Friday, May 05, 2006

Since Mike's Not Doing It

A commenter on Mike's blog requested a debate on age limits. Since Mike hasn't put it up yet, I will. So.

A recent study showed that under-21 college students were likely to binge drink on all campuses studied except one: McGill in Montreal, where the drinking age is 18. Age limits on drinking are obviously a spectacular failure. Age limits encourage immature behavior in those under the arbitrary age selected and should be abolished. This goes for things like drinking, sexual consent, contracts, R-rated movies (not the advisory rating system, just the laws), etc. (In the case of sexual consent, I could get behind a limit that coincided with the one that God has imposed upon us.)



other white meat said...

I just wrote out this long comment on how basically 21 should be the legal age limit for adults and everything goes at that(drinking, smoking, military, sex, living on ones own) because at 18 the human mind is, for the most part, not really fully matured. Then I thought of something(and deleted said rant). TESTS!!!! Tests for everything. Thats right, everything. any age can take, just gotta pass

1. Drinking: said test taker(TT) must be able to down three shots of something 80 proof and one beer in a 45 min time and not vomit. Test taker must also be able to remember where keys are that the TT had to hide before test.

2. Smoking: TT must smoke one whole box in a 12 hour time period, again with out vomiting. TT must also have to figure out how much he/she is likely to spend over the course of 1, 5, and 10 years on smoking. Incorrect math will result in a nonpassing grade. 6 months inbetween retests.

3. Driving: Along with the standard driving test, TT must be able to talk on a cell phone and drive thru a small tight road course. After passing the cell phone test TT must drive and eat a jelly donut without spilling insides over ones self. Failure to do so will result in a failing grade. TT must also be able to point out blinkers on a car and knowledge of how to use. 2 year time between retests

3. Sex: The male TT must be able to go more then 15 mins without "losing it" and must be able to actually name the different parts of the female sex(slang terms will result in an automatic failure) The female TT must be able to show some kind of life and movement during the test and must beable to answer simple questions(5th grade level minimum) to make sure said TT is smart enough to know that the line "baby, I'll pull out" is a false statment. Both genders must also be able to pick out a unwrapped but still rolled condom from a bag of balloons. 1 year between retests. Also failure of 2 straight tests will make breeding illegal for 5 years for failing TT.

to be continued

Mike said...

By "the limit God imposed on us", I assume you mean when puberty and the capacity to reproduce hits.

Meat Boy, that test idea is hilarious. Let's just have tests for everything! People who are shitty test-takers just won't be allowed to reproduce. Soon enough we'll weed them out of the gene pool, and then No Child Left Behind and other programs that over-rely on tests will finally work.

Seriously, I agree that age limit laws are pretty crazy in their arbitrariness. I think people should be allowed to be drunk when they vote. 2004 would indicate that is frequently the case.

It's tricky: I generally agree with Aaron that generally speaking, people aren't usually mature enough at 18 to handle many responsibilities. At the same time, though, people have a funny way of determining for themselves when they're ready for things like drinking. Make the drinking age 14, and people would probably start drinking at 9. A lot of it is about rites of passage, doing something naughty, etc. A similar problem exists with drug laws: marijuana is illegal, but a ridiculously large percentage of the population has done it at one time.

So is the solution to abolish these laws and age limits? Immature behavior is going to occur regardless, so should we just acknowledge that there is nothing we can do about it? Or should we continue to dance around pretending we're preventing something with our laws that we're not?

I'm not sure. As I said it's a tricky issue.

This was stream-of-consciousness, and I don't feel like reviewing what I said, but hopefully there's a coherent thought in there somewhere.

the other white meat (loved by good, feared by evil) said...

well lets hope that there are kids that don't drink or drink less due to the drinking age. Maybe there would be more car accidents caused by teenage drunk drivers if there wasn't a law against underage drinking. Lets face it, if a 17 year old is drinking he's not thinking "boy, I better slow down my drinking tonight because I may drive and kill someone" he's probably thinking "hmm, if I have a few more then I might get busted if I get pulled over"

Maybe giving them something to fear(even if it isn't really for the right reason) is better then not fearing at all at that age.

Ben said...

I think OWM (LBG, FBE) has a point about whether age limits reduce bad behavior. I'm not sure that people drink BECAUSE it's forbidden. I think they usually do it to fit in. Or because they enjoy it. Or because, God help them, they like the taste. Or...well....there's an infinite variety of potential reasons.

For me it comes down to this: OF COURSE the drinking age/driving age/voting age is arbitrary. But I think we can all agree that 5-year olds should be neither drinking nor driving nor voting. At some point, there needs to be a limit.

What kind of limit? Well, I see either age limits or limits based on some sort of test (probably not OWM's tests, but.....hey whatever, man) for maturity. A limit that involves testing people to see if they are physically or intellectually mature enough to drink/drive/vote is expensive, an administrative nightmare, and possibly unreliable. Then there's the whole trouble of knowing whether Person X, your friend, is allowed to drink/drive/vote yet.

Age limits, on the other hand, represent a bright light, easily administrated, well-known by the public. Sure, some people will be mature enough to drink/drive/vote before they reach that age and some won't be mature enough even after. But, if we figure out what is generally the right age, we keep mostly keep those who are too immature from doing stuff they shouldn't be doing...and we do so in a way that can actually be implemented.

I can see a good faith argument for lowering the age limit from 21/16/18, but not for abolishing age limits altogether.

The one, the only, OTW!!!!!!!!!!!! said...

Got something against my tests BEN???!!!

Um, the great Jeff wrote this blog correct. WELL THEN WHY NOT RESPOND TO IT. Jeff just dropped a notch on my list of awsome people. He's above Mr. Bush but he's dropped behind the old confused guy that hangs out at the street corner looking for Trix cereal. If he answer then maybe he'll go back up, and everyone knows how important it is to be high on my list. :-P

Jeff said...

Aaron - drinking and driving is illegal no matter what age you're at. You drink, you drive, you have to worry about getting busted even if there's no drinking age. So I don't see your point.

Ben - if we don't know when "maturity" occurs, why impose some artificial limit on it? Why should a 14-year-old be forbidden from driving if he/she can pass the test and pass the behind-the-wheel class?

The arguments against age limits on alcohol and sex are the same, namely: the age limits act as a substitute for real socialization and good parenting. People use age limits as a crutch and thus fail to provide the education and have the frank discussions on alcohol and sex that lead to mature decision-making.

There's also this issue: parents know the level of their child's maturity better than anyone else. If they trust their 14-year-old with a glass of wine with dinner, why shouldn't society?

And furthermore, why should it be the state's job to prevent irresponsible behavior? I'm a firm believer in the safety net and the helping hand, but everyone has gotta have their own moral compass.

Wow, that sounded really libertarian. I think I'm going to go read some Karl Marx now.

Voting? That's where the whole thing breaks down. A test would be great - you can't vote unless you can locate Iraq on the map - but I think my best idea would be to go with an age limit based on when students take a nationally required basics-of-government class. The test method ends up disenfranchising a lot of the otherwise deserving poor (we've tried it before, in fact).

Jeff said...

Prelim, dude. Prelim.

the all knowing liar OTW said...

reread what I said Jeff. I said "if I drink a few more I may get busted IF I get pulled over" meaning, he may know I've been drinking. Basically what I was saying was kids aren't afraid they'll kill someone, they're afraid of going to jail and getting in trouble with mom and pop. A 21 year old that blows a .05 is legal to drive. A 20- year old that blows a .02 is BUSTED. So if they'll control their drinking they won't have a reason to have to take a breath test. Maybe that helps keep down the numbers, maybe it doesn't. All I know is I'm not afraid to drive home after a few drinks at the bar knowing there may be a check point, are you? Would you be if you were back in Highschool and drank at a party and had to drive home? Would you drink less to not draw attention to yourself? I know I would.

Ben said...

ooooooooh, Jeff, you used his real name! Now he'll turn back into a frog, or a piece of pork, or.....something. Poof! Look at that! It's a piece of pork typing on a computer!

Okay, so maybe there are easily administrable tests for when one is physically/intellectually mature enough to drive. By your reasoning, if a 5 year old can do what your hypothetical 14 year old can do, then he should be able to drive. That makes sense.

But I think your argument breaks down when we go for "maturity tests" vs. "age limits" on alcohol and sex. How the hell are we supposed to test whether Person X is mature enough for those things yet? It still seems to me that the only adminstrable way to impose any limits to make sure only people with the proper maturity do these things is to have age limits. They aren't perfect, but they are better than nothing.

And those are not "victimless" activities. Sex can lead to pregnency and STDS. (Although, I don't remember there being age limits on sex...except for statutory rape laws. So I'm not sure where you are going with this. As far as I know teenagers can already have sex with each other...and often do.) Alcohol can lead to all sorts of impaired decisions that affect others....and often does. So I disagree that this is one of those things where libertarians can say it's just the government being morality police. This is government doing it's job - protecting the health, safety, and welfare of its citizens.