Saturday, November 17, 2012

Parents should be able to vote on behalf of their children.

Representative governments, quite rightly, do not allow children to vote.  This is not because they are not members of society, or because they do not have an interest in how society is formed, but because they lack the knowledge, experience, and judgment to make decisions that accurately express their interests, e.g., a great number of children would reject compulsory education.  However, just because a child cannot express their interests, does not mean that their interests should be wholly disregarded, as they are now.

You might argue that the parents' express their children's interest.  However, a parent and a childless adult have exactly the same electoral impact; as the saying goes, "one man, one vote."  It doesn't matter if that adult is representing the interests of no children or ten children, only a single ballot is cast.  Thus the electorate is skewed to over-represent the interests of those who have already achieved adulthood.

What if children were given the vote by proxy?  What if the vote of a child was divided among the parent(s)/legal guardian(s) to cast?  What if my wife and I were to cast five ballots between us, one for each member of the family?

Here is how I predict society would change:

1.  Economically, the country would move slightly to the left.  Parents with minor children are younger, poorer, and more ethnically diverse than the United States as a whole.  Redistributive policies, for obvious reasons, would be immensely more popular.  However, they also have a long-term interest in a functioning society, so that would temper the more radical proposals.

2.  The social safety net would shift dramatically younger.  Rather than older voters defending Social Security and Medicare, redistributive programs would focus more on schools, daycare, flexible work schedules, paid leave, etc.  (I argue that this would produce a better economy, as a retiree is not economically productive, and is not going to be, so providing them with additional resources is comparatively  wasteful.)

3.  Socially, the country would move slightly to the right.  Only slightly, because though parents tend to be far more in favor of law and order (see: the zero tolerance policies at schools), and though socially conservative people tend to have more children, young adults are far more likely to end up in prison.  You may end up with increased enforcement all around, but shorter prison terms--they want "them" punished, but they want their's back.

And remember, the children of parents pay the Social Security benefits for the childless, so quit whining.

4 Comments:

Blogger Yoel Natan said...

Good idea. I've been thinking that the problems with our country stems from too many people voting who have no children and grandchildren, and thus little interest in who the country will fare beyond their lifetime. Those voting for the Republican jobs "uber alles" approach to governance are mislead since some redistribution is necessary to maintain a healthy society.

Our country ran into its most serious self-caused problems after whites starting having only 1.6 children per woman--below the 2.1 replacement rate--in the 1970s. When they had 3 cpw during the so-called Baby Boom, things were better. Likewise, leading up up the Great Depression there was a huge drop in the birth rate all through the 1920s. Now the news is reporting that France has a higher birth rate than the US (even when including the Hispanics):

US historical birth rate:
http://familyinequality.wordpress.com/2010/09/01/receding-birth-rates-milestone-or-tipping-point/
=======
America's fertility rate falling, now lower than France's:

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865560796/Americas-fertility-rate-falling-now-lower-than-Frances.html?pg=all
-----------
Germany to impose tax on the young to help the old
Germany is poised to impose extra taxes on the young to pay for the costs of the country's growing numbers of old people under government plans for a "demographic reserve" levy.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/germany/9186111/Germany-to-impose-tax-on-the-young-to-help-the-old.html

11:28 PM  
Blogger Noumenon said...

I agree that children need more representation in the system, but I think this representation is most needed against their parents, who already exercise near-total control over their lives and prospects. I don't think giving them their own votes would damage the system much. First, voting your own self-interest is not much practiced nor very effective. Second, I think giving children a voice to oppose compulsory schooling would be a very positive thing, just as adults are happy to be able to oppose compulsory taxes. School as it exists is more to adults' benefit than to children's, even including their future selves.

Besides old people, this policy is to the detriment of men. If 40% of babies are born to single mothers, all of those votes are going to women. I don't mind having my vote diluted to give it to a powerless and oppressed class like children, but when it's just going to different groups of adults then I'm the one who feels oppressed.

Remember, voting doesn't really matter: children still won't be politically active, they won't have their own leaders or interest groups, you can't raise funds from them. There's very little harm in giving them the vote directly, and it will have 90% of the same effect as children are sadly very easy for their parents to propagandize.

4:00 AM  
Blogger Noumenon said...

@Yoel Natan

The future orientation of parents with kids has its own flaws. People are far more competitive about status for their kids than for themselves, leading to situations where a perfectly safe and comfortable country feels the need to maintain a dominant military and economic hegemony just out of the fear that someday, some other country might usurp their children's privilege. They're also responsible for any developments caused by population pressure.

I would have to think that the relative fertility during the '70s and the baby boom was caused by economic good times, not the reverse. The '20s, perhaps more of a bubble than a boom.

4:10 AM  
Blogger Octavo Dia said...

@Noumenon

Having some person experience with adjudicating this, it would depend on the presumption of custody laws in the place of the child's birth. Most localities presume that a child born out of wedlock is in the joint custody of the parents.


Remember, voting doesn't really matter: children still won't be politically active, they won't have their own leaders or interest groups, you can't raise funds from them. There's very little harm in giving them the vote directly, and it will have 90% of the same effect as children are sadly very easy for their parents to propagandize.

Children are much easier for the schools to propagandize than for parents. From what I have seen of public schools, if you give children the right to vote directly, you'd have a far left swing in the electorate. Also panis et circenses.

9:55 PM  

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