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Discussion point: which little Guardian to believe?

Cartoons depict a character wrestling with his conscience by placing a little devil on one shoulder whispering sweet temptations into one ear while a little angel urges rectitude from the other side.

The Guardian says,

The Guardian view on 16-year-old soldiers: armies are for adults

But as Guido points out, the Guardian also says,

The Guardian view on the voting age: time to lower it to 16

Which little Guardian is the angel, which the devil?

I could have just asked you at what age you think children should become adults, but the two little Guardians united to demand their moment of fame. Perhaps both of them should be ignored and there should be no fixed age of adulthood. History provides no guide. From the twelve year old boys who served as “powder monkeys” during naval battles in the age of sail, to the Roman man who remained under the authority of his father for as long as the latter lived, every extreme of custom has seemed natural to those that lived under it.

Are there any oddities of law relating to the age at which young people can first do a given activity that particularly annoy you?

Can you see any way in which fourteen year olds could be stopped from buying hard drugs without the use of law? Or do you dispute that they should be stopped at all?

23 comments to Discussion point: which little Guardian to believe?

  • Chip

    16 year olds who join the military would experience personal responsibility and any costs of their decision.

    16 year olds who vote have no responsibilities and pass the costs of their votes to others who do.

    That’s The Guardian for you.

  • Gavin Longmuir

    Many cultures had a formal transition after which a person was considered an adult. Long time ago, I recall an article by a high school driving instructor suggesting that teenagers getting their driving licenses was as close as we come to that today. And now that the young generation does not drive (No need. Uber!), even that has gone away.

    We have an incoherent system where a female in the US will have difficulties buying cigarettes until she is 25, can legally drink at 21, is considered mature enough to have sex and/or vote at 18, can get married in some States at 16, can get a learner’s driving permit at 15, and get an abortion at any age. It makes no sense!

    And the worst feature is that at no age does she have to make a decision about whether she wants to become a citizen, or to prove that she is worthy of citizenship. That most important responsibility/right is automatic at birth.

    A more sensible situation would have citizenship be earned (not tied directly to any specific age, since people mature at different rates), and then have smoking, drinking, sex, voting, driving be part of the rewards of citizenship. Never going to happen, of course.

  • Paul Marks

    The raving insanity of the “Guardian” is the logic end point of the education system.

    The madness of the “Guardian” is far more extreme than, say, the madness of most top bureaucrats (government or business bureaucrats) – but it is the logical end point.

    If you want to see the future of the “liberal” West (“liberal” NOT liberal) then read the madness of the Guardian – but be careful. “Those who look into the void too long, find it looks back into them”.

  • TomJ

    Many people who want the British Armed Forces recruiting age raised say it’s wrong to send 26 and 17 year olds to war and seem quite surprised to be told that the Services agree and don’t send under 18s on Ops. Case in point; I was serving in the Gulf in the nid-noughties on an air station several countries away from the hostilities. A technical team from the UK was sent out to support my lads for a particular task which included one very young lad who was getting ribbed about his age. Once I realised the joshing wasn’t because he looked under 18 but really was only 17, he was sent straight to wait for the next flight back to UK, bumping someone due to head back for R&R. Someone on his unit had wrongly assumed that because we were a long way from any actual fighting, his age didn’t matter; in theatre this was strongly disagreed with and the only thing that would had had higher priority to get on a flight back would have been a medevac.

  • pete

    There is nothing odd about the left’s desire to see the voting age lowered to 16 and its calls for ever more rules and regulations about young people’s protection.

    They want youngsters to vote so they will help elect a Labour government which will shower money on public employees like themselves, and they want as many jobs as possible in child protection because they are the ones who will be doing them for amenable wages and excellent public sector terms and conditions.

    Follow the money.

  • Pat

    The quality required of an ordinary soldier is the ability to follow orders.
    The quality required to drink, smoke, get an artificial tan, sign contracts etc. is the ability to make decisions for oneself.
    The quality required of a voter is the ability to make decisions that affect others. This emerges some time after experience following orders, and after experience making decisions for oneself.
    So whatever the age appropriate for military service it should be significantly lower than the age for voting.
    Similarly whatever the age for taking decisions for oneself it should be lower than the age for taking decisions that affect others.
    Hence the right to vote should be the last age-related right granted.
    And that still applies if the right is granted after a test rather than at some arbitrary age.

  • Stonyground

    The problem with having a test to decide who is allowed to vote is that it is too easy for the authorities to game it so that only the correct people get to vote.

  • Deep Lurker

    It’s simple. The Guardian doesn’t want young adults to vote; it wants children to vote while remaining children. This advances the project of treating everyone like children (except, of course, for the Good and Wise, who get to act like nannies toward those children of 20-100+).

  • neonsnake

    whatever the age for taking decisions for oneself it should be lower than the age for taking decisions that affect others.

    That feels pretty sensible, at least at first blush.

    At 18, this means that (at least), you’ve had to live with the consequences of decisions about staying on at school vs taking A-Levels, and which A-Levels. Very small thing, but at least it’s a small lesson in making choices and facing the consequences of them.

  • Rob

    Well, it despises the Army, so any criticism or restriction on it is natural for them. They’d oppose 25 year olds joining.

    They want votes for 16 year olds because they know they are vastly more likely to vote Left not Right.

    An interesting one is what age they think girls can have an abortion without parental consent. It will be much, much younger than 16.

  • John

    The ability to accept and fulfill responsibility is essential to becoming a full adult. As parents and mentors (like my role as a sports coach) we must present opportunities for kids to learn in little bits that do not cause life-long consequences, little successes and little failures they can learn from. Kids, my own included, learn at different rates. One of mine was ready for any and all adult privileges around 16 while another is just getting there in her 30s. It seems that progression to adulthood takes longer nowadays, as evidenced by the every increasing average age of marriage.

  • David Norman

    I agree that the Guardian wants to give votes to 16 year olds because it thinks, probably rightly, that they will vote for the left. Personally, like Gavin Longmuir, I think there is much to be said for moving in the opposite direction; I don’t think people who need safe spaces to protect them from hearing the opinions of those they disagree with can plausibly maintain that they are mature enough to have the vote. So, picking an age, 22 or 23 seems about right.

  • Jim

    One of the odd anomalies that has arisen in recent years (in the UK at least) due to the near ubiquity of recording devices is that a pair of 16 or 17 year old lovers can legally indulge in any sort of sexual behaviour they like, but should one of them take a picture or video during such activity they are then guilty of creating child porn…………16 and 17 years olds do not appear to have the right to take images of their own bodies when involved in perfectly legal consensual sexual activity or even while naked alone.

  • Stephen Houghton

    The way to solve this is by choice.

    Between 13-20 a person can, with the consent of their guardian, take an oath of responsibility and become and adult with all the freedom over themselves that implies. At 21 they can take it without their guardian’s consent.

    After two years, they can take and

  • Stephen W. Houghton II

    he way to solve this is by choice.

    Between 13-20 a person can, with the consent of their guardian, take an oath of responsibility and become and adult with all the freedom over themselves that implies. At 21 they can take it without their guardian’s consent.

    After two years, assuming no felony, they can take an oath of allegiance an become nationals with one vote for the lower house of the legislature and one vote for president, and the ability but not duty to serve on juries.

    After two more years, assuming no felony they can pay a small (1 ounce of silver) head tax, register for conscription, and register for jury duty and take the oath of citizenship and get two votes for both houses of the legislature and the preisdent.

    Citizens could then earn additional votes for upper house of the legislature for: a defined term of service in the active (3years), reserve (5 Years)or militia(10 years) forces of the republic, up to five additional votes; for paying the voluntary income tax not to exceed 10% or twice or trice the amount for 2 or 3 votes; raise a child who grows up to be a citizen.

    This would but the upper house firmly in the hands of those who showed civic virtue, by being willing to voluntarily bare the burden of paying for the expense of the state.

  • Gavin Longmuir

    Stephen W. the Second — What is fascinating is that there are many solutions to our current problems, such your proposals. Most of them are simply logical extensions of systems that human societies have used in the past. Yet we all know that nothing practical will be done, even as our societies crumble around us.

    The history of the years between WWI and WWII is fascinating. Lord Keynes (not a nobody) wrote a book in 1919 explaining why the Treaty of Versailles practically guaranteed another war. Many people in those years were jumping up & down warning of the coming cataclysm of WWII — and yet too little was done to head off the clearly visible approaching conflict.

    After the future collapse, historians in the 22nd Century will have no problem filling volumes with unambiguous contemporaneous warnings from the early 21st Century about the inevitable negative consequences of growing governmental over-spending & over-regulation and creation of a growing over-dependent class of people. And yet nothing serious is being done to change course. Sad!

  • ns

    August 28, 2019 at 9:05 am
    The problem with having a test to decide who is allowed to vote is that it is too easy for the authorities to game it so that only the correct people get to vote.

    Exactly. Whoever scores the test decides who gets to vote. This also is the problem with Stephen W. Houghton II’s suggestions; eventually contributing to or working for the correct political party, or similar civic contributions (reporting on climate deniers, or deplorables, or brexiteers perhaps?) would earn another vote. There would also be affirmative action votes awarded for the ‘oppressed’, with extras for all the victim categories one could check off.
    I’m not saying it is a bad idea, it would have to be very robust, not subject to easy change by the electorate or government.

  • neonsnake

    the correct political party, or similar civic contributions

    Yep. Well said – the minute we say that, is the minute we say that Jacob Rees Mogg can allow who is to vote.

    Which is not what we want.

  • Runcie Balspune

    I’ve always wondered why you can fly a plane with passengers at 17 but have to wait until 24 to drive a bus with passengers.

  • the minute we say that, is the minute we say that Jacob Rees Mogg can allow who is to vote. Which is not what we want. (neonsnake, August 28, 2019 at 9:06 pm)

    The temptation was to reply, “Speak for yourself, sir.” 🙂 However I then remembered the wise remark of a founding father (Thomas Jefferson, I think):

    If the people become inattentive on business, you and I will become ravening wolves.

    It is not easy to envision Jacob Rees-Mogg as a ravening wolf, but maybe you’re omitting his hyphen could do it. 🙂

    On a more serious note, we should consider what degree of hypothetical right-oriented vote qualification would match the left’s “import voters” fraud before we could say they were now equally bad, so yet more deciding who could vote would make the right worse?

  • neonsnake

    The temptation was to reply, “Speak for yourself, sir.” 🙂

    I could equally have said Caroline Lucas, and left the rest of the sentence unchanged; my sentiment would remain the same.

  • Rich Rostrom

    Item: any soldier who ranks above private has to give as well as obey orders. And in any modern army, even a private will have to act independently, on his own judgment, on many occasions.

    Item: the Royal Navy had midshipmen in their teens; they were considered officers and expected to exercise command as needed.

    In the 1970s period drama Upstairs, Downstairs, in 1917 widowed paterfamilias Richard Bellamy, then working at the Admiralty, meets Navy widow Virginia Hamilton in connection with a Navy charity. Later she asks him for help, when her midshipman son Michael is court-martialed. His torpedo boat came under fire, and the other officers were all killed. Michael is charged with dereliction of duty as commanding officer; he is then 17.

    However: the armed forces may accept an underage recruit, but they don’t do so automatically. And the recruit’s performance is observed; if he fails, he can be discharged. Whereas a voter is automatically enfranchised, and answers to no one for his votes.

    And of course, a recruit undergoes rigorous and intensive training before performing any actual military tasks, whereas a voter gets no formal instruction at all.

  • TDK

    If you live with a parent or an institution that acts in loco parentis, you are not an adult. Perhaps extending this – if you are financially dependent on a parent or an institution that acts in loco parentis, you are not an adult.

    Now there are difficulties of enacting such a system, but autonomy should be the fundamental principle behind granting the vote. The fairest method may be to locate the age for which this becomes true for 50%+1 of a cohort and making that the age of qualification.

    It won’t be 16 or 18.