Tuesday, May 13, 2008

But Why?

A recently released poll indicates that most Americans oppose lowering the drinking age to 18, and likewise believe that we should tighten restrictions on underage alcohol consumptions.

This, to my mind, is ridiculous. Like with drugs, virtually everyone knows folks who drank prior to turning 21 (perhaps -- or perhaps not! -- like drugs, most people themselves drank prior to turning 21). We do not feel like they got away with something they shouldn't have. We do not believe they are bad people. All of which gets tacked onto the fact that our prohibitionist stance on 19 year olds drinking alcohol is futile to the point of absurdism, as anyone who's ever been on a college campus knows. So I really don't know what motivates irrationality to this robust of a degree.

3 comments:

Matt said...

I guess one plausible objection is that not a ton of high schoolers have a close enough relationship with 21 year olds that they can get liquor/beer whatever bought for them, but just about every high schooler knows an 18 year old senior. Of course, some already have older friends, others have parents who will buy, or siblings - the harm isn't "unique" but from a social policy perspective I do think that lowering the drinking age would probably see an increase in high school drinking, and potentially in drunk driving. This may be a policy area where modeling after Europe is counterproductive, since the dismal state of public transportation, sprawling road/highway system and emphasis on car ownership and cars as primary transport (versus walking, busing, biking) is sort of unique to America.

Julian Hoffman said...

I would have to agree. The fact of the matter is, although it may be "slightly" tough for a high schooler to obtain alcohol, ANYbody in college can obtain alcohol with ease, legally or illegally. We claim to be the "land of the free", yet we cling to puritanical values. Let's catch up to the rest of the world.

PG said...

I agree with Matt that drunk driving is too much of a problem in the U.S., in contrast with Europe, to discount the effect that lowering the legal drinking age would have on it. However, I'd prefer to switch the ages: have people be able to drink at 18 and drive at 21. This would, of course, bring the fast food and other minimum wage-dependent industries to a standstill.