American society believes that lowering the drinking age back to eighteen will lead to a domino affect of bad premonitions like rampant drinking binges, raving alcoholics, and more traffic accident deaths upon the entire nation. Realistic Alcohol Laws for Legal Youth (RALLY) is one of many major organizations dedicated to rectifying these faulty perspectives that Americans hold. Due to the irrelevance on the number of alcohol related car accidents in the 1970? s, the parents obligation to teach responsible drinking, and the fact that eighteen year olds have the same constitutional rights as all adults, I believe that the legal drinking age in the United States should be lowered to eighteen. Whatever our personal opinion may be, we can not denounce that alcohol has been embedded with every major civilized society from the Greeks to the Romans and even American society as it was stated in the book Opposing Viewpoints: Alcohol (Barbour 25-32). Drinking has been part of the social element since colonial America. According to the book Alcohol: Teenage Drinking, alcohol was viewed as? God? s Good Creature (Lang 25).
? The view of alcohol then changed during the Prohibition period when it became known as? Demon Rum? . Despite this? Demon Rum? perspective, society rebelled astoundingly against the 18 th Amendment to the Constitution (Prohibition) emphasizing the idea that American people wanted their liquor. Tough restrictions on alcohol and the general concept that alcohol is wicked exist to this day. The controversy lies in that the government literally blackmailed states into increasing the legal drinking age. The nationwide legal age limit was enforced with the threat that President Reagan would not give money to states for roads until they increased their drinking ages.
When Ronald Reagan signed the National Minimum Drinking Age Act in 1984, the country went dry to everyone under 21-legally, that is. Now, some young adults are opting to reverse that decision. We must take into account that alcohol and teens are very well acquainted. The book, Teenagers and Alcohol: When Saying No Isn? t Enough, asserts that high school surveys in the last decade show that ninety-two percent of its students have tried alcohol (Vogler & Bartz 4). Former Senator Baker says, in Teenagers and Alcohol: When Saying No Isn? t Enough, that alcohol is the? bloody monster that defiles innocence; creates misery, poverty, fear; causes helplessness and hopelessness, then certainly, I am against it (Qtd. in Vogler & Bartz 3).
? Of course, alcohol does have its downfalls like anything else; but then again it also has its benefits. Senator Baker went on to say, ? Alcohol is the oil of conversation that puts a song in the hearts and laughter on people? s lips, magnifies joy and happiness. Alcohol reduces the risk of heart disease. It also floods the Treasury of untold millions of dollars used to help the crippled, blind, deaf, aged, infirm, and builds hospitals and schools (Qtd. in Vogler &Bartz 3-4). ? Although the National Minimum Drinking Age Act was enacted to prevent drunken driving accidents among inexperienced adults, it has pushed underage drinking into unsafe environments.
In a recent Internet search, I found that the? Medical Examiner? from the University of North Carolina gave statistics on how the law did in fact decrease the number of alcohol-related crashes for 19 and 20 year olds. The irrelevant or flawed part of the statistics is that there was also a dramatic decline in such crashes among all age groups in general across the United States (1). Avoiding such tragedies is of great importance, after all the law was passed after the high rate of deaths due to teen drunken driving in the 1970? s. Instead of denying alcohol to adults until they are 21, perhaps the government should have raised the driving age to 18, and more rigorous drivers? training requirements should have been established. A recent poll taken by the Motor Trend TV show, asserts that the best stock (factory made) muscle cars were all created during the 1970? s (Motor Trend 1). These high performance sports cars were commonly used during that era, and it is always overlooked when it is stereotyped that simply the young age caused people to die in alcohol related motor vehicle accidents.
Being able to control a racing machine sober is hard enough, let alone after several drinks. However, due to today? s manufacturing and safety standards we now have better engineered cars and most all factory cars have very little horsepower, it is a much safer and controlled environment for responsible drinking. General Motors associate, Hector De la Cruz, supports my assessment that more horsepower was common because it was used to move the cars? metal frames. Nowadays, less horsepower is needed to move fiberglass frames (Interview 1).
It is unbelievable that the same society that grants 16-year-old kids the freedom to drive the most dangerous and deadly weapon available to them will not allow an 18 year old adult the opportunity to drink one beer legally. Most young adults do not reach the age of legality until their third year of college, yet most have had access to alcohol since high school in uncontrolled environments. In USA Today, John Chwat, president of the National Licensed Beverage Association agrees in that? the 21-year-old drinking age is violated all over the country. Our laws should be obeyed, and we should not write laws that won? t be obeyed (Editorial 10 A).
? Middle school ers, high school ers and college freshmen drink even though it is not legal. Some states fine young adults up to five hundred dollars for consuming alcohol, yet teens still drink. What prompts them to do this? ? Young people, for better or worse, feel omnipotent and need to test the world when they breakaway from their dependent parental relationship. How easy is it for young people to run rings around rules? ? states Morris E.
Chafetz president of the Health Education Foundation in USA Today (Editorial, 14 A). Social pressures, presumptions of enhanced psychological results from drinking, and the thrill of knowing they are not supposed to be doing it have certain degrees of influencing premature drinking. Drinking among young people is not about the exquisite taste of fine wines, but a rebelling against the Puritan mind-set of this country. The focus must then shift to the parents and family. There needs to be open lines of communication between parents and their children about drinking.
Rachel Kelly, president of the National Women? s Christian Temperance, was interviewed by USA Today where she stated, ? We have got to go back to our old-fashioned morals- and parents have got to stop blaming everybody else, especially teachers. It? s parents? position to teach children right and wrong- including what is wrong about alcohol (10 A). ? Teens are going to make their own decisions about drinking and parents need to do whatever they can to maximize their children? s input before hand. Punishments for driving under the influence must be increased and always enforced.
An interview done by USA Today had the CEO of Coors Brewery, Peter Coors, also agreeing that? there should be zero tolerance for aberrant behavior associated with alcohol. Zero tolerance for drinking and driving. Zero tolerance for crimes committed under the influence (4 B). ? Too many lives are lost because of irresponsibility and a lenient justice system. To combat this problem, the United States must acknowledge that enforcing responsibility would be more effective than criminalizing something that teens and young adults do anyway. Our United States government should follow the examples set forth by France, Italy, Spain, and other European nations.
We should concentrate less on alcohol problem prevention and treatment and target more on mature and responsible social acceptance and integration. Opposing Viewpoints: Alcohol, a book edited by Scott Barbour, agrees that nations that socially accept a no limit on the drinking age have less drinking problems than do nations with age restrictions (49). I personally had the experience of being friends with a high school foreign exchange student from Poland. His mind set was typical of anyone living in a liberal European nation. He saw beer as common as how Americans see Coca-Cola. The same way we drink a coke at lunch and dinner, he would drink a beer with his meals.
Morals and values concerning alcohol are instilled by European nations at a very early age. At first, my friend would be alarmed that people in the United States would be thrilled to be able to get beer while still in high school. Even though he did not know it is illegal, alcohol was so commonplace to him that he did not see the reasoning behind getting excited about being able to get a hold of beer. This form of teaching and acceptance of social drinking by teens should be adopted in the United States to truly lessen the drinking problems. An 18-year-old in the United States has the constitutional right to vote, marry, buy tobacco products, and die for his or her country. On the other hand, that same adult cannot walk into a bar after a hard day of work to enjoy a glass of beer or wine.
Iam firmly convinced that the right to vote is an adult decision and responsibility. Government has recognized that at age 18 a person has enough sense and maturity to elect and decide the future of their nation by passing the 15 th Amendment to the Constitution. Eighteen year-olds are also given the right to get married without parental consent. Young adults are granted the right by the government to choose their immediate and long-term futures by allowing them to decide whether they wish to get married and start a family without any intervention. By law, young adults eighteen and older can buy tobacco products.
Tobacco products are much more lethal than is alcohol. An Internet article written by the American Cancer Society asserts with statistical evidence that alcohol related deaths are averaged at 120, 000 people per year while tobacco products kill an average of 320, 000 people per year (1). I believe that it is a total irony that the U. S. government would rather grant 18-year-olds the right concerning a controlled drug like tobacco, which is much more deadly in comparison to alcohol. Another hypocrisy that the U.
S. government possesses is that it gives only enlisted military personnel of ages 18 and older the right to legally consume alcohol in controlled settings like the bases or the barracks. ? If you? re going to ask a young man or young wife to go to war and potentially spill blood or die for their country, ? claims Marine spokesman Scott Gordon in USA Today, ? I think it? s safe to say they? re old enough to handle alcohol (3 A). ? Why should the government treat these individuals differently than any other civilians? Weren? t we all obligated to enlist in the service when we turned 18? When we signed that form, didn? t we as civilians also pledge to fight and die for our country if it should ever need us? I think it is safe to say that we too are old enough to handle alcohol. As much as we may disagree with the notion, the time has presented itself in which the drinking age should be lowered to eighteen. With the irrelevant correlation of youths and alcohol-related deaths, the responsibility of parents to teach controlled drinking, and the inalienable constitutional rights that all adults have, we must overturn the legal drinking age or be subject to be continually treated like children.
Please, I ask you to write to your elected political officials, make a stand, and support my reasoning. Help me in aiding society to live with, accept, and understand alcohol and not simply hide, ignore, and misunderstand it. Works Cited Barbour, Scott, Bruno Leone, and Brenda Stal cup, eds. Opposing Viewpoints: Alcohol.
San Diego: Green haven Press, 1998. Casta~ned a, Carol J. ? La. Drinking-age ruling rekindles debate.
? USA Today 22 Mar. 1996: 3 A. Chafetz, Morris E. ? Teach responsible drinking. ? Editorial. USA Today 30 Oct.
1997: 14 A. Chwat, John. ? Education, not laws, will make roads safe. ? Interview. USA Today 7 Apr. 1989: 10 A.
De la Cruz, Hector. General Motors. Clark Chevrolet Representative. Interview. By JM. Kelly, Rachel.
? The real answer is abstinence. ? Interview. USA Today 7 Apr. 1989: 10 A.
Lang, Alan R. Ph. D. Alcohol: Teenage Drinking. New York: Chelsea House, 1992. ? Medical Examiner.
? University of North Carolina. Online. AOL. ? Statistics. ? American Cancer Society.
Online. AOL. Vogler, Roger E. Ph. D. , and Wayne R.
Bartz, Ph. D. Teenagers and Alcohol: When Saying No Isn? t Enough. Philadelphia: The Charles Press, 1992. Wells, Melanie. ? Coors chief: Consider lower drinking age.
? USA Today 10 Sept. 1997: 4 B. ? When were the best muscle cars made? ? Motor Trend. With Bob and Neil.
TNN 31 July 1999.