Ageism

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Entropy
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Ageism

Postby Entropy » Fri Mar 12, 2010 7:46 am UTC

Regardless of where one grows up geographically, rights and responsibilities tend to be based on age. Yet people mature at different rates, and people who grow up as outliers on the normal distribution of the age/maturity ratio tend to be treated as inappropriately young/old for a large percentage of their lives. In many ways, using age as a measure of what a person is capable of can be as inappropriate as using shoe size or height. Is there a better way to measure the capability of the average person, or is age the best we can do?

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Re: Ageism

Postby Woopate » Fri Mar 12, 2010 10:52 am UTC

Ageism is definitely a tricky subject. The idea of "maturity" with regards to the responsibilities of the individual is entirely subjective. As it is now, society shoots a ballpark age value that, upon reaching said age, individuals should be capable of acting maturely. This is really an inaccurate method of determination, as no aspect of a subject's maturity is evaluated save physical maturity (and not even that for a few exceptions with aging related disorders). If maturity could be properly quantified and tested for, impartially, then I'd definitely be for allowing exceptions to age-based maturity rules (although there should still be an age where all people are considered mature, people cannot be babied forever).

Perhaps testing for the following traits would be a good place to start:
-Acceptance of responsibility
-Responsiveness to rational argument
-Ability to admit mistakes
-Possessing values based on rational thought

As an observation, however, quite a few people already deemed as mature would fail a test based on these parameters. I believe that this is entirely acceptable, given that this test would be targeted at people attempting to become exceptions to the practice of maturity being reached at a specific age, it serves to have these individuals tested more under more strict parameters.

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Re: Ageism

Postby Zazzman » Fri Mar 12, 2010 1:01 pm UTC

Should Every culture has a rite of passage of some sort, many based on age. Age is an equally fair rite of passage for all parties, regardless of any other factors. Puberty is entered around age 10 for girls, and 12 for boys (THANKS WIKIPEDIA!). With completion around 15-17 for girls, and 17-18 for boys. Now where I am from I think you can start working at 16, with permission from parents and school (not sure). Lets pretend those two facts are related- and your ability to work is based off of completing puberty, then girls would get to work earlier because of random biology, except the late bloomers because of any number of factors get left behind by thier peers.

Is that a reasonable system? I don't believe so.
Does using age acount for most of the population? I think it does.

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Re: Ageism

Postby Zamfir » Fri Mar 12, 2010 1:18 pm UTC

Zazzman wrote:Every culture has a rite of passage of some sort, many based on age

What's the rite of passage for your culture?

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Re: Ageism

Postby Pez Dispens3r » Fri Mar 12, 2010 1:23 pm UTC

Woopate wrote:This is really an inaccurate method of determination, as no aspect of a subject's maturity is evaluated save physical maturity (and not even that for a few exceptions with aging related disorders).
Inaccurate, perhaps, but by no means a meaningless method. Whether you're considered mature at thirteen, sixteen, eighteen, or twenty-five, there's no sensible way to objectively demonstrate your maturity. For example, some types may say that if you still enjoy video games, you're not mature enough yet. I'm hoping you can already see where many mature individuals would find this objectionable. I posit that no system that determines maturity can be perfect, but that all systems must take into account immaturity. A three-year-old can't be expected to uphold the law to the same extent a sixty-year-old would. This is universal: the understanding that there is such a thing as immaturity. Where we have immaturity, and an imperfect system of determining maturity, I think we end up with a product present in all systems: "what the hell, it's close enough." And 'close enough' really is all we can hope to expect.

As far as things such as the minimum age of the president of the U.S., there is definitely ageism happening. While age tends to accompany experience and good judgement, this is by no means a proven relationship. However, it's an interesting fluctuation, because it's a discriminatory boundary easily broken. If one is unhappy being treated like a twenty-year-old, one only has to wait to be treated like a thirty-year-old. So it's not particularly problematic.
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Re: Ageism

Postby Mokele » Fri Mar 12, 2010 1:43 pm UTC

An important thing to remember is scale - we have to determine when to give voting rights, drinking, etc. to everyone in the country. While we *do* have an idea of what goes on in the brain as you mature (teens have a poorly developed prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for foresight, knowing consequences, judgement, etc.), the sheer cost of an fMRI for everyone in the country is ridiculous. Anything less will still be, to some degree, arbitrary, and immensely complex.

Age may not be perfect, but it's actually surprisingly good and unparalleled in terms of ease of implementation and cost.
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Re: Ageism

Postby bigglesworth » Fri Mar 12, 2010 1:46 pm UTC

Pez Dispens3r wrote:If one is unhappy being treated like a twenty-year-old, one only has to wait to be treated like a thirty-year-old. So it's not particularly problematic.
However, if you're being discriminated against at work for being over fifty, it's only going to get worse...
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Re: Ageism

Postby Ixtellor » Fri Mar 12, 2010 2:19 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:
Zazzman wrote:Every culture has a rite of passage of some sort, many based on age

What's the rite of passage for your culture?


I live in Texas, so my rite includes stalking a deer, killing it with a primitive weapon and drinking its blood.

By "stalking" I mean: Set up a deer feeder full of delicious apple scented corn and hide near by in an air-conditioned camo fort.

By "primitive weapon" I mean:A $1200 Bow with pullies, laser sights, stabilizers, and using a $45 dollar razor sharp arrow with a spring loaded hinge like a grappling hook. You know... just like the indians.
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Re: Ageism

Postby Zamfir » Fri Mar 12, 2010 2:22 pm UTC

bigglesworth wrote:
Pez Dispens3r wrote:If one is unhappy being treated like a twenty-year-old, one only has to wait to be treated like a thirty-year-old. So it's not particularly problematic.
However, if you're being discriminated against at work for being over fifty, it's only going to get worse...

Definitely, which is why ageism complaints from teenagers can feel a bit like whining, even when they make a defendable point, while ageism complaints from elder people represent a much more serious problem.

Mokele wrote:An important thing to remember is scale - we have to determine when to give voting rights, drinking, etc. to everyone in the country. While we *do* have an idea of what goes on in the brain as you mature (teens have a poorly developed prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for foresight, knowing consequences, judgement, etc.), the sheer cost of an fMRI for everyone in the country is ridiculous. Anything less will still be, to some degree, arbitrary, and immensely complex.


It seems not implausible that at some point not terribly far way such a scan could be done for an affordable price (perhaps mostly the cost of a trained person looking at the results). Under such circumstances, would you say that it is a good idea to implement this? Let's say a ystem in which everyone over 22 gets voting rights, and everyone below can choose to be tested once a year to see if their brain meets certain requirements?

Ixtellor wrote:I live in Texas, so my rite includes stalking a deer, killing it with a primitive weapon and drinking its blood.

How does Texan society treat people who did not go throught this process? :)

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Re: Ageism

Postby JBJ » Fri Mar 12, 2010 4:12 pm UTC

We already have a testing method for teen maturity; Parents.

Experience creates maturity, not potential. Age is potential. The development of the prefrontal cortex is potential. Neither is some magical switch that suddenly allows someone who has never gotten behind the wheel to take the Buick out on the highway at 70mph. Nor does it give the ability to someone who's never taken a sip of liquor to go to a bar and know how much they can drink before they puke.

It is a parent's responsibility to give their children experience so that when they do reach the age determined by society they are prepared. Even at a younger age than the law allows. Just make sure that you don't put others at risk. If that means you take them out to an empty country road at 14 and let them drive, fine. Let them drink alcohol at home at 17? Great. Get them the experience in a safe and supervised environment so that they are mature when society expects them to be.
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Re: Ageism

Postby Zazzman » Fri Mar 12, 2010 4:26 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:
Zazzman wrote:Every culture has a rite of passage of some sort, many based on age

What's the rite of passage for your culture?


You don't need to limit it to "the" rite of passage as I believe my culture, and others, have multiple rites.

Graduating from Highschool, and walking to get my diploma. Getting my driver's License. College was filled with them (I lived at home and commuted to a branch campus). Registering to vote, and doing so. And then there was a couple that are not universial. Such as the road trip I took to the beach (a good 7-8 hour drive even with a lead foot) alone. That defined who I was for many years. I sorta recently went on two trips to the grand canyon, while their I learned a lot more about myself than I thought possible. If it wasn't for that trip I would not have been able to fall in love with my girlfriend.

But that is all about rites of passage. Could I have done the road trip when I was younger (went when I was 18) yes. Does that mean I am imature for waiting? Does that mean I am more mature for knowing to wait?

My major issue about the whole mature thing is the definition. Who are you to tell me that what I do is immature?

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Re: Ageism

Postby Zamfir » Fri Mar 12, 2010 4:47 pm UTC

Zazzman wrote:My major issue about the whole mature thing is the definition. Who are you to tell me that what I do is immature?

Which is of course why there is an age limit for voting, instead of a test or something. An age is at least objective, any test or set of requirements will bump into the "Who are you to set the requirements" problems.

For loads of other things, we do use tests or even subjective measurements. When you apply for a job, people consider you "mature" if you succesfully passed a certain education, have certain experiences on your CV, and when they like how you behave.

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Re: Ageism

Postby Woopate » Sat Mar 13, 2010 6:44 am UTC

Zamfir wrote:
Zazzman wrote:My major issue about the whole mature thing is the definition. Who are you to tell me that what I do is immature?

Which is of course why there is an age limit for voting, instead of a test or something. An age is at least objective, any test or set of requirements will bump into the "Who are you to set the requirements" problems.


We set standards for driving beyond simply age. Yes, age is a requirement in driving as well, but that likely has as much to do with the size of the driver as anything else. And for the most part, I think that people would agree that, at least where I'm from, the things in a driving test are good indicators of what makes a responsible driver. Whether or not the driver maintains the healthy driving technique detirmines whether or not he is a bad driver, but it is skill, not age, that allows a person to recieve a driver's license.

It may be a little Orwellian to test people for maturity, but aside from abuse or neglect, children get exactly as many rights as their parents and teachers allow them to have.

For loads of other things, we do use tests or even subjective measurements. When you apply for a job, people consider you "mature" if you succesfully passed a certain education, have certain experiences on your CV, and when they like how you behave.


A young adult may be hired based on his qualifications, but an older individual may be glossed over simply because he is old.

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Re: Ageism

Postby Amie » Sun Mar 14, 2010 7:23 pm UTC

While I hate defining the term "mature" and associating it to age, I think this system is the best we've got. It sucks because it leaves no room for measuring ONE individual's capacity but I think if we do away completely with having an age limit for things, a lot of things can go terribly wrong. Where I come from, 18 is pretty much the legal age after which you can drive, have sex and vote. For women, 18 is also the minimum marriageable age (21 for men). I don't know why there is this distinction. Does it mean women mature faster than men? I hate these age limits and whatever reasons are behind them but I also know that if these limits wouldn't be there, everything would be messier.

Ageism sucks but we can't do without it until someone comes up with something better.
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Re: Ageism

Postby PeterCai » Sun Mar 14, 2010 7:36 pm UTC

How about a standardized maturity test then? We already have that for a lot of things, might as well include sex and alcohol.

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Re: Ageism

Postby bentheimmigrant » Sun Mar 14, 2010 8:30 pm UTC

Ageism is arguably necessary when it comes to minimum ages - no matter what system is used it will be arbitrary in some way. The reason for ageism against older people is definitely a more complex subject. Is it simply a lack of respect, or a chance to have power over an age group that had for years been the superior of the perpetrator? Or is it borne out of the fear that the perpetrator will one day be old too?

I didn't have much of a problem with waiting for my drivers license, or to register to vote. I can only hope that I don't have to suffer too much ageism when I'm older, because I won't be able to accept that so readily.
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Re: Ageism

Postby Woopate » Mon Mar 15, 2010 4:01 am UTC

I think that it's difficult to test for something arbitrary like maturity, but not impossible. Nor is the government prevented from regulating things on a arbitrary standard (curse words on the radio, anyone?). If a maturity test is too difficult to formulate, perhaps a maturity certification, where 5 (or as many as necessary) mature non-family members (maybe even employers and teachers only) 'sign off' on the maturity of the individual. Once the person collects their signatures, he mails them off, and becomes 'mature'.

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Re: Ageism

Postby Entropy » Mon Mar 15, 2010 8:51 am UTC

Maturity seems like unnecessarily ambiguous terminology to be using. I think simple competence regarding the task in question is much more reasonable. For instance, you don't need to be mature to drive a car; you need to be tall enough to comfortably reach all of the controls and be able to demonstrate that you can follow the rules of the road. Likewise, you don't need to be mature to vote; you just need to have a clear understanding of the options that are being presented (I guess that's theoretical... I think it would be awesome if people who didn't understand what they were voting on were required to become educated first, but that's a different issue). You don't need to be mature to learn algebra... you just need to have an understanding of the prerequisites that the concepts are based on.

Why base things on age when it seems so straightforward to base them on competence?

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Re: Ageism

Postby Zamfir » Mon Mar 15, 2010 9:15 am UTC

Entropy wrote:Maturity seems like unnecessarily ambiguous terminology to be using. I think simple competence regarding the task in question is much more reasonable. For instance, you don't need to be mature to drive a car; you need to be tall enough to comfortably reach all of the controls and be able to demonstrate that you can follow the rules of the road. Likewise, you don't need to be mature to vote; you just need to have a clear understanding of the options that are being presented (I guess that's theoretical... I think it would be awesome if people who didn't understand what they were voting on were required to become educated first, but that's a different issue). You don't need to be mature to learn algebra... you just need to have an understanding of the prerequisites that the concepts are based on.

Why base things on age when it seems so straightforward to base them on competence?

I'd say your examples are each very different. No is setting an age limit to learning liner algebra. For driving, nearly any country sets both a competence test and an age limit. Neither is supposed to be sufficient in itself, and even passing both doesn't guarantee that you are safe enough to trust as user of the road. The implicit assumption of driving tests is that you will grow better after them, by practicing.

The voting limit is yet different again: this time, political groups will have a reason to meddle with a test. A party with many highly-educated voters might want to increase the difficulty of the test, and vice-versa.

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Re: Ageism

Postby Woopate » Mon Mar 15, 2010 9:57 am UTC

Zamfir wrote:
Entropy wrote:Maturity seems like unnecessarily ambiguous terminology to be using. I think simple competence regarding the task in question is much more reasonable. For instance, you don't need to be mature to drive a car; you need to be tall enough to comfortably reach all of the controls and be able to demonstrate that you can follow the rules of the road. Likewise, you don't need to be mature to vote; you just need to have a clear understanding of the options that are being presented (I guess that's theoretical... I think it would be awesome if people who didn't understand what they were voting on were required to become educated first, but that's a different issue). You don't need to be mature to learn algebra... you just need to have an understanding of the prerequisites that the concepts are based on.

Why base things on age when it seems so straightforward to base them on competence?

I'd say your examples are each very different. No is setting an age limit to learning liner algebra. For driving, nearly any country sets both a competence test and an age limit. Neither is supposed to be sufficient in itself, and even passing both doesn't guarantee that you are safe enough to trust as user of the road. The implicit assumption of driving tests is that you will grow better after them, by practicing.

The voting limit is yet different again: this time, political groups will have a reason to meddle with a test. A party with many highly-educated voters might want to increase the difficulty of the test, and vice-versa.


In all honesty, the right to vote is detirmined solely by age at present, wouldnt the simple "voter competency test" of "provide an argument for voting for the following parties" and a list of several parties be good enough? I mean, pretty much so long as none of the parties had "don't vote for this party" written beside it, you've detirmined that the person at least knows what each party represents, and acknowledges that each party has something to offer. Isn't that a sufficiently neutral test?

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Re: Ageism

Postby Zamfir » Mon Mar 15, 2010 10:14 am UTC

Woopate wrote:In all honesty, the right to vote is detirmined solely by age at present, wouldnt the simple "voter competency test" of "provide an argument for voting for the following parties" and a list of several parties be good enough? I mean, pretty much so long as none of the parties had "don't vote for this party" written beside it, you've detirmined that the person at least knows what each party represents, and acknowledges that each party has something to offer. Isn't that a sufficiently neutral test?


And if someone answers "This is the best party", or "I really like his suits" ? Or "I don't vote for f****n commies"?

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Re: Ageism

Postby bentheimmigrant » Mon Mar 15, 2010 10:22 am UTC

Woopate wrote:In all honesty, the right to vote is detirmined solely by age at present, wouldnt the simple "voter competency test" of "provide an argument for voting for the following parties" and a list of several parties be good enough? I mean, pretty much so long as none of the parties had "don't vote for this party" written beside it, you've detirmined that the person at least knows what each party represents, and acknowledges that each party has something to offer. Isn't that a sufficiently neutral test?



There is another question that should be considered here: Is it the place of the government to determine who is fit to vote? I'd say it has always been part of democracy that a fair portion of the voters don't actually have a good handle on the issues. It seems repulsive to me, but is that actually wrong? It's the individual's right to be as uneducated on the parties as they wish, and to vote for whomever they wish, using any methodology of choice - not just consideration. I'm sure there are some that will vote the green party purely because they like the colour. Is that to be made illegal? Can you quantify which parameters are essential in choosing your vote?
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Re: Ageism

Postby Entropy » Mon Mar 15, 2010 10:32 am UTC

Indeed, it seems absolutely wrong to me that someone should be allowed to participate in a decision that impacts other peoples lives without having any idea what they are doing. It seems just as wrong as allowing someone to practice medicine who has no understanding of medicine, but believes that the spirits will guide them in prescribing the right medication.

With regard to the voting test, I was thinking something more along the lines of:

Candidate A publicly supports which of the following policies?
[_] W
[_] X
[_] Y
[_] Z

Candidate B publicly supports which of the following policies?
[_] W
[_] X
[_] Y
[_] Z

And if you get those right then you get to vote for one of the candidates.
Or in the case of a local election where issues can be voted on directly:

If this issue is passed, which of the following effects would it have?
[_] W
[_] X
[_] Y
[_] Z

Naturally, all of these options would be legal facts about the issue being passed, rather than opinionated guesses about the future events that might result. And failing to pass this test would not disqualify you from voting... you would just have to retake the test until you passed it. Which would require educating yourself, even if only by trial and error.

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Re: Ageism

Postby Zamfir » Mon Mar 15, 2010 10:43 am UTC

bentheimmigrant wrote:I'd say it has always been part of democracy that a fair portion of the voters don't actually have a good handle on the issues. It seems repulsive to me, but is that actually wrong?

More important, how confident are you that you (or me) have a good enough handle on the issues? Every serious political issue has loads of smart people studying it full-time. If we're going to draw a line between "compentent" and "incompentent", why should amateurs like you and me be included in the "competent" area?

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Re: Ageism

Postby Entropy » Mon Mar 15, 2010 10:48 am UTC

Zamfir wrote:More important, how confident are you that you (or me) have a good enough handle on the issues? Every serious political issue has loads of smart people studying it full-time. If we're going to draw a line between "compentent" and "incompentent", why should amateurs like you and me be included in the "competent" area?

The test would not be about knowing the 'right' way to cast your vote. Competence would simply mean knowing exactly what you are voting for or against. There would be no requirement to know the probabilities of any indirect consequences that might result.

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Re: Ageism

Postby bentheimmigrant » Mon Mar 15, 2010 11:00 am UTC

Entropy wrote:The test would not be about knowing the 'right' way to cast your vote. Competence would simply mean knowing exactly what you are voting for or against. There would be no requirement to know the probabilities of any indirect consequences that might result.


But is it not the right of a person to remain uneducated? And if they choose to, do they lose their right as a citizen to vote? That is where the problem lies for me - it is their right to vote and to do it badly. Age simply gives the indication that they have reached a point in life where they can exercise that right (i.e. they have been through the education system and should therefore have the skills required to take in information and process it, and understand how government works).
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Re: Ageism

Postby Zamfir » Mon Mar 15, 2010 11:10 am UTC

Entropy wrote:
Zamfir wrote:More important, how confident are you that you (or me) have a good enough handle on the issues? Every serious political issue has loads of smart people studying it full-time. If we're going to draw a line between "compentent" and "incompentent", why should amateurs like you and me be included in the "competent" area?

The test would not be about knowing the 'right' way to cast your vote. Competence would simply mean knowing exactly what you are voting for or against. There would be no requirement to know the probabilities of any indirect consequences that might result.

Sure, but knowing exactly what you are voting for is seriously hard work. Did you read all legal proposals your favourite candidate has supported? Have you read the alternative proposals? Are you sure you understand every aspect of them?

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Re: Ageism

Postby bentheimmigrant » Mon Mar 15, 2010 11:21 am UTC

Zamfir wrote:Sure, but knowing exactly what you are voting for is seriously hard work. Did you read all legal proposals your favourite candidate has supported? Have you read the alternative proposals? Are you sure you understand every aspect of them?


And further, is the necessary understanding about the policies, or the ideology? Or something else again?

Also, I fear we are drifting away from the topic... So... Ageism. It's bad.
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Re: Ageism

Postby Woopate » Mon Mar 15, 2010 11:43 am UTC

Zamfir wrote:
Woopate wrote:In all honesty, the right to vote is detirmined solely by age at present, wouldnt the simple "voter competency test" of "provide an argument for voting for the following parties" and a list of several parties be good enough? I mean, pretty much so long as none of the parties had "don't vote for this party" written beside it, you've detirmined that the person at least knows what each party represents, and acknowledges that each party has something to offer. Isn't that a sufficiently neutral test?


And if someone answers "This is the best party", or "I really like his suits" ? Or "I don't vote for f****n commies"?


Children who can hold a pencil often can hold opinions as complex or well thought out as these opinions. Why can they not vote?

EDIT: In fact, a child can hold as complex an opinion as "Candidate A promised more candy, Candidate B promised more school. I don't like school, I like Candy. Candidate A it is".

If we're going to say we can't restrict people's votes based on how poorly thought out they are, how can we restrict votes to children on the argument that they are poorly thought out?

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Re: Ageism

Postby bentheimmigrant » Mon Mar 15, 2010 12:07 pm UTC

Woopate wrote:
Zamfir wrote:
Woopate wrote:In all honesty, the right to vote is detirmined solely by age at present, wouldnt the simple "voter competency test" of "provide an argument for voting for the following parties" and a list of several parties be good enough? I mean, pretty much so long as none of the parties had "don't vote for this party" written beside it, you've detirmined that the person at least knows what each party represents, and acknowledges that each party has something to offer. Isn't that a sufficiently neutral test?


And if someone answers "This is the best party", or "I really like his suits" ? Or "I don't vote for f****n commies"?


Children who can hold a pencil often can hold opinions as complex or well thought out as these opinions. Why can they not vote?

EDIT: In fact, a child can hold as complex an opinion as "Candidate A promised more candy, Candidate B promised more school. I don't like school, I like Candy. Candidate A it is".

If we're going to say we can't restrict people's votes based on how poorly thought out they are, how can we restrict votes to children on the argument that they are poorly thought out?



And this is the argument for age discrimination - after a certain age the person should have the ability to understand (as well as the experience and various rights that come with age) and therefore are considered able to vote. Age may be arbitrary, but it is not a bad guide.
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Re: Ageism

Postby Woopate » Mon Mar 15, 2010 12:47 pm UTC

bentheimmigrant wrote:
And this is the argument for age discrimination - after a certain age the person should have the ability to understand (as well as the experience and various rights that come with age) and therefore are considered able to vote. Age may be arbitrary, but it is not a bad guide.


That wasn't really my argument. If we restrict votes based upon age because young people lack the mental resources to hold a "valid" opinion on who should be responsible for the laws that govern them, why do we permit people who are older than this age who also lack the mental resources?

We do not allow young people to vote because of a lack of mental resources (experience, knowledge, reasoning skills), but the instant they reach a certain age, the reasons they were excluded from voting no longer matter. No measure is utilized to ensure they have acquired the mental resources. In fact, age is no measure of intelligence or reasoning whatsoever. This comic has even jokingly commented upon this (14 year old mathematicians being past their prime).

If what a person bases their vote on when they are older than the voting age doesn't matter, why does it matter before?

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Re: Ageism

Postby bentheimmigrant » Mon Mar 15, 2010 1:18 pm UTC

Woopate wrote:
bentheimmigrant wrote:
And this is the argument for age discrimination - after a certain age the person should have the ability to understand (as well as the experience and various rights that come with age) and therefore are considered able to vote. Age may be arbitrary, but it is not a bad guide.


That wasn't really my argument. If we restrict votes based upon age because young people lack the mental resources to hold a "valid" opinion on who should be responsible for the laws that govern them, why do we permit people who are older than this age who also lack the mental resources?

We do not allow young people to vote because of a lack of mental resources (experience, knowledge, reasoning skills), but the instant they reach a certain age, the reasons they were excluded from voting no longer matter. No measure is utilized to ensure they have acquired the mental resources. In fact, age is no measure of intelligence or reasoning whatsoever. This comic has even jokingly commented upon this (14 year old mathematicians being past their prime).

If what a person bases their vote on when they are older than the voting age doesn't matter, why does it matter before?


We all seem to agree that some kind of system is needed for determining when certain rights (voting, driving, etc.) should be conferred, but is there really an adequate competence test which could be instituted to replace age as a requirement? The point of it is that at a certain age the majority should be able to handle that right - there will always be outliers, but to force a competence test on people, especially for voting, seems to be going in the direction of breaking up society into those that are able and those that aren't in a more destructive way than "happy birthday, here's your voter registration card."
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Re: Ageism

Postby Chen » Mon Mar 15, 2010 3:06 pm UTC

Even in a "simple" question like "what policy does X candidate support" I'm pretty sure you can effect the voters depending entirely on how you write out the "policies". Imagine something like abortion. You could write it as "Candidate A is for allowing women to choose whether or not to abort a fetus" compared to "Candidate A is for allowing women to terminate their unborn children". Both are close to the same thing, though the latter will almost certainly evoke more emotions than the former. Any type of bias, one way or another can be used to try and direct how voters are to vote. Its extremely difficult to come up with a "fair" set of questions and answers for people to choose from.

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Re: Ageism

Postby Entropy » Mon Mar 15, 2010 4:12 pm UTC

bentheimmigrant wrote:But is it not the right of a person to remain uneducated?

I would think not... at least in the United States, public education or some alternative is compulsory.

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Re: Ageism

Postby JBJ » Mon Mar 15, 2010 4:54 pm UTC

Entropy wrote:
bentheimmigrant wrote:But is it not the right of a person to remain uneducated?

I would think not... at least in the United States, public education or some alternative is compulsory.

Correct. Education is compulsory up to age 14-17 (varies by state). Literacy tests were used for a period of time, but were severely abused. They were struck down in the 60's during the civil rights movement. Still, literacy is a tacit qualification for voting rights. Since education is mandatory and literacy is still a requirement for naturalization, it is assumed that everyone who can vote is literate.
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Re: Ageism

Postby bentheimmigrant » Mon Mar 15, 2010 6:02 pm UTC

JBJ wrote:
Entropy wrote:
bentheimmigrant wrote:But is it not the right of a person to remain uneducated?

I would think not... at least in the United States, public education or some alternative is compulsory.

Correct. Education is compulsory up to age 14-17 (varies by state). Literacy tests were used for a period of time, but were severely abused. They were struck down in the 60's during the civil rights movement. Still, literacy is a tacit qualification for voting rights. Since education is mandatory and literacy is still a requirement for naturalization, it is assumed that everyone who can vote is literate.


And the right to vote comes after the compulsory education, after which time it is purely by choice.
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Re: Ageism

Postby Entropy » Mon Mar 15, 2010 6:59 pm UTC

That's true, that's the way it is right now. What makes that a good thing?

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Re: Ageism

Postby bentheimmigrant » Mon Mar 15, 2010 10:01 pm UTC

Entropy wrote:That's true, that's the way it is right now. What makes that a good thing?


Nothing makes it a good thing. But that doesn't make it bad either. Are you asking for a moral justification for it? It is more utilitarian - people must have the right to vote for a democracy to function (or to perform any tasks for a given aspect of society to function), but it is obvious that not all rights should be granted immediately at birth. There should therefore be a way to distinguish when a person can obtain certain rights, and an age limit is the simplest. In that way, it may be considered good. There are obvious draw-backs, but there will be no system that does not have something in the "cons" column. And weighing them against each other would be entirely subjective. Age presents a reasonably unbiased system that is not open to abuse.

Being able to remain intellectually unfit to exercise your rights properly is a freedom of a developed society. Hopefully the driving force of wanting to vote in your own best interest will lead individuals to educate themselves (although Bush did get elected twice), but I feel that requiring them to would be arrogant and intrusive. Now, these principles change in a situation such as driving, where an unfit person is an immediate danger to those around them, but in terms of voting, who are we to determine what grounds a person should use to vote?
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Re: Ageism

Postby Entropy » Mon Mar 15, 2010 10:06 pm UTC

I would argue that voting irresponsibly can put people in as much danger as driving or practicing medicine. The danger simply isn't as immediate.

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Re: Ageism

Postby bentheimmigrant » Mon Mar 15, 2010 10:22 pm UTC

Entropy wrote:I would argue that voting irresponsibly can put people in as much danger as driving or practicing medicine. The danger simply isn't as immediate.


Again, it is their right to vote the way they want to. I'm not saying I advocate voting irresponsibly, but to force people to go through some kind of test is not justifiable in my book. I can only see it serving to put off those who think it's not worth the hassle, further reducing the voter turnout, and becoming a major contention point for partisans. And do you believe that there are enough ignorant voters (actual politics aside) to put a dangerous party in power accidentally? And by ignorant I mean those who do not understand basic civics or just a position or two of the main parties (remember how few people are actually motivated enough to vote as well). I'd say those percentages would be fairly small. As I said, one of the main ideas of a democracy is that it encourages self-education in order to vote in your own best interest. The point of the age restriction is trying to find a point where the majority are capable of doing this.

I fear we are in danger of going a long way off topic...
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