Drinking Age

I stumbled upon an article from the Guardian  today talking about how some U.S. states are considering lowering the legal drinking age from 21 to 18.

There are proponents and opponents of the change.  MADD argues against it, saying that young drivers’ deaths are down 13% since the legal age was raised to 21.  However, this is meaningless without context.  How much did the overall rate decline in that time?  The general attitude of society towards DUI has changed a lot in 20 years, it could be that all deaths are down by even more than 13%.  Drilling even deeper, how many deaths were alcohol-related before and after the change?  So, since I don’t have enough data to make a call empirically, so I’ll go with my gut: I think it’s a good idea, for most of the reasons that the article states: basically that kids are going to drink anyway, you might as well let them do it openly and (relatively) safely. 

As a potential bar-owner, I’m not sure how I feel about it, though.  The younger a person is, the less likely they are to have much disposable income, so they may not be good potential customers anyway.  And a bar that appeals to young people has to recruit new clientele constantly, whereas older crowds are more steady.  Also, I don’t want people “learning” to drink in my establishment, with all the associated vomit, fights and other drama.  Of course, the way I market my bar will be far more influential to what age my customers are than any change in law that may or may not filter up from the states.

As an aside, one of the other reasons they cite for lowering the limit is so returning soldiers will be able to drink legally.  One politician says:

“If you can take a shot on the battlefield you ought to be able to take a shot of beer legally.”

 It’s a great soundbite, of course, but who drinks beer in shots?

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2 Responses to “Drinking Age”

  1. netdud Says:

    I was just talking with someone down here in Omaha about how odd the over-21 thing seems to me. No campus pubs, strange laws in bars that allow minors in to see bands, but only with a notarised note from their parents. And of course, byzantine licensing laws concerning ranges of ages.

    It seems all the odder because drinking is such a part of the culture here. There are lots of places in the world where that is the case of course, but it’s almost like they do it backwards here. In some cultures, they approach alcohol like say, driving a car or riding a bike–teach ’em the important stuff young, so that what could be a danger is no big deal, and by the time they are doing on on their own, they are prepared to make some choices.

    Down here, the approach is more to teach that alcohol is a REALLY BAD THING, and punish the heck out of under-age offenders. Then, once you turn 21, you’re free to do whatever you want with it, so you’re a pretty good size, and a legal adult, as you go through your vomiting and fighting phase–out of which many never seem to grow.

    I don’t think that keeping the horrible sin of drinking in an interesting black box on the top shelf and then just handing it to someone at an arbitrary age is the best approach. The thing about ignorance is that you never outgrow it. And it tends to breed more ignorance. And in this case, really large bottles of truly awful beer.

    You end up with people drinking for the EFFECT of alcohol, rather than for the enjoyment of its consumption. And that is not good for anyone.

    This is a pretty common way to approach “sins” though. And that is a problem, because people just can’t make good decisions unless they have information. As I just said to my friend down here “I’m still not used to this whole ‘Can’t drink until you’re married’ thing down here.”

    As for the whole “old enough for military service, old enough to drink” issue, I dunno why they don’t just do the same thing down here that we do in Canada. If you show military ID, you can get served in a bar.

    It’s pretty safe to say that you wouldn’t have the same problem with fake mil IDs that you do with driver’s licenses.

  2. Does lowering the drinking age even matter? « Life Before Noon: A Millennial’s Manual Says:

    […] it and I considered the arguments for and against lowering the drinking age (including those from a potential bar owner and college journalist, I don’t even think lowering the drinking age would even matter. […]


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