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Continuing in the spirit of my previous essay it’s fair to say that both ends of voter age distribution possess distorted incentives. Generally, due to being relatively insulated from the direct or immediate consequences of spendthrift policies. If the tendency of the elderly voting blocs and young voters is to skew towards fiscal profligacy, the question becomes what age group constitutes the ideal demographic for economically responsible voting behavior? I would contend the 35 to 65 age demographics would be the best answer. Why? By the age of 35, most people are being taxed, they own property, and have outgrown their phase quixotic idealism. Again, like anything else in this world, there are expectations.  Homeownership is slightly down among Millennials when compared to previous generations (metric being homeownership by age 30). The ideal age ceiling for voting rights of approximately 65 is self-explanatory. Once a person starts receiving Social Security it only stands to pervert their policy preferences. However, if the age for Social Security eligibility were to be increased, I would say that the ideal maximum voter age would also increase. Within this age span, there is a thirty-year period where the average voter would have their incentives properly aligned. Versus being easily swindled by lofty promises of “free” services.

Creating a firm age requirement does have quite a few flaws. It does not account for individuals differences. For example, a 23-year old business/homeowner has more of a stake in matters of taxation than the 32-year old who lives in his mother’s basement. Age restrictions obtusely apply a blanket rule that is insensitive to circumstantial differences. Being somewhat sympathetic to the concept of Rothbardian homesteading, it’s hard to perceive a chronological age as being the main qualifying factor for voter competency. There certainly is a correlation between the two. In an attempt to acknowledge differences in individuals’ capacity for sound voting behavior it would be reasonable to provide procedures for opt-in and opt-out exceptions to the 35-65 age range.

Voter opt-in Requirements Under the age of 35

  • Must not have been claimed as a dependent by parent/guardian on the previous year’s income taxes.
  • Qualified Voters under the age of 35 years of age must meet the following criterion
  • Own a house, condominium, Townhouse, or plot of land exceeding $25,000.00 in value.
  •  If qualifying under the property ownership contingency  tax documentation is required.
  • If a prospective voter, does not own property but is a proprietor of a business or owns 25 % or more shares in a company they can qualify to vote.
  • Owning $50,000 or more in assets including but not limited to Precious metals (gold, silver), valuable jewels (diamonds, rubies, etc.), stock shares, government bonds, or equivalent amount in an IRA, 401k account, or other variety of privately funded retirement savings plan.
  • Must have not received any benefits from any public assistance programs (WICC, Snap, section 8 housing, etc.) within the past 2 consecutive years. This does not include the collection of unemployment benefits.
  • Those who have declared bankruptcy within the past five years are ineligible to vote if under the age of 35 years of age.
  • Voting rights are extended to those who are married or in a common-law marriage (under state law) if their spouse qualifies under the above criteria. Providing a prenuptial agreement was not signed before marriage.

Retaining Voting Rights If over 65.

  • A senior citizen can retain their status as an eligible voter if they decline to collect Social Security benefits. This opt-out decision will be penalty-free. However, if a senior citizen over the age of 65 wishes to collect Social Security benefits, they effectively relinquish their legal right to vote.

Author’s Note:  Please note that the above is not a formal or serious policy proposal. Rather a theoretical exercise in what such a proposal would look like and be designed to curtail the incentive problems faced by younger and older voters. I realize there the above-detailed contingencies are vague, riddled with loopholes, and are shallow in scope. Not to mention inherently discriminatory and to some extend illiberal (in the classical sense of the phrase). Not to mention most likely illegal. Please interpret this blog entry as an intellectual exercise.

7 thoughts on “What is the Ideal Age for a Voter?

  1. It seems that restricting voting privileges to certain groups is greatly needed. The modern young voter is generally not interested in voting for candidates or policy that is economically sound, but rather, as you so rightly noted, for political efforts that claim they would specifically benefit their demographic. This willingness to act in our selfish interest seems to be a sometimes irrepressible behavioral proclivity of human nature. People that are working, sharing the tax burden, or contributing in any other major way to the maintenance of the economy ought to be able to vote. While those who are contributing nothing should not.

    Great thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I certainly agree with you on this one. It turns into a “tragedy of the commons” scenario. I am applying a little bit of artistic license with applying this concept. It generally is applied to resource depletion.

      However, public expenditures are something of a commons. No one person technically (per se) owns all of the collected tax revenues in the meaningful sense of the term of “ownership”. Regardless, due to there being no sense of ownership or “skin-in-the-game” people are more apt to be irresponsible fiscally in terms of implementing costly government programs. The aggregated collective of tax dollars and lack of clarity of tax allocation (fiscal illusion) creates the illusion of these programs being “free”, disconnecting any perceivable sense of responsibility.

      This disconnect is even greater for those who do not yet or no longer meaningfully contribute to the tax pool. Due to this disconnect between spending and taxation, voters are willing to take on more debt. Even pass fiscal obligations incurred through profligate spending on to the next generation.

      A great analogy here is a public restroom. Few people would trash and deface their own bathroom. A bathroom at a gas station, who cares?! It isn’t their bathroom. Few (sensible and reasonable) people would manage their finances they way the government handles its annual budgets. Even fewer would allow self-interested ( who are immune to the long-term consequences)people and organization telling them how to manage their money

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A public restroom or a rental car. Both effectively convey how careless and irresponsible (sometimes unknowingly) voters can be when they “fall for”, so to speak, political initiatives that enact economically disadvantageous policies. Imposed rent ceilings might be one.

    Also, side question : what do you think of Thomas Sowell’s economic philosophy?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are very much correct ( at least from my understanding of things).

      As for Thomas Sowell, I tend to have favorable view of him. He’s arguable one of the best debaters I have ever seen. I lean more towards economists that are market-oriented.

      However, in terms of political economy I favor an odd mix between the Austrian School and Public Choice Theory. The perspective out of the University of Chi is usually on the money. It’s difficult to put find a lot of complaints about George Stigler, Thomas Sowell, Gary Becker, Milton Friedman, even further back Frank Knight.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for the insight. I am presently exploring various perspectives from a very narrow selection of market-oriented economists. I intend to broaden my scope sooner or later, perhaps to included a little bit of Keynes or Marx (although I probably would have a difficult time reading either of them with a serious attitude).

        Liked by 1 person

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