Alcohol

Policy Suggestions for President Obama: Let 18-Year-Olds Drink

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The Wall Street Journal has rounded up a variety of characters to give President Barack Obama some tips for what to do next/first. Nation Editor Katrina vanden Heuvel says spend, baby, spend; Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin commends fiscal discipline, tax cuts, and building up the military; former Sen. George McGovern (D-S.D.) says feed the hungry; Francis Fukuyama says tackle entitlements; and so on.

And Instapundit's Glenn Reynolds suggests inculcating respect for disparate ideological points of view and comes up with a specific idea that's not only right, but do-able:

I will make one policy proposal. Some of my fellow libertarians hope that the Obama administration will put an end to the drug war. I hope so too, but I'm not too optimistic. Instead, I propose a smaller step toward freedom—eliminating the federally mandated drinking age of 21. This mandate was a creature of Elizabeth Dole (who is no longer in the Senate to complain at its abolition), and it has unnecessarily limited the freedom of legal adults, old enough to fight for their country, to drink adult beverages.

Whole thing here.

Reason's Radley Balko talks with former Middlebury College president John McCardell, head of the Amethyst Initiative, which seeks to lower the drinking age.

Reason on prohibition here.

NEXT: Full Text of Obama's Inaugural Address

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  1. Here’s a suggestion for reason: Government has always had a big role to play in the economy, and it always will. Live with it, right-wing loonies!

  2. Now that I’m in my 40s, I say make the kids wait until they’re 30. Same with licenses and the age of majority. Damned whippersnappers.

    Get off my lawn!

  3. I’m glad political heavyweight Sarah Palin weighed in on this one.

    I wasn’t sure what to think until now…

  4. Speaking of Palin did they ever release that porno? Did they go with the title “Drill Baby Drill” or does she just say that as a catch phrase while getting drilled?

  5. Now that I’m in my 40s, I say make the kids wait until they’re 30. Same with licenses and the age of majority. Damned whippersnappers.

    Way to be an old curmudgeon, PL. It used to annoy me no end that I was old enough to enlist at 17 but couldn’t get a beer because I wasn’t deemed responsible. Apparently, it takes less responsibility to handle fully-automatic weapons than it does to handle Budweiser. I have to stick up for all my fellow troopers out there under the age of majority. They’re old enough to die, they’re old enough to drink.

  6. ktc2,

    I know of the Nailin’ Palin porno.

    The plot is ludicrous.

  7. MADD will go apeshit and Obama’d never do it. As logical as it is, MADD has a lock on “you want children to get drunk and die in car accidents” hysteria. They are some evil fucks.

  8. No way, those under 21 are Not Mature enough to drink.

  9. They’re old enough to die, they’re old enough to drink.

    I always preferred “If you are old enough to drive, you are old enough to drink”.

  10. The plot is ludicrous.

    “You can guess where it goes from here.”

    -He fixes the cable?

    “Don’t be fatuous, Jeffrey.”

  11. As logical as it is, MADD has a lock on “you want children to get drunk and die in car accidents” hysteria.

    Nope, their mission is traffic safety.

  12. Nope, their mission is traffic safety.

    It may have been at one point, before they turned into Carrie Nation’s zombie children.

  13. T,

    Don’t be silly. I don’t want anyone fighting until they’re 30, either. Or entering into contracts.

    On the other hand, I don’t want the kids hanging around past 18, either. Maybe we should have a transition period?

    If preventing minors from drinking actually worked, I might consider it a reasonable law. I know all too well how stupid kids are with the booze. But laws like that don’t work. I drank plenty from 17 through 21 (Long story, but the drinking age in Florida split my academic class in half–those of us born earlier in the year got to drink at 19; those of us born later got to wait two years).

  14. Nick Gillespie,

    As long as a 21 year old drinking age polls well politicians are unlikely to call for its repeal.

  15. The mission of the founder of MADD was traffic safety. She left after achieving the goals she set out to do. She thinks they are a bunch of neo-prohibitionist loons now.

  16. Pro Lib,

    When Kansas changed their law, they didnt grandfather. I had a friend @ Kansas St who was legally drinking, then suddenly couldnt for about 2 years.

    He hated Elizabeth Dole with a fiery passion.

  17. I’d have preferred no grandfathering to having friends two months older than me able to drink for two years more than me. Bastards.

  18. I don’t have a job, that’s how I always post first!

  19. robc,

    Were you of the right age to be able to sneak off to Ohio and drink? Oh, Bogart’s…

  20. He hated Elizabeth Dole with a fiery passion.

    Not fiery enough, clearly, as she remains unburned.

  21. SugarFree,

    Ohio was too far away and I think Indiana had the same laws.

    When I got to college in Georgia, Georgia had only recently changed from 18 to 21, against their will, and enforcement was slack.

    Also, I didnt drink in high school and very little in college, I always thought the 21 law was stupid, so I drank when I wanted to, but I didnt really care too much.

  22. Not fiery enough, clearly, as she remains unburned.

    He was working on a PhD in plasma physics, so when he gets around to burning her, she will stay burned.

  23. I would love to start seeing people stand up to MADD, just out of respect for the general populace. They are so far out there and could use a smack down.

    Of course there are much bigger fish to fry, but I don’t see how anyone can take them seriously after hearing 2 miuntes of their hysteric ideology.

  24. robc,

    When I was 17, it was still 19 in Ohio and enforcement was very lax (it might have been a 3.2 law). Of course, enforcement used to be pretty lax all over. When I was 16 (1986), I’d usually only have to check three stores until one would sell to me without ID.

  25. He was working on a PhD in plasma physics, so when he gets around to burning her, she will stay burned.

    Indeed! That does keep his options open.

  26. Nice work by the WSJ. One out of the series of suggestions (Reynolds’) actually has to do with reducing the power of the government. I would be fascinated to hear the details of the selection process by which they arrived at their list of deep thinkers.

    ps- Katrina van den Heuvel should be shipped off to the nuthouse. Gingrich, too. They might be deliriously happy, together.

  27. Quotes from Candy Lightner, founder of MADD since it was brought up.

    ” If you want to drink, that’s your business. But as soon as you drink and get behind the wheel of a car, it becomes my business. ”
    ” You don’t need to be an expert on your subject matter, but you do need to be honest. I was not an expert on drunk driving in the beginning, but I was certainly knowledgeable about being a victim of drunk driving. ”
    ” It [the brain of 18-year-olds] isn’t developed, and that’s exactly why the draft age is 18, because these kids are malleable. They will follow the leader, they don’t think for themselves and they are the last ones I want to say ‘here’s a gun, and here’s a beer.’ They are not adults; that’s why they’re in the military. They are not adults.”

    The last one suggests she wouldn’t support lowering the drinking age, even though she has stated she thinks MADD is currently a neo-prohibitionist group.

  28. On the other hand, I don’t want the kids hanging around past 18, either. Maybe we should have a transition period?

    In my household, it’s called college. Given the child’s avowed goal of going to vet school, that’ll get her pretty close to 30.

  29. Progressives would be more likely to raise the drinking age.

    The current consensus of neuro-science informed public policy is that adults under 25 are biologically children in brain development.Raise a toast to Government’s new respect for science.

  30. T,

    Indeed, an excellent point. I personally needed a transition period between high school and college.

  31. Speaking of science, does this mean that the OTA is coming back? I’m not one for more people in government, but I get the feeling that the OTA kept Congress from getting extra stupid about technology. Just an impression and possibly a completely wrong one.

  32. When I was 16 (1986), I’d usually only have to check three stores until one would sell to me without ID.

    NY changed to 19 from 18 a few months before my 18 birthday. I could then drink at 19, but then they changed it to 21 when I was 20, and a few months from 21, so I lost the right for three months. While it was still 20, a lot of stores began not selling to those under 21 before the law change which pissed me off.

  33. The last one suggests she wouldn’t support lowering the drinking age, even though she has stated she thinks MADD is currently a neo-prohibitionist group.

    Nope, their purpose is traffic safety. Thats why she done did found MADD.

  34. We have to stop looking at maturity being the result of some arbitray number of trips around the sun.

    Maturity comes from experience. Period.

    If we were to raise the drinking age, or any other legal age for that matter, it will do nothing but futher prevent the development into adulthood.

    I get especially angry about this stupidity when they talk about raising the driving age. They will cite studies that show 16-18 year-ols have the highest accident rate as an argument for raising the driving age to 18.

    Were that to happen, the new dangerous age group will be 18-20. The reason is that the drivers are inexperienced, and age limit simply delay the process.

    Same thing for alcohol. When you first start drinking, you get drunk more easily and you have no idea what your limits are (I still don’t but that’s beside the point).

    So what should define the age? Individuals, because we are all different. Europe got one thing right…

  35. I get especially angry about this stupidity when they talk about raising the driving age. They will cite studies that show 16-18 year-ols have the highest accident rate as an argument for raising the driving age to 18.

    Were that to happen, the new dangerous age group will be 18-20. The reason is that the drivers are inexperienced, and age limit simply delay the process.

    Personally I think if we started throwing kids in VR driving simulators at 10, by the time they could drive at 16 they’d by Dale fucking Earnhardt (or whoever is the going guy to compare with for crack driving skillz. I don’t keep up on this sort of thing.). It’s much like teaching kids a 2nd language earlier; little young minds are more plastic and take to new skills more easily.

  36. We have to stop looking at maturity being the result of some arbitray number of trips around the sun.

    Possibly for some things, but age of consent and drinking age need a specific age so the law can be inforced.

  37. The (very) sad thing about all the obsessive drugs/sex/alcohol laws fit into the “only Nixon could go to China/only Clinton could reform welfare” slot. Nationally, at least, Democrats just can’t take the heat for passing anything that smells this hippie. We’ll just have to wait for the moderate Republicans to handle this one, which means that unless Olympia Snow is elected President in 2012 or 2016, we’ll be dry until at least mid-century.

    PS Nick, I really don’t think you’re “fucking dumb,” although “laying in the leaves” really did gross me out. It was the Obamamania talking.

  38. Possibly for some things, but age of consent and drinking age need a specific age so the law can be enforced.

    True enough. Fourteen? Fourteen sounds good to me.

  39. Indeed, an excellent point. I personally needed a transition period between high school and college.

    Mine was graciously provided by the US Army. It let me get all the drinking, immaturity, and risky behavior out of the way.

  40. As with flying cars, proper child-rearing will not be accomplished until we have robots with true AI. These robots will protect the young from drinking too much (swat!), driving at all, and selecting unattractive or otherwise inappropriate mating candidates (Not that one, master.). On the latter point, the robot-owning father can adjust the filter to reject all potential mating candidates.

    Better living through robots.

  41. T,

    My wife and I have been debating the military as a transition for our oldest son, who doesn’t appear entirely ready for prime time. It’s not as attractive an option as it was before 2002.

  42. ProL – yes, but it is more attractive than it was four years ago. Iraq (from a Soldier’s perspective) has gone from “hot” to “boring” in the past year-and-a-half.

    And hey, talk about a sweet way to make 30-40K tax-free with no expenses.

  43. Possibly for some things, but age of consent and drinking age need a specific age so the law can be [sic]inforced.

    That’s the point. Drinking or consentual sex regulation are not the government’s responsibility in the first place. A law doesn’t justify the law.

    People should be punished for the crimes they commit. If kill someone in a car crash, it doesn’t matter if I was drunk or not — the person’s still dead.

    Now granted, accidents are more likely to happen when drunk, but the drunk driver choose to drink before driving, and is therefore their responsibility. The driver would better know how to handle said responsibility if they had more experience with drinking, and therefore, should have been able to drink at an earlier age…

  44. Drinking or consentual sex regulation are not the government’s responsibility in the first place.

    Nope, those are some of the most important laws the government inforces. Look how may violent crimes are vice related.

  45. Not sure this needs to be high on our national agenda, even if it is a good idea.

  46. they’d by Dale fucking Earnhardt (or whoever is the going guy to compare with for crack driving skillz. I don’t keep up on this sort of thing.)

    I always just go with Mario Andretti. Classic and accurate. Like citing McEnroe for tennis.

  47. Bjorn Borg.

  48. My wife and I have been debating the military as a transition for our oldest son, who doesn’t appear entirely ready for prime time. It’s not as attractive an option as it was before 2002.

    He’ll figure out how to handle college.

  49. I don’t think it needs to be high on the agenda to get done. All the feds have to do is delete that highway funding requirement. Easily done in the midst of the stimulus frenzy.

    I will be favorably impressed with Obama if he does this, but I will also be very surprised.

  50. Just say NO to trolls…

  51. Not sure this needs to be high on our national agenda, even if it is a good idea.

    What could be more important than freedom?

  52. They’re old enough to die, they’re old enough to drink.

    I always preferred “If you are old enough to drive, you are old enough to drink”.

    I always preferred “If you are old enough to be on active duty, you are old enough to drink.”

    If you are not on active duty or reservist on active duty, the the “old enough to die” BS is just that, BS. There are many reasons why the drinking age should be 18, but the threat that some males during a hypothetical period of general mobilization might be drafted is not a reason that all 18-21 year olds should be allowed to drink.

  53. Indeed, an excellent point. I personally needed a transition period between high school and college.

    Mine was graciously provided by the US [Navy]. It let me get all the drinking, immaturity, and risky behavior out of the way.

    You beat me to it, T

  54. Since nobody asked, here’s my blurb to Our Newly Ascended Lord Protector:

    Dear President Obama-
    Governments can print money, but they cannot create wealth. Ask some of your colleagues from the University of Chicago (not that blathering ninny Krugman) to explain it to you, if my word isn’t good enough. Start from there.

    ——

    Also-
    I saw a snippet of Geithner’s confirmation hearing, this morning. They kept cutting to a shot of Geithner, at the table.
    General Rule of Thumb: when you’re in a room with a guy who has “that” look on his face, it’s a good idea to make sure you know where all the exits are.

  55. There are many reasons why the drinking age should be 18, but the threat that some males during a hypothetical period of general mobilization might be drafted is not a reason that all 18-21 year olds should be allowed to drink.

    I don’t think the argument is that 18-year-olds should drink because they might be drafted, but rather, that if one is considered responsible enough to choose to risk their own life for their country, that same country should trust them with the resonsibility of choosing to drink alcohol.

    You know, principle, as in the ideas that used to guide us when we still livied in a free society…

  56. God, my typing is attrocious today.

    I blame my shitty work keyboard…

  57. Bjorn Borg.

    Go to hell.

  58. Your anti-Swedish feelings have been noted and logged.

  59. Borg is Swedish? I thought he was a robot.

  60. A Swedish robot.

  61. I say scrap the drinking age completely. I’ve never liked pre-emptive laws. If a kid hasn’t violated any other laws, I see no reason to cook up a law that allows him to be penalized simply for drinking.

    When it comes to vices, kids should be treated as adults at the same age at which they would be prosecuted as adults if they shot up a few of their classmates. That easily goes as low at 14.

  62. You know, principle, as in the ideas that used to guide us when we still livied in a free society…

    Point taken and well received. I now amend my position, partially.

    Our country allows 17 year-old to volunteer for the military and few people are suggesting that 17 yo be allowed to bar hop. The crux of the issue is the country deeming 18 year olds responsible enough to be compelled into the military. However, since only men are deemed responsible enough to be drafted, extending the drink on this basis should be limited to males only.

    My preferred stance is that one is an adult or one is not. Once 18, one is held accountable to all the responsibilities of being an adult. All the privileges, such as they are, should also be fully available.

  63. Epi and Pro Lib-

    Please see July 4, 1981, All England Tennis Club results.

  64. One piece of evidence that points to Borg’s superiority is that Mac always toned down his antics when he played Borg. Because he thought Borg was a Swedish god. And he was right, except that Borg was actually a Swedish robot god. Easy mistake to make.

  65. Borg was Federer 1.0.

  66. Oh, please. Episiarch, will you do the honors and thrash SugarFree? Thrash him soundly.

  67. P Brooks | January 21, 2009, 12:17pm | #
    Not sure this needs to be high on our national agenda, even if it is a good idea.

    What could be more important than freedom?

    Yes, and all issues in the domain of freedom are equal. I have seen the light.

    [/sarcasm]

  68. ProLib,

    I’m not insulting Borg, just merely pointing out a similar tennis robot. Federer is the result of someone musing “What if we built a new BorgBot, but stripped out all of the charisma and personality?”

  69. SugarFree,

    Very well. However, the Episiarch is not as forgiving as I.

  70. He’s a pussycat. Declawed and happy to sleep on the radiator.

  71. Our country allowed 18-year-olds to drink for years and years (and probably had no age limit before that). And yet somehow, despite that sin against nature, we managed to become the most powerful and wealthy country in the world. The USA has been on the downward slope since raising the drinking age to 21. Correlation or causation? You decide…

  72. “And yet somehow, despite that sin against nature, we managed to become the most powerful and wealthy country in the world.”

    But, but, but… What about Prohibition?

    Oh yeah, Great Depression.

    I have seen the truth!

  73. Neu Mejican-

    The freedom to be an immature drunken ass make your own decisions, even when they may appear to others to be self-destructive and wrong, seems to me to compose the bedrock of freedom.

    * as always, “drinking” not same as “drunkenly running people over”

  74. SugarFree,

    Apparently so. You have tamed the wild Episiarch.

  75. The freedom to make your own decisions, even when they may appear to others to be self-destructive and wrong, seems to me to compose the bedrock of freedom.

    Hear, hear! I’ll raise a toast to that!

    Well, not right now I won’t, but later this evening.

  76. Wild Episiarch’s can’t be broken.

  77. The freedom to make your own decisions, even when they may appear to others to be self-destructive and wrong, seems to me to compose the bedrock of freedom.

    Well put!

  78. The freedom to make your own decisions, even when they may appear to others to be self-destructive and wrong, seems to me to compose the bedrock of freedom.

    Hence, RC’z Fourth Iron Law:

    You aren’t free unless you are free to be wrong.

  79. Pro Lib,

    the bedrock of freedom

    And all pick axes aimed at that bedrock are equal.

    [/sarcasm]

    Just can’t get excited over this one in the current context…even though I have no problem with the basic idea…it just don’t seem to rise to the top of the heap.

  80. RC Dean.

    You aren’t free unless you are free to be wrong.

    Theft = wrong.
    Murder = wrong.
    Rape = wrong.

    So, you ain’t free unless you are free to steal, rape and murder?

    =/;^)


  81. Theft = wrong.
    Murder = wrong.
    Rape = wrong.

    Also:

    Drinking underage = wrong.

  82. actually theft, murder and rape (even though rape is simply a more specific form of assault) are wrong under the definition of liberty. Which our country was founded on. As in they infringe someone else’s liberty show me underage drinking infringe someone elses liberty (and by that i mean the act of under age drinking not the outcome. We have far to many laws against things that “might” have a bad outcome… oddly no law against voting which usually does have a bad outcome)

  83. The young have the argument if it’s (was) OK to draft at 17 and carry auto weapon but can’t legally drink a beer. Well, think of it; the gun tooting soldier will in boot camp be trained not only in carrying & using the gun but to understand discipline, behavior, respect. The young person who wants to drink beer may not have the discipline, behavior nor the respect; but he/she most likely has a car, or can borrow one and thereby have the gun without training, discipline and respect for others and things. That could kill not only the drunk driver, the gun (car) tooting driver but also his/her best friends and strangers happening to be “at the wrong place at the wrong time”. Besides to get a drivers license and thus be able to “bear weapon” in any state is laughingly easy. So how about a compromise, change the law but include the requirement for every 18 year old to go through 6 months of boot camp and a tough drivers education.

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