Thursday, April 19, 2007

Let Kids Drink

For whatever reason, the drinking age is suddenly a hot topic.

In calling for it to be lowered, National Review's John Miller notes:
When it comes to alcohol, the United States is more like Indonesia, Mongolia, and Palau than the rest of the world: It is one of just four countries that requires people to be at least 21 years old to buy booze. The only countries with stiffer laws are Islamic ones.
In today's New York Post, George Will discusses the drinking age's unintended consequences:
[John] McCardell, 57, president emeritus of Middlebury College in Vermont and professor of history there, says alcohol is and always will be "a reality in the lives of 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds." Studies indicate that the number of college students who drink is slightly smaller than it was 10 years ago, largely because of increased interest in healthy living. But in the majority who choose to drink, there have been increases of "binge drinking" and other excesses. Hospitalizations of 18- to 20-year-olds for alcohol poisoning have risen in those 10 years.
This is hardly surprising. Back in college, I argued (see pg. 6) that it's just not reasonable to expect teenagers to avoid alcohol. Attempts to use the heavy hand of the law to do so only criminalize behavior that is widespread and normal.

Both Will and Miller interview John McCardell of Choose Responsibility, who makes a number of important points regarding the drinking age's unintended corrosive effects on family bonding, teenagers' respect (or lack thereof) for authority, and the similar dynamic seen today between college administrators and u-21 students.

The rule is simple: Don't treat as children those from whom you expect adult-like behavior.

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