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Old 12-14-2007, 08:53 PM   #61
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While I give low marks to the OP for logic, I'd say his ability to get a reaction, aka troll, are excellent.
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Old 12-14-2007, 08:59 PM   #62
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Yeah, I'm not buying this whole shtick. It's that holier than thou thing that makes me wonder. My guess is still that he is frustrated with being unable to FIRE so he's re-casting it as something vaguely immoral or self-serving. B+ for troll value, though.

I'm moving on to more existential and philosophical threads, like the booze thread.
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Old 12-14-2007, 09:18 PM   #63
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Old 12-14-2007, 09:25 PM   #64
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bongo2,

As I read your comments on this thread, it strikes me that your defense of your original proposition that 'ER is selfish' is much too broad. Your proposition is more 'a certain type of ER is selfish', and you define that selfishness as 'not producing', or 'not producing social benefits'.

Or maybe, not producing enough social benefits; if (using your example) military, police, and firefighting are seen as jobs that produce enough benefits that they don't have to be followed until normal retirement, then under what other circumstances can 'enough' benefits have been gained to justify ER?

I submit that saving enough to invest (earning the money for said investments and investing both producing social benefits) and living off the proceeds of said investments demonstrates sufficient benefits to society that one can ER without the selfish label. What say you?
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Old 12-14-2007, 09:27 PM   #65
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Originally Posted by twaddle View Post
I'm selfish and lazy. But I was that way when I was working too. ER has nothing to do with it.

I'm sure there are many people who are unselfish and dedicate their lives to helping the poor and sick without any need for either an income or respect.......I'm glad those people exist, but we're not all motivated by a love for humanity.
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Nice try, Bongo, but "self interest" shouldn't be confused with the pejorative context of "selfish"-- and certainly not with society's envy or even jealousy.

Most people's reactions come from their own lack of opportunity or planning or discipline. A true friend would be happy for the ER-to-be instead of complaining about selfish witholding of services.

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. Ah, and I'm still paying my fair share of taxes to support all those social services that I used to be providing.

But feel free to live your life according to whoever's standards you wish to substitute for your own.
I've always been more interested in my well-being (and that of my immediate family) than in other's.....'lookin' out for #1'. Whether that is considered "selfish" or looking out for my own "self interest", is dependent on one's view point. The definition really doesn't matter to me. I w*rked for 30+ years in public service for pay & benefits.

I've also volunteered in non-profits ever since I was in school, including being on the boards and serving as director or chairman of several, never accepting any remuneration. I didn't do it for the "atta boys" or any glory....I only did it 'cause I felt like it. And I tried to stay out of the lime light as much as humanly possible.

So I've got 30+ years of w*rk, and about 40 years of volunteering under my belt. Now, I'm going to pursue my dream of being a slug, a sloth, a self-centered, egocentric, FIRE'd bum! I've heard NO negative remarks, from those who matter, about my choosing to ER! They're all very happy for me and my situation....and have said and shown it. If there's anyone who doesn't like it.....so what! I don't care! It's their problem, not mine!

And like Nords, I'm stilling "paying my fair share of taxes to support all those social services". And I don't have a great admiration for much of humanity either!

"But feel free to live your life according to whoever's standards you wish to substitute for your own." (that's a wonderful line Nords!!! Thanks!)
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Old 12-14-2007, 09:47 PM   #66
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Now why is there a general work ethic? Let me put it this way: do you enjoy parks, the protection of the military, your car, the roads on which you drive, the food you eat, movies or television, not having to fix your own sink? You would have none of those things but for the labor of others. Sure, you pay for them, but the value you get is much greater than the amount you pay. In economics these types of effects are called externalities or consumer surplus (depending on the beneficiary). Your friends and family probably aren’t thinking in these precise terms, but their instinct that society benefits when you work, and loses when you don’t, is a sound one.
Do I enjoy (1) parks? yes; (2) the protection of the military? yes; (3) my car? yes (4) the roads on which I drive? yes (5) the food I eat? yes (6) movies or television? yes (7) not having to fix my own sink? no, I'd rather learn the skill and do it myself, but given the demands on my time from my job, I hire it out.

So what? Numbers 1, 2 and 4 I pay for with taxes, whether or not I'm ERd or not. Numbers 3, 5 and 6 I pay for whether or not I'm ERd. And number 7 I'd rather do myself, and could do more readily if I was ERd.

Certainly I hope the value I get from any of these things is greater than what I pay for them! Otherwise, why would I pay for them, ERd or not?

Conversely, if I retire soley to play golf, then I buy golf clubs, pay greens fees, and so on - so doesn't that benefit the golf club makers and course owners greater than what I pay by definition?

I dispute your claim that only by producing are we unselfish; instead, by consuming something that others produce we demonstrate that said production is more valuable to us and therefore is beneficial.
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Old 12-14-2007, 09:49 PM   #67
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In a country full of debt-ridden people driving un-paid for SUVs commuting hours per day from distant un-paid for McMansions, this seems like a small group to call selfish. There are obviously bigger and better targets for those words. Speaking of cogs, something here just doesn't fit right.
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Old 12-14-2007, 11:33 PM   #68
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Bongo's a missionary. We're the happy savages on ER island, blissfully unaware that we are naked, lazy and uncouth. Bongo is here to bring us light, show us the path, reveal our sinful, slothful natures. Soon he'll have us dressing in hot, uncomfortable clothes and (gulp) working.

What do missionaries do? They put their hangups into other peoples' heads. I'm OK with my own indolence. I don't care what others think about it. Why do you care so much?
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Old 12-14-2007, 11:44 PM   #69
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Most people who continue to w*rk fall into one of these four categories: 1) Those that are early in their careers and need to buy a house and accumulate savings for retirement. 2) Those who would like to retire, but lack funds to support themselves and pay for health insurance. 3) Those who could retire, but truly love to w*rk. 4) Those who could retire, but are too materialistic to relinquish future wages.

I can forgive the people who fall into the first three categories, but feel sorry and pity those in the fourth category, because their perceived happiness is contingent upon a bigger McMansion, a more impressive RV or fancier clothing and jewelry. These are the people who are selfish, not the fortunate group who were able to retire early. It makes me sad to see people who sacrifice their lives to accumulate more material goods, and in the process miss out on life.

We're only given one mind and one body. It is our duty to take care of both and live life to the fullest and the only way we can do this is to be truly free of w*rk. People who continue to w*rk in order to acquire more riches will never be satisified. This is only selfish and ugly greed. These people will never experience happiness.

In Walden, Henry David Thoreau stated, "I went to the Woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and to see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." I am afraid that those unhappy, selfish and greedy people in category four will someday die, only to find that they never truly lived.
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Old 12-15-2007, 02:06 AM   #70
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Whenever I hear someone like Bongo2 talk it makes me think that they believe I should continue working to support the rest of society that can't seem to organize and control how they spend their money. How much is enough, by the way? Once I have earned enough to support myself, am I supposed to go on working so I can support a few dozen others? I am not ER'd yet, but my approach is deliberate and planned. When I pull the plug, it will be because I can do it and still support myself, society (thru taxes and material purchases that I make with money I earned and saved), and still make contributions to causes that I feel deserve my contributions, whether monetarily or by donating my time. I certainly do not feel like I should continue working and accumulating just for the heck of it, nor do I believe I should work and have my excess taxed so that others who have not been careful with their funds can be funded by MY work.

I don't see myself as selfish. I donate a lot of time and money, to both civic and religious issues, and I do not see that giving up my j*b so that I can have a little more time for myself as well as to do some of these volunteer activities, is selfish.

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Old 12-15-2007, 09:47 AM   #71
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Quote:
Originally Posted by haha View Post
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
That philosophy reminds me of SG, who felt he could say anything no matter how condescending or insulting as long as he included enough smiley emoticons.

This may be a reciprocated diatribe debating society but it would've been just as easy (and more sympathetic) for Bongo to start off with "Guys, I'm struggling with this issue". IMO the sentiments I'm reading in his quoted excerpt below don't match your impression.

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There are some very concrete minded people around here.
Heeyyyyy... who you callin' a blockhead?

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Originally Posted by bongo2 View Post
There have been a couple comments that, while ER is self interested, it is not detrimental to others, and therefore not selfish. I tried to address this before, and it is not clear if you are disagreeing with me, or I simply didn’t make myself clear. ER is detrimental to others both directly and obliquely. It is not hugely detrimental, it is not evil, but it is detrimental. We all depend on the work of others, and by dropping out of society you are not holding up your end of the bargain. In our society, allowances are made for people like police, firefighters, and the military. There is a reason why; those jobs have always been assumed to be too demanding for a lifetime of service. Whether that is true today, or applies to the desk-bound versions, is another story, but we have that tradition.
No one should be forced to work, and no one is expected to work beyond their ability. But when someone is perfectly able to work, and they simply chose not to do so, then people disapprove, and for good reason.
It appears that you equate a positive contribution to society with the activity of working for a paycheck.

I've made such efficient use of my paychecks (and qualifying for a govt-funded annuity!) that I don't need any more of them, yet somehow my decision to stop chasing them is interpreted as detrimental to society. I'd think it was more detrimental to keep chasing paychecks when I no longer needed to, or wasting the ones I already had.

You also appear to equate "not working" as "not participating in society". Yet "not working" allows me to actually engage in pleasurable activities that otherwise wouldn't be available to me, as well as mentoring and helping others. I'm also in the best physical, mental, and emotional condition of my entire life.

Your philosophy is not matching my experience. Since I'm the one who's ER'd and thus a bit differently experienced than you, I find it difficult to see your sentiments as credible. Perhaps you need to take a sabbatical or even ER and then get back to us in a year or two. Or start donating your paychecks to charity, with extra karma bonus points if you skip the tax deductions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cute fuzzy bunny View Post
I find it ironic that a glove is thrown regarding ethics and morals, yet the protester feels inclined to mill about with the morally and ethically challenged to gain some sort of benefit from their knowledge. And his intent to some day do the same.
All the while stating that his obligations are superior to most of the chaff he choses to mingle with.
Well, faced with a morally and ethically superior being whose efforts exceed mine, I'm afraid I have little option other than to fold up my tent.
Hey, at least he's exclusive in his mingling.

Perhaps CFB is right, Bongo. You could find the same helpful info on FatWallet.com, SimpleLiving.net, and TMF that you're getting here, only without that icky ER stuff. But you wouldn't be able to cast aspersions on their membership for living up to the names of their boards, would you?

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Originally Posted by Retire Soon View Post
In Walden, Henry David Thoreau stated, "I went to the Woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and to see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." I am afraid that those unhappy, selfish and greedy people in category four will someday die, only to find that they never truly lived.
"What's money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do."
Bob Dylan

Another coupla dropouts. Or blockheads...
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Old 12-15-2007, 11:33 AM   #72
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After watching this thread for a while, I decided to formulate my own thoughts.

The bottom line is that there are a lot of different ways to define "selfish." For some people, not w*rking and thus paying less in taxes is "selfish" from the standpoint of not maximizing their contributions to the community. I think this is the sort of selfishness the OP floated in this thread.

However, I could respond that the need to work in order to maintain a high level of consumerism -- resulting in more materials consumed, more junk in the landfills, more pollution generated and more energy guzzled -- could also be seen as selfish.

You also don't know the motivations for retiring early. Maybe it's not complete retirement but a "downsizing" of career into a public service role -- i.e. dropping out of Big Business to become a teacher, just to name one. Maybe it's the desire to do a lot of good volunteer work for the community that can't be done much when w*rking full time. And yes, maybe it's just sitting on one's butt and doing as little as possible.

I believe it's valuable to just accept each other's own definition of self-interest as long as it relies upon someone using the wealth they earned, created and built to fund it, and as long as no one else has their rights trampled along the way.

The world would do well to practice a little more live and let live.
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Old 12-15-2007, 11:54 AM   #73
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After watching this thread for a while, I decided to formulate my own thoughts.

The bottom line is that there are a lot of different ways to define "selfish." For some people, not w*rking and thus paying less in taxes is "selfish" from the standpoint of not maximizing their contributions to the community. I think this is the sort of selfishness the OP floated in this thread.

However, I could respond that the need to work in order to maintain a high level of consumerism -- resulting in more materials consumed, more junk in the landfills, more pollution generated and more energy guzzled -- could also be seen as selfish.

You also don't know the motivations for retiring early. Maybe it's not complete retirement but a "downsizing" of career into a public service role -- i.e. dropping out of Big Business to become a teacher, just to name one. Maybe it's the desire to do a lot of good volunteer work for the community that can't be done much when w*rking full time. And yes, maybe it's just sitting on one's butt and doing as little as possible.

I believe it's valuable to just accept each other's own definition of self-interest as long as it relies upon someone using the wealth they earned, created and built to fund it, and as long as no one else has their rights trampled along the way.

The world would do well to practice a little more live and let live.
If someone "downsized" a career from "big business" to become a public school teacher, they'd soon learn that there is far more stress in teaching than business.
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Old 12-15-2007, 12:05 PM   #74
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If someone "downsized" a career from "big business" to become a public school teacher, they'd soon learn that there is far more stress in teaching than business.
Maybe, maybe not. If they were an executive dealing with a lot of management hassles, and they went to a private school that doesn't have the disciplinary and other problems in the public schools, that might not follow.

Plus, there's the matter of doing what you enjoy and what you feel passionate about. I don't think there's a one-size-fits-all in this regard, as we all have our own tolerances for different types of BS.
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Old 12-15-2007, 12:36 PM   #75
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I had to go back and read this whole thread again. In the pages of posts there are maybe 20 words on this. Also in the thread "what are we all retireing to" there is barely a mention of this sort of thing. I think the evidence is heavily against you here.
In that thread I simply said " to call my time my own". That will allow me to

spend more time with family (help provide a direction and foundation for my kids,

spend more time at the gym (keep me healthy, out of our costly health care system and avoid becoming a premature burden to my family),

take more time with my yard and garden (hoping to reduce use of fertilizers and pesticides),

explore new interests (help me meet others, benefitting me and them since relationships are proven to benefit oneself and "others"),

travel with self and family, (activity known to increase tolerance and committment to community and environment)

On the face, these might seem to be primarily self centered activities, but I see the benefits to both myself and society for these "selfish" acts, still contributing albeit in a different (non-monetary productive) way.

Is this a bit convoluted logic, maybe. Certainly, I am not looking to FIRE to be selfless. But to call it selfish, in a pejoritive sense, is too harsh as well. It is merely another path, an option that I am fortunate enough to be able to consider.
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Old 12-15-2007, 01:09 PM   #76
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All human beings are by nature selfish. ER's are human beings and are therefore selfish, but no more and no less than anyone else.
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Old 12-15-2007, 04:41 PM   #77
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FAIR WARNING: Long post ahead, with many quotes. I’m trying to take what bongo2 posted, analyze it, and distill it down.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bongo2
I want to get straight what I mean by retirement. Technically you can say things like “Bob retired from his job as a lawyer to teach starving children in
Quote:
Originally Posted by bongo2
Africa,” or “Bob retired early from his job as a mover after his eighth heart attack left him unable to lift heavy objects.” 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.
Okay, so not being able-bodied is an exception, and it’s not leaving paid employment as such that’s bad, but having too many ‘leisure’ activities. I’ll get back to that idea later.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bongo2
I am not retired, but do plan on leaving my current job well before age 50, despite the fact that I have more obligations than most others here. I’ve wrestled with how to balance my obligations, my willingness to take on new obligations, and my own self-interest. I hang around here (and this is the only internet forum I frequent) because, despite my concerns about the ethics, there is a lot of stuff here I do find useful.
Side question: I’m curious, what are these ‘more obligations than most here’?


Side observation: As far as you being personally concerned about the ethics of your intended ER, just do volunteer work – take meals to home-bound people, become an adult literacy tutor, take care of family, etc. – enough so that your leisure time is small enough that you feel productive. Or, don’t ER – keep working.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bongo2
The idea occasionally is put forth that giving up your job is good because someone else is then allowed to take it. The fallacy here is that we do not have a fixed number of jobs in our society or even a fixed number of good jobs.
True, but there is still unemployment, and ERing from a job that will be backfilled does free up the position for someone else, and so on, until an unemployed person becomes employed. I think your argument looks more convincing in a time with low unemployment (like now in the
US) than high unemployment (like during the Depression in the US). Even if unemployment is not directly reduced, the person stepping into the vacated job is likely being promoted and thus contributing more. I don’t see a fallacy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bongo2
Also people confuse consuming with contributing. You contribute by producing.
And I disagree that consuming is not contributing, provided the consumer pays for the consumption himself. Without consumption, there is no reason to produce. Also, taxes are contributing. Also, invested capital is contributing. Aenlighten said it better than me:


Quote:
Originally Posted by aenlighten
It is not through labor alone we are productive. Saving is itself not selfish. It is a choice that most of us through our hard work and accumulation have arrived at this point. We are productive in many other ways. We are productive through our saving, our capital, our investing. We may not have jobs, but our capital provides them. We may not produce ourselves, but our capital can and does. I realize you don't value this, but it is every bit as necessary as more hands at the till.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bongo2
There have been a couple comments that, while ER is self interested, it is not detrimental to others, and therefore not selfish. I tried to address this before, and it is not clear if you are disagreeing with me, or I simply didn’t make myself clear. ER is detrimental to others both directly and obliquely. It is not hugely detrimental, it is not evil, but it is detrimental.
How? How how how? Show me the direct and oblique detriment to others.


Quote:
Originally Posted by bongo2
We all depend on the work of others, and by dropping out of society you are not holding up your end of the bargain.
Dropping out of society? Where did that come from? Let’s say my nest egg is big enough tomorrow and I ER. I still consume and pay for my own consumption. I still pay taxes. I still interact with and help my family and neighbors, perhaps more since I have more time available. I simply don’t go to work anymore. I don’t agree that that’s dropping out of society.


I don’t know about this ‘bargain’. I certainly agree that an able-bodied person shouldn’t live off of others without returning anything, but that’s not the case here – others are depending on the capital I have, and that capital was produced by work. I claim that is holding up my end of the bargain.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bongo2
In our society, allowances are made for people like police, firefighters, and the military. There is a reason why; those jobs have always been assumed to be too demanding for a lifetime of service. Whether that is true today, or applies to the desk-bound versions, is another story, but we have that tradition.
And so, if you contribute enough (though demanding service), you can retire and it’s not detrimental. I also notice that you haven’t claimed that retirement at normal age is detrimental, it’s the early part you take issue with. I assume that’s because a person is credited with having produced ‘enough’. Again I claim that saving enough to retire on demonstrates having produced enough.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bongo2
No one should be forced to work, and no one is expected to work beyond their ability. But when someone is perfectly able to work, and they simply chose not to do so, then people disapprove, and for good reason.
What good reason? State it.


Quote:
Originally Posted by bongo2
Some good points: why does there have to be a relationship between money earned and the merit of the way you spend your time? Isn’t some unpaid work more “virtuous” than some paid work? Yes! I totally agree and said so in my original post. When someone stops work to raise a family or join the peace corps do we say they “retired?” Not typically. When you say you’re retiring you are implying that you are not leaving your job to work in a more altruistic fashion, but rather to do work on something like your golf game. If someone is retiring early because they have found something more important to do, rather than something more frivolous to do, then they should say so and avoid the stigma.
It looks to me that your objection boils down to the idea that people should be doing something ‘important’ rather than something ‘frivolous’. Unless they’ve already done enough ‘important’ things (military job, being of a certain age).


What I distill from your posts is this: For an able-bodied person, unless of a certain age or having worked for some number of years in a demanding job such as policeman, to have more than a certain amount of leisure time is directly and indirectly detrimental, although not hugely detrimental, to others.

And that’s simply a refinement and restatement of your original position.

I disagree with your assertion that an ER living off of his investments is not contributing to society. Perhaps that’s the root of our disagreement.

But, where is this direct and indirect detriment to others? Please state it.

P.S. - sorry about the broken double quote at the beginning. I tried five times to fix it, but the quote /quote kept getting added in. Strange.
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Old 12-15-2007, 06:06 PM   #78
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Let's also look at this from the other side:

what is the value and contribution to society of spending 5-6 hours per week sitting in traffic commiting to the j*b?

what about the 20+ hrs per week (varies by employer) of spending time in non-productive meetings, water-cooler chit-chat, and other side bar efforts?

Why is doing these things generous and supportive of community, while spending time with family, friends, and self-acutualization is selfish?
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Old 12-15-2007, 06:42 PM   #79
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And how about this: what's selfish about leaving a job you no longer need financially -- and create a job opening for someone who *does* need it? Sounds like a win-win to me.
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Old 12-15-2007, 07:49 PM   #80
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When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one Talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest He returning chide,
"Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?"
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, "God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts.
Who best Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best.
His state Is kingly: thousands at his bidding speed,
And post o'er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait."

John Milton (1608-1674) On his Blindness
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