Poll

Which of these would you be comfortable doing in ER?

Collecting welfare benefits and/or SNAP
Having you child get free or reduced lunch
Claiming the EIC
Having your child use a Pell grant or other income-based funding for college
None of the above

Author Topic: Ethics of ER  (Read 56134 times)

Emilyngh

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Ethics of ER
« on: November 17, 2013, 05:21:57 AM »
Assume that your ER is going as planned (so no emergencies where you are running out of money), which of the above would you feel comfortable doing?

For any that you would not be comfortable with yourself, does it bother you if others do them?   Do you find them unethical or just would prefer not to for some other reason?

If you are comfortable doing some, but not others, what is the dividing line that makes some okay to you, but not others?

I ask just because I'm curious.   I, personally, am comfortable with some, but not others, and am wondering really what the difference is.   I also am personally questioning ER and the good of it for the individual vs good for society.   For example, are the ethics of ER different for two people where one does it when just barely able to scrape by collecting max benefits available through the above, and the other does it not when she does not need to collect any benefits and even is able to dedicate money/time to charity?   I just don't know.

chasesfish

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2013, 06:03:32 AM »
I'd be fine with #3 or #4.  I've already paid $30,000 - $40,000 in federal income taxes per year for the last four years in a row building up to ER.  I wouldn't see anything wrong receiving a couple thousand of that back in a pell grant or eic

Emilyngh

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2013, 06:18:53 AM »
I'd be fine with #3 or #4.  I've already paid $30,000 - $40,000 in federal income taxes per year for the last four years in a row building up to ER.  I wouldn't see anything wrong receiving a couple thousand of that back in a pell grant or eic

What if you had $0 federal tax liability (let's say due to maxing out pre-tax investments and having a family a moderate income), would this change anything?

Why is getting tax-payer money through EIC different than through food stamps?   (I feel similarly, but don't have a logical reason for it, so I'm trying to figure it out).

smalllife

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2013, 07:00:30 AM »
Why are all but one of your options assuming that kids are involved?  That might skew your results for the people who will FIRE after they kids leave the nest, or those who don't and won't have them.

I answered none of the above because I would be uncomfortable using welfare and none of the others apply.

Emilyngh

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2013, 07:14:52 AM »
Why are all but one of your options assuming that kids are involved? 

Because those were the benefit plans that I could think of. Although,  I don't think that one has to have kids to qualify for food stamps or SNAP in all states, or the EIC (so about half of the options were kid-related and half not).

mpbaker22

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2013, 07:37:24 AM »
I'm comfortable with any of them.  When the government gives incentives to certain people, those incentives should be exposed.  That's why crony capitalism runs rampant with corporations, and truthfully, it all needs to end.

Left

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2013, 08:11:25 AM »
I'd be fine with them, I didn't grow up rich, single mother raising two kids.... I can see the need for them for people that need them. But for people to use them because they don't want to spend their own money first? I'm a bit iffy on that. While ER people can pull low enough to qualify each year, I don't feel like they should base their retirement off of it. I mean, the entire reason for us on here is to be financially independent, which means also being independent from needing government money/assistance. Sure, use them since they are there but to make the entire retirement work because you are counting on them? Not so much.

It's like, I plan to draw from SS if it's still around in 40 years (I'm fairly young) but do I count on it for retirement? No, but I'll draw more on the principle that I paid into it. But I'd probably just donate it to something I like, since I don't plan on needing it to actually survive on. If it changes, then sure I'll use it but I don't make plans on needing it. I see this the same for the rest of the things.

Sure, I don't like it when the "rich" (subjective) use them, I don't see a problem with them taking advantage of it. I have a problem more with how the laws are written so that they can take advantage of it. Sad part is that the rich are the ones writing the laws so they knowingly put in loopholes for themselves. I'd like to see qualifications based on total networth over just annul income. If someone's living in a 1m+ house but can't make the food bills each month? Make them sell the house first and live off that before giving them food stamps is how I feel about it.

LauraG

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2013, 08:59:25 AM »
I'm comfortable with some of them but not others, but I think that's an irrational position based on how we stigmatize some forms of assistance/transfers but not others.

Quote
I'd like to see qualifications based on total networth over just annul income.

The federal government has been giving states the authority to eliminate asset tests for SNAP and TANF because it makes administration much faster and cheaper. I don't have the numbers, but I'd guess that the number of people with very high assets who apply for and qualify for these programs is probably not large enough to make the added program costs worthwhile. And the old (in some states existing) asset tests were (are) so low that they could discourage saving in low-income people. I could be persuaded that some level of asset test is appropriate, but I think it should be higher than the old tests.

Daleth

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #8 on: November 17, 2013, 09:48:49 AM »
I'd be fine with #3 or #4.  I've already paid $30,000 - $40,000 in federal income taxes per year for the last four years in a row building up to ER.  I wouldn't see anything wrong receiving a couple thousand of that back in a pell grant or eic

What if you had $0 federal tax liability (let's say due to maxing out pre-tax investments and having a family a moderate income), would this change anything?

Why is getting tax-payer money through EIC different than through food stamps?   (I feel similarly, but don't have a logical reason for it, so I'm trying to figure it out).

I picked Pell Grants and EIC although I don't see how we could qualify for EIC if we are indeed retired. You have to actually work for a living to get the earned-income tax credit. If I were working for someone else for fun very part-time and thus earned little enough to qualify for the EIC, but didn't need it, I would take it and probably use it for charitable donations to causes I support and/or to support worthy things that don't count as charitable donations--for instance, buying artwork from an up-and-coming artist to help keep them on their feet or helping single moms I know with educational or similarly important one-time expenses (for instance, I've already given several hundred bucks to friends to (1) help pay for their kid's school trip to Europe and (2) help a woman afford to take maternity leave because the very, very worthy nonprofit she worked for can't afford to offer paid maternity leave--a bunch of friends and family, including me, subsidized her leave).

I have no problem redirecting tax dollars away from wars and oil-company subsidies that I disagree with, and towards things I support. If the feds tell me I qualify for a credit, that's exactly what I'll do.

MrsPete

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #9 on: November 17, 2013, 10:27:21 AM »
The college money is in a different category because it's for your young adult, who has not had time to build up assets.  Likewise, I have no problem with Social Security because that's an earned benefit.  If you've paid in, you should be able to receive benefits. 

The others, however, I would not use, nor would I accept the closely-related free health care for the poor (in its numerous names) or reduced-cost public housing or school-clothes-for-kids programs. Why?  Because a person should support himself, if he is able to do so.  If you need help to make ends meet, you should continue working.  Living off the public doll, if you're able to work, makes you no better than the crooks in Congress -- and I would like to think of myself as more moral than that bunch. 

Taking these unearned payments, if you are able to work, will continue to drive up the national debt, which is a huge problem that will affect us . . . But will really be our children's problem. 

If you can, through a combination of hard work and frugal living, quit working, good for you!  But looking to collect from others is nothing short of dishonest. 

LowER

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2013, 11:52:17 AM »
The college money is in a different category because it's for your young adult, who has not had time to build up assets.  Likewise, I have no problem with Social Security because that's an earned benefit.  If you've paid in, you should be able to receive benefits. 

The others, however, I would not use, nor would I accept the closely-related free health care for the poor (in its numerous names) or reduced-cost public housing or school-clothes-for-kids programs. Why?  Because a person should support himself, if he is able to do so.  If you need help to make ends meet, you should continue working.  Living off the public doll, if you're able to work, makes you no better than the crooks in Congress -- and I would like to think of myself as more moral than that bunch. 

Taking these unearned payments, if you are able to work, will continue to drive up the national debt, which is a huge problem that will affect us . . . But will really be our children's problem. 

If you can, through a combination of hard work and frugal living, quit working, good for you!  But looking to collect from others is nothing short of dishonest.

+1

gooki

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #11 on: November 17, 2013, 12:25:16 PM »
Taking these unearned payments, if you are able to work, will continue to drive up the national debt, which is a huge problem that will affect us . . . But will really be our children's problem. 

By exiting the workforce, you are allowing another individual to be employed. So if the total sum of benefits you receive are less than the cost of supporting an unemployed non financially independent individual then the cost to the government is lower (no additional debt required).

However I agree with the rest of your statement.

steveo

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #12 on: November 17, 2013, 01:34:30 PM »
My take is that if you retire on a pension that is for military service or something else similar that is cool. I do not believe in taking any money from the government apart that I haven't earned.

I do think though it is cool for my kids to utilise government sponsored education for instance however I would not expect any extra benefits.

beltim

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #13 on: November 17, 2013, 02:38:04 PM »
I agree with steveo.  Things that you earn, or are social insurance programs like Social Security are good.  Programs designed to help those who otherwise can't afford food or other necessities?  I'm not sorry, I consider it wrong to take those benefits when they're not needed.  And voluntarily retiring earlier because of those benefits means they're not needed.

The results of this poll are shocking to me.

RootofGood

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #14 on: November 17, 2013, 03:01:36 PM »
Philosophically, I'd be in favor of getting rid of all of these programs. 

That being said, the programs are carefully and intentionally crafted by our government to provide social support to people that qualify.  I voted that I would be comfortable taking all four of the benefits in ER.  If I qualify, the program is intended for me.  But it's doubtful I'll ever qualify for most of these programs and remain ER.

Welfare/SNAP has a very strict asset test, so I wouldn't be ER if I could get food stamps.  I'd be broke but not quite homeless (I recall they exclude a house and a car).

Reduced price lunch I might qualify for eventually, and I would take it if I qualify.  It would benefit me slightly, but benefit our kids' school greatly.  They get large subsidies for each qualifying free/reduced priced kid, and the school needs all the help it can get.  I help the school out however I can, and this would be another way.  Our kids already get free breakfast due to the very high free/reduced student population (80-90%), but they rarely partake since our food at home is better (and normally healthier).  They currently buy lunch at school, and might buy it for the $0.40 at the reduced rates, but might also pack lunch from home (up to them). 

Claiming the EIC - our eligibility phases out quickly since we have significant dividend and interest income.  Otherwise we would qualify for thousands of dollars of benefits if we carefully crafted our income stream and had a little side earned income coming in.  In 2014, we would qualify for the EIC but for our dividend income.  We aren't eligible, which is a good outcome.  I would take the EIC if I were entitled to it, but I am totally happy with the rules being drafted correctly to prevent people like me from receiving these benefits (those with decent investment income).

Pell grant or other need based grant for college - I'd take it if I qualified.  We have to fill out the FAFSA just like everyone else, and if they determine we're in need, then hey, I'll back the money truck up.  No hard feelings if I'm too "wealthy" - I'd rather be wealthy than not. 

Our system of taxation and subsidies is so convoluted that ethics went out the window a long time ago. 

beltim

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #15 on: November 17, 2013, 03:08:19 PM »
Reduced price lunch I might qualify for eventually, and I would take it if I qualify.  It would benefit me slightly, but benefit our kids' school greatly.  They get large subsidies for each qualifying free/reduced priced kid, and the school needs all the help it can get.  I help the school out however I can, and this would be another way.

Your kids school actually profits on reduced price lunches? 

2527

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #16 on: November 17, 2013, 03:12:43 PM »
I don't think having my kids get reduced lunches while I deliberately not work would be good for their psyche.

starguru

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #17 on: November 17, 2013, 03:13:15 PM »
Philosophically, I'd be in favor of getting rid of all of these programs. 

That being said, the programs are carefully and intentionally crafted by our government to provide social support to people that qualify.  I voted that I would be comfortable taking all four of the benefits in ER.  If I qualify, the program is intended for me.  But it's doubtful I'll ever qualify for most of these programs and remain ER.


Well thats not the question.  I think the question is you would stay ER and take advantage of those programs.

RootofGood

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #18 on: November 17, 2013, 03:13:35 PM »
Your kids school actually profits on reduced price lunches?

I'm no expert on school funding, but our local schools get Title I money for each free/reduced kid.  $1000+ per capita IIRC.  My understanding is that is a nationwide funding formula, but it might only be certain states that participate in certain fed programs. 

Free_at_50

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #19 on: November 17, 2013, 03:14:39 PM »
Interesting topic.  Beltim what are your thoughts on someone who has retired early, limiting their income so they don't lose out on subsidies on our new ACA?  While personally there are some things I would not take advantage of just because my earned income was kept low purposefully I don't see why one manipulation is better than any other.  Our government establishes these programs based on certain requirements.  You meet those requirements, you qualify.  If things were truly pure of heart maybe I would agree on certain ones but that is not the case in most things.  I have paid a lot of taxes over the years subsidizing these programs and regardless of why I qualify, if I did and felt the need to make use of them I would with no guilt.

RootofGood

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #20 on: November 17, 2013, 03:19:06 PM »
Well thats not the question.  I think the question is you would stay ER and take advantage of those programs.

Sorry if I didn't answer the question.  Yes, I would stay ER'd and participate in these programs if I qualified, and the burden of applying for and receiving benefits wasn't great. 

This isn't merely hypothetical, as I am retired and intend to apply for reduced price lunches if we qualify in 2015 or 2016 (when the wife quits working).  I don't place this action in any different category than availing myself of child tax credits (which I get) or energy efficiency credits (I don't get) or mortgage interest deductions (I don't get).  Same with Obamacare subsidies.  I'll get those in a big way in 2015 or 2016. 

There seems to be a societal push to reward those with children through our subsidies and tax breaks, and I happen to have 3 of them.  I'll accept with open arms all benefits munificently bestowed upon me in exchange for my careful and diligent upbringing of my own children. 

beltim

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #21 on: November 17, 2013, 03:25:00 PM »
Interesting topic.  Beltim what are your thoughts on someone who has retired early, limiting their income so they don't lose out on subsidies on our new ACA?  While personally there are some things I would not take advantage of just because my earned income was kept low purposefully I don't see why one manipulation is better than any other.  Our government establishes these programs based on certain requirements.  You meet those requirements, you qualify.  If things were truly pure of heart maybe I would agree on certain ones but that is not the case in most things.  I have paid a lot of taxes over the years subsidizing these programs and regardless of why I qualify, if I did and felt the need to make use of them I would with no guilt.

Honestly I think subsidies under the ACA should have an asset test as well, just as there are for food stamps.

Free_at_50

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #22 on: November 17, 2013, 03:39:55 PM »
But it doesn't so therefore is it ethical?  How about income manipulation or investments that reduce tax liability?

beltim

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #23 on: November 17, 2013, 03:46:24 PM »
But it doesn't so therefore is it ethical?  How about income manipulation or investments that reduce tax liability?

I didn't say that.  Honestly, I'm not sure how I feel about retiring early and taking ACA subsidies.  It's something I'm thinking about, and I'm not ready to say that it is or isn't ethical.

I'm not sure what you mean by "income manipulation," but choosing to buy, say municipal bonds instead of corporate or treasury bonds is absolutely and obviously ethical.  Different products are taxed differently.

Emilyngh

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #24 on: November 17, 2013, 03:55:21 PM »
How about income manipulation or investments that reduce tax liability?


I find this interesting.   It seems to me that lots of people are fine with things that reduce one's tax liability, but not with any rebates or subsidies that bring one's liability into the negative.   Emotionally, I tend to have a similar gut reaction.


But, logically, I'm not sure that this makes sense.    A person with $0 tax liability still uses tax-funded services, and as such, if they're not paying in anything, they're a "taker" and the $0 tax liability is arbitrary.   And if we change the metric to someone using no more than they pay in taxes, then suddenly all credits and deductions can become questionable (not to mention, how does one really figure the cost of what one exact ?).


The other argument I see is that it depends on the intention of the program.   But, if a program eligibility  is based on income, it seems to me that whoever set it up decided that it was for anyone who is low income, otherwise it would be asset-based.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2013, 04:01:00 PM by Emilyngh »

NumberJohnny5

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #25 on: November 17, 2013, 04:02:22 PM »
So, it's ok to put money in a Roth IRA and let it grow tax-free until retirement age, denying the IRS of many thousands of dollars it "could" have received. But get a few hundred a month for a bit in food stamps, and you're evil?

If a billionaire moves some funds around and saves $50 million, he/she's very savvy with finances. But if you decide to reduce your retirement income by $5/mo so you'll qualify for a few hundred dollars worth of benefits (food stamps, free lunches, ACA subsidy, whatever)...you're morally bankrupt?

Hello??!!

If I qualify for a program, I'll have no moral issue with taking advantage of it. Even if I have to do some juggling of finances to qualify (i.e. I want a $5k cushion but food stamps has a limit of $2k in assets...dump just over $3k in a Roth IRA that I can easily withdraw the principle from, and boom, I qualify!). I only see it as morally wrong if you're lying to get benefits (this would include having $10k in cash that you don't report, getting paid "under the table", etc.).

So, I'll have no problem taking advantage of such programs in retirement. What I (hope I) won't do is depend on any program (except maybe ACA), or lie to get enrolled.

I also think they should drop the asset test, or at least make it a bit more reasonable. Keeping the asset limit low discourages saving (I've got $1,900 in the bank, just got paid $500, if my liquid assets go over $2,000 I'll lose $300+/mo in food stamps...hello $1,500 3D LED television!). Now, if someone has $750,000 in retirement accounts and has a 4% SWR of $30,000/yr...ok, maybe they don't need food stamps. So I may not have the answer...but I'm pretty sure it's somewhere between $2k and $750k in assets :)

beltim

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #26 on: November 17, 2013, 04:13:44 PM »
So, it's ok to put money in a Roth IRA and let it grow tax-free until retirement age, denying the IRS of many thousands of dollars it "could" have received. But get a few hundred a month for a bit in food stamps, and you're evil?

A Roth IRA is designed to encourage saving for retirement.  Food stamps are designed to make sure that hungry people are fed.  Each program has its own income limits.

I also think they should drop the asset test, or at least make it a bit more reasonable. Keeping the asset limit low discourages saving (I've got $1,900 in the bank, just got paid $500, if my liquid assets go over $2,000 I'll lose $300+/mo in food stamps...hello $1,500 3D LED television!). Now, if someone has $750,000 in retirement accounts and has a 4% SWR of $30,000/yr...ok, maybe they don't need food stamps. So I may not have the answer...but I'm pretty sure it's somewhere between $2k and $750k in assets :)
I agree that an asset test shouldn't discourage saving.  I don't see why one similar to college aid gets implemented: there's an "expected contribution" from your savings, and at a certain point you have enough assets to disqualify you from aid.  I think this model would work for ACA subsidies, too.

Free_at_50

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #27 on: November 17, 2013, 04:19:05 PM »
Regarding income manipulation, what I was trying to say was that if I only need $30k a year to live so decide not to generate more than $30k in income from my investments to live and letvthe rest grow and that qualifies me for ACA subsidies or anything else I qualify for and feel the need to take advantage of I dont see a problem with that.  If the government decides to use an asset test to rule things out I am good with that too.

iris lily

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #28 on: November 17, 2013, 05:13:42 PM »

Honestly I think subsidies under the ACA should have an asset test as well, just as there are for food stamps.

oh agreed, it's ridiculous that there is not test, but I understand it's supposed to be impossible to do on a cost/benefit ratio. I plan to take advantage of ACA subsidies, I can get my income down to whatever I need to get it to to maximize benefits. Thank you U.S. taxpayers!

sunshine

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #29 on: November 17, 2013, 05:34:36 PM »
The only one I would be comfortable with is the Pell Grant. Though I am curious how that could be. We have two in college next year. An income around 60k. We have over  250k in cash assets(earmarked for rentals, in process of first one), right under 60k in retirement and paid of real estate. We contributed 21k to retirement for 2013. We have been told to expect no college help because of assets and college savings. If it was strictly income maybe.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2013, 05:37:13 PM by sunshine »

LRS

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #30 on: November 17, 2013, 06:03:23 PM »
Voted yes to 1, 3, and 4. I don't really think of the welfare/SNAP system as being any different than the EIC or Pell Grant systems. They're all systems that society has put into place to funnel income toward people who can jump through the right set of hoops. Objections based on "the spirit of the law" don't really resonate with me; a law is by its very nature nothing more than its letter. That said, I agree with iris lily, beltim et al. of that all of these programs should be means-tested in a reasonable way. I think the better solution to the problem of shoddily-drafted welfare laws is to shore up the language so that it accurately reflects the intent, rather than for lone conscientious objectors to try to protect the public fisc by declining benefits.

Vote no to 2 only because of the social stigma attached to free and reduced lunch in public schools. I would have no problem absorbing the judgmental gaze of the supermarket cashier if I were to pay for my groceries with a SNAP card, but I remember my friends being teased mercilessly about their free lunches, and I wouldn't want to impose that humiliation on my school-age child. On the other hand, I might actually explode with pride and joy if my child voluntarily asked me to put him/her on free or reduced lunch and funnel the money we'd otherwise spend on his lunches toward his own savings, agreeing to withstand the taunts of his classmates in order to grow his own wealth at a tender age.

NV Teacher

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #31 on: November 17, 2013, 06:43:02 PM »
Well thats not the question.  I think the question is you would stay ER and take advantage of those programs.

This isn't merely hypothetical, as I am retired and intend to apply for reduced price lunches if we qualify in 2015 or 2016 (when the wife quits working).


So rather than work, your plan is to have the taxpayers feed your kids lunch?  My parents had a LOT of children and never once did they expect the government to feed us, clothe us, or put a roof over our heads.  They worked and saved and taught us to do the same.

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #32 on: November 17, 2013, 06:54:51 PM »
If I were making the rules, I would change it so that no one like me would ever qualify for any of these.

But I don't, and I will never feel even the slightest bit bad about playing within the rules. No matter how absurd they might be.

I would take advantage of all of these programs and would go out of my way to plan for the if that's what's best for me.

MrsPete

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #33 on: November 17, 2013, 07:02:00 PM »
By exiting the workforce, you are allowing another individual to be employed. So if the total sum of benefits you receive are less than the cost of supporting an unemployed non financially independent individual then the cost to the government is lower (no additional debt required).
That sounds like rationalization. 

Reduced price lunch I might qualify for eventually, and I would take it if I qualify.  It would benefit me slightly, but benefit our kids' school greatly.  They get large subsidies for each qualifying free/reduced priced kid, and the school needs all the help it can get.  I help the school out however I can, and this would be another way. 
Not true.  At least, not true in the way you've presented it.  If X number of kids get free lunch, the school does get extra funding . . . but they are required to use it to provide specific remediation programs, etc.  It requires more work from the school, takes effort away from basic classes, and the school is not free to use the money in the spots they believe it's most needed.  It means greater federal control within the school. 

You are NOT "helping" your child's school by having them take free lunch.

So, it's ok to put money in a Roth IRA and let it grow tax-free until retirement age, denying the IRS of many thousands of dollars it "could" have received. But get a few hundred a month for a bit in food stamps, and you're evil?
Putting money you've earned into an account and avoiding taxes is a smart way of saving for your future.  You're going to pay the taxes eventually when you withdraw the money, though hopefully at a lower rate.  The key is that it's YOUR money.

Taking food money from the government, when you're capable of earning that money yourself, is laziness.  The key is that it's NOT YOUR money.



starguru

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #34 on: November 17, 2013, 07:07:37 PM »
Well thats not the question.  I think the question is you would stay ER and take advantage of those programs.

Sorry if I didn't answer the question.  Yes, I would stay ER'd and participate in these programs if I qualified, and the burden of applying for and receiving benefits wasn't great. 

This isn't merely hypothetical, as I am retired and intend to apply for reduced price lunches if we qualify in 2015 or 2016 (when the wife quits working).  I don't place this action in any different category than availing myself of child tax credits (which I get) or energy efficiency credits (I don't get) or mortgage interest deductions (I don't get).  Same with Obamacare subsidies.  I'll get those in a big way in 2015 or 2016. 

There seems to be a societal push to reward those with children through our subsidies and tax breaks, and I happen to have 3 of them.  I'll accept with open arms all benefits munificently bestowed upon me in exchange for my careful and diligent upbringing of my own children.

Yeah, our system is just fucked up beyond reproach.  We got serious problems.  I'm trying not to get worked up at you in particular, as you are just playing the system in which you find yourself, but the system is just broken.

We need to get away from deductions.  People should not get a deduction for doing the right thing, like saving money, and taking care of their own fucking kids, you know, doing things like buying them food.  People should pay the same taxes on income, all income, not just wages.  I wonder what taxes rates could be if all income were considered and there were no deductions...


starguru

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #35 on: November 17, 2013, 07:08:01 PM »
By exiting the workforce, you are allowing another individual to be employed. So if the total sum of benefits you receive are less than the cost of supporting an unemployed non financially independent individual then the cost to the government is lower (no additional debt required).
That sounds like rationalization. 

Reduced price lunch I might qualify for eventually, and I would take it if I qualify.  It would benefit me slightly, but benefit our kids' school greatly.  They get large subsidies for each qualifying free/reduced priced kid, and the school needs all the help it can get.  I help the school out however I can, and this would be another way. 
Not true.  At least, not true in the way you've presented it.  If X number of kids get free lunch, the school does get extra funding . . . but they are required to use it to provide specific remediation programs, etc.  It requires more work from the school, takes effort away from basic classes, and the school is not free to use the money in the spots they believe it's most needed.  It means greater federal control within the school. 

You are NOT "helping" your child's school by having them take free lunch.

So, it's ok to put money in a Roth IRA and let it grow tax-free until retirement age, denying the IRS of many thousands of dollars it "could" have received. But get a few hundred a month for a bit in food stamps, and you're evil?
Putting money you've earned into an account and avoiding taxes is a smart way of saving for your future.  You're going to pay the taxes eventually when you withdraw the money, though hopefully at a lower rate.  The key is that it's YOUR money.

Taking food money from the government, when you're capable of earning that money yourself, is laziness.  The key is that it's NOT YOUR money.

this++

StetsTerhune

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #36 on: November 17, 2013, 07:12:40 PM »
If the government gives it to me, and I didn't lie or cheat for it, then it is, in fact, MY money. Argue all you want about the morality of the governments decision to give it to me, but accepting something willingly given is never immoral in my mind.

Emilyngh

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #37 on: November 17, 2013, 07:15:38 PM »
My parents had a LOT of children and never once did they expect the government to feed us, clothe us, or put a roof over our heads.  They worked and saved and taught us to do the same.


So you're sure then they didn't use the Child tax credit?   Or mortgage deduction?  B/c if they did, the gov't helped to care for you and house you.   Or, for that matter, if any of the children ever bought school lunch, even at "full" price, the gov't helped feed them b/c those are subsidized. ....


I would not count on free school lunch (althoug my kids won't be eating that crap anyway) or SNAP for ER, but I find the outrage of others about lines like this probably hypocritical.

Emilyngh

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #38 on: November 17, 2013, 07:23:12 PM »
Putting money you've earned into an account and avoiding taxes is a smart way of saving for your future.  You're going to pay the taxes eventually when you withdraw the money, though hopefully at a lower rate.....Taking food money from the government, when you're capable of earning that money yourself, is laziness.  The key is that it's NOT YOUR money.


Well if it's a Roth, no they will not pay taxes on it later.   Even if it's a traditional, they may never pay taxes on it.

As far as using SNAP being laziness, this is an odd statement (well, not odd if one considers the stereotypes associated with SNAP), but the idea that saving money through one gov't program is okay, but another is "lazy" is unsupported.

iris lily

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #39 on: November 17, 2013, 07:27:36 PM »
All of the emotion behind school lunch program has to do with, I believe, the reality that food is the lowest provision on the totem poll of child-raising. If you cannot feed your child without government help, you are indeed in a bad place. If you are there for a long time, you are not a responsible parent. Seriously, how much food do little kids eat? Not much (teenage boys, another story.) Sure, I ascribe to this thought, I admit it.

The other things like a college education that Pell grants help you with and similar high-end things--well, a lot of decently paid Americans who are careful with their money have trouble with that.

LRS

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #40 on: November 17, 2013, 07:46:34 PM »
Great discussion, love this topic - thanks, Emilyngh.

For those folks who would decline these benefits or who, like MrsPete hvgotcodes, et al., believe it would be in some way morally reprehensible to do so - do you also intend never to claim social security benefits in retirement? If you do intend to do so, is there a principled distinction you can make between that and this?

Emilyngh

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #41 on: November 17, 2013, 07:54:41 PM »
If you cannot feed your child without government help, you are indeed in a bad place. If you are there for a long time, you are not a responsible parent.The other things like a college education that Pell grants help you with and similar high-end things--well, a lot of decently paid Americans who are careful with their money have trouble with that.


Excellent point.   I really think this line of thinking influences us at least subconsciously  (myself included) and thus should be dragged to the light to make sure we're bahaving rationally    What type of person uses financial aid and IRAs?-good, hard-working people.   What kind of people are on welfare.....

Emilyngh

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #42 on: November 17, 2013, 07:57:24 PM »
You are very welcome, LRS.   I'm enjoying it too.

starguru

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #43 on: November 17, 2013, 08:17:29 PM »
Great discussion, love this topic - thanks, Emilyngh.

For those folks who would decline these benefits or who, like MrsPete hvgotcodes, et al., believe it would be in some way morally reprehensible to do so - do you also intend never to claim social security benefits in retirement? If you do intend to do so, is there a principled distinction you can make between that and this?

I would decline free meals for my kid if I didn't need it.  I would accept if I did, but I would work my hardest to avoid it.  And I certainly wouldn't call myself FI if I were bilking the system like that.

The difference between SS and the school lunch thing is that SS is a system that has been in place for a long time, with the express purpose of providing retirement funds.  It is not supposed to be a welfare system; there is no means testing for SS (yet).  You get SS if you pay into the system, not if you need it or don't. 

That said, I don't believe I will get what I pay in back, perhaps nothing at all, by the time I retire.  If I do get something, I would donate it to charity if I hit my retirement goal.

RootofGood

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #44 on: November 17, 2013, 08:48:15 PM »
Quote
Reduced price lunch I might qualify for eventually, and I would take it if I qualify.  It would benefit me slightly, but benefit our kids' school greatly.  They get large subsidies for each qualifying free/reduced priced kid, and the school needs all the help it can get.  I help the school out however I can, and this would be another way. 
Not true.  At least, not true in the way you've presented it.  If X number of kids get free lunch, the school does get extra funding . . . but they are required to use it to provide specific remediation programs, etc.  It requires more work from the school, takes effort away from basic classes, and the school is not free to use the money in the spots they believe it's most needed.  It means greater federal control within the school. 

You are NOT "helping" your child's school by having them take free lunch.

Pretty sure I am.  These things work differently in different districts.  So I wouldn't assume too much about the different funding structures and flexibility of using funds in your school or your district and extrapolating them to other districts.

The remedial help my children receive or don't receive is based on assessments by their teachers and fairly objective tests.  My kids can get straight 4's on their assessments (like an A or A+ for those not familiar) and receive zero remedial help.  But if I check the box for free/reduced lunch, the school gets money.  You may say it has to be spent in certain areas.  Sure, maybe in some cases, and I am familiar with a few cases.  But it isn't generally true.  We definitely get the option for certain programs if we are Economically Disadvantaged (free after school tutoring being one program). 

It's like this: the school has to hire X number of literacy and math coaches and remedial teachers and ESL teachers.  The administration might decide they need a couple extra to get the job done.  They lose the music teacher and art teacher to provide the extra remedial teachers (the administration wants to hit their growth targets after all).  In steps the root of good family, and checks a few boxes and the school gets a few thousand bucks.  Boom!  A little closer to rehiring that music or art teacher. 
« Last Edit: November 17, 2013, 08:51:17 PM by RootofGood »

RootofGood

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #45 on: November 17, 2013, 08:57:24 PM »
So rather than work, your plan is to have the taxpayers feed your kids lunch?  My parents had a LOT of children and never once did they expect the government to feed us, clothe us, or put a roof over our heads.  They worked and saved and taught us to do the same.

I teach my kids to be smart.  Understand how the government and the taxation system works.  Be cynical.  Don't get ripped off.  They know about taxes and how burdensome they are.  You can't avoid the taxation system completely.  If they legally qualify for a benefit, then they shouldn't feel ethical shame at participating in that particular governmental program.  They are helping pay for it after all. 

This isn't directed at you because I have no idea your employment situation.  But I wonder how the government employees here can justify the extortionist contributions that the taxpayers must make to fund their cushy government pensions.  I guess some here might have to delete "collect a government pension" from their retirement plans due to ethical concerns.  Why take it if you don't need it, right?

RootofGood

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #46 on: November 17, 2013, 08:59:41 PM »
Yeah, our system is just fucked up beyond reproach.  We got serious problems.  I'm trying not to get worked up at you in particular, as you are just playing the system in which you find yourself, but the system is just broken.

We need to get away from deductions.  People should not get a deduction for doing the right thing, like saving money, and taking care of their own fucking kids, you know, doing things like buying them food.  People should pay the same taxes on income, all income, not just wages.  I wonder what taxes rates could be if all income were considered and there were no deductions...

I think we agree on the state of things today. 

teen persuasion

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #47 on: November 17, 2013, 09:02:24 PM »
This is an interesting topic!

I decided that I'm not comfortable w/ taking welfare/SNAP, but the others are OK.   To be honest, I am not ER yet, but we use reduced lunches, EIC, and Pell grants right now.

EIC is a no-brainer to me; it is a tax credit, no different than the retirement saver's credit or adoption credits or tuition credits or whatever.  If I qualify, I get it.  If I don't, then no credit.

Given the cost of college, I'll take any grants, scholarships, loans, & work study that is offered for my kids.  The college my oldest attended was more per year than DH and I earn!

The reduced lunches is a more complicated issue.  We don't need the lunches; the kids have plenty to eat and would never go hungry w/o it.  Reduced lunches is actually important for college aid.  If the family is eligible for free or reduced lunches,  and our AGI is below certain thresholds, the college kids are eligible for the simplified needs test (no asset test) for AGI under $50k, or possibly an EFC = 0 if AGI is under $23k.  That is the main reason that we apply for free/reduced lunches: it is thousands of dollars in financial aid. 

beltim

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #48 on: November 17, 2013, 09:07:14 PM »
This isn't directed at you because I have no idea your employment situation.  But I wonder how the government employees here can justify the extortionist contributions that the taxpayers must make to fund their cushy government pensions.  I guess some here might have to delete "collect a government pension" from their retirement plans due to ethical concerns.  Why take it if you don't need it, right?

This is nonsense, and I think you know it's nonsense. Why would taking compensation given to you by your employer be unethical?

meadow lark

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Re: Ethics of ER
« Reply #49 on: November 17, 2013, 10:40:47 PM »
Wow.  There are some cranky people here. 
I wouldn't take SNAP or welfare because, Hello, they are HARDER to get than a job.  I have accompanied friends to help them fill out paperwork for these things.  6 hours later we were still sitting there in a waiting room overflowing with bored children.  My personal vision of Hell.  And WIC is crazy!  All those monthly meetings, to be taught amazing things like "Don't feed your newborn honey, use a car seat, breast feeding is best" just to get a couple gallons of Apple juice, formula, and milk?  I don't know what the hourly return on using those programs are, but I am too lazy to use them!  They are just an elaborate form of subsidizing Monsanto and Archer Daniels Midland, anyway.
  Free lunch?  Why not.  Another farm subsidy.  Oh, you thought that was for children?  Have you seen what food is on those trays?  Not designed to nourish children!  Designed to most quickly use up corn/wheat/soy/dairy.  My kid went to an elementary school that offered every kid a free breakfast every day, regardless of economic status.  Of course, my little guy wouldn't eat it because he wasn't wiling to stand in line when he could be playing before school.  But should I have told him not to eat, because it was free?
  I will choose not to RE until I don't need these programs, but I will use any that I believe are advantageous to me.  But most of these kind of programs aren't - they are a pain in the neck to actually use.