Should 16-Year-Olds Vote?

Categories : Financial, News
March 12, 2019

In lieu of making this the shortest blog post in history (one word), I thought it best to contradict some of the current “wisdom” surrounding this recent liberal proposal. Precedent for voting age reduction was sent back in 1971, when President Nixon lowered the age from 21 to 18. The argument was that at 18 a person could be drafted and sent to Vietnam to protect us from the enemy.

I was part of that argument at the time, and to this day I stand by my support. Not that I am 100% happy with the results, but it seemed fair and reasonable at the time. One could argue today that the age should be upped to 21 until a draft is reinstated, but that genie is out of the bottle.

Today, there are some factions making their case for another reduction in the Federal voting age. Most of it involves payment of taxes, and almost all of that argument is fallacious. At age 16 or 17, it is true that many teenagers hold jobs while completing high school. The vast majority of them do not pay Federal taxes. Rather, the monies withheld from their pay (by law) is for Social Security and Medicare. These are not Federal tax payments; they are contributions to the individual’s own Social Security and Medicare accounts. In other words, insurance premiums.

With the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, every taxpayer is granted a Standard Deduction in the amount of $12,000. How many teenagers earn more than that with a part-time, low-wage job? Very few, I’d estimate. In fact, any high school “student” earning more than $12,000 is likely be a high school dropout, who will remain a low earner for decades.

Politics seem to be driving the voting age reduction push. On balance, younger people tend to be more liberal, and many have fallen for the sales pitch of today’s “Democratic Socialists.” Liberals naturally seek to expand their voting base, and this proposal would likely do exactly that. Common sense suggests that this would be harmful to the Republic.

Understanding the impassioned pleas of today’s self-proclaimed “Social Justice Warriors” requires careful consideration and analysis. Their concepts of “fairness” and “economic equality” require healthy skepticism.

As good as it may sound, further lowering the voting age just doesn’t pass the “smell test.”

Van Wie Financial is fee-only. For a reason.