should the legal drinking age be 18?

it’s a topic that came up during the last democratic presidential candidates’ debate, which took place at dartmouth college.

of course, the college students’ logic started with “well we can fight in iraq, so why can’t we drink?” not flawless logic, but they do have a point. it might be a better point if they were actually fighting in iraq, instead of buying drinks anyway at an ivy league college with money from the trust fund, but still, not a bad point.

from the article:

“Legal age 21 has not worked. Most people at the age of 21 have already consumed alcohol,” said John McCardell, the former president of Middlebury College in Vermont. McCardell now heads a nonprofit organization started in January called Choose Responsibility.

The group is calling for lowering the national legal drinking age to 18 combined with education about the effects and risks of alcohol.

“The current drinking age has just driven the drinking out of public view,” McCardell told ABC News. “It has meant that instead of drinking in bars or restaurants where there is supervision, it’s happening in dorms and dark corners.”

He argues that young people should be given alcohol education, much like driver’s education, and then rewarded with a drinking license, for which they become eligible at 18.

i agree. people are going to have their vices. might as well have them be publicly acknowledged and supported. prohibition didn’t work in the ’20s, i mean the 1920s, so why would a prohibition of a segment of society that will find ways to drink anyway work any better now than it did then? in fact, because it’s a segment of society rather than all of society, you could argue that it would be expected to be even less successful.

and it is. ever heard of a college student that couldn’t find alcohol if they wanted it? personally i think other countries are far more enlightened on this subject. rather than make the consumption of alcohol a bogeyman, many foreign kids grow up having a drink or two, a glass of wine with dinner, a celebratory belt now and then.

and there’s no mystery surrounding alcohol then. lots of kids, myself included, grew up using alcohol, and i’d bet that the rate of alcohol abuse among that group is lower than the average.

i was 17 when i went to college, and the legal drinking age was 18. i had no problem getting served in bars, without i.d. how? i went to bars for lunch, sat quietly and had a sandwich and a single draft beer at a time when the bar was glad to have the business and could not have cared less who was buying. and then, when i returned at night, they didn’t card me. because they knew me from lunch.

if you want to drink, you’re gonna drink. you’re gonna find a way. might as well bring it out into the open, and stop criminalizing normal human social behaviors. if 18-year-olds are drinking legally, you have a far better opportunity to ensure that they are drinking responsibly, because they will be drinking publicly rather than privately.