Age discrimination

I agree that what Chris proposes sounds basically fair. I'm still
uncomfortable with using an age-based ruler to measure maturity; I
think a standard ought to be established independently of any age
considerations. In practice I wouldn't mind the establishment of a
standard that amounts to a requirement of a similar level of maturity
to that of an average person in her late teens, but I feel that the
history of government age-discrimination makes any standard that is
formally tied to age extremely troublesome.

Yours in liberty,
          <<< Starchild >>>

Thanks, Chris. I don't dispute that it's a tricky issue; it's enough
to make me question the validity of the concept of rights. If we're
going to keep the language of rights, I don't think there's a problem
with parents setting limits on their children's behavior, so long as
the children have the right to leave, which they currently don't. The
exercise of rights often involves for adults the use of more expert
agents--lawyers, accountants, etc.; we might simply expect that to be
more the case for children. Your compromise is not a bad one, and
certainly an important improvement over the status quo.

From: Christopher R. Maden [mailto:crism@maden.org]
Sent: Monday, March 01, 2004 4:00 PM
To: lpsf-discuss@yahoogroups.com
Subject: [lpsf-discuss] Age discrimination

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Ron Getty suggested that anyone over 18 should be allowed to get
married,
and that triggered one of Mike Acree's personal top causes: age
discrimination.

It's a tricky issue. A 10-year-old is certainly a human being, and
should
have full human rights. But are they responsible enough to exercise
those
rights? With an adult, we say that they take the consequences for
their
own actions. But what if a 10-year-old wants to go play with loaded
firearms in the town square, and their parents don't want them to? Or
if
the 10-year-old wants to drink Drano?

I suggest a compromise. Everyone, at age 18, is responsible for
themselves. Some may be incompetent at that age; it will be up to
private
charity (possible parents and friends, possibly shelters and soup
kitchens)
to care for those people. However, before age 18, any person can
apply to
a court for recognition of majority; if they can demonstrate maturity
equal
to that of an average 18-year-old (which really is not that hard), then
they become legally responsible for their own actions. That also means
that their parents are no longer obligated to care for them; they
certainly
may continue to do so, but if the child is starving, the parents are
not
liable for neglect.

The default threshold can be argued; 16 might make sense too. But I
really
don't think most 10-year-olds are truly capable of making responsible
decisions in their own self-interest. The taekwon do students I have
of
that age frequently have difficulty making even short-term rational
decisions.

~Chris
- --
Chris Maden, Libertarian for California State Assembly
District 12, San Francisco, 2004
Individual Freedom - Personal Responsibility - Prosperity for All
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