Government Needs Age Limits, Not Term Limits

CRAP: Any citizen over 35 can be senator. Some of them come and stay for years and years. Maybe we should have term limits to turn over the personnel in government faster.

Alternative: When the Constitution was written, age 35 was old. The life expectancy at the time was much shorter than it is today. Male life expectancy was about 47 at the time, so age 35 actually meant "dead minus twelve years." In modern terms, an equivalent age limit (dead minus 12) would be over 60.

Tee-hee. This is sort of a joke, but with a perfectly serious side.

In the eighteenth century, people started their lives earlier than they do today, so that a man, typically, had already had a career by age 35. Using 60 as today's measure, yes, by that time people would have had real careers in the real world, learned to run a business, etc. Today, however, we have professional politicians who come out of law school at 25, go into local politics for ten years before running for Congress.

(No sexism intended in the preceding paragraph, only history. In eighteenth century colonial America, men might have careers and might run for Congress. Times have changed much for the better.)

It is important, I think, for people in politics to understand the real world, to have experience of the real world, before they go to Washington–or a state capitol, or a city council, for that matter–and make laws and regulations that the rest of us have to live by. It is a much-discussed career path today for bright young people to come out of college or law school, get a job as an aide to Congressman So-and-so, then use that experience to run for a local office, then a higher office, and so forth. It is possible, in this way, to have a career that is 100% supported by tax revenues and political contributions. That doesn't sound like experience that I think is appropriate to someone who taxes my income and regulates my business.

(I heard in an NPR guest column some years ago. I wish I could remember when or by whom. I do not claim originality, much less copyright, on this piece.)

Comments and flames always treated with due respect. "Why use rational argument when there's a flame-thrower handy?" Hey, go ahead. I didn't exactly leave the gloves on when I wrote this. (home) ( using that sterling tool, HTML Author. Last modified 96/01/27.