Patterico's Pontifications

8/19/2008

The Amethyst Initiative

Filed under: Education — DRJ @ 11:40 am



[Guest post by DRJ]

The Amethyst Initiative was launched to rethink the drinking age. Its founder and supporters are all college chancellors and presidents:

“Launched in July 2008, the Amethyst Initiative is made up of chancellors and presidents of universities and colleges across the United States. These higher education leaders have signed their names to a public statement that the 21 year-old drinking age is not working, and, specifically, that it has created a culture of dangerous binge drinking on their campuses.

The Amethyst Initiative supports informed and unimpeded debate on the 21 year-old drinking age. Amethyst Initiative presidents and chancellors call upon elected officials to weigh all the consequences of current alcohol policies and to invite new ideas on how best to prepare young adults to make responsible decisions about alcohol use.”

Amethyst Initiative supporters include over 100 chancellors and presidents, most of whom represent private liberal arts colleges. The list includes the Presidents of Duke, Dartmouth and the Ohio State University. The Initiative’s Statement of principles clearly shows the supporters believe the drinking age should be lowered.

However, there are a range of opinions on the legal drinking age:

“Raising the drinking age to 21 was passed with the very best of intentions, but it’s had the very worst of outcomes,” said David J. Hanson, an alcohol policy expert at the State University of New York-Potsdam. “Just like during national Prohibition, the law has pushed and forced underage drinking and youthful drinking underground, where we have no control over it.”

But Mark Rosenker, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, countered: “Why would we repeal or weaken laws that save lives? It doesn’t make sense.”

The response to the Amethyst Initiative has also been mixed.

Here’s an interesting bit of trivia from MSNBC — There is no federal law that sets a minimum age for drinking. Instead, laws are set by each state:

“As it happens, there is no such thing as a “federal legal drinking age.” Many states do not expressly prohibit minors from drinking alcohol, although most of those do set certain conditions, such as its use in a religious ceremony or in the presence of a parent or other guardian.

The phrase refers instead to a patchwork of state laws adopted in the mid-1980s under pressure from Congress, which threatened in 1984 to withhold 10 percent of federal highway funds from states that did not prohibit selling alcohol to those under the age of 21. By 1988, 49 states had complied; after years of court fights, Louisiana joined the crowd in 1995.”

The MSNBC link has more information on how the laws vary among the states.

— DRJ

63 Responses to “The Amethyst Initiative”

  1. I read this as the Absinthe Initiative the first time through. It made the idea seem a bit more humorous.

    JD (75f5c3)

  2. I am all for this initiative, but there is pretty much no way that any politicians are going to buck the powerful MADD lobby and lower the drinking age.

    JVW (d54fc4)

  3. Aside from the merits of a debate on an appropriate drinking age, this initiative is an attempt to surface a shibboleth to rally the youth vote this election cycle. 4 years ago it was fear the draft would sweep up all the young folks, and force them to kill babies in foreign lands.

    The so-called “Ametehyst Initiative” (what’s up with that nomenclature?) lets Bambi pander at schools and colleges all over the country, and puts the old guy in the position of standing in the door to the liquor store.

    What a pack of disingenuous jerks these “higher education leaders” are. The tip-off is they think legal access to booze for teenagers is going to help prevent binge dirinking. That’s a hoot!

    Ropelight (4a83c9)

  4. Surely there are ways to compare harm caused in Louisiana by underaged drinking to harm caused in other states; right now all I’m seeing are anecdotes, opinions and feelings. My opinion, based upon the anecdotal evidence of living in Brighton, MA (BC undergrad central) is that nothing could be worse than college students drinking as much and as quickly as possible under the theory that they could be busted any minute.

    brobin (c07c20)

  5. under the theory that they could be busted any minute.

    Do you really believe that is the only reason college students binge drink?

    JD (75f5c3)

  6. Ropelight is on to something, I think.

    I don’t know why we couldn’t lower the drinking age in 4 states for 4 years and watch the results. It sure would have saved us a fortune when they changed the lending laws to allow multiple incomes to qualify for a mortgage. If they had tried that one out hopefully it would have become apparent that houses were not getting “more affordable” under the new rules.

    tyree (32022e)

  7. #5, JD,

    No, college students binge drink for lots of reasons, chief among them is they’re too young and inexperienced to know any better.

    Recall the words of Bob Dylan: You went to the finest schools, alright, Miss Lonely, but you know you only used ta get juiced in it. (or something pretty close)

    Ropelight (4a83c9)

  8. I am not advocating either position. The drinking age being 21 did not keep me from drinking in high school. Nor did the drinking age at 21 keep from from becoming a bastard alcoholic later in life.

    JD (75f5c3)

  9. Ropelight #7 they’re too young and inexperienced to know any better.

    But at 18 they’re considered adults under the law for any other purpose. IOW, they’re accountable for their actions. There’s no magical age for intelligent and experienced behavior. Accountability needs reinstatement in this country, not protection.

    One other problem is that the current drinking age of 21 places the freshman, sophomores and some juniors on college campuses in contact with legal drinking age seniors and older juniors. It is impossible to keep lowerclassmen from drinking when this mixed atmosphere exists. You will have binge drinking, you might as well make people accountable for their actions.

    Apogee (366e8b)

  10. To say that there is no federal drinking age law, because all the feds do is withhold money for those that do not have a 21 year old minimum is like saying that armed robbers do not use force in their line of work. After all, they let you have the choice of “your money or your life.”

    PaulB (cb7244)

  11. I don’t know, I see this like I do our child obesity epidemic. Thankfully there are no laws against children from over stuffing their young faces. But when we are talking about alcohol, if they were to imbibe with the same fervor that they do with fast food, now they could be effecting my life and family’s life by driving a bike or a car into my path.

    Oiram (983921)

  12. #9, Apogee,

    I see your points, and I expecially like the part about making “people accountable for their actions.”

    But it’s somewhat like asking: Who is going to bell the cat? There just isn’t much in the way of evidence for accountability among college students. That’s not a surprise either, since there’s little or no accountability among faculty, or administration for that matter.

    Ropelight (4a83c9)

  13. While I look at many of these sorts of arguments like I do with firearms and smoking … I don’t own/use any, but understand why people feel they do … I find this Amethyst Initiative as a way for college and universities presidents to “wash their hands” of a “conduct/legal issue” at their colleges and universities. It’s a sort of “Pontius Pilate in Academia” solution to a problem that has been placed in their laps, that is really a social development skill, something that colleges and universities used to consider part of their mission.

    Neo (cba5df)

  14. It’s a state by state issue. This kind of issue should have nothing at all to do with the federal government, and any transportation fund requirements otherwise should be canceled.

    The issue cuts both ways. 18 year old kids are very stupid and irresponsible, but kids drink regardless of the law and it’s better if it’s visible before a car accident.

    I think letting each state look at its own needs and letting us see a diverse set of ideas would be for the best.

    Juan (4cdfb7)

  15. YES! Lower the drinking age to 18. Then we will NEVER have alcohol problems on COLLEGE Campuses. The younger students will be the model of restraint just as the 21 year-olds are!

    But then on HIGH SCHOOL campuses, as the 18 y/o seniors buy booze for the others, a new “forbidden fruit” drinking problem will occur. So then, we will need to lower the age to 14!

    But then, on Middle School campuses…..

    Teflon Dad (6631cf)

  16. Remember, in 1984 our good friends the Nanny-State Democrats wrote this into the Highway Act.
    Probably hid it in one of those multi-thousand page Omnibus Bills so Reagan would have to accept it, if the WH was even aware of it, or cared.

    Another Drew (061d78)

  17. Drew, Reagan knew Voting-Underthe-Influenceof-Intoxicants would decrease, leading to more conservatives getting elected.

    Teflon Dad (6631cf)

  18. Another Drew (#16): unfortunately the Dems were pretty open about this bill back in 1984 (and the Republicans controlled the Senate in those days, so they are equally to blame) and Reagan knew full well what he was signing. Perhaps Reagan, being the child of an alcoholic, thought this was good legislation.

    JVW (d54fc4)

  19. Teflon Dad #15 – I drank in High School (Not on campus, but at parties), and it wasn’t necessary for the high school seniors to provide me with alcohol, and the drinking age was 21. Alcohol was prohibited on campus, but it didn’t stop several teachers from keeping a bottle of hooch in their desks.

    No one is arguing that dropping the age to 18 will eliminate problems with alcohol. In fact, anyone selling that idea is being dishonest. It will, however, put the burden of responsibility on the drinker. Not the wholesaler, not the manufacturer, not the bar, not the campus, and not ‘society’. The legal adult (18) is responsible for his or her actions. Period.

    As for the slippery slope of needing to allow 14 year olds to drink – There is a cutoff of 18 due to the fact that the overwhelming majority of laws in this country treat an adult as an 18 year old. The choice of 18 was not arbitrary.

    As for colleges and universities washing their hands of the responsibility for their students. Their students are legal adults, and as I’ve said before, some are 21. They cannot restrict alcohol from the 21 year-olds, and so the legal/illegal mixture creates an atmosphere that will result eventually in a legal challenge against the university to hold them ‘accountable’ for the actions of individuals who, in most every other way, are legal adults.

    Sorry, to me this smacks of blaming gun manufacturers for criminal acts committed by individuals with the manufacturers product.

    And as for universities banning alcohol completely, as private ones could legally choose to do – you might want to talk to the alumni donors first, as they’re usually the big drinkers.

    Apogee (366e8b)

  20. Two points:

    1) “Mark Rosenker, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, countered: “Why would we repeal or weaken laws that save lives? It doesn’t make sense.””

    Does he have any data to back this assertion, and how good are his numbers if he does? Just asking.

    2) We tell 18 year olds that they are adults. Are they or are they not? If they are, then the 21 year drinking age is an affront. If they aren’t, why do they get to vote? Because they can be drafted into a war? Then why can’t they drink? It would seem that they had a reason to do so.

    The 21 year drinking age stems from the idea that NONE of us – save a very few Enlightened People with the Right Ideas – are really adults in the old sense, and the State (Run by the Enlightened) must take care of us. If it had ever worked as advertised, there might be an argument for it.

    C. S. P. Schofield (eaaf98)

  21. Everyone drinks underage. Finally someone supports it. If the age is lowered I can finally stop worrying that I’m going to end up on CollegeClickTV.com drunkenly rambling about my Linguistics professor.

    Ashley (9a87ec)

  22. C.S.P #20 – Agreed. This seems very arbitrary. Perhaps the age of the legal adult should be raised to 21, and then voting, drinking ,gambling, firearms and military service would be off-limits until then.

    If that were to happen, what do you tell that 19 1/2 year old serving in Afghanistan or Iraq? “Thanks for the service, kid, now come back when you’re old enough.”

    Apogee (366e8b)

  23. 18 year olds binge drink because they only have sporadic access to booze in college… namely when the 21 year olds are around.

    Make the drinking age 18, and watch… 15 and 16 year olds will be your new binge drinkers because the same thing will happen…

    Oh, and enjoy the spike in date-rape as the 18 year old gets the 14 year old freshman hammered…

    Scott Jacobs (a1c284)

  24. Open Letter to the Signatories:

    As a parent of two sons recently graduated from Bowdoin, I am personally indifferent to your initiative, announced in the national press today, which calls for a ‘national debate’ over reducing the drinking age to 18.

    As a lawyer who is deeply concerned about the hundreds of students who have died or been raped as the direct result of drinking on college campuses over the past few years, your initiative is very calculating and even a little shameful.

    Certainly one way to avoid the onslaught of liability recently visited on deserving colleges as the resultof such deaths and rapes is to put the law on your side, right? If this is what your initiative is about, I find it incredibly callous and phony, not to mention immoral.

    Simply put, the law is changing around the country as we speak as regards the duty of colleges, both under common law and under Federal and State statutes, to take effective and continuous steps to provide an educational environment which is safe from the ravages of criminal behavior (in the form of rape) or death (in the form of intoxication or accident), all directly related to drinking in dorms or fraternities. Your signatories know that they are no longer safe in simply producing a nice sounding policy, holding a few information sessions or even declaring their campuses “alcohol free”. Current trends show that colleges are being held accountable, as they should, under Title IX and under tort and contract theory, to effectively preserve the bargain they create with parents and incoming students – that is, the creation and maintenance of a safe campus.

    Sophomoric indifference and casual neglect by college administrators and ‘security’ personal to blatant, persistent and destructive violation of campus drinking policies regrettably remain the norm, not the aberration in the nation. It has taken hundreds of deaths and rapes, as noted, and concerned parents and advocates to expose this and hold parties accountable.

    Thus, national fraternities and their local chapters are now routinely sued for negligence and failure to supervise and enforce their own standards regarding drinking. Why? Because they have been found accountable in several courts for the deaths of their pledges and members. People had to die on fraternity floors before people with the ability and resources to change this behavior began to notice.

    Similarly, deans and other administrators are currently the direct targets of suit when women are raped or students drink themselves to death. The law is beginning to recognize that the ability to prevent harm on college campuses resulting from drinking is real – several prudent institutions, with the help of consultants, students, parents, fraternities and alumni have stepped up to the plate and taken effective and continuous steps to prevent harm. As more of these colleges ‘do the right thing’, those who don’t will suffer from the failure to perform their duties to prevent such harm. As the standards for care change, and they are changing rapidly in courts, colleges which ignore their duty and ability to prevent deaths and rape associated with drinking will suffer and possibly even close.

    From my simple perspective, whether 18 is the right age for drinking on a farm in Michigan is not even remotely within the same realm of discourse as whether 18 year old freshman should be drinking in dormitories in Middlebury. All of your signatories know well that an 18 year old, in terms of judgment and overall behavior, is far more susceptible to engaging in drinking abuse than a 22 year old senior. If this is not the case, why do hundreds of colleges take special precautions regarding the behavior of freshman?

    In spite of this, you wish to ‘have a national dialogue’ about allowing these Freshman to drink, legally, in your dormitories. This is a thinly veiled attempt, in my view, to either shield yourselves from the changes in the law mentioned above or to simply excuse the current profound lethargy among college administrators vis a vis existing alcohol policies.

    Instead of embracing a transparent ‘dialogue’, why don’t you all sign on to a national uniform standard of effective protection of students from death and rape? For example, why haven’t you all come up with a uniform policy for adoption by all colleges which is Title IX compliant AND which is matched by a follow on national program of monitoring, grading and reporting as to effectiveness? I think I know why – it is cheaper and easier to ignore that which is creeping up on you.

    I tell you that long before the law is changed, college after college will be justly accused and found responsible for the plague of drinking-related deaths and rapes on campuses. In your own best interests, you should abandon this ‘dialogue’ and instead take immediate, collective and effective action to prevent alcohol-related tragedies.

    I am certainly cynical enough to know that none of you wish to be the guinea pig, that is, to tell all those affluent applicants that they won’t be able to drink. For example, what NESCAC school could recruit in hockey, football or lacrosse if it got out that the recruiting coach required the applicant to acknowledge and sign an alcohol policy? Oh, the humanity! However, in the long run for everyone, especially those 16-18 year olds who will die or be raped in 2010 on your campuses, it is time you got brave.

    john convery (c2e73a)

  25. Scott #23 – I don’t know what college you went to, but at the several I attended (changed majors mid-stream) ‘sporadic’ meant 24/7/365. One was a specialty engineering school, one was a JC, and one was a large private. There was never a time in my entire college career – from freshman to grad, that I couldn’t have procured alcohol almost immediately. I never said “man, I wish I could get a beer right now”

    I’m lucky, though, I get sick with too much and have to lay off for a couple days.

    Apogee (366e8b)

  26. #24,

    Thank you, john, you’ve added quite a bit of real information to the debate here. I was in school when they were still patting themselves on the back for getting rid of the “in loco parentis” guidelines which were then thought so onerous.

    I live about 2 hours from my old school and sometimes think about spending an afternoon walking around on the campus and chatting with current students there. I’ve taken several courses at the local community college in my neighborhood and have been impressed, in general, with the youngsters there.

    Anyway, thanks again. You made me think about the issue more deeply.

    Ropelight (4a83c9)

  27. As a lawyer who is deeply concerned about the hundreds of students who have died or been raped as the direct result of drinking on college campuses over the past few years. . .

    You wouldn’t perchance be a plaintiff’s attorney who has represented the families of these students, would you?

    Similarly, deans and other administrators are currently the direct targets of suit when women are raped or students drink themselves to death.

    Because God forbid someone with empty pockets should be held responsible for their bad behavior. Better to go where the money is at, eh counselor?

    JVW (d54fc4)

  28. “As it happens, there is no such thing as a “federal legal drinking age.”

    Yes and no. While there is no specific law, Federal Highway funding holds the states hostage to the 21 benchmark. They lose a portion of the funding if they don’t comply. The following is from a 1984 article in National Restaurant News entitled, Congress ties national drinking age to highway funds

    “States which fail to establish 21 as their minimum drinking age within two years will lose 5% of their Federal highway assistance during the third year, and 10% during the fourth.”
    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m3190/is_v18/ai_3352551

    This is how Congress chips away at states’ rights.

    Corky Boyd (af3d74)

  29. #24 college after college will be justly accused and found responsible for the plague of drinking-related deaths and rapes on campuses.

    Why stop there? I’m sure you wouldn’t want to be discriminatory here. If it’s discovered that an apartment building owner has rented to 19 year olds, and that a rape has transpired in that rented apartment, shouldn’t then the owner be liable for failing to provide a secure environment? One thing’s for certain, we know that the actual rapists can’t be blamed.

    I’ve been drunk before, and it didn’t lead to rape. Ever. The deliberate confusion of the mindset necessary to physically force oneself on another party with the desire for the consumption of alcohol seems to imply that ‘demon liquor’ is causing people to behave in ways that they would not without the addition of the substance. I argue that it may make it easier for rapists to rape, but it doesn’t turn the Pope into Satan. Regardless, the behavior is the responsibility of the actor, not some third party. We no longer blame liquor for drunk driving deaths. We blame the driver, and the law recognizes that the choice to drive intoxicated is premeditation.

    The ‘anyone but the actor’ attitude only serves to exacerbate the issues of the people who claim to be deeply concerned about the hundreds of students who have died or been raped as the direct result of drinking on college campuses over the past few years, as it lets off the hook the very persons involved in the criminal acts. There are social aspects of the communal living arrangements that constitute a collegiate atmosphere that are ignored, mainly that groups of people, no matter what age, will act differently due to social pressures than they would normally. It is this part of the collegiate experience that’s glossed over completely, and is most likely a far bigger influence on behavior than the alcohol by itself. It is also a part of the human experience of socialization.

    To punish well intentioned, stable young students with a system of Orwellian restrictions based on the behavior of a few individuals, simply because we as a society are afraid to deal with actual accountability and responsibility seems to me to completely remove the central idea of education. College is not just for the memorization of facts and formulas. It’s goal is to make students think for themselves, both in and out of the classroom. You cannot do that when someone else is thinking (and acting) for you.

    Apogee (366e8b)

  30. #23

    Scott,

    What you say may be right. Probably is, to some degree. Which brings me back to MY central question; are 18 year olds adults, or not? If they are, the 21 year drinking age is a mistake. If they aren’t, then the 18 year voting age is. Pick one.

    And while we are at it, if we are going to hold colleges responsible for the bad behavior of college students, aren’t we more or less obligated to grant the colleges the authority to actually STOP such behavior? Can you imagine the uproar if colleges across the country started to expel students who drank, or used drugs, short of the usual “There was a drunken party and somebody got raped/dead” scandal?

    While we’re at it we could demand the return of single gender dorms and strict curfews too. College isn’t supposed to be about breeding as many STDS and bastards as humanly possible in four years.

    *sigh* I can dream, can’t I?

    C. S. P. Schofield (eaaf98)

  31. Can we follow the German model?
    Drinking beer/wine at 16.
    Driving at 18.

    kaf (80ae55)

  32. #31 Attempting to conquer Europe at 50.

    Apogee (366e8b)

  33. Apogee @ 29 – BRAVO !!!!

    JD (5f0e11)

  34. In general, I think the drinking age should be the age of majority; discriminating between adults on the basis of age is inappropriate.

    That said, it particularly irks me that soldiers below the age of 21 are not allowed to drink in some states.

    aphrael (6edd44)

  35. This election may change things. Eighteen to twenty-one year olds have the right to vote but have not been exercising it. If they show themselves to be a voting block, they may gain some political power. “I’m eighteen and I vote.”

    nk (3c7a86)

  36. We need to Sh*t or get off the pot. When is Adulthood in this country? My son can fight and die for his country, get married, vote and enter into binding contracts. But not drink? Please. Let’s all act like adults and be consistent.
    As a young man I was allowed to drink at 18. If I acted like a Putz, the adults around me told me so, cut me off and sent my (embarssingly) besotted a*s home. I learned. They will too.

    paul from fl (4dd8c4)

  37. MADD has some good ideas but after they accomplished most of their original agenda of getting more focus on drunk drivers, they decided that they would become the nanny’s of us all.

    They’ve gotten far beyond any rational policy positions.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  38. “Can you imagine the uproar if colleges across the country started to expel students who drank, or used drugs, short of the usual “There was a drunken party and somebody got raped/dead” scandal?”

    C.S.P. – They’re doing this kind of stuff now, including preventing kids from studying abroad if they have drinking offenses on their records. It is a very big brother nazi type environment on a lot of campuses due to the fear of litigation as exemplified by that letter from John above. The “My kid is not responsible for his/her behavior I don’t care what you say I’ll sue your ass off” attitude of a lot of parents has scared the crap out of a lot of school administrators.

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  39. Why is the discussion only about 18 or 21? It seems to me that one is too low and the other too high. If the age of drinking were 19, most college kids could drink, but not high school seniors.

    Rick (8e61bf)

  40. I was going to comment that this is not about public policy, it’s about postmodernist, averse-to-responsibility educrats fleeing from responsibility, accountability and liability.

    But I see John Convery swung at that same ball and whacked it pretty well in #24.

    When you see the ennui-wracked and responsibility-shy deans and presidents squaring off against the neoprohibitionist scolds from MADD, there’s only one sensible course of action: pop some popcorn.

    And tap a keg.

    Kevin R.C. O'Brien (88bf29)

  41. When I started paying tuition bills for my kids I did not see a line that said 24/7 babysitting, but apparently some parents expect that.

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  42. Our son’s university (40,000+ students) held orientation sessions for students and optional sessions for parents. At the parents’ orientation, several parents wanted the university to mail them copies of their child’s “report card” and they wanted the administration to call the parents if the child missed class.

    The staff patiently explained the practical and legal reasons why they couldn’t do that, but several parents could not be convinced that it was time for their children to be responsible for themselves. I thought it was surreal.

    I asked about it later and was told these incidents are common. Parents are so invested in hovering over their children that they have a name for it: Helicopter parents.

    DRJ (a5243f)

  43. Two comments:

    1. I worked in a very popular bar in Dallas during the 18 year old laws, and young people got drunk on their butts AND THEN DROVE. The legal drinking age is silly because….

    2. I live in Germany, where children 14 years old and up can drink beer. Usually this is done with some sort of parental supervision and driving here is for older kids who go through a lot of driver training to get a license. After the first few times of experiencing a hangover, most kids learn to drink responsibly. There are always those few who will be alcoholics regardless. In France, wine is considered food and children learn to drink at the table. Alcoholism and drunk driving are just not the big problem here as in USA. 18, 21, it doesn’t matter if children are not taught.

    Victoria Lucas (b57d2f)

  44. I hope MADD manages to spike this. Raising the drinking age to 21 had a pretty dramatic effect on alcohol-related automobile accidents. Why should the rest of us pay in blood to improve the lives of college students?

    Where I live, drunk college students tend to walk. They tend to puke on, urinate on, or destroy a whole lot of stuff in their staggering path, but they are on foot. High school student tend to drive. The thought of 16- and 17-year-olds being able to get unlimited access to alcohol through 18-year-old high-school seniors and college freshmen chills my blood. I saw that once. I don’t want to see it again.

    Ha'apai (e41b08)

  45. Great Britain has a drinking age of 18, if I recall correctly. Of course, it would be silly to use them as a model for the US. I mean really, they speak a for’n language and their schools are different, and oh, yeah. They have Round-Abouts. The horror.

    el (907e9c)

  46. @#30

    Which brings me back to MY central question; are 18 year olds adults, or not?

    Adults? Hell man, I barely think of them as people…

    By and large no, I don’t think they SHOULD be voting, but then again I could be talked into a voting age of 36 or so. Let the kid get out of college and into the real world where they actually pay taxes…

    And while we are at it, if we are going to hold colleges responsible for the bad behavior of college students, aren’t we more or less obligated to grant the colleges the authority to actually STOP such behavior

    Sure. I have long advocated the used of cattle prods to adjust the behavior of the ignorant masses. God knows I longed for a stun-gun in Econ 111 where little Johnny Q. Fucktard and his three buddies decided THAT was the time to talk about what skank they were sticking it in (not their word, mind you, but I’d seen a few of these girls… Not women of virture, I assure you). while sitting RIGHT behind me.

    That said, it particularly irks me that soldiers below the age of 21 are not allowed to drink in some states.

    It rather enrages me, and any 18-20 year old who can PROVE they are in the military can usually get me to buy the booze for them if they promise not to drive.

    They’ve gotten far beyond any rational policy positions.

    After my 5+ years of liscence revocation, and the mandated “special” insurance I have to have for at least a year once the State of Illinois decides to allow me to drive again, I shall also be enjoying that breath-a-lizer they make you have put in your car that you have to blow into before it will even let you START your car.

    I hate MADD. I hate them very, very much…

    Scott Jacobs (a1c284)

  47. el – I think that the State and Federal governments on this side of the pond should just take up every great idea that Great Britain, France, Germany, and the rest of the EU, come up with.

    JD (75f5c3)

  48. I think that the State and Federal governments on this side of the pond should just take up every great idea that Great Britain, France, Germany, and the rest of the EU, come up with.

    So when do we start burning cars on the streets of DC?

    Scott Jacobs (a1c284)

  49. Scott – We cannot do that until France has won a war.

    JD (75f5c3)

  50. JD – I like the idea of taking away the right to vote from 18 year olds. They are entirely too stupid. It would devastate the democratic party, however.

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  51. Scott – Just think, if you has still been in college, you could have held them responsible for your loss of license and increased insurance costs under the theories of john convery at #24 above, because you are not responsible for your actions.

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  52. I would love a no representation with taxation rule.

    It’s more than a bit unfair that people who do not pay any tax get to vote for populists who promise to give them the money of those that do. And this system greatly inflates spending when half the populace pays for virtually none of the federal government’s programs.

    If the House was elected only by those who pay taxes, things would improve in this country.

    Juan (4cdfb7)

  53. I’m pretty sure that 25 is past the cut off for “No clue what you are doing”… 🙂

    Scott Jacobs (a1c284)

  54. Daleyrocks, there are “kids, don’t vote” vids out there (with 2 of the guys from Reno 911) that make me almost wet myself in laughter…

    I’ll try and find them when I get home from work…

    Scott Jacobs (a1c284)

  55. Any of you who think this law has limited access to alcohol for college and high school students is living in a fantasy land.

    As opposed to when I was in college and the drinking age was 18, now over 21 and especially non-student adults do not attend college functions any more because they can be held liable. My wife is the general advisor for a sorority. They are specifically excluded from attending parties for just that reason. Take away the adult supervision and guess what happens when you leave the 21 and under to supervise themselves?

    Those claiming a dramatic reduction in deaths solely due to raising the drinking age are cooking the books by not excluding other factors. If you have a head for math read this.

    III. Conclusions

    Behavioral policies such as seat-belt-use laws, minimum legal drinking ages, and some policies designed to limit drunk driving have improved teen traffic safety over the past 20 years. However, these policies appear to explain only a modest fraction of the enormous gains in teen traffic safety. Furthermore, a sobering note of caution is warranted by evidence that some of the life-saving benefits of a higher MLDA [note: minimum legal drinking age] may be attenuated by a redistribution of deaths over the life cycle. More generally, the existence of this phenomenon suggests that experiential learning may be an important component of teens’ maturation through a variety of risky driving behaviors. The relevance of such learning-by-doing implies that the new “graduated licensing” systems may be an effective policy for generating further gains in teen traffic safety.

    Short form:
    1) Seat belt usage rates are far more important.
    2) Kids wait until they’re 21 and then kill themselves then while the try to learn how to handle alcohol.

    An anecdotal example where a student killed someone else.

    Student to plead guilty in bicyclist’s death

    RALEIGH, N.C. — A North Carolina State University junior facing a felony charge in the death of a bicyclist will plead guilty Thursday, his attorney said.

    Brian Anthony Reid, 21, is charged with felony death by motor vehicle and driving while impaired in the April 23 death of Nancy Leidy.

    Leidy, 60, died after she was struck by a pickup truck while she was riding her bicycle on Nazareth Street near the N.C. State campus.

    According to court records, Reid registered a 0.12 in an alcohol breath test and admitted to police that he had been drinking when he struck Leidy.

    Authorities said he had been celebrating his 21st birthday.

    Leidy is just as dead as if she had been killed by an 18 year old.

    John Convery sounds like he has a stake in the existence of these laws. Wanna bet he’s an attorney representing those arrested for DUI/DWI? If the law were changed his business would evaporate.

    Locomotive Breath (eb9976)

  56. by not excluding s/b by excluding

    Locomotive Breath (eb9976)

  57. I had no idea that an 18 year old would be
    more responsible than a 21 year old.

    Zopilote (e1add2)

  58. MADD is an evil neo-Prohibitionist organization whose real aim is to end alcohol consumption, period. Bogeymen like drunk driving and “underage” drinking are simply the clubs they use to get politicians to implement their prohibitionist nanny-state agenda. They will lie without blinking to accomplish their goals.

    Suffice to say, if MADD is against it, it’s probably a good idea.

    CTD (7054d2)

  59. My dad went to college during Prohibition. Didn’t stop them, they made beer in the bathtubs for house parties.

    I went to college in the 60’s in PA where the age limit was 21 (it was 18 in NY where I lived). Didn’t stop us, beer flowed freely at all parties. Before going off to college we all drank at high school parties.

    Like Prohibition, the age 21 limit law is mostly ignored by the large majority. This is not a good thing – I think it breeds some contempt for the law in general. A law that will not be obeyed by a large majority simply shouldn’t be on the books. Besides, it’s ridiculous that you can serve in harms way in Iraq and not be able to drink in the US.

    JayHub (0a6237)

  60. I’d like to see the age lowered. I’m the father of 2 young boys. How am I supposed to be a parent, teach my children about alcohol with the drinking age at 21? I’m not talking about getting them drunk or throwing keg parties for them. I’m talking about responsible parenting, allowing them to taste, sample in a safe, controlled environment. I don’t want their first beer to be at a party to which they drove. To me, the current age limit is more nanny statism and it has appeared to work about as well as teaching abstinence.

    rudytbone (8ce146)

  61. I wish I had something positive to add to this discussion, but I really don’t.

    Alcohol has long been entwined in our social institutions, and with good reason. Simply as a food experience, there isn’t anything comparable~and as a mildly psychoactive drug it can enhance pleasurable events by reinforcing the event’s emotional impact.

    Unfortunately, its also an addictive psychoactive drug, that has the effect of breaking a portion of the feedback loop in the brain’s pleasure circuit in a small (but not insignificant) percentage of the population.

    One of the areas currently under investigation is the question of whether the higher neuroplasticity of younger drug users makes them more susceptible to addiction…and the age that is generally accepted as when that neural development is pretty much complete is around 25.

    In other words, it certainly can’t hurt to teach and encourage our young patience and moderation~and not to look upon drinking as an end in itself or a “milestone” of adulthood.

    As to what public policy should be? I have no idea. But rudytbone, don’t be in any hurry to allow your children to taste, or sample. They’ll have plenty of time. I do in fact remember my first drink. When I was 5 years old. It took almost 45 years after that to learn that I am one of those people whose brain lacks the component that tells me when I have had enough to drink…whether I was born without it, or it just broke early in my life, I can’t tell you.

    What I can tell you is that my father did me no favor by introducing me to alcohol early.

    Anyway, just a couple of stray thoughts, for whatever they are worth.

    EW1(SG) (9525a4)

  62. EW1(SG) – Your stray thoughts are worth quite a bit, and much appreciated. One of my problems with the current state of societal attitudes towards alcohol is the aura of privilege surrounding the act of consumption and the emphasis on the substance as opposed to the consumer.

    The aura of privilege seems to me to imbue alcohol with a status that elevates the consumer into a club, which, IMO, results in the attitude that failure to consume is a failure of membership to this club, which has a long history in almost every society’s social structure. Alcohol is dangerous, and only a select few can ‘handle’ it, goes the legend. It’s even more dangerous than war, which is why you can’t have it until you’re 21. When you can have it, then you’re a real adult. Those who can’t ‘handle’ it, by default, are lesser adults.

    Deglamourizing alcohol can only help in changing the overblown attitudes towards membership in the consumers club, and hopefully, alter the corresponding negative association with the need for treatment for addiction.

    Again, IMO, this would be mirrored by a corresponding reinstatement of accountability of the consumer and not the product. Removing the power and awe of the product results in the responsibility for treatment placed squarely on the consumer. Shifting the shame of addiction to the positive aspects of treatment remove many of the obstacles real or imagined in obtaining treatment, and I do think that treatment should be widely available for those who need it.

    I realize that this is quite ‘pie in the sky’, but I do feel it’s consistent with the lowering of the drinking age to 18. Remove the false glamour, and see individuals as responsible.

    Just my thoughts, FWIW

    Apogee (366e8b)

  63. Personally I wish there was a way to limit tax dollars that fund public schools that fail to enforce current alcohol laws and regulations.

    I don’t want my medical concerns treated by a doctor or nurse who attended the lecture on my illness with a hangover. I don’t want to drive over the bridge built by an engineer who spent his senior year at party central.

    Our tax dollars should fund education of folks who can be responcible citizens. I should not be forced to fund a setting for irresponcible behavior. If kids want to act like they belong in a sleezy B movie, let them fund it without public tax dollars.

    Julia Bates (b7531b)


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