Seeing the number of downvotes is extremely useful: it can indicate that there's something seriously wrong with a popular answer that only a small number of experts have noticed. It encourages me to read the comments carefully (which can sometimes have the gem insight lost in tons of noise).
Why is this very useful piece of information denied to users who haven't used SO enough yet?
EDIT: apparently this feature is there to save DB traffic. I can't really appreciate this reason at all. Why not limit people below 1000 rep to seeing at most 3 answers then, that would save some DB traffic too!
Observation: there are only two rep-limited features that are read-only (and hence have nothing to do with how much the community trusts the user): reduced ads, and up/down counts. Reduced ads is entirely understandable. Up/down counts is totally out of place.