Why is 21 as the legal drinking age when everyone matures at a different rate?
The drinking age is to youth what Jim Crow laws were to blacks in the Old South. It segregates society. While meant to protect society, it backfires and does nothing of the sort. Drinking age laws do a fine job of keeping young people out of clubs and bars. Unfortunately, these laws do nothing to keep young people from getting access to alcohol from other places. After all, the law is fundamentally unenforceable -- how does one stop kids from getting beer from an older brother or friend? Shut out of mainstream nightlife, American youth have centered their social lives around parties where the sole attraction is "getting a buzz." This is hardly a preferable alternative to young people being allowed to enter clubs. The number one obstacle to drinking age reform is the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984, which virtually required states to set their drinking age at 21. The rate of alcohol-related fatalities among youth has dropped since the bill's passage, a fact which some claim justifies the law. Yet anyone who attends college knows that while they may not be able to have a glass of wine with dinner, they certainly can find a beer at a party. Some have linked the increased drinking age to the disturbingly common phenomenon of "binge drinking" on campus. Others have noted that when two similar jurisdictions have different drinking ages, such as Wisconsin and Illinois in the early 80's, Vermont and other New England states in the early 80's, and New York and Quebec in the mid-80's, the one with the lower age usually has a lower rate of alcohol-related fatalities. Young people dissatisfied with the culture of alcohol abuse have few other ways to spend their weekends, since they are not allow entry into entertainment establishments. It is the drinking age, ironically, that literally drives too many youth to drink.