Detour From Beer: Lower Drinking Age? Won’t Solve the Real Problem

I’m on record as supporting rational drinking. You can read my earlier posts by clicking on the tag titled “rational drinking.”

So of course I was more-or-less glad to hear that 100 college presidents support lowering the drinking age to 18. (There’s are lots of reports online; here’s one of them.)

But let’s get real. Lowering the drinking age won’t solve the underlying problem. It’ll make the life easier for the nation’s police (fewer lawbreakers to arrest), but . . . that’s about all it would do.

Because, as I’ve said here before, the real problem isn’t the drinking age. (Also see any of the other blog entries under the “rational drinking” category.) The real problem is that Americans demonize rather than respect alcohol, and infantalize drinking.

Worse yet, we ignore the fact that alcohol is an ancient and normal part of human life. No surprise, we don’t teach kids to respect alcohol. We don’t teach them how to drink. So what we get are teen-agers and young adults who, ya know, don’t know how to drink.

Why do we treat alcohol and drinking so differently than, say, cars and driving? We know that putting an untrained driver behind the wheel of a car is dangerous. We TEACH kids to drive before we turn them loose with the car keys. We should treat alcohol the same way: In the hands (mouths) of the inexperienced and untrained, alcohol can be dangerous.

So we should TEACH kids about alcohol’s role in human life and how to use it responsibly. Until we start doing that, lowering the drinking age ain’t gonna do a bit of good.

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