The Perils of a Lower Drinking Age

Why 18-year-olds shouldn't be allowed to drink

Life is full of surprises, and some 100 college presidents think they have stumbled on one. They think there is too much problem drinking on campus—no surprise there—and suggest we might solve the problem by changing the drinking age. They don't propose to raise it to 25. They want to lower it to 18.

The group behind the petition they signed, Choose Responsibility, says the current drinking age is a failure. It has "not resulted in significant constructive behavioral change among our students," the statement says, and in fact has spawned "a culture of dangerous, clandestine 'binge-drinking'—often conducted off-campus."

It's true that in the old days, there was no college culture of clandestine, off-campus binge drinking. It was out in the open, right on the quad. Another difference back then: There was more of it.

At the risk of stating the obvious, that's at least partly because in most states, the drinking age was under 21. Youngsters could buy booze legally, so they did what you would expect. They drank more and got drunk more.

It's bizarre to blame the higher age for today's staggering undergraduates. According to Monitoring the Future, an ongoing research project at the University of Michigan, binge drinking has not risen since 1988, when 21 became the minimum drinking age throughout the country. Among college students and other college-age Americans, the rate is lower today than it was then, and the decline has been even bigger among high-school students.

It's true the progress stalled around 1996. But how can that be blamed on the higher drinking age? By then, it had been the national norm for nearly a decade.

In spite of the law, plenty of 18-to-20-year-olds somehow manage to get wasted on a regular basis. But a law can be helpful without being airtight. This one has curbed not only the use of alcohol among young people, but its dangerous abuse.

Since 1988, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drunk-driving deaths have dropped in all age groups. That's due in part to stricter enforcement and changing public attitudes about drinking and driving. But they dropped most among those younger than 21. In that group, the number of alcohol-related fatalities has been cut nearly in half—even as the number of non-alcohol-related traffic deaths has been stable.

This is not a coincidence. When states lowered their drinking age in the 1970s, they got more drunk-driving deaths among teenagers than similar states that stayed at 21. A 1983 study in the Journal of Legal Studies concluded that any state that "raises its drinking age can expect the nighttime fatal crashes of drivers of the affected age groups to drop by about 28 percent."

There are other arguments for lowering the age. Maybe the most popular is that if you're old enough to join the Army and die for your country, you're old enough to buy a beer. But there is a good reason to avoid such blind consistency. Among the qualities that make 18-year-olds such good soldiers are their fearlessness and sense of immortality—traits that do not mix well with alcohol.

Besides, we don't have a single age threshold for adulthood. We give driver's licenses to 16-year-olds, but a 20-year-old Marine returning from Iraq will find he may not buy a handgun or gamble in a casino. Why permit 18-year-olds to vote but not drink? Because they have not shown a disproportionate tendency to abuse the franchise, to the peril of innocent bystanders.

Another reason is that extending the vote to 18-year-olds doesn't let even younger people gain illicit access to the polls. But if high-school seniors could legally patronize a liquor store, sophomores would find it much easier to get party fuel. Raising the drinking age to 21 reduced alcohol-related traffic fatalities not only among 18-year-olds, who lost the right to drink, but 16-year-olds, who never had it.

It's not hard to make a logical case for allowing 18-year-olds to buy alcohol, but only if you disregard the practical effects of letting them do something that many of them are not mature enough to handle. In this debate, the ultimate wisdom comes from Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, who reminded us that sometimes, a page of history is worth a volume of logic.

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  • ||

    Huh. I always thought fearlessness and alcohol went great together.

  • Elemenope||

    Another reason is that extending the vote to 18-year-olds doesn't let even younger people gain illicit access to the polls. But if high-school seniors could legally patronize a liquor store, sophomores would find it much easier to get party fuel. Raising the drinking age to 21 reduced alcohol-related traffic fatalities not only among 18-year-olds, who lost the right to drink, but 16-year-olds, who never had it.

    Non sequitor, much?

  • Dave W.||

    There are other arguments for lowering the age. Maybe the most popular is that if you're old enough to join the Army and die for your country, you're old enough to buy a beer. But there is a good reason to avoid such blind consistency. Among the qualities that make 18-year-olds such good soldiers are their fearlessness and sense of immortality-traits that do not mix well with alcohol.

    This seems like a good argument for raising the age at which young people can join the military, at least in the context of modern warfare.

  • Tsu Dho Nihm||

    The "drinking age" law is nothing but an attempt by government at social engineering, which is something that governments should never do. The law should be abolished rather than have the age lowered.

  • ||

    "It's not hard to make a logical case for allowing 18-year-olds to buy alcohol, but only if you disregard the practical effects of letting them do something that many of them are not mature enough to handle."

    Perhaps we need to find and eliminate the cause of the immaturity. If one is supposed to be mature enough to handle the responsibilities of soldiering, voting, and living on ones own (which is legally possible, if not always practiced) then one is capable of bearing the responsibilities of drinking. Schools, society, our casual use of the word "children" to describe college-aged students or de facto adults of age 18, all of this infantilizes adolescents rather than encourage more adult type behaviors and responsibility-taking.

  • PQS||

    Wow. I never expected to read an article in Reason defending the government restricting the liberties of its people.

  • ||

    w/ you there PQS. I cannot buy the logic in this article.

    I've met 16 year old kids capable of making very smart decisions and 25 year olds who are dumb as shit. Maybe we should administer a written test for a license to imbibe** instead of drawing an arbitrary age line to determine fitness to consume. But that just leads to more interference and government monitoring.

    **I am being sarcastic, and not advocating this position.**

  • ||

    Well let's see. It's hard to take any argument against lowering the drinking age seriously when it involves "but they'll go out and kill people" given the presence of laws that seek to arrest parents who knowingly allow their kids and kids friends to drink in a safe environment in their home.

  • Team America||

    The same arguments can be made to raise the drinking age to 250.

    But of course "that's different", because Steve Chapman is under 250.

  • ||

    Probably the worst article I've seen on this website so far

  • ||

    Based on my personal experience with no data to back it up, the most responsible drinkers in college were those who had grown up with an exposure to alcohol.

    If kids actually waited until they were 21 to drink, we'd have a much bigger problem with drinking among people in their early twenties than we currently do. It's a law that only works when it's broken. That doesn't make much sense to me.

  • madmikefisk||

    One could make that argument, but I would also point out the massive artifice of laws that have germinated out of the basis of the lowered drinking age. In particular, "zero-tolerance" minor in possession laws, which, at least in this part of the country, seem to be more of a reason for cops to hassle teenagers unnecessarily rather than to genuinely cut down on problem drinking or drunk driving.

  • ||

    Fucking drys. The fundamental human right of an adult to buy a beer is far more important than a small blip in a few alcohol related incidents.

  • ||

    I suspect that part of the reason for fatalities declining may be that under-21 year olds were just scared enough to be caught drinking underage that they just stopped taking to the road after a night of drinking.

    As far as the level of binge drinking declining, did the study take into account unreported/underreported drinking? The decline might be due to under-21s not wanting to bother reporting their consumption, even in anonymous fashion.

  • ||

    I agree with Greg A. In my experience, no one is responsible when they start drinking. Most people you ask will have a least one funny/embaressing/inane story about what they did when they first started. Attitudes toward drunk driving have shifted incrediblally but mostly due to education; not some law that nearly everyone breaks at least once in their lives. Drunk-driving accidents did go down when the age was rasied. But that wasn't the current crop of young adults. It was some dumb-ass Baby boomers. Baby Boomers should really stop punishing their kids for their mistakes.

  • tristan||

    Its a real surprise for me to read this on here, it is the same reasoning that promotes all those nanny state interventions which Reason so often opposes.

    May I make a suggestion from the UK:
    One truly bizarre thing about the US for me is that it is illegal to drink under age. In Europe it is generally illegal to purchase alcohol or consume it on licensed premises under the age limit (which varies in the UK depending upon the drink and whether its a bar or a restaurant).
    This strikes me as far more sensible, it means that parents can introduce children to alcohol and its enjoyment which demystifies drinking.

    Illegality also makes it more likely that underage drinkers will procure drinks with a higher alcohol content (the basic economics of prohibition shows us this) and consume it in situations where it is more dangerous for them than in the open where there are more likely to be sober/less drunk people around.

    From a libertarian view, quite frankly its not the place of the state to enforce age limits like this, it is the place of parents.

  • ||

    I feel like I've stumbled into the alternate universe version of Reason (you know; the one where Nick Gillespie always wears tie-dyed shirts on television and Kerry Howley has an evil-looking goatee).

    My one-word rebuttal:

    Germany.

  • Elemenope||

    Steve Chapman is the custodian of Bizarro Reason. Hence all the confusion around here.

    The 21-drinking laws have already caused local increases in drunk driving in college communities, driven parties off campus into theretofore peaceful neighborhoods, and given police license to harass anyone underage.

    I went to a university whose president was drunk on the notion of substance-abuse prevention. Let me tell you, not only did he fail at his goal, but he also managed to make many more people miserable who formally hadn't been affected by student drunkenness.

  • ||

    Thanks for the morning kick in the dick.

  • robc||

    tristan,

    In Wisconsin, parents can serve their underage children, even in restaurants (and at beer festivals). US laws are not the same across the board.

  • Fluffy||

    This is an absolutely atrocious article and it's a disgrace to see it appear in a libertarian magazine.

    All of your statistical arguments are irrelevant crap. The fact that some 18 year old's would drink and drive if the drinking age were lowered has no bearing on the question of whether it's just to limit the property rights and civil rights of those citizens who would not break the law. It literally doesn't matter. You can't argue that you have to restrict my liberty because of the irreponsible actions other people might take. At least you can't do that and remain anything resembling a libertarian.

    If the fact that statistics show that some people will behave irresponsibly is a justification for restricting liberty, than ALL drinking should be banned for ALL age groups. Some members of each and every age group will drink and drive if drinking remains legal.

    This statistical argument also makes a hash of the drug legalization position advocated by Reason, because if pot becomes legal some people will smoke pot and drive. If heroin becomes legal, statistics show some people will become addicts.

    Gambling: If gambling remains legal, statistics show that some people will destroy themselves with it. Therefore gambling should be made illegal.

    Rollerblading and skateboarding: some people who rollerblade or skateboard break the law while doing it. Therefore statistics show that rollerblading and skateboarding should be illegal.

    Etcetera. If the arguments advanced by Chapman in this article have any merit, libertarianism is bunk and should be stamped out.

  • ||

    Notice that the drinking age in Canada is 19 (or 18 in Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec.) Notice also the distinct lack of drunken hordes of 13th graders causing mayhem and mischief in Canadian society.

  • Elemenope||

    If the arguments advanced by Chapman in this article have any merit, libertarianism is bunk and should be stamped out.

    Oh for the love of...don't give *them* any ideas!!!!

  • ||

    Look, if we have to have some sort of alcohol restriction, how about an IQ test at 16. Even if you fail every year, you automatically get to drink at 21. A sliding scale every year.

    16=135
    17=130
    18=125
    19=120
    20=115
    21=as stupid as you like

    Once again, if we have to have something, at least make it rational.

  • robc||

    Matt,

    Thats because they are embarrassed over the gay "13th grade" thing.

  • robc||

    SugarFree,

    So I could have started drinking at about age 8? Is this some sort of voluntary Harrison Bergeron idea?

  • ||

    When I turned 18 the drinking age in my state was 18. It was not a problem getting alcohol before the legal age back then, and it is just as easy today. Doesnt matter waht the legal age is, if someone wants to drink, they are going to drink regardless.

    RD
    www.Ultimate-Anonymity.com

  • Elemenope||

    Notice that the drinking age in Canada is 19 (or 18 in Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec.) Notice also the distinct lack of drunken hordes of 13th graders causing mayhem and mischief in Canadian society.

    This is an argument that cuts both ways, as there are huge cultural differences between the two countries as regards alcohol consumption that have little to do with the law.

    A prohibitionist could easily say that that anomaly was due exclusively to the Canadians having a better overall cultural control over alcohol as well as less anti-social behavior in general, and therefore it is inappropriate to use their stats in comparison with the US.

  • Elemenope||

    Holy shit on a stick, Mr. Anonymous posted something not completely vapid!

  • Elemenope||

    So I could have started drinking at about age 8? Is this some sort of voluntary Harrison Bergeron idea?

    Loved the book, loved the movie. But seriously, my parents would give me a little wine with dinner when we had guests over as young as five. There was a miniature glass mug (shot-glass sized) that was mine for just such occasions.

  • Rhywun||

    I kept waiting for the punch-line, and it never came. What the hell?

  • ||

    robc,

    The testing wouldn't start until 16. No sense fooling with it until they can drink and drive.

  • ||

    HELLO! This is the Internet Generation we are discussing here.....these adults have been educated since age 5 on the effects of drugs and alcohol, sex, and all things taboo....they are better equipped than all preceding generations to make responsible, educated decisions. The world and all of its knowledge is at their fingertips. Now IS the time to consider lowering the drinking age. The country is changing folks, and not soon enough! We could all stand to learn something from them.

  • robc||

    SuarFree,

    Any reason not to put driving on the same scale? Old enough to drink, old enough to drive, Ive always said.

    lmnop,

    I wasnt talking about a small glass of wine, I was thinking of 8 year olds bellying up to the bar and pounding a few during recess. :)

  • ||

    Wow.

  • ||

    We could all stand to learn something from them.

    Texting one-handed while swerving into the bike lane is a skill any one can master.

  • ||

    ah yes SF, like typing without thinking.....

  • ||

    robc,

    My evil dictatorial streak would have IQ be a gatekeeper for a lot of human activities. Driving, drinking, reproducing, carrying on a conversation with earshot of me, etc.

    But the libertarian always spanks him soundly and puts him to bed without dinner.

  • Pablo Escobar||

    I kept waiting for the punch-line, and it never came. What the hell?

    Yeah, same. I thought this was a joke by Reason Magazine to try and get people to read the article.

    This article confuses correlation with causation, big time.

    I hope Reason will be publishing a rebuttal. It's good to remind ourselves why the drinking age should be 18, through attacking these intellectually bankrupt articles by the likes of Steve Chapman.

  • ||

    I really don't get it. It's not April 1st. I haven't seen any news about a law that requires websites to follow some "equal time" clause.

    I was waiting through the whole article for a Balko-like "just kidding" and it never came. Is this a devil's advocate article to stir up the posters? Or is Steve Chapman just an asshole/idiot and I never noticed before?

    Anyone?

  • Nigel Watt||

    For a magazine called Reason, this is fucktarded.

    /drink
    //oh noes, Steve! I'm under 21!

  • Elemenope||

    I wasn't talking about a small glass of wine, I was thinking of 8 year olds bellying up to the bar and pounding a few during recess. :)

    Yeah, that probably wouldn't work out so well.

    Once again, if we have to have something, at least make it rational.

    Is that rational as in "rational relation everything-that-congress-does-is-by-definition-rational" rational? Because most of the sorriest drunks I've known are very, very, *very* intelligent. And they were also the most irresponsible.

  • Kinnath||

    As someone who legally purchased booze at age 18 in the seventies (before Ronnie Raygun made in a crusade), I would just like to tell Steve Chapman he can go fuck himself.

    As for the article, there are far too many errors to address individually.

  • ||

    Darzam,

    I work on a college campus. The millennials have the same proportion of idiots generations have always had. Just because they have more information than ever says nothing about their ability to process it.

    I'm all for letting 18-year-olds to drink, but this new crop of fresh faces aren't the Mighty God Kings they are made out to be. Like, for example, the ability to get a joke when they read one. Clearly deficient.

  • ||

    Nick Gillespie:
    In your next article please explain why Steve Chapman no longer writes for Reason. If Reason no longer defends free minds and free markets,who will?

  • Rhywun||

    My one-word rebuttal: Germany.



    In Germany the minimum driving age is 18. America's car culture and the expectation of every 16-year-old to get a license is a big reason we'll never see the drinking age reduced to something sensible.

  • Nick M||

    The concept of legal adulthood is a tricky one for Libertarians. We want to say that all voluntary transactions between adults should be allowed. But is the state to decide when someone becomes an adult?

    I read an article by Walter Block or some other anarcho-capitalist, that suggested that a person should be considered an adult as soon as she starts paying her own rent (or is otherwise self-sufficient). Regardless of her age. I like that idea. It accounts for the differences between people.

    I would consider abolishing all drinking laws, and letting private establishments card as they will. But then we would still need a definition of adulthood, to know when someone is able to sign contracts and so on.

    Part of me wants to say, "Screw those, kids", because, as a resident of a college town in Indiana, I see enough drunken youngsters littering the landscape. But part of me remembers the words of the late great George Carlin,

    "These people are taking all of the fun out of being a kid, just to save a few thousand lives."

  • ||

    It's a simple question for principled libertarians. Either you own your body or you don't. It's a binary question. Human rights are human rights and don't accrue gradually.

    As P.J. O'Rourke said:

    There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences.

  • ||

    That's it, I'm cancelling my subscription

    //drink for everybody except Nigel Watt, because he'll just go out and kill someone

  • ||

    SF,

    The joke wasn't funny :p

  • Nigel Watt||

    In Germany the minimum driving age is 18. America's car culture and the expectation of every 16-year-old to get a license is a big reason we'll never see the drinking age reduced to something sensible.

    So you're suggesting driving first happen as kids go off to college? Smart. Real smart.

    Ages for everything are at best approximations, and they should be reduced as much as possible, requiring parents to actually parent.

  • ||

    This is a bizarre article to find on this web site. I'm almost disappointed.

    It also misses the point of the original letter from the University presidents. The point is that if the legal drinking age is 18, college students will drink in bars, which are regulated businesses that have an interest in keeping their patrons from getting to drunk, because if they do they can lose their license. On the other hand, if most college students cannot legally drink in bars, they will resort to drinking in fraternities and other such unregulated institutions, where the organizers have every interest in getting their patrons as drunk as possible. Either to show how cool they are, or to take advantage of them.

    Reason Magazine should know that there is no reason in government prohibition of an activity that is widely desired by it's people. What's next, supporting gun control?

  • Nigel Watt||

    Wait, Benjamin, you're suggesting regulation keeps bars savory? Bahahaha.

  • ||

    Fluffy 8:29-

    The essence of your second paragraph is the essence of libertarianism. I would have italicized "might" in addition to "other people".

  • Nigel Watt||

    Also, I was 17 for my entire freshman year, so I would've been sneaking into bars or drinking outside of them.

  • ||

    Well, as for legal adulthood, how about we set it on a state by state basis on a very easy to understand and court-approved manner.

    The age of adulthood in your state is the youngest age you ever convicted someone as adult.

    Charge and convict a 10-year-old as an adult, the legal age of adulthood is now 10 in your state.

    (Or, you know, stop charging 6th graders as adults.)

  • ||

    "The fact that some 18 year old's would drink and drive if the drinking age were lowered has no bearing on the question of whether it's just to limit the property rights and civil rights of those citizens who would not break the law. It literally doesn't matter. You can't argue that you have to restrict my liberty because of the irreponsible actions other people might take."

    I agree. I also apply this logic to gun rights, which is why I oppose gun control.

    I think it's OK for Chapman, who usually writes libertarian stuff, to have the occasional article where he breaks ranks. The "only if an author always tows the libertarian line should his stuff appear in a libertarian magazine" line of thinking encourages intellectual dishonesty.

  • ||

    and SF, the difference is, THIS generation of idiots are making a clear choice to remain that way.

  • Cambion||

    So all this talk of driving when you're sixteen. What country do you live in? I got my PERMIT at sixteen so I could drive with my PARENTS in the car. Then a ""cinderella" licensee (at home by midnight, no more than one passenger) which I completely ignored. I wasn't allowed to actually drive as a full adult till I was 18. Maybe we should consider something similar for drinking, except change 16 to whenever a parent feels is appropriate.

  • ||

    This is likely one of those situations where if a group of intelligent and responsible 19 year olds were talking to Steve Chapman about his opinion, the proper response would be "I don't mean YOU people, but those other irresponsible college students who think they're hot shit and give alcohol to other underagers," at which point they would have to accept the limitations on their liberties in order to accomodate the perceived more idiotic of their peers.

  • ||

    Cambion:
    when I first started drinking (when I was 21), I mixed root beer with root beer schnapps. That's embarrassing and inane, but it sure as hell ain't irresponsible, nor was anything else I did for years of casual drinking afterward. Prior to that, however, I did find it impossible to make a good Bolognese due to the influence of local nannystaters, even in possibly the most alcohol friendly part of the union, and some legislators have a good punch in the babymaker coming over that one.

  • ||

    Rein-

    nice :)

  • ||

    THIS generation of idiots are making a clear choice to remain that way.

    Huh? My generation (37) or the millennials are choosing to stay idiots?

    I'm just pointing out that idiocy is a constant state across generations. I might be going up, but it certainly has not gone down.

  • ||

    Fluffy's second paragraph should be applied to "national defence" as well. Why should one's wealth be confiscated because others might attack us? Why should one's wealth be confiscated because others might not help out if other others attack us?

  • Elemenope||

    On a slightly meta note, has Stevie-boy ever actually shown up on one of the abomination-threads he's started to defend his point of view? I've seen Walker, Welsh, and Weigel pop up occasionally to get into the mix.

    Why not Chapman? It lends credence to the notion that he's just throwing haymakers faithlessly just for the purpose of pissing people off. If this is not the case, and he actually does believe this tripe, the Ring-and-run routine has got to go.

  • ||

    Yes SF, that IS what I said.

    (38) consider yourself uneducated ; )

  • ||

    I didn't think Chapman could get worse, and here he goes and overshoots that by a mile. You suck, Chapman. Unless you were playing agent provocateur, you are a grade-A numbskull.

    So all this talk of driving when you're sixteen

    I got my license in CT 3 weeks after I turned 16. Full driving privileges, no "after dark" bullshit, no parents.

  • Rhywun||

    So you're suggesting driving first happen as kids go off to college? Smart. Real smart.



    Sure, why not? Why is 16 sacrosanct? I also think the drinking age should be lower than 18--like maybe 16. If I were a parent I'd much sooner give my 16-old-year a beer than a car.

  • ||

    On a slightly meta note, has Stevie-boy ever actually shown up on one of the abomination-threads he's started to defend his point of view?

    No. He's a pussy.

  • ||

    Josh Lyle,

    In college I watched a guy drink an entire bottle of root beer schnapps (right out of the bottle), pass out in a bathtub, wake up and vomit all over himself still in the tub, and then begin screaming incoherently in what sounded like the language of the Old Ones from Lovecraft for two hours.

    The only phrase we could really make out was the one most oft repeated:

    "Don't go near'd the weird beard!"

  • ||

    I think it's OK for Chapman, who usually writes libertarian stuff, to have the occasional article where he breaks ranks. The "only if an author always tows the libertarian line should his stuff appear in a libertarian magazine" line of thinking encourages intellectual dishonesty.



    I wholeheartedly agree and I would love to see more articles in Reason advocating government interference when it is truly a case of a public good that the government could implement in a fashion that provides a net gain.

    This article is just such a piece of shit, though.

  • Elemenope||

    I think it's OK for Chapman, who usually writes libertarian stuff, to have the occasional article where he breaks ranks. The "only if an author always tows the libertarian line should his stuff appear in a libertarian magazine" line of thinking encourages intellectual dishonesty.

    I basically agree, but there's a difference between heterodoxy and fire-breathing ideological enemy. It would be more acceptable if he ran a column called "respectful dissent" or some such. Then at least people would know that the presence of the article is to stimulate debate, rather than muddy the editorial waters.

    But the very point of Reason so far as I can tell is to write approvingly of social and economic freedom (*ahem*: free minds, free markets). If I wanted balance I'd read Time Magazine.

  • ||

    BTW:

    The beauty of this article generating these types of responses is that it serves the cause well.

    WOOHOO!

  • ||

    Sure, why not? Why is 16 sacrosanct? I also think the drinking age should be lower than 18--like maybe 16. If I were a parent I'd much sooner give my 16-old-year a beer than a car.

    Driving takes experience. The earlier you start learning and gaining experience, the sooner you will be a safer driver. No one--no one--starts out as a good driver. It takes time. The best thing would be if everyone's parents enrolled them in a quality driving course, but that's too expensive. It's like riding a horse. When you start out, you're going to get thrown a few times, so you had better just accept that fact.

  • squarooticus||

    So, I thought the whole point of liberty was not to pre-judge individuals based on the actions of a group, but rather to allow irresponsible people to hang themselves individually and take the consequences of that individually.

    That's the real problem with the drinking age, isn't it? That it paints everyone with a broad brush under the assumption that no one under the age of 21 is responsible enough not to drink and drive.

  • Elemenope||

    If I were a parent I'd much sooner give my 16-old-year a beer than a car.

    All parents everywhere agree. Good luck getting them on the record, though.

  • Elemenope||

    When you start out, you're going to get thrown a few times, so you had better just accept that fact.

    And hope you don't end up like Superman.

    (ooh, too soon?)

  • ||

    (ooh, too soon?)

    It's never too soon, Kal-El.

  • Yikes||

    Run, Steve! It's a lynch mob!

  • ||

    Un fucking believable.

    That's IT.

    I'm starting the Oust Steve Chapman AlReady campaign.

    O.S.C.A.R.
    O.S.C.A.R.
    O.S.C.A.R.

  • ||

    Sugarfree,
    see, that's why I had to drink responsibly: too many depressants and my young libertarian rage would cause me to start the incantations to call the Old Ones through the doors of reality and bring about the apocalypse. There was a lot more of that sort of thing going on at the time, especially at the local gay bar. Comes of hanging out with ceremonial magicians, I guess.

    Also, I hope you pulled an Elder Sign on that guy.

  • ||

    I'd like to re-bring up that many places are trying to put harsher penalties on parents that allow their kids and their kids' friends to drink in the safety of their home. You can't simultaneously say that adults under 21 aren't responsible with alcohol consumption while simultaneously limiting their ability to become responsible.

  • ktc2||

    Chapman has clearly sold out to the "for the children" stupidity.

  • ||

    Josh,

    I like you.....LMFAO

  • ||

    Chapman demonstrates that Reason writers are not afraid to cite "studies" and "government statistics" as support for their position. As a matter of reason (definitely lower case), logic, persuasion and effective argumentation, one can not be taken seriously if one resorts to citing government "studies" or "statitistics."

  • Xeones||

    No no no, you're all missing the point. Steve knew that the inevitable reaction to this article ("for a magazine called reason..." and etc.) would mean that drinking game rules are in full effect, and that therefore we all must get slanted immediately. It's a brilliantly parodic metacommentary on the whole nanny-state notion that certain substances ought to be controlled/banned/&c.

    At least, that's what i choose to believe.

  • Elemenope||

    Reinmoose --

    You forget, most people think experience is something that simply comes unbidden with age and does not correlate with actual...you know, *experience* with the subject at hand.

    Most people are also dunces.

  • ||

    I'm with you there ktc2.

    I can see that I wasn't the only one amazed to see this up here. There should be no drinking age at all, let alone a ridiculously high one.

  • ||

    I think it's OK for Chapman, who usually writes libertarian stuff...

    No he doesn't.

  • ||

    On a slightly meta note, has Stevie-boy ever actually shown up on one of the abomination-threads he's started to defend his point of view? I've seen Walker, Welsh, and Weigel pop up occasionally to get into the mix.

    Yeah, Ron and even Nick on occasion too. Of course the goddess Ms. Howley never deigned to mix with us unwashed masses. Not that it matters anymore.
    *runs off sobbing

  • Elemenope||

    Reinmoose --

    You forget, most people think experience is something that simply comes unbidden with age and does not correlate with actual...you know, *experience* with the subject at hand.

    Also, interestingly, there was a neuroscience article out about a month ago (no, I'm too lazy to look it up) that indicated that fully a fifth of people lack the reward-response feedback mechanism that is necessary to learn from bad experiences and mistakes. That is, some people can have all the experience in the world and still not learn a goddamned thing, because they simply lack the equipment for it.

  • ||

    Also, I hope you pulled an Elder Sign on that guy.

    We fed him to Dagon. My children all have gills, but it was still totally worth it.

  • matt2||

    Statist/utilitarian bullshit. Steve Chapman, find a new career.

  • Elemenope||

    Wow, ignore the 9:25 post and substitute the 9:27 post. My browser decided to go retarded in the middle of the editing process.

  • Zubon||

    The earlier you start learning and gaining experience, the sooner you will be a safer driver.

    I don't know how well the data supports that. There are two effects of graduated driver licensing (GDL): fewer crashes due to better training and fewer crashes due to less driving. Everyone has more problems during their first six months, but past that I cannot recall anything showing that experience trumps just being older. In context here, teens will still be dangerous drivers, no matter how much experience they have; their problem is more of high risk taking than of inexperience.

    I recall one Australian study (2000-ish) that looked at driving experience, training, confidence, and crashes in teenagers. [citation needed] More experienced and more confident teenagers were more likely to crash; teenagers with driving experience before formal training were more likely to crash. The confident drivers were not any better than the frightened ones, so they were over-confident. Add that they drove more, because of that confidence, and they crashed a good deal more.

  • ||

    "Why permit 18-year-olds to vote but not drink? Because they have not shown a disproportionate tendency to abuse the franchise, to the peril of innocent bystanders."

    Judging by inner city murder rates, black people have clearly abused the franchise of being able to own a gun. By that logic the DC gun ban was AOK. If you look at the statistics linking alchohol abuse to criminal behavior, felons clearly have abused their franchise to drink alchohol. Why not cut them off while we are at it? If it were revealed that 25 year olds also abused the franchise, would this dumb ass support raising the age to 26?

    That is where that kind of thinking leads you. The real problem is that we infantize our children to rediculous extremes. First, if you are with a parent, there should be no drinking age, period. If parents were allowed to introduce drinking to their kids as part of life rather than some big taboo and show how to do it responsibly, there would be a lot less binge drinking, whatever that is. Second, once someone is old enough to vote, die in gas chamber and go to war, they cannot be denied the full privileges of citizenship, end of discussion. Just because one statistical group is more prone to this or that behavior doesn't mean that they can arbitarily be denied the privilieges of full citizenship.

  • ||

    "Yeah, Ron and even Nick on occasion too. Of course the goddess Ms. Howley never deigned to mix with us unwashed masses."

    Oh yes she has. You just have to know how to push her buttons and piss her off enough. She has responded to a couple of my responses to her posts.

  • ||

    Look, we can have a long discussion on if there should be a drinking age and what that should be. But for now we need to stay focused on what we all agree on.

    STEVE CHAPMAN SUCKS

    Oust Steve Chapman AlReady
    OSCAR
    OSCAR
    OSCAR

  • Elemenope||

    My children all have gills, but it was still totally worth it.

    "Ah, the Gentleman Guppy. You're like a turd that won't flush."

    Besides, why Dagon? Hastur is easier.

  • Elemenope||

    See, Warren, I wouldn't mind keeping him around to rouse the rabble, if he were to just get into the shit already.

    I have no use for people who throw grenades and then walk off whistling like nothing happened.

  • Windypundit||

    I've been reading Steve Chapman's stuff for years, and his libertarian leanings fall by the wayside whenever the issues involves drinking. He was also an enthusiastic supporter of lowering acceptable BAC to 0.08.

    Folks, Chapman is an editorial writer for the Chicago Tribune, and these articles are just copies of his syndicated material.
    The problem with running syndicated articles from a sometimes-libertarian is that you get the statist crap too. I don't know why Reason bothers to run them.

  • ||

    SugarFree,
    ah, yeah, we were land-locked, so about the best we could hope for is luring in a byakhee with single malt and a virgin. Also, I think someone bound Valefor into a bottle of Cachaça once, to get the whole in vino veritas thing going, or seduce someone, I was never sure which.

    Gills are cool, though. Sending any of them to London in 2012? The swimming marathon should be heating up then.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    I've resisted for a long time, but this has finally driven me to the ranks of the Chapman bashers.
    Warren, you may be right.

    As to writers showing up on threads about their own topics, call me old school, but, except in the case of a clarification, I find that slightly declasse'. They've had their say. Let the readers mix it up. (And if you really want a response from the author, send him or her an e-mail directly.)

  • ||

    LMNOP,
    If he was capable of that, he'd write better articles to begin with. Even when he takes a libertarian position, he always supports it from the liberal/conservative paradigm of "I know this is best for all therefore it should be so". It's outright embarrassing. STEVE BLOWS RANCID GOAT ENTRAILS. Enough already!

    OSCAR
    OSCAR
    OSCAR

  • MarkySparky||

    The obvious solution to the problem is to grow up in a rural area. I started learning to drive at 12 and learning to drink at 15. Emphasis on "learning". I wasn't thrown into a car and told to drive like everyone else, which seems to be the logic of the 21 drinking age.

    I've seen enough assholes come to college with zero alcohol exposure, chug a bottle of whiskey, and go to the hospital. It has fuck-all to do with "irresponsibility" and everything to do with learning your limits.

    And anyone who seriously buys into the notion that the 18-20 year olds at colleges are safer OUTSIDE the bars... Two words: jungle juice. Yeah, that's safe.

    What a shit article.

  • ||

    Reinmoose --

    You forget, most people think experience is something that simply comes unbidden with age and does not correlate with actual...you know, *experience* with the subject at hand.

    Most people are also dunces.


    I knew everthing at your age too.

  • JLM||

    This article doesn't really belong in Reason.

  • ||

    OK, no booze til 21
    no authority to execute contracts til 21
    no marriage w/o parental permission til 21
    no gainful employment til 21
    NO militaray service til 21
    no vote til 21
    CHILDHOOD FOREVER
    c'mon support full majority or no majority, no half way adults here!

  • ||

    Windypundit,
    You're only addressing half the problem. Not only is Steve Chapman a sometimes libertarian (forgivable), he's also ignorant and dimwitted (hanging offense).

    Steve Chapman has got to go! The sooner the better!

    Oust Steve Chapman AlReady!
    OSCAR
    OSCAR
    OSCAR

  • ||

    I really wonder when Chapman went to college and if he got out very much. I went to college well after the drinking age was raised and people drank like fish. Exactly how much drinking was supposed to be going on back in the good old days? Further, Chapman is a fool if he thinks kids have problems getting booze in high school. Obviously, he just never got invited to the right parties.

  • robc||

    Adding on to my post earlier and John's at 9:33. While WI has the "parents can give their children alcohol at any age" law in place, they also have the highest rate of self-reported drunk driving (according to some study posted here a while back).

    Anecdotally, based on my short time living in Europe, I saw no evidence that European 18-23* year olds are less likely to abuse alcohol than American 18-23s.

    *just picking a rough range that I dealt with

    Anyway, my point is, I have never bought the utilitarian argument that a lower drinking age leads to more responsible drinking. I still favor the lowered drinking age however.

  • ||

    Hastur is easier.

    He always tracks shit in on the carpet. And don't even start in on that colossal mooch Nyarlathotep. Jerk still owes me ten bucks. "Next time I materialize on this plane to mesmerize followers" he says.

    Shub-Niggurath couldn't find a babysitter.

    Josh,

    They'd never pass the gender check at the Olympics. It's hideous. Don't ask.

  • ||

    John,
    Do you have links to support your assertion? I don't think I could live with her communicating with another Hit and Runner.

  • Adam||

    He closes by actually saying that logic takes a back seat here. This is called Reason, isn't it?

  • ||

    "Anyway, my point is, I have never bought the utilitarian argument that a lower drinking age leads to more responsible drinking. I still favor the lowered drinking age however."

    I disagree about Europe, outside of the UK. On the continent I have never seen the kind of noxious drunks you see in the US, unless of course they are American college kids. The UK of course is notorious for drunken sods. But, go to any beer garden in Germany and people will putting down beer by the liter, but no one is loud and there are no fights. People brink their kids to beer gardens in Germany. No way you could do that in the US. If we had beer gardens here, there would be people drinking and pissing on themselves and throwing up and swearing and God knows what else. Not so in Germany or anywhere else on the continent I have been. I think Europeans, sand the Brits, are much less obnoxious drinkers than Americans. Maybe our problem is that we have too many Scotch Irish.

  • ||

    Why permit 18-year-olds to vote but not drink? Because they have not shown a disproportionate tendency to abuse the franchise, to the peril of innocent bystanders.

    Worst, logic, evar. Of course, this is what legally (apparently) allows auto insurance companies to discriminate based on age, sex, and marital status. Somehow it is not legal to apply this "logic" to race. The results would be interesting if it were.

    Also, it is unclear from the quote if the abuse to the franchise is in reference to the drinking or the voting. An examanination of voting trends among 18 years olds would show they are out of touch with the rest of adult society. They tend to vote for the candidate who promises them the most stuff (they have not yet earned). On second thought, I'm starting to like this logic. We could make the voting age 30 to 65 and eliminate socialism in our time.

  • ||

    If all the statistics that Steve Chapman quoted were correct, and that indeed the number of drunk driving-related crashes would explode if the drinking age were lowered, wouldn't all of that be reflected in insurance rates? Those who are deemed most at-risk would have their insurance rates go up, no? And an individual policy for an 18 year old is already really expensive for an 18 year old to pay. Do you think maybe it's better to allow those whose rates would be affected to determine if they would be willing to pay that insurance rate, take some sort of awareness class for a discount, or possibly in the future voluntarily install a breathalyzer on their car starter for insurance cuts? Wouldn't this yield not only more fair but better results?

  • ||

    Warren,

    http://www.reason.com/blog/show/125429.html

    See Howley's 11:55 am post.

  • ||

    When you read stuff like this, or any other MADD propagand, it's hard to believe it's even possible to get a drink outside a car. The whole ironclad linkage between "drinking" and "driving" conjures up, for me, an image reminiscent of an old time A&W Drive-in, where you sit around in your car while waitresses on roller skates bring you buckets of booze. And they won't even let you leave until you blow higher than .14 on the breathalyzer.

    It reminds me of the people who, when you say the drug war is a gigantic, counterproductive waste of energy and human capital, say, "So I guess that means you're in favor of murder and child rape, too."



    Based on previous Trib excreta I have seen, I suspect Chapman would get fired if he agree with the idea that the drinking age should be lowered. Or that anybody anywhere might be given leeway to make a "dangerous" decision for himself.

    That's no excuse. This piece of crap reads like it was cribbed straight off a MADD handout.

  • ||

    I had been wondering how Chapman got this gig. Obviously, he's sleeping with Nick. I haven't seen my fifteen year old daughter drunk yet, and she's been drinking for years, but she's a girl.
    Her first interstate drive was my stupidest idea ever. I thought I59 in western Alabama was as good a place to try it as any, but I forgot about the construction at the border. Narrow lanes, a big Expedition with play in the wheel, and seemingly hundreds of trucks passing us. Holy shit!

  • :-/||

    I have no use for people who throw grenades and then walk off whistling like nothing happened.

    I can't imagine why he wouldn't respond to all these adolescent tantrums.

  • Christopher Monnier||

    This reminds me of the flap caused when Roger Pilon wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal defending the Bush administration's executive power grab. In such cases, and especially in this case since the op-ed was published by Reason, a point/counterpoint type thing should be presented. Steve Chapman can argue the merits of keeping a drinking age of 21, while Radley Balko or Jacob Sullum could argue the merits or lowering the age (or abolishing it altogether).

  • ||

    John,
    I was afraid I was going to have to hunt you down, but that was masterful. I tip my hat to you sir.

    But I think the important thing to remember is

    STEVE CHAPMAN WRITES LIKE A RETARDED MONKEY
    OSCAR
    OSCAR
    OSCAR

  • ||

    Why not a more thunderous denunciation of Chapman's citation of government statistics and studies as amateurish artifices of argumentation?

  • ||

    Obviously, he's sleeping with Nick.

    Is he also sleeping with Matt?

    OSCAR
    OSCAR
    OSCAR

  • Fluffy||

    With regard to the whole driving age debate:

    Getting a driver's license requires passing a test. If you can pass the written test and driving test, you should get a license.

  • robc||

    John,

    The beer garden at the hofbrauhaus in Newport, KY is exactly as you describe the ones in Germany. It is completely unlike your expectation.

  • B||

    Why does reason run Chapman's columns?

    Really. Why?

  • Abdul||

    Wow. Chapman couldn't be more reviled than if he adovcated harvesting organs from third world babies.

    while I support a lower drinking age, even I can't get that worked up over the fact that 18-20 year olds are stuck huffing spray-paint instead.

  • ||

    From a libertarian view, quite frankly its not the place of the state to enforce age limits like this, it is the place of parents.

    What is "libertarian" about the parent of an 18, 19 or 20 year old deciding whether or not he is allowed to drink?

  • Citizen Nothing||

    I still maintain that Chapman is one of the more libertarian opinion columnists writing for a mainstream daily newspaper.

  • ||

    "The beer garden at the hofbrauhaus in Newport, KY is exactly as you describe the ones in Germany. It is completely unlike your expectation."

    I have heard about that place. I have heard it is really kick ass. Maybe I am wrong. Maybe Americans could do it.

  • Fluffy||

    I can't imagine why he wouldn't respond to all these adolescent tantrums.

    Where are there any adolescent tantrums in this thread?

    It's really very simple.

    Alcohol is a variety of property.

    Declaring a type of property contraband for all or a portion of the citizenry restricts the property rights and civil rights of the citizens affected.

    In order to justify restricting the property rights and civil rights of an individual, you should have to present evidence of wrongdoing on the part of that individual. Statistical evidence showing that a percentage of individuals who share certain characteristics will do something wrong is irrelevant.

    Arguing otherwise effectively rejects all libertarianism.

    Chapman is explicitly subordinating liberty to utility. If utility is superior to liberty, libertarianism should not exist. It's either false, or superfluous.

    I just want to know how he, or the editors here, reconcile that with the magazine's mission statement.

  • ||

    Thanks Warren.

  • ||

    Matt posts Chapman columns solely to get page hits from our outrage. It's quite shrewd and duplicitous. Come on, Matt--admit it.

    Plus, they probably pay him almost nothing.

  • ||

    """You can't argue that you have to restrict my liberty because of the irreponsible actions other people might take.""""

    How many decades have your eyes been closed? Not only do they argue that line, but they have passed law after law for decades under that premise.

  • Marian Kechlibar||

    This might have a lot to do with the prevalent culture...

    Germans, French, Italians, Spaniards seem to have a happy relation with alcohol as cultures.

    Slavic nations (including Czechs) are split on this issue. For example, Czechs can manage beer, but they are worse in managing hard drinks. (I am a Czech myself). On the other hand, Russians do not even consider beer a 'true alcoholic beverage' and anyone can buy it anywhere.

    The British lower classes seem to be totally incapable or unwilling to drink reasonably. Each Friday, low-cost airliners full of horrible alcoholics take off from London, Birmingham or Glasgow, and land in Berlin, Prague, Warsaw, Budapest and everywhere.

    After the first 10 beers, the 'travellers' often get violent and local police has hard time managing them.

    Monday morning, the only traces of the 'travellers' are pools of vomit on the sidewalk and occasional heap of broken glass. I have seen that very often with my own eyes; and, during weekend evenings, I avoid some notorious streets in the center of Prague, because some of the flying drunkards are happy to beat you just for the fact of walking around them.

    Things went so far that the British embassy officially apologized to the Czech government for behaviour of their citizens in Prague.

    If it is culture, can the culture be changed to be more 'sustainable'?

  • :-/||

    Where are there any adolescent tantrums in this thread?


    "All of your statistical arguments are irrelevant crap."

    "Is Steve Chapman just an asshole/idiot and I never noticed before?"

    "I would just like to tell Steve Chapman he can go fuck himself."

    "STEVE CHAPMAN SUCKS"


    Not exactly rational adult retorts, are they?

  • Rhywun||

    The best thing would be if everyone's parents enrolled them in a quality driving course, but that's too expensive.



    I think something like that is required in Germany. They don't just hand a license to anyone who walks in with a pulse, like we do.

    Meh - doesn't matter. Different cultures, different priorities. I hate cars, but I love booze. I should have stayed in Germany when I was 17....

    As for Mr. Chapman, I have problem with this article. I totally disagree with it, but it sure got the discussion going.

  • Rhywun||

    I meant to say "I have NO problem with this article"

  • Elemenope||

    Fluffy, be careful when you say "all" to include the "weaponized fissile materials exception". That exception is all-important.

  • J||

    I would post this if a few of the writers were going to be off that day. It's plenty to keep commenters talking about for hours.

    I would have waited until 9 or 10 EST, though.

    Also, Mr. Chapman: I disagree.

  • ||

    :-/

    Aww, did we hurt your feelings, Grimace Steve?

    I have an idea- why not just make Chapman the "Friday Funny"?

  • Elemenope||

    Unhappy emoticon:

    Simply expressing exasperation at a constant stream of irritants is not adolescent.

    And those quotes included some "grown-up words", did they not? ;)

  • Elemenope||

    "Oh, Reginald...I DISAGREE!" [Zoom!]

  • ||

    Aww, did we hurt your feelings, Grimace Steve?

    Ha, my thought exactly. He's certainly constipated enough.

  • ||

    "I would post this if a few of the writers were going to be off that day. It's plenty to keep commenters talking about for hours."

    Posting this article is the equivelent of posting an article advocating the killing of unwanted puppies in the I love Westies Internet forum. There was bound to be an ugly mob created.

  • ||

    Speaking for myself, I was driven to this adolescent tantrum from the ENDLESS STREAM OF BILE SPEWING FROM STEVE CHAPMAN!

    Seriously, we use to dissect his putrid prose and refute it in a more academically congenial way. But the hits just kept on coming. Steve just kept piling up one piss poor article after anther, hacking up his unresearched, ignorant reflex, to what ever he was on about. The festering mound has become a toxic source, poisoning the whole of Reason.

    STEVE CHAPMAN MUST GO!
    Oust Steve Chapman AlReady
    OSCAR
    OSCAR
    OSCAR

  • Elemenope||

    Wow. Chapman couldn't be more reviled than if he advocated harvesting organs from third world babies.

    So long as:

    1. The babies were already dead
    2. The parents get a share of the profits

    I'm not seeing the problem...

    (I'm just kidding. I see problems.)

  • ||

    I see problems.

    Me too. Their organs are scrawny and lack the vital nutrients and fat content that make white babies' organs so delicious and good for you.

  • Jean-François Grenier||

    I live in a province where you can start to drive at 16 and start to drink at 18. We're still waiting for the madmax-style gang of drunken kids on the streets.

  • ||

    Holy shit! It is 7:47 am here in Arizona and I am just now getting to post. This is going to be a long thread.

    I never thought I would read an article in Reason that talked about reducing freedom and for the dumbest fucking reasons.

    It seems that the two biggest reasons are that there will be 18 years old that fuck it up for everyone else and some people might die.

    As for the the first reason. instead of retreading old ground, I will cite Fluffy's | August 21, 2008, 8:29am argument.

    Implicit in Chapman's article is that lowering the drinking age will costs a few lives. If an 18 year old drinks himself to death, I say good. That gets to stupid genes out the gene pool and provides an example to smarter sentient being what to avoid in order to live longer. Why can't extreme stupidity be lethal. That is why we like the Darwin Awards. Be we enjoy watching stupid people die....hopefully before bearing any children.

    I don't want to see innocent people killed of course. But this could happen on the highway buy a person bending over to pick up a dropped cheese burger or trying to turn around to discipline unruly kids, but I wouldn't make eating in my car illegal.

  • ||

    This is the dumbest article I've ever read on Reason. How does this idiot still have a job there? I usually bypass any article he write, but this one I just had to read. Beyond moronic.

  • ||

    There are good arguments to be made both for and against brown baby organ farming. There may even be good arguments to be made for low drinking age.

    BUT NO GOOD ARGUMENT HAS EVER BEEN MADE BY STEVE CHAPMAN

    HE'S A FUCKING HACK!
    HE MUST GO
    OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR

  • Elemenope||

    I live in a province where you can start to drive at 16 and start to drink at 18. We're still waiting for the madmax-style gang of drunken kids on the streets.

    Well, if they're frenchie canucks, you'll be waiting a long time...and I doubt it has much to do with the drinking age.

  • ||

    (Bart and Milhouse drive past the filming of Canadian Graffiti)

    (Canadian youth spray-paints "OBEY THE RULES" on a brick wall)

  • classwarrior||

    Here in Canada, most provinces have a drinking age of 19 precisely to keep booze out of high schools. It seems to work while still letting university students indulge.

  • ||

    This is the dumbest article I've ever read on Reason. How does this idiot still have a job there?

    What's curious is that Steve doesn't actually appear to have a job with Reason. At least he doesn't appear on the Reason Staff page. And yet Reason.com publishes twice as many Chapman articles as any actual member of it's staff.

    What. The. Fuck. ???

    Come on Matt! We need to know. Does Steve have pictures of you and Gillespie eating third world baby organs? What strange Svengalian powers are preventing you from kicking this FESTERING MORONIC DOUCHEBAGE PUSSBALL to the curb?

    OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR

  • ron||

    what the fuck is this shit? fuck you steve chapman.

  • ||

    Somebody ought to hit Steve upside the head with a large prank imprinted with the Equal Protection Clause.

    Perhaps our society made a bad decision when we changed the age of majority from 21 to 18, but that's what we did, and unless we aim to change things back, all legal adults ought to be allowed to drink.

    I ranted on that subject at length in an earlier H&R post.

    I matriculated at my university in the fall of 1974. It was several months before I reached 18, and had to play the fake ID game to hit the many bars near campus. You could actually buy beer in the rathskeller in the student union. The administration threw annual block parties with free beer. Granted, this was in Milwaukee, WI, where the German immigrants did, in fact, have a great beer garden tradition, until the double-whammy of Prohibition and the Depression stifled it. It still lives on in Summerfest and the many ethnic festivals held at Maier Park, though.

    BTW, Epi, CT has gone to graduated drivers licensing by now.

    Kevin

  • Paul R.||

    A writer for Reason is making a utilitarian argument and ignoring the libertarian argument? How unexpected.

    Honestly, it isn't that hard. Make the problem illegal, not something that could possibly lead to the problem. I am an 18-year that would drink responsibly, and I'm not allowed to because lawmakers care more about statistical trends than individual rights. But apparently Mr. Chapman doesn't mind sacrificing liberty for safety, as long as he's not sacrificing HIS liberty. Worst article I've seen on this site by far.

  • ||

    Prohibition always works. Really.

  • Dave||

    So raising the drinking age to 21 reduced deaths due to drunk driving? Awesome. Let's raise it up to 30 and reduce those deaths even more! Better yet, make it 70 for even more results!

    While we're at it, we should ban people from driving all together to reduce drunk driving deaths to 0! Look at all the fatalities on the road - we can't honestly trust people to drive.

    Instead, we'll have everyone take federal government approved mass transportation. The government will run it, so you'll know it'll run smoothly. And we won't have anymore drunk driving deaths! Yay!

  • ||

    it is 8:37 a.m. and because of stupid shit like this so early in the morning, I need a drink. Where's my Jagermeister?

  • Kolohe||

    Steve Chapman gets a lot a shit on this site.

    For this article he deserves every single bit of it.

    It's not hard to make a logical case for allowing 18-year-olds to buy alcohol, but only if you disregard the practical effects of letting them do something that many of them are not mature enough to handle

    This pisses me off so much a can barely type.

    Mr Chapman, if we applied your principles to poor people as you like to do with 18-20 year olds, we would get the same result.

    And it would totally fucking evi1. Can't you see that?

    Can't you fucking see that this is the same patronizing shit as the drug war?

  • Elemenope||

    What strange Svengalian powers are preventing you from kicking this FESTERING MORONIC DOUCHEBAGE PUSSBALL to the curb?

    If I had to hazard a guess, I bet it would be an ALMIGHTY CONTRACT.

  • ||

    In order to justify restricting the property rights and civil rights of an individual, you should have to present evidence of wrongdoing on the part of that individual. Statistical evidence showing that a percentage of individuals who share certain characteristics will do something wrong is irrelevant.

    Arguing otherwise effectively rejects all libertarianism.


    Chapman wants to make an exception for people younger than 21. If he cannot do so without effectively rejecting all libertarianism, no one should consider himself a libertarian unless he:

    rejects any mimimum age for buying or consuming alcohol
    opposes any age of consent legislation (for sex and anything else)
    doesn't believe parents should have the legal obligation to support their children
    oppose any compulsory education
    try all children accused of crimes as adults
    and probably other things that don't occur to me just now.

    I don't think there would be many libertarians left under Fluffy's definition.

  • Nick||

    I do like the idea of a 16-yr-old drinking age and an 18-yr-old driving age. That gives the kids two years to get their ya-yas out before they get behind the wheel.

    I hate beer and am not a drinker, but from my experience, usually freshmen and sophomores in college drink like fish because the lifestyle's new to them, and by junior or senior year they've mellowed out and matured a bit after waking up with too many unpleasant hangovers next people they otherwise wouldn't have. Two years between starting drinking and driving would give time to remove the novelty of drinking and would allow teens to start drinking while still living with their parents, who can step in if they go too far. I think allowing kids to drink with their parents at an even younger age would help.

    There's bound to be abuse and bad parenting, but if the parents are alcoholic louts who let their kids spiral out of control, they would do it anyway whether it's legal or not lest they look like a hypocrite.

    I ask to MADD and to Mr. Chapman, is it the beer that kills or the car? I think they're focusing too much on the wrong one. I'm glad this article is here because it provokes discussions like these, although it might have been better as a post to Hit and Run instead of as the featured article, which makes it seem as though it reflects the opinion of the magazine itself.

  • Elemenope||

    I don't think there would be many libertarians left under Fluffy's definition.

    Yeah, well, he's a hardass. Nobody said this would be easy, y'know.

  • 420||

    smoke weed

  • ||

    your fearless sense of immortality serves me well when i dispatch you to iraq to get your ass shot off in my place, because if i've learned only one thing in 53 years, it's to avoid snipers and IED's, and i will hoist a beer to commemorate your noble fate, but i can't have you buying the last sixpack of pilsner urquell before i get to the store, it would be an affront to my ageist superiority.

  • ||

    I read an article by Walter Block or some other anarcho-capitalist, that suggested that a person should be considered an adult as soon as she starts paying her own rent (or is otherwise self-sufficient). Regardless of her age. I like that idea. It accounts for the differences between people.

    by that logic, some of the women i know here in nyc (who are in their late 20s) would not be considered adults. does that mean i have been fucking children?

  • ||

    What the HELL is an article like that doing on this site?!?

  • ||

    Fluffy and Elemenope-

    Are both of you, for purposes of this thread, accepting that Chapman's "utilitarian" arguments are true? It appears that many of the posters are doing just that. Why?

  • Thomas Paine\'s Goiter||

    This is the worst article ever published by reason. It's full of logical fallacies and I question how in the hell this person got on staff.

    Steve Chapman can eat a dick.

  • Fluffy||

    rejects any mimimum age for buying or consuming alcohol
    opposes any age of consent legislation (for sex and anything else)
    doesn't believe parents should have the legal obligation to support their children
    oppose any compulsory education
    try all children accused of crimes as adults
    and probably other things that don't occur to me just now.


    No, parse.

    The amendment that gave 18 year old's the right to vote has to be regarded as making them full citizens.

    You can argue in favor of setting an age limit for citizenship rights, but once that age limit is set I do not think you can argue for customizing the rights enjoyed by subsets of citizens without offending against both liberty AND equality.

    If 18 year old's can't drink they should be stripped of the vote, and vice versa.

    And by the way, if you don't oppose compulsory education your libertarianism is a sham. So let's just eliminate that one from the list right away.

    By the way, frowney face guy:

    "All of your statistical arguments are irrelevant crap."

    That's actually not an adolescent argument, since I went into considerable detail about why I found statistical arguments irrelevant, and went so far as to link my assertion that such arguments were crap to the ultimate distinction between libertarianism and utilitarianism. I gotta tell you, if the word "crap" threw you into a tizzy there's a problem, because "crap" is not by any stretch of the imagination even remotely an obscenity.

  • Alberta Blue||

    That's odd, up here in Canada we have a drinking age of 18-19 depending on the province. Yet we haven't seen our society go to hell in a handbasket.

    Odd, I'd think of a libertarian website you'd see an argument for less government regulation. Even if you're going to use the utilitarian argument, you'd hope he would bring out more evidence than to appeal to the fears of a few ninnies.

  • Fluffy||

    Are both of you, for purposes of this thread, accepting that Chapman's "utilitarian" arguments are true? It appears that many of the posters are doing just that. Why?

    I don't accept that they're true, but I specifically want to avoid being sucked in to debating the merits of his assumptions because I don't think the approach is appropriate from the get-go.

    If I haggle with him about what I think the statistics mean, or how they should be interpreted, or what impact any proposed policy changes would have, I've implicitly conceded that we should be granting or withholding rights based on such arguments.

    And once you do that liberty is sunk. Because there will always be some fresh set of statistics to debunk and some new policy idea to "tweak" our utility outcomes by "tailoring" this or that right or liberty.

  • ||

    I don't get all the vitriol against Chapman on this site. His point seems like common sense to me. There may be 18-21 year olds who are responsible drinkers (let's assume for a minute that it isn't an oxymoron) but unlike with gun control, the responsible drinkers can't decrease the bad effects of the irresponsible ones.

  • ||

    Well, I understand the argument, but it seems to completely contradict Reason's position against the drug war.

    First, legalizing drugs should bring the whole drug culture out into the open, and by doing so would make it easier to monitor. Same with alcohol.

    Second, Reason has argued that legalizing drugs would remove the "clandestine" nature of the activity, and therefore some of its sex appeal. But not for alcohol?

    Chapman may be right, but that doesn't bode well for other libertarian positions. Anyway, if 18 year olds are considered adults, then they should be treated like adults. Parents who pick up the check for these kids' education should be the ones handling the problem.

  • Elemenope||

    Somewhat similar to Fluffy, I don't much care whether or not the utilitarian arguments are right (and, FWIW, they probably are) because I don't believe they ought to carry much weight when it comes to the right to buy/sell/consume what you damn well please.

    The utilitarian angle becomes important when the costs are *stupendously huge*, hence the "weaponized fissile material exception" to the buy anything rule.

  • ||

    sorry, imprecise. *with gun owners.

    I also wanted to point out that logic is worthless without an accurate premise. These professors who want to lower the drinking age are evidently starting with the assumption that it would cut down on binge drinking. History does not support that. End of story.

  • Windypundit||

    "Steve doesn't actually appear to have a job with Reason"

    He doesn't. He's a syndicated columnist, which is why it says "COPYRIGHT 2008 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC." at the bottom. Chapman is on the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune. He's actually one of the most libertarian mainstream pundits, but he has a few blindspots. Drinking and driving is one of them.

  • ||

    PEOPLE PEOPLE
    We're getting sidetracked here. If you want to discuss the drinking age, please do so on Jesse's post just above this one.

    Let's stay focused on what's important.
    STEVE CHAPMAN SUCKS WARTHOG BALLS
    Oust
    Steve
    Chapman
    Al-
    Ready

  • :-/||

    What the HELL is an article like that doing on this site?!?

    Closed minds and free markets?
    I smell a purge. Yeehaw!

  • Silentz||

    Allowing/not allowing this article on Reason aside, the piece really doesn't discuss the TRUE reason the universities want the drinking age lowered to 18. If someone gets hurt performing a legal activity, the university can't be sued for not preventing it. It's not a altruistic endeavor by our bastions of higher learning... It has ZERO to do with the supposed responsibility of today's 18-year-olds, it's all about CYA.

  • ||

    You can argue in favor of setting an age limit for citizenship rights, but once that age limit is set I do not think you can argue for customizing the rights enjoyed by subsets of citizens without offending against both liberty AND equality.

    How can you set an age limit on citizenship rights and call yourself a libertarian if a libertarian only permits limit to ones property rights and civil rights is evidence of wrongdoing on the part of that individual? That was your argument. Your new claim is that it's libertarian to restrict property rights and civil rights based on age is as long as you restrict all rights and not just some of them. That clearly contradicts your earlier argument.

    By the way, I wasn't arguing for or against any of the age-based restrictions I mentioned in my list. I was only observing that Fluffy's definition of libertarianism would preclude all of them. But why is why do you consider someone opposes age of consent for sex a libertarian while somone who supports compulsory education a sham libertarian?

  • ||

    LAB,
    History doesn't have to support the facts. Mostly we're not arguing stats. We're arguing that either you're an adult or you're not. Pick one.
    I could probably dig up stats that totally refute everything in Chapman's post but it doesn't matter. If all our laws were based on stats and a few deaths (getting close) We'd never be able to leave the house because the chances of us dying when we walk out the door probably go up 1000%. In fact stepping out of bed or even moving at all when we wake up probably increase our chance of injury or death near infinitely. Based on those overwhelming stats how can we "in good conscience" Allow people to get out of bed?


    Let's follow this logic to it's conclusion. Why do teenagers drink? Well it's because alcohol is legal and available. So long as anyone can by alcohol teenagers can get their hands on it. One conclusion: Total prohibition and elimination of all spirits.... how did that work?

    How about we just ban high school? No high school: no party invites (or less) no peer pressure to drink no inter mixing of ideals that might go against social standards.

    Bottom line If I had these yuppy scared pussified stat monkey parents who tried to control every tiny aspect of my life. I'd binge drink too.

    (should i throw out my anomoly friend who carries like a 3.8 gpa at law school and is an unabashed alcoholic. To the point of showing up for classes drunk or hungover... or both? not everything is black and white.)

  • DJP||

    In my college experience, the 21 drinking age encouraged dangerous drinking on my part.

    After 21, I would buy a 22 oz beer and sip on it throughout the night, knowing that I had nothing to worry about and I could always get more.

    Before 21, I still drank, but since it was harder to come by, I usually gulped down as much as I could get to get the most out of it.

    I think this is a typical pattern of college students.

  • Fluffy||

    There may be 18-21 year olds who are responsible drinkers (let's assume for a minute that it isn't an oxymoron) but unlike with gun control, the responsible drinkers can't decrease the bad effects of the irresponsible ones.

    So what?

    I start from the assumption that we don't criminalize responsible and harmless behavior people are engaged in on their own property and with their own property.

    Full stop.

    If a law equally punishes both the responsible and the irresponsible, the harmless and the harmful, it's unjust. No further analysis is required. No statistics need to be brought to bear. It doesn't matter if the responsible drinkers can decrease the bad effects of the irresponsible ones, or not.

  • ||

    Silentz:
    it's even more than that it also costs them money. Under 21 drinking violations can get you to lose your student aid and grants and basically force you to drop out. There are other problems as well.

    A lot of decent people are taken down by this law. The problem is this is easy to not care about because once you're 21 you stop caring. It's like the smoking bans since it doesn't directly affect people who don't smoke no one stands up for the liberty argument.

    Even if it is greedy by the campuses good. Campuses should not be liable for what the students do anyway so I don't blame them for being self serving.
    What we need is more people being self serving.

  • ||

    This asshole isn't a libertarian.

  • Chris Baker||

    I've been getting REASON since 1994. This article may be the final straw. I don't think I will be renewing when it comes up this time. I realize this article may not be in the magazine, but my money supports this web site.

  • ||

    And also, I'd like to hear Chapman explain why Europe has fewer problems with teenage drinking. Perhaps because they let 16 year olds drink, and encourage responsible social drinking? It's funny how, when you make something so taboo, people (particularly teenagers) will abuse it...

  • Citizen Nothing||

    "This article may be the final straw."
    There seems to be a lot of final straws out there.
    I think some of these guys must have 10 subscriptions each so they can cancel one each time an H&R post gives them the vapors.

  • ||

    Dammit Chapman. I do seriously challenge your credibility .

    The more I think about this the more pissed off I become.

    Since when has anything done "in the dark" been good? By "in the dark" I mean things prohibited being done outside the law.

    Let's look at date rape. If say an 18 year old girl could purchase and consumer her own alcohol and or host her own party or perhaps even in her own home with her parents consent would this not be a better situation than a stupid fucking frat party? Than some strangers house? Where no one is going to call the cops no matter what happens because everyone knows if they call the cops everyone goes down? You know the criminal mentality at these 18- 21 parties where they don't take kids who drink too much to the hospital? Because they don't want to get nailed? I've seen this shit.

    A lot of the "irresponsibility" tag 18 - 21 year olds get tagged with is because they have to BE irresponisible when they drink or they risk losing a lot more. Like their education, housing, right to drive, job.

    There's a reason 18- 21 years olds see their right to drink as just that "their right" it is. This is not an arguable point. Period. There is no counter argument.

  • Schadenfreude Guy||

    This article may be the final straw. I don't think I will be renewing when it comes up this time.

    Ha ha ha. Can't handle an opposing point of view?
    That's not very libertarian of you.

  • ||

    "Ha ha ha. Can't handle an opposing point of view?
    That's not very libertarian of you."

    First of all, libertarianism is a political philosophy.

    Second, it really has nothing to do with not being able to handle other points of view. This article is simply not libertarian in nature, and just shouldn't be on this site.

  • ||

    Fluffy and Elemenope-

    Yes. The moral argument is enough.

    My point is that the utilitarians should be challenged on their utilitarian assertions and assumptions. A utilitarian argument that is predicated upon some "study" sponsored by the government or by some entity that depends on government, is, by definition, a very flawed argument. Ditto for "government statistics".

  • Invisible Finger||

    Dumbest. Column. Ever.

  • ||

    One thing about parenting and raising people into adults: they will never make good, mature decisions unless you give them the opportunity to make those decisions.
    All the restrictions we place on young people do nothing to prepare them for adulthood.
    When a student goes away to school, away from his parents, he also leaves a good safety net and people who will care and help him learn from mistakes. All the mistakes he makes at college will be suddenly as an adult, with no real do-overs.
    On the otherhand, a student in middleschool can make mistakes, and learn from them. As long as the parents help him actually learn, and give him opportunities to make mistakes. Instead of trying to protect him all the time so he never is exposed to any hardship.

  • ;-)||

    This article is simply not libertarian in nature, and just shouldn't be on this site

    Who appointed you Managing Editor?

  • Invisible Finger||

    The drinking age should be 3.

    When a 3-year year old gets drunk and then crashes his tricycle, the damage will be minimal but he will have learned a lesson he'll never forget. Instead we stop people from drinking until the damage they can cause from inexperienced drinking is fatal.

  • ||

    OPPOSING POINT OF VIEW?

    really is this the new "well that's my opinion." cop out.
    You know that any argument can be made justified by the "it's just my opinion" or "that's just my point of view". It can't.
    not all opinions are created equal. Some are stupid some are flawed this one is both.

  • J||

    My point is that the utilitarians should be challenged on their utilitarian assertions and assumptions. A utilitarian argument that is predicated upon some "study" sponsored by the government or by some entity that depends on government, is, by definition, a very flawed argument. Ditto for "government statistics".

    Yes. All science sponsored by the NIH, NASA, etc are scientifically flawed. (I am not disagreeing that there may be problems with funding coming from government for other reasons, just that inherently ruins the science itself). Again, I am never sure if you are serious, or a very subtle troll.


    Also, unrelated point to keep in mind, libertarians are not all minarchists. There is a wide range of people that consider themselves libertarian, from anarchists to minarchists to constitutionalists and so on. Different people think there are different places that maximum liberty is found, yet consider themselves libertarian. While I personally like a form of minarchist libertarian views, and many people here seem to agree, it seems personally reasonable for other people to disagree as to where the line of force is drawn, and still be libertarians. (They're just wrong!)

  • :-/||

    Burn the heretic! Silence him! Our "free minds" can't tolerate dissent!

  • ||

    Listen it's not dissent I have a problem with ":-/". It's poorly constructed argument cleverly backed up by psuedo-science and put forth as an argument without any type or rebuttal to the obvious flaws in said argument. It's knee- jerk. I don't mind different opinions as long as they're not stupid and poorly argued different opinions.

    this is just same ol same ol on the drinking argument it's nothing new and everything he said has been debunked by articles on even this site itself.

  • ||

    "Who appointed you Managing Editor?"

    I never claimed to be Managing Editor, Jerk. It's my opinion, and a lot of people agree with me. If you have a problem with anything I wrote, then state your case instead of making snide comments.

  • ||

    "Listen it's not dissent I have a problem with ":-/". It's poorly constructed argument cleverly backed up by psuedo-science and put forth as an argument without any type or rebuttal to the obvious flaws in said argument. It's knee- jerk. I don't mind different opinions as long as they're not stupid and poorly argued different opinions."

    Plus, this isn't the appropriate forum for article--perhaps if it had some substance, it would be.

    It still surprises me to see this on Reason.com.

  • ||

    18 Shouldn't be allowed to drink, vote, or join the military. Make it all 21 and I'm on board, but if you are adult enough to vote and die for this country, then you are an adult enough to have a beer.

  • ||

    What part of "Free Minds and Free Markets" does this nanny-state justification support. The entire anti-some-drugs war is justified on a very similar basis. I actually read this article waiting for the punchline. Doesn't anybody edit this magazine anymore? This could at least have been presented as part of a debate, instead of being a raw insult to all libertarians.

  • First Little Pig||

    I am very late and no one will read this but:

    1) Driving ages differ state to state. E.g. In Idaho you can drive at 14 during daylight.

    2) German driving age is much more complicated than you people think. My 15-year old cousin (Munich) can drive a scooter -- but limited to 25 km per hour. At 16 he can drive a motorcycle of a certain horse power (plenty fast enough, but probably not safe on Autobahn.) Etcetera. Of course he can also have up to 2 grams of pot on his person and face no penalty (at 4 grams he has to sign a statement that it is for his own personal use)....

    Booze rules tend to reflect a reaction to cultural norms... We have a culture that treats alcohol as a BIG DEAL and so make it very appealing to young people -- more so by making it verboten.

    When it comes to liberty however, it makes no sense to disallow adults from drinking. Personally I would eliminate the drinking age entirely. Let parents who allow their 8-year olds to get hammered face the consequences of such lack of parenting. It should not be under the purview of government.

  • ||

    I don't think I will be renewing when it comes up this time.

    Umm, drink?

  • Thomas Paine\'s Goiter||

    The article shouldn't be on the site because it's poorly written and even more poorly argued. It has nothing to do with his political or moral leanings. Chapman writes like a hack and argues like a MADD member. Logical fallacies are not the basis of high-level thinking.

  • Not Easily Offended||

    a raw insult to all libertarians

    Poor baby. How about a nice cookie?
    Would Snookums like a nice cookie? Would he?

  • ||

    DID WE JUST GET TROLLED?!!!

    But seriously, the same arguments the author uses could be made for abolishing alcohol altogether.

    Nanny-state? In MY Reason?

    It's more likely than you think.

  • economist||

    "18-year-olds do not abuse the franchise in ways that are harmful to others"
    Says who? Given that 70% of the time 18-year-olds (and, to be fair, most under thirty) vote for the candidate who makes the wildest promises, I would say that their influence on elections is very harmful to others.
    Full disclosure:I also think that over-sixty voters are problematic, too.
    OSCAR

  • bill||

    "Since 1988, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drunk-driving deaths have dropped in all age groups. That's due in part to stricter enforcement and changing public attitudes about drinking and driving."

    Really? I'd attribute that stat to the increase in the use of airbags in cars.

  • Elemenope||

    Allowing/not allowing this article on Reason aside, the piece really doesn't discuss the TRUE reason the universities want the drinking age lowered to 18. If someone gets hurt performing a legal activity, the university can't be sued for not preventing it. It's not a altruistic endeavor by our bastions of higher learning... It has ZERO to do with the supposed responsibility of today's 18-year-olds, it's all about CYA.

    Since when is there a problem with CYA? Universities currently are shouldering a legal and enforcement burden that they shouldn't have. It think it is *all the more reason* to make this change that it's fucking over institutes of higher education that have neither the time, nor the inclination, nor the resources to be everyone's fucking parent.

  • ||

    J-1:28 pm

    No, I am not a troll, very subtle or otherwise. I think both Fluffy and Elemenope would defend my bona fides. When I first started posting on Reason Hit/Run, there were several people who sugested, even insisted, that I was a troll because they thought that I was too over the top or that I was "too cartoonishly anarcho individualistic".

  • Sketch||

    Wow. This is possibly the dumbest article I have ever read on Reason.com. As a recent college graduate, I can assure you that the high drinking age results in MORE dangerous drinking, not less. It forces those who are underage to binge drink in private, small groups and then attend parties where they know they will not be served. It leads to a police state on more socially conservative campuses. On mine, there was a group of students who rode around on bikes to warn drunk people where the police were so they could avoid getting a Drunk In Public citation. Is that the kind of environment really what we want our kids to grow up in?

    Yeah, that whole decrease in drunk driving... pretty sure that's because the consensus among the youth today is that driving drunk is morally wrong. Drinking without driving? Yeah, that's still totally cool.

    This article reeks of the suburban nanny-statism this magazine purports to fight against. Please, dear god, someone post an article in response to this stupidity.

  • ||

    For shame, I expect better from this site. At least CATO didn't disappoint me: http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/2008/08/20/drinking-age/

  • ||

    "Yeah, that whole decrease in drunk driving... pretty sure that's because the consensus among the youth today is that driving drunk is morally wrong. Drinking without driving? Yeah, that's still totally cool."

    Every experiment needs a control. In this case, our control was Canada, which has a similar drinking culture to that of the U.S. In the 1980s, Canada saw a similar decrease in youth drunk-driving accidents, but no province had a drinking age above 19.

    Also, didn't drunk-driving accidents actually increase in the 21-25 age group when the drinking age was raised? If this really is the case, why is never mentioned in the media? Could it be they're in the tank for--gasp--MADD?

  • Andrea S.||

    Ugh. I can't believe I read this fascistic trash here.

    Now I need a drink. :)

  • ||

    Laws should apply evenly across the board. What good is a law that applies to some people but not to others?

    In the United States when you are 18 you are eligible for Jury Duty, to enter into Legal Contracts, Defend this Nation, Vote, Invest, Marry, Own a Home, pay Taxes but you cannot have a beer.

    Every day 100's of young people between the ages of 18 and 20 are arrested, fined and convicted for drinking under age while citizens who they should have equal rights with are not.

    If the young person is in the military it is even worse. They are normally charge with an Article 92 (disobeying a lawful order), receive an Article 15, with a fine, demoted and many times kicked out of the service.

    How can we ask so much of our young people and deny them the same rights we have?

    I agree with lowering the drinking age from 21 to 18.

  • ||

    Steve Chapman is wrong.

    Typical 18 year olds are perfectly capable of understanding the risks and hazards associated with alcohol consumption. And they can and do act accordingly.

    There are other arguments for lowering the age. Maybe the most popular is that if you're old enough to join the Army and die for your country, you're old enough to buy a beer. But there is a good reason to avoid such blind consistency. Among the qualities that make 18-year-olds such good soldiers are their fearlessness and sense of immortality-traits that do not mix well with alcohol.

    The often cited "sense of immortality" of young people is not a literal belief that one cannot be killed. If it were, it would be even more an impediment to good judgement for the decision to join the army (since people would think they don't even need to take cover when being shot at and such).

    It's true that in the old days, there was no college culture of clandestine, off-campus binge drinking. It was out in the open, right on the quad. Another difference back then: There was more of it.

    At the risk of stating the obvious, that's at least partly because in most states, the drinking age was under 21. Youngsters could buy booze legally, so they did what you would expect. They drank more and got drunk more.


    Pointing out that this has reduced binge drinking among 18-20 year olds is merely pointing out that it as stopped some young adults from making an informed decision to do something they like.

  • ||

    If we just outlawed binge drinkers then the problem would go away!

  • Elemenope||

    I think both Fluffy and Elemenope would defend my bona fides. When I first started posting on Reason Hit/Run, there were several people who suggested, even insisted, that I was a troll because they thought that I was too over the top or that I was "too cartoonishly anarcho individualistic".

    Consider this a defense of his bona fides:

    Libertymike, he's bona fide!

    It's so true.

  • Fluffy||

    How can you set an age limit on citizenship rights and call yourself a libertarian if a libertarian only permits limit to ones property rights and civil rights is evidence of wrongdoing on the part of that individual? That was your argument. Your new claim is that it's libertarian to restrict property rights and civil rights based on age is as long as you restrict all rights and not just some of them. That clearly contradicts your earlier argument.

    Libertarianism relies on a model of free exchange and interaction between autonomous individuals all employing the non-aggression principle.

    But two year old's clearly aren't autonomous individuals. One criticism regularly levelled against libertarianism is that many of its principles - caveat emptor, self-ownership, personal responsibility - aren't appropriate when applied to children. A two year old can't consent to enter into a contract with me, even in libertopia.

    That means we have to pick some line above which members of our population are autonomous beings who can participate in our moral and social model, and below which they can't. But once they're above it, they're above it; you can't be a little bit autonomous. Once you are autonomous, any restriction on your property or civil rights that occurs should be a result of wrongdoing on your part - because otherwise the concept of autonomy has no meaning.

    There is a wide range of people that consider themselves libertarian, from anarchists to minarchists to constitutionalists and so on.

    This is true. My counter to that would be that if we use statistics regarding social utility to make policy decisions, as Chapman does in this article, we are properly described as utilitarians. A utilitarian who reaches lots of libertarian-sounding conclusions is not a libertarian. They don't fall into the range. They're a horse of a different color entirely and any congruence of opinion with libertarians is accidental - and is also not to be relied on, because any new whiff of data may change their opinion on any particular liberty-related matter entirely.

  • ||

    As for drunk driving, there are other ways to combat it that don't require taking away young adults' freedom to drink. For example, they could increase patrols at night to look for erratic drivers (and not waste resources on harassing young people who are merely walking around drunk). They can focus on roads near college campuses if statistics show young people are more likely to drive drunk.

    Also, as some have pointed out, there are other factors that could have caused the decline in drunk driving - such as increased education.

    And...

    It's true that in the old days, there was no college culture of clandestine, off-campus binge drinking. It was out in the open, right on the quad. Another difference back then: There was more of it.

    Having a higher proportion of drinking ocur off campus doesn't seem likely to decrease drunk driving.

    Sketch

    As a recent college graduate, I can assure you that the high drinking age results in MORE dangerous drinking, not less. It forces those who are underage to binge drink in private, small groups and then attend parties where they know they will not be served..

    Yea, I "pre-gamed" quite a bit also (Class of 2007). Some of that was just that they had more expensive alcohol in clubs. Its an interesting point though.

  • ..............||

    There is a wide range of people that consider themselves libertarian, from anarchists to minarchists to constitutionalists and so on.

    Libertarianism is whatever you want it to be! So Chapman is a libertarian!

  • d||

    I can't help but think that there will be a follow-up 'Gotcha!' post with Chapman saying, 'August Fools! I was kidding! Of COURSE we shouldn't limit the liberties of all on the basis of shaky stat's and for-the-good-of-the-huddled-masses reasons. I'm a LIBERTARIAN, after all!'

    Please, Reason.com, make him do it. I don't want anyone to read this article and take it seriously.

  • ||

    What? Honestly, the law should be abolished completely, or at least lowered to 18.

    I started drinking (wine) in religious ceremonies as a little child. This was acceptable. Then when I was 20 years old, I got an underage drinking ticket that cost me $375 and I also had to attend AA meetings to keep my drivers license. I only had 1 beer when I was busted. We were at an outdoor concert with a designated driver. Somehow this is more wrong than drinking as a child at church.

  • J||

    There is a wide range of people that consider themselves libertarian, from anarchists to minarchists to constitutionalists and so on.

    Libertarianism is whatever you want it to be! So Chapman is a libertarian!


    I honestly don't know if he is. Ron Paul is close enough, though, and he doesn't seen to be a pure minarchist. Mediocre response though.

  • ||

    I come to this site to read libertarian points of view not crap like this authoritarian moralistic B/S. Any drinking age is purly subjective, which in no way accounts for the maturity of the drinker. Arbitrary limits are never fair.

  • ||

    How can a minor be tried and sentenced as an adult when he/she is not considered to have the maturity to drink a beer.

  • ||

    Enough of Steve Chapman! I call upon all outraged Reason.com readers to email Nick and demand he be booted from the site.

  • ||

    Seconded!

  • ||

    Pure garbage. If this article was in print and I had the runs, I would rather use sandpaper than this article to wipe, because my ass deserves better.

  • ||

    Seriously. This isn't even a matter of hearing "differing opinions". Get this shit out of Reason before you pussify and cosmotarianize yourselves into complete irrelevancy among real libertarians.

  • Matt||

    He's right, guys. Next, lets work on banning guns since some people might use them in an irresponsible way.

    Also we should ban fast food to keep the fatties in line.

    Where does it stop?

  • ||

    What the fuck, reason? There's certainly room for differences of opinion, but why are you running blatantly ANTI-libertarian articles? What's next, articles defending smoking bans and drug prohibition?

  • ||

    Is this just another step to abolition of alcohol? Most arguments for keeping the legal age at 21 can also be used for prohibition. Is the Libertarian approach to with hold something because a few abuse it? Why not just punish the knuckleheads who break the law while intoxicated and leave everybody else alone?

  • Brent||

    I'm with Warren. We must save Reason from non-libertarianism. I just emailed Gillespie and asked that Chapman not be allowed to write for Reason any longer.

    Fight for Reason: Stop Chapman!

  • ||

    Asinine. Just asinine. Just ... asinine.

    I dunno, it was all said above. Just ... fuck, that was asinine.

    If the Chicago Tribune had run this article, someone would have pissed all over it on the Hit & Run.

    C'mon, people!
    Jesus-jumped-up-fucking-Christ-in-a-sequin-studded-Gucci-clutch that was the dumbest fucking article ever to come out of reason.

  • No Comment||

    Steve Chapman makes me embarrassed for Reason.

    I have never been so displeased with an article in this publication/site.

    How did this article make it through the editorial process? Reason's editors have a duty to provide its readers with reasonable content.

    It's not just that I disagree with Chapman that makes me so angry. I'm pissed because the logical fallacies in this article are below the standards of this publication - by a wide fucking margin.

    Chapman goes so far as to NEARLY admit that logic is likely not on his side: thus, the bullshit insinuatuin that Chapman's position has learned from history, and therefore, does not need our silly moral theories.

    Chapman has got to go.

    Kudos to the 250 years old comments earlier, and to the post that stated that if Chapman is right, then libertarianism and Reason are bunk.

    Is Chapman a wolf in sheep's clothing, trying to destroy Reason from within? Just like that Negro Muslim guy that wants to be pres...

    McCain, please make Chapman your VP pick! Only the two of you can take down Reason and the Islamic wolf who will turn the White House into an athiest muslim church.

  • Brent||

    Guys, complain to Nick like me and Warren did. Management must know this is wrong.

  • A.B. Prosper||

    Why is Reason so hooked on Chapman's statist P.O.V. This is supposed to be a libertarian magazine is it not and the latest Chapman articles seem to be just more "boot in the face" rather than anything that fits the motif of the magazine.

    Anyway that being said maturity is an issue of child rearing as much as biology.

    I suspect we stopped treating 18 years olds as children and expected them to act like adults they almost certainly would.

    Getting them that way is a skill called parenting.

    The US has a habit of treating young people as economic objects and/or children unless we want them to kill for us or we want lock them up for life. This is lazy and sloppy.

    I'd suggest its a product of wanting adulthood to be delayed . You see adults want decent jobs and the benefits therein and we simply can't make enough jobs for them. Maure people who feel shafted tend to want change and we certainly don't want to upset the status quo. So we infantilize people

    As I see it if they can get an adult sentence in court or be expected to kill people for Uncle Sam (and act fairly autonomously in the process) 18 year should be allowed to go to a casino, buy a handgun, get married or drink.

    Risky? Maybe.

    Right? Absolutely.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    I'm older than dirt and Chapman is wrong when he says states had lower drinking ages. A few did, like Arizona. A few let 18 year olds drink 3.2 beer. A few, not most.

    Number Two, when I was a lad going to tech school for Uncle Sam's Misguided Children, said school was in Memphis. Tennesesee's drinking age at the time was 18.

    I cannot tell you how much it meant to us little PFC's to be able to go down to the EM Club and have a cheeseburger and a couple of cold beers on those hot humid nights when the barracks were a million degrees inside and you couldn't breath.

    Nobody got stupid shitfaced plastered very often. Not even the Sailors. :-)

    I have to say, although I ain't calling for mutiny, I am very surprised at Steven Chapman's take on the drinking age.

    BTW, there is that other thing called parenting. I never drank in high school because my dad was six feet tall and weighed 200 lbs and I believed him when told me if I ever came home drunk he'd kick my ass from here to breakfast.

  • ||

    If Chapman's "better safe than sorry" logic were applied to owning guns or anything else we choose to do, libertarianism would be instantly meaningless.

  • JB||

    "Besides, we don't have a single age threshold for adulthood."

    Wrong. Each state does; it's called the age of majority. If you are a legal adult, you should enjoy all the rights and privileges as other legal adults. You also deserve equal protection under the law. The drinking age is a violation of the 14th Amendment in states where the age of majority is under 21.

    Not only is Champman a moron, he's a fascist to boot.

  • Hagatha||

    I believe that hiding ALL alcohol use from young people is the biggest problem. Children should NEVER see people drinking in public...This is stupid. It makes it appear as a secret, fun thing that adults get to do and they don't. Wouldn't it be better if parents were to allow a small glass of wine or beer at dinner or on a special occasion? Let vendors serve alcoholic beverages at public functions. Then kids have an understanding of how to approach alcohol responsibly. Parents can point out drunk idiots and say things like "See how stupid this idiot looks and acts when he's drunk." Then maybe getting drunk wouldn't seem so cool. Responsible behavior is taught and learned, not absorbed by ossmosis.

  • No Comment||

    Hagatha,

    You're right.

    John Stuart Mill called this the value of the bad example. Perhaps Chapman should re-read On Liberty, as I'm sure he has already.

    What happened to you, Steve? I thought you were thoughtful!

  • ||

    Steve Chapman -- once again arguing against human freedom.

  • Rimfax||

    Sounds like a great argument for prohibiting alcohol altogether. Can't see that going wrong.

  • D.A. Ridgely||

    I get it now! It's one of those analogy problems:

    Steve Chapman is to reason as Bob Barr is to the Libertarian Party!

  • B. Mann||

    Steve Chapman should be fired! This is totally antithetical to what a libertarian magazine stands for. If I want crap like this I'll go read Newsweek.

  • ||

    I can't believe this article made it onto Reason. How can any libertarian support keeping the drinking age at 21? It is difficult to tell when a person has become an adult, which is exactly why the government should stay the hell out of it. I say abolish the drinking age and let any who chooses to over drink suffer the consequences. 16 year olds should be able to drink for all I'm concerned.

  • ||

    OK, so you can't expect to have a contract between a five year old and a 35 year old honored. So what is it we should do? I say, have an adult age, which requires all the responsibilities and detriments of being an adult. So if you rob someone you are charged as an adult but at the same time you can do all things as an adult. This mixing and matching as it is given is inappropriate. If you charge a kid as an adult, he better have been able to buy a beer and a pack of cigarettes.

  • Kaganspawn||

    Why does Reason continue to publish this wretch Chapman? He is at best dull, at worst (as here) a vile exponent of authoritarianism.

  • ||

    my heart breaks reading this article

  • ||

    I remember the enlightened view the Marine Corps had when I was serving -- the on-base policy was that the 18-20 year old group could drink beer at the E-club on base, regardless of the drinking age of the state which the base was in.

    I understand that this is no longer the case. Too bad.

  • ||

    Yay. Yet another example of the zealous commitment to liberty that is the hallmark of the Matt Welch era.

  • jkp||

    It is also my belief that Matt Welch should be fired.

  • ..............||

    Chapman's piece is positively Miltonian compared with the barely intelligible scribblings above. If anything has tarnished the reputation of reason it's the overwrought, knee-jerk, comically hyperbolic complaints of its presumed fan base. A little perspective, please? It's just one opinion from one man. I think libertarianism--such as it is--will survive.

  • anon||

    so disappointing

  • ||

    BOO THIS MAN!!!!! BOOOOOO!!!!!!!

  • ||

    There's a new Chapman thread! Now you can repeat everything you said on this one on that one! Huzzah!

  • Lee Cruz||

    The Sub Title of that Article should read: "Why Steve Chapman shouldn't be allowed to write for Reason." Where is the "Free Minds" or the "Free Markets" in this?

  • Jaydub||

    What puritanical snobbery.

    Germany was mentioned before. You learned to drink before you learned to drive. This is good - you get your stupid stuff out of the way before you learn to aim two tons of steel. Sure, there is lots of drinking, but there is generally more drinking there than in the puritanicially-obsessed excited states.

    Even Canada's varying 18 or 19 year does not see the degree of binging I have personally seen stateside. Yeah, I lived and studied in all three.

    In return, there is zero tolerance to alcohol related traffic accidents in Germany - any detectable amount after an accident, even .001, is an automatic DUI, you lose your license for six months the first time, twelve the second, and permanently the third. Of course, you get your day in court, but the alcohol either is or isn't there.

  • Andreas||

    Some perspective - I grew up in Germany. Drinking age for beer & wine is 16; hard liquor 18. You'll be served if you could reasonably be assumed to be 16 (meaning that at age 13, we would have beer or wine in public), and I never saw anyone be asked for their ID.

    Binge drinking occured - but it was less prevalent than it is in the US. For one, w/o the big taboo, there was probably less incentive. More importantly, though, during the years of experimenting with alcohol, we lived at home with our parents - so there was some supervision.

    Overall, the statistics look better for Germany than the US. Far fewer DUI's for the young crowd (you don't get your license until your 18 - an age by which you've presumably learned to handle alcohol responsibly and have figured out that it doesn't mix with driving). Do some googling, and you'll find that fewer German high-schoolers and college students suffer from alcohol poisoning severe enough to land them in the ER (or the morgue, for that matter...).

    This goes hand in hand with how the transition from childhood to adulthood is handled in the two cultures - when I first came to visit the US at age 17 (and age when you're practically treated as an adult in Western Europe), I was shocked at how limited my freedoms were here.

    Having now lived in this country for 16 years, and raising my own children here (ages 3 and 8), I can't help but wonder about the fact that kids here are hyper-protected. They live in suburbia, their lives are scheduled, school is more about painting by numbers than about learning life skills (such as independence of thought), they have play-dates, and their parents know where they are at any given minute. And that pretty much continues until they graduate from high-school - at which point they're on their own when they go away to college (dorm life does provide a neat half-way house for the incapable to carry on their lack of self-sufficiency, though).

    And you seriously wonder why, after spending their whole adolescence being told they're immature, young adults act as though they're lacking maturity? Strange, that...

    Like most immigrants to this country, I came here because of a cultural and philosophical affinity (and affection) for what I would consider classic American values - self-reliance, independence, freedom (of thought, speech, religion) - in short, all the stuff people seem to dimly remember from their civics classes. It is surprising to me, coming from a country whose culture has traditionally been identified as conformist, egalitarian, and collectivist, to find my adopted new home embracing those traits as well. Germany is all those things (in many obnoxious ways), but in many ways, kids have a lot more freedom to explore and grow up.

    Interestingly, though, that freedom is under siege in Europe as well now; I guess the whole parental over-protectiveness phenomenon is just another outflow of affluence, resulting in risk aversion to the point of stifling inertia...

  • ||

    BUT NO GOOD ARGUMENT HAS EVER BEEN MADE BY STEVE CHAPMAN
    HE'S A FUCKING HACK!
    HE MUST GO
    OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR


    I love the sound of goose-stepping in the morning.

  • Brent||

    Again, please email Nick and tell him we don't ever want to see articles like this again.

  • ||

    Wow - I can't believe I just read this on Reason. Next thing ya know they will be signing up for global warming hysteria and support carbon rationing.

  • ||

    All right, Reason. What gives? I hope you posted this "story" for the purpose of satire. You really let me down with this one. Isn't this supposed to be a Libertarian Magazine?

  • ||

    I carried a petition to get the voting age lowered. We were STUPID. We got nothing. We should have pushed to get the draft age raised to 21.

    Current scientific evidence proves that the brain is activiely growing/rewiring during the years of 16-23/24. Alcohol causes damage to a fully formed brain. How much greater might the problems be for unformed brains?

    Binge drinking is a fairly modern phenomenon. It was not something I witnessed in the 60s and 70s. Did kids drink underage? Yes.

    What's the answer? Education. What's the best age? 25.

  • ||

    Their logic is consistant. If too many kids are flunking a course, dumb the course down. If too many kids are getting arrested for drug use, legalize drugs, etc. Problem solved.

  • Dylboz||

    This is an utterly bizarre article to read on an ostensibly "libertarian" website. Way to do the Drug Warriors one better and apply their tortured paternalistic logic to your stance on booze. What's next, a petition to repeal the 21st amendment?

    This from the so-called "cosmopolitan" libertarians. I thought you guys wanted to be more like those cultured Europeans. Their kids are weaned on beer and wine.

  • ||

    This must be some kind of special collaboration with The Onion.

  • Wicks Cherrycoke||

    This topic looks done to death, but let me add two points:

    1. The drop in alcohol-related auto deaths among teens and under-21s corresponds with a similar trend among adults. Might that suggest that the ban is not the cause? In fact, teens and young adults have bought into the notion of designated drivers to an extent that surpasses us adults. Maybe the ban is backwards. :)

    2. We want to keep kids from drinking because they are fearless and wreckless, which are traits thay we can use to send them off to war....there is something truly perverse about that logic.

  • ||

    Current scientific evidence proves that the brain is activiely growing/rewiring during the years of 16-23/24. Alcohol causes damage to a fully formed brain. How much greater might the problems be for unformed brains?

    Source?

    Also, show me specific information that the part of the brain that weighs costs and benefits is still developing in a way that it is *not* still developing for people over 25. If you do that I'll consider this position:

    What's the best age? 25.

    That won't be enough to convince me that the age should be raised to 25. But it will be a start and maybe get me to re-examine the issue. Also, I don't think anyone responsible enough to go to war is not responsible enough to have a drink. I'm talking about volunteers, not just draftees.

  • voxpo||

    For a magazine called Liberty, --oh, wait

  • ||

    As soon as we start charging 18-20 year olds as juveniles, raise the selective service registration age to 21, provide our newly declared children with three more years of public education, and remove voting priveledges from these immature tots, I'm right with you Steve.

    Until then, I'm going with my position than 18 is the age of adulthood. Period. Damn those arguments show a complete lack of respect for people who we trust to guard nukes.

  • ||

    Isn't this article philosophically inconsistent with the liberty promoted by this website on so many other issues?

  • ||

    Steve Chapman should never be allowed to write an expository essay again. Some people just can't handle the responsibility of the right to Freedom of Speech, and if they can't handle that responsibility, they should obviously have that right taken away.

  • Pissed||

    Legitimate laws limiting the right of adults to purchase intoxicants (of any kind) do not and could not exist. Anyone attempting to enforce a pseudo-law of this form may be overcome by force, without the slightest pang of conscience.

    How did such a pussy ever get a job at Reason?

  • ||

    I was 18 in 1984 and I went to college in Vermont. I enjoyed going to the bar with friends on weekends and dancing with my date, meeting other girls as well, and seeing live bands. When I returned to my home state, my social life regressed. It was very frustrating.

    This bill succeeded in restricting the social activities of 18-20 year olds. Drinking was NOT the center of the activities mentioned above. Lowering the drinking age only made 18-20s drink behind closed doors, in private residences, dorms, apartments, etc. and drinking WAS the center of activity. Hey, there was nothing else to do! Sorry, but 18-20s are either in college or in the workplace and no longer feel like hanging out at the malls or the arcades.

    Hey, for all you moralists out there, consider this. 18-20s are more likely to have sex in closed door parties than in bars, night clubs, small live concerts, etc.

    IMO, this bill signaled the end of the Reagan Revolution. Reagan could have told MADD to screw, since he could have eaten roasted babies for lunch and still be Mondale. I'm guessing that Reagan was pressured to pass this bill by the GOPs in Congress. The GOP senate of 1980-1986 seemed focused on putting labels on music albums (yes, we called them that!) and the horrific 1986 Tax Reform Act, rather than reducing the size of the Federal Government.

  • Another Mike||

    The article makes good arguments, but they are not arguments specific to an age limit. Why not raise the drinking age to 65? Or ban alcohol outright? That will reduce binge drinking further!

    The current 21 and over age limit is inconsistent with the idea of equal protection under the law. If 18 is old enough to be treated as an adult in all other ways, alcohol purchase and consumption should be no different.

    If you want to look at a REAL solution, try eliminating the age limit altogether. Many cultures function well with no restrictions.

  • AK||

    Hmmmm. It's unusual to hear a libertarian arguing that the most sensible way to reduce the incidence of a particular form of socially undesirable behavior is for government to ban it. Intriguing...

  • Matt||

    This is not libertarian in the slightest. Saying that 18 year olds are incompetent leads to the libertarian paradox: "Everyone Competent should be allowed to use drugs/alcohol, etc." But then a reply would be, "If you use drugs or alcohol you are not competent enough to use them because if you were competent you wouldn't use them"

    Arguing that someone isn't competent enough to use alcohol leads to everyone who uses alcohol is incompetent, which leads to prohibition.

  • ||

    I'm missing something here.

    I suppose I fail to see the twisted logic by which someone can maintain that people should be forcibly prevented from engaging in a recreational social activity, and still call themselves "libertarian".

    Since when did libertarians support limits on individual freedom for the sake of the "common good"? That's the same logic that gave us the health and safety nanny state. Why not ban fast food, since it would probably lower the death rate due to heart disease and cancer?

  • ||

    If you outlawed drinking altogether, you would dramatically cut down on drinking/driving fatalities. If you outlawed driving, they would disappear completely, no?

    I'm applaed - this is Reason Magazine for goodness sake - and you are using the same logic used by every big government proponent in the two main parties: "We know what's BEST for you - even if you can't see it yourselves! See, here's the stats ... !"

  • ||

    The Positives of a Lower Drinking Age
    December 12th, 2009
    Dear Mr. Chapman,
    I read your article “The Perils of a Lower Drinking Age” you wrote in August of 2008. Your argument to keep the legal drinking age was a good argument, but I would like to bring some other facts of the matter to your attention. The current minimum legal drinking age is something constantly under scrutiny from teenagers of every generation after the laws changed to raise the minimum legal drinking age to twenty-one nation-wide. Until they reach college, most teenagers do not consider the fact that drinking at parties in high school is illegal. In universities across the country, there are many punishments for students found in the possession of alcohol or found drinking underage. They can range from a simple drinking ticket, where you are given a warning the first time and every time after you are fined, all the way to the loss of scholarships or expulsion from the university. These repercussions can deter some students from drinking illegally, but there are some who still disregard those rules to drink anyway.
    The quotation you used from the Amethyst Initiative was very true, truer than you admitted to. In my experience, a major reason for the issues those college professors brought up is that all teens don't just have a glass of wine or a beer or two. Instead, some guzzle down as many drinks as they can so quickly they are drunk, literally, before they know it. It’s a perfect situation for extreme blood alcohol levels to be added with a pre-existing sense of invulnerability creating the ideal atmosphere for lethal accidents. You claimed that the Amethyst Initiative wants to change the drinking age by lowering it to eighteen but they clearly state that their statement does not push a particular policy change, they simply state that the age of twenty-one is not working. They take no claim to wanting it raised or lowered, they only see the need for a change.
    You also say that according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration drunk driving accidents lessened amongst all age groups. You do attribute that partially to stricter laws on seatbelt usage and stricter punishments for caught driving under the influence, which can account for much of that change. You said the number of deaths in individuals eighteen to twenty-one was cut nearly in half, but what about those between the ages of twenty-one and twenty four? Of course they would not be any coincidence in the fact that fewer teens were being killed. Raising the drinking age didn’t cut down on the number of alcohol-related deaths; it just changed the ages of those killed.
    For the argument you made against the point that is commonly used about being in the armed forces and not being able to drink my opinion is that the more alcohol one consumes, the more fearless and invincible one feels. I do not think that can be solely and directly attributed to being eighteen. There are many things you can do at eighteen along with serving in the military. You can marry, have abortions, adopt children, own and drive automobiles, vote, enter into legally binding contracts, operate businesses, hunt wildlife with deadly weapons, purchase deadly weapons, fly airplanes, serve on juries that convict others of murder, be imprisoned, be executed, hold public office, be an employer, sue and be sued in court, and otherwise conduct yourself as a full-fledged adult; but you cannot drink.
    You stated that allowing the drinking age to be lowered to eighteen would make alcohol much more accessible to younger teens. Which is true, having high school seniors be able to legally purchase alcohol will make it more accessible to younger teens, but will those younger teens really want to buy it? Possibly there will be that small group of 16 year olds who would want to, but I doubt there will be many fourteen year olds who concern their social lives with alcohol. At fourteen, I was just trying to survive my first year in high school, not wondering when the next kegger would be so I could go get wasted.
    In your article, you state that eighteen year olds are not mature enough to handle the responsibility of drinking, but what about the sixteen-year olds in Germany, Greece, and Norway? Or the Jamaicans who have no minimum legal drinking age and the United Kingdom where a five year old can drink under parental supervision? These countries are not consumed by babbling drunken idiots. So what makes you think the United States will? In many of these countries, alcohol is seen as a very simple, neutral substance. People are given two very acceptable choices: do not drink or drink in moderation, with control. In these countries individuals are also usually taught about alcohol at an early age. It is done so in their own homes, by responsible parents who set good examples. Yes, not every family is fortunate to have great parents raising their children, but that is true all over the world; not just in the Unites States. I am sure people all over would agree alcohol is best learned about in the parent’s house and not in the fraternity house. There are a total of eleven countries, worldwide, that have a minimum legal drinking age above eighteen, not necessarily twenty-one, but above eighteen. The rest of the many, many countries in this world are in agreement that you are responsible to drink at eighteen, or even younger.
    To touch on the argument of making it illegal to drink until twenty-one increases the desire for the ‘forbidden fruit’ and when students turn twenty-one, they’ll drink even more. Research has clearly confirmed that the “forbidden fruit” phenomenon does occur among those under twenty-one. On the other hand, there is no evidence to support an increase in drinking at, or after, the age of twenty-one. In fact, when many people turn twenty-one they find that it is no longer as much fun to get into bars and drink for the exact reason that it is legal for them to do so.
    For those who argue that changing the minimum legal drinking age to twenty-one solved the death rate problems that occurred with a lower drinking age, why is twenty-one the magic number? If thousands of lives are saved each year because the age was set at twenty-one, then why not try twenty-two? Wouldn’t that “logically” save more lives? If that is so, then what about age twenty-four? If saving lives is the main goal, why not set a nation-wide speed limit at twenty-five miles per hour? That may help, or solve, with the issue of automobile-related deaths. We could also try a huge tax on everything unhealthy that can be purchased. “Logically” that would reduce rates of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, right? Sadly the answer to all of these could be yes, or it could shift the issue to other areas, but I highly doubt any of these actions will be taken at any time in the future.
    Many people can either relate to or agree with the argument that earlier drinking can cause drinking and drug problems later in life. Researchers have found that people who lived in states that permitted the consuming and purchasing of alcohol at ages younger than twenty-one were approximately thirty percent more likely to have suffered from alcoholism and 70 percent more likely to have had any type of drug problem in the past year. This was found true even when individuals in their forties and fifties where evaluated. There is no research that I could find to disprove these numbers or to shut down this argument. I believe it is an argument in the making and could be elaborated on, as well as disputed.
    Although it is sometimes true when someone argues that teens that drink under-age are more likely to have sex, fight, smoke or use drugs. The fact of the matter is usually teens that drink under-age are highly uneducated on alcohol use and end up drinking way past their limits whenever they do drink. There is also a direct correlation between how much alcohol a teen consumes and their behavior. Obviously a teen who exhibits good self-control can keep composure and realize when they have hit their limit, but a teen that goes crazy, and drinks everything they can get their hand on has, no apprehensions and no desire to behave. Situations like the latter are what cause binge-drinking episodes which can lead to any of the aforementioned results. Along with the higher likelihood of participation in fights, drugs, sex, and smoking there is also the dangers of alcohol poisoning and attempting, and sadly sometimes succeeding in, suicide. It has also been proven teens who drink tend to have worse grades than teens who abstain, even worse are the grades of teen who binge-drink.
    Overall, my point in writing you this letter was to broaden your thought on the idea of a change in the minimum legal drinking age. Both sides obviously have their pros and cons, but I believe lowering the drinking age may have more pros than keeping it where is it. There is always common ground on situations like these though. There is the extremist option: “Ban Alcohol All Together”; but we already know how that turned out n the past. Another common ground area; the minimum drinking age does not have to be lowered all the way to eighteen; there could be a compromise and nineteen, possibly twenty. There could also be a slow introduction of alcohol into ones social life. Beginning with beer and wine at a younger age, then adding liquor privileges a few years later. Parental or Guardian supervision can be added into the mix of any of those. Many more points could be brought up on how to develop a middle ground to this situation. Obviously nothing can be done right away, but changes can be made to make, or keep, one end of this ongoing argument happy, or compromise. Allowing some give and take on all ends could make this idea really work and be very successful. Thank you for your time spent reading this letter. I would greatly appreciate a response if you are able to do so.

    Sincerely,
    Bridget Correia
    UNC Charlotte

  • Nick H.||

    This article really touches a nerve. What bothers me is that I am five months from my twenty first birthday. I can honestly say I have never had a drop to drink. I have no religious inclination for this: I only feel that it is the law, and even though I disagree with it, I have a moral obligation to abide by it. This law is in place because some teenagers have abused alcohol in the past. I don't dispute that. Where I have a problem is the fact that we generalize that all teens will behave irresponsibly given the opportunity. I have certainly been given the opportunity. If I had a dollar for every time a friend offered to give me alcohol, I could buy the controlling stock in Budweiser. We do not preemptively ban poverty-stricken people from buying guns, even though statistically they are far more likely to commit gun related crimes. The right would argue that the second amendment guarantees their right to bear arms, and if any left-wing activist sneezes in a way that could be construed as remotely inhibiting that right, the NRA will be all over them like stink on a pig. But nobody is pointing to the twenty first amendment, the one that repealed prohibition, and saying that we as citizens have a right to purchase alcohol. The hypocrisy is thick. We defend to the death a law that allows for the uninhibited purchasing of firearms, implements designed for nothing other than killing things, but are all too eager to inhibit a whole section of the population, the teenagers, from partaking in beverages that the constitution has deemed legal.

    One hour ago, I was denied access to a local bar, where I was going not to drink, but to socialize with my friends, who are all of legal age. My night consisted of my going home alone. I was not there to assist my friends home if they had too much to drink. On top of all of that, the Regan-praising fiscal conservatives who support the current drinking age damaged a private business tonight, as they have every night for so many years now. I would have given that establishment money tonight, had they let me in. Not for alcohol, but for food, soda, and tips. They were too afraid of this ridiculous law to accept my business. So for all of the conservatives looking at how the current government is inhibiting the free market, they need only to look at their own misguided law to see the effect they so fear.

  • bob||

    the drinking age should be lowered but for beer and wine only sure u can still get drunk but you have to consume alot more of it and it can be done in moderation america is stupid for raiseing the drinking age bc kids still get it so they should lower it and underagedrinking will probably go down bc it wouldnt be breaking the law.

  • ||

    "Why permit 18-year-olds to vote but not drink? Because they have not shown a disproportionate tendency to abuse the franchise"
    Does this mean a 30 year old who abuses alcohol should not be allowed to drink also? Because with this reasoning drinking should be outlawed for everyone..

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