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Should minors be able to earn their rights?

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This is my first post here, so here's a short introduction to myself. I'm 17, almost 18, and living with my parents against my will. I feel that at 17, I've accomplished more than most in life. I'm truly happy, found a lover that shares my values, grown philosophically and morally, produced things of value, etc. I pay for all my own expenses, except for those that pertain to my house (electricity, etc because I don't consider it logical to pay to stay somewhere I'm being forced to stay). My parents, and the world as a whole, have done nothing but make it harder to grow by inhibiting my freedom because of my age. I started reading Ayn Rand about a year ago, and couldn't stop. She did as Galt did to many in Atlas Shrugged, told me what few others had: that I was right.

My question is this: Should minors be given the opportunity to earn the rights that everyone else enjoys? Clearly, some minors aren't responsible enough for some of these rights, but neither are most adults. 18 is an arbitrary number to state as the age when one becomes old enough to be able to handle freedom. As a system, it creates an environment that hinders growth rather than foster it. Not only are people encouraged to grow more slowly, but those that are already grown are held back. Shouldn't anyone that can handle the rights, be able to enjoy them? And who really has the ability to take these rights to begin with? What can minors do about it?

As most people I've encountered think (including some minors), the only possible reason we could want complete freedom is to smoke, drink, have babies, and go wild. I am proof that other possibilities exist. I want to be able to enjoy my life to its fullest, and not let people that can't even control their own lives attempt to impose limits on mine. I fully accept all consequences good and bad. I'm hoping that, as objectivists, some of you will have some insight. It is a problem that has always plagued me, and I suspect it will long after I've reached 18. I want minors to be able to live to their best of their abilities, and let them take responsibility for their own lives, as there is no other way to truly live.

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There is already a legal way to do that, namely, being emancipated. But it takes quite a bit to build up a sufficient case for it in every jurisdiction, to the best of my knowledge.

As far as earning rights...they are all there already, as a minor semantical issue. They are simply applied in a different manner to minor who (to keep it simple, lets take clear-cut cases) have not reached the point physically or psychologically where they are entirely capable of making use of their rational faculty in a manner that adults do.

I moved out of the house only a few months after turning 18 (it would have been sooner (like the day I turned 18,) but I made a promise to a family member I liked to stay for something - when that promise was fulfilled, I left.) It has been a very positive experience for me and I found out that, no, I was *not* as mature and rational as I thought I was. However, moving out on my own allowed me to identify where I was not mature, not rational and the very real, unavoidable consequences (not paying bills, not having a job, etc.,) allowed me to quickly fix those issues.

Except in very rare circumstances, I do believe that a child is not fully an "adult" until they have lived on their own for a period of time, under their own effort and without any substantial help from outside forces (parents, family members, etc.) I believe that ought to be the litmus test for granting emancipation - living on one's own for some period of time that legal scholars can debate, but which fairly well establishes that the minor is capable of supporting themselves via their own productive effort and won't blow it all off for a week or two of partying.

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There is already a legal way to do that, namely, being emancipated. But it takes quite a bit to build up a sufficient case for it in every jurisdiction, to the best of my knowledge.
Let me add to this that if one is able to make a credible argument that in fact they are capable of exercising their own rights and no longer need an adult custodian, the act of making a rational argument itself is part of what it should take to prove adult maturity. As an independent adult, you will face the fact that others impede your life, often via the law (you will have to pay taxes and abide by numerous arbitrary laws), and you have to be able to exist as a functioning, rights-respecting being, so the case for emancipation is strongest when argument does not rely on excuse-making of the type "They made me do it".
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Let me add to this that if one is able to make a credible argument that in fact they are capable of exercising their own rights and no longer need an adult custodian, the act of making a rational argument itself is part of what it should take to prove adult maturity. As an independent adult, you will face the fact that others impede your life, often via the law (you will have to pay taxes and abide by numerous arbitrary laws), and you have to be able to exist as a functioning, rights-respecting being, so the case for emancipation is strongest when argument does not rely on excuse-making of the type "They made me do it".

A successful argument would not include statements like the following (emphasis mine)

Clearly, some minors aren't responsible enough for some of these rights, but neither are most adults.

If most adults were incapable of acting maturely then our society would most likely not exist, indeed the human race would most likely not exist.

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I moved out of the house only a few months after turning 18 (it would have been sooner (like the day I turned 18,) but I made a promise to a family member I liked to stay for something - when that promise was fulfilled, I left.) It has been a very positive experience for me and I found out that, no, I was *not* as mature and rational as I thought I was. However, moving out on my own allowed me to identify where I was not mature, not rational and the very real, unavoidable consequences (not paying bills, not having a job, etc.,) allowed me to quickly fix those issues.

Except in very rare circumstances, I do believe that a child is not fully an "adult" until they have lived on their own for a period of time, under their own effort and without any substantial help from outside forces (parents, family members, etc.) I believe that ought to be the litmus test for granting emancipation - living on one's own for some period of time that legal scholars can debate, but which fairly well establishes that the minor is capable of supporting themselves via their own productive effort and won't blow it all off for a week or two of partying.

It is possible that any minor wanting to move out and be independent is not as mature and rational as they think, but I believe this a matter of simple cause and effect. The best way to gain the ability to support oneself is by having to do it, as with most abilities. I think in a lot of cases minors aren't as responsible as they should be because they're used to not having to be responsible. This is still in part their fault, but it's a bad system regardless. So I agree with you, having a test that involves a minor living on their own for a while would be ideal. Do you feel this should apply to anyone, regardless of age? Or just of minors that want to be emancipated?

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Let me add to this that if one is able to make a credible argument that in fact they are capable of exercising their own rights and no longer need an adult custodian, the act of making a rational argument itself is part of what it should take to prove adult maturity. As an independent adult, you will face the fact that others impede your life, often via the law (you will have to pay taxes and abide by numerous arbitrary laws), and you have to be able to exist as a functioning, rights-respecting being, so the case for emancipation is strongest when argument does not rely on excuse-making of the type "They made me do it".

Agreed. As an adult, I will have to abide by many laws I am not comfortable with, and I feel it will be in part my responsibility to challenge those laws (in a civil manner of course). The main difference is that minors are not represented in law because they cannot vote. It is not as effective to make a credible argument if no one is listening. Furthermore, they are taxed without representation (yes, I paid in taxes this year, it was not all given back to me), just as the first settlers of this country were. If someone is going to withhold my rights from me, I do not want it to be based on arbitrary reasons. I expect rational arguments from the other side as well. I will gladly give my reasons.

A successful argument would not include statements like the following (emphasis mine)

If most adults were incapable of acting maturely then our society would most likely not exist, indeed the human race would most likely not exist.

You're right, this was an error on my part. I was making the point that the system is arbitrary, and lots of adults are granted rights without being any more responsible than a 12 year old. There are also mature adults, as well as minors, and both deserve their freedom.

You could always petition the court to be emancipated from your parents.

To my understanding, emancipation is typically only granted in cases of neglect or abuse. Perhaps it isn't a bad system to appeal to the court for emancipation, but I believe it should include other cases as well.

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To my understanding, emancipation is typically only granted in cases of neglect or abuse. Perhaps it isn't a bad system to appeal to the court for emancipation, but I believe it should include other cases as well.

This statement leads me to believe that you have not consulted an attorney. However, you are looking for advice on the most important issue in your life (?) from a web forum of complete strangers whose qualifications and motives you can't possibly surmise. (ok, that's harsh, but you get where I'm going)

Your case looks pretty weak. But maybe this will help:

http://www.lawyers.com/Family-Law/Oregon/P.../law-firms.html

A good attorney will quickly evaluate your ability to make a case for emancipation. Do yourself a favor, and take his/her advice. (If you can't afford to consult a lawyer, you're probably not ready to be out on your own.)

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The main difference is that minors are not represented in law because they cannot vote. It is not as effective to make a credible argument if no one is listening.
I think you didn't understand my point. I was saying that your problem with your parents could be solved by the emancipation process, and the very act of making that case in court (if it were well-made) would be a large part of the necessary objective proof that you are indeed mature enough to be out on your own. Your personal self-evaluation frankly doesn't count for much: cold hard facts are what count. (Do you think you could make that argument, here? There are plenty of people who'd be happy to pick at your argument). We're looking for evidence that you can take full responsibility for your life, be allowed to enter into contracts which will be enforced against you if you are dead wrong about your ability to pay your debts, etc. So in answer to your question, you can prove that you are qualified for emancipation.

You don't need to have the vote in order to go through that process. You may have gotten the impression from somewhere that a judge will ignore you because you are not a voter, but that is simply false. The fact that minors do not vote is not relevant to whether you can prove that you specifically are mature enough to be fully treated as an adult despite your age. Voting rights and emancipation are completely separate matters.

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This statement leads me to believe that you have not consulted an attorney. However, you are looking for advice on the most important issue in your life (?) from a web forum of complete strangers whose qualifications and motives you can't possibly surmise. (ok, that's harsh, but you get where I'm going)

Your case looks pretty weak. But maybe this will help:

http://www.lawyers.com/Family-Law/Oregon/P.../law-firms.html

A good attorney will quickly evaluate your ability to make a case for emancipation. Do yourself a favor, and take his/her advice. (If you can't afford to consult a lawyer, you're probably not ready to be out on your own.)

I can afford to consult an attorney (and yes, I'm aware if I couldn't I'd be in no position to live on my own), but I will be 18 in 2 months. More than likely by the time it got to court, I'd be 18 already. It would be a good idea to talk to one and know more about emancipation though. I would never substitute the opinion of complete strangers for my own, nor expect them to substitute mine for theirs. This post was supposed to be more about what to do instead of the system we currently have. Any ideas presented here are probably too late to gain me back the productivity I could have gained from being emancipated, but I want to live in a world in which others are free to earn their independence. I feel it would foster more responsible adults and add more value to the world. The focus on myself was more of an example that there are responsible minors out there who deserve to be independent.

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