Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Drinking Age

I think that it makes a lot of sense to lower the drinking age to 18, as some university presidents suggest.

I have a hard time believing that an 18 year old is mature enough to drive, mature enough to decide someone's fate on a jury, mature enough to put a steel pot on their head and a rifle in their hand and go to war, but is not mature enough to drink alcohol for three more years. The inconsistency of that baffles me.

Many states did have a drinking age at 18, but under coercion from the feds, they raised the age to 21:
Each state has the authority to set its own drinking age, but in 1984 Congress passed the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, which says that states with a drinking age lower than 21 will lose 10 percent of their federal highway money. After that law passed, all 50 states raised their drinking age to 21.

Of course, such a move is not without it's controversy. However, I don't think I would take it as a given that drunk driving accidents would increase, as some are suggesting. The argument that the University Presidents are pushing forth make much more sense to me. This proposed change is an effort to allow drinking on campuses, thus decreasing the likelihood of forcing college students and others under 21 to get in their cars to go drinking off campus or away from home.

12 comments:

JessieX said...

Oh, many won't like what I say but I offer this perspective. Raising the drinking age was aimed -- even if unconsciously -- at preventing alcohol access to young GenXers, who are often perceived as ratty, alienated, cynical and ... well, just odd, by older generations. We iz a scary lot to themz who don't understand us.

Now that Millennials are reaching college age (the oldest are 26), parents and adult institutions want to support them in being collegial, peer-oriented and having fun. Adults (especially Boomers) tend to trust Millennials zillions-times more than they ever trusted GenXers, so they 'trust' that Millennials will not be as wild on alcohol as their next-elder generation was ... was perceived to be that is. Boomers were the most reckless with substances in their young adult years.

Anyhoo, whether people consciously understand it or not, methinks that much of the drive to bring the drinking age back down to 18 is to allow the Millennial generation the opportunity to have some good times with their buddies at college, and such.

My two yuan ...

JessieX said...

Oh, many won't like what I say but I offer this perspective. Raising the drinking age was aimed -- even if unconsciously -- at preventing alcohol access to young GenXers, who are often perceived as ratty, alienated, cynical and ... well, just odd, by older generations. We iz a scary lot to themz who don't understand us.

Now that Millennials are reaching college age (the oldest are 26), parents and adult institutions want to support them in being collegial, peer-oriented and having fun. Adults (especially Boomers) tend to trust Millennials zillions-times more than they ever trusted GenXers, so they 'trust' that Millennials will not be as wild on alcohol as their next-elder generation was ... was perceived to be that is. Boomers were the most reckless with substances in their young adult years.

Anyhoo, whether people consciously understand it or not, methinks that much of the drive to bring the drinking age back down to 18 is to allow the Millennial generation the opportunity to have some good times with their buddies at college, and such.

My two yuan ...

Anonymous said...

You're going to have to do better then they can VOLUNTEER to fight, but they can't buy a beer. There are lots of things you can't do at 18, that you can do later in life. Want to be in the House? Have to be 25. Be President? Have to be 35.

The real reason the college presidents are supporting this is they don't want to be responsible for enforcing this and are tired of the lawsuits when something bad happens on campus that is alcohol related.

A better solution would be to really enforce the law. Plus, instead of just making the business that sells to minors pay a fine, how about doing that to the minors as well?

Freemarket said...

Thanks for that perspective, Jessie. The Millennials get all the good stuff.

Anon, you are going to have to do better than they can't run for high political office until later in life, so they shouldn't be able to buy a beer either. That's really weak.

If 18 year olds are responsible enough to be on a jury, drive a car and go to war, then I believe they are responsible enough to drink.

Anonymous said...

JessieX writes: >>Anyhoo, whether people consciously understand it or not, methinks that much of the drive to bring the drinking age back down to 18 is to allow the Millennial generation the opportunity to have some good times with their buddies at college, and such. >>


Jessie, I do believe you're right. I'm in the forefront of the GenXers, and I went off to college hearing, "Oooh, we Boomers were SO TRASHED!" and in the same time, "You guys can't handle it! Drinking is BAAAAD!"

Now the Boomers' kids are reaching drinking age, and "the ME Generation" has never denied their pwecious pwinces and pwincesses anything, so in their mind, why shouldn't their Gifts from God have fun, fun, fun...just like they did? Telling them no would be just like telling the Boomers no...and Boomers don't LIKE the word "no".

PZGURU said...

FM - I agree with you 100%. The real issue is that parents need to educate their children about alcohol use and how to be RESPONSIBLE about it. Outlawing it just forces young people to hide and drink. Look at countries where the drinking age is even lower than 18, and they don't have a societal problem with binge drinking and traffic fatalities associated with drunk driving.

Someone on the radio this morning also offered an idea to raise the DRIVING age to 18, with people able to get permits at age 17. I think there is some merit to that idea too.

Freemarket said...

Yes, I agree PZ. Parents need to teach their children responsible behaviors.

Making kids wait until 17 for a learners permit and 18 to drive is not outlandish, but I don't think that I would support such a measure.

Some kids are ready to drive at 16, some should definitely wait until 18. I think that parents and insurance companies do a pretty good job of identifying the potential bad drivers.

Anonymous said...

The claim by University presidents that lowering the drinking age will REDUCE drinking tops the list of the least logical statements in history. Agreeing with this haywire notion is very telling coming from someone who, two posts prior props himself up on a house of logical cards. Yeah, right.

What? Everyone is a two-year-old and reverse psychology will work? IN.SANE.

Anon 6:31 is DEAD ON accurate.

And you in the prior religious post who claimed opponents were whining and attacking, go look in the mirror.

Freemarket said...

Geez 6:21, who pissed in your cornflakes?

I don't think that our policy should be to increase or decrease drinking, but rather to restrict alcohol use to those old enough to know what level of use is right for them. We trust 18 year olds with other things that require responsibility, so alcohol use should be no different.

You are obviously very paternalistic, and that is something that I fundamentally disagree with. Not everyone is a stupid and irresponsible as you think they are.

Anonymous said...

jessie- if you are GenX, I'm in kindergarten.

If adulthood begins at 18, then all rights and privileges, and responsibilities should convey at 18, not parceled out over time.

That we give people access to 2 ton killing machines first at age 15/16, give them the ability to marry and spawn at 18, but withhold the ability to get trashed at their wedding is illogical.

Freemarket said...

Hey, play nice anon. Was that first sentence really necessary? It's my job to be the jerk.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Jessie's statements would bring less contrast if she approached the GenX item by saying that she identifies much more with a 26 year old than with others her age.

We're just wondering if she sees what we see or if she is in denial.

:)