One Keg Wonder

Schools across the country have joined the Amethyst Initiative - a super-secret underground syndicate whose sole purpose is to undermine underage criminals everywhere by making the vice that dare not speak its name legal once more. I speak, of course, of drinking at 18. This is a real group - I wish I were kidding about the name - isn't it terrible?

Anyway, I'd love to see some hard data before throwing my support behind it. Of course, that kind of data is nearly impossible to come by. Sure, there are other countries where kids drink at 18, but then there are countries where they drink at 16, and the driving ages are different, and as are the cultural attitudes about drinking. The variables are so hard to control that anything more than anecdotal evidence is unlikely.

As a matter of principle, I am for this. If nothing else, it'd be nice to have a single age of majority. It is absurd to give a person a gun and a vote, but claim that he or she isn't responsible enough to drink.

Second, it isn't technically true that there is a uniform drinking age. States provide exceptions.

Finally, this initiative is cute, but it might be harder to do than it seems. I understand that the original drinking age was 18 and was upped to 21 when the federal government conditioned federal highway funds on states changing their laws in the National Underage Drinking Act of 1984. Getting states to change their laws is one thing - you can start small - but you'll have to start at the federal level because no state is going to take a hit on the highway funds for this. Getting Congress to fight MADD and the negative press on this will be nearly impossible.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is a good example of something which has led me to embrace Federalism - I think that the age of majority is a state issue, and the Federal government should not regulate behavior which is so obviously not an interstate matter.

And I think that we should only have one age for majority in general: drinking, driving, smoking, voting, marriage, gun ownership, military service, etc. The historical reasons why these have been treated differently don't make much sense any more.