College Presidents: "How many times must we relearn the lessons of prohibition?"

College presidents from Duke, Dartmouth, Ohio State, and dozens of other schools are exhausted. They've tried pretty much everything they can think of to keep 18 to 20-year-olds from having a beer (or 10). It's not working, it's never going to work, and they're petitioning for a change.

The Amethyst Initiative (so called because the Greeks believed the stones could ward off drunkenness) is a pretty cool idea. Here are a bunch of sober (figuratively), unimpeachably serious people who have issued an interesting and well-thought-out declaration about how screwed up their campuses are, in part thanks to a foolishly high drinking age:

A culture of dangerous, clandestine “binge-drinking”—often conducted off-campus—has developed.

Alcohol education that mandates abstinence as the only legal option has not resulted in significant constructive behavioral change among our students.

Adults under 21 are deemed capable of voting, signing contracts, serving on juries and enlisting in the military, but are told they are not mature enough to have a beer.

By choosing to use fake IDs, students make ethical compromises that erode respect for the law.

They also make an explicit reference to the days of Dry Law, asking: "How many times must we relearn the lessons of prohibition?"

I'm especially keen on this point about eroding respect for the law. One of the first things that many teenagers do to prepare for college is get a fake ID. Congrats highway fund "incentive," you've turned us all into scofflaws before we even get started on adulthood.

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  • ed||

    Predictably, MADD (Mothers Against Delicious Drinks) is against this proposal.

  • kinnath||

    Adults under 21 are deemed capable of voting, signing contracts, serving on juries and enlisting in the military, but are told they are not mature enough to have a beer.

    Saw this earlier and had a strong sense of deja vu. Same arguements that a lead to drinking at 18 when I was a youth.

  • ||

    Of course, MADD has already stated that it would be irresponsible for parents to send children to colleges where presidents have signed on.

  • ||

    Stupid laws erode respect for the law.

    Why is this not obvious to everyone?

  • Elemenope||

    Why is this not obvious to everyone?

    Because the vast majority of people are boring. When you hand them crayons, they only color inside the lines.

    To them, stupid laws are *laws*, and as such deserve to be respected regardless of their stupidity.

  • ||

    Name the sad, pathetic 18-year-old who wants to go to a MADD approved college?

    Of course, maybe they should be concentrated in a few locales. Internment camps for buzz-kills and teetotalers.

  • miche||

    My little one (just turned 17) has always been allowed to drink responsibly in my home and GASP! even to mild intoxication in Europe.

    I just paid her dorm fees yesterday and she moves on campus next week. Sadly, her small school is not a signatory.

  • ||

    Wow dude, I am impressed. I think that Gubberment will never learn.

    RD
    http://www.FireMe.To/udi

  • miche||

    Not that this would affect her at 17.

  • bubba||

    When I was a college bartender, the campus police were careful to observe that I checked everyone's ID.

    They were not so careful to observe that the ID actually said the bearer was 21. :)

    I have noticed on recent visits to my alma mater that as enforcement has stepped up, the students have abandoned the public parties in the quad or commons areas for private ones in their rooms. These tend to feature less beer and more hard liquor. It also means less police supervision with respect to actual safety issues.

    I'm not sure that's a good thing.

  • ||

    SF, name the 18-year-old choosing a college with no parental input. (I actually know of a few, but that's beside the point!)

    miche, my 19-year-old (who attends a signatory school)is a proud teetotaller. What the hell is up with that? Teenage rebellion, I suppose.

  • Nigel Watt||

    I'm 19, and in a huge surprise, drinking laws do not prevent me from drinking.

  • Episiarch||

    Baby boomers are now old and don't want the youngsters to have any fun, because they can't anymore. When did the rise in drinking age begin? The 80's, as boomers were raising their children.

    I used to think it was just boomer idiocy, kind of "I did drugs/alcohol/sex and was fine, but my children are too stupid to". But I swear it seems almost vindictive, more of "I am now old and no longer party and have sex and I am jealous of the young people and want to crush their good time as much as I can".

  • ||

    Then there's the lovely "predrinking" trend - slam 5-6 (or more) shots before you go out to make sure that you have a good enough buzz to last through the night.

    My sisters roommates have NO ability to moderate liquor. They're 23 now, and they still just takse shots and "get drunk fast". They can't have a drink and taste it and enjoy it.

    My sister and I grew up drinking w/ our parents (a daquiri or glass of wine or whatever). Moderation isn't a problem for us.

  • ||

    SF, name the 18-year-old choosing a college with no parental input.

    Point.

    Maybe it's just me, but a parent obsessed with me never having a drink would have created a massive drunk. I am a firm believer in the phenomenon that children do the exact opposite of what you want the most out of them. The wife and I have toyed with the notion of being teetotalling, Bible-thumping, hyper-conservatives until the kids are proper little rebellious snots and then outing ourselves as the drunken, atheist, libertarians we actually are. We doubt we could live like that for 15 years.

  • :-/||

    Baby boomers are now old and don't want the youngsters to have any fun,
    because they can't anymore.


    You're really quite stupid at times, Episiarch.

  • ||

    SF, yes, I've churned out a teetotalling Obama fan. But he's got a good head on his shoulders. I think he'll get better.
    And maybe I'll do better with his younger sibs.

  • miche||

    Citizen Nothing,
    Little Bit drinks very rarely and when she does it's one or two vodka/ Red Bulls or a glass of wine. My older daughter who is married and lives in my hometown of New Orleans drinks every other month or so but she and her husband decide before the night starts who's to drive home. No backward rebellion in my family but they certainly don't do it like I do. ;o)

    All this talk about drinking has made me thirsty and since I've the day off, I just made a killer bloody mary. Envious y'all?

  • Elemenope||

    Epi --

    I think it's a little more complicated. Perhaps it has something to do with the hippies having for the most part failed miserably to transform society, or whatever; when faced with such a cataclysmic failure, many had to rationalize why they didn't keep up the fight. Many settle on "because we were young and stupid, and it was just a phase".

  • ||

    Kimberly,

    I wonder what the ratio of hedonism to economic prudence is on that trend? It's certainly cheaper if you aim is too get hammered.

    And, if I can put on my sexism hip-waders for a minute... why aren't these girls getting drinks bought for them and then having the sober, over-weight girl that's always with them whisk them home before bad decisions set in?

    (Sorry, the sexism hip-waders always pinch a bit in the crotchal area.)

  • Episiarch||

    You're really quite stupid at times, Episiarch.

    I'm going to go out on a limb: you're a boomer.

    My whole post was tongue in cheek, as it's a collectivist viewpoint; did you even pick up on that, Mr. Thin Skin? But it's good to know that your sense of humor is a shriveled and shrunken as your nutsack. The whole reason I write posts like that is to rile up people like you--and it worked great.

  • First Little Pig||

    When I went to college the drinking age was 18. We could go to local watering holes, attend events where alcohol was served, and otherwise engage in the adult activities that, presumably, we were ready for as "adults" at 18.

    At some point during my college days the drinking age was raised to 21 and while we former drinkers were "grand-fathered" and allowed to continue drinking, incoming students were expressly forbidden from imbibing. And it changed student life dramatically, and for the worse.

    Instead of grabbing a couple of beers in a private business where the barkeep could keep an eye on those who had one or two to many and cut them off (or have them ejected) young adults turned to frat-houses and off-campus residences to "party-down." And rather than drink at a leisurely pace and behave as an adult (in the presence of other, older adults), students now binged with other young people without a sobering presence among them.

    Campus events that could have a few kegs went dry and less popular. My freshmen dorm's periodic barbeques disappeared as students lost interest in an event in which you once could get a beer with your burger but now had to settle for soda. But it wasn't really that the beer was the main reason to attend, it was the insult of not being allowed to have a beer that made the latter-day events unpopular.

    But drinking seemed to become more popular, rather than less. When I lived in the dorms and the drinking age was 18, one might share a bottle of wine or a couple of beers in the rooms on a weekend evening - along with a game of Trivial Pursuit -- but serious drinking was considered somewhat gauche. One went to a club, bar or restaurant to have a drink and a chat. Suddenly there were all of these instances of kids getting in trouble for sneaking booze into the rooms and getting wasted and causing trouble.

    I never got as drunk drinking legally as I did when it was verboten and I was 16. Half of the charge from getting drunk then was eliminated once it was legal to do so.

  • ||

    You're really quite stupid at times, Episiarch.

    I've been point this out for years, but it's really got to sting coming from an emoticon.

  • ||

    SF, you've already copped to being a massive drunk, so apparently your path was set no matter what your parents did!

  • Episiarch||

    I've been point (sic) this out for years, but it's really got to sting coming from an emoticon.

    Especially one with the slash mouth. It expresses disdain, don'cha know.

  • NotThatDavid||

    In my time at college, I never knew anyone who wanted to rink and didn't because it was illegal. Not only is the law incredibly easy to circumvent, there's no reluctance to try. Like people have said, no one has any respect for the drinking-age law.

    Hell, I didn't touch alcohol when I was in school, but guess what? That was three years ago and I still haven't had any! I didn't drink because I don't like alcohol, not because I wasn't allowed to.

  • miche||

    BTW, I earlier suggested a new route for MADD.

    Depressed people on antidepressants such as Prozac, Paxil or Zoloft have even more trouble concentrating and reacting behind the wheel, researchers from the University of North Dakota said.

  • Elemenope||

    I've been point this out for years, but it's really got to sting coming from an emoticon.

    I'd only worry if it were a smiley.

  • ||

    At least for the girls that I know, it's all about the drunk:) Bars won't give it to them, they'll just get drunk 1st. They don't do it now that they're over 21, but they did all the way through college.

    They have no sober overweight girls. Well, me, but I'm 9 months pregnant so the going-to-the-bars-as-a-chaperone thing isn't sounding so fun:)


    Regardless, I don't really think the issue is the legal drinking age (although I also don't think 18 would hurt). It's the prudish societal "Alcohol is evil until this one magical day" thinking that leads kids to "learn" to drink on their own with a bunch of other underage idiot, rather than with their parents.

    Whether kids start drinking at 18 or 21 (legally or illegally), if a parent wouldn't let their child just turn 16, get in a car and drive away with no training beforehand, I don't see why they don't teach their kids to drink responsibly BEFORE they are in situations to drink irresponsibly. (BTW - not recommending Drunk-Ed in high school. Although it may be fun...Just parental responsibility.)

  • Episiarch||

    Perhaps it has something to do with the hippies having for the most part failed miserably to transform society

    Thing is, LMNOP, that the whole generation wasn't a participant in the attempt to transform society. In fact, it wasn't nearly the percentage that it's always portrayed as. Unfortunately, a disproportionate number of those that were in on the attempt have become people who influence the way that time is remembered.

  • Elemenope||

    Epi, I know. My parents are from the beginning of that generation, and speak quite freely of it. But like you said, it matters less what percentage of them were active so much as those that were active now holding the levers of power. For every Stokley Carmichael, there are ten Jerry Rubins.

  • ||

    If it weren't for my youthful foolishness, I'd be about to receive my second Nobel Prize in Physics. Instead, I'm yet another example of America's infatuation with paying people to push paper around. Law: It's just like learnin'.

  • Alice Bowie||

    Keep Dope Alive !!!

    More enforcement of DWI on the 18-25 group wouldn't b a bad idea. If there is enforcement, the MADD issue would go away.

    MADD is a neo-prohibitionist movement thatjust wants to throw people in jail.

    The original founder of MADD is no longer a member.

  • Mike J. Nelson||

    President David Wolk, Castleton State College

    Castleton snob.

  • ||

    I wish I could drink more. I've had to cut way back. I now save myself for expensive bourbon and exotic beers.

    But I was a hellion child. Alcohol, drugs, and vandalism of private property (revenge motivated, not random). But I came through with no tats, piercing or weird bumps on my penis.

    And yes, I'm the complete opposite for what my mother wanted. I like to say I am exactly what my father wanted me to be, he's just didn't know it until I became it.

  • Abdul||

    By choosing to use fake IDs, students make ethical compromises that erode respect for the law.

    I'm all for lowering the drinking age, but doesn't the person getting a fake ID have to hold themselves accountable for that act?

  • ||

    Kimberly,

    but I'm 9 months pregnant

    Who did this horrible thing to you? You ever catch up with that scalawag, just know that we on the board got your back! We'll either drag him back for a shotgun wedding or we'll string him up by a tall oak!

    Your choice, of course.

  • ||

    Adults under 21 are deemed capable of voting, signing contracts, serving on juries and enlisting in the military, but are told they are not mature enough to have a beer.

    That logical disconnect has always pissed me off.

  • Episiarch||

    I wish I could drink more. I've had to cut way back. I now save myself for expensive bourbon and exotic beers.

    It's easy, just disregard your body's complaints and you can drink all you want.

  • ||

    Surprising response from MADD.

    MADD, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the American Medical Association (AMA), National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Governors Highway Safety Association and other science, medical and public health organizations, and all members of the Support 21 Coalition call on these college and university presidents to remove their names from this list and urge them to work with the public health community and law enforcement on real solutions to underage and binge drinking. Additionally, MADD is asking the public to write letters to their Governors and college presidents to support the 21 law and ask those on the initiative list to remove their names.

  • ||

    My husband did it:) I think it's OK...I'm not as young as my sister and her drunken girlfriends...;)


    Although, right this moment with the random abdominal pains I'm having, I might just let you string him up from the oak (coupla years too late for the wedding, plus, that wouldn't really help w/ the whole massive pain thing. The oak stringing might).

  • ||

    Epi

    "Homer: The last bar in Springfield. If they don't let me in here I'm going to have to quit drinking. Homer's liver: Yay!!! Homer: Shut up liver!"

  • Elemenope||

    But I came through with no tats, piercing or weird bumps on my penis.

    Waaaaaaaaay TMI, dude. Not cool. ;)

  • Warty||

    There must have been some time in the past where kids had respect for the law, but I can't for the life of me imagine it.

  • ||

    More:

    "Signing this initiative does serious harm to the education and enforcement efforts on our campuses and ultimately endangers young lives even more. I ask every higher education leader who has signed to reconsider. I am old enough to remember life on our campuses before the 21 year drinking rule. It was horrible."


    - Donna Shalala (yes, that one)

  • ||

    Baby boomers are now old and don't want the youngsters to have any fun, because they can't anymore. When did the rise in drinking age begin? The 80's, as boomers were raising their children.

    Come on Epi, 78 million self centered assholes can't be wrong.

  • Episiarch||

    Jerri: I'm dealing with this the same way I dealt with my own alcoholism and drug addiction: with lies and delusion.

  • ||

    I grew up in the '50s, same time as Happy Days . We all had a Fonz to call on to make sure the nights were happy, as well. The laws were as repressive then as now but everyone had a friend...

  • ||

    Surprising response from MADD.

    A reasoned well thought out argument about the unintended consequences of draconian policies that they unthinkingly support raises their ire?

    Who'a a thunk it?

  • ||

    Fuck, I knew there would be a better SWC quote is I took the time to look...

    That's from the episode "dealing with" Jerri's step-mom's alcoholism, right? A good one.

  • ||

    "I am old enough to remember life on our campuses before the 21 year drinking rule. It was horrible."
    - Donna Shalala (yes, that one)"

    WTF? Was there lots of drinking going on, because that's what happens now too.

  • ||

    "Hello, I'm Jerri Blank and - and I'm an alcoholic. I'm also addicted to amphetamines as well as main line narcotics. Some people say I have a sex addiction, but I think all those years of prostitution was just a means to feed my ravenous hunger for heroin. It's kinda like the chicken or the nugget. The point is, I'm addicted to gambling. Thank you."

  • Rhywun||

    "Alcohol education that mandates abstinence as the only legal option has not resulted in significant constructive behavioral change among our students."



    It's a noble effort, guys, but ultimately a wasted one. America is still Puritan at heart, and if a teen culture that celebrates passing out in your own sick is the price we pay for getting the message out on the evils of alcohol, so be it.

  • Episiarch||

    "I'm not adopted and I'm not an Indian. It's just a coincidence that I have a love of gambling and booze and a knack for catching syphilis."

  • Rhywun||

    "I am old enough to remember life on our campuses before the 21 year drinking rule. It was horrible."



    Geez, that's infuriating. And decades of propaganda have ensured that few Americans will challenge such horseshit.

  • Warty||

    "I am old enough to remember life on our campuses before the 21 year drinking rule. It was horrible."

    She misspelled fuckin' bitchin'. Fire her editor!

    Oh, and for what it's worth, the drunkest years of my life were when I was 18,19, and 20.

  • Michael||

    I'm probably going way out on a limb here, but I'd be very interested to see what the statistics for reported sexual assault on the signatory campuses will be in the future. My guess is that the numbers will drop significantly.

  • ktc2||

    At my junior high school we could buy shandy (a mix of sparkling lemonade and beer) from the vending machine.

    Of course, that wasn't in the USA.

  • ||

    that wouldn't really help w/ the whole massive pain thing. The oak stringing might

    What ever you need. We better do it quick though, according to some around here you won't be a libertarian any more after you pop the sprog.

  • robc||

    America is still Puritan at heart

    The puritans drank. Dont blame prohibitionism on them.

  • ||

    Elemenope,

    Waaaaaaaaay TMI, dude. Not cool. ;)

    I am not sending you pictures, so stop asking.

  • ||

    Dont blame prohibitionism on them.

    Yes, put the blame where it belongs: First-wave feminists hell-bent on social reform and the quisling men who gave them legitimacy.

  • ||

    More enforcement of DWI on the 18-25 group wouldn't b a bad idea.

    Yes, what we really need is to ramp up the DUI jihad. Forgetting, of course, that DUI in and of itself is a victimless crime.

    And the MADD issue won't go away, as you yourself allude to, in that MADD is no longer an Anti-Drunk-Driving organization.

    How much do you want to bet that if you did a poll of MADD members most of them would support a further increase in the legal age for consumption of alcohol?

    Part of this highlights the increased infantilization of those 21 and younger.

  • ||

    Mike J. Nelson | August 19, 2008, 11:31am | #
    President David Wolk, Castleton State College

    Castleton snob.


    Awesome reference, dude.

  • ||

    as a recent entrant to THE Ohio State University, I'm stoked as all hell to see President Gee sign on.

  • Pablo Escobar||

    Why should I believe you guys? My government told me that drugs are bad and should be illegal:

    http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/demand/speakout/index.html

  • Rhywun||

    The puritans drank. Dont blame prohibitionism on them.



    Okey dokey. I was just using the commonly-understood meaning. Maybe I should not have capitalized it....

    Yes, put the blame where it belongs: First-wave feminists hell-bent on social reform and the quisling men who gave them legitimacy.



    Seems to me the quisling men are more to blame. Ladies in lots of other developed countries got all the same rights ours did, and without requiring the men to go all puritan on other stuff like booze.

  • miche||

    SeñorEscobar,
    What a funny link. Thanks for the laughs...

  • ||

    For people to respect the law, the law must be respectable. In a free country, "because we say so" is insufficient justification for law. To the extent that it is employed, however, people will disrespect the law. It is far better to have a handful of laws that nearly everyone naturally respects, than a plethora of laws, each of which only a handful of people naturally respects. We can go a long way toward restoring the health of our body politic by eliminating all the various forms of substance prohibition that are now on the books. They all do more harm than good.

  • ||

    Think this will ever change, in a country that has added trans fat bans and smoking bans to its list of nanny-state idiocies? As a Gen X'er, nothing would please my inner mean girl more than blaming all this on those damn Boomers, but somehow I think their infantilized children will go along with it just as much as their parents do. It seems to have become mainstream in America to think that if something is "bad for you," it should also be illegal. Notice how it's lowering the drinking age that has to be defended, and not the fact that it was raised in the first place? People think raising the drinking age "sends the wrong message." Excuse me, I need a drink now.

  • ||

    Meant to say *lowering" the drinking age sends the wrong message ... but I'm sure you drunks all knew what I meant.

  • robc||

    Ladies in lots of other developed countries got all the same rights ours did, and without requiring the men to go all puritan on other stuff like booze.

    Actually....its surprising the number of countries that had a period of prohibition in the early 20th century. Most had the good sense to end it quicker than we did.

  • dhex||

    Yes, put the blame where it belongs: First-wave feminists hell-bent on social reform and the quisling men who gave them legitimacy.

    don't forget the rural, non-cosmopolitan types!

  • ||

    It seems to have become mainstream in America to think that if something is "bad for you," it should also be illegal.

    The government is there to protect us, I see noo problem with banning things that are not good for us.

    Meant to say *lowering" the drinking age sends the wrong message

    It would, it would send the message that it is OK for children to abuse alcohol.

  • ||

    It is far better to have a handful of laws that nearly everyone naturally respects, than a plethora of laws, each of which only a handful of people naturally respects.

    I agree.

    We can go a long way toward restoring the health of our body politic by eliminating all the various forms of substance prohibition that are now on the books.

    Not true because of the negative downstream effects on society of drug abuse.

  • Kolohe||

    We have 20 year olds in critical billets handling everything from M-14's to ICBM's.

    Yet it is illegal for them to have a beer.

    Donna Shala, Alexander Wagenaar, MADD, and the rest of the Neo-prohibitionists can kiss my ass.

    I have no doubt that making alcohol illegal for under 21 year olds reduces drinking by under 21 year olds; totally prohibiting alcohol also reduced consumption.

    We could also reduce crime by locking up a lot of random poor and/or minority people (some would say we already have) - but it doesn't make it right.

    Equal protection under the law means something, or it doesn't.

  • ||

    "The government is there to protect us, I see noo problem with banning things that are not good for us."

    Better hand over those french fries, ma'am - if you cooperate with us, you'll only be guilty of a misdemeanor.

    "It would, it would send the message that it is OK for children to abuse alcohol."

    18 and 19-year-olds are not "children." Do you get the difference between use and abuse? And since when is it the government's job to send us "messages" like this anyway? Even the biggest mouth-breathing dullard on earth knows abusing alcohol is bad for you.

    "Not true because of the negative downstream effects on society of drug abuse."

    What in blazes is a "downstream effect on society?"

  • ||

    Juanita, why don't you ever E-mail me, your destined soul mate?

    I have been astonished that men could die martyrs for their religion -
    I have shudder'd at it.
    I shudder no more.
    I could be martyr'd for my religion
    Love is my religion
    And I could die for that.
    I could die for you.

  • ||

    "...as a recent entrant to THE Ohio State University..."
    Fess up, A.O. You're just there for the football tickets.

  • ||

    "How many times must we relearn the lessons of prohibition?"

    Listening to MADD often reminds me of left-wing college students talking about socialism, only without the bong hits:

    "It's because, like, you know, 'prohibition' has never really been tried in a pure form...".

  • T||

    Have we learned the lessons of prohibition yet? I was unaware...

  • thoreau||

    Wait, University Presidents doing something sensible? Is that even allowed?

  • ||

    Better hand over those french fries, ma'am - if you cooperate with us, you'll only be guilty of a misdemeanor.

    You are making a slippery slope arguement, it is a logical fallacy.

    18 and 19-year-olds are not "children."

    Agreed.

    Do you get the difference between use and abuse?

    Moderate consumption by ADULTS OVER 21 is use, excessive use or any use by people under 21 is abuse and addiction.

    And since when is it the government's job to send us "messages" like this anyway? Even the biggest mouth-breathing dullard on earth knows abusing alcohol is bad for you.

    Public health is a proper function of government.

    What in blazes is a "downstream effect on society?"

    Violence, increased crime, reduced productivity, increased healthcare costs are all associated with alcohol abuse, or any use of drugs.

    By keeping alcohol illegal until 21, drinking may be controlled at colleges.

  • ||

    Sorry, meant to put the closing bold tag after "ADULTS OVER 21".

  • ||

    "You are making a slippery slope arguement, it is a logical fallacy."

    No, you are the one who says there is nothing wrong with banning things that are bad for us, and fries are bad for us.

    "Moderate consumption by ADULTS OVER 21 is use, excessive use or any use by people under 21 is abuse and addiction."

    Why 21? Who came up with that number? Why not 36?

    "Public health is a proper function of government."

    Which level of government? State? Federal? And which branch? Authorized by which part of which constitution?

    "Violence, increased crime, reduced productivity, increased healthcare costs are all associated with alcohol abuse, or any use of drugs."

    I would say all those things are associated with prohibition and the war on drugs.

    "By keeping alcohol illegal until 21, drinking may be controlled at colleges."

    Yeah, you can see that's working really well.

  • ||

    Speaking as a military NCO, I wish the drinking age would go down to 18 as well. The logical disconnect of being able to serve your country at 18, but not being allowed to drink, is a frequent complaint among the young troops in uniform.

    I enlisted in the 1980s (and am still on active duty), and remember the 18-year-drinking age. (Or the compromise of beer for 18-year-olds and hard liquor only for 21-year-olds.) For a long time the military bases held out and kept the drinking age at the on-base establishments at 18. But eventually pressure from MADD, conservative Congresscritters, and evangelical officers drove up the drinking age there, as well.

    The rules are especially hard on those who serve overseas, and then come back to the States while still under 21, because overseas the rules of the host country apply. So in England, for example, the drinking age is 16 (when enforced) and all GIs can drink. Then they have to give it up when they rotate back to The World.

    Given the combat experience of the force in Iraq and Afghanistan, we now have highly decorated combat veterans who have been rapidly promoted into positions of small-unit leadership while still under the age of 21. But nobody can honor them by buying them a beer at the base club because they're too young to drink!

    The logical inconsistency is idiotic, and most career noncommissioned officers turn a blind eye to underage drinking (though it does sometime lead to the clandestine binge drinking seen on college campuses - military barracks are pretty similar to college dorms). However, there are always some martinets than can be relied upon to pursue the "problem" of underage drinking with the zeal of Torquemada, thus forcing their NCOs to "discipline" their troops and ruin their careers over a non-problem. It's idiotic and bad for discipline and morale.

  • Warty||

    I'm dense, so I can't tell: is Juanita for real or a joke?

  • ||

    Best case the legal drinking age is reduced to 18.

    But as far as compromises go, you could do worse than issuing drinking licenses to 18-21 year olds. Yeah, I know I know, ANOTHER license? I'm one of those libertarians that doesn't really care that much about gun or drivers licenses.

    I'd rather see drinking licenses than ouright prohibition for the 18-21 year old set.

    Again, I'd rather this were not needed. But from a pratical perspective I think you could win over a lot of people with a licensing scheme.

    http://www.chooseresponsibility.org/license

  • ||

    I have no doubt that making alcohol illegal for under 21 year olds reduces drinking by under 21 year olds; totally prohibiting alcohol also reduced consumption.

    While prohibitions reduce casual/social/harmless use, they probably don't appreciably reduce abuse at all, and may in fact increase it by wiring in bad habits like binge drinking and giving incentives to develop drugs like crack.

    is Juanita for real or a joke?

    Juanita represents the very pinnacle of the troll/satire art form. "She" keeps it just 1 mm on the satire side of the line, and never drops out of character. Truly, I applaud "her" work in this area.

  • ||

    Just to be clear, the licensing would only apply to 18-21 year olds. I could see how this could then be used to push licensing to people over 21 years of age. That should be a concern, although mild. I would hope such a push would be met with anger or apathy by US citizens. Although I may be wrong.

  • Rhywun||

    "She" keeps it just 1 mm on the satire side of the line, and never drops out of character.



    Nicely put. I've long enjoyed her concise, pithy comments--and I'm always amused at people who fall for it.

  • Carolina Politics Online||

    Finally, a real movement building to lower the absurdly high drinking age to 18 where it should have been all along. Naturally, the Prohibition Nazis at MADD already have diarrhea in their pants over this and it's based on false assumptions. The United States has the highest minimum age for alcohol consumption than any other country in the world and we have one of the highest abuse rates for alcohol. Just like the so called "War on Drugs" which has been a complete waste of time and money, the U.S.A. throw away $58 billion a year on combating underrage drinking.

    It would appear that many people are waking up to the sensible realization that making something illegal only drives it underground and creates a black market which then burdens our economy for having to spend billions of new dollars on enforcement. Prohibition was Al Capone's golden ticket and you'd think we'd have learned from this by now. An 18 year old can choose the leader of the free world, can take up arms and defend our nation, can buy a house, own a car, hold a job, yet can't walk into a bar and have a beer. Where is the sense in this? Some argue that an 18 year old isn't mature enough to handle alcohol, but that's a flaky argument. How many 21 year olds do you know who are mature enough to handle alcohol? Hell, how many at age 25? Why don't we raise the age to 30 if that's the concern? Different people mature at different levels and some never do at all. That's just the way it is.

    These college presidents have realized something. Being 18 makes you can adult in the eyes of the law, but because we restrict those 18 to 20 from being allowed to consume alcohol it has become a right of passage into feeling like a true adult and resulted in wide spread abuse both off and on college campuses.

    Furthermore, the 21 year old age restriction has been an impediment of states' rights since the Reagan Administration and Congress passed a law in 1984 that would deny states 10% of their highway funding if they did not comply by raising their minimum consumption age to 21. The states were blackmailed and the Supreme Court not surprisingly went along with it.

    It's long past due that in a country that prides itself on freedom and liberty that we get back to actually practicing such.

  • ||

    "I'm always amused at people who fall for it."

    Heh - Juanita is tame compared to this person:

    http://www.ireport.com/docs/DOC-62845

  • ||

    "I'm especially keen on this point about eroding respect for the law."

    Katherine,
    As a peaceful anarchist, I have been comforting myself in my old age by assuming first grade home-schooled children had already learned to have no respect whatsoever for government laws.
    I'm shaken.

    There are laws, then there are "self-evident rights" (and responsibilities and duties.). Governments are the last to "get it."

  • JB||

    I hope MADD members get run over by sober drivers. Those people are dangerous and cause all sorts of accidents.

  • Rhywun||

    Juanita is tame compared to this person:



    Well, that's the point. "Juanita" isn't a deranged lunatic posting multiple-paragraph rants. Rather, she boils down the most idiotic authoritarian and nanny-state positions to one-sentence sound bites.

  • ||

    Colleges do not want to be responsible for enforcing the law and do not want to be extra liable for under age drinkers overdosing/dying from alcohol.

    Colleges do not want the lawsuits.

  • ||

    I've pointed this out in several youth rights forums, but there are ways to nearly repeal the drinking age without risking highway funding.

    The federal law only requires that states prohibit purchase and public consumption.

    So, repeal all laws to do with sale to, possession, private consumption, employment of people under 21, presence in establishments, etc.

    Make purchase and public consumption 'secondary' (like seat belt laws) ticket-only offenses with $25 fines and dismissal after payment of fine. Ie., the minimum penalties to qualify as illegal.

    This is much better than what we have now and wouldn't risk any state's precious highway funding.

  • ||

    With regards to "Learning the Lessons of Prohibition"

    It is amazing how many of you just don't get it. The lesson WAS learned, and it sunk in deep and hard and will likely never be forgotten. It's just not the lesson you are thinking about.

    The real lesson was that prohibition is the true path to real power. The kind of "knock on the door in the middle of the night" power that was forbidden to the government by the people in the drafting of the constitution. It's the kind of power you only get when you declare a war. It's no holds barred, must win at all costs time.

    This lesson, learned by the people who desired real power, constitutionally prohibited power, has been refined and applied again and again. The war on poverty, the war on drugs, the war on terrorism. It's all the same rhetoric, for the same reason. Once war has been declared the people have been conditioned to accept that the constitution and the people rights and freedoms have to give way in the quest for victory.

    The war against booze showed the way. It was repealed because it almost lead to the downfall of the government. It was too good to just let go of, after all, there were so many true believers in support of it, and so incremental restrictions took its place.

    The true lessons it taught, however, have been applied time and again. We now have wars that can never be won, and will never end. No amount of reasoning or logic will ever end the war on drugs, for example. It has proven to be the most successful path to power ever invented to convince a once independent people to tolerate the creation of a police state. It is so successful that governments all over the world, ever disdainful of the American way in so many other things, have all chosen to emulate it. The people who desire and hold this kind of power will never willingly give it up. Just listen to any of our "Top Cops" or "Drug Czars" trying to justify it. In between the lines they all say the same thing, "we don't care what you think, and we are not giving it up."

    Being able to enact and then enforce unreasonable, arbitrary laws without any true restraint, bound to no rules except those fashioned by themselves, answerable only to themselves or people appointed by themselves, this is the very essence of power.

    Good luck trying to change any of that.

  • ||

    """"I'm especially keen on this point about eroding respect for the law.""""

    Funny how not too long ago we had someone lying in state, at the capitol rotunda who's claim to fame was disrespecting law.

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