Third Party & Independents Archives

Principle

A petition drive is in the works to get ballot initiatives on several states to lower the drinking age from 21 to 18. Proponents of this drive bring up the argument that a person who can vote and join the military should be allowed to make their own decision. Push back is being given by groups such as MADD and The National Transportation Safety Board who tell us that the higher age saves lives. The question is, which is the more principled stand, to keep us safe or the right to make our own decisions?

Ok, it's probably not going to be hard to figure out which side of the issue I stand on. IMO, if we are going to tell people that at age 18 they are old enough to make decisions for themselves, which include joining the military and defending our country, driving a car, voting, signing contracts, getting married, smoking, etc, then why are we keeping them from making the single decision of drinking alcohol legally?

It is this one act in this country that is still legal but only legal to do after age 21. Proponents of the law tell us that it saves lives.

Sen. Lautenberg said, “Far too many young people die from alcohol-related crashes each year. My landmark minimum drinking age law has made our roads and our communities safer. It has saved countless lives and will continue to do so.”

From MADD's website

More than 6,000 people died in 2002 from underage-drinking-related causes (alcohol-related traffic fatalities, homicides, suicides, and other unintentional injuries). More than 2,200 of these were alcohol-related traffic fatalities according to the Institute of Medicine.

Ok, but let me ask the obvious question? Why stop at 21? Why not go on and make the drinking age be 25, wouldn't that save more lives? Or 30? Or better yet, just make drinking illegal? We've gone well past the idea of prohibition in this country with our insane drug laws and armed a new mafia already, another illegal drug couldn't be much worse.

In fact, there are a lot of behaviors that, if we curtailed through law, we could save lives with.

But even worse is the way that the 'national' drinking age came about. You see, the federal government can't institute a national drinking age or make it illegal [1] but they did make sure the states followed the direction they wanted by threatening the national highway funds for any state that didn't raise the drinking age to 21. If they didn't comply, the state would not get the promised highway money and that is a large incentive that the federal government uses more than on this occasion to get its way.

The problem here is principle, IMO. We need to start sending the right message to children that principle matters. That when we say that at age 18 your are considered an adult and will be held accountable for your actions, we need to mean it all the way, not just with everything but alcohol. By giving them a pass we are doing more than just making them go to illegal means to obtain alcohol, which they will do, but we are also telling them that we don't trust them yet. No, you can die for the country, you can decide the direction of our country, but you can't decide if you should drink or not.

I think it's time to stop the charade of 'saving lives' at the expense of unfairly telling anyone from age 18 to 20 that they are 'not quite an adult yet, not a complete citizen yet.' We need to start having enough faith in our children to allow them the ability to make their own choices in all aspects of their own lives.

There are those who are 18 who are more than mature enough to handle alcohol. There are many who are over 35 who I don't think should be given a drop of any alcohol, who just can't handle it. Perhaps we should better target behavior and not age in these cases. If you abuse alocohol you aren't allowed to purchase it again for 5 years. Abuse it again after that, 10. A third time and no more alcohol for you ever. Same if you are diagnosed as an 'alcoholic'.

I don't know, I guess I just expect sense out of our laws, I should know better. We let lawyers make them for us, is it my hopeless optimism getting in the way?

[1] Yes, they outlaw other drugs, but we let them get away with it. Who is the worst in those cases?

Posted by Rhinehold at August 14, 2007 5:09 PM
Comments
Comment #229407

Rather than lower the drinking age to 18, I’d rather raise the age of “adulthood” to 21. That means no teen-ager can decide to go to war or to vote. And the fact is, most people are not immature enough at age 18 to handle alcohol. I wasn’t.

More realistically, we should recognixe that there is a transition period from being an adolescent and being an adult. I see no problem with phasing in rights and obligations. We don’t have to treat this as an off/on switch.

Posted by: Gerrold at August 14, 2007 6:15 PM
Comment #229412

Rhinehold and Gerrold..you both have legitimate points. I do think that a person matures between 18 and 21, based primarily, I believe, because of more exposure to the world in general, and outside of a controlled envionment. I also know, and can remember, that I was far more responsible at 30 than I was at 25, and so forth, etc…..
I do think Gerrold, that the idea of going into the military at 21 is better than 18. I think those 3 years are really good for some muscle flexing and attitude adjusting besides the collection of every-day life experiences.

Posted by: Sandra Davidson at August 14, 2007 7:20 PM
Comment #229417

Rhinehold,

I was born in Nebraska and lived my entire life there until disability necessitated my move to Kansas so family could help care for me.

Nebraska experimented with a lower drinking age. I found a time-line:

* 1935-3/13/69 Age 21 down to age 20

* 7/6/72 Age 20 down to age 19

* 7/19/80 Age 19 up to age 20

* 1/1/85 Age 20 up to age 21

http://www.lcc.ne.gov/age_history.html

The argument for lowering the age was the same then as it is now. Why did they change it back upwards? A drastic increase in DUI fatalities for one thing. Another was an increase in domestic violence.

The 18 year old mind is less capable of processing complex thought …… period! That’s why our Armed Services prefers to get ‘em while they’re young. It’s easier to influence a young mind than it is an older mind.

I think it would be much better to raise the eligible age to serve in the military ……… say to about 25! No college deferments! Our military needs the best and the brightest MEN and WOMEN ——— not kids!

Posted by: KansasDem at August 14, 2007 8:16 PM
Comment #229437

KansasDem, no college deferments? You’ve gotten your wish. It’s a completely moot point with an all-volunteer military.

I have to agree with Rhinehold. In our society, with only a few exceptions (i.e., being President of the United States), individuals are for all purposes adults when they reach the age of 18.

Are there additional risks involved in letting 18 year olds drink? Absolutely. Are such risks sufficient reason for denying equal rights to those who are otherwise adults? Absolutely not.
And if the ability to process complex thought is the standard, there are 15 year olds who would significantly outshine a lot of 50 year olds.

On a deeper level, I think the real problem here is a much deeper one. We spend so much time wondering when people should be allowed to exercise freedoms that might be abused because we do far too little to respond to those who do abuse their freedoms.

A great many alcohol-related traffic fatalities are caused by those who have already have lengthy records. Make the costs for these kinds of infractions much higher for everybody instead of the usual slap on the wrist before turning them free to offend again.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at August 14, 2007 11:03 PM
Comment #229446

Actually when I was growing up and first went into service the legal drinking age was 21. It got lowered to 18 in most states when Nixon signed the bill lowering the voting age from 21 to 18.
The thinking then was that if a person was old enough to be drafted at 18 and fight and die for this country, they were old enough to vote and drink.
It was in the early 90’s that the drinking age got raised back up to 21. Clinton and his bunch threatened the states with loss of highway money if they didn’t comply with their demands.
I have to agree that if a person is supposedly responsible enough to marry, sigh contracts, vote, and is old enough smoke, and serve in the Military and possibly die for their country at 18, they’re old enough to make the decision to drink or not.

Posted by: Ron Brown at August 15, 2007 12:08 AM
Comment #229447

100 years ago people who were 16 were running businesses and starting families. Were they more mature because we didn’t live as long then? Or was it because we expected more and they lived up to it?

That was one of my points, we keep allowing our ‘children’ to stay children for longer and longer, and they will stay that way if we let them. If we don’t think kids are able to handle life at 18, then we don’t let them be adults until they are 21, or 25, etc.

Or, we could let people know that at age 18 they are adults and they have to be ready, by that time, to BE adults or society will punish them for it.

But… we don’t punish people anymore, do we? We just keep building up more and more safety nets for them. Have you seen children’s playgrounds and how they ride their bikes these days? I don’t mind it, they are safer, but what kind of message does it send if they don’t think that they can get hurt doing the just about anything?

And as for military service at 21 or 25… Why wouldn’t we want to get the best out of people at 18? I was 19 when I enlisted and I’m glad every day that I did while I was still young enough to have some of the nonsense I had picked up in public schools knocked out of me.

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 15, 2007 12:11 AM
Comment #229449

LO….the rest of us are already paying for the supidity of drinking drivers, regardless of age. Death or permanent impairment is a high price!!! The outrageous cost of insurance is another…..and I certainly don’t consider a fatality to be an infraction.

Posted by: Sandra Davidson at August 15, 2007 12:19 AM
Comment #229451

I don’t disagree, Sandra. But when a drunk 18 year old kills somebody in his car, it happens because he is drunk. Not because he’s 18.

And if a 45 year old kills or injures somebody, there’s no consolation because of his age.

My only point, which I should have spelled out more clearly, is that there should be much stiffer penalties for DUI and DWI, including long suspensions or revocation of driver’s licenses that cannot be reversed without, at minimum, the completion of a treatment program. Obviously, that won’t solve the problem, but it might help a little. Anybody who drives drunk is breaking the law in a very serious fashion, no matter their age. Putting the focus of the offense on the driver’s age instead of the drinking and driving infraction just doesn’t seem very effective to me.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at August 15, 2007 12:43 AM
Comment #229453

I dunno. I haven’t researched this recently, but my understanding is that alcohol affects adolescent brains more severely than older brains. Development speed varies among individuals, of course, but many 18 year olds still have adolescent brains while most 21 year olds don’t.

I don’t know about you guys, but I matured a lot between the ages of 18 and 21. I think the same is true of most of my friends. My own life experiences tell me that 18 is too young.

Posted by: Gerrold at August 15, 2007 12:48 AM
Comment #229454

Gerrold,

At 41, when I look back to when I was 21, and 18, I was pretty stupid at both ages. We don’t stop ‘growing’ as in maturing and developing our brains and such at 21.

To say ‘I was pretty stupid at 18 based on what I now know’ as a basis, why would we allow these stupid kids to vote or sign contracts? They just aren’t mature enough!

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 15, 2007 1:02 AM
Comment #229455

Maybe Gerrold makes a good point in his first response… raise the age of adulthood… Of course, as an 18 year old I joined the Army, and as a 21 year old, I probably would not have done so… so there ya go.

Either way, it needs to be consistent. I cannot fathom that an 18 year old is old enough to stop a bullet with his heart in the line of military service, but is not old enough to drink a beer while watching the Seahawks on a Sunday afternoon. As a life long Seahawks fan, I can tell you all first hand that beer helps dull the pain…

Posted by: Doug Langworthy at August 15, 2007 1:06 AM
Comment #229457

Rhinehold,

OF course not; I never said we stop developing at 21. Still, the brain of an adolescent is developing in ways that an adult brain isn’t. I’m not just making that up, you know. Frankly, I’m not interested in looking up sources at the moment, but if you really care about it, go for it. Any age we select is arbitrary to some degree.

Anyway, your argument is based on “fairness.” Mine isn’t. I don’t think most 18 year old are mature enough to enlist, so that argument has no persuasive value to me. As for signing contracts, I’d say it depends on the contract.

At any rate, I see the years between 18 and 21 as a transitional period. I see no logical reason why any one of those years has to be a toggle for all adult rights and responsibilities. If we still drafted 18 year olds to fight wars, then I might go along with your reasoning (if some kid might be forced to shoot and kill somebody, then hell yeah let him drink a beer.) But we don’t have a draft.

Posted by: Gerrold at August 15, 2007 1:16 AM
Comment #229460

In a country where every child is raised witness to multitudinous lawbreaking on our highways by drivers, I think raising or lowering the drinking age is an act of futility.

We would do far better to enforce existing laws without exception for rank, wealthy, or political affiliation so our children can be raised witness to a majority of law abiding behavior or just consequences. That would do far more for young driver’s sense of responsibility and duty, than raising or lowering the drinking age, which futilely addresses the symptom, not the problem.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 15, 2007 2:05 AM
Comment #229477

David R.,

I’m not certain that raising or lowering the drinking age is futile. Here’s an AMA article that summarizes the research to support the claim that raising the drinking age to 21 resulted in less alcohol-related deaths and less teenage drinking.

Rhinehold,

I understand your argument is based on fairness and consistency. Most people get their driver’s license before they are 18 (I got a permit at age 15 and my full license at 16). For the sake of consistency, would you argue that teenagers shouldn’t drive until they are 18?

Again, we don’t magically become adults when we turn any particular age. We should look at the specific activities when determining proper ages for adult activities with the understanding that at 21 citizens have full rights and responsibilities.

Posted by: Gerrold at August 15, 2007 9:11 AM
Comment #229480

Gerrold, two problems with the research you cite.

First is this: “A higher MLDA results in fewer alcohol-related problems among youth, and the 21-year-old MLDA saves the lives of well over 1,000 youth each year “

That is not a particularly significant reduction, 1000 per year, given the 10’s of thousands that continue to drive under the influence.

Second, that research dates from the 1970’s to more than a decade ago. Respect for the law has deteriorated significantly since then, as evidenced by our bloated and reduced to a crawl judicial system and vastly under resourced jails and prisons now requiring criminals to serve only 10% of their sentences in order to make room for new offenders.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 15, 2007 10:02 AM
Comment #229484

David R.,

Well, the National Minimum Age Drinking Act was passed more than 30 years ago, so I would expect most research on its effects to be old.

Your point seems to be that laws are no longer followed and so we shouldn’t worry about them?

Any research to suggest that people are less respectful of the law than they used to be? Incarceration rates can be influenced by a number of variables, including increased enforcement. At any rate, perhaps you are right, but I need some evidence in order to be persuaded, not assertions. And even if you are right, that’s not an argument that would persuade me to support lowering the drinking age. So on the specific issue of drinking ages, do we both support the status quo?

Posted by: Gerrold at August 15, 2007 10:23 AM
Comment #229486

Just to point something out… We may be drawing the wrong conclusion from some of the above statistics we are quoting… If alcohol related deaths are down since the 70’s, it could very well be that it is because of the higher drinking age, but I, for one, do not think so. More likely, it is because of lower blood-alcohol limits, more drunk-driving awareness, and seat belt laws… I was only a kid, but I remember people thinking nothing of downing a can of Ranier beer on their way to wherever.

It is not overly-evident to me that the reductions in alcohol related deaths are due only to high drinking age… but hey, it makes us feel good to say so…

Posted by: Doug Langworthy at August 15, 2007 10:33 AM
Comment #229488

Check this out.

Brain immaturity causes accidents.

So if teens are less able to make value judgments normally, what happens if you add alcohol, which impairs judgment as well?

We can talk values and freedoms all we want, but we are still talking about a harmful, damaging drug here. It is a contributing cause to hundreds of thousands of deaths each year, from accidents to liver damage to domestic violence. So is there really truly a reason to make it legal for younger people to use it? I don’t think so.

L

Posted by: leatherankh at August 15, 2007 11:10 AM
Comment #229496
100 years ago people who were 16 were running businesses and starting families. Were they more mature because we didn’t live as long then? Or was it because we expected more and they lived up to it?

We expected more and got it and so 16 year olds were more mature. The problem today is we don’t expect much from kids and we’re getting just what we’re expecting. And 16 year olds aint all that mature. Neither are a whole heap of 21 year olds for that matter.
This is one big reason why our schools are failing. Standards have been lowered and the kids are living up to the low standards we’re expecting from them. Same goes for behavior. Where at one time kids were expected to behave and show respect, today kids are allowed to ‘express themselves’ and we’re getting the lousy behavior we’re expecting from them.


Posted by: Ron Brown at August 15, 2007 12:38 PM
Comment #229497

Rhinehold

And as for military service at 21 or 25… Why wouldn’t we want to get the best out of people at 18? I was 19 when I enlisted and I’m glad every day that I did while I was still young enough to have some of the nonsense I had picked up in public schools knocked out of me.

Agreed. The Military matured me more then any other thing I can think of. I was 18 when I enlisted to avoid a drag racing rap. I believe to this day that I would most likely have ended up in more trouble than I already was if I had just paid the fine and served the 6 months they were talking about.


Gerrold

I don’t know about you guys, but I matured a lot between the ages of 18 and 21. I think the same is true of most of my friends. My own life experiences tell me that 18 is too young.

So do ya think that 18 is to young to vote or serve in the military?

Posted by: Ron Brown at August 15, 2007 12:52 PM
Comment #229500

Ron,

My opinion for what little it’s worth? Yeah, 18 is too young to enlist. To vote? I don’t have strong opinions on that.

Posted by: Gerrold at August 15, 2007 1:10 PM
Comment #229502

Gerrold,

So bascially, your view is that we should decide on each right of being a citizen by what seems ok by the majority irregardless if it makes logical sense or not?

Remember, that’s sort of what we are dealing with here, the 9th amendment and all that… When do those rights kick in? When are they no longer ‘suspended’ because you are not an adult?

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 15, 2007 1:17 PM
Comment #229508

Ron Brown, this an order of magnitude more for an 18 or 21 year old to learn by that age today, than in the 1950’s. Just the additional volume of American and world history should require an additional semester of High School. Then there is all the additional non-academic stuff to learn to become functional, rational, and intelligent for one’s age which wasn’t even invented or written yet, in the 1950’s.

Just 35 years ago, world current events was not necessary to cast a competent vote, understand American economics and policy, or to be a responsible consumer. Not so today.

Hell, just trying to set up and run a business for an 18 y.o. today requires a whole helluva lot more skills and legal knowledge than 35 years ago. The world has become a far more complicated and interdependently linked place than it used to be when we were 18 or 21. I think today’s 18 year olds deserve the extra time to become competent at adulthood, we sure hold them responsible if they aren’t in our courts and judicial system.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 15, 2007 3:10 PM
Comment #229512

Rhinehold,

I don’t think it makes logical sense to lower the drinking age. Alcohol is a dangerous drug. It’s responsible for more deaths in this country than any other drug. Combine such a dangerous drug with an adolescent brain and you’ve got the potential for trouble. And I realize that plenty of older people also have trouble with alcohol, but I don’t see that as an argument in your favor.

I think I am being entirely logical. When did I say anyting about majority opinion? The majority is often dead wrong.

Look, I have a personal stake in this. My brother was killed by a drunk teenager. So when people claim we should lower the drinking age because other activities are permitted at 18, then I think it is entirely reasonable to argue that the age limit on these other activities should be raised. But my position is not quite that extreme. Rather, I argue that the years between 18 and 21 are seen in our culture as a transition from adolescence to adulthood, and I see no logical reason not to phase in adult behavior or misbehaviors.

I realize that this argument will convince no one who doesn’t already see it this way, just as your argument has no persuasive force with me. Makes you wonder why we bother with this Watchblog stuff, no? I can’t remember anyone ever claiming that their minds were changed after reading an article or comment here; in fact, many would call that flip flopping.


Posted by: Gerrold at August 15, 2007 3:37 PM
Comment #229514

Gerrold, if this drug is so dangers, responsible for so many deaths, and your concern is minimizing those deaths, then why not call for it’s outlaw?

As for your reasons, I agree, as they are personal and not based on logic or principle, then it will most likely not persuade you.

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 15, 2007 3:58 PM
Comment #229519

Gerrold said: “Your point seems to be that laws are no longer followed and so we shouldn’t worry about them?”

Quite the opposite, re-read what I have written. My point is that we need to invest in measures that will increase respect for, and abidence of, the laws already on the books.

“Any research to suggest that people are less respectful of the law than they used to be?”

Sure, count how many vehicles pass you while going the speed limit, or count the number of persons rolling through a stop sign, and then recall of such occurrence was visible 30 years ago. Then there is massive increase in load upon our courts far in excess of a commensurate population increase over the last 40 years. Also, look at the crime rates in the 1960’s compared to today as a percentage of population. Both common experience and research supports the assertion that we less respectful of the law today than in previous periods.

IRS has some data on this too! Income tax evasion is vastly greater today than in decades past.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 15, 2007 4:28 PM
Comment #229524

Rhinehold,

My argument is based on the research that suggests lowering the drinking age would result in more deaths. It is based on the medical understanding that 18 year old brains are not as developed as 21 year old brains. If that is not logical, then I question what you mean by the word.

You are advocating legally supplying a dangerous drug to teenagers. To you, logic implies consistency because other activities are legally permitted to teenagers. Don’t claim I don’t understand your reasoning. You apparently claim that arguing that various activities should be phased in on a case-by-case basis is illogical. How so?

Rhinehold, if you want to be “logical” here, then you need to argue the following: 1) no age restrictions on so-called adult behaviors at all (we don’t want to run afoul of the 9th Amendment after all), or 2) we have a uniform age for all adult activities (which I suppose would have to be enforced by the federal government). If you argue 2), then you would have to argue that sexual consent and driver’s licenses must wait until age 18. If we permit them at earlier ages, why set the drinking age at 18? Why not 14? Or 12? We have two concepts at work here: the age of majority and the age of license. They are not the same.

A more nuanced approach involves the understanding that there is a transition from childhood to adulthood. Do not make the mistake of believing “principle” allows only one way to view an issue.

And, Rhinehold, I’m sorry that you find my reasoning illogical and unprincipled. Perhaps you are capable of changing your mind.

Posted by: Gerrold at August 15, 2007 4:47 PM
Comment #229526

Rhinehold,

Aside from the fact that I don’t mind drinking an occasional beer myself, we already have historic proof that prohibition doesn’t work. Before you claim that setting the drinking age at 21 doesn’t work, I’ll remind you of the research I previously cited that concludes lowering the drinking age to 18 would get even more alcohol into the hands of younger kids.

Look, I can understand the desire for consistency, but remember what Emerson said on the topic.

David R.,

You may be correct.

All,

Honestly, doesn’t a more profound argument involve the legal status of minors in our country? I think we all accept that until a certain time children are not mature enough to make all of their own decisions. So the argument is at what age should they be allowed to make certain decisions? What is wrong with young people acquiring specific rights and privileges at varying ages? What is wrong with the people in the form of their governments establishing these ages? SCOTUS is on my side; it had no problem with a drinking age of 21.

Posted by: Gerrold at August 15, 2007 5:09 PM
Comment #229527
Do not make the mistake of believing “principle” allows only one way to view an issue.

It depends on what your principles are. There are as many principled ways to view a subject as long as those are the same principles you have on other subjects as well. Our current leaders are ill-equipped to be able to spell the word, let alone know what it means.

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 15, 2007 5:15 PM
Comment #229530
SCOTUS is on my side; it had no problem with a drinking age of 21.

It had no problem with ignoring the constitution in regards to prohibition either, but I’m not sure that makes it ‘principled’. :/

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 15, 2007 5:18 PM
Comment #229532

Rhinehold, amending the Constitution is NOT ignoring the Constitution. It is in fact Constitutional to amend the Constitution according to the needs of the changed nature of the nation. The Constitution was never meant to be immutable, Rhinehold, which is precisely why our founding fathers inserted measures to amend it.


Your words reveal a lack of logic by definition. A constitutional amendment can result in bad policy, but, can never be deemed Unconstitutional if arrived at by the Constitution’s amendment process. This is true prima facia.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 15, 2007 5:30 PM
Comment #229549

The problem with lowering the legal age to consume alcohol to 18? Currently at 21, it keeps 16 year old kids from gaining access to alcohol as easy as they could were the legal age 18. How many 18 to 21 year old kids cannot find a means to get the alcohol the want now? They just cant go to the bar to drink it.
An 18 year old will buy for a 16 or youger kid more readily than a 21 year old. However an 18 year old cant get a 16 year old into the Armed Services.
Besides do you really want 18 year old kids hanging around your favorite watering hole?

Posted by: j2t2 at August 15, 2007 10:00 PM
Comment #229550

David
So then we shouldn’t expect more from 18 year olds than what we’re getting? And just when do we stop educating them and require them to earn their way in the world?
I’m well aware that there’s more information to learn now than when I was in school, (which was back in the stone age according to my grandyoungins) and kids today need to know it in order to have a fighting chance in today’s world. But not holding them to higher standards than we are aint doing them any good. How can we expect them to be able to function in the real world if they haven’t had to live up to the standards it sets?

Posted by: Ron Brown at August 15, 2007 10:15 PM
Comment #229610
Rhinehold, amending the Constitution is NOT ignoring the Constitution.

When did I suggest that?

Was there an amendment I missed that allowed the federal government to ban the sale of marijuana when they needed an amendment to do it for alcohol?

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 16, 2007 8:40 AM
Comment #229634

j2t2

An 18 year old will buy for a 16 or youger kid more readily than a 21 year old.

Yeah, and a 21 year old will buy it for an 18 year old. Who will give it to the 16 year old. So what do ya suggest? We raise the drinking age to avoid this? If so, at just what age will folks stop buying for those to young to get it themselves?
They busted a 50 year old guy the other day over in Valdosta for buying beer for a 17 year old.

However an 18 year old cant get a 16 year old into the Armed Services.

So what’s the point? Neither can the 16 year olds parents.

Besides do you really want 18 year old kids hanging around your favorite watering hole?

They can act any worse than some of the 50 and 60 year olds that hang out in them places.

Posted by: Ron Brown at August 16, 2007 1:04 PM
Comment #229639

David,

I agree that if we have a law, it should be enforced. ALL laws from speeding and jay-walking to murder should be. However, I also agree with what I have seen Rhinehold say, and that is that we have too many laws.

Seems like we keep adding more and more laws in misguided hope that “this one will make a difference.” As long as the system picks and chooses which laws to enforce, the real meaning of the rule of law and the consequences of breaking are at best muted.

A simple rule of thumb on law enforcement:

1.If the law is revenue positive, increase enforcement.

2. If the law is revenue negative, see rule 1.

I believe that certain responsibilities are appropriate at certain ages, the idea of phasing in certain responsibilities seems a prudent one. The military at 18, this is not a one way street, most that serve seem to gain from the experience.

Drinking should be IMO 21 or perhaps even 25. Driving, 18. We just raised the driving age in CA to 18, my daughter missed the cutoff by 45 days. She is very upset, however I am greatly relieved.

Who wants these youngsters drinking and driving? Corporations, insurance, auto and booze…

JT

Posted by: JayTea at August 16, 2007 2:06 PM
Comment #229659

Eh, some laws are more important than others. Playing poker is against the law in my state, but I play with my buds every Friday night anyway. If I get caught I’ll pay the $50 fine without complaint.

Posted by: Gerrold at August 16, 2007 4:36 PM
Comment #229664

Rhinehold asked: “When did I suggest that?”

When you said: “It [SCOTUS] had no problem with ignoring the constitution in regards to prohibition either.”

The 18th Amendment to the Constitution cannot be unconstitutional by definition.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 16, 2007 5:49 PM
Comment #229728

“I think we all accept that until a certain time children are not mature enough to make all of their own decisions”

Except for abortions.
At sixteen or so, your mature enough to decide on an abortion, but at 18, your not mature enough to have a beer?

Old enough to serve, old enough to be served!

Posted by: kctim at August 17, 2007 10:49 AM
Comment #229735

kctim,

I don’t believe there is any state in which a 16 year old can get an abortion without parental consent or the sayso of a judge.

If you are arguing that the legal enlistment age should be raised, I’m right there with you. Otherwise, the fact that we unwisely allow kids to join the military is no reason to unwisely allow them to purchase alcohol.

Some argue that military discipline is good for kids who otherwise can’t get their shit together. On an individual basis, that may be true, but how is that an argument to lower the drinking age? Here, kid, you can’t cope without strong authority figures so here’s some Jack Daniels?

Posted by: Gerrold at August 17, 2007 12:31 PM
Comment #229739

kctim,

Ok, I’m wrong. Some states do allow minors to get abortions without parental consent. This is a tough issue that should be debated on its own terms. On the one hand, we don’t want kids having abortions. On the other, we don’t want kids being parents. Regardless, I’d lean toward requiring parental consent except in cases with bad parents.

Posted by: Gerrold at August 17, 2007 12:56 PM
Comment #229749

Gerrold
The issue is, when should we treat American citizens as being mature enough to be considered an adult?

If we believe a 16 year old is mature enough to decide for herself and get an abortion, then she should be considered mature enough to go have a beer and celebrate or mourn afterwards.
If we believe an 18 year old is mature enough to help decide which direction this country will go politically, then he should be able to have a beer while watching the results.

Personally, I believe 18 is a good age to consider one as an adult. Turn 18, get your license, decide on your own on abortion, cast your first vote, join the military, have a beer, play the lottery, apply for credit etc…

Posted by: kctim at August 17, 2007 2:03 PM
Comment #229753

kctim,

There are those on this thread that see a particular age, whatever it may be, as a toggle for every right and responsibility. I do think 18 is too young to drink for various developmental reasons discussed above, but I don’t think 18 or even a bit younger is too young to drive. I think phasing in responsibilities is the way to go — it’s what we do already. A kid can hold a job earlier than 18 — I had my first newspaper route at 14. My point is merely that we should look at various activities on their own — some responsibilities and rights don’t need to wait until one is 18, and some need to wait until one is older.

I might not have any objections to a drinking exemption for military personnel — they are watched closely and, presumably, there are built-in safeguards to habitual drinking misbehavior. I don’t think an occasional beer is harmful, but we do know that young people often like to binge drink — and, yes, so do some older people.

I’m not stuck on a 21 year old drinking age, but I do think 18 is a bit young. The argument for consistency has some force, but I see it being used to argue for something permitted at 21 to be permitted at 18, and not used to argue that, for instance, one shouldn’t be allowed to drive until he or she is 18. So the consistency argument doesn’t mean much to me unless its advocates are consistent across the board — and then I’d think that’s wrongheaded, too.

Remember that we are talking about a powerful drug.

Posted by: Gerrold at August 17, 2007 2:18 PM
Comment #229758

Gerrold
You are talking about a “powerful drug” and “activities.” I am talking about something more important than both: the rights and freedoms adult US citizens have.

I do not believe in the punishment of all based on the actions of a few. Every individual should be treated and respected as an individual. That is one of my biggest problems with current liberalism in fact, they don’t respect that.

Every 18 year old is different and while your links show that many choose to drink and drive, ALOT more do not.

We have to draw the line somewhere and start treating people as adults and it means nothing if we are not consistent when doing so.
Picking and choosing as you suggest is unfair and pushes ones beliefs onto another.

Posted by: kctim at August 17, 2007 3:40 PM
Comment #229762

kctim,

I don’t understand your argument. Any age we select is arbitrary to a degree. Do you think it is unfair that we allow teenagers to drive before they are 18?

And of course my beliefs factor into my arguments, as yours factor into yours. I presume you believe that 12 is too young for a child to drink. Is that unfair to 12 year olds?

Posted by: Gerrold at August 17, 2007 4:16 PM
Comment #229764

Gerrold
While any age may be arbitrary, it is something that has to be done and it should be done across the board or, as has been proven, it is not fair and does not work.

Unfair for them to drive before they are 18? No, but it would be unfair to punish all 16 year olds and change it to 18 based on the actions of a few though.
I personally think you should get your permit when you are 16 and then your real license when you become an adult, which would be 18 IMO.

Bringing up extremes now? 12 year olds drinking? Come on man.
Can a 12 year old vote? Join the military? No.
And the vast majority of Americans would not want 12 year olds to be treated as adults either.
This is where agreeing on a realistic age to be considered an adult comes into play.

We should set an age where one is considered an adult and that age should be standard across the board.

Posted by: kctim at August 17, 2007 4:47 PM
Comment #229958
Rhinehold asked: “When did I suggest that?”

When you said: “It [SCOTUS] had no problem with ignoring the constitution in regards to prohibition either.”

The 18th Amendment to the Constitution cannot be unconstitutional by definition.

I was referring to the current SCOTUS and the current prohibited substance, marijuana. I thought it was kind of clear before, my mistake if it was not.

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 19, 2007 9:57 PM
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