August 20 2007

Should the legal drinking age be lowered?

Should the legal drinking age be lowered?How odd that stories I wrote in August of 2005 are becoming relevant again in August 2007. First it was school uniforms, and now we’re hearing rumblings about the Minimum Legal Drinking Age (MLDA).

As I said, I first touched on this back on August 20th, 2005, and… well, two years to the day, I’m back to it. There is a movement for a national petition to lower the legal drinking age, and I have to say I support it.

There are a couple of reasons I think this is a good idea:

A) Demystifying – There is a mysterious quality to alcohol while you’re under 21. I know I certainly fell victim to it when I was younger, and I actually feel my drinking DECREASED once the “taboo factor” of it was removed.

While you’re under the legal drinking age, there is more of an urgency to acquiring the alcohol, a sense of cool factor, almost an elation of triumph in the illegal activity.

B) Why is it the last hurdle? – Why is such a simple act the last hurdle to adulthood? Let me borrow from I said two years ago:

It seems silly that drinking is the last of the hurdles into supposed adult hood in this country. Let’s look at some of things you can do at other ages:

15 – Driving with a permit in some states
16 – Driving with a restricted license
18 – Driving with a full license
18 – Enter legally binding contracts
18 – Vote
18 – Join the military
18 – Take out a loan
18 – Get a credit card
18 – Smoke
18 – Get married without parental consent
18 – Buy a rifle or shotgun
21 – Buy a handgun and handgun ammo

So essentially, you can put yourself into debt for life with credit cards, smoke and give yourself cancer, join the military and go fight a war where you can kill or be killed, buy a rifle, drive a 2 ton coffin on wheels or enter into a contract that could change your life…..but don’t you dare think about having a beer while doing any of these things. Getting married, but you are under 21? Sorry, no champagne for you.

drinking voteAnd, surprise, surprise, people agree with me. (as with all online polls, the results are suspect, but still interesting to read.  This is a vote happening on, and as you can see, the clear majority feels that in some way the drinking age should be lowered.  I fully admit there are probably some kids mixed in there, but it does make one wonder.  A more scientific Gallup poll showed that 77% of people opposed lowering the drinking age, but as someone who has taken one of their polls, I don’t agree with the way they word things.

Anyway you slice it, it still seems silly that people who are old enough to decide to head off to war can’t have a beer.  “Well, Johnny, you’re old enough to pick up a gun and be shot by an Iraqi, but put down the beer, you’re not responsible enough for the decision yet.”

The logic of this country astounds me sometimes.

From the MSNBC article, I do like the idea of  drinking education, it won’t work, but I like it.  I think one of the biggest problems with drinking here is we are never taught moderation.  You look at countries like England that allow children to drink with their parents in a restaurant from the age of 16, and that makes sense to me.  You can start to teach your kids about the responsibilities and the effects of alcohol, but instead, here in the USA, you kind of get thrown into the deep end of the pool and are expected to know how to swim.

We have the highest MLDA of any country in the world, and that just seems wrong to me somehow.

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