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Phoenix McHeit
09-16-2009, 09:33 AM
Commentary: Drinking age of 21 doesn't work

http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/09/16/mccardell.lower.drinking.age/index.html?eref=igoogle_cnn

Some highlights:

"...elected officials are periodically reminded of a provision in the 1984 law that continues to stifle any serious public debate in our country's state legislative chambers: Any state that sets its drinking age lower than 21 forfeits 10 percent of its annual federal highway appropriation...."

"... Now, 25 years later, we are in a much different, and better, place. Thanks to the effective public advocacy of organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, we are far more aware of the risks of drinking and driving. Automobiles are much safer. Seatbelts and airbags are mandatory. The "designated driver" is now a part of our vocabulary. And more and more states are mandating ignition interlocks for first-time DUI offenders, perhaps the most effective way to get drunken drivers off the road...."

"...That is why the Amethyst presidents believe a public debate is so urgent. The law does not say drink responsibly or drink in moderation. It says don't drink. To those affected by it, those who in the eyes of the law are, in every other respect legal adults, it is Prohibition. And it is incomprehensible...."

"... Most of the rest of the world has come out in a different place on the drinking age. The United States is one of only four countries -- the others are Indonesia, Mongolia and Palau -- with an age as high as 21. All others either have no minimum age or have a lower age, generally 18, with some at 16. Young adults know that. And, in their heart of hearts, they also know that a law perceived as unjust, a law routinely violated, can over time breed disrespect for law in general...."




So... thoughts?

I think it all comes down to Personal Responsibility. I think the age should be lowered, if not abolished entirely. If a young man or woman can vote, drive, fight and possibly die for their country, they should be able to have a legal beer.

renren
09-16-2009, 09:34 AM
I'll second that! If you are old enough for the military, you're old enough for a drink!

daBaroness
09-16-2009, 10:00 AM
I have to disagree. I was 18 when the legal drinking age was 18 - thus I drank legally at ... 18. Not that it matters really - I've never been much of a drinker. Not really a moral thing - I'm just not fond of the taste of a lot of alcohol - especially wine and beer. I'm also not a fan of the feeling of being drunk - I just don't like any part of it.

That said. Anyone who drinks and drives is a fargin, flaming idiot in my book. Idiocy knows no age.

However ... lack of life experience often equates to idiocy.

The main problem with making the drinking age 18 is that alcohol immediately becomes available to even younger people. A 21-year-old may not provide alcohol for a 14-year-old - but an 18-year-old might - particularly if they are still in high school. Some 18-year-olds may be able to embibe responsibly - and I personally think that number is low - but most 14-year-olds aren't responsible enough to do their own homework these days, muchless handle a big, stupid drunk-on.

I guess I just reject, through personal experience, that anyone is truly an adult upon their 18th birthday. Or their 21st birthday. Or their 65th birthday. But teen-agers especially, many of whom already think they're bulletproof, just plain old don't need to be drinking alcohol.

I understand the drinking age in many countries is lower than in the U.S. But most of these other cultures don't make a sport, night or event out of the consumption of alcohol. They have wine with dinner or a beer or two while socializing with friends and family. They don't go to someone's home for the express purpose of drinking themselves into an unconscious, blind, drunken stupor that takes two days from which to regain reasonable consciousness again.

Moving the drinking age to 18 didn't change that when I was 18-21. I just sent more high school and college-age kids into bars, binges and brawls. Consumption of alcohol should not be a rite of passage - if it is, we're looking at a sick society IMHO.

Drea Beth
09-16-2009, 10:25 AM
Consumption of alcohol should not be a rite of passage - if it is, we're looking at a sick society IMHO.

As always, well said DB.

The quote above, however, makes me wonder...

If there was no drinking age and a parent could legally serve a kid a drink* (beer, wine, whatever) with dinner, at a party, etc., would drinking become less of a "rite of passage" and more of an everyday occurance and less of a big deal? I realize it wouldn't happen over night, but maybe over time...


*Don't know about other states, but here in NJ it is against the law for a parent to server their own child alcohol in their own home.

Phoenix McHeit
09-16-2009, 10:46 AM
I understand the drinking age in many countries is lower than in the U.S. But most of these other cultures don't make a sport, night or event out of the consumption of alcohol. They have wine with dinner or a beer or two while socializing with friends and family.



And that's the thing. My parents had that atmosphere in their home. We occasionally had a bottle of wine opened with dinner. Or Dad sometimes had a scotch when his work friends visited. My favorite memories were of sitting in front of the fire, chatting with the family, each of us with our drink of choice. Mine was an inch of wine in my glass - cuz I was 12 at the time.

I was raised that alcohol was a sometime-indulgence. I was also raised watching my uncle get sloppy drunk and subsequently banned from our home after the third incident. I was taught to respect myself, and by extension, what alcohol does to me.

Yes, I've been drunk before. No, I'm not necessarily proud of the fact, but I'm not going to lie about it either. I thank my parents for not making alcohol some huge taboo that was dangled just out of reach.

THAT'S what makes for binge drinking or sneaking them.

Azura
09-16-2009, 05:20 PM
I agree with DaB and Phoenix. Here in Wisconsin, it is legal for anyone over the age of 10 to have alcohol, as long as it was given to them by their parents. Otherwise, the drinking age is 21. I grew up in a teetolian family myself, but (thankfully?) my father side of the family is rife with alcoholics, so alcohol was never a mysterious thing, but rather a very bad thing. I never had much interest in drinking, but I do like some whiskey every now and then.

I can't see how too much good can come out of lowering the drinking age. I know that turning 18 gave me no magically-imparted maturity, and I don't know anyone else that was any amount of "grown up" then, either. However, I would think that if a kid has his own job, pays all his own bills, and buys his own car, then I think he could be considered responsible enough to buy his own drinks.

LadyLaura
09-16-2009, 06:15 PM
I'm with DaB. I too grew up during the time when the drinking age was 18. I was never actually 18 during that time, I kept missing it by a year as the age moved up. I can tell you I never lacked for alcohol from the age of 14 on up. It was very easy to find someone who was 18 to buy for you. A lot of high school seniors fit the bill. Tons of keg parties, every weekend. Way easy to find someone to swap an ID with, and yeah, the tech is better, but I still think it would happen now, too. It didn't work the first time it was tried, and I don't think it would work out well now. Law enforcement is tougher, but I don't think drinking behavior/maturity has changed all that much.

The only positive side to the experience was by the time I got to college, I was pretty done with the drinking thing... Got great grades, partied in moderation, so I guess it does have it's advantages, providing you make it through in one piece. Not everyone did. Lots of DWI accidents/fatalities, lots of teen alcoholism. In my opinion, not really worth it.

Gemdrite
09-16-2009, 06:59 PM
I agree that if you don't make alcohol such a "rite of passage", you'd probably have less issues with the bad behavior. I don't think there should be a drinking age at all. However, if you are going to have it, then it should be 18. I fully believe the adage "If you are old enough to die for your country, you are old enough to drink alcohol." My parents were bartenders, so I was always allowed one or two drinks at social functions, but I remember that as I got closer to 21, my mom got more stingy about letting me have a drink, and so I'd get sneakier about it and drink more just to spite her. If she'd never made a big deal out of it, I wouldn't have either. Now, I rarely have more than one or two drinks, and even those are pretty sparing...mostly cause I can't afford to buy alcohol when I have more pressing grocery needs, but also because it just doesn't hold the awe factor it used to.

Lady Marta
09-16-2009, 08:20 PM
i know im one of the youngest wenches on this board- clocking in at only 24- but this is a subject i hold dear. i will be the first to tell you that i grew up in a home were alchol was no mystery. my family saw no harm in letting my brother and i not only have the "occasional" drink with dinner or when family was over, but also, while in highschool, became the party house! in my parents eyes it was better for all of us to be there getting drunk there then anywhere else. which i agree with! it WAS safer and no one ever got hurt, it also taught my brother and i alot about resposibility. but it wasnt until my brother, barely 18 at the time, had graduated from bootcamp and my dad couldnt even let him have a beer with dinner that i guess we truly learned that our home was far differnet than the rest of the world!

idk, i think there is a thin line here. i think in many cases my parents had the right idea, but our family was very close and my parents always knew what we were up too... but there are alot of families who pay little to no attention to there teenagers or the teenagers simply hide things(hey i was kid once!) and thats why age restrictions are in affect. im not sure if there is really a right or wrong here? but i like to think that IF i were parent(which im not) i would know my teenagers well enough to know if they were responsible enough for a drink?!

just a thought......

Jayde
09-17-2009, 01:41 AM
I kind of have to agree with DaB on this. I think they should leave the age at what it is. Being old enough to drive, buy a car, etc is one thing. Just because you're old enough to do something, doesn't necessarily mean you are responsible enough to do it. Heck, I myself fell for the "you're pre-approved for XYZ credit card" when I was 18. Yeah, I was old enough for it, but I sure as heck wasn't responsible enough to have it at the time. I've seen plenty of teenagers who have their licenses who, if the driving test person saw them, would not have their license.

As far as the "being old enough to die for our country", yes most of those who are 18 who choose to go into the armed services more than likely are responsible enough to drink. Because you have to take into account the amount of training they go through and the amount of discipline they are probably dealt if they were to behave irresponsibly.

I, personally didn't get drunk for the first time until I was 19 (I'm 30 now). Looking back on it now, yeah...it wasn't as cool as most would think it was. Even on my 21st birthday, I didn't drink much.

Margaret
09-17-2009, 07:11 AM
I grew up in a small town in the Upper Peninsula. Once you grew out of the "Hang out at McDonald's on Saturday night" phase at about 15ish - there was not alot of anything else to do but have keg parties or house parties.

The big keg parties were usually busted by the local sheriff's dept. really fast. Mostly because of town gossip, they knew exactly when and where they were going down and back when the guys working the sheriff's dept. were in high school, they were having keggers in the same place. :lol:

The kids got sent home or driven home by the cops and life went on. To the best of my knowledge, there was not a drunk driving accident involving kids when I was in jr. high/high school. Also, back then - the drinking age in WI was 18, so driving 9 miles to hit the dance bar was no big issue. My first time in the bars of Hurley, WI was a big deal, but then it just became a place to hang out with friends and boogie.

At home, my parents never made drinking taboo or a huge deal. Dad had his beer at home, mom would have a drink when we went out to dinner. They always gave me the "Be smart about it." speech. However, my biggest deterrent to getting caught at a party by the cops or hauled in for a DUI was Mr. Iggy Soderman. Iggy was a life long friend of my parents and had known my sister and I since birth. He was the night dispatcher at the county sheriffs dept. Screwing up and disappointing my parents would hurt and be all sorts of bad, but it would be something we'd get over after I was done being grounded for 25 years or so. However, facing Iggy would have been the worst. Thus, we were smart about dealing with alcohol.

I do think there needs to be an age limit set for drinking and it would be nice if it were 18. The maturity/responsibility level between those two ages isn't all that different and it varries widely depending on the person. Also, I really don't want to belly up to the bar for a nice relaxing beer and have a couple of 16 year olds sitting next to me discussing how mean their math teacher is. :-D

Selena
09-17-2009, 07:20 AM
As far as I'm concerned, the bottom line here is that after almost 23 years, it's been proven that it doesn't work in this country. This society makes it SUCH a big deal, when over the eons we humans have had alcohol, it's been proven it will be abused... no matter what the age.

surlywench
09-17-2009, 12:18 PM
just ooc, what are the drunk driving statistics for countries where the age is lower? England, France, Spain, Germany, etc? I think it's also more difficult to get a driver's license in some of those countries, which can also be taken into account, but it's still worth looking at.

Selena
09-17-2009, 12:44 PM
just ooc, what are the drunk driving statistics for countries where the age is lower? England, France, Spain, Germany, etc? I think it's also more difficult to get a driver's license in some of those countries, which can also be taken into account, but it's still worth looking at.

I know I've read reports in the past, can't produce them at the moment, but they take drunk driving VERY serious in those parts. I mean really seriously. They don't play around.

Meanwhile, we have people here in the states having their 10th, 12th + arrest for dui with consequences they continue to laugh at.

surlywench
09-17-2009, 01:01 PM
I know I've read reports in the past, can't produce them at the moment, but they take drunk driving VERY serious in those parts. I mean really seriously. They don't play around.

Meanwhile, we have people here in the states having their 10th, 12th + arrest for dui with consequences they continue to laugh at.

So the debate broadens from: should we lower the drinking age, to the entire country needs to re-assess its stance on many of the issues that stem from drinking at any age.

so, a show of hands of those who think that would ever happen? ..... .... .....bueller?

LitlePepito
09-17-2009, 02:47 PM
So the debate broadens from: should we lower the drinking age, to the entire country needs to re-assess its stance on many of the issues that stem from drinking at any age.

so, a show of hands of those who think that would ever happen? ..... .... .....bueller?


Iím not generally a fan of using it, but for once Wikipida has a good round up of drinking ages.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_drinking_age

If you notice the European countries that we deem as traditionally big drinkers have a low drinking ages and quite a few designate between low alcoholic drinks (beer/wine) and liquor. From what Iíve seen of my Italian relatives and Icelandic in-laws they have completely different mentality when it comes to drinking. They donít view it as some form of taboo, its just something people do and so long as you do it responsibly they donít care how much you imbibe.

Personally I think we need to have that complete mental change. Keeping alcohol away from 18 year olds doesnít seem to work. Heck 58% of 12th graders have admitted to being drunk at least once. Having draconian laws that take away citizens rights when it comes to drinking doesnít seem to work. Donít get me wrong Iím not advocating drinking and driving, but Iím tired of seeing PSA commercials that make parents that let their kids drink at home out to be criminals. So long as its done responsibly, if adults take away mystery of drinking kids wont grow up wanting to find out about this strange taboo thing called beer. Theyíll already know about it and learned from their parents how to deal with it.

Now as to wither I think this will ever happen. Nope not a snowballs chance in hell. We Americans seem to have to much of a love/hate relationship with the stuff.

Cyranno DeBoberac
09-17-2009, 07:54 PM
My main problem with the "national" drinking age of 21 is the vile end-run around the 10th Amendment that was used to codify it.