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In Defense of "Underage" Drinking
Mercurial Times ^ | March 1, 2002 | Aaron Armitage

Posted on 03/04/2002 10:49:56 AM PST by A.J.Armitage

The situation is already bad enough. Every state in the union has already been forced by federal blackmail to raise the drinking age to 21. Now a group called the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse is trying to whip up hysteria about the evils of people drinking a few years before they get government permission. They came out with attention getting claims that 25 percent of alcohol consumption is by "children", which to them apparently includes a number of potential voters. It turns out the real number is 11 percent, including, it should be noted, people over 18. The headlines ought to be shouting the shocking news that college students account for less than 25 percent of the drinking in America. My generation is a bunch of slackers.

The 25 percent figure was what Thomas Sowell calls an "Aha! statistic". Like the bogus statistic that domestic abuse increased on Super Bowl Sunday, it existed to boost a particular political agenda; whether it happens to be true is fundamentally beside the point. In this case, the political agenda is more warfare on substances (as if the war on drugs wasn't insane enough). The organization's web site, which greets visitors with an alternating graphic of someone smoking the devil-weed, a middle aged corporate manager type having what, by the looks of him, is a well deserved drink to relax after a hard day at the office (they're evidently so inhumane as to begrudge him this), and a girl smoking a cigarette, quotes their head control freak as saying, "This report is a clarion call for a national mobilization to curb underage drinking," while calling for various authoritarian measures such as holding parents legally responsible, "stepping up" enforcement, and, of course, higher taxes on alcohol. What fun.

One of the arguments advanced by opponents of the 21 year old drinking age is that you can't expect people to learn to drink responsibly by not letting them drink at all and then one day letting them drink all they want. Instead, children should learn to drink wine or beer with meals, as they do in Europe. There's a lot to this argument. You wouldn't expect a 16 year old to drive perfectly without practicing in parking lots first. But it's not my reason. These are my two main reasons for opposing the drinking age.

First, the government has no business telling anyone, whatever his age, what substances he can consume. Yes, that includes crack cocaine. Yes, that means no drinking age whatsoever. I got drunk on champaign on New Year's Eve when I was one year old with no ill effects. Restrictions on what a peaceful person can own, consume, sell, or produce are simply outside the proper sphere of government. Government necessarily operates by force, so the proper sphere of government is the proper sphere of force. Drinking before a certain age is not a reason to use force against someone, but if it is, which age? What sets drinking at the age of 20 apart to a degree that requires force, which is to say violence or the threat of violence, to stop it? Does it apply to 20 year olds in Canada? Did it apply to 20 year olds before the federal government imposed the 21 year drinking age? The truth is, nothing whatsoever except the law itself sets drinking by 20 year olds apart. That law is groundless; it exists as arbitrary will and nothing more. If it had pleased the makers of the law, the age would be set at 30.

Second, drinking is fun. Here, I suspect, my reason for supporting it is the very reason they oppose it. There's a significant proportion of the population that instinctively regards anything enjoyable as a sin and something the government ought to do something about, at which point they resemble the "Islamo-fascists" we've been at war against, who also hate drinking. H.L. Mencken defined Puritanism as "The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy." Now, this is grossly unfair to the Puritans, and the Reformed tradition as a whole, but that type of person existed in Mencken's time, and exists now. Far from being theological Puritans, they tend to be social gospellers or non-Christians altogether. In place of a Christian zeal for salvation, they have a zeal for social perfection.

Unfortunately, a zeal for coercively achieved social perfection always ends badly.



TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: libertarians; paleolist
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1 posted on 03/04/2002 10:49:57 AM PST by A.J.Armitage
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To: Paleo_list; libertarians; OWK; Anthem; Publius; diotima; Aristophanes; CatoRenasci; Romulus...
.
2 posted on 03/04/2002 10:50:54 AM PST by A.J.Armitage
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To: A.J.Armitage
"The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy."

I support lowering the age to 18 but do you seriously believe this line?

I personally believe that it is that belief that truely hurts Libertarians efforts.

3 posted on 03/04/2002 10:53:45 AM PST by Texaggie79
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To: A.J.Armitage
It just proves that 47.3% of all statistics people quote are made up on the spot.

I think that the drinking age should be lowered to 16, and the driving age raised to 25.

4 posted on 03/04/2002 10:59:06 AM PST by Lokibob
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To: A.J.Armitage
I got drunk on champaign on New Year's Eve when I was one year old with no ill effects.
Except for affecting your ability to spell.
5 posted on 03/04/2002 10:59:17 AM PST by drjimmy
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To: Texaggie79
I personally believe that it is that belief that truely hurts Libertarians efforts.

That and the whole drug legalization thing... Which I support in bits and pieces but as a straight-ticket Republican, am not about to go out and do any nude picketing for it...

6 posted on 03/04/2002 11:00:07 AM PST by maxwell
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To: A.J.Armitage
Why do I have the sneaking suspicion that this subject primarily interests college students?
7 posted on 03/04/2002 11:01:47 AM PST by independentmind
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To: Texaggie79
How else explain the logic that at 18 one is a legal adult and may own property, enter the workforce without the gubmint's permission, and "die for one's country", but may not buy beer on a Friday night? I'm not exactly saying that the "fear of happiness" argument is absolutely correct, but what other argument is there? How does the three year gap between adulthood and legal drinking make sense?
8 posted on 03/04/2002 11:02:38 AM PST by truenospinzone
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To: A.J.Armitage
I feel they could ease up a bit on teens drinking beer. Maybe there would be fewer drug users if teens knew that it was legal to drink beer.
9 posted on 03/04/2002 11:03:04 AM PST by mamelukesabre
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To: truenospinzone
How does the three year gap between adulthood and legal drinking make sense?

Same reason you can buy a shotgun at 18 but must wait till 21 to buy a hand gun. Some states just believe that they are not equipped to safely and responsibly handle it. Fun, has nothing to do with it. Why do you have to be 25 to rent a car? I know it's not a law, but it is a standard.

10 posted on 03/04/2002 11:05:07 AM PST by Texaggie79
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To: A.J.Armitage
I don't feel like contributing today. ~~~ Wait until you see "Unable to locate server"
I don't have money. ~~~ Help with the fundraiser. Bump the threads, ping your FRiends.
There's plenty of time to donate. ~~~ Bill collectors don't see it that way.
I don't know where to contribute. ~~~ Credit card, mail: FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 , Paypal: JimRob@psnw.com
I've got too many other things to do first. ~~~ Don't we all?
I can't contribute much, what's five dollars. ~~~ If everyone contributed one dollar a month, we'd never have a fundraiser again.
The dog ate my credit card. ~~~ Shoot the dog.
Just let me finish freeping. ~~~ BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Don't wait until it's too late. Do it today. Do it now! Free Republic is funded solely by us. It's up to us to keep it running. Do your part, contribute if you can. Bump the fundraising threads. Help keep this place alive!

11 posted on 03/04/2002 11:05:08 AM PST by WIMom
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To: A.J.Armitage
I'll drink to that
12 posted on 03/04/2002 11:05:29 AM PST by philosofy123
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To: Texaggie79
"The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy."

I support lowering the age to 18 but do you seriously believe this line?

I personally believe that it is that belief that truely hurts Libertarians efforts.

I don't believe it about the actual Puritans, but the line's stayed around for a reason. There really are people who instinctively oppose pleasure. Look at the health nazis, who are closely connected with the people I talk about above.

13 posted on 03/04/2002 11:06:05 AM PST by A.J.Armitage
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To: A.J.Armitage
I got drunk on champaign on New Year's Eve when I was one year old with no ill effects.

Wanna bet?

14 posted on 03/04/2002 11:08:46 AM PST by 1L
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To: A.J.Armitage; smedleyButler; norb2569; racebannon; usmcvet;g'nad
I think those in the military should be able to drink.

If they're old enough to fight and die they should be old enough to have a drink.

15 posted on 03/04/2002 11:08:47 AM PST by MudPuppy
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To: A.J.Armitage
There really are people who instinctively oppose pleasure.

Other than, perhaps, a few obsessed Nuns in some dungeon somewhere, I don't see it. The health people are idiots, but still they do it, because they don't want people to be hurt. Not saying it's a good enough reason, but it's not because they can't stand the thought of you enjoying a cheeseburger.

16 posted on 03/04/2002 11:08:49 AM PST by Texaggie79
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To: A.J.Armitage
BTTT!!!!
17 posted on 03/04/2002 11:09:18 AM PST by E.G.C.
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To: truenospinzone
How else explain the logic that at 18 one is a legal adult and may own property, enter the workforce without the gubmint's permission, and "die for one's country", but may not buy beer on a Friday night? I'm not exactly saying that the "fear of happiness" argument is absolutely correct, but what other argument is there? How does the three year gap between adulthood and legal drinking make sense?

~~~~~~~~~

It doesn't make any sense. That's why so many teens drink beer and so many adults buy it for them. The law should be changed. When I was 18, you could stand at the entrance to a grocery store and ask people at random to buy beer for you. I never had to ask more than 3 people. To me that means approx one in three adults was willing to break the law and buy beer for a minor they don't even know.

I think that says alot about the drinking law, don't you?
18 posted on 03/04/2002 11:10:33 AM PST by mamelukesabre
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To: Texaggie79
Same reason you can buy a shotgun at 18 but must wait till 21 to buy a hand gun.

Ah, so it doesn't make sense, then. Gotcha.

Seriously, this is another matter for the states to decide. I have no problem with some states/counties/cities choosing to disallow the purchase of alcohol on Sundays because it's not a federal law, and those who live in areas that have such laws know that they can move elsewhere if the option of drinking on Sunday is that important to them. I'd feel the same about some states not allowing the purchase of alcohol by a legal adult until the age of 21. It's the fact that the law is federal that makes no sense.

19 posted on 03/04/2002 11:11:08 AM PST by truenospinzone
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To: A.J.Armitage
So would you extend this argument to all drugs. No age minimum to purchase any drug whatsoever?

What of parents who do not wish for their minors to do them? How do they control a convenient stor from selling crack to their 16 year old if it is all legal at any age?

20 posted on 03/04/2002 11:11:13 AM PST by Texaggie79
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To: truenospinzone
Seriously, this is another matter for the states to decide.

I completely agree.

However, the argument that those laws exist because people don't want younger people to have fun is a very CHILDISH argument. It seems that many Libertarians are just unmatured 15 year olds.

21 posted on 03/04/2002 11:13:31 AM PST by Texaggie79
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To: truenospinzone
How does the three year gap between adulthood and legal drinking make sense?

The same question can be asked of the two year gap between getting a drivers license and voting; between being able to select which parent you want to live with if they are divorced (12 in some states) and being able to get married with parental permission (isn't it 14 in some states; if not, 16). Different circumstances affect different decisions and there isn't a huge push to bring the drinking age down from 21.

22 posted on 03/04/2002 11:14:28 AM PST by 1L
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To: mamelukesabre
I drank much more at eighteen than I do at twenty-six, and it wasn't any discernibly harder to get alcohol. You're absolutely right; it never took my friends and I more than a few minutes to find someone, usually a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend type, who disagreed with the law enough to buy us some beer - because we were ADULTS.
23 posted on 03/04/2002 11:15:15 AM PST by truenospinzone
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To: A.J.Armitage
I got drunk on champaign on New Year's Eve when I was one year old with no ill effects.

First, how does one manage to remember getting drunk at one year of age? If this is the result of a 'family story' keep in mind it's probably been overblown - allowing you a sip just to see the expression on your face is hardly allowing you to get drunk. Second, if this is true, then your parents (or whoever your caregiver was at the time) should have been charged with child abuse. They could have killed you.

24 posted on 03/04/2002 11:15:18 AM PST by MEGoody
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To: independentmind
Why do I have the sneaking suspicion that this subject primarily interests college students?

I'm 55 and I'm interested.

The government turns almost all college students into law breakers. For what?

The whole argument about drinking and driving is completely bogus. My daughter (who has been having wine with dinner ever since her tour of Europe with her grandfather at age 13) would have happily turned her drivers license into the police where she went to college. She never drove while at school, but she had numerous fake ID's.

ML/NJ

25 posted on 03/04/2002 11:15:45 AM PST by ml/nj
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To: A.J.Armitage
Beer at age 18 is fine for me, but no hard liquor. I am always very hesitant to losen up drinking laws for young people. I see enough of my peers wasting their youth away on closing down the bar every night, in otherwords, they have no lives, either that, or they are not creative enough to find something else to do.

Plus drinking a lot isn't good for one's health. It makes people fat and ruins their liver. Plus, it is a waste of money that could go elsewhere.

26 posted on 03/04/2002 11:15:47 AM PST by FreedominJesusChrist
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To: A.J.Armitage
Back in the mid-70s, the states nearly all lowered the age to 18 (or 19 in some instances). The result was a BLOODBATH. Kids were killing themselves right and left and taking lots of innocent bystanders with them.

THAT is the reason the limit went back up to 21 after a few years. Something the Libertines will ignore or deny. But it is FACT.

27 posted on 03/04/2002 11:17:04 AM PST by Illbay
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To: A.J.Armitage
I got drunk on champaign on New Year's Eve when I was one year old with no ill effects.

First, I wonder how someone remembers getting drunk at one year of age? I suspect this is probably a family story that got exaggerated, as they tend to do. Your parents probably just gave you a sip to see the reaction on your face. Second, if this is true, and you actually did get drunk, then your parents (or whoever the caregiver was) should have been charged with child abuse. They could have killed you.

28 posted on 03/04/2002 11:18:12 AM PST by MEGoody
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To: 1L
All of the examples you gave involved non-adults. I have no problem with laws affecting those seventeen-and-under, because the federal government accepts their non-adulthood in every (law-abiding) circumstance. I'm asking why a person accepted and treated as an adult by the federal government in every other situation is treated as less-than in this one
29 posted on 03/04/2002 11:18:39 AM PST by truenospinzone
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To: Texaggie79
The main problem that I have with Libertarians, is that they are way too optimistic of human nature. They may think that drinking laws stink, but I am sure glad they are there. It makes me feel safer while driving somewhere late at night, plus drinking is such a bad habit, and young people can spend their money and time doing something more profitable and worthwhile.
30 posted on 03/04/2002 11:20:23 AM PST by FreedominJesusChrist
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To: Illbay
When people don't show personality responsibility with their lives and the lives of others, that is when the government has to come in and pass common-sense safety laws, of which drinking laws is one.
31 posted on 03/04/2002 11:21:53 AM PST by FreedominJesusChrist
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To: A.J.Armitage
Individuals 18-21 have a full panoply of rights - voting, marriage, driving, military service, even [ugh] abortion. Everything other than the ability to get a beer. And the person that we can thank for this is Lizzy Dole.
32 posted on 03/04/2002 11:22:06 AM PST by curmudgeonII
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To: Texaggie79
The health people are idiots, but still they do it, because they don't want people to be hurt. Not saying it's a good enough reason, but it's not because they can't stand the thought of you enjoying a cheeseburger.

Sure there are those, but there is another element at work here. There are some people, many people, who feel that any personal decision they make should be made into law.

They don't like drinking or smoking or dancing or rock and roll music, or whatever, therefore to them all those should be illegal.

Regardless of the reasons for their personal decisions, to pass a law they know they must come up with some practical excuse. For years now, the more traditional Puritan reasons have been laughed at, "It's the work of the Devil" "It's partaking in moral turpitude", etc.. don't get much mileage in most legislatures anymore.

So they have to dress up their control-freak inclinations in terms most likely to get legislative results. So with a wink and a nod, they hop on the "It's not good for you" bandwagon, and hence the Puritan crowd sneaks into the back door of the health-nut party virtually unnoticed.

33 posted on 03/04/2002 11:22:28 AM PST by freeeee
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To: WIMom
The dog ate my credit card. ~~~ Shoot the dog.

HEY. Take dog to vet, get dog to cough up credit card.

34 posted on 03/04/2002 11:24:33 AM PST by PetroniDE
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To: freeeee
There are some people, many people, who feel that any personal decision they make should be made into law.

Oh yeah, they are everywhere. Trying to ban green beans cause they don't like the taste. Trying to ban the Simpsons because they don't think they are funny. Trying to ban Bon Jovi cause they think he has no more talent.......

Yup, people trying to enforce their personal tastes........

35 posted on 03/04/2002 11:24:50 AM PST by Texaggie79
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To: drjimmy
I got drunk on champaign on New Year's Eve when I was one year old with no ill effects.
Except for affecting your ability to spell.

Way to look smooth there. LOL

In my defense, there's a city in my state called Champaign.

36 posted on 03/04/2002 11:26:12 AM PST by A.J.Armitage
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To: FreedominJesusChrist
Plus drinking a lot isn't good for one's health. It makes people fat and ruins their liver. Plus, it is a waste of money that could go elsewhere.

Those are great reasons for you to abstain, but not a single reason for you to choose for others to abstain.

It's not your health, your liver or your money you're talking about. It's someone else's.

37 posted on 03/04/2002 11:27:10 AM PST by freeeee
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To: A.J.Armitage
"In my defense, there's a city in my state called Champaign."

Yeah there is, with a high college population...from a real winning university...

38 posted on 03/04/2002 11:28:58 AM PST by FreedominJesusChrist
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To: Texaggie79
Yup, people trying to enforce their personal tastes........

You've never observed this?

39 posted on 03/04/2002 11:30:34 AM PST by freeeee
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To: freeeee
I think that when the government writes drinking laws for underage kids, they look for what's best for the young population as a whole. Of course I was stating my view, but I am sure they are similiar to the philosophies behind drinking laws anyway.
40 posted on 03/04/2002 11:30:52 AM PST by FreedominJesusChrist
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To: Texaggie79
Same reason you can buy a shotgun at 18 but must wait till 21 to buy a hand gun.

Good example, especially since the states have no business telling anyone what guns he can buy.

Why do you have to be 25 to rent a car? I know it's not a law, but it is a standard.

It can be an industry standard all you want, but it's not comparable to a law. Why? Because the car companies own their cars. They can, or ought to be able to, refuse to rent to anyone for any reason or no reason. That's because they have property rights. An "underage" drinker also has property rights.

41 posted on 03/04/2002 11:33:37 AM PST by A.J.Armitage
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To: FreedominJesusChrist
I think that when the government writes drinking laws for underage kids, they look for what's best for the young population as a whole. Of course I was stating my view, but I am sure they are similiar to the philosophies behind drinking laws anyway.

Yeh, the philosophy goes something like this: "We own the gold, we own the guns, now do what we say(while we do what we want)".

42 posted on 03/04/2002 11:35:08 AM PST by FreeTally
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To: A.J.Armitage
You went to CLC? On the weekends, I sorta live around there, (Gurnee) and have some friends from church that attend CLC.
43 posted on 03/04/2002 11:35:42 AM PST by FreedominJesusChrist
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To: FreedominJesusChrist
Beer at age 18 is fine for me, but no hard liquor. I am always very hesitant to losen up drinking laws for young people. I see enough of my peers wasting their youth away on closing down the bar every night, in otherwords, they have no lives, either that, or they are not creative enough to find something else to do.
Plus drinking a lot isn't good for one's health. It makes people fat and ruins their liver. Plus, it is a waste of money that could go elsewhere.

It is not, I repeat NOT, the state's job to worry about anyone's money, health, weight or liver.

It is not, I repeat NOT, the state's job to worry about anyone's creativity or "wasted" youth.

44 posted on 03/04/2002 11:36:27 AM PST by southern rock
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To: Illbay
While BLOODBATH is an overstatement, you are correct, there were more alcohol-related accidents in that time. Of course there would be; you have three more years of adults able to legally drink at bars. But by that logic, why aren't we clamoring to raise the drinking age to 25? That would save thousands of lives a year, would it not? Why not do this? Well, because we'd be taking away the rights of legal, tax-paying adults. Like those age 18-20.
45 posted on 03/04/2002 11:37:08 AM PST by truenospinzone
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To: FreeTally
I know what you are saying. But I am a social conservative Religious Righter, and personally, I just don't have any problem with our nation's current drinking laws. It is not some horrid abridgement of one's freedom and does more good than harm.
46 posted on 03/04/2002 11:38:07 AM PST by FreedominJesusChrist
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To: FreedominJesusChrist
They may think that drinking laws stink, but I am sure glad they are there. It makes me feel safer while driving somewhere late at night, plus drinking is such a bad habit, and young people can spend their money and time doing something more profitable and worthwhile.

It is NOT the state's job to make you feel "safer".

It is NOT the state's job to worry about people's money or the "worthwhileness" of their passtimes.

47 posted on 03/04/2002 11:39:24 AM PST by southern rock
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To: FreedominJesusChrist
they (government) look(s) for what's best for the young population as a whole

I'm sure they think they are. That's part of the problem, the other part of the problem is that they don't know thats none of their business. A well meaning tyrant is still a tyrant.

I can come up with a whole laundry list of things that "would be best" for other people, and if they were made law, people might be a whole lot better off in some ways, such as wealth, efficiency of time, finances, life span, etc..., but they would be a lot worse off in terms of freedom.

It is not the proper role of government in a free society for government to play mommy and engage in social engineering, and the fed violates its constitutional charter by blackmailing states to enforce its drinking age.

48 posted on 03/04/2002 11:40:48 AM PST by freeeee
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To: Texaggie79
The Incarnation and Its Enemies
49 posted on 03/04/2002 11:40:59 AM PST by A.J.Armitage
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To: southern rock
I understand your opinion. But, I just don't see any big deal with our current drinking laws. I am not even 21 years old yet, but I don't think that the drinking laws are that bad or anything worth the vapid crowing that is going on here.
50 posted on 03/04/2002 11:41:12 AM PST by FreedominJesusChrist
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