As a follow-up to my lottery post, I feel the need to clarify that I do not agree with statutory age restrictions. Why should we be allowed to drive when 16 if we don't have the skills? Why shouldn't a 12 year old who operates machinery and a truck on his family's farm be able to drive? You should have to pass a proficiency test that's worth a shit (not driver's ed) in order to get a license. That might cut down on the number of accidents, eh?
Why are early admit college students kept out of places that are "18+"? If the age limit is meant to serve as a proxy for maturity, etc., then obviously a 16 year old college student is more ready for whatever content than a 19 year old unemployed high school dropout.
Why do we decide that you can't go to a casino until you're 18? Won't you realize it's a bad thing to do if you lose all your money? Maybe you're good at counting cards and can run the blackjack table at 11 years old...WHY can't you try your hand?
As for drinking...why 21 in the States? Other countries have hardly any restrictions on alcohol consumption and they have lower rates of drunk driving, alcohol poisoning, and other related problems. However, a German friend of mine was telling me that the driving age over there is 18 or 19, so on the weekends, high school kids get together and steal cars, much like our high school kids get together and drink.
Maybe there is something to the age of consent laws, but I think they're fundamentally flawed.
18&65 ok, 17&25 not ok? Strange. I guess we can't expect people to make certain decisions on the spot, but I think that if a 15 year old has a week to think over the decision to waive legal rights in order to go skydiving, that should be more than equivalent to letting an 18 year old decide on the spot.
Bottom line: I guess it's just way easier to impose an arbitrary age restriction and let everyone be subject to it instead of incurring the cost of evaluating everyone based on merit.