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Varysblackfyre321

Should we lower the age of adulthood in the US to be 16?

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15 minutes ago, Mlle. Zabzie said:

Bright line rules by their nature cause some sorts of superficial inequities, like the ones you mention above.

See, this is where we fundamentally disagree, because having or not having the right to vote is IMO is not just a superficial inequity, it's an inequity that goes right into the very core of what we are in a political sense. In the political realm there is no distinction that is more important. Voters are self-determined citizens, the rest are beggars who, in the end, live and die by the whims of the electorate.

So if there's a bright line, we should draw this bright line at birth IMO. And then work from there to decide how to work out a fair and equitable implementation. Perhaps a 4-year old will then not be able to vote. But certainly a 16-year old will be.

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1 hour ago, Alarich II said:

See, this is where we fundamentally disagree, because having or not having the right to vote is IMO is not just a superficial inequity, it's an inequity that goes right into the very core of what we are in a political sense. In the political realm there is no distinction that is more important. Voters are self-determined citizens, the rest are beggars who, in the end, live and die by the whims of the electorate.

So if there's a bright line, we should draw this bright line at birth IMO. And then work from there to decide how to work out a fair and equitable implementation. Perhaps a 4-year old will then not be able to vote. But certainly a 16-year old will be.

Yup - you and I just fundamentally disagree on a policy basis here.  I think your proposal introduces more uncertainty as to the availability of the right as it becomes some sort of facts and circumstances analysis for each individual at each time.  Nope - I'm not ok with it.  That way lies abuse and disenfranchisement.  I am still firmly in the "bright line age" test with (honestly) really quite limited exceptions (like, if you are not conscious or alive on election date).

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4 hours ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

If the age is arbitrary why not 14, or 12?  

Because society and the government has identified 16 as an important threshold, while again certainly less so than 18.  And because, yes, there does need to be a minimum cutoff at some arbitrary point.

4 hours ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

The voting age was lowered to 18, in large part because men were drafted into the Army at 18 during Vietnam.  As such it seemed fundamentally unjust to request someone to risk their life for their Country but deny them the franchise.

Sure, that's the political reason why it happened.  As I've said, I don't think lowering the voting age is politically viable and this is purely a hypothetical.  Are you disagreeing that 18-20 year olds should have the vote?

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2 hours ago, DMC said:

Because society and the government has identified 16 as an important threshold, while again certainly less so than 18.  And because, yes, there does need to be a minimum cutoff at some arbitrary point.

Sure, that's the political reason why it happened.  As I've said, I don't think lowering the voting age is politically viable and this is purely a hypothetical.  Are you disagreeing that 18-20 year olds should have the vote?

Nope.  When your nation can, hypothetically, demand you lose your life in a military conflict you should have the right to vote on the government that could send you out to die.  I see that milestone as quite a bit more significant than the opportunity to drive an automobile.

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1 hour ago, larrytheimp said:

Fuck it let's just let babies vote.

And grant personhood, plus voting rights, to fetii -- while denying such to their mothers, who are, you know, generally, actual adults -- except in places like Utah where old me are still marrying impregnating 11 - 16  year old girls.

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2 hours ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

When your nation can, hypothetically, demand you lose your life in a military conflict you should have the right to vote on the government that could send you out to die.  I see that milestone as quite a bit more significant than the opportunity to drive an automobile.

I really don't like this rationale considering women are not required to register for selective service.

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22 minutes ago, DMC said:

I really don't like this rationale considering women are not required to register for selective service.

Well that may change real soon. With the lift on the combat exclusion, I expect they will have to.

Edited by OldGimletEye

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1 minute ago, OldGimletEye said:

Well that may change real soon. With the lift on the combat exclusion, I expect they will have to.

Indeed.  It’s a violation of equal protection to only require on gender to register.

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7 minutes ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

Indeed.  It’s a violation of equal protection to only require on gender to register.

Totally agree.  My point is if the basis for extending suffrage to 18-20 year olds is because the government can draft you, then one could use the same logic to argue (for the past forty years) that since 18-20 year old women aren't required to register, they shouldn't be extended suffrage.

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10 minutes ago, DMC said:

Totally agree.  My point is if the basis for extending suffrage to 18-20 year olds is because the government can draft you, then one could use the same logic to argue (for the past forty years) that since 18-20 year old women aren't required to register, they shouldn't be extended suffrage.

Yeah - my support of 18 doesn't have a lot to do with selective service (though I agree that women should be required to register, or, more radically, that it should be abolished all together), but more with other indicia such as ability to conclude contracts, etc.

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14 hours ago, Mlle. Zabzie said:

Yup - you and I just fundamentally disagree on a policy basis here.  I think your proposal introduces more uncertainty as to the availability of the right as it becomes some sort of facts and circumstances analysis for each individual at each time.  Nope - I'm not ok with it.  That way lies abuse and disenfranchisement.  I am still firmly in the "bright line age" test with (honestly) really quite limited exceptions (like, if you are not conscious or alive on election date). 

While I can see that a "bright line" makes it easy, the argument that we have to accept some injustices as the price for an easy application of the law is no less prone to abuse. I mean, "only men" or "only landowners" are also a pretty bright lines for suffrage but that doesn't make them right. All you need is a law that says so, but the law is no justification by itself. Likewise the ability to ability to conclude contracts is not some sort of natural ability, just a legal definition. One that is btw. not a bright line either as minors can conclude certain contracs in their own right (at least over here) from the age of 7 onwards.

The problem that I have is that we deny the most important right simply by the random application of a bright line.

I mean, even if we were to accept that the bright line is at 16 (because frankly, 18 makes no more sense than 21, 35 or indeed 16), and everyone beyond that age has at least full active voting rights (the bright line gets a bit dim when it come to passive voting rights), why not allow younger persons to vote under certain conditions? I mean, it's not like you're taking anything away, you're just letting more people have a say in matters that concern them a great deal (probably more than an 80 year-old voter who posts his ballot early and dies before the actual date of the election) and the potential for abuse is also limited to those under 16. Would that not be an acceptable price for greater political representation of citizens who, up to now, have no political representation?

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13 hours ago, larrytheimp said:

Fuck it let's just let babies vote.

It’s not such a ludicrous idea when you consider we already have a big orange baby as president. 

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I never saw the idea of granting voting rights based off the draft as lame excuse to dismiss women. Even when it was in effect there were males who’d never be able to serve or be expected to serve  because of physical(for example being crippled) or psychological issues. Yet they’re voting rights weren’t taken away. 

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7 hours ago, Alarich II said:

While I can see that a "bright line" makes it easy, the argument that we have to accept some injustices as the price for an easy application of the law is no less prone to abuse. I mean, "only men" or "only landowners" are also a pretty bright lines for suffrage but that doesn't make them right. All you need is a law that says so, but the law is no justification by itself. Likewise the ability to ability to conclude contracts is not some sort of natural ability, just a legal definition. One that is btw. not a bright line either as minors can conclude certain contracs in their own right (at least over here) from the age of 7 onwards.

The problem that I have is that we deny the most important right simply by the random application of a bright line.

I mean, even if we were to accept that the bright line is at 16 (because frankly, 18 makes no more sense than 21, 35 or indeed 16), and everyone beyond that age has at least full active voting rights (the bright line gets a bit dim when it come to passive voting rights), why not allow younger persons to vote under certain conditions? I mean, it's not like you're taking anything away, you're just letting more people have a say in matters that concern them a great deal (probably more than an 80 year-old voter who posts his ballot early and dies before the actual date of the election) and the potential for abuse is also limited to those under 16. Would that not be an acceptable price for greater political representation of citizens who, up to now, have no political representation?

The right to vote is certainly an important right. But, it is not the only right. The ability to get married, to pursue a occupation of one's choosing, to enter economic relationships, and so forth are important rights.
Taking, this train of thought one step further, one could argue that it is highly unjust to bar a super mature and bright 14 year old or 15 year old the right to get married or to work in a dangerous occupation, against their parent's wishes. You could argue that it is super unjust to deny a 14 or 15 year old, the right to stay out to 4am in the morning, when their parents have told them to be at home by 11 pm, as normally that would be a restraint on an adult's physical freedom.
Sure, defining an adult at being 18 years of age is somewhat arbitrary. But it doesn't follow that we should lower the age of majority. This really isn't my field, as it's an @Ormond question, but it's my understanding that people continue to mature into their 20s. So if anything, perhaps the question is whether the age of majority ought to be raised if anything.
Where a society decides to decide where the age of majority is will likely always be a bit arbitrary and not completely rational. But, I think it's completely rational for societies to distinguish between those individuals who are fully considered to be autonomous beings, capable of making some of the most basic life decisions for themselves, but also having certain obligations as well, and those who are not. The first category we call adults and the second children.
Sure you might try the case by case basis thing, but it seems to me that it would be enormously costly and time consuming to make determinations of which teenagers or youngsters are sufficient mentally developed to sign contracts, get married, and so forth. And because of the cost and the necessary time that would have to be committed to find out which teenagers or youngsters are sufficiently mentally developed, it seems to me that people would be more uncertain about their legal obligations and relations where young people are concerned. We pass laws because we want people to do certain things or to refrain from doing certain things. As such, it seems to me, that laws should be generally easy to understand, so people can conform their conduct accordingly. Having laws or rules drafted in such a manner where actors have a high degree of uncertainty about their legal obligations or relations or where they have to spend a huge amount of time to understand what they are, doesn't seem to me to be a desirable state of affairs. Accordingly, at times, having bright line rules, even if somewhat arbitrary, can make sense.

Edited by OldGimletEye

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I could argue a lot things, and I do have opinions on marriage, driving and so forth, but in this thread I'll stick to the voting age until I get bored.

The right to vote is not the only right, that's true and there are other, very important rights also. But who decides over those rights, who oversees the transformation of these rights from abstract concepts into a law? It's the elected representation of those parts of the citizenry who are allowed to vote. Which is why IMO the right to vote is the most important right, because it gives you control over who implements all the other rights.

We are in agreement that the voting age is arbitrary, perhaps not wrt to the severeness - for you is somewhat arbitrary, to me it is highly arbitrary. Where you and I disagree, I think, is the idea that voting rights should be linked to brain maturity. I think that kind of argument opens a whole can of very ugly worms: if age is used as best (easy) approximation to brain maturity then we have the justification to exclude old people as well. Because brain functions also tend to regress from a certain age onwards. It would be just another one of those arbitrary lines that are easy to draw. It also puts a big question-mark behind the voting rights of people with reduced mental capabilities.

I also agree that easy to understand, bright rules can make sense and that sometimes the individual injustice is to be accepted for the greater good. In this instance however I don't see the scales in favour of such a bright line, because I fail to see the benefit from excluding people from the right to vote based on age, especially until the age of 18.

Edited by Alarich II

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7 hours ago, Varysblackfyre321 said:

I never saw the idea of granting voting rights based off the draft as lame excuse to dismiss women. Even when it was in effect there were males who’d never be able to serve or be expected to serve  because of physical(for example being crippled) or psychological issues. Yet they’re voting rights weren’t taken away. 

Of course not silly. People who had rich families could always buy a medical opinions such as bone spurs that enabled them to dodge the draft.

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6 hours ago, OldGimletEye said:

The right to vote is certainly an important right. But, it is not the only right. The ability to get married, to pursue a occupation of one's choosing, to enter economic relationships, and so forth are important rights.
Taking, this train of thought one step further, one could argue that it is highly unjust to bar a super mature and bright 14 year old or 15 year old the right to get married or to work in a dangerous occupation, against their parent's wishes. You could argue that it is super unjust to deny a 14 or 15 year old, the right to stay out to 4am in the morning, when their parents have told them to be at home by 11 pm, as normally that would be a restraint on an adult's physical freedom.
Sure, defining an adult at being 18 years of age is somewhat arbitrary. But it doesn't follow that we should lower the age of majority. This really isn't my field, as it's an @Ormond question, but it's my understanding that people continue to mature into their 20s. So if anything, perhaps the question is whether the age of majority ought to be raised if anything.
Where a society decides to decide where the age of majority is will likely always be a bit arbitrary and not completely rational. But, I think it's completely rational for societies to distinguish between those individuals who are fully considered to be autonomous beings, capable of making some of the most basic life decisions for themselves, but also having certain obligations as well, and those who are not. The first category we call adults and the second children.
Sure you might try the case by case basis thing, but it seems to me that it would be enormously costly and time consuming to make determinations of which teenagers or youngsters are sufficient mentally developed to sign contracts, get married, and so forth. And because of the cost and the necessary time that would have to be committed to find out which teenagers or youngsters are sufficiently mentally developed, it seems to me that people would be more uncertain about their legal obligations and relations where young people are concerned. We pass laws because we want people to do certain things or to refrain from doing certain things. As such, it seems to me, that laws should be generally easy to understand, so people can conform their conduct accordingly. Having laws or rules drafted in such a manner where actors have a high degree of uncertainty about their legal obligations or relations or where they have to spend a huge amount of time to understand what they are, doesn't seem to me to be a desirable state of affairs. Accordingly, at times, having bright line rules, even if somewhat arbitrary, can make sense.

All of this.  Also, I really believe that facts and circumstances tests are ripe for abuse in this sort of instance.

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Well, as I am sure has been mentioned in this thread several times before, it is pretty well established that the aspects of the brain that deal with impulsivity and the ability to override emotions by logic don't fully mature until around age 25 -- though of course there are individual differences on this as on everything else.

I tend to think the setting of the age for drinking alcohol at 21 instead of 18 in the United States is a bit unfair. I certainly realize that statistics show that the younger the age at which one starts consuming alcohol (or any other mind altering drug) the more likely one is to develop abuse or addiction problems. But it's also hard for me not to look at Italian culture, where most children start drinking a little wine with meals at a fairly young age, but where the alcoholism rate is very low compared to most of the rest of the world, and wonder why we can't develop a culture like that, where children are taught how to use alcohol responsibly from the early teen years.

Italy does have a law banning the sale of alcohol to those under 18, but like most Mediterranean countries there is no age limit for consuming alcohol. I wonder if by making the consumption of alcohol illegal for minors themselves, instead of just banning adults from selling it to them, we make it into more of a "forbidden fruit" which actually seems more attractive in those risk-taking years of adolescence than it would otherwise be. 

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