The Instigator
nickman
Pro (for)
Winning
39 Points
The Contender
clsmooth
Con (against)
Losing
27 Points

The US Government shall lower the drinking age requirement to 19.

Do you like this debate?NoYes+0
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Vote Here
Pro Tied Con
Who did you agree with before the debate?
Who did you agree with after the debate?
Who had better conduct?
Who had better spelling and grammar?
Who made more convincing arguments?
Who used the most reliable sources?
Reasons for your voting decision
1,000 Characters Remaining
The voting period for this debate does not end.
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/12/2007 Category: Society
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 7,246 times Debate No: 280
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (22)

 

nickman

Pro

It is true you can do many things under the age of nineteen, such as drive a car at age sixteen, buy cigarettes at eighteen, and sign up for the US Military, in which you can die for your Country, also at the age of eighteen. So you can be held accountable to drive a machine with potentially deadly repercussions, you can be given the choice of ruining your body with cigarettes, and you can go fight in a war, and in most cases kill an enemy - who chances are, had the legal ability to drink. These three abilities are a combination of expected and granted freedoms, in which any one individual is held accountable for their choices. How is drinking considered any different?

The age of nineteen allows for several checks and balances of sorts. Teenagers will have had their unrestricted licenses for one year prior to becoming "legal." They will have already been offered other responsibilities, including the right to vote or even run for public office. Also, the 19 age limit would not inspire Canadians on the border states to spill over for the lower drinking age, as do Americans into Canada now.

Bar none, the United States has the highest drinking age in the world. The next highest is Japan and Iceland at age 20, South Korea and certain proveniences of Canada at age 19, and the rest of the countries below that. Including France, Germany, and the United Kingdom (in restaurants) at age 16. It is in my recommendation that the United States government shall lower the drinking age requirement to 19.
clsmooth

Con

You say that the U.S. government should change the drinking age to 19. I say that the federal government should not have a drinking-age policy at all, but instead, each individual state should set its own drinking age.

There is no constitutional basis for the federal government to set the drinking age. Technically, it doesn't do so now. However, it uses highway funding to blackmail states into adopting a universal drinking age of 21. Any state that does not comply does not get its share of the funding. In other words, the central government steals money from the citizens of the states through taxation, and then threatens to not give it back unless they comply with the universal drinking age.

Given these facts, in order to set a national drinking age of 19 -- which is what you're arguing for -- you would have to either pass a constitutional amendment giving the federal government the authority to do so (much like how a constitutional amendment was needed to prohibit alcohol), violate the Constitution (as the government now does frequently), or continue this immoral blackmail operation.

Why not return the authority to the states, where it belongs?

And why 19? Why not 18? I would want my state to respect adults' -- and at 18, you are a legal adult by virtually every other measure -- right to make their own choices and to be responsible for them. A national drinking age of 19 is tyranny against 18-year-olds, many of whom serve in the military. That's wrong. But any national drinking age is wrong, and goes against the original intent of the framers of the Constitution.
Debate Round No. 1
nickman

Pro

The fact is, the United States Government does control the drinking age through various back door means, a "loophole" if you will - mainly the distribution of federal funds for highway projects. If a state does not comply with this back door policy, then they lose access to funding. The question in play here is not states' rights versus federal, rather what the drinking age should be. I establish that it should be 19 for the reasons stated in my opening argument.

If you are to abolish the drinking age all-together and leave it up to the states to decide, you will undoubtedly be left with years of litigation, controversy and countless man hours debating the subject, at further cost to the tax payer of that particular state. Now tell me, where is the advantage? A one time cost to taxpayers via the federal government, or a policy in limbo for an unspecified number of days, weeks, months or years? The answer is clear. Case-in-point, it took Michigan more than one fiscal year to work out a budget for the State, almost forcing a complete Government shutdown; now consider adding one more mandate (and the cost) to that list.

The advantages to a federal mandate, is that all states must abide and it is paid for in full. Furthermore, it establishes that the law is universal in all states. In a what-if scenario, could you imagine one state, say Michigan, whose legal age was 16 and Ohio's was 18. Think of the teenage spill over without penalty. In question, the probability of drunk drinking on border states with differing legal drinking limits surely would increase the number of drunk driving incidents and related accidents ten-fold.

You agree that the 21-year-old limit is unjust and should be changed. I merely formalized the most logical and painless way to bring our Country's policy more in-line with the rest of the world, and the 21st century. Allowing the states to decide will only exhibit more harm through the length of time to have a limit in place, and will also allow for inequities in the system. There are many policies in place that do not abide by the original intent of the Framers or the Constitution, i.e. the Patriot Act. However we are not debating those here, in this case of controlling a legal drinking age, the is best solution would be applied by a Federal mandate through an Amendment, period.
clsmooth

Con

First of all, if the feds stopped extorting the states to have a drinking age of 21, each state would still have a drinking age of 21. They are state laws, after all. Why would taking away the federal government's blackmail operation result in "years of litigation, controversy and countless man hours debating the subject"? That's absurd. States had their own drinking ages before 1988, and they could easily do so again. You support the despotic means by which the federal government has set the drinking age at 21, but you just want them to set it lower. How do YOU know what the right age is? Couldn't the "right" age be different in different states? Why not have a world government that makes all laws right on down to the township level. It would save countless "man hours" but also result in horrible laws that were not appropriate for given communities.

Your example of "spillover" is silly. Michigan is on the border with Canada. Teens can and do go to Canada where the drinking age is 19. So what? Furthermore, as the federal government does have the ability to regulate interstate commerce, it could make a law making it illegal to sell alcohol to out-of-state customers who were under 21, or in your world, 19. Problem solved!

Drunk driving is a crime. Criminals should be punished and held accountable. This is not Minority Report -- you cannot punish people before they've committed any crime. I say increase the penalties for drunk-driving-related accidents. That's not the subject of the debate. The debate is, SHOULD THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SET A SINGLE DRINKING AGE OF 19, and I say NO, it should not. States should determine their own drinking ages, and I would want MY state to set the age at 18.

You are correct to say that we are not debating the Patriot Act here. But we are debating whether the federal government should continue to exercise greater power than the founders intended, or if it should be scaled back. Why make a reform that leaves the power in check? Next, they could up the drinking age to 25 or 35 or 95. A state could not do this because its citizens would revolt and move to the next state, leaving behind only the "drys."

I think people who are 18 should be able to buy alcohol. But the law should be determined at the state level (or lower), not by the federal government, who does NOT have the constitutional jurisdiction.
Debate Round No. 2
nickman

Pro

While there are many instances where a State law act in the favor of its population, over that of a Federal law, but there are also a great deal of instances where Federal law is needed; this is one of those cases. However, this is not a debate about States rights versus federal authority, nor is it a debate about the Founding Fathers or the Constitution of the United States. This is not an ideological debate regarding social versus libertarian views. This debate is whether or not the United States Federal Government should lower the drinking age requirement to 19.

My basis for reasoning, in that why the law should be 19, you in-part agree with -- grounds for dismissal of your counter-argument. At the age of 19, you are by in large considered an adult by more than one aspect. My plan allows for a lowering of the age requirement, with careful consideration to the special needs of the United States. You cite Michigan as a silly example, a border state to which would be applied. But I'm afraid there a total 14 states that are also considered border states, they include: Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, New york, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine (all with Canada), and California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas (with Mexico). These states represent roughly 30% of the contiguous United States, all you need to do is consider their state populations.

A drinking age should be national, period. There are roughly 60 other countries in the world with a national drinking age, not a state or provincial age, but national. Prior 1988, states had their own drinking laws, but with any transfer of power comes litigation, as the drinking age would bring about heavy debate. You are under the ASSUMPTION that it would revert to the states with no issues, tell me when has that ever been true? In my own words, I said it could takes days, weeks, months, or even years of debate to come to a final conclusion and outcome regarding the subject, a point you dismissed as silly. Alcohol is considered a drug and one that brings out many passionate views, including those of lobby groups, such as MADD. To disregard that is silly, not believing this subject would be a further burden to state taxpayers, goes against the belief that there are no controversial topics in this country -- then why good sir, do medical marijuana, sex education, and government subsidies still remain under heavy debate, including countless man hours of study, monetary investment, and so on? There is one answer, a simple fix in our current system, at the national level, would avoid all the problems that states would create. Finally, this mandate would represent every state in the Union, with absolutely no problems when traveling across state lines. I stand resolved that the US Government should lower the drinking age requirement to 19.
clsmooth

Con

You say: "This debate is whether or not the United States Federal Government should lower the drinking age requirement to 19."

And the fact of the matter is that the federal government lacks the authority to do this.

Read the Constitution.

The 10th amendment says: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

The power to set a national drinking age is NOT delegated to the federal government in the Constitution, and thereby, as per the 10th amendment, IT IS RESERVED TO THE STATES.

As you state in your OWN WORDS -- "The debate is whether or not THE UNITED STATES FEDERAL GOVERNMENT should lower the drinking age requirement to 19." And the answer is, NO. It does not have the authority, and to do so would be an act outside of its authority. You are making an argument for an unlimited government that does not have to obey its own laws. You are making an argument for dictatorship, for if the government is not bound by its own laws, then it is completely unrestricted. The power to set the drinking age is the power to suspend elections, torture citizens, and ban free speech -- none of those powers are granted in the Constitution, but if the government is allowed to go beyond its constitutional bounds in one case, what is to stop it from doing so in other cases?

You have presented no logical reasons why the drinking age has to be national, or why that age should be 19, instead of 18. YOU ARE MAKING THE ARGUMENT THAT SOLDIERS WHO RISK THEIR LIVES SHOULD NOT BE ABLE TO ENJOY A BEER, even if their state says they should. You have invented an imaginary problem of "cross-state drinking," when there are various laws that differ from state to state, and the drinking age is different in Mexico and Canada, where much of the country borders. Although there may be some "problems" associated with border-cross drinking, you completely overstate them to justify your cause. And besides, the argument for centralization of all laws in order to avoid any "friction" is the argument for a one-world government and dictatorship -- no more township hall meetings, the World Government Politburo makes the "universal zoning laws" now! The laws of a community should reflect the community's values (while respecting the Constitution) -- there is no need for every law to be the same in South Dakota and New York City (and Tokyo and South Africa, for that matter).

Here is why I feel I've won this argument:

1. I've answered the question, "Should the federal government set a drinking age of 19?" My answer is NO, it lacks the authority.

2. I have shown your age of 19 to be arbitrary and oppressive, even if there were to be a national drinking age. Obviously, people who are old enough to serve in the military are old enough to drink a beer.

3. I have demonstrated that there's no reason for there to be one drinking age. There wasn't just one drinking age until 1988. Were all the years prior to 1988 as horrible as you indicate a future with different drinking ages would be?

Thank you for the lively debate. Good luck.
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by lohner8910 8 years ago
lohner8910
In respect to the age being changed to 19 I believe that it would be a good idea because it would help keep it out of High Schools The majority of seniors either turn 18 during or right before their senior year. With this it would allow younger kids easier access to alcohol. If the legal age is 19 then it would help eliminate the accessibility of alcohol to high school students. It would then also help put almost everyone in college on the same playing field. That way kids would have a lesser chance of having something put on their record for doing something that will happen since there is a much easier access of alcohol in college.
Posted by olivemike81 9 years ago
olivemike81
I'm glad both sides realized that if you can make the decision to sign up and die for your country (and kill as well) you can do the same when you decide to have a drink.
This country really loves to have it's cake and eat it too.
22 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by elanortaughann 9 years ago
elanortaughann
nickmanclsmoothTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Vote Placed by Vlast 9 years ago
Vlast
nickmanclsmoothTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Vote Placed by RepublicanView333 9 years ago
RepublicanView333
nickmanclsmoothTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Vote Placed by mrmatt505 9 years ago
mrmatt505
nickmanclsmoothTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Vote Placed by toothymc 9 years ago
toothymc
nickmanclsmoothTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Vote Placed by Ninjanuke 9 years ago
Ninjanuke
nickmanclsmoothTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Vote Placed by gflinn02 9 years ago
gflinn02
nickmanclsmoothTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Vote Placed by samdawg 9 years ago
samdawg
nickmanclsmoothTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Vote Placed by KMS002 9 years ago
KMS002
nickmanclsmoothTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Vote Placed by slaterguy 9 years ago
slaterguy
nickmanclsmoothTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30