August 14 2007, 5:24 PM
There is a story today from MSNBC about a nationwide effort to lower the drinking age from 21 to 18, which has obviously sparked a heated debate from both sides. We've all heard the old argument that "if you can die for your country in war, you should be able to enjoy a beer," but perhaps the strongest argument in favor of lowering the drinking age is this:
Libertarian groups and some conservative economic foundations, seeing the age limits as having been extorted by Washington, have long championed lowering the drinking age. But in recent years, many academics and non-partisan policy groups have joined their cause for a different reason: The age restriction does not work, they say. Drinking has gone on behind closed doors and underground, where responsible adults cannot keep an eye on it."It does not reduce drinking. It has simply put young adults at greater risk," said John M. McCardell, former president of Middlebury College in Vermont, who this year set up a non-profit organization called Choose Responsibility to push for a lower drinking age.McCardell offers what he calls a simple challenge:"The law was changed in 1984, and the law had a very specific purpose, and that was to prohibit drinking among those under the age of 21," he said. "The only way to measure the success of that law is to ask ourselves whether, 23 years later, those under 21 are not drinking."So are they?The federal government's National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that in 2005, the most recent year for which complete figures are available, 85 percent of 20-year-old Americans reported that they had used alcohol. Two out of five said they had binged -- that is, consumed five or more drinks at one time -- within the previous month.As we all know, the drinking age in Colorado is 21, but according to a graphic provided by MSNBC, there is a catch: "Under 21 may consume alcohol only if married AND if spouse or guardian is present." Apparently you can drink alcohol in Colorado so long as you are married and in the company of your mom or dad.Sure, that makes sense.