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I have been paying close attention to the current debate and discussion regarding Entitlement Reform, Deficits, Debt, etc.

If I project out FDRs assertion that "no damn politician can ever eliminate my Social Security system", past the "New Deal", past the "Part D" expansion, and past Obamacare, I see a socialist model wherein retirement saving will no longer be a means to save for one's own retirement - but rather, Social Security will simply be a means of collecting tax to be added to confiscatory tax policies and be used to "spread the wealth around".

In the past, the comfort of ones retirement was substantially a function of one's savings. This is still the "dialogue" but, I think it's ultimately false.

Here's my dilemma - First, is it moral to hold "leaving work" as a goal in order to pursue other interests, or is it simply an unfortunate part of aging [meaning that it's desirable to work until you drop]? Second, if I am correct that the have's will be continue to be savaged by the have-not's, is point one the only alternative to otherwise being forcibly required to "share" ones accumulated wealth with others?

For the second point, I'll use college tuition as an example: Most colleges set their tuition as high as they can, and maximize revenues from government programs plus revenues from the families of students. If a student comes from a poorer family, he will receive twice the aid as someone from a wealthier family. In the end, tuition ends up much higher than it should. In retirement, at age 65, every American must be on Medicare.

If medical care in retirement is so expensive that someone with a million dollars will spend every nickel in 10 years, then someone with half will go through theirs in five years and will have to rely on government. Ultimately, nearly everyone will need to exhaust their life's accumulated wealth and then be on socialist care.

Why shouldn't I spend what I earn before I retire, and accelerate the inevitable from five or ten years (as above) to a nearly immediate sitution? Why should I purchase a home that will be sacrificed to fund this monstrous system, when I can rent for less?

I am aware that these are all immoral choices. However, I really don't see any reason to continue to contribute to retirement. Fatalistic? Yes. Irrational? Not really.

asked May 30 '11 at 17:56

CBK's gravatar image


edited May 30 '11 at 21:36

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦


I think it is certainly moral to plan ahead for a time at which you will be unable or unwilling to continue in your current job. That doesn't mean you're planning for a time to give up pursuing values. Just as money is not the only form of wealth, one's job earning money is not necessarily the sole method of one's pursuit of values.

Now, if government eliminates one's freedom of choice in planning ahead and instead forces one into a set of socialistic "public options" then one cannot be immoral in taking that into account and planning accordingly, inasmuch as such is still possible.

(May 31 '11 at 11:51) lysander lysander's gravatar image

Then there is the question of store of wealth. Is it wise to save cash, or stocks or bonds, for retirement when government is actively devaluing the dollar and working to destroy the free market system? What use is it to contribute to an IRA or 401(k) when there is a question whether such accounts will be confiscated by government later, and anyway the value of such accounts will be worth less even if they remain one's property?

Are there other uses of one's wealth now that will maximize one's return later? Maybe a better education for one's children so they can survive the coming Dark Age?

(May 31 '11 at 11:59) lysander lysander's gravatar image

This question paints a bleak picture of the future, as do many other observers, but then proposes reliance on government as the alternative: "Ultimately, nearly everyone will need to exhaust their life's accumulated wealth and then be on socialist care." In Atlas Shrugged, the men of the mind go on strike, but they don't go on welfare. Furthermore, we aren't at the point yet where a strike would be the only alternative. Ayn Rand has pointed out that so long as we are still free to speak out, we still have a chance. The imposition of censorship would be the final blow that would make some type of strike unavoidable, by countless individuals on their own, simply by withdrawing altogether, if not a more organized movement of strikers such as Ayn Rand dramatized in Atlas Shrugged.

Welfare -- being "on socialist care" -- isn't even a practical alternative. If the U.S. descends to that level, everyone will starve and die. Government welfare won't save us. Government is not a source of wealth and would be utterly unable to do anything for an entire nation of welfare dependents. The only hope is to keep working, keep thinking, and keep speaking, for as long as the government will allow it. And given the astounding progress that Objectivism and The Ayn Rand Institute have already made during the last two or three decades, there is real reason for at least a little highly conditional hope.

answered Jun 01 '11 at 01:19

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦

As civilizations have collapsed historically, those with precious metals and gems did better than most - the S. Vietnam people fleeing after the fall of Saigon come to mind. But in the long run those items won't matter anyway since such an external safe haven will no longer exist after the one we live in is gone - should it go. I personally buy and store gold coins and will hide them like a drug dealer hides his drugs today, if necessary. Cecil R. Williams

(Jun 03 '11 at 10:44) c1992w c1992w's gravatar image

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Asked: May 30 '11 at 17:56

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Last updated: Jun 03 '11 at 10:44