Monday, June 3, 2013

He made criminals of us all

Senator Frank Lautenberg, D-NJ, is dead at 89.

His claim to fame was abusing the federal government's spending power to create a de facto national drinking age of 21. This law created, and continues to create, millions of young "criminals" who could with a stroke of the president's pen be drafted to fight in a foreign war but cannot legally buy or ingest a light beer. The law is an abomination.



  1. Setting aside that in all liklihood there will never be another draft, would the law not be an abomination if the age one had to register for selective service was 21?

    1. Well, it would be less of an abomination at least.

      There's only one age that really even makes sense as a state-enforced threshold (enforced through criminal penalties) for drinking alcohol (or ingesting other substance): the age of majority. In other words, 18. The law protects minors, and it also restricts them. Right now 19-21 year olds are unfairly restricted in their liberty without any corresponding protection. They have all the duties of adulthood but not all the privileges. If we said 21 was the age of majority and extended protections to everyone under 21, that would not be an abomination on that ground. (Though the use of the spending power to upend the traditional state/federal balance is a separate and equal abomination that remains.)

      One other aspect in which the 21-year old drinking age is an abomination is the way that it breeds disrespect for the law. I know this argument is a bit crankish, but I hate laws that everybody agrees are okay to break as long as you don't get caught. The drinking age is one of those laws.


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