This past weekend was two of my friend's twenty first birthdays. They both had their first legal drinks, and we had a good time going out to eat and playing bingo. This really got me thinking about the legal drinking age.
I then decided that I did not want to drink on my 21st birthday. Don't I know better than the government when it is best for me to have a drink? Drinking on my 21st would just confirm the belief that government has the best ability to decide when I am 'ready' to drink. But there is also an obvious argument for a minimum drinking age: to prevent teenagers from drinking and driving, in which case fatalities will increase. This was Barack Obama's response to a soldier questioning why he is old enough to serve and die for our country, but would be committing a crime by consuming an alcoholic beverage.
Many, many, many people drink before their 21st birthday. Are they responsible enough to consume alcohol? Debatable. But then again, do you become responsible overnight when you turn 21? Absolutely not. I am sure there are many in their 20s and 30s who are still not responsible 'enough' to consume alcohol (just look at the number of people who drink and drive any given day). There is a fundamental problem when it is possible for a 16 year who cannot legally drink for nearly five years is much more responsible than a 30something who has been able to legally drink for years. There must be some sort of regulation to ensure the safety of a countries citizens. But, what would the minimum drinking age be replaced with? That is a question that may never be answered.
I have heard that a human's brain is not fully developed until they are in their early twenties, and alcohol can affect this development. But then again, cigarettes are damaging to someones body regardless of age and they are legal. Would more teenagers drink if the minimum age was 18? Perhaps, but at the same time there is something about doing an 'illegal' activity that makes it attractive to those taking part in it. Especially if they don't see a problem with it or believe they should be legally allowed to partake in the activity.
Dean Barkley advocated lowering the drinking age to eighteen. Will this ever happen? I doubt it. Politicians are not going to win a ton of votes by advocating this policy, as most people who vote are older than 20 so they really do not care at that point. Whenever it comes to substances, such as tobacco, marijuana, or in this case alcohol, the role of the government and what restrictions should be set becomes blurry.