work to accumulate more money to spend on useless consumer goods/latte/restaurants
I also prefer to donate my time to good causes rather than cash so they can then spend it to try to solicit more cash. what can I be thinking??
I also think the time I spend with my family is selfish, It is better to leave kids with babysitters or with the boobtube instead of spending time with me.
And what about all those clothes I don't buy. Those poor third world slaves, they cannot be forced to work long hours for substandard pay in bad conditions to support my habits.
and all that crap that goes into landfills when it only lasts a few years. My well thought out purchases or the things I make do with, how selfish can I be.
Come to think of it, I did not have one blow up christmas balloon outside my house this year. Was that selfish or what?

I will start applying for jobs tomorrow so that I can make more money to spend at wally world. I will probably need a bigger house so I can fit everything in. And a bigger car that uses more gas. That is a unending supply isn't it?

excuse me, I have to go turn the thermostat up. I have selfishly been keeping it at 68.
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Old 12-13-2007, 11:05 PM   #30
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This is like a RE/quasi-A Christmas Carol. Interesting.
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Old 12-13-2007, 11:26 PM   #31
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Working or not working is not a moral issue, it is a personal choice we are free to make, providing we have sufficient means. Leisure is not sinful. It is healthful. People may contribute to society if they wish, or not, just as they please. It is lawful to follow your inclinations when it comes to volunteering or not volunteering.

Nobody on this site ever thought it might be selfish to retire early until Bongo2 brought it up.

Bongo2 is playing the part of the serpent in the garden here. The rest of us were happy and carefree until he showed up with his apple of morality. My advice: Don't bite!
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Old 12-13-2007, 11:50 PM   #32
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There are some very concrete minded people around here. I might be wrong, but I don't think Bongo2 intended his posts to be taken at face value. More likely to be used as a stimulus for discussion. Isn't this a hint?

"Proposition: ........."

Ha
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Old 12-14-2007, 12:53 AM   #33
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There are some very concrete minded people around here. I might be wrong, but I don't think Bongo2 intended his posts to be taken at face value. More likely to be used as a stimulus for discussion. Isn't this a hint?

"Proposition: ........."

Ha
Looks like a number of folks took the bait which is a good thing....but some need to realize it is indeed an invitation for discussion rather than a defined position on the topic.
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Old 12-14-2007, 02:28 AM   #34
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Or: why your friends and family don’t want you to retire early.

ER is something that you are doing for yourself that may very well be somewhat detrimental to others

The ER we are generally discussing around here is someone who is perfectly able to work deciding to leave their job in order to pursue “leisure” activities. We talk about surfing, fishing, traveling, but very little about finding the most socially valuable ways to spend all this free time.

The FI part of FIRE is much more important than the RE part.
I guess bases on this I will never be retired, early or otherwise.

I would like to be financially responsible and able to support myself without relying on government programs (Social Security, Medicare...) or bailouts. If that makes me selfish, so be it.

As far as socially valuable activities, I tend to interact with my Habitat for Humanity friends, on housing issues, My social services friends on issues conserning poverty, abuse, illitery...

In short, I have different interactions with different groups based on common interests. In this forum, I have a tendancy to lean towards discussions on financial independance and leisure activities.

This forum never struck me as a group that thought Me Me Me, I'm rich and I'm going to play all day and do what ever I want, the world be damned!

Maybe we are selfish, maybe we are delusional, maybe we are FIRE'd or FIRE wanna be's. Maybe we are complex human beings, doing the best we can and searching for community and understanding from a group of like minded individuals...just a thought

Sunshine
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Old 12-14-2007, 04:00 AM   #35
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Hello - Well I guess I am going to be selfish %#^.

But I certainly appreciate those who choose to continue working.

Here is how I look at it. And this is really the only way to look at it (IMHO). I am not a wealthy person. I went to school by funding it myself by working (sometimes at very low paying jobs early on)... no help from mom an pop here I took advantages of programs to help pay for it (GI Bill and tuition programs at work). Most of my schooling was at night while working in the day... Essentially two jobs.

I have deferred consumption for years about 30 to be exact and invested in myself and/or retirement. At about 35 years... I will have accumulated enough of deferred spending that has been invested to ER. Plus, with my meager savings, I took the risk of investing. I could have lost it all... and still can. The gains are the reward for taking the risk.


Conversely, many of my US peers worked 1 low paid job, decided not not get an education and therefore make little money. Other US peers that made a good wage decided to consume everything they earned along the way. They made those decisions. It was their choice.

Those who are not in a position to ER made a choice. They made their choice, and I can make mine.


Now to get to the root of it. It is merely good old "green eyed" jealousy! So my response to those who want to make an issue of it is: you made your choice!
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Old 12-14-2007, 06:03 AM   #36
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I like 52andOut's answer..

In early hunter/gatherer type societies or even in agricultural societies there were periods of intense work and periods with "time off". "Evolved" society has decided that it's better to be continuously on-call with a 2-week vacation. Instead of half working and half relaxing once their immediate needs are met, on a day-by-day basis, every day of their life , seems some here have worked hard for 30 years and then have decided to relax for the next 30.. nothing inherently evil about that.

I used to know a guy.. MIT civil engineer. He managed to find gigs for six months or a year where he did soul-deadening but highly-paid stuff.. and then took six months or a year off. Just a different way of breaking things up.. if you don't "need" to consume all the fruits of your labor right away.
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Old 12-14-2007, 07:28 AM   #37
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Bongo, you seem to be deeply troubled by this. Are you retired and feeling guilty? AN ER wannabe but too guilt ridden to pull the plug? Working and trying to justify yourself?
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Old 12-14-2007, 07:29 AM   #38
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Bongo's post is interesting in that it sparked a number of folks to examine their motivation for early retirement. I'm kind of new around here so don't know much about the frequent posters. I have, however, observed most of those who have, or will, retire early got there by hard work and frugality. Many others who would like to retire early can't because they could not resist spending too much on frivilious things and, therefore, did not save for retirement.

I don't believe in making general judgements about people. In addition, I feel no need to defend or explain my personal decision to retire early in reaction to a general statement made about a diverse group of people. My attitude is if you want to retire early to devote your life to charitable activities, that's fine. If you want to spend all your time on travel, golfing and surfing, that's fine too. I think many of us fall somewhere between these two extreems. Whatever your motivation, it's your life to live.
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Old 12-14-2007, 07:40 AM   #39
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At the certainty of prolonging the trollishness, a passage that I think of from time to time. From Robert A Heinlein in "Time Enough for Love"

Do not confuse "duty" with what other people expect of you; they are utterly different. Duty is a debt you owe to yourself to fulfill obligations you have assumed voluntarily. Paying that debt can entail anything from years of patient work to instant willingness to die. Difficult it may be, but the reward is self-respect.

But there is no reward at all for doing what other people expect of you, and to do so is not merely difficult, but impossible. It is easier to deal with a footpad than it is with the leech who wants "just a few minutes of your time, please — this won't take long." Time is your total capital, and the minutes of your life are painfully few. If you allow yourself to fall into the vice of agreeing to such requests, they quickly snowball to the point where these parasites will use up 100 percent of your time — and squawk for more!So learn to say No — and to be rude about it when necessary.Otherwise you will not have time to carry out your duty, or to do your own work, and certainly no time for love and happiness. The termites will nibble away your life and leave none of it for you.

(This rule does not mean that you must not do a favor for a friend, or even a stranger. But let the choice be yours. Don't do it because it is "expected" of you.)
Yes I agree, with caveats. You may teach your children that certain things are expected of them. Share your toys. Say please and thankyou. Etc. Part of socialization is learning what duties you have. Then as an adult, you can assume the duties you chose. The duties I have I have freely assumed. No one is making me. But my childhood training in the importance of family I am sure colors what duties I believe I have.

This is even more true in other cultures. India for example. Family has the duty to care for you in your old age, so there has been no history of social security and government programs to care for citizens. This doesn't mean the people in India are less happy than a country of individualists. Heck, they could be more happy because there is less choice and less to agonize over.
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Old 12-14-2007, 08:14 AM   #40
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I retired to play golf. Selfish I know.
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