MADD: Amethyst Is No Gem

Driving through the streets of our city, I see the first wave of students has arrived. Coming home Saturday night from the astronomy club, we satisfied a snack attack on the east side of Ames, then drove the main road to our home on the west side.

Careful driving is needed at 11PM on a Saturday night. Crowds of young people lined the streets, talking, walking, waiting, smoking, crossing any old place.

The morning paper reported on college presidents breaking ranks from MADD on the drinking age. They even have a web site where they outline the position that it’s time to discuss minimum drinking age and how it might or might not be connected to binge drinking. MADD is not pleased that a discussion is even taking place. Let’s note that the college presidents are not suggesting the drinking age be lowered, just that it’s time to discuss it.

I have my own questions about age 21.

If highway fatalities drop with an age-21 requirement to drink, how many more lives would be saved if the drinking age was raised another year or even four? I sent a question to MADD on this very topic. I’ll post a reply if one is forthcoming.

Maybe a drinking age of 25 would be politically infeasible. And if so, why? It would save more lives.

Binge drinking is a huge problem for young people. Some cultures do not have prohibitions against drinking. Do these societies do better with the overall treatment of alcohol?

A college friend of mine in the early 80’s had his own solution. Each person above the age of 18 could get either a license to drive or a license to purchase and consume alcohol, but not both. A license for both would come with college graduation or two years on a full-time job, whichever came first.

What do you suppose responsible young people from about age 12 to 20 would say about combating alcohol abuse? Are they ever consulted, or do adults think they have all the answers?


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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One Response to MADD: Amethyst Is No Gem

  1. Chase says:

    This is a tricky issue! I think that Prohibition did massive damage to the “drinking culture” of the United States, and its effects are still very present today. One must remember our Puritan roots – and even though many things are viewed as “acceptable” now, there is still a lingering Puritan mindset when it comes to certain issues – alcohol being a big one. When one looks at many European countries and sees their attitude and approach to alcohol, the practice seems to be a much more moderate and common sense than here in the US. It’s a non-issue with them, really. I doubt we could ever reach that ideal here. I really wonder what it would be like in this country if Prohibition had never happened. Perhaps beverages would still largely be produced locally, and youth would have been raised around a tolerant and moderate use of alcohol.

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