So You're an Adult... Sort of Anyway

This weekend Merrimack Police (unknowingly) helped demonstrate the absurdity of our nations drinking laws by having a group of 3 "kids" (read as adults) ages 19 and 20 try to purchase beer in a number of local establishments.  They succeeded in roughly 30% of them.

This struck me odd that at 18 you are considered an adult by all means.  You can vote.  You can drive a car any time day or night without restrictions.  You can enter into a contract with the government by joining the military and put your life on the line defending the rest of us.  You can marry.  You can smoke.  You can consent to sex with anyone of your choosing.  You can be tried for any crimes you commit as an adult.

But despite all this freedom that you gain at the age of 18, you are not considered mature enough to have a beer or glass of wine.  Only Japan, Iceland and South Korea come close with their age limit at 20, 20 and 19 respectively.  All other countries are 18 or less.  Yet in these other countries they also have higher ages of majorities so they don't consider you an adult at 18 as we do.

And even though we set this high legal age of 21, as proven this past week by the Merrimack, NH police, if "kids" under 21 want a beer they can get it.  I know from personal experience that college kids drink and they all can get their hands on beer.  Anyone who's ever set foot on a college campus knows this to be true.  Yet we fool ourselves, just as we do with the drug war, that spending tax dollars to prevent adults ages 18, 19 and 20 is somehow money well spent. 

One person I recently spoke with even mentioned a bar owner near a college considers the cost of getting shut down during these types of raids as part of his cost of business since the amount he makes from the under age college crowd is so high.  Since they are going to find ways to drink somewhere he figures he may as well be the one collecting that money.  And he's right, they will.  They may even come back to his bar with a fake ID or some other way to "fool" him.  Either way, they are in his bar drinking. 

We somehow fool ourselves into thinking that someone 20 years old, while being old enough to smoke, vote and have consensual sex and can be tried for an crime they commit as an adult does not have a brain capability to choose right from wrong when given the choice of having a drink. When are we going to wake up and stop wasting tax dollars fighting battles that A) we can't win and B) we shouldn't even be fighting in the first place. Who are we to say what an adult chooses to put in their body?  It's one thing to punish those who drink irresponsibly and put others at risk but another entirely to punish those who harm no one but themselves.  And regarding those drinking irresponsibly, all you need to do is watch the nightly news and you can see that even with a drinking age of 21, drunk driving is a near nightly story.  We're preventing nothing and yet wasting money hand over fist doing it.

We label ourselves the land of the free yet we remain one of the only countries in the world in which a legal adult cannot have a beer.  Go figure!