Minimum Drinking Age Essay

Submitted By birddog98
Words: 851
Pages: 4

Should the U.S. Lower its Drinking Age? Among the policies and laws discussed on college campuses one that is rather popular to discuss is whether the U.S. should lower the legal drinking age. At one point in time the drinking age in most states was below 21. With the increase in traffic accidents, especially among young people, President Reagan signed the Highway Act of 1984 that said the federal government will take away highway money if the states do not raise their minimum age to 21. While many young college students would love to be able to drink legally, public opinion actually points the opposite way. In a 2007 Gallup poll “more than three in four Americans, 77%, say they would oppose a federal law that would lower the drinking age in all states to age 18. Just 22% of Americans would support such a law” (Carroll 4). There are many reasons people would like to see the age lowered and opponents have many reasons to keep it right where it is at. There is still a large group of people that would like to see the drinking age lowered. A group one would not suspect is a collection of college presidents. According to John McCardell Jr., president of Middlebury College he views the 21 year old minimum drinking age as “Bad social policy and terrible law”(Griggs). McCardell went on to say "It's taking place behind closed doors, where it's much more dangerous. It's unsupervised. . .It's out of step with social reality” (Griggs). McCardell isn’t the only president that believes this. In 2008 ‘McCardell recruited more than 130 college presidents to sign the Amethyst Initiative, which pushed for a new federal transportation bill that wouldn't penalize states for setting drinking ages under 21” (Griggs). They were supposed to testify before congress but with the economic downturn they were labeled as a non priority. They believe the key would be more availability of alcohol education, and being able to have more supervision of kids drinking rather than doing it behind closed doors. There is also the push for lowering the minimum age to 18 because if at that age young adults are given the responsibility to serve in our military, serve on jury duty, and vote in our elections they should also be able to buy a beer. There are other reasons that people point to as alcohol being harmful to young adults. In the Journal of Economic Perspectives roughly 80% of deaths of young adults come from external reasons like motor vehicle accidents, falls, homicides and suicides where alcohol is usually a factor. It also looks at the other costs associated with younger people drinking such as the extra loss of life, injuries and hospital trips that occur, and damages kids will make while drinking. They compared this with the consumer surplus that will be created with more people in the market and concluded “the evidence strongly suggests that setting the minimum legal drinking age at 21 is better from a cost and benefit perspective than setting it at 18 and that any proposal to reduce the drinking age should face a very high burden of proof” (Carpenter 155). There are alternative answers to this debate as well. One is that people think 19 is a better age to be allowed to drink. Kids for the most part would have been on their own for almost a year