one of my friends even went so far as to suggest that I had a moral obligation to withdraw from the doctoral program for the remainder of the academic year since I was obviously "wasting the university's money" and "preventing someone from receiving funding because I'm biding time."
Nonsense. When you entered your doctoral program, you didn't sign up for six years of indentured servitude (though some would have you believe otherwise). You are free to leave at any time. If they judged that you were not performing up to their standards, they would not hesitate to pull your funding, kick you out of the program, or what have you. Likewise, if the program does not meet your needs, you can up and leave with a clear conscience.
My all-time fav: one of my academic advisors refers to lawyers as "artisans." The qualifing "mere" is only just, but very clearly, implied.