The Drinking Age.

Recently, some of the presidents of universities and colleges got together to raise a debate on whether the legal age for drinking should be lowered from 21 years to 18 years old. Personally, I think that this is an excellent idea.

American culture has very Puritanical roots that run very deep. It is an indication of the longevity of the ideas that were around at the founding of this country that certain businesses are not legally allowed to operate on Sundays.

Part of this culture is treating alcohol as a taboo and shunning it instead of educating people about it. If people treat alcohol as something mysterious, then it will be a mystery to them. But if we allow people to experience alcohol at younger ages, then it takes away the wonder that it holds.

This, in turn, will lead to more responsible alcohol use. Take, for instance, the data on traffic fatalities from the EU and the United States for the year 2006. The data for the E.U. shows that there were about 40,000 traffic fatalities for 2006. Out of these 10,000 were alcohol related. (About 25%) The data for the U.S. shows that there were a little over 40,000 traffic fatalities for 2006. Out of these 17,602 were alcohol related. (About 41%)

Two similarly developed areas of the world had nearly the same amount of traffic fatalities. The difference is that in the area where alcohol is taboo, the number of alcohol-related traffic fatalities is nearly double that of teh area where alcohol is accepted.

The answer is to treat adults like they are adults, but to educate them as well.

As I was reading up on this, I came across a "letter to the editor" in which the writer had several suggestions for alternatives for the college presidents. One of these suggestions was to raise the taxes on alcohol to "contribute to the excess costs of alcohol-related health consequences."

Why is it that for some people the only solution to a problem is to tax it? This course of action is tantamount to me suggesting that the government levy a tax on running shoes to defer the costs of broken ankles and other running-related injuries. The tax will not prevent people from drinking and will disproportionately affect people of lower incomes.

Education, not taxation is the key to safe alcohol consumption.

Posted byJ. R. Guinness at 7:00 AM  


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