Rational Drinking Policy

Several college presidents are calling for a lower drinking age, as reported in a front-page story in The Washington Post (“Lower Drinking Age Is Criticized”):

“On the face of it, the notion seems counterintuitive, but to the Presidents of some of the nation’s most prestigious colleges, it makes a lot of sense: Lowering the legal drinking age might get students to drink less. But any chance for the academic leaders to begin a public discussion of their theory — that allowing people as young as 18 to drink legally might promote moderation — has been lost in a wave of criticism from health experts, transportation officials, government leaders and opponents of drunk driving.”

This is a debate that needs to happen. This country needs a rational drinking policy. And trying to keep 18-year-olds — many of whom are getting weapons to kill bad guys in faraway places on behalf of the government — from having a beer, a glass of wine or a shot of tequila is insane, in my book.

This country has always been bipolar when it comes to drinking. Some sections of the country have laws akin to Saudi Arabia, while some are so lax in their enforcement we could be in Paris. In one part of the country, you can go to a whiskey manufacturing plant, but you can’t taste the product, because it is a dry county.

My friends, that is completely insane.

Outside of slavery, which was really bad, the most embarrassing legal moment in United States history was the era known as Prohibition. Prohibition, a constitutional amendment foisted on the nation by a bunch of do-gooders, religious activists and the women’s temperance movement, ushered in the modern Mafia, and helped make the Kennedy family fortune. I am not sure about abstract legal theory, but I do know that passing laws that ban an activity that most citizens want to do is a complete waste of time.

This applies to other areas, too. Some politicians want to ban poker-playing, for example. Dumb idea. People want to play poker. Let them.

Drunk driving is a serious problem, but our current laws make drunk driving more prevalent among young adults. Kids are going to drink, and they are going to drink a lot if they don’t know how. Making the kids go off-campus for their booze increases the chances that they will drive to get there. That increases the chances that they will drive drunk.

Better to have the kids drink on campus, where they can be supervised or where, at least, they can walk it off.

Booze is better than drugs. It is a legal substance. It has some health benefits. It is a part of American culture.

America is not a theocracy. America believes in freedom. And let’s face it: America needs a drink.

Good for the college presidents for starting this debate. Let’s hope they win it.


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