Tuesday, June 10, 2008

age limits

I'm at a seminar in Virginia, and a fellow here will be turning 21 tomorrow. He will not be allowed to drink until midnight tonight, since, you know, he's such a different guy now than he will be then.

Someone pointed out to me, though, that that's an issue with all age limits/age of consent rules. And you know what? They're right.

Thinking aloud:

Perhaps a different system would be that once someone wants freedom from rules there could be some sort of test of understanding and rationality that they could pass to distinguish themself as a rational individual. It's difficult to implement but certainly less absurd than choosing an arbitrary age.

That isn't to say that I would use that as a rule to determine when someone should be allowed to drink - I don't think age or rationality should have anything to do with that - this would apply more to, say, contracts.

1 comment:

Mark said...

Yeah, the drinking age thing is pretty tricky. It ends up becoming very arbitrary.

I personally feel that 21 is a rather high age! So is 19! One can live on their own, get married, etc., and yet not buy one beer!

In my parent's homeland, I don't think there is any drinking age and it isn't at all surprising to see an otherwise very uptight family let their extremely young kids drink some alcohol at a meal. And in some Christian circles that practice paedocommunion (serving communion to young children), young ones are accustomed to partaking in small amounts of wine from a young age.

I guess there is the impression that if the age is lowered or completely removed, there would be a flood of alcohol related problems. Maybe there would be, especially in a society which is accustomed to having that limit as a 'saftey net'. But in the long term, I don't think less gov't restrictions necessarily leads to more alcohol-related problems (particularly in societies that have long traditions of being permissive with alcohol).

Assuming one would have to work within the existing system without eliminating the age limits, maybe there could be a way to get the restrictions waived for individuals. I don't know, maybe the test you mentioned (to prove rationality and prove they are aware of certain things) plus parental consent would allow someone under age to acquire alcohol. It would still prevent people who are responsible and allow people who are irresponsible, but at least the arbitrary age limit wouldn't be the final word, and with a number of factors in line, one wouldn't be hampered by the limit. Not a good solution, but probably better than what we have now!

Ideally speaking, we'd be able to count on two non-governmental factors that would help to self regulate this: 1. Parents, churches, organizations, etc. that teach kids a responsible, secure attitude towards alcohol, not viewing it as neither an evil boogeyman or a harmless, indifferent thing either.
2. The people distributing the alcohol having the inclination to be concerned for their patrons, to the point of (on occasion) voluntarily making a decision which eads to the loss of a sale (without the government forcing them to). Of course, we can't count on these two things, but like I said, thats the ideal.