Adulthood

A lot of things floating around the interweb right now has me thinking about adulthood, particularly the way our society transitions from teenager to adult. The current situation with Kesha (I LOVE YOU!), student loan debt, and the elevated divorce rate for young marriages have makes me think we might actually want to postpone when we see humans as full-fledged responsible adults, and I think postponing adulthood is a sign of progress and a good thing.

I’m sure some people see Millennials living at home and uncommitted to careers or family as a bad thing, but I think this is a positive cultural shift. As a society grows wealthier and a species starts to live longer, healthier lives, it is only natural that the periods of childhood lengthen as well. We certainly don’t want to reverse course and go back to the days when 14-year olds were expected to work in factories or fields, and marriages/births were common in the early teens. Hell, if you look at our sci-fi and fantasy books they are often filled with long-living species that consider 100 years old to still be youthful. That is the direction we are heading, and we need the legal system to start catching up to this shift. (Side note: having children is something I don’t think the legal system should get involved with prohibiting, but we do need to increase comprehensive sex education and access to birth control so that humans of all ages can have children when they want. This would involve parental involvement and a shift in our education system, and might be the toughest sell for many people, particularly those in more conservative areas of the country.)

Normally, I wouldn’t advocate legal changes (I am an anarchist, after all), but enforcing contracts is one of the things that our legal system is in charge of. If the legal system starts recognizing that a contract signed at the age of 18 is kind of signed by someone who cannot understand the full ramifications of the contract, then much of the world would be better off. After all, most institutions who sign contracts (banks, the military, etc.) are going to try and maximize profit, and in a system where the government enforces contracts they will pursue contracts with people as young as possible. If a bank knew that the courts would allow high interest rates and garnish the wages of a 14-year who defaulted on their loan then I am sure they would issue loans to 14-year olds.

Now, maximizing profit isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, but if that profit comes from contracts issued to people who are incapable of understanding or comprehending what they are signing then that is a problem. After all, the “18 is an adult” line that we draw is a social construct, and as a social construct it is malleable. As we continue to understand more about human growth, particularly brain growth, it is becoming clear that our decision making capabilities and cognitive functions are still in high development until years after 18.

I’m not proposing that we just push off all adult responsibilities until 24 or something. That will still be problematic because it will prevent people from moving towards adulthood and getting their lives started. Instead, I think we should treat late teens and early 20s as a period of training for adulthood. Our legal system should put some reasonable limitations on contracts. Maybe those limitations for 18-24 year olds could be something like this:

  • The maximum amount of debt a person can have is $10,000.
  • Business and marriage contracts automatically expire at the age of 24 years old or 4 years after signing, whichever is later.
  • Military enlistment limited to 2 year contracts for the regular military or 4 year contracts for the National Guard/Reserves
  • Unlimited alcohol and weed consumption allowed on private property or with parents. Limited allowed in public places. (Age 18-21)

One of the benefits of a society with advancing technology is our opportunities for more leisure and personal fulfillment at all ages. There is no reason that we must continue education and work patterns that were created during an industrial age, we are now an information age. The economy is increasingly based on information, service, and gigs. We shouldn’t be encouraging people under 24 to spend 12-16 years in school when they may not know what they want to do or what the world needs, then take out loans for homes and an education up to $500,000, then committing to a job for 30ish years that you may hate simply because you are trapped in debt, and hoping that someday your body and mind will still hold up so that you can spend the last decade or so retired and doing what you want. Instead, the time before 24 should be spent exploring places and interests, getting to know yourself and your relationship desires, and finding a lifestyle that you love (or going into a career/education with a better idea of the outcomes).

Our society is shifting, and adulthood is shifting with it. It would be nice if we started to appreciate this progress instead of mumbling about “kids back in my day *grumble* *grumble* *grumble*”

PS: All the numbers I suggest for age, length of contract, maximum dollar amount, etc. are kind of arbitrary and are not meant to be some sort of strict policy suggestion. I am also no legal expert and I have no idea if this type of shift would require legislation or if judges/juries could just start taking into account our social shift and knowledge about human development and start voiding contracts.

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A Wedding Recap

This last weekend I had the huge honor of being the Best Man at my best friend’s wedding. I know in the past I’ve been fairly vocal about my own disinterest in traditional marriage, but I am an economist and recognize subjective value… meaning that I may not want a wedding for myself but am thrilled to participate in something important  to another. And man, this wedding was the fucking tits. There are a lot of stories and a lot of fun was had but here are some of the things that will stick with me the most.

  • Weddings can be really, really damn beautiful. The site (Convict Lake near Mammoth, California), weather, atmosphere, everything was perfect. A true fairytale location for a perfect fairytale wedding.
  • I will get naked and streak a household of mostly strangers for at least $20
  • My partner can’t handle Fireball whiskey
  • I am pretty decent at giving impromptu speeches… and that apparently surprises people
  • Real friendships stand the test of time… for the first time in 12 years my closest friends since fifth grade were together and we still had a grand time. Some of us have lost hair (not me), some of us have gained weight (me), and all of us have gorgeous partners but all-in-all the banter and friendship was the same.
  • Online presences are strange things. Several of the people I met at the wedding primarily knew me through Facebook and blog posts where I may come off one-dimensionally focuses on polyamory, sex, drugs, anarchy, and Burning Man. Hopefully I have the opportunity to spend more time with these people and we can get to know each other.
  • Some people get uncomfortable when you invite them to a foursome
  • It can be difficult to tell if people seriously want you in a foursome or not… I still have hope that the joking was only “haha, that’s funny… but seriously” and not really “haha, this is all just joke drunk flirting”
  • Some people will offer to have sex with you if you give them your jacket in the cold
  • Flirting is still a lot of fun, especially when your partner doesn’t care/encourages it.
  • Other people agree that my partner has a fantastic ass
  • When the dj plays Ke$ha most people leave the dance floor (not me)
  • A wedding that includes several Star Trek: The Next Generation references is awesome
  • Drunk parents rock
  • Love is an amazing thing… I don’t think Love is all you need for a successful romantic relationship but it is certainly an important part of the human experience.

I’m sure there are many more lessons to be learned from this amazing, unforgettable weekend but it is time to leave my office for the day so here is a picture of what I woke up to each morning I was up at the wedding.

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Birthday Wishes

This upcoming Sunday is my birthday, but because I am a (barely functional) adult I don’t really need much, but there are lots of organizations out there that do. So, for my birthday I hope you all will considering what you can to one of these amazing organizations. Liberty, ending the drug war, medicinal research, and ending rape are four of my passions and these organizations are on the frontlines. Every dollar helps.

Men Can Stop Rape: This organization is working to change the narrative around rape and end rape culture by mobilizing men to use their strength to protect, not harm. Check them out and see if they fit what you want in the world, if so, please donate.

Students For Liberty (SFL): As an international education based non-profit SFL is having a global impact for liberty. They provide resources and training for college students who are interested in a free society. Check them out at their website and if you like what they are doing you can donate here.

Students For Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP): SSDP is an international organization that works to educate and mobilize students to change the policies in their country. They value sensible policies of harm prevention, instead of incarceration, for narcotics use. They are doing many things that could use some financial support.

Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS): MAPS continues to do great work in search of medicinal uses for a wide range of stigmatized drugs like marijuana, LSD, and MDMA. They focus on clinical research, as well as providing educational harm prevention materials. I really believe that what they do will have a huge impact on the treatment of a variety of issues that face society, but they need help to keep going.

If you really want to throw something my way though, I am accepting support for my upcoming bicycle ride via paypal.

“Warrior”

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Seriously… who wouldn’t wanna make out with her?

As my friends on Facebook know, I have a decent celebrity lust for Ke$ha, I would love to meet her and I am not really one that gets celebrity crushes. I guess some of my blog followers may not know that, I’m not exactly sure what the FB-to-WP cross-over is to be honest (if we aren’t FB friends we should be… I am pretty loose with my FB friend accepts and I love “meeting” new people). Anyway, her new album came out this week and I really enjoyed it. After reading a review of the album in The Atlantic (see: Ke$ha Is the Last Great Rock Star) I was pretty excited for it. So, here are my thoughts on the album.

I really like the whole thing, there is a certain righteous rebellious streak that  runs throughout the songs. She rejects social norms and the tradition of our parents generation. Instead of embracing a cynical skepticism she calls for an acceptance of how things are and a desire to make the most of it.

I think that people who were raised in the 80’s and 90’s are rightfully fed up with the “holier than thou” mentality that is always shoved in our faces. We are told that we are selfish by a generation that has spent our money before we had it, that has rejected any type of real reform in exchange for cute words like “hope” and “change”. And then we are told that we don’t care enough.

The generation before us protested Vietnam but seem okay with two political parties that start wars across the globe and kill scores of innocents with drones from the sky. They smoked pot and embraced a hippie culture but have no problem imprisoning thousands for drug possession and continuing a failed prohibition policy. Our parents continue to try and control our bodies and decisions with antiquated views of morality that they ignored, and then call us lazy when we live in a destroyed economy that they created.

So yes, Ke$ha basically says “fuck it”, this is who we are and we are going to have a good time. She encourages everyone to be proud of who they are, live a life of love, and to stop pretending. The rallying cry of “fight for the fuck ups, stand up for true love” spits in the face of the facade of the previous generation who preaches love from either the pulpit or the hippie commune but usually practices selfishness, destructive politics, and war.

At least that’s my rant about the whole thing… Her album is art open to interpretation by anyone and if Ke$ha read this she may disagree with everything. Regardless, I like the album and my coworkers are kind of stuck with it drifting softly out of my office door for the next little while.

Some other songs that I either found really catchy or had a good message: “Die Young”, “Dirty Love”, and “Gold Trans Am”… but just listen to the whole thing on Spotify or something.