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How Old Is Old Enough?

Keith Tucker


Special to The Enterprise

So how old is old enough? Of course, it depends on the circumstances. To vote, 18; to buy alcohol, 21; to be president of the USA, 35; police officer, usually 21; and 16 in most states to drive a car and 21 to drive a big rig. If you keep in mind the auto accident rate for the 16-25 age group, there is no question that experience makes for a safer driver. There is a saying that the exuberance of youth is wasted on the young. Meaning, of course, that the advantages of speed and strength and gung-ho attitude are offset by a lack of experience and the wisdom that comes with age. I recall a time when the age to buy beer was lowered to 18, because 18 was old enough to be sent to Vietnam to fight and die, but not old enough to buy beer.

We obviously fixed the wrong end of that equation.

We don’t think anyone under 35 is suited to be our country’s President. Teddy Roosevelt was our youngest to be President at 42; but Kennedy was the youngest to be elected at 43. Both men had extensive war experiences, which we thought gave them the leadership experience for the top job. As far as the top end of the age scale goes, there are some mandatory retirement ages for airline pilots and our military.

So far, we have not come up with that for our president. There have been questions raised recently regarding that subject. Until now, Reagan was the oldest to be elected. I’m not in favor of putting an age cap on that job, even though some younger candidates eager for the job might wish it were so, given the current state of affairs.

In case you have not noticed, the full retirement age for Social Security keeps getting bumped upwards to reflect the average lifespan going up because of improved healthcare. However, since Covid has caused the average lifespan to go down, I’m waiting for the full retirement age to be moved back down.  When pigs fly is when that happens.

Editor’s note: Keith Tucker is a Greenfield resident and owner of The Marble Shop. He may be contacted by email at

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