The cult of youth, beginning with JFK, is exemplified by Tony Blair’s admission that he has learned a lot since 2007 that would have been useful to him as Prime Minister and by David Cameron’s incredible assertion that deficit reduction is proving more difficult than he expected.
We should not indulge that cult further by reducing the voting age (Letters, 24 August).
Mark Twain’s remark is pertinent: “When I was 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around, but when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.”
It is not patronising but realistic to acknowledge that teenagers are adolescents – literally “in the process of developing from a child into an adult”.
Their brains are still maturing, until 25, according to recent expert research.
Of course, some are responsible, informed citizens and some 50-year-olds are not, but many of us are appalled recalling our 16-year-old selves; in one relevant example of irresponsible greed, a survey in 2010 found a majority of late teenagers in support of downloading music without paying royalties.
Should 16-year-olds drive cars and HGVs, buy tobacco and alcohol, gamble in betting shops, get tattooed and serve on juries? If not, why not, if they are deemed mature enough to vote?
If 16, why not 14? Rather than reducing the age, we should increase the minimum age to 20 for all these and for voting, marriage and combat service; and to 30 for councillors, 40 for MPs, and 50 for prime ministers and top bankers.
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