On the way home from my early morning walk I heard a news item on the radio that a recent poll showed the top three concerns of 16 and 17 year olds are – in order:
- The climate
- The economy
And this is why 16/17 year olds shouldn’t get to vote. It shows a complete lack of understanding of how the world works. The other two are noble things to care about for sure – and are important – but as important as the economy?
Maybe they place it last on their list because they have yet to participate in it. The majority are still in school where, as we know, Civics, Political Systems, and Democratic Principles are no longer taught.
Oh sure, they have classroom discussions around current affairs, or global issues – which is why we see them leaving the classroom and participating in rallies that call for the extermination of an entire race of people – because they don’t understand the meaning behind their chant: ‘From the river to the sea’; or the politics of the region involved … not to mention history.
Of course, the irony is that despite climate being number one on their list of concerns, they tweet and bleat from their social media platforms about it from devices brought to you by mining, made in countries who rank in the top ten biggest emitters in the world – three of whom are in the top five.
The manufacture of a smartphone requires the extraction of irreplaceable elements: gold, cobalt, lithium, iron, magnesium, aluminium, copper, silver, graphite, silicon, lead, tin – not to mention 16 out of the 17 rare earths. Many replace their phone even before it has lived its usable life. More manufacture; more elements; more mining; more emissions. Plus, using them generates more greenhouse gases than any other electronic device.
The countries who are the major players in the manufacture of smartphones – with their corresponding emissions scores – are:
- #1 – China (Apple, Lenovo, Motorola, Alcatel, Huawei, OPPO, OnePlus, Xiaomi, Meizu, and ZTE) – 32.48%
- #3 – India (Xiaomi, Huawei, Lenovo/Motorola, Samsung, LG, HTC, Microsoft, ASUS, Micromax) – 6.71%
- #5 – Japan (Kyocera, Sony) – 2.95%
- #8 – South Korea (Samsung, LG) – 1.73%
(Source: World Population Review)
These numbers put them in the top 10 global emitters.
(Incidentally, Australia ranks 16th currently, though doesn’t manufacture … well, much of anything anymore.)
For sure if a 16 year old is participating in the economy by working and paying tax – not studying – then they should get a vote. By virtue of the fact they pay tax they should have a right to have a say in the decisions around where that tax is spent.
However, a basic understanding of economics and how the economy – and government – works should be a requirement for all voting age citizens.
Those kids will shortly be asking Centrelink for help and getting their own Medicare cards. So they will be expecting a robust economy to pay them Youth Allowance and for their healthcare.
They’ll be looking for accommodation – and complaining on social media that “Boomers” are the reason they can’t afford to rent – simultaneously ignoring the current energy crisis and housing affordability issues created by government decisions.
The fact they don’t understand that goes some way towards explaining why it’s last on their list.
That list should also make it obvious why the parties on the left – like the Greens – are pushing for the lowering of the voting age.
Participation in democracy through a vote is not only a duty but a right and a privilege. It’s how you make your voice heard. The right to vote is the foundation of democracy. It’s not a game. People have died – literally – for their right to vote, including women during the suffragette movement. There’s your equality right there…
If there is to be any serious decision around lowering the voting age, then we also need to seriously look at education – ensuring that before children are asked to make decisions on who runs a country, they understand what that actually looks like. They need all the information at their disposal, an understanding of the democratic political system and the parties that participate in it including their policies (not just the rhetoric), and an ability to make a decision based on all the facts.
© Earth Goddess Wisdom