Very few countries have a national age as high as 21, argues Jeffrey Tucker at Newsweek (originally FEE), and women of college age may be more vulnerable if the only drinking venues available are dorms and fraternities. R.J. Lehmann of the R Street Institute says that even if considerations such as individual liberty make a cut in the age advisable, we should go into the process with eyes wide open about the safety impacts, not all of which will be positive. Earlier here.
The Washington Post editorialized last month in favor of dropping the voting age to 16. I dashed off a letter to the editor, which they didn’t run, and is here adapted:
At what point are young people to be entrusted with important life responsibilities? The Post has repeatedly opposed easing the drinking age from 21 so as to allow persons of 18 or 20, who may include service members returning from combat missions, to enjoy a glass of beer. It opposes subjecting late-teen juvenile offenders to the level of accountability applied to adult criminal defendants. Its coverage suggests sympathy with proposals to raise the marriage age to 18, which would mean that a couple of 17 is not deemed mature enough to enter on binding vows of mutual support even with parental blessing and judicial ascertainment of their independent choice.
Now the Post supports slashing the voting age to 16. Perhaps the pattern here is that the Post sees 16 year olds as incapable of making decisions to govern their own lives, yet competent to govern everyone else’s.
Which won’t, of course, be the last step as prohibitionists work out the implications of what they call a “tobacco-free” America. But it does at least raise a slogan-atic question: Old enough to fight, old enough to vote, why not old enough to drink and smoke too? [Debra Saunders, San Francisco Chronicle, who also reminds us that for all the nostalgic talk of Reagan and individual liberty, Reagan was the one who signed the bill (passed by a GOP Senate) arm-twisting states into putting the drinking age up to 21]
- Yes: “Should the Legal Drinking Age Be Lowered?” [New York Times “Room for Debate”]
- “New police radars can ‘see’ inside homes” [Gannett]
- “‘Shopping cart’ patent beaten by Newegg comes back to court, loses again” [Joe Mullin, ArsTechnica]
- “Utah woman can sue herself over fatal car accident, ruling says” [Salt Lake Tribune, Lowering the Bar]
- “Large Product Liability Awards Made Comeback in 2014” [Margaret Cronin Fisk, Bloomberg]
- New York assembly ex-speaker Silver indicted; charges reduced from five to three [Reuters]
- “Your fruit may be patented.” [Dan Lewis, Now I Know]
- David Henderson has been blogging excerpts from Dan Okrent’s book on Prohibition, Last Call, including one on the origins of “Raines Law hotels” [Econlog] Also, the “law-abiding” kind of speakeasy; and would polite opinion today, as it did in the 1920s, assail Prohibition enforcement as draconian and intrusive?
- Obstacles to craft brewing [Matthew Mitchell, Christopher Koopman, Mercatus; Michelle Minton/DC Beer]
- Brown U. professor Dwight Heath on why drinking age should be lowered [WJAR]
- Feds go after hobby distillers [Jacob Sullum]
- When a liquor license sells for $425,000, as happened in Boston recently, it’s become virtually a taxi medallion [Ira Stoll]
- Maryland grain alcohol ban tripped up violin restorers, cake pros, craft bitters folk. Gee thanks, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health [WaPo] Much more about the center’s anti-alcohol crusader, David Jernigan [my Free State Notes] Tax dollars have enabled his crusades [Michelle Minton, Baltimore Sun]
- Profile of obscure Treasury Department official who “approves essentially every beer label in the United States” [Tim Mak, Daily Beast; coaster image, Flickr user Roger Wollstadt]
“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. Congress was stampeded into this puritanical law by Mothers Against Drunk Driving.” — Camille Paglia in Time on why the national minimum drinking age law “must be repealed. It is absurd and unjust.” Related: “A drinking age of 21 infantilizes adults who are otherwise able to serve in the military, marry without permission, enter into business contracts, buy tobacco, vote and run for public office. It forces college administrators to be babysitters rather than educators. And it doesn’t achieve its stated goals.” [“ABC debacle should stir debate on Virginia’s drinking age,” Rick Sincere, Richmond Times-Dispatch] Earlier here, here, here, etc. Plus: Relevant political thoughts from Glenn Reynolds last year.
Related, if distantly: study in Britain finds liberalization of bar closing hours associated with decline in traffic accidents [Jeffrey Miron, Cato]
“Young New Yorkers would not be able to buy cigarettes until they were 21, up from the current 18, under a proposal advanced [last month] by Dr. Thomas A. Farley, the city’s health commissioner, and Christine C. Quinn, the City Council speaker.” [New York Times via J.D. Tuccille] Or at least would not be able to buy them legally: according to estimates from the Mackinac Institute, New York state already has the nation’s highest rate of smuggled cigarette consumption, at more than 60 percent of its total market. [Catherine Rampell, NYT; Mackinac; Tax Foundation; Christopher Snowdon, “The Wages of Sin Taxes” (CEI, PDF)]
More: As the legal drinking age has been pushed upward in recent years, the average age of first use of alcohol has fallen markedly [Tuccille]