Ethics of ERE

Simple living, extreme early retirement, being wealthy, ...
Robert Muir
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Post by Robert Muir »

The critical point ERE or no, is to become financial independent. If you are financially dependent on your job, then you're serving at the whim of your boss.
Once you're financially independent, then you can make choices. You can choose to work a job servicing the customers/clients that you want to service or you can choose to volunteer hours. Or you can choose to ponder the mysteries of life and perhaps find some answers that would help yourself and others.
Charles Darwin was ERE.


Maus
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Post by Maus »

@paxprobellum

ERE instead of consumerism is sort of analagous to peace instead of war. Neither is a true dichotomy requiring a zero-sum choice. Both are reflective of a continuum of social choices. Not everyone here will give up the car or reduce their food budgets as radically as Jacob has. What motivates us is diverse in effects but more common in causes: frugality, self-mastery, environmental footprint, liberation from the alienation of being considered human captial rather than a human being.
As I've stated elsewhere, I've worked for years as an attorney in government, then the non-profit sector. This was an explicit choice favoring preferred social outcomes (greater public safety/less crime) to personal profit (billing at $300-400 an hour). I feel as if I've done my tour of duty. That doesn't mean I'll never give legal counsel or advocate for someone; I just won't do it according to anyone's agenda but mine. That basically limits me to clients whose values and goals are so closely aligned with my own than I won't violate my ethical oblication to that client. That's a very narrow subset of clients, paying or otherwise.
It strikes me that what you are really asking is whether there is some hypocrisy in living off the dividends of the very corporate structure some of us chafe at working under. First, not all of us will derive our ERE income from such a source (though, I do plan to do so). Some are acquiring rental properties and will add to the material well being of society by providing housing. Others are engaging in self-owned businesses that they hope will ultimatey be run by employees, thus providing jobs. Second, even in the case of those of us who might be considered rentiers, by actively directing our meager incomes into anti-consumerist streams, we will be strengthening the fledgling alternative economy that may ultimately subsist.
Without going into a history lesson or a Unibomber rant on technology, I feel it sufficient to state that not all progress is beneficial or necessary. Would you accuse the pioneers who settled the western half of America of being shirkers because they did not remain in the urban centers of the original thirteen colonies? Many of these folks were rugged individualists who lived by the sweat of their own brow and the ingenuity of their own minds. Setting aside their treatment of the aboriginal peoples, I find their self-determination inspiring and worthy of emulation.


George the other one
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Post by George the other one »

@paxprobellum

I have thought about the morality of ERE a lot. I am personally not a ERE-ist, instead I am more of a possum liver-ist. However, the moral philosophy is the same.
Specifically, I can not morally justify working 40 to 60 hours a week for 40+ years when so many are unemployed and need a job to feed and house themselves and their families. In fact, in hard (unemployment) times like these I would go so far as to say that we have a moral responsibility to work as little as possible so that there are more jobs to go around.
Thus, I believe that since I do not need the money it is unmoral for me to take away an employment opportunity from someone else just so that I can work 40-60 hours a week for 40+ years.


Mr. Overlord
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Post by Mr. Overlord »

@paxprobellum
Think about ERE like this. Not being ERE means if you don't work, you don't eat. Being ERE simply means that you eat whether or not you work. With that in mind, I fail to see see how ERE can be considered morally bad (this excellent observation made by HSpencer, a frequent poster on these forums).
As Robert pointed out, being ERE means you have choices. You, not someone else, gets to decide how socially productive you want to be. If that means working a normal 40 hour a week job doing something you find worthwhile, go for it. If it means volunteering part time, sounds good. Or even if it means doing nothing at all. ERE is simply a means to whatever end you choose.
Many people who aren't ERE can't choose to work jobs doing things they care about because those jobs might not be available to them, or they aren't really sure what they're passionate about. And even if someone's working a job they deem worthwhile, there could be plenty about the job that the person doesn't like, or plenty of hours wasted during the normal 9 to 5 that isn't productively used in pursuit of the worthwhile cause. ERE frees you because you don't have to make these sacrifices that come with worrying about how you're going to put food on the table. You get to decide what to do on your own terms.
Maybe you're right that people who become ERE should make sure they spend their time doing what you would consider socially productive pursuits rather than living a life of leisure (and many who become ERE do), but my sense is that your problem then isn't with the value in ERE itself (the means), but rather with what choices people make once they get there (the ends). I for one however, am glad we live in a society where people get to freely make the choices that maximize their own happiness, whether that means being socially productive, or not at all.


mikeBOS
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Post by mikeBOS »

For ERE, you are withholding your economic contribution of working for most of your life. Instead, you are "using" the work of others to finance your life.
I wouldn't necessarily disagree with this characterization. I do wonder what you think is possibly unethical about it. I choose to play the economic role of the capitalist, providing the capital so that laborers, people like you I suppose, can operate in their chosen role.
There are a couple things about your assertion that are off-putting though. How am I "withholding my economic contribution" by not working? The word "withhold" seems to imply that I have some obligation to provide a contribution of labor to society in the first place. Which I don't. I wasn't born with a yoke around my neck.
Secondly, I do economically contribute, just not through wage-labor.


Piper
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Post by Piper »

In this country, we are all using the work of others to finance our lives. If that's the definition of unethical, the more ethical choice would be to live a life of pure self-sufficiency, of subsistence from the direct efforts of your own hands. Living this way, we'd work every day of our lives until we could no longer do so, and then be helped by family, if we had any, until we died.
I actually think that this is closer to what is ethical, right and proper for human beings. That we should live the way Jesus said, like the birds, not hoarding and saving for the future but instead trusting in god to take care of us and obtaining our food and shelter day-by-day. But long ago we walked away from that kind of life and invented agriculture and property ownership and money and we are so enmeshed in it we can't even see a way out that doesn't involve money and the enslavement of unseen people somewhere on the globe.
Sorry to be such a downer, but that's what I honestly think. If I had more courage I might just walk away from the whole game. But I'm stuck in the buy-my-way out scenario like everyone else here, I guess. For as long as it will work. With environmental and financial collapse a possibility, it could be I'll end up unable to buy my way out in the end.


4444
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Post by 4444 »

What about nuclear weapons? If society wasn't so specialized these weapons wouldnt have been discovered. If these scientists achieved ERE instead of working so hard the world might not have nuclear weapons.


Chad
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Post by Chad »

Actually, Mike, I do think we are born with an obligation to society or in better terms, we are born into debt. I'm not saying this is a good thing, but that it exists. With ERE we pay off this debt (place to live, food, etc.) and start accumulating assets much faster than traditional worker citizens.
Also, to everyone who thought this was or might be a troll attempt, who cares? No one is forcing you to read or respond.
@paxprobellum

Once this debt is paid off and we have accumulated enough assets to take care of ourselves I see nothing immoral with not working. Work is not inherently good. In fact, the majority of work I have been a part of or witnessed has been negative or at best neutral. Digging a ditch and then filling it back in for money, which is what 20-30 hours of most workers work weeks are is wasteful. Selling sub-prime loans with ARMs to people you know can't afford them is work, but it is also wasteful and very very destructive.
The puritan idea that one has to punish themselves with work is just plain foolish. It seems obvious that this was created as another societal control to benefit whoever ruled. It's hard to be King (replace with any government, religious, or industrial title) if the workers aren't producing more assets than they actually need or use.
Now this doesn't mean that if you want to work that it is bad, just that it isn't inherently any more moral than not working (if you can still support yourself).


djc
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Post by djc »

I think early retirement from employment you don't like is absolutely both moral and licit.
I think a life without work (on your terms) is unadvisable. I define "work" in the most broad sense, i.e. monks are engaged in work (opus dei) as are true contemplatives who pray for people they don't even know.
Slaving away in a cubicle is my definition of hell on earth.
djc


JasonR
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Post by JasonR »

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Last edited by JasonR on Tue Mar 19, 2019 2:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

paxprobellum
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Post by paxprobellum »

@mikeBOS

>> How am I "withholding my economic contribution" by not

>> working? The word "withhold" seems to imply that I have

>> some obligation to provide a contribution of labor to

>> society in the first place. Which I don't.
Perhaps we can agree to disagree. :P I think you have an obligation to the human race to contribute what you can for the benefit of your progeny / other people. The same argument can be made about environmental protection (eg "I can waste the planet because I'm gonna die in X years anyway.")...
@Chad

>> Work is not inherently good. In fact, the majority

>> of work I have been a part of or witnessed has been

>> negative or at best neutral.
Again, I think I have to disagree. Work accomplishes things. It depends on what you use it for, but I think 'getting things done' is inherently good.
@JasonR

>> Why is ERE socially irresponsible--besides "not much

>> would get done"?
For the record, putting something in quotes doesn't make it less important. I think you underestimate the value of things getting done. If you went to the store and there was no food to be purchased, would you find that quotable? Worker bees have to farm the land, drive the truck, and stock the shelves. The argument that I don't need to work because SOMEONE will work isn't sustainable.
Note that I'm not advocating wastefulness, which you all seem to think I'm implying by saying that "work is good". On the contrary, I think the ERE ideals are great -- it's the retirement part I disagree with.


George the original one
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Post by George the original one »

> Worker bees have to farm the land, drive the truck, and stock

> the shelves.
Okay, with modern agriculture, this occupies only 15% of society's population at full-time 40-hr/week capacity.
Or we can do it ourselves using only 15% of our own 40-hr/week time (and growing my own food is pleasurable). That still leaves 85% of our time free to do with as we like.
Housing? Spend one summer cutting trees and turning them into a log cabin. That log cabin will last for at least two generations.
The point is that there is absolutely no reason to spend 20 or 30 or 40 years working for a living.


George the original one
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Post by George the original one »

Stay at home moms aren't "working"... they'll never collect SS or a pension for this job, so are they unethical for not working? How is that different from ERE?


paxprobellum
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Post by paxprobellum »

@George

>> Stay at home moms aren't "working"...

>> they'll never collect SS or a pension for

>> this job, so are they unethical for not

>> working? How is that different from ERE?
You entirely missed my point. Working isn't good because of the wage you get. It's good because you are accomplishing something. Being a stay-at-home mom is a great use of your time/energy. Being a stay-at-home don't-have-a-job probably isn't.


Chad
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Post by Chad »

@paxprobellum

"Work accomplishes things."
That isn't true. Admittedly, I'm being picky, but not all work accomplishes something and not all work that accomplishes something, accomplishes something good. A lot of it is even evil. I would also suggest that a lot of the supposedly good stuff getting done is actually just neutral.
There is nothing to suggest that our reason for being is to accomplish things.


George the original one
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Post by George the original one »

If work has to accomplish something, then at what point has one accomplished enough? How often do I have to accomplish something to still be considered as working?
What I'm getting at is that you're setting a standard that can't be measured. If the standard can't be measured, then it's worthless and there's no ethics involved in ERE.
At least with wages, you have a standard that can be measured.


mikeBOS
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Post by mikeBOS »

Perhaps we can agree to disagree. :P I think you have an obligation to the human race to contribute what you can for the benefit of your progeny / other people. The same argument can be made about environmental protection
The reason I am conscious about the environment is because polluting it infringes on other people's property rights (their right to clean air/water). Polluting actively hurts others. Whereas insisting that each person must contribute something is an infringement on their liberty. You could say, "I think I have an obligation to the human race to contribute." And that would be fine. But to say, "I think YOU have an obligation to the human race," is actually you infringing on my dignity as a human being to do as I wish. It's like you're saying I can't live my life how I want, because it's not helping you (or other unnamed people) enough.
And further, if I am obligated to contribute, then how much? How much am I morally obligated to help you and yours? Is 5 hours a week of labor enough? 10? If I invent something that changes the world when I'm 16 am I then granted the right to relax for the rest of my life? Or is there a yearly quota of contribution I have to make? And why do people over 65 get a pass? Does that mean ~40 years of regular contribution is the only acceptable level?


paxprobellum
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Post by paxprobellum »

@Chad

>> Admittedly, I'm being picky, but not all work

>> accomplishes something and not all work that

>> accomplishes something, accomplishes something

>> good.
Sitting in a cubicle while surfing the web is not work, regardless of how much you're getting paid. On the other hand, publishing web sites from your home IS work, even if you enjoy it!
(In other words, I define work as accomplishing something, not getting paid. The morality of the something done can be argued, though.)
@George

>> If work has to accomplish something, then at what

>> point has one accomplished enough? How often do I

>> have to accomplish something to still be considered

>> as working?
Why are you looking for a way to get away from work? What's wrong with working until you're not able anymore? Is "I don't feel like it" really a good reason?
@mikeBOS

>> It's like you're saying I can't live my life how I

>> want, because it's not helping you (or other

>> unnamed people) enough.
Living life for yourself only is pretty selfish, in my humble opinion. For the record, I consider 'selfishness' to be inherently wrong, although I understand a lot of worldviews may not.
>> And why do people over 65 get a pass?
Because our (misguided) government decided. I think the idea was "people past 65 are, on average, not able to work as well as younger folks", although history has proven otherwise. People over 65 aren't forbidden from work, by the way.


JasonR
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Post by JasonR »

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Last edited by JasonR on Tue Mar 19, 2019 2:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

George the original one
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Post by George the original one »

> Why are you looking for a way to get away from work?

> What's wrong with working until you're not able

> anymore? Is "I don't feel like it" really a good reason?
What gives you the right to decide that what I do is (or isn't) worthwhile (e.g. your definition of work)? In the end, only I can make that judgement and I refuse to abdicate that responsibility to another person.


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