culture economics

The Drinking age

A recent article in the Baltimore Sun (here) talks about how a bunch of university presidents want to lower the drinking age back down to 18. They have a handful of reasons. Binge drinking is a problem, but so are the activities that students do to avoid being caught on campus. Students go off campus to drink, and that is going to involve driving… One over-riding concern is that since drinking below the age of 21 is illegal, the college’s hands are pretty much tied when it comes to education. They can’t be real aggressive in outreach because it will look like they are encouraging under age drinking.

To me, this is the biggest problem with not only alcohol, but all drugs. Kids do all of them, but to come out and talk to them about it often makes some parents upset. There is an eerie parallel with birth control here… One thing that I did not know is that there is no national drinking age. Congress cleverly attached an “incintive” to the transportation bill. The states don’t “have to” have a drinking age of 21, but if they don’t they lose 10 percent of the money…

Anyway, I’m not sure that lowering the drinking age is a good thing or not. Certainly, there are, like all laws, unintended consequences that come along with this law. It would be a good idea to look into options, including lowering the drinking age. A big problem is that it is political suicide to even bring that up in many places. So we’re not likely to ever know if lowering the drinking age could alleviate the problems or not…

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