Skip to main content

Note: This is my first diary entry on DailyKos and is not directly related to the politics du jour (primaries in KY and OR), but I thought I would take this opportunity to post something that interests me and learn more about the system before I dive right into deep political theory and debate. As well as provide a nice diversion from the politics to discuss an issue that I feel is ignored far too much, the minimum drinking age.

Recently, the BBC had a very interesting documentary about food and how people respond to it called the Truth About Food. In one of the episodes, they examined how children behave when certain foods are forbidden from them. For the experiment, they determined two foods that the children were equally fond of at the beginning of the experiment, dried mangoes and raisins. After determining this through a quick survey, they experimentally established that both were liked equally by providing it to the children twice a day and measuring the percentage of fruit eaten during the snack times.

Given this information, they changed the rules a bit. They would tell the children that they could not have the raisins during the first snack time, but would freely allow them to have them during the second time. Now, the raisins were still on the table, and as far as I could tell, the children were not admonished if they did take them during the first time. However, they were strongly encouraged not to, and peer pressure ensured that most did not touch the raisins the first time.

Now, the question is, what was the children’s reaction? Over the course of the study, the children became more and more obsessed with the raisins, acting very agitated during the first snack time, and restricting their eating entirely to the raisins during the second time. In fact, near the end of the study, the dried mango slices were barely touched during the second snack time. After the study was finished, the children were again surveyed as to which is their favourite snack. Overwhelmingly, they said raisins. This was corroborated by later tests where both were available sans restriction, and the dried mangoes were not touched at all.

So, what can be drawn from this, if anything? Well, it is well known in the social sciences that one of the best way to make something popular and "cool" is to restrict it, but still have it available to those who try hard enough to acquire it. In this case, the children demonstrated that by having the raisins in restriction for at least part of the time, led to essentially binging on the raisins when they were available. Interestingly, this is the exact same behaviour that is seen amongst underage drinking, especially at the university level. So much so, that an industry has developed to try to deal with "high-risk" underage drinkers.

The basic mentality of most programs to deal with underage drinking is to attempt to restrict the possession of alcohol in a much stronger capacity; larger fines for stores that sell, and jailtime for adults who provide it. Unfortunately though, this may likely have the opposite effect entirely. By making the commodity rare, and yet still available they simply make it psychologically more desirable when it is available. Note, that not all children were obsessive over the raisins after the experiment, only a shocking majority. Similarly, not all university bound children are obsessive over alcohol, but enough are to make it a real issue on campuses throughout the US and Canada.

When, the children are at home, alcohol drinking and binge drinking is still an issue at "bush parties" or house parties. I remember this problem from my pre-university existence. However, upon being free of the household and able to access alcohol more or less without difficulty leads to much higher incidences of problems for young adult drinkers, especially in provinces where the legal drinking age is out of alignment with the age a person leaves home. I have argued vehemently with friends and family that the drinking age should be at very least at the age a person graduates from high school and thus would likely be leaving the homestead.

Why? Some would argue that this would just make alcohol more available and thus encourage binge drinking. However, I believe that by making the alcohol more freely available, our natural instincts to be drawn towards the forbidden (Especially through peer pressure) would be suppressed and while there will still be those drawn towards the horrors of alcohol abuse, far fewer will be involved in the binge style drinking which is so common on campuses throughout the states and Canada. In fact, I have heard from friends in Europe that the binge drinking seen in the states is nowhere near as prevalent in countries with a very low, or non-existent drinking age.

However, recently some researchers are starting to argue that reducing the drinking age or even removing it entirely would be more beneficial than harmful. This has led me to rethink my initial thoughts on the matter. They argue that by allowing children to drink at home under supervision, they can learn responsible alcohol use (assuming the parents are responsible) and thus be better prepared for when they are on their own.

A small issue with this plan is that it will still require more active therapeutic public health involvement in treatment of the few who do have addictive personalities (or grew up with irresponsible parents: "Hey Billy, have another one, hic"). As well, the education system would need to completely overhaul how it teaches children about alcohol. So, the investment in public health and education will increase. However, I believe the saving in enforcement costs, as well as the decrease in university-aged binge drinking would likely outweigh any preventative education or therapeutic costs.

However, in the long run, I think by acknowledging we are human and developing a system that doesn’t aggravate our natural tendencies (to binge and such) will be far more effective in the long run than artificially banning it and thus making it more of a forbidden fruit rather than just a crappy intoxicant.

1h

--- * Crossposted at my blog, 1337hax0r.com.

Originally posted to MrvnMouse on Tue May 20, 2008 at 03:17 PM PDT.

Poll

How old should the minimum drinking age be?

24%223 votes
6%59 votes
47%438 votes
8%75 votes
2%22 votes
1%18 votes
9%83 votes

| 918 votes | Vote | Results

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  please post a tip jar (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    akeitz, AbsurdEyes, ChakraTease, Norbrook

    Good job on a first diary!

    •  We have tons of binge drinking in the UK (4+ / 0-)

      and you can go in a bar here at 16, drink at 19. Most young people who drink apparently start when they are around 11 or 12. I like a beer or two but the level of alcohol use here is shocking, it's considered totally normal to get legless 1, 2 or more nights a week. The Students Union at the Uni where I used to work even sponsored "drink the bar dry" fixed-price/all-you-can-drink nights at end of term, resulting in finals marks plummeting no doubt.
      In my old neighbourhood you'd see 12, 13 year old kids drinking 2-liter bottles of extra-strong hard cider, then moving on to vodka, then starting trouble. Not having to deal with drunken yobs is one of the benefits of living in a mostly Muslim area as I do now!
      Boy, do I sound like a cranky old Puritan or what...?

      Political Compass says: -8.88, -8.67
      "We never sold out cos no one would buy."--J Neo Marvin

      by expatyank on Tue May 20, 2008 at 03:43:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think we can have a debate about possibly (5+ / 0-)

    lowering the age.  But to remove it all together would be foolish.

    I am a liberal and I'm damn proud of it

    by smash artist on Tue May 20, 2008 at 03:19:49 PM PDT

    •  But under what circumstances? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      homogenius, cynndara, Dark UltraValia

      Are you talking about just buying, or at what age can an adult be charged with contributing to the deliquency of a minor for giving their kid a sip of wine? The absolute line we've drawn is the height of folly.

      •  and how often does that happen? (0+ / 0-)

        I dont know of many adults who get into trouble over that.

        And we all know that there are plenty of parents who more or less allow their kids to drink.

        So I think that is a phantom concern to be honest.

        •  Actually, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          akeitz, Cassandra Waites

          I know of at least one incident in Richmond where parents supervising an "alternative Prom party" where they could allow their kids to drink WITH CHAPERONES instead of getting dead drunk off in the brush and then driving home, were tried and convicted.  And half the town was at the other half the town's throats over it.  It was asinine.

          •  one out of (0+ / 0-)

            how many?

            Like I said, it rarely happens and probably the only time it does happen is when parents allow those other than their own kids to do it in some large group setting.

            A patently dumb idea.

    •  Why should there be a minimum age? (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kenboy, akeitz, cynndara, pickandshovel

      I can think of no reason there should be a minimum drinking age.  Parents are responsible for raising their kids right, not the government.

      I certainly agree there should be maximum BAC for driving and other criminal offenses, but not for the very act of drinking.

      Put the resposibility back on the parents where it belongs.

      And how can you say liberal and I'm damn proud of it while advocating this kind of governmental intrusion?

      Results count for more than intentions do.

      by VA Classical Liberal on Tue May 20, 2008 at 03:28:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Abolish? No. (4+ / 0-)

    Lower, yes. I think 18 is reasonable, maybe even 16 when at home.

    •  I'd agree with that (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bronx59, BoiseBlue, cs

      I don't think it should be free and available to all.  But 21 is ridiculous.  A 20 year old is an adult by almost every metric possible, but it is illegal to have a drink.  I have a misdemeanor on my record for drinking a beer 2 months before my 21st birthday.

      One concern people have raised to me is that if the age is 18, high school seniors will be able to buy it and provide it to their friends.  Not sure what to make of that.

    •  I had my first drink (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ChakraTease, Dark UltraValia

      of hard liquor at the age of nine.  At the family New Year's party AT MY GREAT-GRANDMOTHER'S APARTMENT.  It neither harmed me nor interested me in further experimentation.  It was just a family tradition to be included in, as was the family tradition that the youngest legal driver present had to abstain and drive everyone else home.

      Children who learn about drugs, sex, rock-n-roll and guns in a safe and well-regulated family environment learn about safety and common sense at the same time.  Children who learn about dangerous things in the adolescent environment of risk-taking, adventure, and peer-oneupmanship are likely to take excessive risks due to competitiveness and inexperience, a volatile and often deadly combination when dealing with dangerous things.

      Prohibition, pot-hibition, and gun-control belong in the same class as abstinence-only sex education.  Children don't learn sensible habits from the lure of the Forbidden.

  •  I had to vote (4+ / 0-)

    no drinking age, because I don't feel that parents should be at risk of prosecution for teaching their children responsible drinking as they are today. But that doesn't mean that I think children should be allowed to buy alcohol, or that idiots should be allowed to get their kids drunk at five or six.

    You need more options in your poll.

  •  What does alcohol do to brain development? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    historys mysteries, jds1978

    I know what it does to the developed brain...but what about the developing brain?

    (Seriously don't know.)

    •  Seriously bad from (6+ / 0-)

      about 3 months into pregnancy to the age of about 7.

      For teenagers, the story is always about driving & drinking. Somehow, its the drinking that gets blamed, but its the driving that causes the accidents. Drunk teenagers without cars - stupid, but not dangerous. Sober teenagers with cars - a menace. Drunk driving teenagers - Hide in the Cellar!

      •  I disagree, drunk teenagers (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pandoras Box, Dark UltraValia

        can be dangerous even without cars. We don't normally have a lot of crime in the UK, but much of what we do have is fueled by alcohol. Most recent sad story was a "goth" girl beaten and stamped to death by a group of drunken teens, her boyfriend survived but with psychological and physical injuries. When people are drunk they lose their inhibitions, and the one kid in the crowd who is kinds psycho but usually gets told to shut up becomes the leader.

        I do think 18 is a reasonable age though, any age at home as long as we're not talking getting drunk with dad. My folks always gave me a sip of beer or wine if they were having any (a rare thing) so it held little mystery for me.

        Political Compass says: -8.88, -8.67
        "We never sold out cos no one would buy."--J Neo Marvin

        by expatyank on Tue May 20, 2008 at 03:49:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  And what precisely (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Downpuppy

          is that matter with Getting Drunk With Dad?

          Okay, not when you're six.  But at sixteen, it can be great.  And coming home from college on holidays, it was most definitely a gas.  As was the time that the stepmom decided to treat his excessively high blood pressure by baking an ounce of hash into his Dutch Chocolate birthday cake.

          I find it amusing just how Puritan even the most liberal Americans continue to be with regard to children.  Folks, how can children ever grow up, if you insist on denying them education and experience in all the most important facets of life because they're too dangerous or controversial for children? THIS is how we end up with 40-year-olds who don't believe in evolution and can't talk to their own children about sex until they end up pregnant.

          Another note: if parents ARE a little shy and hesitant about talking with the kids about important things like sex and drugs and politics, getting them drunk is a good way to help them relax and get chatty.  Teenagers take note: get Dad drunk if you want to know what it was really like when he was in the military.  Get Mom drunk if you want to know where all the family skeletons are buried.

  •  for beer and wine that makes sense (4+ / 0-)

    but it would be too easy for kids with smaller bodies to get alcohol poisoning because they don't know any better.  In Germany it's 16 for beer and wine but 18 for the harder stuff.  That seems about right.

    ---
    Guns don't kill people. Giant mutant insects kill people.

    by VelvetElvis on Tue May 20, 2008 at 03:24:43 PM PDT

    •  If you're more honest (0+ / 0-)

      with them about the toxic effects of the brew, they're more likely to be careful.

      The first time my date got puking green drunk, I literally had no idea what was happening.  I called his mother because she was a nurse and I was afraid he was going to die!

      (This despite the fact that I'd seen my family drinking since I was in kindergarten ... because nobody in my family EVER got puking drunk.)

  •  I see the drinking age as a rights issue. (7+ / 0-)

    In our society, we make even those under 21 pay taxes (if they have income), we make 18-21 year olds eligible for the draft, and, most importantly, we allow those who are 18 the right to vote. Now, I don't know about everyone else, but i think choosing a President requires much more responsibility than drinking. Perhaps a drinking age of 19 would be warranted, in order to keep it our of the High Schools.

  •  Abolish the minimum drinking age (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    orrg1, lemming22, sfbob

    And strengthen drunk driving laws.  

    OH-16: John Boccieri will finally end 36 years of Regula Rule.

    by marcvstraianvs on Tue May 20, 2008 at 03:25:02 PM PDT

    •  Drunk driving (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marcvstraianvs, orrg1, lemming22

      as well as public intoxication.  Focusing on responsibility rather than prohibition is a rather mature approach to the subject.  That said - I can't see that ever happening in our society.

      "You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity"

      by newfie on Tue May 20, 2008 at 03:30:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  They seem pretty strong already (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sunshineonthebay

      In California you can be arrested for drunk driving if you are anywhere near your car and have been drinking.  Being arrested for DUI while sleeping one off in the backseat seems a bit extreme to me.  I asked if that was true and was told that if the keys are anywhere where you could possibly get to them (i.e. the trunk) it's a DUI.  It's also a possible DUI if you are walking around drunk or riding a bike, not simply a public intoxication charge.

      How about stronger enforcement of sentencing?  The trend of celebs serving minutes of their sentences seems to set the wrong tone.  

      •  i don't know who told you this, but i'll wait (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        GalaxieGal

        for some kind of confirmation from someone who knows the law. because that's beyond insane.

        I am further of the opinion that the President must be impeached and removed from office!

        by UntimelyRippd on Tue May 20, 2008 at 03:58:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  A Certified Alcohol Education person (0+ / 0-)

          He teaches at one of the court ordered drunk schools.  He said it's one of the things covered in his course.

          •  let me put it to you this way: (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            GalaxieGal

            i do not believe any higher court in the US would uphold the constitutionality of arresting someone for opening the trunk of their car while drunk. or for that matter, sleeping in the back seat of their car while drunk. (though if you were a convicted offender, i could possibly imagine some sort of enforceable injunction.)

            I am further of the opinion that the President must be impeached and removed from office!

            by UntimelyRippd on Tue May 20, 2008 at 05:13:45 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I agree (0+ / 0-)

              and hope that someone else is able to tell me that Dennis was wrong. It's like a thought crime.  I also fail to see the constitutionality of arresting someone for a DUI while walking.  My friend said he's had both in his class.

              I was also surprised to find you can get a DUI with less than .08 if you are driving erratically.  I personally know someone who was arrested and convicted for DUI with a .04.  I have no idea what she was doing that attracted the attention of the law however.

      •  You can get a DUI for riding a bike drunk (0+ / 0-)

        or driving a boat. That's true.

        the shane life The story of a boy alone in New York City. God help the city.

        by Shane Hensinger on Tue May 20, 2008 at 04:08:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Not a good idea (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    0wn

    Many years ago New Jersey dropped the drinking age to 18. The number of teenage traffic accidents and fatalities skyrocketed. The legislature was forced to raise the drinking age back to 21.

    "In a time of universal deceit -- telling the truth is a revolutionary act."

    by fixxit on Tue May 20, 2008 at 03:26:05 PM PDT

    •  This is a short term consequence. (7+ / 0-)

      When any law regarding intoxicants is loosened, in the short term people act irresponsibly. In fact, this is exactly what was shown by the raisins/dried mango experiment.

      The key thing is that once the novelty of easy access has worn off (and people have grown up who were repressed initially) people end up acting far more responsibly.

      I'm guessing if the drinking age was kept at 18 for long enough, the issues in NJ would have eventually dissipated. However, as I'm not familiar with what happened exactly, I cannot say for sure.

      •  A bit of history (0+ / 0-)

        The minimum legal drinking age has not always been consistent in this country. In the 1930s, almost all the states passed legislation stating that a person had to be at least 21 years old to purchase alcohol. Then, in the 1970s, many states lowered the legal drinking age to 18, 19, or 20.

        Many of these states upped the legal drinking age back to 21 as groups pressured states to take action because research showed higher fatality and accident rates among teenager drivers during this time period.

        By 1984, the legal drinking age nationwide was set at 21 when Congress passed a law that said states would be subjected to a decrease in federal funding for highways if the state did not enforce the minimum age of 21 for purchasing/possessing alcohol.

        "In a time of universal deceit -- telling the truth is a revolutionary act."

        by fixxit on Tue May 20, 2008 at 03:38:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  In Canada (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          esquimaux, cs

          The highest drinking age is 19, and there are nowhere near the same levels of problems with drunk driving.

          As well, as much as this may shock you, old people drink and drive as well. If the issue is drinking and driving, then simply target that issue by increasing Checkstops and penalties for drinking and driving. If the issue is underage binge drinking, banning alcohol won't stop anything.

      •  You can soften the blow of that (4+ / 0-)

        Lower it to 20.  Then two years later lower it to 19.  Then two years later to 18.  No mass chaos as a bunch of people suddenly get access.

    •  Thats a road safety issue (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bronx59, cynndara

      Not a drinking issue.

      We still haven't faced up to the massive damage caused by cars.

    •  What I think we can learn (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bronx59

      from the raisin experiment as described - the behavior is linked to the apporach to the subject.  Wave a magic wand and have American society view alcohol responsibly - where we show our children that drinking alcohol is a choice and as with all choices comes with responsibility and consequences of making a poor choice.  Strengthening public intoxication laws and driving laws would be part and parcel with making such changes.

      I can't see that ever happening here.

      "You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity"

      by newfie on Tue May 20, 2008 at 03:34:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not only that. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        newfie, ProgMa57, BoiseBlue

        But consider what form the education would take in most public schools--the fundies would insist on more "abstinence-only" education. You wouldn't be permitted, for instance, to stress the need for a designated driver. "Oh no, we're teaching our children NOT to drink, we don't need to teach them how to be responsible."

        AAaaggghhhhh!!!

        Well fuck it all, I'm still not leaving. I'm too goddamn mean and stubborn to be run off by a swarm of annoying insects.

        by homogenius on Tue May 20, 2008 at 03:37:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Ha. OT. (0+ / 0-)

          I was born and raised Catholic.  Still profess to being Catholic but that is more of an ethnic view on my part.  Haven't been nor intend to be a regular attendant at Mass.  Took my son for his music lessons which are at a nearby Baptist Church ( a real cool Baptist congregation - you can tell because you walk in the door and the very first thing you see is a stack of Phila Gay News).

          Anyway, my daughter (11) is along for the ride and as we wait through my son's lesson she is reading the bible - story of Noah's ark.  At one point she nudges me and points to a passage indicating that Noah lived 945 years.  The look on her face was priceless.  And I was awash with the peaceful sense that my daughter will never go fundie.

          "You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity"

          by newfie on Tue May 20, 2008 at 05:33:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  You should add 19 to your poll. (6+ / 0-)

    Here is my reasoning. At 19 nearly everyone is out of high school. If the age is 18, you will have half the senior class capable of buying legally. You might as well make it legal for everyone in high school at that point. This will make parents' jobs much harder.

    But I agree, that once kids are in college (I have 3 in college right now) there is no point.

    •  At 18 (12+ / 0-)

      You can buy a house.
      You can get a job.
      You can sign a contract.
      You can get married in all 50 states.
      You can join the Army and go to Iraq.

      But you can't drink a beer?

      You got me.

      Results count for more than intentions do.

      by VA Classical Liberal on Tue May 20, 2008 at 03:30:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  In some ways I think 19 would be better for (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bronx59

        several of the things you list as well. Actually, maybe a HS Diploma :)

        I know it was hard when our kids turned 18, before they graduated from HS. They think it gives them some special power, not realizing that it is more a responsibility. From their 18th birthdays until the first day of College were the most tense times in our house.

        •  Maybe the answer isn't age based? (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          lemming22, cynndara, joyncassie

          We have minimum ages for many things because it is an inexpensive and easy way to declare someone is mature enough to engage in that activity.  And, of course, we have to have these minimums.

          But maybe the minimum shouldn't be defined by age, but by achievement.  Like graduating from high school?

          We don't want a world in which buying a house is dependent on passing a government administrated test (not only would that be very costly, it would be open to many forms of abuse).  So could a high school diploma or GED be an appropriate substitute?

          I don't know.  Just throwing the idea out there.

          Results count for more than intentions do.

          by VA Classical Liberal on Tue May 20, 2008 at 03:47:11 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  19 is good (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ChakraTease, Bronx59

      As a 20 year old in College, i understand the current dynamics of this situation acutely. It should be hard to get alcohol in High School, but in College getting alcohol is very easy (unless you go to Brigham Young, lol). All the 21 age requirement does is gives students the potential for getting in legal trouble for what is generally accepted as common practice. College students denied drinking rights are like surgeons denied scalpel rights. It's essential to their craft!

    •  19 here in Ontario.. (0+ / 0-)

      I think its 18 in Quebec..  I live in a border city and the weekend business thrives on the 19yr/old michigan teens looking to drink... but it doesn't really stop them, whether or not they're in michigan or in canada they will drink (or smoke pot, legal or not.)

      The statistics for teen drunk driving between the countries is comparable... which raises the question if the higher age limit in the u.s. causes more problems then there should be.

      "We have lost the South for a generation," - LBJ

      by soros on Tue May 20, 2008 at 03:33:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I know at University of Vermont (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        soros

        We go to Montreal all the time to drink at the bars. its awfully convenient, except the annoyance of the border crossing.

      •  I don't know about now... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        soros

        But 20 years ago when I lived in Canada the liquor laws were insane from province to province. In some, you had to serve food in a bar in order to serve alcohol. In others you COULDN'T serve food. In some you were allowed to put out table toppers to promote drink specials, others not. BC had only official liquor stores (and they closed really early) and I think some others didn't.

        Well fuck it all, I'm still not leaving. I'm too goddamn mean and stubborn to be run off by a swarm of annoying insects.

        by homogenius on Tue May 20, 2008 at 03:40:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  ya, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          homogenius

          It's still a bit odd as you described but not as extreme.   Beer & Liquors can only be bought licenced outlets ("The Beer Store" or the LCBO, at least in this province.)  Funny story about a guy I worked with in the u.s. about a decade ago.  He was on vacation here in Ontario and went around all the 7-11's looking for Beer and he finally asked somebody "where can I find some beer?"   And the clerk responded, "Root beer?"   (*LAUGH*)

          The tavern laws have been relaxed quite a bit since the 70's and 80's (and especially the 50's as my dad tells me.)     There are reasonable arguments against the government mandate on licenced outlets for beer/liquor distribution but I think in the end they are a reasonable compromise between competing ideologies.

          "We have lost the South for a generation," - LBJ

          by soros on Tue May 20, 2008 at 03:49:38 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  in manitoba, you couldn't carry your beer (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          homogenius, soros

          from one table to another. so if you saw some friends and wanted to join them, you had to call your server over to ferry the beer.

          it's lightened up a lot since the 70s.

          I am further of the opinion that the President must be impeached and removed from office!

          by UntimelyRippd on Tue May 20, 2008 at 04:01:18 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I don't want tinny boppers at the pubs! nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gator
  •  Must Be 18, Cause You Can Die (8+ / 0-)

    for your nation at that age. I am open to it being lower even. But lets start with 18. If you can vote and fight and die wearing a US uniform that that would can buy a beer should be a given. That it isn't is a joke.

    Wouldn't that be an interest court case. Somebody 18 saying they won't go to Iraq cause they don't have "equal" rights/protection under the law since they can't buy a beer (I am not a lawyer .... just saying).

    Let us not forget New Orleans. Visit Project Katrina.

    by webranding on Tue May 20, 2008 at 03:27:56 PM PDT

  •  At least on election day -nm (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gator

    breaking news in little bits since 1981

    by mswaine on Tue May 20, 2008 at 03:28:27 PM PDT

  •  I gave my 20 month old a sip of Homebrew! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shane Hensinger

    ...and he spit it out.  "Forbidden fruit" only makes the substance more desireable IMO.

  •  It would be presumptious to say (0+ / 0-)

    what would or would not happen should the current laws be changed. Raisins are not bottles of alcohol, and this is about more than catering to human nature.

    The problem is that alcohol can have an affect on your short and long term health, especially as a young child. Further, is it really in our best interest to allow substances to be sold to children? Is it best for society to allow drunkenness?

    These are questions we should struggle with. A study about raisins and mangoes should only be used as evidence, not proof.

    •  To "Allow ..." (0+ / 0-)

      Hon, I've got news for you.  Humans have been getting drunk for the last five thousand years, minimum.  You know, poetry carved on Sumerian clay tablets and such.  So do you think, that it is POSSIBLE for our society to simply wish away a habit engrained in our culture over the last 5,000 years?  A habit that is as rooted in our biochemistry as a cat's love of catnip?

      Maybe you think we don't have to allow breathing?  Or eating?  Or perhaps something a little more discretionary, do you want to have a discussion as to whether we should ALLOW sex?

      Get real.  At least half this country's serious social and economic problems are rooted in the determination to believe in fantasy worlds instead of living in the Real World we're stuck in.

      And FYI, that's a Wizard talking about fantasy worlds.  Sheesh.

  •  Drunk Driving = reason for drinking age (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    0wn, BoiseBlue

    Americans are also too in love with intoxication. (ditto Brits, Australians). Drinking to get blotto.

    I add another modest proposal:
    Raise the minimum tobacco purchasing age every year.....so there will be no new smokers........A friend just got diagnosed with lung cancer.

    Best Diary of the Year? http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/2/23/03912/3990

    by LNK on Tue May 20, 2008 at 03:29:54 PM PDT

    •  so raise the driving age (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bronx59

      if kids can drink at 16 but not drive until 18, they have two years to learn how to drink before they are able to drive

      ---
      Guns don't kill people. Giant mutant insects kill people.

      by VelvetElvis on Tue May 20, 2008 at 03:32:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Now that is a decent idea as well. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bronx59

        Raise the driving age anyway.

        "You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity"

        by newfie on Tue May 20, 2008 at 03:36:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Not practical. (0+ / 0-)

        So long as our zoning laws and settlement patterns strand teenagers in the middle of housing deveopments where they don't have so much as a convenience store that's less than two miles away. Let alone a library, park, or their school if they miss the (one and only) bus home.

        Until we give up on situating necessary locations FAR, FARRRR away from each other, everyone who is taking on adult responsibilities (such as a job)is going to need access to an automobile.  And most teens these days work.

    •  What Is The Correlation? n/t (0+ / 0-)

      Let us not forget New Orleans. Visit Project Katrina.

      by webranding on Tue May 20, 2008 at 03:34:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  90% of drunk driving accidents are caused by (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      reklemrov, webranding, MrvnMouse, cynndara

      chronic alcohol abusers who have previously been convicted of drunk driving, not by kids drinking. New laws against drunk driving are not needed, stronger enforcement of laws already in place IS.

      It's not the government's business to tell people how to live their lives or judge what is "sinful" or not.

      the shane life The story of a boy alone in New York City. God help the city.

      by Shane Hensinger on Tue May 20, 2008 at 03:35:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  90%? (0+ / 0-)

        Got a link to that data? That seems amazingly high.

        If it really is that high, then a different approach needs to be used.

        •  Here's some info (0+ / 0-)

          More here.

          Drivers with a BAC level of .08 or higher involved in fatal crashes were eight times more likely to have a prior conviction for driving while impaired (DWI) than were drivers with no alcohol (8% and 1%, respectively).

          the shane life The story of a boy alone in New York City. God help the city.

          by Shane Hensinger on Tue May 20, 2008 at 03:53:27 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  dood. your statistical analysis is wanting. (0+ / 0-)

            this stat refers only to fatal accidents, for one thing.

            beyond that, it indicates that only 8% of fatal crashes by an impaired driver involved a driver with a prior DWI. 8% is rather less than 90%.

            I am further of the opinion that the President must be impeached and removed from office!

            by UntimelyRippd on Tue May 20, 2008 at 04:06:11 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  I Wish I Could Recommend This Comment (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Shane Hensinger, BoiseBlue

        100 times. I got a DUI about six years ago. I had just moved from a large city to a small town. They laughed at me when I said I needed a cab. I got in my car. It was wrong and I deserve everything I got.

        I had to go to "educational" programs. It was scare. People in the room with 5 or 6 DUIs. Walking in, some stumbling in. It made me sick to my stomach.

        Oh and I just paid my way out of all of it.

        Things have to change .....

        Let us not forget New Orleans. Visit Project Katrina.

        by webranding on Tue May 20, 2008 at 03:40:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  MADD's idea of change is lowering to .04 (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          LNK, Bronx59, cynndara

          the limit, meaning more people get DUI's for drinking one glass of wine and driving home. That sounds like a good approach to me - send more people to jail in a country that already has the highest incarceration rates in the world - for drinking a glass of wine and driving.

          the shane life The story of a boy alone in New York City. God help the city.

          by Shane Hensinger on Tue May 20, 2008 at 03:47:12 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  .04 is moderate for MADD (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kenboy

            In the past they've pushed for zero-tolerance.  Personally I think there should be a two-tiered DUI law.  Being at .08 and driving is marginally dangerous.  Being at .18 and driving is insanity.

      •  um. you've obviously got an axe to grind here. (0+ / 0-)

        i don't know where you got that statistic, but then on the other hand, it isn't a very surprising one, given that it is after all illegal to serve kids alcohol.

        if you want to sling stats around in a convincing way, i suggest you go back and collect the relevant data from before the drinking age went up. some of us are old enough to remember when terrible alcohol-related accidents were "relatively" commonplace among high schoolers. (i'd be interested in any stats you find about "prom night" accidents, which seem to be a big concern these days. is it hysteria, or a real problem?)

        you may be right -- it's not the government's business to "judge what is sinful or not". it is, however, the government's business to protect the general population from the dangerous folly of various individuals. other countries have far fewer problems with teenage drunk driving, but then, they have far fewer teens with drivers' licenses and/or vehicles.

        I am further of the opinion that the President must be impeached and removed from office!

        by UntimelyRippd on Tue May 20, 2008 at 03:54:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  My "axe" is my desire to be able to make (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cynndara

          my own choices without MADD deciding for me what those choices should be. I've never had a DUI, as a matter of fact living in NYC I don't even own a car.

          the shane life The story of a boy alone in New York City. God help the city.

          by Shane Hensinger on Tue May 20, 2008 at 04:10:29 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  yes, i know what your axe is -- it was evident (0+ / 0-)

            from the tenor of your references to MADD.

            I am further of the opinion that the President must be impeached and removed from office!

            by UntimelyRippd on Tue May 20, 2008 at 04:19:52 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Good! (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kenboy, cynndara

              If you want to defend an organization which spends less than .18 cents of every dollar it raises on its work, preferring to spend the other .72 cents on fundraising and salaries, then go ahead.

              They also are no longer run by "mothers" but by professional CEOs and they're pretty much an advocacy group for a new prohibition. Sounds like a group you can get behind? Be my guest!

              the shane life The story of a boy alone in New York City. God help the city.

              by Shane Hensinger on Tue May 20, 2008 at 04:26:17 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  if you weren't so busy grinding your axe, you (0+ / 0-)

                might have noticed that i have not said a single word defending MADD. that's the thing about axe-grinders. they're busy grinding away, and everyone else is just scratching their heads and wondering ... uh, what's with axe, dood?

                though since you seem to want me to, i'll say that the only individual of my own acquaintance with MADD involvement is the spokeswoman for the local county chapter. she joined after her daughter's car was hit by a drunk driver and burst into flames. the driver fled the scene. her daughter was horribly burned -- the guy who pulled her from the burning car had to pull her by the hair, because her skin just sloughed off under his hands. she died about a week later. this was several years ago, and i haven't actually seen KN since the accident, but i don't think she's in it for the money, or the thrill of forcing prohibition down Shane Hensinger's throat. i don't know much or care much about MADD's national organization, or its devolution into a temperance movement or fundraising mill (though i should interject: what do you expect them to spend their money on, other than salaries? isn't that how we get work accomplished in this society?), but i know that it would be amusing to watch the fireworks if you got all up in KN's face.

                I am further of the opinion that the President must be impeached and removed from office!

                by UntimelyRippd on Tue May 20, 2008 at 05:03:18 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  Raising prices works just as well (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LNK, Bronx59

      If not better.

      OT (slightly) today marks one week that I have gone without a cigarette.

      •  Teenage drunk driving (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BoiseBlue

        I remember some decades ago when one state had 18 and the adjacent state had 21 as legal minimum and teenagers were getting killed too frequently...driving back and forth.

        Brain Science Research:
        Age 18 (approx) is when the brain wiring attains adult level of decision-making. Younger than that...making many errors, poor decisions, not realizing the consequences of actions.

        Best Diary of the Year? http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/2/23/03912/3990

        by LNK on Tue May 20, 2008 at 03:52:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  actually, 18 is more about when the brain (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          LNK

          starts to attain adult-level control.

          there's some concern that drinking in the late teens may prevent proper development of the relevant brain structures.

          I am further of the opinion that the President must be impeached and removed from office!

          by UntimelyRippd on Tue May 20, 2008 at 04:08:12 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I have no doubt (0+ / 0-)

            that watching TV advertisements at a young age prematurely and permanently destroys many vital brain functions related to individual initiative, judgment and impulse control, but we don't seem too worried about THAT as a society.

            Ah, but TV wasn't invented in time for it to be a subject of early Christian and later Puritan asceticisms.  Therefore, it can be indulged in without limitation.

  •  i voted no age limit (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cynndara

    take away the mystique. I'm sure alcohol tastes like sh*t at a younger age anyway. but be open about it. If it doesn't have to be done in secret, (bush parties, away from the house, etc...) it might cut down on the dui's and the damages to life and limb that occurs. no mystique, no coolness.

  •  I came from a European-influenced home... (5+ / 0-)


    My mother being a war-bride from Belgium and my father being first-generation American (out of Russia).

    I was introduced to wine-drinking early, and sometimes lightly liquored 'high-balls' (mmmm, delicious) but only on special occasions (twice a month for grandparent visits plus holidays), and always in kid-appropriate moderation.

    I grew up with absolutely no fascination for alcohol as 'forbidden fruit'.

    This is very common in Europe, which per usual remains socially ahead of the U.S.

    The fact is that the average man's love of liberty is nine-tenths imaginary, exactly like his love of sense, justice and truth. - H.L. Mencken

    by two roads on Tue May 20, 2008 at 03:31:22 PM PDT

    •  Agreed! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      esquimaux, two roads

      I've been to Oktoberfest twice and both times was struck by the behaviour of the Germans.

      10s of thousands of Germans go to the Theresienwiese every evening.  And around 10:00 pm they get up, go home and go to work the next day.

      The only people I've seen totally plowed or starting fights has been fellow Americans.

      Results count for more than intentions do.

      by VA Classical Liberal on Tue May 20, 2008 at 03:38:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I still like 21. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mia Dolan

    As someone who has had a family member killed by a drunk driver, I think that 21 is a pretty good age.  With age comes maturity and makes responsible decision-making much more likely.  I realize that people of any age can make stupid choices, but I just really feel like the older you are the more you realize how your stupid choices can impact the lives of other people.

    I misspelled, in front of the whole school, the word 'failure.' - Dwight Schrute

    by mnleger on Tue May 20, 2008 at 03:33:24 PM PDT

    •  Well in that case (0+ / 0-)

      you'd better make it 35.  Or at least 23, to make sure the individual has been out of college and having to live with the consequences of his/her decisions for a year.  There's nothing magical about 21.  Oh, except for the combination of Three and Seven.  But 23, following the Law of Fives, has it trumped.  And 35, which adds up to Eight, is far more stable.

  •  Europe (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bronx59, cs

    Philosophically I'd abolish the minimum age but practically speaking I know that is not going to happen.

    I do want to acknowledge that Europe has much lower minimum age than US (I should know having drunk my way across Europe as a teenager - even spent a night in jail).  However, very few teens have access to cars like American teens, and more people in Europe use public transit or walk to the pub, so DUI is not nearly as bad as it is here.  That has to be one big factor why the age here is higher.  

    But there is no excuse for not lowering to 18.  The idea that an 18 year old can go to Iraq with a "license to kill" (under rules of engagement) but when they come home they can't buy a pack of cigarettes or enjoy a beer in their own home is absolutely ludicrous.

    I'm indifferent to rule by a single tyrant 3000 miles away or 3000 tyrants one mile away.

    by Ken Bank on Tue May 20, 2008 at 03:33:28 PM PDT

    •  Lower ages (0+ / 0-)

      don't work, the problems with youth binge drinking in the UK are chronic.

      If you think pissed up 18 year olds are a good thing, visit a town in the UK on Friday night. We have real problems.

      The debate in this country is how to police alcohol better, ensuring young people don't get their hands on it, and when they do, to educate them not to drink to excess.

      The rest of Europe I dunno, but the UK experience is a bad one

      •  That's a UK problem (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bronx59, cynndara, cs

        Mostly boiled down from the ridiculous 11 PM closing times that encouraged a binge drinking culture. (I know that changed a few years ago, but it will still take time for the culture to change.)

        Belgium has pretty much the most relaxed pub hours in Europe, and doesn't have many of those problems.

        They do have DUI problems, but then again, Belgium didn't have driving tests until the mid seventies, so there is some culture to turn around on the responsible driving front.

        Americans now spend a higher percentage of their income on basics like food and energy than at any time since recordkeeping started in the 1960s.

        by Calouste on Tue May 20, 2008 at 03:58:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  if our society wasn't the way it is (0+ / 0-)

    i'd be all for it. otherwise, nah. i don't want to share my bars with kids.

    Central PA Kossacks"Obama can hope all over me!" Si se fucking puede!

    by terrypinder on Tue May 20, 2008 at 03:36:55 PM PDT

  •  I'd support it being lowered to around 16 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cs

    Abolishing it entirely would mean that school kids could walk into any store and buy alcohol without their parents knowing it. 15 and under, alcohol in and of itself is probably a bad thing, just chemically and physically. But I think if we can trust you to drive, we should be able to trust you to drink. Of course, drunk driving at any age is really bad, and if you make that mistake at 16, you should lose your driver's license until you're at least 18.

  •  What is the safe level of alcohol (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    karmsy

    in the brain of a child/teen whose brain is still developing?  bBains, physiologically, are not mature until the mid 20's.

    Until that is determined by research, there is no reason to consider lowering the age at which alcohol use is legal.

    •  The brain (0+ / 0-)

      is a biological organ of great potential and plasticity.  It continues to grow and develop, making new connections and with them forging new insights, until the onset of deteriorative processes due to advancing age.  So if you want to make the dividing line a point where the brain "stops developing", you would be looking for the point where overall growth is overshadowed by overall senescence.

      Now, are you saying that we shouldn't be allowed to drink until we start going senile?

  •  You raise a fascinating discussion. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cynndara

    I am going to tell my own story as a case-in-point, unsure what "moral," if any, it has.

    I grew up in a basically alcohol-free household. In my entire youth, I think I recall my mother taking one drink, on a special occasion--a sweet liquer, in a relative's livingroom, it may have been. My father, in all my growing years, might have put away 3 drinks, of which I was ever aware.  

    On the one hand, I was not exposed in my growing years to "healthy," sensible, responsible alcohol use. On the other hand, I didn't see consumption role-modeled negatively, e.g., binges, or to escape life problems, or difficult emotional states.

    Alcohol has been one of those things left to me to discover entirely on my own, in adulthood. I really came into my own as a regular drinker, at about age 30, when I lived alone in a studio apartment with picture windows and a sumptuous hill view. I worked a reasonably stressful job. I loved to come home and pour a glass of wine and "unwind," gazing out at those hills. I did this almost every evening.

    While I enjoy drinking very much, I think I've done quite well, drinking in a controlled way, ever since. I love good beer and good wine, and the odd mixed drink. But my consumption virtually never exceeds one glass of anything in a given 24-hour period. That's just my natural "brakes": I do not like the way more makes me feel.

    Drinking, like sex, should be basically a pleasure. It should be pursued responsibly, so it's enjoyed with few "drawbacks."

    •  I'm in the same boat... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      karmsy

      No alcohol until 25 or so, and then I began to enjoy a glass of wine (or two) in the evening.  But let me describe my friend's household...
      He has three sons, the first of whom enjoyed beer (at the bar) at age four.  Honest... I have a photo.  The three boys always accompanied the grownups to social gatherings, and were always allowed to try whatever beer or wine the grown-ups were drinking.  And we always drank good beer (John Courage, yum!) or good wine.
      Now, the three boys never get drunk, are always aware of what they're drinking, and always appreciate a good bottle of beer or glass of wine.  They arrived at my state-of-mind fully fifteen years earlier than I did... they're the oldest twenty-somethings I know.
      So, my vote is for eliminating the drinking age for young adults in the company of their parents.  If the parents start acting irresponsibly (by ordering double manhattans "up" for their kids) then they should be cut off.

      Don't be a DON'T-DO... Be a DO-DO!

      by godwhataklutz on Tue May 20, 2008 at 05:25:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Lower, with Moderation (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    karmsy, Bronx59, cs

    I came of (drinking) age at an American high school in the UK, where the drinking age is, for all practical purposes, 18. For the precise among us, it's a hard line of 18, or 16 when purchased in the dining area of a pub and with food - but in most cases if you looked remotely 18 most pubs would serve you.

    After my first year there, it was always interesting hanging out at the local pub for the first month of school. Each year, you'd see the crop of new kids (and being an international school, this was a non-negligible number) getting wasted off their asses for the first few weeks of school, and then once they realized that you didn't do that in London (getting wasted was connoted with lower-class public-housing kids, as opposed to "cool" and "adventurous" high-school kids like it was in the US), they calmed down to a civilized, moderated level of drinking.

    When asked about it (the school newspaper did a survey), most kids made the point that getting very drunk no longer had the "cool kids" connotation to it that it did in the US, and the "forbidden fruit" aspect of it was gone - so they, for the most part, drank what tasted good (alcopops) and only did it to the degree that made them feel the way they wanted to, as opposed to naturally going to excess.

    From my time there, a few observations:

    A lower drinking age leads to a huge proliferation of seriously sweet alcopops, which are dangerous because you can't taste the alcohol at all in them. Most of these things tasted like Minute-Maid, and had more than a beer's worth of booze in them - meaning that younger kids will have like four or five of them, and only then notice that they're loaded more than they wanted to be. At younger ages, alcohol is pretty selective (in that you need to be a certain age to learn to like the tastes of various type of alcohols), but alcopops totally blow this.

    There really isn't anything like the MADD lobby in Europe, since most kids don't have cars. Gas is expensive, public transport is great, and there's always a bar near your house. Thus, DUI levels aren't really a part of the European debate on drinking ages. It's counterpart, however, is fighting in public - which seems to happen a whole lot more in Europe (especially England) than in North America.

    The impact a younger drinking age has is strongly correlated with class, to a level that we don't see over here. Seeing as it's possible to get a 2L bottle of 10% cider for like five bucks, you regularly see underprivileged kids on housing estates binge drinking at 14 or so - the shop keepers around these estates turn a bind eye since they know their markets.

    So what do I think about the age? Drop it to 18 - if you can join the Army and vote, you may as well be able to toast the two of those things. In parallel, however, strongly regulate the sale of alcopops; if kids are drinking, they should be able to taste the alcohol so that they know what they're having. And increase the penalties for drunk driving, including a push for a more accurate breathalyzer.

    AT&T offers exciting work for recent graduates in computer science. Pick up the phone, call your mom, and ask for an application.

    by Scipio on Tue May 20, 2008 at 03:53:25 PM PDT

  •  I grew up with 18 to drink (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cynndara

    ...also, American's had an entirely different attitude about drinking. My dad used to drive around with an open beer every weekend...no one was horrified. Seat belts were optional on cars and I don't think car seats for infants were even invented.

    Anyway, everyone I knew in our blue collar neighborhood had tried booze with their parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles by the time they were 10. Not 'got drunk with', I mean 'drank with'.

    We were always allowed a sip or two of whatever our parents were drinking. I have some memories of sitting in a pub with my parents and twirling on the bar stools with other neighborhood kids, drinking our sodas.

    In high school in the 1970's it was all about pot anyway. Driver's license' didn't even have a picture! Just a description ht/wt and DOB. Every one had at least one older brother or sister who was 18 and who would share their ID for buying booze. Still, I don't remember too many falling down drunk episodes by the time we were all seniors in high school.

    We were too busy dancing DISCO in the bars we went to. HA!

    I have always thought that raising the drinking age was folly. It only encouraged binge drinking and didn't address the reality that nearly everyone drinks before they are 18 anyway. It's like outlawing sex. Good luck.

    •  I am told (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      karmsy

      that here in MT the open container law was only passed a few months before I arrived in 2006.  This law is blatantly disregarded outside of the towns, and MT is nothing but miles and miles of open road, dotted with little towns.  Drinking daily and doing so while driving is pretty much cultural here...

      No politician ever lost an election by underestimating the intelligence of the American public. PT Barnum, paraphrased...

      by jarhead5536 on Tue May 20, 2008 at 04:00:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Raise the Drinking Age (0+ / 0-)

    In youth, each age group admires, envies, and tries to emulate the age group just above them.

    So raise the drinking age to Twenty-eight.

    By that age, most people have jobs and marriages and their taste in music is way out of date. They're boring.

    The teen and college crowds will have no wish to emulate them, or their use of alcohol.

    Now... what about pot?

  •  Good diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cs

    When I spent some time in Germany I didn't really notice a difference between how their high school kids drank and how we drank in my small midwestern town but, as other have mentioned, the biggest difference was that none of them would drive.  Their parents would drop them off at the parties and the kids would get a cab ride home and it was no big deal whereas we were always trying to hide it from our parents and that often meant driving home drunk.

    Part of me thinks it is so ingrained in our culture that allowing 18 year olds to buy alcohol would only make things worse but I also recognize that setting the age at 21 is completely ineffective.  I'd rather see parents knowing what their kids are doing and making sure they're making safer decisions instead of just trying to keep it away from them altogether because it just doesn't work.  I like the lower drinking age, higher driving age idea also.

  •  I mostly agree. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bronx59

    Though, I'd still have minimum age for purchasing. 18.

    But as far as drinking... make that a parenting thing. I think that I'd much rather have my 16 yr old son drinking a beer with me, than try to sneak around and get ahold of the stuff.

    Hell, I may even insist. Nothing can be any more uncool than that... he'll never want to touch the shit.

  •  Drinking age & Military service age should match (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cs

    If kids can die, they should be able to walk into a liquor store and make an honest purchase.

  •  I don't know how old you are, Mouse, (0+ / 0-)

    BUT the drinking age in the 70s and 80s was 18.  There were so many alcohol related driving accidents and deaths deaths that it had to be upped to 21 again.
    The brain has not reached full maturity at 18 and kids make bad decisions.  It is best, imo, to leave it at 21.  I am 70-something and it was 21 when I came of age.  Kids were drinking when I was in high school, me too, but it wasn't as wide spread as it became when it was made legal at 18.  Leave well enough alone.

    The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all - JFK- 5/18/63-Vanderbilt Univ.

    by oibme on Tue May 20, 2008 at 04:43:49 PM PDT

    •  True, but you have to look at other things (0+ / 0-)
      1.  The 70s had 35-60 cent a gallon gas for much of the decade and decent used cars for $200-$500, so it was easier for young people to own their own vehicles with less parental control.
      1.  The law has to be enforceable.  Keeping alcohol illegal for college age people just makes the law look stupid and arbitrary, reducing respect for the rule of law in general.  

      My vote is for 19.

      We are ALWAYS underdogs. The other side has infinite funds, skulduggery, domination of the media and legal system, and an electoral college advantage.

      by Bronx59 on Tue May 20, 2008 at 04:53:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually I'm notably older than that. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bronx59

        But I'll leave it at that.

      •  That is so not true. People in those days (0+ / 0-)

        were making about 1/10 of what they make today.  Not many kids in that generation had cars.  I have 2 boomer kids and they didn't have cars in high school and neither did any of their peers.  We lived in an upscale suburb.
        The reason the age was decreased to begin with, was the Vietnam War where 18 year olds could be drafted and die in the War, but they couldn't vote or drink.
        These current wars are staffed only by volunteers, so that argument doesn't fly, that they can die for their country so they should be able to drink.  Since kids can enlist at 17, it follows then that the drinking age should be lowered to 17.

        The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all - JFK- 5/18/63-Vanderbilt Univ.

        by oibme on Wed May 21, 2008 at 08:56:11 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I grew up in NYC and had friends with own cars (0+ / 0-)

          I considered (and had enough money) at 19, but had sufficient access to my father's car.

          We are ALWAYS underdogs. The other side has infinite funds, skulduggery, domination of the media and legal system, and an electoral college advantage.

          by Bronx59 on Wed May 21, 2008 at 05:35:13 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I'm getting tired (0+ / 0-)

      of this "brain has not reached full maturity" thing.

      The brain does just fine, thank you, at fairly young ages.  The problem with 15-20 year olds is mainly HORMONES, as well as lack of experience compounded by the profound ignorance which our society likes to fantasize as "innocence".

      Fifteen year olds in other cultures and throughout history have been far more mature and capable than American teenagers.  This stems in part from being trained to GROW UP faster, in part from earlier regularization of sexuality (MARRIAGE, rather than five to ten years of porn movies and Playboy magazines), and in part from being given adult rights and responsibilities at an earlier age.  It has nothing to do with the capability of the brain.  It has to do with the training and expectations that provide young people with the tools necessary to act like adults, and the social necessity to do so.

      Alexander the Great led his first major military expedition when he was sixteen and inherited direct political responsibility for half of the Balkans and an army of 40,000 men when he was twenty.  His BRAIN was no more or less developed than any other young man's at those ages, but he was trained to use it instead of waste it.  And he was drinking wine of about 10% alcohol content from the time he was twelve or thirteen, like every other Makedonian teenager.  He was however well into his mid-twenties the night he got flaming drunk and killed one of his oldest friends in a fit of drunken paranoia.  His victim was nearly old enough to be Alexander's father, but still managed to have such poor judgment as to storm back into the party yelling insults at a King after having been forcibly evicted ten minutes previously.  Brain development was not noticeably improved by his superior age, and there is no historical evidence suggesting he had reached the point of senility, being in the range of 40-50 years old.

      Going on fifty myself, I have no desire to be young and stupid again. But what additional "development", maturity and wisdom I have gained since that age comes from EXPERIENCE, not some mythical point of developmental maturity.

  •  If I hadn't worked on a college campus (0+ / 0-)

    for so long, if I hadn't seen so damn many kids maimed in so many different ways because they were drunk who wouldn't have done what they did if they were sober...I might agree with this.

    But I have seen them.  The girl with brain damage from the fall off the roof, the two good friends who weren't even sure who was driving the motorcycle and who both ended up permanently disabled, the kid who found out the 15th-story windows weren't unbreakable.  Worse things.

    I waver between making the drinking age 30 and banning it altogether.  

    "Republicans are poor losers and worse winners." - My grandmother, sometime in the early 1960s

    by escapee on Tue May 20, 2008 at 06:26:58 PM PDT

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site