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Is 21 too High for the Drinking Age?

When is the right age to allow drinking?

Written by Dan Perrine

You know, I was recently visiting a restaurant themed to the country of Germany. The atmosphere and food were incredible, honestly one of the best restaurants I can remember having the pleasure of dining at. But all that is besides the point! One of the big draws of this restaurant was the German beer and other such alcoholic beverages. Unfortunately for me, I am only 20 years old. So, I just got some water. “What a tease!” I thought.

On top of that, our waiter was German, and he bestowed upon me wonderful information about how back in Germany, the drinking age is 16! And on top of that, as long as you're with your parents, you can order a drink straight from the bar when you're as young as 14! While here in the United States, the so-called freest country in the world, you can only buy a drink once you're 21. No exceptions!

Now you may be thinking, “that’s just Germany,” which, I wouldn’t blame you. But it’s not just them. The majority of the world's countries place their drinking age at 18, which I think is just right considering the other freedoms an 18-year-old is typically granted.

You know what really grinds my gears? The fact that I, a 20-year-old U.S. citizen, am gatekept from the pleasure of enjoying a pint with the lads on game day. Heaven forbid a single drop of the alcohol I bought from a trusted bartender pass my lips — lock me up and throw away the key! But if this country is ever plunged into war, the very same government is very right to turn to me, slap a kevlar helmet on my head and toss me out onto an active battlefield. Why? Because freedom.

And for those of you who still remain reluctant to lower the drinking age back to 18, I have an idea for a compromise. Perhaps, for those years between 18 and 21, an individual who wishes to indulge in the consumption of alcohol has to take a test. Something like a screening to judge their level of responsibility. And if they pass the test and are given the OK, that person is given something like a temporary driver's license that can be used in stores and bars. That way, those who may simply wish to enjoy an occasional red wine can do so, without being associated with those who are more likely to act like deranged animals at a frat party whenever the aroma of liquor meets their nostrils.

Still not satisfied? Well, how about this then: for those who wish to go out for a night on the town, and it just so happens to be that they are between the ages of 18 and 21, they have a card much like the licenses I proposed earlier. And it is marked in some way, once for every one drink they have. That way, the bartender can cut them off when they’ve reached a certain limit. Honestly, I’m open to negotiation here, but cutting off responsible young people entirely just doesn’t seem right to me.

Besides: taking a look back on a time very recent in our United States history, the legal drinking age was 18 up until 1984. That legislation was passed by people who I guarantee were old enough to celebrate with a beer afterwards. And, come on, this happening in the year 1984 can’t simply be chalked up to just a coincidence. George Orwell was right on-target, if you ask me.

" in the United States, the so-called freest country in the world, you can only buy a drink once you're 21."

That doesn’t mean it has to stay 21, however. Similarly, the minimum age to vote was also 21 until the not so long ago year of 1971. This was in response to eligibility for the draft being lowered to 18 some years earlier. Back then, between the time of the draft age being lowered and voting age being lowered to match that, there was a slogan: “Old enough to fight, old enough to vote.” I say, “Old enough to vote, old enough to drink” — because seriously, I find drowning myself in shots to be much less mind-numbing than following the politics of today.

At the end of the day, it’s not like it's actually going to change anything. Unless, of course, a public official happens to be reading this. If that is the case, you are more than welcome to use this to persuade your colleagues to change the law back to what it was before 1984. Remember, Prohibition didn’t last, and neither does our current legislation that’s barring me from enjoying red wine while I watch the sunset on Sunday evenings.

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