On matters of family concern — such as what kind of carry-out food to pick up on a given evening — long ago we (ok, it was the parents) settled on a simple system: everybody gets as many votes as they are years old. When the kids were young this meant that they could tip the balance, if Mom and Dad were in disagreement. In fact, if nobody else had a strong opinion any individual child might well have the deciding vote. But if both parents were in harmony then they formed a strong age-weighted majority, and no amount of youthful exuberance could overrule them — even though there were three of them and only two of us.

This seemed fair and reasonable (at least to those who paid the bills!). As the kids got older they got an increasing amount of influence on the final decision.

Looking at the problems of current politics, in this and many other countries around the world, age-weighted voting might not be a bad method to try in the larger public arena. In principle, citizens should keep learning as they grow older. They certainly should acquire personal experience over the years, and should be better-equipped to see through outrageous lies on the part of politicians. As they mature, voters might well be less subject to influence by advertisements and other political propagandizing — thereby lessening the influence of big money on the electoral process. And ideally, people nearing the final years of their lives should bring a broader perspective to events. They should be better able to think about not just the immediate and local effect of governmental policies, but rather the long-term multigenerational impact.

We already have a crude form of age-weighted voting: anyone younger than 18 gets zero votes. A linearly increasing voice in the public arena makes far more sense than an arbitrary step-function!

(see also MakeMoneyWhisper (9 Nov 2002), CampaignReform (30 Dec 2003), ... )

TopicHumor - TopicOrganizations - TopicSociety - TopicPersonalHistory - 2004-02-20

An alternative that some might find comparably defensible: On matters of long-term multigenerational impact, one's weighted vote is proportional to the length of time one will (optimistically calculated) have to live with the consequence of the vote. E.g., in deciding whether the national debt ceiling should be raised from $7.4 trillion to $10 trillion, a 20-year-old would get 80 votes, an 80-year-old 20 votes. (heh)

Perhaps better still, mix the two! Give each person a number of votes based on age plus additional votes as above! A twenty-year-old would get 20 votes for age and 80 votes for life expectancy, and an eighty-year-old would get 80 votes for age and 20 for ... wait a sec .... RadRob

(correlates: Joan Benoit Samuelson on Growing Up, DavidCopperfieldOnBusyMischief, AlGore, ...)