Lowering the Drinking Age
May 11, 2009 | Rants
A powerful youth movement is afoot—not chastity rings, which admittedly are helpful in directing your pent up energy more successfully elsewhere— young Americans are fed up with the status quo and, like getting crummy wait service at a restaurant, are demanding change.
Countless youngsters are organizing: shaking off apathy, signing petitions, launching online campaigns and joining forces to exercise their collective power to ensure their voices are heard.
Residual Obamamania? What would a couple of boozy Canadians who only watch CNN when hangovers preclude looking under the sofa for the remote know about that? (Editor’s Note: When are the good people who invented The Clapper going to come up with a TV remote equivalent? One clap to turn it on, successive claps for channel flipping. Would-be inventors have our blessings to run with this). No, what we’re referring to is the snowballing movement in the United States to lower the drinking age, as youngsters’ voices are being heard outside the dorm halls they’ve just thrown up in and in the halls of power instead.
Currently the drinking age across the USA is an astounding 21, with some states respecting this more than others—and still others where it doesn’t matter…i.e., the ones where you can haul a case of cold ones over the border from Canada, where the age is 19 in most places and 18 in Quebec (you’re welcome, New York, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont).
Indeed, with hazy memories of past debauchery in pre-Katrina New Orleans, we were amazed to find that out that the drinking age is officially 21 in Louisiana and that the young people hooting and projectile vomiting off balconies in the French quarter were actually breaking the law.
The nationwide drinking age has been on the books since 1984 when the National Minimum Drinking Age Act went into effect. This act was basically federal blackmail forcing states to raise their minimum drinking age to 21 or be denied transportation money.
A symposium was held in Hanover, NH (which apropos of nothing but worth noting anyway, is a ‘G’ away from ‘hangover’), in which health advocates, educators, competitive beer pong teams, lawmakers, those interested in public policy and a couple of drunks who wandered in off the street to snag some free wine and cheese, discussed the issue of legal drinking age and public health. [New Hampshire lawmakers considered a bill this year to lower the state's drinking age, for reasons that no doubt included respecting personal freedom and nearly four years of adulthood under your belt by the time you're 21---but it died in the House]
Lawmakers in Vermont, South Dakota, South Carolina and Wisconsin have all to varying degrees proposed lowering or allowing special exceptions to the drinking age requirement, and in Missouri, Facebook is being used to collect signatures to get a measure on the ballot there to lower the drinking age to 18. One group, with the less than headband worthy name of “Choose Responsibility”, has even went so far as to suggest that young people be made to undergo an education alcohol program before being allowed to drink—previously known as ‘earning an undergrad degree’. Having written a potential textbook for such an endeavor, we fully support that idea.
The transportation-funding catch is likely to prevent any of these efforts from succeeding — good news for fake ID providers, establishments that turn a blind eye to such matters and that one creepy older guy in every circle of teenage friends who enjoys a special status among teens for his ability to procure booze.