The Corner

Boozey Speculations

Some interesting email from readers on the subject of booze and college.



The drinking age is my pet peeve issue as well. The drinking age drives more women into colleges and into high powered career paths than would otherwise choose that path if given the choice when they are 18 yrs old? How? By segregating male college graduates and female high school graduates. They don’t hang out in the same places, they never meet. So the women go off to college and they load up on debt which means they need to get a good job out of school to pay off that debt. The good job leads to a lifestyle, measured in cars, houses, etc that they cannot step back from even when they find that special someone at age 30 and want to be a mom. It’s a trap for many, a gilded trap with a leased Lexis SUV and a nice daycare but a trap nonetheless. 


So we need to get the 19 yr old women into the bars with the 24 yr old stockbrokers so they can fall in love. I’m all for having your first baby when you are married and 21 instead of divorced and 41. I’m just a romantic at heart.




And the govt makes it more and more difficult for parents to introduce your child to alcohol. We have had booze around for ever in the house, the kids always watched us drink it. We never provided it to anyone other than our children of course, but they were offered it at special occasions and once out of HS offered it at home whenever they wanted it. Watch the driving and public intox stuff of course. I think we tried to de-mystify it and to the best of my knowledge my kids who are from out of college to just finishing HS handled their alcohol experiences OK.


But I would love the ability at a restaurant to have a say a 16 year old order a beer or a glass of wine with a meal with a parent. And what about making beer and wine legal at say age 18 or 19? Are you gonna go after the hard – and expensive – stuff, when a beer or wine is legally available?

And, this one’s going to sting:

The US 21 year age limit for drinking is a classic example of nanny-statism and abuse of the Federal purse for political ends. It also is an example of blunders committed by Republicans.

If memory serves, the drinking age was left up to States until the early 1980′s, when Reagan’s SecTrans, one Elizabeth “Liddy” Dole decided that Mommy Knew Best. Because there was no way to impose a uniform drinking age upon the several States save by Constitutional Amendment (as in the 18th Amendment ban on booze), she chose a different route: highway funds.

The ostensible reason, the fig leaf, was that drinking alcohol by people under 21 led to more automobile accidents, therefore it was a “highway safety issue”. Faced with loss of millions of dollars in Federal highway funds, even Texas caved in. However, Wyoming did not.

Thus for a year or two or maybe three in the early 1980′s, every State in the Union prohibited anyone under 21 from buying and/or consuming alcohol save Wyoming. I think their drinking age was 19. This worked because the price of oil was still high enough at that time that the Wyoming severance taxes provided more than enough money for the State to do all its own road maintenance.

Alas, the decline in the price of oil led even Wyoming to surrender, sometime in 1983 or ‘84. If it was 1984, how very appropriate.

Here’s the NYT story on Reagan and the drinking age, FYI.


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