Age discrimination OK.... but only some of the time?

dnewton3

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First, I ask first that this NOT become a topic of politics; this isn't about any party or sect. Keep it between the lines and don't veer off the road, please. I cannot emphasize this enough; I want this thread to be about how we define permissible acts, not about your personal bent against something political. I am seeking opinions; there's no right or wrong here, but I want to give you something to think about, and then please answer AFTER you consider the inputs to the question. This is centered around the laws of the US, but I suspect our friends to the north are similar. Definition: "Young Adult" is anyone 18 or more years old, but also under 21, and of sound mind (not adjudicated unfit, etc) for the purpose of this conversation. "Rights" are that which are allowed by federal and/or state law. Background issues: So here's the basis for context ... Many things are withheld from young adults, presumably because they cannot make a good decision for themselves. At least that's the explanation I hear all the time. Young adults should not drink; they are not old enough to make a good decision. Young adults should not be allowed to smoke; they cannot make a good decision. Young adults should not be allowed to buy firearms; they cannot be trusted to make a good decision. Some of the most fundamental decisions regarding health and freedom, etc are either removed from a young person's grasp, or on the table as fodder to be removed soon. There is a push in Indiana where I live, to up the smoking age to 21, and the Hoosier state is not alone here. There is a push in some states to up the age to purchase any and all firearms to 21. Yet, in many states, once you turn 18, you can choose to quit school even before you graduate. You can marry irrespective of parental consent at 18. You can engage in legal contracts at age 18. You cannot be barred from free travel at 18. Once you turn 18 you can waive your rights to counsel and silence at interrogation. You can join the military at age 18. You can legally terminate a pregnancy at 18. Essentially, right now our nation and states have a hodge-podge of age-related laws that honestly can be called sanctimonious and dubious and confusing. All these things are major, potentially life altering decisions. So why do we have such a controlling attitude towards some "rights" and not others? Question from either viewpoint: If a person can be trusted to vote, wed and get a credit card, then are they not smart enough to make ALL the other significant choices in their life? Or, conversely ... If a person is not smart enough to make ALL significant choices regarding their own lives, then why do we let them vote, abort a fetus, and sign contracts? For me, this is about hypocritical age discrimination. I don't really care if the age is 18 or 21 for these things, but I do believe we should be consistent in message and tolerance. My opinion is that if we can trust them to vote, they should be allowed to do all these things. If we cannot trust them to make their own major life decisions, then they should not be allowed to do any of these things, voting or otherwise. I advocate for a even-keeled system. I am not trying to remove any rights; only apply them in a consistent manner. Either 18 for all, or 21 for all. If I cannot trust you to pull a trigger, then I cannot trust you to pull a level in the voting booth. If I can trust you to buy a car, then I can trust you to buy a pack of cigarettes. If I can trust you to be accountable for your own tax filing, then I can trust you to sip your favorite wine or bourbon. This isn't about the singular individual. We all know some really smart, savvy young adults whom are mature beyond their years. And we know some aged adults whom cannot be trusted to tie their own shoes. I'm speaking in generalities here. Admittedly there must be an age of consent for self-determination; the line must be drawn somewhere. Why is the line not a straight line; why does it snake around certain topics? Have you ever tried to rationally explain to a young person why ... - they can abort a fetus, but cannot buy a gun? - they can marry another, but cannot drink champagne at their ceremony? - they can die for their country, but cannot possess a cigar to celebrate their high-school graduation? (if they chose to finish school in the first place) Why are we, as a society, so freaking full of hypocrisy in our approach to these topics?
 
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As a nineteen year old, I couldn't agree more. Another interesting point: I'm from Minnesota where I was an adult at 18, but go to school in Nebraska, where the age of majority is 19. (Most of the people in my freshman class are not adults in Nebraska but after crossing the few miles into Iowa, they are.) I find this confusing and rather convoluted. This means that most of us couldn't buy a scratchoff ticket, etc. in Nebraska but could cross the river and do so without a problem. And those under 19 had to have parental signatures for orientation activities (bouncy house, other "dangerous" things...). Rinse and repeat for all sorts of issues.
 
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I agree wholeheartedly...at the point that you can decide that you can put your life on the line for your country, you should have every other right available to you. Oz is "better" in that regard, 18 being the standard generally across the board. Age of consent is 16 (unless both are under 16) We had a weird one the other day 'though. Approached the Cops to take out an AVO against daughter's boyfriend (long story, will share one day), as she was 15...couldn't do it...she was required to file her own... So we are responsible for any vandalism or other actions our kids do until the age of 18...but have no legal capacity to protect them.
 
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I often wondered the same thing and totally agree with making it one age whatever that is. Here is how we shake out for comparison... Canada: Age of Consent: 16 (Formerly 14, updated in 2006) Drivers License: 14 or 16 (learners) (depending on province) Voting age: 18 Firearms license: 18 (12 with accompaniment of adult, younger than 11 gets a minors license) Drinking age: 18-19 (depending on province) Age of Majority: 18-19 (depending on province) Gambling Age: 18-19 (depending on province) Smoking Age: 18-19 (depending on the province) Renting a car: 21 years of age with 12 months driving experience. Drivers 21-24 require a larger deposit. Definition of dependents as children: Under the age of 22!
 
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Basically yes. If adulthood starts at 18 any laws infringing on rights of persons between 18-20 is age discrimination. Anyone with power to change that is over 21 already and doesnt care. And its always to push an agenda.
 
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This is a very interesting topic and one that would always lead to very vigorous debate (healthy debate) in my Poli Sci and Law classes. Unfortunately, as you've somewhat alluded too, there is no actual answer. When it comes to laws based on individual age, typically, the numbers are arbitrary. For instance, after prohibition ended most states set the drinking age to 21. Then for some reason in the mid-late 1900s many states decreased their drinking ages. Due to a spike in drinking related car accidents, Reagan passed federal legislation essentially mandating a 21 year ago. So here you had an arbitrary number originally selected, a change in this 'norm' caused a spike in adverse reactions and ultimately a solution to those reactions was found. It's almost as if 21 was decided to be the equilibrium point. Basically we had a series of trial and error moments. The point I'm getting to here isn't that these laws are steeped in hypocrisy, but rather they're based off good intentions driven by the gut. As we know though, the gut can be a foolish thing to follow at times. My leanings on the issue? If you're legally an adult then you should legally have access to all goods and services. This is a simple view though as I also understand the benefits that creating some barriers can bring to society as a whole.
 
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I always felt we have the drinking age wrong, instead of going older we should go younger. Let the kids that are going to drink experience it years before they get a drivers license not wait until they're already on the road.
 
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While I'm well past the ages discussed here the whole idea of these arbitrary ages got to me. In the USA when a male turns 18 they MUST register with Selective Service and can be sent to war to kill people and destroy stuff. Takes a huge emotional and physical toll on many. Yet in the past that same 18 year old was not "mature enough" to vote. That 18 year old today is not "mature enough" or "developed" to have a drink of alcohol. Really? They are told they must fight and die for their country (which IMHO is very mature) but can't do other things "adults" can? I say either make it all 18 or all 21 and end the nonsense.
 
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I'm not old enough to know this but in the early 1900s, were kids expected to "grow up and become adults" at a young age? Like once you graduated from high school you were expected to find a job and move out within short time? In other words were the burdens of full adulthood pushed onto you at a younger age back then? In those times , if such conditions were true, then 18 seems like a reasonable age to permit everything that comes with being an adult. If you were heavily pressured to go do your own thing then you no longer have a parent who can sign off for you, this making it a requirement that your age be acceptable to do basically anything in life. But young people these days seem reluctant to grow up. Kids can even remain on the parents insurance until age 26. Lots of people in undergrad college proudly live by the slogan "graduating in 4 years is like leaving the party at 10pm". Maybe the limit does need to be bumped up?
 
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Originally Posted by Kage860
Basically yes. If adulthood starts at 18 any laws infringing on rights of persons between 18-20 is age discrimination. Anyone with power to change that is over 21 already and doesnt care. And its always to push an agenda.
I agree here. Enough said in my view.
 
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I believe it's the 26th Amendment that defines the age to vote, so that's going to be tough to change. The others, one could make a case that if they are old enough to be drafted, they are old enough to drink, own handguns, etc. At least in the case of drinking, I think the US Federal Government puts pressure on the states to set drinking age and BAC levels by threatening to withhold federal funds if the states don't comply. So while states set these ages, there is a fair bit of federal pressure to do so.
 
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Beyond the "I think I know better than you do, so I should be able to dictate how you live your life..." thinking that elected officials are all too willing to leverage to gain power, I don't think I can say much more without breaking the no RSP rules here. Ironic, since we were founded as a nation based in individual freedom, isn't it?
Originally Posted by dnewton3
Why are we, as a society, so freaking full of hypocrisy in our approach to these topics?
 
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Java, I think it's partially that and partially the "Pearl Clutchers" that seem to need to have a law/ban for everything.
 
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Still takes politicians to create those laws, and since the pearl clutchers (of which I'm dangerously close to becoming one) are a more reliable voting block, they are willing to sacrifice the freedoms of others to get votes. But I probably shouldn't say any more for fear of getting political. But my non-partisan observation is neither major party has a good record when it comes to avoiding the sacrifice of individual freedoms.
 
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Originally Posted by javacontour
Beyond the "I think I know better than you do, so I should be able to dictate how you live your life..." thinking that elected officials are all too willing to leverage to gain power, I don't think I can say much more without breaking the no RSP rules here. Ironic, since we were founded as a nation based in individual freedom, isn't it?
Originally Posted by dnewton3
Why are we, as a society, so freaking full of hypocrisy in our approach to these topics?
Just remember that those laws were sorta passed with the consent of the people as they're the ones who voted those guys in. Also if it were that big a deal, lots of states have methods of putting questions to a ballot and I seem to recall that age was one of those questions that happened in the past. As for the basic questions, I guess it boils down to too many bad actors ruined it for someone else. Maybe in some states where the age was low, they didn't have too many problems so it wasn't an issue and it was in others. Or one party is bigger than another party. Part of the freedom in this country is being able to move to another state easily. With different laws in different states, it's possible to move to one where the laws are more to your liking.
 
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Originally Posted by javacontour
Still takes politicians to create those laws, and since the pearl clutchers (of which I'm dangerously close to becoming one) are a more reliable voting block, they are willing to sacrifice the freedoms of others to get votes. But I probably shouldn't say any more for fear of getting political. But my non-partisan observation is neither major party has a good record when it comes to avoiding the sacrifice of individual freedoms.
Originally Posted by StevieC
Java, I think it's partially that and partially the "Pearl Clutchers" that seem to need to have a law/ban for everything.
I wouldn't have taken you for the "Needing a law for everything" type. Cheers1
 
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Another interesting age thing: Around here we have laws for juveniles (under 18), but lately we are charging juveniles as adults for the more serious crimes. Why have juvenile laws if we are going to charge them as adults?
 
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Originally Posted by Oily_Thing
Another interesting age thing: Around here we have laws for juveniles (under 18), but lately we are charging juveniles as adults for the more serious crimes. Why have juvenile laws if we are going to charge them as adults?
Trying juveniles as adults is done in cases where the crime was so egregious that it necessitates punishment like an adult. There still needs to be juvenile punishment guidelines because the idea is that "kids are kids" and they're going to do stupid things before they turn 18.
 
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I think it's hypocritical to make various BACs the point for OUIs: .02 for <21, .04 for Commercial, .08 for everyone else. Is it based in science or politics? I think the smorgasborg of adulty things should be available while the kids are still at home, Senior year of high school. Let them sort it out while they still have to report home to mom and pops, and mom and pops would be legally and civilly liable for their minor kids' actions. So it would boil down to: Adult Sex and Drivers Licence at 16 Smokes/ booze/ Pot/ gambling/ Guns/ military enlistment at 17 Draft/ Contracting/ Free will at 18.
 
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