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Hazmatac
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It's not ability that earns people individual rights.

It certainly isn't; if you become 18 and are still unable to make good decisions, you'll have to bear the full extent of the consequences of your irresponsibility. But you agree, don't you, that when you have just been born, it is exclusively your parents who decide what you eat and drink, and that they (and your teachers, etc.) continue to exercise a degree of control over your nutrition until well into your teens. The details of this control are none of the government's business, but it is proper for it to enforce certain basic standards of rationality.

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[quote Also, some of the laws (such as the one you mentioned, about not being allowed to work around meat I think?)

The laws to which he refers (I work in the food industry) are safety laws based on minors working with things like meat cleavers, deli slicers, meat saws and butchering knives. Unfortunately in this day & age they make sense if no not other reason than to protect a business against a parent suing when their kid loses a finger doing something stupid while using a slicer. Insurance gets you even worse with minors and sharp objects.

Which is a shame really since I learned responsibilty and hard work when I was young being with my mother at her job in a meat department and later working underage in a family restaurant.

We live in a society where every individual is forced to pay for the potential stupidity of someone else.

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With respect to age limitations, "age of majority," here are a few relevant portions of his podcasts in which Dr. Peikoff comments:

Episode 20 -- July 07, 2008

About: 7:40 into the podcast:

"Is there a proper government role in regard to a minor marrying even assuming the parents consent? "

Episode 49 -- February 16, 2009

About 3:00 into the podcast:

"A question about mandatory helmets for minors on skateboards. How far may the government go to protect minors from parent's negligence? Should they make only laws prohibiting active abuse, or should they also punish parents for "reckless disregard of the child's safety." And if the later, who decides what is reckless?"

Episode 14 -- May 05, 2008

About 10:20 into the podcast:

"What is the basis for the rights of children, and how do these rights follow from an ethics of egoism? Is initiating physical force against a child immoral?"

Episode 34 -- October 27, 2008

About 2:45 into the podcast:

"I think that parents should not be obligated to provide an education for their children. By education I mean the basics of reading, writing and arithematic. For example, it would be within the rights of a parent to raise a child on a farm and teach him farming which presumably he could develope into a career. I'm not saying this would be ideal, but within the parent's rights. My friend thinks that some form of schooling, including private, should be required by law. For example, if the child can't read a no trespassing sign he may get killed. What do you say?"

About 5:15 (next question) into the podcast:

"Medical issues aside, what rights does a parent have to alter a child's body?"

About 7:30 into the podcast:

"A lot of Objectivists believe that unless a child is dying the parents have the right to raise him without any government intervention. (This time the kid has to be dying.) Is it true that a properly functioning government could let parents keep children in a regularly cleaned cage, feed them scraps of food, not interact with them at all, and never intervene?"

Episode 63 -- May 25, 2009

About 4:10 into the podcast:

"How is the principle of individual rights applied to those humans that are incapable of rational thought? (For example: very young children.) What legitamate role does the state play in protecting rights in this case?"

Edited by Trebor
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  • 3 weeks later...
I use 21 only because from my understanding, some research suggests that maturity/reason centers in the brain do not fully develop until the late teens/early 20's.

Whoa, I guess that means abortions should be fine up until the age of 20.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I posted a similar question a few months before I turned 18 as well. For a long time I had been wanting the same rights and responsibilities as adults (the good and the bad). I was in a bad home environment (parents that barely know the meaning of the word logic), yet it was expected that these people should be the ones to tell me how to run my life. I am 18 now and the only thing that has changed is the way society reacts to me. It seems to be the only way to counter this is to create a system that relies on a person's growth to give them rights instead of an arbitrary age (I would love to discuss ways to make this happen with like minded people).

I think most people can agree that children are not as likely to make good decisions as adults. The problem is that not everyone becomes capable at 18. Some mature before, some after. It is easier to give one age of maturity to everyone, but that doesn't make it right. No one should be held back for arbitrary reasons. Furthermore, a lot of the restrictions placed on minors seem to discourage growth rather than foster it. Isn't it possible that bringing someone up for 18 years in an environment that says they are not totally responsible for their actions (parents or teachers often take the blame for mistakes) and doesn't allow them to make their own decisions creating people with very bad philosophies and then turning them out into the world?

A few examples:

Teenagers often work and pay taxes (and pay sales taxes even before that), but are not allowed to vote. Isn't this taxation without representation? Voting also affects their lives as much as those around them.

Often the only jobs available for minors are in fast food or retail (that said, most retail places I've encountered also require you to be 18). Discrimination in the work place for race, religion, and that sort of thing are illegal for obvious reasons. Shouldn't the only type of discrimination be who is the best worker for the job and who isn't? It is true that a lot of the discrimination is for insurance reasons. For me, this only proves that the problem is deep into our philosophy and has to be changed everywhere.

A teenager that lives in a bad environment has very few choices that allow them to leave. They can try emancipation, but this is difficult (and seems to only be allowed in cases of abuse and such, which isn't the only reason to leave). They can run away, but this wouldn't solve their problems (they would gave to live the life of a runaway, not the better life they are wanting). Shouldn't anyone who is capable of living on their own be allowed to do so?

People often list the disasters that could happen if we let minors earn their own rights. This assumes that the only thing people want freedom for is to get drunk, have babies we can't take care of, and otherwise ruin their lives in someway. This isn't true for teenagers any more than it is for anyone else. I wanted freedom to be able to grow as a person and have no one else take the fall for my decisions. There would be some that would do these things, just like there are adults that do these things. They obviously don't deserve rights, regardless of age. You can't fix those people by trying to blame it on age, the problem is in their philosophy. Then there are those that want to be productive individuals. We do more harm to them by holding them back than most people realize.

Ok, I'm quite sure this has been done before but why the heck to we have age limitations in America?

So I was thinking about how in less than a month I will turn 18 and at which point I will be able to work at the meat department at the grocery store I work at. Then an important question came to mind. "Why can't I just start now?" I mean is there some *Magical* difference between me now and me in 2 weeks? Then I began to think about what Ayn Rand would say about this. So I related it to the economy (easy way to find out what she would say :D) What's the difference between me now and me in 1 year when I can begin to legally smoke? Not much, I would have graduated high school perhaps but that doesn't change my ability to inject cancer into my lungs. So I got thinking:

Why the Age Limit at all?

Alright so if a 15 year old can now go out and by beer what's the big deal. YES, drinking at that age is bad for your health and can really cause problems however that doesn't mean that the government should be telling us what we can and cannot buy. It should be our parents and we should learn to be responsible for our actions. Or what if a 14 year old got her drivers license what does that change? Okay, so she goes out and get's killed in some tragic accident and her family suffers and etc. HOWEVER, it was the parents responsibility to only let her drive if she was ready for it, and it was the-we'll call him the "Drivers ed. Teacher" for now-'s responsibility to ensure that she wasn't allowed on the streets until she was ready and it was HER responsibility to consider the the consequences of her actions and the impact it would have on her family. (And her, may she rest in peace.)

I don't know maybe I'm just crazy but I think that this is one of the biggest restrictions on society today, maybe it's just me...

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The fact that very young children do not have the capacity to use their reason to guide their lives is obvious. As they mature, that capacity develops. This is the foundation for concept of age limitations. Most people don't object to the idea that a 30 year old can legally do things that a 2 year old cannot. (Those that do typically have some really repugnant sexual desires.)

What usually bothers people is not the division per se, but the arbitrariness of the dividing line. Maturation is a gradual process, which occurs at different rates in different people, but the age of maturity is a legal bright line that is the same for everybody. The basic reason for this, I think, is simply that the law needs an objective standard to let people know when they're dealing with a minor and when they're dealing with an adult, and age is a simple way to achieve this. The existence of the division is not arbitrary, but the precise location of the dividing point inside a certain range *is*.

One could certainly imagine a culture in which psychological knowledge was more developed, where some kind of psychological test could replace the arbitrary age line as the legal certification of adulthood. I don't think our culture is really at that point yet. Even so there are some legal mechanisms to enable unusually mature children to obtain many of the perks of adulthood prior to turning 18, by becoming a so-called emancipated minor.

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I agree with some age limitations but not others. Personally, my kids will not be driving a car when they are 16. I'm going to require them to wait until 18 for that. Whether or not that should be the law is another issue. That's just my personal parental decision. As for your comment about a 14 year old getting a license, the problem is that 14 year old is not mentally capable of operating a vehicle safely. That creates a severe danger to everyone else on the road. I understand your argument about parental responsibility, but I don't quite agree that one person has the right to impose an unreasonable risk of life on another person (by allowing their young child to drive).

Another HUGE one for me is that I think it's insane to allow 18 year olds to vote. Very few 18 year olds have any life experience whatsoever and frequently have political views that are not grounded in reality. Due primarily to the fact that they have never had to support themselves. The voting age should be closer to 25 or 26 in my opinion. The only possible exception to that rule would be in the case of military service for obvious reasons.

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What is the justification of this magical numbers?

I don't think there is an excellent justification.

Don't many child labor laws have their origins in the unions restricting the availability of the workforce? This is my understanding. I don't think age is necessarily a condition of logic, reason, etc. Some leave college less rational than when they entered, for example.

I don't see where "new public education" has necessarily improved the rationality or even the knowledge of the students that it produces where they are productive for themselves let alone society.

With some amount of age does come some amount of experience though. Drinking laws of 21 seem to have no basis of reason as the individuals that really want to get alcoholic beverages are still more than able to get them and use them. Just as individuals that want to get and use illegal drugs for all age groups seem to be capable of accomplishing this.

If we wanna talk "private roads", on race tracks, racing organizations have developed their criteria for ages and the machinery that can be used. Relates to some life experiences that seem to be recognized by those that make the rules and have to be responsible to the rest of the racing community.

I will say that the insurance industry has jumped in making restrictions now on ages in racing that have no bearing on what experiences that the organizations have seen and experienced.

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Another HUGE one for me is that I think it's insane to allow 18 year olds to vote.

While I don't agree with you about vehicles, I'm very much with you on voting. For the same reason that you need to be 30 to be a Senator and 35 to be President, you should be required to be of a sufficiently experienced age in order to vote--after all, voting means exercising a government function.

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The OP is correct that there is no magic change that occurs between 17.9 and 18.0 years old.

Age limitations are rough guidelines meant to give adolescents sufficient time to mature - both cognitively and emotionally - before they can be held responsible for their decisions. They are based on a small amount of rational basis and a large amount of social norms. That is why, for instance, the drinking/driving/voting/statutory rape ages vary from state to state and country to country.

The ages required are chosen to handle the mass of people rather than individuals. This sometimes results in an injustice to well-developed, responsible, and/or industrious teens. (My spouse is a good example; he was passed over for positions he trained people for because of his age.)

I realize this is cold comfort when you're ready to move ahead and there's this arbitrary legal barrier in front of you. Just remind yourself there are reasons for legal age limits, and they won't be changed before you are free from them. If you still consider it troublesome later, you can act in many legal ways to recommend the ages be lowered or removed.

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While I don't agree with you about vehicles, I'm very much with you on voting. For the same reason that you need to be 30 to be a Senator and 35 to be President, you should be required to be of a sufficiently experienced age in order to vote--after all, voting means exercising a government function.

The whole taxation without representation makes that problematic.

If you work you pay taxes, if you pay taxes you should have the right to vote for or against the people who are deciding what to do with your money.

My first legal, above the table job was when I was 14, although I worked before that.

At 16 I was out of school, working two jobs, paying my own rent.

I was deeply indignant that money was being stolen from my paycheck every week by persons for whom I did not vote for projects I disapproved of.

The right to vote, so long as our current system of taxation is in place, should be based on who is contributing.

At 16 I can tell you my values were more reliable that a 34 yo mother of 3 children by 3 different men that lives off food stamps, charity and welfare.

When you say someone shouldn't be allowed to vote until 24-26 do you realise what a huge disservice you are doing to individual liberty?

Maybe some people don't really work until they are out of college at 21-22 but for those who are out of their parents' houses, self-sufficient and having taxes taken from their pay you are describing an unacceptable form of tyranny. You're talking about several years of taxation without representation there.

Can you defend this?

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if you pay taxes you should have the right to vote for or against the people who are deciding what to do with your money.
Why? What specifically does it have to do with taxation? What about "if you're subject to laws, you should have the right to vote for or against the people who are deciding what laws to pass"?
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Why? What specifically does it have to do with taxation? What about "if you're subject to laws, you should have the right to vote for or against the people who are deciding what laws to pass"?

A three year old who (presumably) can't read, write or understand anything on a ballot or what it will effect is subject to laws .. but incapable of voting.

Someone who is able to hold a full time job and live self-sufficiently could claim that by paying taxes they have an ownership stake in the govt and therefore a right to vote on it. By being able to work, pay their rent, pay their bills, feed and clothe themselves and of course, get those tax forms done they are proving at least some amount of rational competence.

Any method of determining who can vote could seem arbitrary if one wanted to argue with it.

But what could be more rational than having those who pay for a system to have a say in it?

I write my employee's paycheck.

Therefore I get to tell them what to do.

Ideally an elected official is an employee of "the people".

What greater claim could one have of the right to vote than that one is paying those that are being elected?

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A three year old who (presumably) can't read, write or understand anything on a ballot or what it will effect is subject to laws .. but incapable of voting.
Which argues that taxpaying is not a sufficient basis for a right to vote. Whose side are yoe on, mine of yours?
Someone who is able to hold a full time job and live self-sufficiently could claim that by paying taxes they have an ownership stake in the govt and therefore a right to vote on it. By being able to work, pay their rent, pay their bills, feed and clothe themselves and of course, get those tax forms done they are proving at least some amount of rational competence.
Are you abandoning your "if you pay taxes" position, in favor of a "are you demonstrably self-sufficient" test? Would you have to hold a full time job, or would it suffice to be self-sufficient? What is the objective test of self-sufficiency (how do we compute the effect of parental gift checks of $100, $1000 or $10,000?).
But what could be more rational than having those who pay for a system to have a say in it?
Having those who are subject to its rules and are above a certain presumptive age where the rational faculty is sufficiently developed.
I write my employee's paycheck.

Therefore I get to tell them what to do.

Bad idea, because elected officials are not "employees". As an actual employer, you have the arbitrary right to tell your secretary to get you a cup of coffee. You do not have the right to order around the clerk at the local courthouse, nor in fact can you fire your congressman, even if they refuse to hand over all of the government's weapons to you. Government and the free market are not the same thing.
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Having those who are subject to its rules and are above a certain presumptive age where the rational faculty is sufficiently developed.

You are talking about a dangerous level of disenfranchisement here.

Who decides this "certain presumptive age"?

Would it be by vote?

That would seem odd since the premise of the post to which I was responding was that people aren't responsible enough to vote until they are 24-26.

Since the current age is 18 you would have a law made regarding who is old enough to vote by many, many persons deemed by the post I was responding to as not responsible enough to be allowed to vote.

If not by direct vote but by the lawmakers you still have a situation where, since the age is currently 18, those making the laws were voted in by persons deemed not responsible enough to vote.

It is going to be rather hard to weasel one's way out of these glaring contradictions

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As an actual employer, you have the arbitrary right to tell your secretary to get you a cup of coffee. You do not have the right to order around the clerk at the local courthouse, nor in fact can you fire your congressman, even if they refuse to hand over all of the government's weapons to you.

A secretary whose understanding is that part of his/her job is to bring you things you could fire but a welder at your manufacturing plant could sue you for wrongful termination (depending on applicable local laws etc) for insisting they make you breakfast or fetch your drycleaning.

An employee is most often empowered to refuse an unreasonable request and have recourse in the case of termination based on this (whether this is right or wrong is completely off topic).

This is a completely irrational analogy.

I'm editing to add-

a fundamental problem with creating new voting criteria based on age is that no one is going to vote to lose their own vote- people will only be voting to take away some other individual's rights. Anyone who does vote to have their own vote taken away is voting that they are too incompetent to have the right to vote so their vote shouldn't count :dough:

Edited by QuoVadis
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A secretary whose understanding is that part of his/her job is to bring you things you could fire but a welder at your manufacturing plant could sue you for wrongful termination (depending on applicable local laws etc) for insisting they make you breakfast or fetch your drycleaning.

An employee is most often empowered to refuse an unreasonable request and have recourse in the case of termination based on this (whether this is right or wrong is completely off topic).

This is a completely irrational analogy.

Thanks to corrupt law, people have legal protection to sue for wrongful termination as you have described it, but they don't have the moral right, and in a proper society, would not have the legal right. Individuals have the right to refuse to employ others for any reason they wish, except for cases that violate the contractual terms of employment that both parties have agreed to.

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except for cases that violate the contractual terms of employment that both parties have agreed to.

You could note that

a)I mentioned the understanding of what is and is not in a job description and that

b)we are in fact talking about the world as it exists now, I stated clearly that I was not talking about the right or wrong of contractual/job description agreements because that would be completely off topic

If we are going to go off topic though... are you telling me that if you are working as say... an office manager.. that you might not consider suing a boss that fires you when you refuse to ..say... come to work in a skirt and dance for him?

Because to a many a skilled labourer being told to pick up someone's laundry could be just as offensive- and just as far off their job description.

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A secretary whose understanding is that part of his/her job is to bring you things you could fire but a welder at your manufacturing plant could sue you for wrongful termination (depending on applicable local laws etc) for insisting they make you breakfast or fetch your drycleaning.
If you're appealing to current irrational law and government, it makes no sense to be talking about limiting voting to taxpayers or in any other way restricting who votes. The way the world is, voting is based on age, not paying taxes. If you're talking about how voting would be carried out in a rational society, then there would be no local law endowing welders with the right to refuse their bosses orders.

Paying taxes is absolutely not a rational requirement for voting.

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If you're talking about how voting would be carried out in a rational society, then there would be no local law endowing welders with the right to refuse their bosses orders.

Paying taxes is absolutely not a rational requirement for voting.

I did not say paying taxes alone.

So... if a boss demands sexual favors that are presumably not part of your job, there is no right to refusal and no recourse?

It doesn't have to be force or assault.. simply do it or your fired.

And if you say no, then where is this line you draw between acceptable and unacceptable reasonable requests?

Putting on a dress and barking like a dog?

Cleaning his house?

Babysitting his 5 kids?

Answering please remember I already stated that there were stated job duties and these would not be part of them.

If you moved 1500 miles for a job based on one job description, rate of pay, etc and the boss upon your arrival changed the nature of your wages and duties under threat of termination would you not feel justified in suing? At the very least for your time & expense?

Edited by QuoVadis
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You could note that

a)I mentioned the understanding of what is and is not in a job description and that

b)we are in fact talking about the world as it exists now, I stated clearly that I was not talking about the right or wrong of contractual/job description agreements because that would be completely off topic

Well, is this merely a statement of the status quo, or an analysis of proper employment law? If your answer is the former, my response is, "So what? It's wrong, here's why it's wrong, and here is the right view of the employer-employee relationship."

If we are going to go off topic though... are you telling me that if you are working as say... an office manager.. that you might not consider suing a boss that fires you when you refuse to ..say... come to work in a skirt and dance for him?
I most certainly would not. I respect every individual's right not to deal with me as a moral absolute. No one owes me anything that hasn't been mutually agreed to.

Because to a many a skilled labourer being told to pick up someone's laundry could be just as offensive- and just as far off their job description.
So what? That is subjectivism, the idea that a person's view of something makes it a fact. It doesn't matter whether an employee is offended by some task. Don't like it? Leave. Men must deal with each other by mutual consent.

I have to ask, have you read Ayn Rand's ethics, and specifically, her explanation of how men are to deal with each other?

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