Is the Drinking Age Past its Prime?

Cotta_Carter_55_600Yes.  The answer is, probably, YES.  And we’ll get to that in a minute.  But first, I want to lament how absurdly, ludicrously cowed and bullied our culture has become. Remember the national 55 MPH speed limit law? I do. When I was a young man, I owned a car that was designed for extended time at speeds in excess of 100 MPH on the German Autobahn, but the speedometer was limited, by law, to register only a marginal amount over 55 MPH. The thinking was: “It’s not legal, so don’t allow the speedometer to show it.” The result, of course, is that there were times during long stretches in the desert where I had no idea how fast I was going, because the speedometer was pegged. That national law has become a thing of the past, mercifully, and the speed limit on our rural interstate freeways in Colorado is now 75 MPH. Why is that? Did the physics of automobile travel change? Have we decided we’re now ok with daily road carnage caused by the higher speeds? No. It changed because the original law was forced down our throats with the groundless promise that it would “save lives,” without a smidgen of data to back that up. So we suffered under this law for decades and almost no lives were saved, but billions of productive hours (and billions of speeding fine dollars) were lost. More odorous to me was the fact that we became less free to use our own judgment about the smallest details of how we live, day-to-day.

The national 55 MPH law is a thing of the past, but some have begun to question our other freedom-crushing laws, like the 21-year-old drinking age.  I’m all for that, and I was for it when Pete Coors introduced an 18 drinking age as a campaign issue in Colorado a few years ago.  But nobody listened to him then.  You know who people are listening to now?  Camille Paglia.  You can see her awesome article about it in Time Magazine.

The National Minimum Drinking Age Act, passed by Congress 30 years ago this July, is a gross violation of civil liberties and must be repealed. It is absurd and unjust that young Americans can vote, marry, enter contracts and serve in the military at 18 but cannot buy an alcoholic drink in a bar or restaurant. The age-21 rule sets the U.S. apart from all advanced Western nations and lumps it with small or repressive countries like Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Indonesia, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates.

What has me kinda steamed is that it takes a fairly anarchistic atheist lesbian to promote common sense changes in this screwed up country.  When it comes to freedom issues, why can’t regular, everyday Americans, the kind without any hyphenated, alternative-lifestyle creds attached to their names, propose that we have a little more liberty around here without being shouted down?

article-2244573-1665F44E000005DC-62_306x423Don’t get me wrong.  I LIKE Camille Paglia.  Thank God for her.  She might save us yet.  But if we’re only “allowed” by our culture to listen to certain blessed “counter cultural” voices before correcting some of our biggest mistakes, it’s going to take a very long time, indeed, to take back liberty in this nation.  Consider, for a moment, something much more important than speed limits and drinking ages.  Consider the outrageous bigotry that is still, even now, directed at conservative blacks by American liberals.  Just last month, a sitting member of Congress (Alvin Holmes, D-AL) chose to call Clarence Thomas an “Uncle Tom” and a “ventriloquist dummy” for the GOP.  But that’s tame, of course, compared to the bigoted racism that Clarence Thomas could read in or every day about himself.  Who’s going to fix that glaring defect in our national fabric?  Liberals don’t seem ready to lift a finger to stop any of it.  And conservatives aren’t “allowed” to comment on race or bigotry.   Maybe that should change.

But some of that change will have to happen from inside.  Conservatives are still far too reticent when it comes to increasing liberties.  Look at the recent successful marijuana-legalization laws.  I’m personally ambivalent about them, but I don’t think conservatives should continue to stand apart from libertarians and simply hand this issue to liberals.  If it’s a freedom issue, it should be our issue, too.  Liberals need to be shown to all the world for what they are: freedom haters.  They don’t only want legal pot, they also want free pot and others to be forced to accept and support their lifestyle choices.  That’s not freedom.  And their politicians are showing how inept they are by instituting such massive taxes on recreational use that the black markets are still thriving.  This is yet another opportunity to show them how it’s done, but so far, an opportunity wasted.  So to speak.

About GruntOfMonteCristo

Fearless and Devout Catholic Christian First, Loving Husband and Father Second, Pissed-Off Patriot Third, Rocket Engineer Dork Last.
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23 Responses to Is the Drinking Age Past its Prime?

  1. I agree whole heartedly that the drinking age should change. It’s ridiculous to say that 18 year olds are adults but they still can’t do adult things. They can die for us in war but heaven forbid they enjoy a beer…. (I just won’t be mentioning this to my teenage son, lol)

    • Thanks TCW! I have fond memories of camping in Colorado with my dad back around 1980 and legally having a few beers together. At the time, I was 18, and he had driven out from Indiana to pick me up from a trail-building / cowboy job I’d been working in New Mexico. At the time, I was finally feeling like I was really a man, and somehow, those legal beers with my dad helped to confirm that. Young men and women today are robbed of that experience.

      • It is a part of growing up…and Lord do I remember those 55 mph signs….Mom had a penchant for DRIVING between Texas and Oregon…A LOT… during the 70’s and 80’s…Oh my goodness…it took FOREVER! And mom was never one for speeding…Lot’s of good memories from those days, though…something this newer generation will never understand.

  2. Shalini says:

    Uhm. Okay. Not that I care one way or the other, though my culture looks down upon drinking and having been entrenched in said culture, I most probably will have a talk with my children if they take up drinking as early as that. Different countries, different circumstances and different opinions. But is it really that big of an injustice that needs to be addressed right now given other bigger injustices that happen even in the U.S.? I hate to come across as a sour third world country person but this is a classic example of first world country problem.

    • Shalini says:

      I just want to make it clear that its not the drinking that I have problem with, it’s the usage of words like “gross violation of civil liberties” over small issues (according to me) like legal age of drinking.

      • I agree that Ms. Paglia was using excessive language there, but she also makes the point that it may have, indirectly, caused big problems with American youth, such as early drug addiction, pushing youth gatherings into illegal venues, etc.

    • No, it’s not really that big an injustice. And that’s why I took my commentary in a more general direction with the cultural problem we have of the Left dictating the dialogue. (Read the 2nd to last paragraph) When only fringe groups are given a podium by the press or by the culture, then it becomes a big deal. It gets hard to do the right thing on any issue, unless it happens to correspond to the leftist agenda. Every once in a while, the leftist agenda and ours overlap, but we can’t depend on that, since it happens so rarely.

      That being said, I do think basic freedoms are important. Are you happy with your government’s current restrictions on gold-buying? Some are very upset about that because the demand for gold is so high. I know, sounds like a first-world problem. 😉 Perhaps India doesn’t enforce very strictly, but I assure you that we enforce our stupid little laws here in America very strictly, and it becomes a drain on us when we are badgered with traffic citations and fines, or when someone’s life is ruined by drunk driving convictions after a dinner out with family and a few glasses of wine.

      • Shalini says:

        As I mentioned, it’s not the issue at hand I have a problem with. Rather how you address them. I am all for basic freedoms but when you use very strong language for issues which don’t require it you tend to make people go, “Seriously?” and then when they already characterise you as a right wing loon for standing up for your basic rights, this only makes it easier for them. Of course, the left always gets a pass no matter how ridiculous and over the top their arguments are. You need to be brave when you fight the good fight but strategy is what wins wars, IMO.

        Also, the restriction on gold buying is on 24k gold. We don’t get to buy them anymore in jewellery shop. Most Indians buy only 22k gold anyway and hence it really hasn’t been a huge problem so far. So not the top most issue on my mind, really.

        • You make a good point about the language. You cracked me up about the “first world problems,” too. That’s actually been a very funny meme around here, and my boys can’t get enough of internet funnies about it.

          Perhaps I get more upset than I should, but I take real offense at the arrogance that causes leaders to think that they even have the right to restrict people’s basic day-to-day decisions, like whether to buy gold, or cigarettes, or what schools to send their kids to. It really steams me. It literally does ruin lives, because the full weight of the state is placed behind those restrictions, and it can crush people. Also, it proliferates, until you literally can’t go to the bathroom without filling out a form.

    • I don’t mean to jump in where I wasn’t invited, but…okay, yes I do… And I truly mean no disrespect, but it seems to me that perhaps India should worry less about its citizens drinking and worry more about people stopping in the middle of the road to defecate and maybe worry about plumbing and trying to protect the drinking water… IJS

      • Shalini says:

        Yes, may be. We have way too many problems which is probably why I said I don’t consider raising the legal age of drinking a “gross injustice of civil liberty”.

        • We all have way too many problems…it doesn’t matter which Country you insert into the dialogue. Sad, isn’t it? GFC does cover those more important isues, just as I do, but sometimes, we just need a break and so we write about other things that, in the grand scheme of things, really isn’t all that important…but maybe the topic brings back good memories we had and so we share. And the “gross injustice of civil liberty” was a line from the article written over at TIME… GFC just quoted from the article. I believe he agrees with the sentiment that the legal drinking age should be lowered…not so much the exact wording…But there I go putting words in his mouth…. 🙂

          • Shalini says:

            Oh, I know Grunt was just quoting the article. I was just griping about the wordings used rather than topic of discussion as I am wont to do. 🙂

              • Let me just say, that it’s a rare treat to have someone defend me. Thank you, TCW! I’m not used to that kind of treatment! Besides, Shalini is such a bully. 😀 (Just kidding, Shal! 🙂 )

              • Wish my “bullies” were more like Shalini… 🙂 Do you know I was called a ghoul the other day? A ghoul! And un-educated and one even called my children “little shits” and hoped that I hadn’t “bred” at all….. How rude! (but I handled them….as I am wont to do)

              • Whoa. That’s pretty hard core. I hope you told them how insulting that was. I think there’s a particular level of hell reserved for people who like to tell moms and dads that they wish they “wouldn’t breed.”

              • I have my own brand of verbal justice I preserve just for those types… My response was no less crude than hers. Can’t help it…6 older siblings and service in the military have taught me well… 🙂

  3. Pingback: 24 April 2014 – News & Sundry |

  4. texan59 says:

    IIRC, the whole drinking age thing came from our do-gooder gov’t. hacks shoving it down the States throats via holdbacks on Fed highway funding. Just as they are doing right now with the drunk driving limits. Each state has the ability right now to lower the drinking age to whatever age they want to. Just don’t expect a check from DC. Not being a barrister, I don’t know if that’s blackmail or extortion.

    That being said, here in TX I can take my underage grandchildren into a bar, beer-joint or tavern and if they sit at the table with me, I can legally give them a beer. They can’t buy it or go in on their own however. But then we still have some dry counties around the state as well.

  5. This seems appropriate. Stolen from Wirecutter.

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