Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Essay on Lowering the Legal Drinking Age

Essay on Lowering the Drinking Age

As we are all aware of, the United States of America has ruled that the legal drinking age is twenty-one. Many citizens, including myself, believe this to be preposterous. We all have our reasons for believing which side of the line is best, and this essay includes mine.

I know that some of you may believe that twenty-one is a suitable and responsible age. Some of you may even go so far as to say that it should be set higher than that. A few individuals I know would say that the way “kids” act today has determined their fate to have to wait several years after becoming an “adult” to purchase alcohol legally. While I understand that some members in my age group have shown their ludicrous ways, the majority of us are going to college trying to make something of ourselves. But that shouldn’t prevent us from having a little life experience along the way.

In 1984, the United States government ruled that the states would either change their minimum legal drinking age to twenty-one, or the highway departments would suffer cuts in budgets. Since then, many people have argued for or against this act, but the battle still continues.

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Even professors are adamantly involved in trying to get the age lowered. Dr. Ruth Engs, Professor of Applied Health Sciences at Indiana University states, “Currently, we prohibit 20-year-olds from sipping champagne at their own weddings (Engs and Hanson 1)!” A wedding is a time of celebration. Shouldn’t a bride and groom who were considered old and mature enough to get married be considered as such to consume an alcoholic beverage or two?

In the United States, one is considered an adult at the age of eighteen. Those persons are allowed to be eligible to vote, purchase tobacco products, get into dances or clubs, and most importantly, able to fight and die for their country’s cause. If one is considered responsible enough to fight for the U.S. government, then how is one not responsible enough to be able to decide whether or not we want to consume alcoholic beverages?

Jeff Rainforth, a man running for U.S. Congress, stated that if the minimum legal drinking age was not changed, he was going to propose that those turning eighteen joining the armed forces could still join, but they would not be allowed to fight in combat until reaching twenty-one. He claims that it is easier sometimes for a person to obtain drugs than it is for them to purchase a single can of beer (Rainforth 1). So you see, there are far worse things to consume than alcohol. Would you rather your kids be out drinking—not much, just a sip or two—or would you rather them be out smoking marijuana or much more dangerous drugs? Rainforth also mentioned that “either a person has the ability to make rational life decisions at age 18 or a person has the ability to make rational life decisions at age 21. It cannot be both ways (Rainforth 1).”

At the age of 18 all persons are charged as adults for crimes committed, and can receive either the death penalty or life imprisonment as punishment. The Califonia State Supreme Court recently gave prosecutors the authority to charge minors as young as 14 as adults for crimes committed (Rainforth 2). If you spend the rest of your life in jail from such a young age having been charged as an “adult,” then you should be able to drink any beverage of your choosing.

In America, a citizen is claimed to have all of these rights. An American citizen is supposed to be able to make their own life choices and decisions. If this is the case, then why can’t an American citizen choose to drink alcohol after they have reached adulthood? Citizens in other countries are able to make their own alcohol consumption decisions at the time of being able to walk! China, Jamaica, and Sweden are a few of these listed countries. Both of our bordering countries and our allies are allowed to drink at age eighteen. In England, if you’re in a restaurant, you can even purchase and drink alcohol at age sixteen (Legal Drinking Age 1). So why does America choose to be the only one left out in the cold by putting off the age to twenty-one?

Even though the legal drinking age is twenty-one, a majority of the people under this age consume alcohol. A great deal of these law-breakers consume alcohol irresponsibly because they perceive it as rebelling against authority. Since the age was raised, many young adults have drunk more abusively than in the past. Like national Prohibition, it was been counter-productive. Raising the drinking age brought about more problems than it solved (Engs and Hanson 2).

My final reason for why we should lower the drinking age is a person can purchase a firearm upon turning eighteen years of age. What is wrong with this picture? A person can blow someone’s head off and then be tried as an adult for it, but he/she is not allowed to buy alcohol on their own? I believe that shooting someone is far worse than drinking a little beer or liquor at a time of his/her choosing.

If changing the age to eighteen isn’t suitable, there are other solutions. Either way, young adults are going to find their own ways to get the “forbidden fruit.” The government could allow the individual states to decide their own minimum drinking age—much like they did with tattoos and piercings. Maybe we could be like sophisticated and notable England and allow those under age to consume alcohol in restaurants. Business and economic levels might even increase after incorporating this idea.

In conclusion, America should consider repealing the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 or at least choosing another alternative. Prohibition didn’t work, and it doesn’t look like this idea of the U.S. government enforcing this act on its younger citizens is going to work very well either. If significant results were being shown and could be proven, then I and others would not have a problem with it. It would just be something to have to deal with in life. But the fact is, it’s not making an impact! Not being able to drink at your own wedding reception, but being allowed to get killed in a war is just ridiculous.

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