Blog: Age and qualification

Age and qualification
Age and qualification
Date: 2019-Oct-31 23:20:49 EST

Broadly, I am comfortable with some paternalism in our laws and institution, when it serves a valuable societal end. Recently I spotted a Twitter quiz asking people to think about age minimums for various things. And so, some thoughts.

  • Having sex - I think there's a valuable interest in preventing disparities of power from entering sex, and recognising that in many areas of life, youth are uniquely vulnerable to disparities of power (or of their rights). We may not be able to lock away all disparities, but locking them out of certain areas of life is worth trying. And so, knowing that law is a blunt tool, I advocate that the state broadly forbid consensual sexual relations between people over 21 and people under 18.
  • Getting a tattoo - This is generally reversible without too much difficulty (even though reversal can be unpleasant); with that understood, I don't think we need an age limit (although if any forms are particularly difficult to reverse, revisiting this may be desirable)
  • Produce sexual video content - I don't think we can prevent its production by individuals acting alone, but we should try to prevent any hosting for a broad audience or recompense. We are loathe to censor private collections of any kind of content, but preventing an industry from forming around this (which would incentivise commercial production) is a valuable and achievable end
  • Be able to consume porn (of any kind) - No limits. This is not harmful.
  • Voting - This is part of being a full citizen, which should coincide with an age where people have full legal rights and are believed to be financially independent. I am comfortable with this being a higher age than 18 in order to achieve these ends, although I believe "practice" voting, with results tallied but not effective, should begin much earlier to establish the habits of good citizenship.
  • Marriage - I believe the minimum age for marriage should also be tied to being a full citizen, and even more importantly should be at an age where people are already financially independent from any caretaker. I realise this contrasts with some traditional cultures, and am enthused about breaking those traits of those cultures.
  • Buy alcohol - Same as consume alcohol. No age limits. I believe waiting until 18 lessens responsibility people feel, as people are beginning to leave their family nest and are already facing too many new responsibilities. Best to get this one in earlier.
  • Join army - Again, should be contingent on being a full citizen, and dependent on the freedom from influence that comes from being financially independent.
  • Drive a car - I think this can come a bit earlier than being a full citizen, but the responsibility people take when getting behind the wheel (and potential from harm that comes from bad judgement rather than malice) means that I'd like to set the age on this one at 16 or 18.
  • Get hormonal treatment for transitioning - I don't believe the state should recognise transitioning and should define gender in terms of genetics (that said, businesses should not be able to refuse to hire people based on these claims). That said, once someone is fully financially independent, they can do what they like with their body (although I believe no healthcare plans should cover this)