Monthly Archives: April 2008

Child Voting

The right to vote is regarded as one of the most fundamental democratic principles of our society. We consider universal suffrage to be a marker of an egalitarian society, and therefore making a distinction about who can and who cannot vote is contradictory. However, such a demarcation is made in regards to age. In Ireland the qualification to vote is that one must have reached 18 years old; this is provided for in Article 16.1.2°.i of The Constitution of Ireland. We must look again at the way we are disenfranchising a massive proportion of society and the reasons why it’s inappropriate.

First, we seem to be ignoring the concept of “No Taxation Without Representation”. A child is permitted to work from the age of 14 and consequently is earning and taxed upon his or her own money. He or she has no input into tax policy or how his or her taxes are to be spent. I don’t think it is fair for a person’s private possessions to be dis-appropriated in this way. Perhaps some might say that the child is not capable of making the decisions necessary to vote. However, this is not the standard used in deciding who and who cannot vote; if it were, there would be an exam to test the capability of people to understand and appreciate the issues involved.

It also seems to me that there is no such thing as a “wrong” vote. It is not our prerogative to say that children are not allowed to vote because they will do it wrong and not make the “right” decisions. Many people would admit that photos of the candidates effected their decisions on how they were going to vote. If these people are going to be allowed to vote we have absolutely no justification for not allowing young people to vote. We don’t want to go down the road of mixing aptitude qualifications with our voter registration forms however, we do need to have some form of test i.e. some people are incapable of voting those with very sever mental handicaps, very young children, people in comas etc. of course we can legitimately say that these people cannot vote because they are unable to fulfil the simple technical requirements of ticking the boxes. This I believe is the only legitimate standard that can be used.

Allowing young people to vote will also foster a more involved attitude in people from a younger age and show them that there view matters and hopefully they will see this and will continue on the road of playing an important role in the community. I think it’s time to end this, the last of the electoral discrimination’s, and allow young people to vote and to become active and interested citizens.

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Make Drugs Legal

“The party’s over.” this is the Government’s latest effort to try and combat drug use in Ireland. It’s a pathetic attempt at scaremongering by out-of-touch mummies and daddies inculcated by the selective publishing of reports on the effects of drugs. Their approach is reminiscent of satirical Mr. Mackey in South Park “Drugs are bad m’kay.” it’s patronising and dangerous to effectively spread disinformation in an attempt to achieve a political goal. What makes it even worse is the fact that it’s working so well it would make the Government of Oceania drule with envy anti-drug sentiment is a political reflex. There’s no discussion about the possible problems being caused by the criminalisation of drugs never is the idea entertained that perhaps drug prohibition is causing serious and manifest issues in society.

There are a lot of old gems that are thrown up by those not in favour of legalising drugs. None are more condescending than when some grey-haired loser that has never even seen a drug is spouting on about how “drugs are bad for you”. We’ve all seen it on TV or in school they get some old-fart in to have a frank discussion about drugs but, he just ends up saying things like “E’s are bad for you, they make holes in your brain and pot will make you die”. Even their attempt at using the “young person’s” vernacular fails miserably which is an indictment on there credibility as someone who understands drug use. Leaving aside their obvious inadequacies in that regard they are not being genuine they are spreading a political agenda from uninformed and outdated sources. If you have heard about US President Regan’s anti-drug campaign “This is you brain, this is your brain on drugs” they got doctors to show brain scans of someone who had taken drugs they had taken thousands of images and used the ones that should the worst effect i.e. had the most black areas. They also spread lots of inaccurate information about the use of Ecstasy based upon tainted studies and in some cases the results were pre-decided. Real experts looked into Ecstasy use and found that it did cause a slight drop in serotonin level but that after a few months of non-use the levels returned to normal contrary to what the Regan campaign said. This sort of stuff in damning of the anti-drug campaigns they will not maintain any level of credibility if they continue on like this.

We know that in general drugs aren’t good for you and we can accept that some are bad for you but, has this ever stopped us before? Of course not we allow grown people to make decisions about their lives all the time it’s called self-determination. I have problems with the State interfering in the lives of people too much. The State has no business dictating to people how they are to conduct their lives the State’s role is to protect its citizens from others but, it is crazy to suggest that the State’s role is to protect people from themselves. The regulation of controlled substance is a symptom of a nanny state that is denying people their right to make decisions about their lives if someone decides that they enjoy taking cocaine or Ecstasy and they understand the risks why

We have drawn a arbitrary distinction about drugs and it is having massive effect on our society. Legalising drugs would also have a positive effect upon our society insofar as we would be removing the power from criminals. Major drug importers are making a serious amount of money from the Prohibition which is something that nobody wants. Drug dealers should be paying tax like everyone else on what they earn it’s not fair that they can make such huge sums of money and pay nothing on it. The nature of the drug racket means that drug prices are kept artificially high what we then see is a high crime rate as people that are addicted to drugs commit crimes to get access to the money to buy drugs. Removing the monopoly from drug dealers and legitimising the import and distribution of drugs and the raw materials will have a dramatic effect on the price of the drug. Another result of legalisation would be better control over the quality of the drug: the pharmacology of the drug can be closely monitored to ensure that it is a safe a possible and contains no impurities, and it will also facilitate more appropriate dosage because users will always know the dose that they are taking and this would help avoid overdosing.

If we are going to at least liberalise our position on drugs it would be useful to do it in the context of a wider liberalisation across Europe therefore we avoid the problems that we might face if Ireland did it unilaterally. We at least need to look at our policy towards drugs and drug users because if anything is clear it is that the status quo is not working.

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