In 1984, our illustrious windbag of a simpleton senator, Frank Lautenburg (D-People's Republic of NJ), sponsored a bill that took advantage of the hysteria of the day while at the same time turning the 10th Amendment on its head. This is also the singular piece of legislation that reminds me that Ronald Reagan (R-America) was not the perfect Constitutional protector and defender he is made out to be.
Before I continue, let me first say that my family has been directly affected by drunk driving, suffering a terrible loss at the hands of a drunken fool who got behind the wheel of his car. I don’t take the subject lightly, but I also understand that government is more about the long view than it is about the short view.
The National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 (23 USC § 158) was written in response to the cries of people who likewise suffered at the hands of drunken idiots and who took the initiative to force each state to bend to the will of the Federal government and raise the age of consumption to 21. This was done not with outright legislation (that would've been easily identifiable as un-Constitutional), instead the individual states were threatened with a reduction of Federal highway money if they didn’t comply with the Senate's wishes. This is called coercion, and you Republicans out there who are tsking and shaking your heads at the very thought of such an incursion of State’s Rights need to understand that the Republicans in Congress gave lip-service to the 10th Amendment and then turned right around and supported the bill. Why? America is a place filled with emotional nincompoops and coming out in favor of drinking teenagers would be the same thing as coming out against a cure for cancer: It’s not good optics.
This is probably a good place to point out that the Feds had no intention of lowering the tariff the states and individuals in those states paid, they were just going to reduce the amount of the people’s own money the people could use to maintain their own highways. Special shout-out to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands who kept the drinking minimum at 18 in spite of Big Brother Uncle Sam taking away 10% of their highway funding.
Today’s version of Federal childishness is gun control. Is there a violence problem among a segment of our population? Yes. Is taking guns away from everyone going to solve that problem? No, but this is America and we all have to suffer equally because we're too intellectually lazy to seek out and solve the root problems we encounter.
In the decade or so that the national minimum was 18, traffic fatalities did in fact increase by 17%. To contrast, let’s look at a recent study from the University of North Texas Health Science Center about distracted driving.
· The study attributed 16,141 deaths from texting while driving during the six years between 2001 to 2007, based on numbers compiled from Federal statistics
· Deaths from distracted driving rose 28% from 2005 to 2008, at the same time text messaging rates skyrocketed from 1 million texts per month in 2001 up to a staggering 110 million per month in 2008
· 6% of US drivers, at any given time, are using a cell phone while behind the wheel. Though this figure has remained steady since 2005, usage has changed from talking while driving to the more dangerous texting while driving
· distracted-driving crashes are more common in urban areas and increasingly involve males who impact a stationary obstruction while driving alone
|Admit it, you think you're smarter than everyone else.|
There isn't one because everyone does it. We are a nation of hypocrites who challenge death every time we shoot a text to someone while in a car while at the same time we think making people wait until they are 21 to drink is a panacea for traffic fatalities. Let’s get real.
Let’s start by strong-arming the Feds into admitting that the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 was an abuse of Federal powers. Next, let's consider this: We let our dopey teenagers vote for Barack Obama but we won’t let them act like adults so they can understand what a giant mistake voting for Barack Obama actually was. We send our teenagers off to foreign lands to kill people and face the prospect of their own deaths for nebulous reasons none of us actually understand anymore, but they can’t go to a bar and drink a beer while watching a basketball game. This is the new American common sense.
In terms of economic boost, as a person who grew up on the Jersey Shore during the time when 18 year olds were allowed to drink, I can tell you that if you, Frank Lautenberg, want to help an area decimated by a hurricane recover and become economically viable again, lower the drinking age. Why is my short-view any less logical than your short view?
As a nation we are more educated about the hazards of driving while intoxicated than we were in 1984, but we are still sadly cavalier about the same hazards of driving while distracted. Since America is obviously not concerned about the deaths of our fellow citizens at the hands of idiots checking Facebook, I can’t take it seriously when it tells me that 18 year olds are not adult enough to drink.
How about we stop wringing our hands over every little obstacle we're confronted with and we start educating people and becoming intolerant of those who refuse to be educated about the death and destruction their foolish behaviors cause the rest of us?