Sunday, August 31, 2008

Legal Drinking Age

In 1984 America passed a law requiring every state to raise the minimum legal drinking age to 21. In Europe the minimum legal drinking age can be twelve years old or lower. Many people are beginning to question America's laws on the subject. Now my opinion is that Europe has it better, and that was before I saw the statistics. You simply want what you can't have, especially if you're young and immature. As a scientific theory it's called psychological reactance. Let's see if it makes any sense.

21 percent of American youths report being drunk in the last thirty days. European youths report 13 percent. Europe:1, America:zip.

Less than 25 percent of Euros report being intoxicated throughout their life, while in America with our safe drinking laws the number is over 50 percent. Europe:2, US:nada.

And now college deans and presidents are joining in. Down here in Texas there was never any question that 21 was a bad idea. When that law gets overturned, there will be a brief period of very drunk kids, a national hangover, and then after a few years drinking becomes no big deal for under-21's and we begin to get Europe's stats. Many people want to only lower it to 18. Personally I think we ought to dip a little lower. Say, twelve. If you get used to drinking before you can legally drive, you learn not to mix them. Funny. I never thought I'd find myself siding with the Europeans on any political issues.

7 comments:

Cyclonenim said...

Here in Europe the laws can be a little odd, however. In Britain, we could technically drink from somewhere under 10 years of age, but only under our parents supervision. To buy our own alcohol, we have to be 18. I think this is good, I was brought up by my parents to have the odd beer from 12 and upwards and it meant that once I got to 16/17 years old, I wasn't being rebellious trying to get what I can't have. I simply just had 2 beers or so with my parents.

RC-0722 said...

I just don't see what's so appealing about pickling your liver.

Leonard^Bloom said...

RC's got it right.

I question though, how much psychological reactance has to do with it; I think it would have to do with America's youth culture, mostly. In the US, we have much more emphasis on drugs, sex, and alcohol. I would support lowering it to 18, and possibly lower, but the idea of "there will be a brief period of very drunk kids, a national hangover, and then after a few years drinking becomes no big deal for under-21's a" seems very bad to me. Especially in the US. Those few years could be absolutely horrible, for kids and parents alike.

gtn said...

That's true, it could be really horrible. So maybe lowering it to 18 would be ok for now, and then lowering it to 16 in a few years, etc.

RC, I agree completely, and that's the point. Alcohol is glorified in this culture where the first time you can legally get some is in college where the drinking environment is normally centered around parties with very little restraint. When your little brother in elementary can drink Jack Daniels with your parent's permission, however, it's no big deal. There becomes absolutely nothing appealing about "pickling your liver," especially because as Americans we don't tend to have the patience for acquired taste. I know I only drank my first beer because it was beer, not because it was any good. It was horrible.

RC-0722 said...

Bill's got it right. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6229845372821512787&ei=A628SMubDKi2_AHpi72eDQ&q=bill+cosby+&vt=lf

RC-0722 said...

cop & paste the URL, since it's not linking (at least on my pc).

gtn said...

Hilarious! I love Bill Cosby!