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by Ben Fried
Did any of you see the 60 Minutes report on lowering the drinking age? (Second story down here)
MADD and many others, who spearheaded the reduction from 21 to 18, want to keep it because it has reduced deaths on the highway due to young drunk drivers.
But a coalition of college presidents disagrees, pointing out that “prohibition” has created an underground binge drinking culture, and alcohol deaths off the highway are soaring.
There is, of course, another option to reduce highway deaths that was not mentioned — raising the driving age, rather than the drinking age. It is, evidently, unthinkable.
How about this — get you driver’s license, you can’t drink until age 21, but forego this (and figure out other was to get around) and you can drink at age 18.
So the college presidents solution is to transfer the deaths to the highway instead of the campus. Genius.
Instead of making automobiles. Perhaps all those former automaker workers should be working in companies that produces mass transit buses, trains and ferry boats.
The idea that college students drink a lot of alcohol because of the 21-year-old drinking age is patently absurd. College students drink a lot of alcohol because THEY’RE COLLEGE STUDENTS.
The News doesn’t seem to have a problem using direct language to describe Lisa Bongiorno’s 1994 conviction for killing two priests with her car. Of course, she was found to be high on angel dust, and she was convicted and served time. But is it a factor that they were in a car themselves, not lowly pedestrians?
One bit of good–if not completely satisfying–news has just hit from the Stim package: the message below just went out at my job in a company-wide email from our CFO:
“The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) signed into law on February 17, 2009 included a provision to temporarily increase the exclusion amount per month for transit benefits.
The Qualified Mass Transit IRS pre-tax maximum will increase to $230 per month effective March 1, 2009 (from $120 per month).
Therefore, we will automatically increase the pre-tax deduction, starting on the March 13th paycheck, for those employees that have after-tax transit deductions up to the pre-tax maximum of $230 or the total amount previously designated – whichever is less (for example, if your monthly LIRR ticket is currently $180, we will automatically increase your pre-tax deduction to $180 from $120 and eliminate your after-tax deduction. If your monthly ticket is $245, we will increase your pre-tax deduction to the $230 maximum and your after-tax deduction will only be $15).
For those employees that want to increase their pre-tax deduction to cover more than their monthly tickets, please send an email to ____________________. Again, if your monthly LIRR ticket is $180, you have another $50 pre-tax transit available to use to purchase Metrocards each month – take advantage of the potential savings.”
The idea that college students drink a lot of alcohol because of the 21-year-old drinking age is patently absurd.
Obviously you’ve never lived in a country where the drinking age is 16, as I have (Germany). And where parents teach their kids to drink responsibly, and where high school kids gathering at a pub for a couple beers is no big deal, and where getting drunk in public is frowned upon rather than celebrated.
If you had, you’d understand that college students don’t get drunk “because they’re college students”, but because American society has done everything in its power to make drinking as seductive as possible by (a) prohibiting it until a ridiculously high age and (b) fostering a culture the celebrates public drunkenness.
PS. MADD is full of loons. Their goal whether they choose to admit it or not is another full-out prohibition. And whether their statistics are accurate or not, the solution to “underage” drunk driving deaths is NOT to restrict the freedoms of innocent people.
College presidents are just tired of being required to lead a temperance charade that has nothing to do with higher education. Most campuses afflicted by a culture of heavy drinking (remote state colleges) are perfect for bicycling and have decent daytime bus service as it is. Adding bicycle infrastructure and bulking up late night bus service would save more lives than our puritanical society’s evidently useless efforts to keep legal adults away from spirits for an extra 3 years.
What about my suggestion: your choice, a license to drive before age 21 or a license to drink (under certain, responsible circumstances) before age 21?
Without access to their own car, the young would be forced to pursue other alternatives, and when they got around to driving, many would probably stick with those other alternatives.
Larry, I think what would happen is that the kids with the drinking licenses would buy booze for the kids with the driving licenses, who would drink it and then drive anyway.
bulking up late night bus service
My alma mater has always had very good late night bus service, Doc (PDF of current service). It was pretty effective at getting students safely to and from nightlife; I don’t recall hearing about any DWI crashes when I was there.
Another problem is that while in most states it’s already legal for teens to consume alcohol in their home and under a parent’s supervision, irresponsible groups like MADD have been so successful at driving home the evils of alcohol that parents are unwilling to go against the propaganda and teach their kids about responsible drinking.
Larry, your idea is doomed to failure because it’s still a form of Prohibition on teens when in fact they should be learning how to drink responsibly.
“This would have the biggest improvement to the quality of the public realm and to transportation funding of anything that could be done. We need a bold, visionary elected official who is willing to step up to the plate to push for this.”
In response to "Public Support for NYC Toll Reform Highest in the Suburbs"