August 20, 2008

Lower the drinking age to 18?

The Amethyst Initiative.
"This is a law that is routinely evaded," said John McCardell, the former president of Middlebury College in Vermont who founded the Amethyst Initiative. "It is a law that the people at whom it is directed believe is unjust and unfair and discriminatory."...

McCardell said that binge drinking occurs primarily because students must hide their behavior.

In its statement (currently signed by 114 college heads), Amethyst says, "Twenty-one is not working" and "A culture of dangerous, clandestine 'binge-drinking' - often conducted off-campus - has developed.

"Alcohol education that mandates abstinence as the only legal option has not resulted in significant constructive behavioral change among our students. …

"By choosing to use fake IDs, students make ethical compromises that erode respect for the law."

The initiative wisely invites debate about whether the drinking age should be lowered instead of calling outright for legislative change. Let's be scientific about this. It's one thing to say alcohol abuse and drunk driving are terrible, but it's another thing to figure out the causal connection to the legal drinking age. There's nothing wrong with responsible, moderate drinking. What's the best way to encourage young people who are inclined to drink to do it the right way? I doubt that prohibition is best, and I'm enough of a libertarian to want to resolve doubts in favor of freedom. But sure, let's debate. I'd like to see the evidence analyzed.

97 comments:

m00se said...

Libertarian - small "l".

I want my pot, I want my booze, I want to marry my couch.

I love legalizing drugs - no one has a clue what that'll do to society - it just sounds super cool. Sort of like reverse prohibition - let's try it!!

*sheesh*

Simon said...

It seems obvious to me that if you're old enough to vote, you should be old enough to drink. Of course, I'd prefer we resolve that by raising the voting age, but since that's not an option, sure, lower the drinking age. The drinking age is a good example of Congressional power to extort desired results otherwise beyond its enumerated powers, but it won't lose force as an example if it exists only in the past.

rhhardin said...

Lower the working age to ten, and see if some adults can't be developed by the time eighteen turns up.

gophermomeh said...

Slow, responsible exposure of alcohol to minors is probably a good idea. My understanding, is that it's binge drinking that's the biggest concern on campus'. With kids mimicking adult behavior - the 'responsible' part of that equation is tenuous, especially here in Wisconsin.

As far as the debate goes for curbing the issues on campus, the argument could be made that it pushes it down to the high schools.

Original Mike said...

A la Simon:

Lower the drinking age to 18.
Raise the voting age to 30.

Bryan Draper Caskey said...

Let's see: if enough of us refuse to obey a law, then the response should be to change/repeal the law?

Bad logic guys. You shouldn't change a law because it's being broken. College students don't binge drink because of a law, it's a cultural issue.

If we follow McCardell's logic, everyone should stop paying their taxes, and the boys up in Washington will change that little law.

Tibore said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Exalted said...

seems to me the schools want to push the drinking into bars and out of dorms/frat houses, lowering school liability/exposure/potential for embarrassment

Tibore said...

Hmmm... I can go both ways. On the one hand, I know some 25 year olds I wouldn't trust with alcohol until they're 60. Hell, I'm surprised they don't turn into derelicts on just water. On the other, I know some people who were responsible enough that I would've trusted them at 15.

The problem is indeed the whole issue of who's mature enough, not just who's old enough. I would actually not object to any change as long as it wasn't lower than 18 and not higher than 25. That range catches enough people who've matured enough to be responsible with alcohol, and the rest either grow up eventually (that's me), or Darwin themselves out of the gene pool.

It doesn't really matter anyway. While McCardell's points are legitimate enough, but I don't see any change in any direction resulting in any real, significant difference in student behavior.

Seven Machos said...

What a ridiculous, fascist post by Bryan. Absolutely we should change laws that aren't respected by a vast number of people, particularly when they are impossible to enforce, anyway. To do otherwise will only lead to a general decrease in respect for the principle of rule of law. Think about that next time you exceed the speed limit.

As for your income tax example: you are 100 percent correct in what you state, not what you mean. Do you really believe that if everyone stopped paying taxes, the government would round everyone up and...what? Fine them? Jail them? And who would do the fining and jailing if everyone doesn't pay taxes. The example that you thought was so thoughtful actually collapses under the weight of its own logic.

In fact, the tax system is almost entirely an honors system that absolutely requires respect for the rule of law to function.

Regarding the issue at hand, it is certainly time for the states to be able to make this decision free of any federal pressure. It's also a no-brainer that the drinking age should be 18.

SteveR said...

My initial impression (and I'll cop to not going any further) was that it was an attempt to shift drinking off campus to bars and clubs, as well as to legitimize the activity in order to make it less "appealing". While the latter seems to be the stated reason I have developed such a negative feeling about alcohol abuse that I'm just going to be an old fuddy duddy and maintain a general preference to not having a whole additional group of drunk drivers on the roads.

And yeah its against my typical feelings about government power but lose a few friends to a drunk driver and a few relatives to alcoholism and I'm not much interested in a justification for making things worse (and I can't see how it would not be).

Seven Machos said...

Thank God no one from 18 to 21 drives after drinking now. I mean, how could they? They don't have access to alcohol.

Jesus, SteveR. Are you really that blind to the reality of the world?

Palladian said...

People murder and it's illegal. Why isn't murder legal?

SteveR said...

Listen Seven, don't be a jerk. I drank as much as anybody at that age and am well aware of reality. I was 18-21 when they changed it back, as well. I not stupid enough to believe it doesn't happen a lot already. I'm admitting to a very human and somewhat illogical feeling that I don't want it to go down again.

Seven Machos said...

Most importantly, laws against murder are enforceable. Everyone agrees with the law and every time a murder happens, vast resources of the state are used to find and punish the murderer. You don't see that with nineteen-year-olds drinking beer. Interesting, no?

Second, there is a solid foundation outside of a legislature for why murder is illegal. Life, liberty, property. Do unto others and all that. Others. I won't go into them here. Here, we have some people in a legislature who have made a decision based on no foundation other than the power vested in them as legislators. If people want to have legislators who make that law, fine, but it's a dumb law.

Seven Machos said...

Steve -- Your argument is terrible. Even you admit that.

You are wrong. I don't know what else to tell you.

SteveR said...

I live about 50 mile from a border where people stream across in violation of the law all day, every day. I guess reality is, it should be legal because everyone does it and its too hard to enforce.

Seven Machos said...

Steve -- I agree regarding immigration. Again, like Bryan, you mean to be sarcastic but your argument is absolutely correct at face value, and only at face value.

With regard to immigration, we should build a wall between the United States and Mexico and put companies that hire illegal immigrants out of business. Otherwise, radically change our immigration policy to conform to the reality that people are coming. I was a consular officer and I can tell you that it's a giant pain in the ass to get a visa. People who desperately need to feed their families aren't going to go through that process and, in the end, a visa is just a useless piece of paper.

Me, I say build the wall and destroy the corporations. But if you don't do that, you need to have radically open immigration.

What message are we sending our newest arrivals when their very first act as people in this country is flouting the law?

ireign22 said...

I think lowering the drinking age, while having stricter penalties for drunken driving would work.

The fact is almost everyone who drinks at 21, drinks at 18. We are one of the few countries to have such a high drinking age and we have more binge drinking and drunken driven related fatalities that anyone else.

The current system is ridiculous. I have met few people that defend it, yet almost every politician supports it.

Beth said...

I'm all for returning it to 18. For two decades now we've been telling young people that they're not grown up until they're 21, and they've gotten the message. I'd like to see a return to the idea that it's time to start being a bit more mature, more responsible for oneself, at 18.

Beth said...

The drinking age is a good example of Congressional power to extort desired results otherwise beyond its enumerated powers

Simon, you're too young to recall this, but it wouldn't have happened without Reagan's support -- and signature.

lurker2209 said...

The thing about lowering the drinking age to 18, is that I turned 18 in my senior year of HS. It's one think to legalize and regulate and make college drinking safer. That argument has some weight. But if an 18 can legally buy alcohol and bring it to a party where there are a bunch of 14 year old freshman, that's kind of scary. I know that drinking in HS happens and young teens who really want to drink will find a way, but the idea of making it that easy worries me.

Would it be completely ridiculous to have some sort of graduated drinking age, like we do for driver's licenses? Where an 18-year old can drink, can buy single drinks, but can't buy a whole keg of beer until 19 or 20? Maybe that would be a major pain for retailers, or unenforceable, but it sort of makes sense to me.

Quayle said...

If the age is 18 (as it was when I was in high school in New Jersey) the seniors start to drop like flies as they turned 18 throughout the year. By May most of the class was regularly drunk. It didn’t work too well.

I recommend that if it is going to be lowered, that it be set to at least July 1 after one’s 18th birthday.

Otherwise the high schools (and high school parties) will be filled with booze more than they already are, if that is possible.

ricpic said...

I lived in Middlebury for several years. Who says the law against 18 year olds drinking couldn't be enforced? Of course it could. But it wasn't enforced by the Middlebury police force because of pressure by Middlebury College on the town not to touch their shitty over-privileged running riot sources of income, otherwise known as students, ha ha. Enforcing it would have avoided scores of injuries and at least one death during the period I lived in the town, but heck, what's that compared to maintaining the proper social order: gownies lording it over townies.

rhhardin said...

Drunk driving is a bogus problem, by the way. It's common and mostly harmless.

Gusfield has a nice book on it.

And a later one formalizing the rhetoric that goes into inventing and taking political ownership of a new public problem.

Smilin' Jack said...

Evidence is steadily accumulating that moderate drinking conveys significant health benefits. So I don't see how anyone can oppose lowering the drinking age--it's for the CHILDREN!!

Seven Machos said...

Beth -- Isn't the law in Louisiana 18 for beer and wine?

That idea makes some sense because you really have to work at getting drunk with those substances.

Nineteen would be much better than 21.

If kids are coming to high school drunk, expel them. That ought to be enough motivation for seniors to stay sober until three o'clock.

Seven Machos said...

Ric -- Are you sure that the law against underage drinking wasn't enforced only because of the corrupt influence of the college? I highly doubt that. If that's so, then, why, for example, are the police not enforcing the drinking laws with zeal in small towns where there is no ritzy college?

Joan said...

I think it's absurd we have a drinking age at all, especially these days when there are stories about parents being prosecuted for giving their own kids alcohol at home. I learned about alcohol at home in my teens, but that's illegal in many states now. I think it's ridiculous.

Taking the age limit off of alcohol is not like legalizing street drugs. We know exactly what alcohol does to people, and we have the entire rest of the world (does any other country have a legal drinking age?) to see how people of different ages deal with it. Making it forbidden gives it too much glamour -- if you can get it whenever you want it, that will fade quickly.

All of the rhetoric from the higher-drinking-age side equates drinking with becoming drunk. Is there no "safe" amount of alcohol you can consume? OK, if you're an 85-pound 16 year old girl, one drink may be enough to get you tipsy. It just disturbs me that we have to legislate against alcohol consumption because all drinking is bad, by definition. Some of these folks sound like they'd like to reinstate Prohibition.

(I await the firestorm.)

Simon said...

Beth said...
"I'm all for returning it to 18."

I'm all for returning the question to the states to make their own decision. I'm not especially interested in what the decision is, although as I've indicated above, I'm inclined to agree with you.

"Simon, you're too young to recall this, but it wouldn't have happened without Reagan's support -- and signature."

Oh, I know - there's a famous case about this, South Dakota v. Dole, so it's not an obscure enactment. I don't know if maybe it was wrapped up in a huge omnibus bill that Reagan felt he couldn't veto, but even if he signed it separately and fully approved, I think that it's bad federalism. Congress certainly has the power to coerce the states - that's the holding of the Dole case - but it doesn't have the right and so should refrain from using its power. This is another example of the catastrophic result of giving Congress control of 100% of the national economy through the Sixteenth Amendment and then stripping the states of their structural representation in Congress through the Seventeenth Amendment. That's why, I've argued, the courts must diligently enforce federalism against the political branches: because if the courts don't, federalism is essentially a dead letter. That's a bigger problem for the spending power, though, because it's hard to come up with a judicially-managable standard to limit it, which makes it hard to advocate judicial review, which in turn demands that Congress be held by the strongest possible extralegal restraints against using that power. Without structural or judicial restraints, we're left with cultural restraints, which suggests that there should be a strong moral opprobrium on Congress enacting such statutes, a presumption that this is politically scandalous behavior, an abnormal means to achieve goals that should as a result be scrutinized closely.

Peter V. Bella said...

Binge drinking on campus is not limited to under aged drinkers. It crosses all age lines. There is no correlation to binge drinking and age.

There is a direct correlation to binge drinking and stupidity. Unfortunately we cann not outlaw stupidity; yet. While I agree that the age should be lowered, I do not agree with the specious reasoning of a pointed headed pseudo intellectual.

This is a law that is routinely evaded," said John McCardell, the former president of Middlebury College in Vermont who founded the Amethyst Initiative. "It is a law that the people at whom it is directed believe is unjust and unfair and discriminatory."

Unfair, unjust, and discriminatory? A true whacked out far left bubble brain.

Many states lowered the drinking age years ago and were forced to raise it again when MADD and other groups lobbied the federal government. A bill was passed denying federal highway funds to any state that had allowed people under twenty one to drink.

SteveR said...

Ok back from lunch-

I'm not making an arguement because its like many we have, no one really changes their mind, people just like to impress themselves with whatever words they can come up with.

But I *feel* it will make things worse and that's enough for me on this subject.

Peter V. Bella said...

Palladian said...
People murder and it's illegal. Why isn't murder legal?


Correction, many, many people murder and it is illegal. Why isn’t murder legal?

Seven Machos said...

Unfair, unjust, and discriminatory

He was saying that's how the people affected by the law view the law. There's a difference there.

Simon is right. This should be a decision for individual states and individual communities.

ricpic said...

Seven - I can only speak knowledgeably about Middlebury where the college is a very big fish in a small pond. Why other small towns don't enforce the law against underage drinking is above my pay grade.

Matt said...

I'm not sure why everyone is so hung up on 18. The drinking age should be 19. Like other posters have stated, making it 18 gets it into the hands of high school freshmen via the seniors. Bad idea.

Anyway, I blame federalism, or bad federalism.

For example, in Wisconsin, the state legislature has deemed parents worthy of determining whether their minor children can consume alcohol while under their supervision. It is therefore LEGAL for a 17 year old to consume alcohol in a restaurant in the presence of his/her parents, yet it is ILLEGAL for that 17 year old's 19 year old sibling to consume alcohol at the same table because, as an "adult" the 19 year is not legally entitled to rely upon the judgment of his/her parents.

As the oldest of several siblings, this was a reliable source of family entertainment (and consternation if you were in the 18-20 age bracket) for several years.

Original Mike said...

...you really have to work at getting drunk with [beer or wine].

What??!!

Roux said...

Why not change it to 25 or 39? What's so special about 21?

Roux said...

Oops... thats' supposed to be 25 or 30?

And yes I'm being facetious.

Original Mike said...

39 works for me.

Seven Machos said...

Mike -- You have to drink a lot more beer and wine to get drunk than hard liquor. It's a commitment. This is why you don't see a lot of serious alcoholics buying a case of beer at the liquor store. They go for the hard stuff because it works faster, better, and in smaller doses.

I know you know this.

Richard Fagin said...

Much as I can't stand the overbearing nannies at MADD, this was one issue on which they got the evidence exactly right. The drinking age was raised from 18 to 21 in the early 80s based on a high rate of alcohol induced (not "related" as used currently to inflate the statistics) traffic accidents among younger drivers. If there were some practical and reliable way to keep drunk 18 year olds out from behind the wheel, then by all means lower the drinking age back to 18.

A reasonable compromise would be to let younger folks drink under parental supervision (and presumably acceptance of liability if the little lush takes the family sedan out for a spin). The way things are now, though, you can get arrested for child endangerment for giving a kid a beer when he's at home not causing any trouble.

Seven Machos said...

You people who are arguing in favor of the drinking age are assuming that people under 21 cannot get alcohol. This simply is not true. Everyone under 21 who wants to drink can. It's very easy.

Richard -- you are arguing that because of the drinking age, there are fewer people under the drinking age who drive while they are drunk. I doubt that this is true. They can get the alcohol, as I have said.

Just for fun, I will stipulate that deaths involving drunk drivers under 21 have gone down. What is keeping them from driving after they get drunk? Whatever it is, it's not the law against drinking when you are under 21.

Original Mike said...

Seven - It's not hard at all to get drunk on beer and wine. In fact, it's quite enjoyable. Therein lies the problem.

If you don't know this yourself from personal experience, just take my word for it. ;-)

And, just to restate my position, I think the drinking age should be lowered.

Meade said...

Joan asked...

"Is there no "safe" amount of alcohol you can consume?"

Actually, no, there isn't - depending on how you define "safe." Besides having desirous effects, the consumption of any amount of alcohol has the side effect of causing the brain to permanently shrink. Is it safe for brains to shrink? I doubt it.

Talk about food as medicine... alcohol is THE most ancient food as medicine. People have been self-medicating with alcohol for tens of thousands of years.

Criminalize and toughen the penalties for bad behavior while under the influence, but alcohol should be legal and available to anyone at any time at any age.

By prescription.

P. Rich said...

Make wine one of the required food groups. Serve it at home with meals only, and give the kids a small amount - watered down if very young, the real thing in the teen years. Act like responsible adults when there is drinking and young people are around. This is not a drinking age problem. It's a responsible, informed, communicative adult problem. In vino veritas!

Seven Machos said...

I'm not saying it's not possible to get drunk on wine and beer, Mike. I'm just saying it's more difficult because there is less alcohol in each drink. You have to consume quite a bit more.

Is this a distinction without a difference? Possibly. People who want to get drunk are going to get drunk. However, I think you have to admit that beer and wine are nice starter drinks and, if you are looking for a compromise that people might actually abide by, this one might do.

Seven Machos said...

And then Meade wants to bring back prohibition. Okay. That's gonna work.

gophermomeh said...

You've almost got it right - people who want to get drunk will get drunk - beer, wine, hard liquor, mouthwash, whatever. Drunks don't abide, they get drunk.

For kids, on the other hand, it might do them well to allow their brains to fully develop before we open the gates.

Seven Machos said...

When is a brain fully developed?

gophermomeh said...

For boys, it's later - 17 to 18 years.

Seven Machos said...

Okay. So make the drinking age 18, when everyone's brain is fully developed.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

a) The federal government really ought not to have any say whatever in regard to state-mandated drinking ages.

b) For that matter, federal involvement in education at any level beyond things like research grants is decidedly extra-constitutional.

c) Insurance rates (and accident records) clearly establish that 16- and 17-year-olds are not ready for driving.

d) As a matter of practice, it is far easier to control underage driving than underage drinking.

e) Forbidden fruit is always more tempting, even if poisonous.

f) In many cultures even very young children learn to drink appropriately, at home, at meals, with parents. Most of these cultures have many fewer alcohol abuse problems than America.

g) It is culturally barbaric that parents eating at a restaurant cannot share a glass of wine with their 20-year old son who just got back from a year in Afghanistan.

Therefore -- driving without a parent should not generally be permitted before majority at age 18, but such legislation is purely a state decision.

Similarly, over the long term states might also be well-advised to allow drinking at home, with parents after something like age 8. Outside the home, with parents, at age 12. Outside the home with an adult over age 30 after age 15; and purchase at age 18.

Anyhow, something like that. The states are excellent places to experiment, and the do keep statistics, after all.

Original Mike said...

Wisconsin had different beer and liquor ages when I was young (before I reached drinking age myself). By the time I turned 18, they had unified the drinking age for everything at 18. Now, of course, it's 21.

I think P. Rich has it right, but it will "never" happen in this country.

gophermomeh said...

You give them a chance, anyway.

Bryan Draper Caskey said...

Wow. My very first post on a blog gets labeled "fascist". Wow.


Anyway, as for the tax code being on the "honor system", well, I don't know about that. In regards to all laws, there are a vast majority of the population that don't break them: good old law-abiding citizens. There are also people who don't break the law because they are afraid of the consequences. For instance, I imagine that some people don't speed because they are afraid there might be a policeman over the next hill. The point of my original post actually didn't express a view on whether the age should be 18 or 21 or none. If you read it closely, you would have seen that my point was that we shouldn't be changing laws simply because they are broken by a segment of the population. If you start doing that, then it seems like the best way to get a law changed would be to round up all your buddies and start breaking the law.

I still am amazed that I was labeled a fascist. That term is way too overused. It's the equivalent of a 14-year-old's use of "like" in between words.

Joan said...

Gophermouth, no, it's later than that, about 20-21, when the mylenization of the frontal lobes are complete, at least according to the brain class I took last spring. Mylenization refers to the process that makes those synapses fire more quickly. Teens' brains are undergoing almost as much growth and change (not in creation of new brain cells, but in creation of new synapses and then mylenization) as infant brains do. That's one reason it's so crucial to teach teens life skills like responsibility and organization, because once they're in their 20s, it just won't be as easy for them to learn.

The flip side of this, of course, is that alcohol and drugs have a much greater negative impact on teens' brains than they do on adults' brains. Get addicted as a teen and you'll have a very hard time getting out of it; you've essentially wired the addiction into your brain.

P. Rich said...

Seven

DIfferent parts of the brain develop at different rates, I believe, and physical development extends well beyond 18. A brief quote:

"Two Dartmouth researchers are one step closer to defining exactly when human maturity sets in. In a study aimed at identifying how and when a person's brain reaches adulthood, the scientists have learned that, anatomically, significant changes in brain structure continue after age 18."

From http://www.dartmouth.edu/~news/releases/2006/02/06.html

And there is no evidence I'm aware of that small amounts of wine consumed with meals have caused developmental issues. Or, you can believe that 2000+ years of lifelong consumption in many European and Asian cultures has consistently produced nothing but dummies.

Original Mike said...

Wow. My very first post on a blog gets labeled "fascist". Wow.

That's our Seven.

That is pretty funny Bryan. You should print it out and frame it.

gophermomeh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gophermomeh said...

touche - I thought it was still while they were in their late teens. At any rate, yes, waiting is better for them - get them to as close to legal as you can.

SteveR said...

Since I am being so illogical in my opposition to lowering the drinking age, I am at least comforted in not having to use the example of "other cultures" for my belief.

Meade said...

Bryan Draper Caskey said...
Wow. My very first post on a blog gets labeled "fascist". Wow

Don't take it personally, Bryan. Seven Machos was drunk on his ass and didn't know what he was saying. He'll be alright... just step over him.

Welcome to the wild wide world of blog-commenting!

Seven Machos said...

Bryan -- The term you are looking for is civil disobedience. Lots of important people have engaged in it, for very good ends. Look it up.

The difference between civil disobedience and mere outlaw behavior is that you have to make arguments for your case and you have to to get people to see that you are right and the law is wrong.

Are 19-year-olds engaging in civil disobedience when they drink? No, not really, but if they had drink-ins and made a big spectacle, how long would the law last?

As far as fascist. You are right. It was certainly overwrought. I apologize. However, you scoffed at the idea that if enough of us refuse to obey a law, then the response should be to change/repeal the law. In a free and democratic society, that is exactly what should happen. To suggest otherwise is authoritarian and patronizing at the very best.

holdfast said...

I'm from a part of Canada where the age was/ias 19. My Dad always said the drinking age should be 16 and the driving age 25. Now that I am getting older and grumpier, I think I agree with him.

I know that I started drinking in high school (around 15 probably?) and it was certainly of the binge variety. Not very often, but when we drank it was generally to the puking stage. The law certainly didn't stop us, but it meant that we were consuming anything we could get our hands on. It also meant parties at houses or at gravel pits, out of the way places that require a vehicle to reach.

I think if we had been drinking in a bar or nightclub downtown, near public transit, we would have been a lot safer. Also the higher cost of bar drinks might have tempered the intake.

I would support a zero-tolerance for alcohol for drivers under 21 (or even 25) as opposed to the .08 which is the law in most place - with one violation leading to an automatic, no appeals, loss of license for at least 3 years. I think that is scary enough to deter even young people.

Anthony said...

Using the "they're going to do it anyway" argument is weak, IMO. My libertarian side asks simply why, in nearly every other respect, an 18 year old is treated as a responsible adult -- vote, go to war, etc. -- but they are not allowed to. . . .drink alcohol?

You can be charged with statutory rape for doinking a 17-year old but. . . .you can't drink alcohol? Perhaps we need to segregate 18-year olds out of high school classes so they shan't be tempted by the young'uns.

Beth said...

But if an 18 can legally buy alcohol and bring it to a party where there are a bunch of 14 year old freshman, that's kind of scary.

I agree, but I think it's a cultural problem. When I was in those two age groups, I don't remember crossing over much; i.e., at 18, 14-year-olds weren't at our parties, and vice versa.

Beth said...

Seven, no, all states have 21 as the drinking age. If I recall correctly, the way the feds got that through was to threaten highway money. Please, anyone, feel free to update or correct me, but as I recall it, the feds used that as leverage to blackmail states into conforming.

Seven Machos said...

I agree that 14-year-olds and 18-year-olds aren't doing a lot of hanging out. I also would add that it's not a problem not to get drunk if you are 14.

Seven Machos said...

For some reason, I thought Louisiana was the last bastion of freedom and reason in this case.

Original Mike said...

Beth - You are correct as to the method. The Feds required 21 to receive federal highway funds.

Meade said...

Seven Machos said...
I agree that 14-year-olds and 18-year-olds aren't doing a lot of hanging out. I also would add that it's not a problem not to get drunk if you are 14.

What? Whereas it IS a problem not to get drunk at 18?

Seven Machos said...

Meade -- I completely changed the meaning by adding an extraneous not.

It is not a problem to get drunk if you are 14.

Meade said...

Okay, but I still can't say I understand what your meaning. Are you saying that 14 year-olds will get drunk if they want to get drunk regardless of contact with older friends or legal drinking ages?

Do you think 14 year-olds getting drunk is a problem?

Seven Machos said...

Right now, 14 year-olds will get drunk if they want to get drunk. The drinking age doesn't stop them. No 14-year old sits around and says, "Gosh, I don't want to get drunk because it's against the law." If they aren't drinking, it's for other reasons.

Certainly, you can't prohibit them from hanging out with older friends.

I don't think it's bad if a 14-year-old gets drunk. I think that's about the time in your life when you must learn that there is a golden mean to guide your footsteps. More importantly, no law is going to stop 14-year-olds from getting drunk, or having sex, or any other such thing.

All of that said, I would put the legal age of purchase at no lower than 18 and I would counsel 14-year-olds to avoid alcohol, and sex.

Meade said...

Then we disagree because I think people getting drunk at any age is a problem and the younger the person getting drunk is, the more damaging it is. Ethanol damages the brain. The more ethanol, the younger the brain, the more damage. If a 14 year-old wants to experiment with alcohol, it should be under the supervision of the child's parents. Drug awareness and sex education classes should be mandatory for all parents. It should be the responsibility of parents to educate their own children about sex and drugs, not the schools.

I would counsel anyone wanting to have sex at any age to enjoy sex in the form that is appropriate and healthful to them, and does no harm to anyone else.

Now, make me king.

rhhardin said...

I don't think it's bad if a 14-year-old gets drunk. I think that's about the time in your life when you must learn that there is a golden mean to guide your footsteps

Armstrong and Getty yesterday mp3 , minutes 34-38, on a trip with the kids to Baskin Robbins, with the self-serve 78 toppings,

``You know what dad, I think I put too many different things on this.'' ``My girl's becoming a woman. That may be the measure of the transition in your life, how much crap you want on your ice cream sundae. Just the chocolate sauce and a few nuts. The first time you say, ooh, that was a bad idea. As a kid you might wake up in the middle of the night, sick, you might be covered in your own vomit, but you wouldn't regret putting 27 different toppings on your ice cream.''

Bryan Draper Caskey said...

Exactly. Going out and doing some underage drinking on a Friday night does not make you Rosa Parks. Anyone who suggests otherwise is being intellectually dishonest.

As for my opinion on where the drinking age should be, I don't really know. I'm a big fan of the argument that if the government can put an M-16 in your hand and send you to kill people, you ought to be able to have a PBR before you head off to war.

It seems like the college presidents are having a problem with this because they are in charge of large, concentrated groups of 18-22 year olds who are testing their own limits in many different ways.

I really don't mind listening to reasons on why the drinking age should be this or that, but I really don't think that one of the reasons should be: "Nobody pays attention to that law anyway". We changed our laws regarding segregation on the basis that separate is inherently unequal, not due to the fact that groups of people were disobeying the law or boycotting busses. Civil disobedience merely draws public attention to a law that may be unjust on its own merit.

Bryan Draper Caskey said...

Exactly. Going out and doing some underage drinking on a Friday night does not make you Rosa Parks. Anyone who suggests otherwise is being intellectually dishonest.

As for my opinion on where the drinking age should be, I don't really know. I'm a big fan of the argument that if the government can put an M-16 in your hand and send you to kill people, you ought to be able to have a PBR before you head off to war.

It seems like the college presidents are having a problem with this because they are in charge of large, concentrated groups of 18-22 year olds who are testing their own limits in many different ways.

I really don't mind listening to reasons on why the drinking age should be this or that, but I really don't think that one of the reasons should be: "Nobody pays attention to that law anyway". We changed our laws regarding segregation on the basis that separate is inherently unequal, not due to the fact that groups of people were disobeying the law or boycotting busses. Civil disobedience merely draws public attention to a law that may be unjust on its own merit.

Seven Machos said...

What you are able to consume into your own body is trivial compared to where you are assigned to sit on a bus (Rosa Parks) or a certain tax (the American Revolution) or whether or not you can organize yourselves as workers (unions)?

I disagree.

Meade: it is absurdly authoritarian to require adults to take courses regarding any courses of any kind.

Meade said...

Then don't have children and put them in public schools and tax me to pay for them.

I'd be a compassionate and understanding king - you can drink, smoke dope, have sex, etc. Unless you do them stupidly in a way that hurts others, in which case, OFF WITH YOUR STUPID BLOGGINGHEAD!

Simon said...

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...
"For that matter, federal involvement in education at any level beyond things like research grants is decidedly extra-constitutional."

I agree. The federal government has an obvious interest in promoting education through the spending power, and an obvious interest in ensuring that such grants aren't wasted. It's more of a jump than might be supposed, however, from there to federal control of education policy and curriculum.

vbspurs said...

Against.

Cheers,
Victoria

Synova said...

Lowering the drinking age to 18 is too simple.

And in colleges the kids dying (yes, dying) from binge drinking often aren't drinking illegally. They go drinking on their 21st birthday.

And it is not at all a minor issue to condition citizens to not care about breaking the law. Any law that is too difficult to follow conditions people not to care about breaking the law. (Traffic laws are a bit like this... can I be driving carefully and making conscious effort to follow the laws and get a ticket anyway? Yes. So why worry or try too hard?) Drinking isn't something that can be run afoul of by accident unless the issue is jurisdictions but if I, as a parent, believe that it is right and better for children to view alcohol as boring and ordinary and that it's by far better to let them taste it than to develop a fascination for the mystery, then I may be breaking the law.

And I have a choice. Do I follow the law in something that I believe is likely to encourage binge drinking and alcohol abuse, or do I break the law?

Do I even care enough to find out if my state allows parents to let their children have small amounts of alcohol?

The drinking age shouldn't be lowered to 18 it should be lower than that... for certain things and certain situations. It should never be legal to buy alcohol for someone else's children, not if you're the "cool" mom and not if you're a "helpful" 21 year old.

We find it entirely reasonable to test blood alcohol for DUIs... no reason at all not to have a similar thing for minor children in order to have a way to punish parents who think drunk children are funny. Still, no more calling children's protective services because you didn't realize that Mike's Lemonade isn't just lemonade.

Demystify it.

Lower the age to buy and drink to 18. And make sure it's a parent's choice to introduce alcohol to their own children earlier than that.

And concentrate on making it completely clear that anyone driving drunk has made the conscious choice to commit manslaughter. Try them for the attempt.

Alan said...

The drinking age should be 16. And the driving age should be 18.

Seven Machos said...

I add here a qualifier that I have added in the past: binge drinking is defined as having a few drinks over the course of a few hours. Look it up.

Meade said...

You look it up. That's an old definition. It's much worse than that. Especially in the UK. Exploding bladders.

Revenant said...

I add here a qualifier that I have added in the past: binge drinking is defined as having a few drinks over the course of a few hours. Look it up.

Binge drinking is defined by people who have a vested interest in inflating the apparent "epidemic" of binge drinking, to be a few drinks over the course of a few hours. The rest of us call that "a typical party".

Binge drinking is getting seriously drunk, usually for a prolonged period of time. That's the definition normal people use.

Spread Eagle said...

What's the best way to encourage young people who are inclined to drink to do it the right way?

Give them incentives, and make it entirely provisional until age 21. Something like this:

First, no provisional right to drink is to be granted, and revocation of grant if it occurs after granted, if there be any alcohol offenses of any kind or nature or any other offenses with any alcohol present. Second, make succesful completion of a year's coursework in high school on the subject of drugs and alcohol and the societal and health issues surrounding them a mandatory pre-condition.

Then a provisional right to drink could be granted if any of the following is present:

Final high school GPA of 3.8 or above plus 200 hours of volunteer but formalized and structured community service in some way connected to alcohol; 300 hours if GPA is between 3.5 and 3.8;

Associate's Degree from an accredited institution with GPA of 3.5 or higher, and 100 hours community service;

Bachelors degree from an accredited institution;

Active military service and attainment of E-4 rank, or honorable separation from military after a minimum of 12 months active service;

One year or 750 hours (whichever is more) of volunteer but formalized and structured community service;

Any other similar ways or variations anybody else might want to suggest.

Beth said...

For some reason, I thought Louisiana was the last bastion of freedom and reason in this case.

Again, just going on memory, but I think we held out as long as we could. And judging by our crappy roads, I think we could give up the federal highway money and no one would notice the difference.

Seven Machos said...

Good luck enforcing that one, Spread. I'm sure it'll fit on a driver's license, passport, or identity card. Right along side eye color.

And so easy to keep track of.

Seven Machos said...

Rev -- I agree. It's just that when you hear about "studies" that find the "horrors" of "binge drinking," they are invariably going by the basic question: how often do you have three or four few drinks over three or fours hours? Not the question: how often do you get violently drunk and hurl everywhere and pass out?

Meade said...

You want a license to get married? Sit through 3 days of divorce court. You want a license to consume alcohol? Sit through 3 AlAnon meetings. You want license to date my daughter? Sit down, let's talk for about 3 hours.

Peter V. Bella said...

Meade said...
You want license to date my daughter? Sit down, let's talk for about 3 hours.


Let's talk for three hours while I clean my guns.

Meade said...

That's correct, Peter B.
First question: How are you going to protect yourself and my daughter from bingeing drunken hooligans without one of these?

Spread Eagle said...

Good luck enforcing that one, ....

And so easy to keep track of.


Decidedly easy. A state-issued ID card. If a minor is carded they must produce it.

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