With one of my own having recently turned 16, there’s more frequent talk about the house about the “legal” age. The legal driving age is 16 in most of the places I’ve lived, although Piggott, Arkansas seemed to give them out to 14 and 15 year olds like prizes. Those under the age of 16 could get what is called a “hardship” license. From what I could gather, the hardest thing some of those kids had to do was ask momma for the credit card to get more gas. I think parents signed off on it cause they couldn’t be bothered with driving little Johnny to school, and they didn’t want them riding the bus…a sentiment I understand.
When I turned 18, it was a big deal because I could then do 3 things: vote, drink and die. Not necessarily in that order. It all seemed to make some sort of sense, a crossing over of sorts.
However, the Federal Government stepped in some years ago and decided to raise the legal drinking age to 21. Now before you go tossing tomatoes at me, I’m not advocating drinking, certainly not. I am, however, suggesting that maybe something is slightly off kilter now (that tends to happen when the Feds get involved).
Today an 18 year old can vote in local, state and federal elections, and they can join the military service and potentially give their life in service. But they can’t drink. Really? We think them smart enough that they can vote for the highest office in the land and they can die fighting in Iraq, but we don’t trust them to drink?
Again, I’m going to stop here and remind you that I’m not suggesting an 18 year old should drink. Those who have known me since Y2K know I don’t drink. What I’m saying though, is that something’s not right. If an 18 year old American citizen can’t be trusted to drink alcohol, then maybe we shouldn’t trust them to vote, nor should we trust them to fight for our country.
Yeah, you see it gets a bit sticky.
Truthfully, I don’t know whether the age should be 18…or 21…or somewhere in the middle. I haven’t done the research to come up with a conclusive thought on age. What I have seen in practice is 16-20 year olds drinking uncontrollably around Oxford (something which the City and the local University tends to ignore—can you say “money”?)—and not just Oxford, but all over the US. Heck, just watch what happens during Spring Break. And what I have seen is 18-20 years olds voting irresponsibly as witnessed by our last election (okay, okay, that was a jab—but it WAS funny, you must admit that).
18 or 21? I dunno. But it just seems to me that there is an imbalance there somehow. Maybe I’m the only one who thinks that? Maybe I shouldn’t worry too much about it since I turned both 18 and 21 so many years ago. I guess as my own near the “legal” age, it’s been on my mind.