The Instigator
Vexonn
Pro (for)
Winning
30 Points
The Contender
TheLibertarian
Con (against)
Losing
24 Points

The Legal Drinking and Gambling Age Should be Reduced to 18

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/12/2007 Category: Society
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 6,057 times Debate No: 306
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (10)
Votes (18)

 

Vexonn

Pro

I have always wondered why the legal drinking and gambling age in this country is 21 years old. According to the government we are adults at the age of 18. At 18 years old you are able to get married, have sex, raise a family, vote for President and even be drafted into the military. Why, if at 18 we can do all of these things, can we not drink and gamble?

Some may argue that people who are 18 are not yet mature enough to drink or gamble, but that is false because our national government allows us to begin raising families at age 18, which definitely requires much more responsibility and maturity. If this is not the case then what is it?

Perhaps it is felt that drinking and gambling are too dangerous for people under the age of 21. I suppose it is possible that they feel that drinking and gambling are addicting and that people in their teens will be unable to resist their addicted urges. Well in response to this I would have to say that just because someone is under 18 that does not mean that they will get addicted easier, people of older ages can often get addicted anyway. Not to mention at the age of 18 in this country we are allowed to purchase and smoke cigarettes. Why then, is the national legal age for drinking and gambling not 18, but 21?
TheLibertarian

Con

On the surface, a great deal of what you, and a bunch of angry teenagers, have been saying makes sense. "I can vote and die for my country can't I? So why can't I booze up as well." In addition, I definitely used to be completely for it as a fellow angry teen who wanted to know why I can't legally drink and gamble once I turn 18. However, I debated this once for a tournament, and after doing some research, found that this has been tried in America, and failed. (By the way, all my facts came from either http://www.cspinet.org... http://kennebecjournal.mainetoday.com... and http://www.ama-assn.org...)

Well to begin, let's split up the question, and first deal with drinking. In 1970 to 1975, the indeed DID lower the drinking age to 18, felling nothing would come of it. In reality, there was a dramatic increase in alcohol related driving accidents and deaths, in addition to a vast amount of alcohol-related diseases. For example, in many European nations, where 18 is the legal MLDA (minimum legal drinking age) there is a much higher rate of heart and liver diseases. Also, those who begin to drink at earlier ages have a much higher chance of developing alcohol addiction later in life and of having alcohol-related social problems. My last point is against something many people have said which goes along the lines of how they will get beer easily even if it is illegal. However, this is much farther from the truth, as they was a sharp decline in alcohol purchasing for 18-21 year olds after the MLDA was raised again in 1976. So no, I feel that to lower the MLDA to 18 all across the nation would be a poor idea.

Now, to gambling. I also felt very strongly about lowering the gambling age, and I actually still do. Luckily, so does most of the nation, and 20 out of the 38 states that have casinos made the minimum gambling age 18. This also shows another, much larger problem of making it a federal law to have the entire nation lower the ages of both things to 18: It would be unconstitutional. Similar to a prohibition, these rights are guaranteed to the states under the 10th amendment (the elastic clause), and would prevent the federal government to make any laws concerning it whatsoever. This is why you only have non-indian casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, as Nevada and New Jersey made laws towards their creation.

So in closing, while the two may appear perfectly reasonable at first glance, they either would harm our nation or wouldn't be legal
Debate Round No. 1
Vexonn

Pro

Libertarian, I respect your argument and am impressed by the research that you have put into your response, however I cannot be swayed. Your point that between the years 1970-1975 the lowered the drinking age from 21 to 18, thus causing more alcohol related incidents is intriguing, however I'd like to focus on the time period for a moment. During the years 1970-1975 we were in Vietnam and we were also in the "peace and love" hippie movement. During this time period lowering the drinking age should have been expected to cause problems just because of the disarray and teen rebellion that was occurring at the time.

I would like to point out that people today act much differently. We are not in the same type of teenage rebellion like we once were in the 1960's and 1970's. Today we are much more modern and mature than we once were. Back in those days however people did all kinds of drugs. Heroin, cocaine and alcohol were all drugs that were widely used, but aren't as much today.

Next, on the issue of your point about alcohol in Europe causing more liver and heart disease, scientific research has actually proven that a little bit of red wine at a time is actually good for your heart. Plus, I don't think it is the role of the government to intervene with people's choices about their health, and considering the fact that I am arguing with a Libertarian I am surprised that you do. I mean seriously, based on your argument here, what is next? Are we going to have to start banning hamburgers, hotdogs and french fries simply because they increase bad cholesterol and can increase chances of death by heart disease? No, at least we better not. It is an individual's choice to decide what they want to eat. If we let the government control that, then what's next, the clothes we wear? Okay I'm getting off topic now.

In conclusion I restate my point that even though excess drinking can lead to health problems, if at the age of 18 people are mature and responsible enough to choose this nation's leaders and to be able to raise children of their own, then they are definitely responsible and mature enough to decide if they should drink alcohol or not. The government can't keep regulating everything that we do, that takes the responsibility away from the citizens themselves and creates a lazy, passive national population.
TheLibertarian

Con

WHile you make some good points, I feel that not only do you leave some of my arguments alone, but you don't really refute the ones you have chosen.

Just to start with, I agree with you that the government should in no way gain MORE power than they have right now, and that they should not be protecting us against ourselves, one of the main problems with the War on Drugs and prohibition, but that's another debate. What I meant to say earlier was that the states were not neccesarily concerned with our personal health when making the MLDA 21, but that by lowering it to 18, the disease issue would be one of the reasons it would be bad for the populace as a whole.

My next point also ties into my desire for a libertarian society. I feel that Americans should be able to do whatever they damn well please, as long as it does not infringe on others' "lives, liberties, and pursuits of happiness". However I feel that with the definite increase in ALCOHOL-related driving accidents (remember I am not talking about illegal drugs here, so your Vietnam argument doesn't make much sense) would definitely influence others' "lives".

While I agree with you wholeheartedly that if the government keeps regulating everything we do, we'll turn into a "passive" nation, I restate my earlier point that it would in fact be for the protection of society as a whole, and not just against ourselves.

Finally, you never really deal with gambling, which is fine, but again, for that AND for the MLDA, it is up to the states, and what you are proposing is UNCONSTITUTIONAL and against the Tenth Amendment. These rights are guaranteed for the states, and to make federal laws concerning it AT ALL is against our forefathers' wishes and against the Bill of Rights. Thank you.
Debate Round No. 2
Vexonn

Pro

In response to your final argument about the tenth amendment, I am merely discussing this matter because the national government has created federal laws about this issue despite the fact that it may be unconstitutional. Aside- But then again the national government does a lot of unconstitutional things that we just have to accept like public education, which is supposed to be run by the states.

Furthermore, I still disagree with you that lowering the drinking age to 18 would increase the danger in modern day's society. When you talk about increased alcohol related instances I notice that you are referring to drunken driving. In studying sociological perspectives on the subject of drunken driving as it changes over time in college I feel compelled to point out that before the 1980's the sociological perspective of drunken driving was that it was not the fault of the person who performed the act, people saw drunken driving as inevitable. During the period of the 1970's and prior the NATSA focused mainly on making sure that vehicles were safe for drivers who got into drunk related accidents, because, as I continue to stress, the blame was not put on the drunk driver.

However, with the creation of social groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and Remove Intoxicated Drivers (RID) the perspective on drunk driving shifted. The blame is currently more focused on those who make the choice to get drunk and then operate a motor vehicle. Furthermore, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) became a major advocate of putting the blame on the drunk driver. Now that the blame is put on those who perform such selfish and unsafe acts, people are more dissuaded from driving under the influence. Also, between the years of 1979-1987 media coverage on the issue of drunk driving and the focus on the frame of the "killer drunk," people became more accustomed to the idea of blaming drunk drivers for their actions (Citation: all the information is in chapter 6 from a book by John D. McCarthy called "Activists, Authorities, and Media Framing of Drunk Driving." Unfortunately I cannot attach a link b/c the excerpt is from a password protected pdf file on the school website). In addition, this media coverage opened people's eyes to the horrors of drunken driving and its effect on innocent people. I can say from first hand experience at college that drunk driving here is not highly prevalent. We have a type of taxi service called "safe ride" that most students who drink tend to use. This is because the sociological perspective has been changed by the media and overall population to put the blame more on the drunk driver themselves, rather than accepting drunk driving as an inevitable occurrence.

To rap up all this my point is that today's population is much more responsible when it comes to drunk driving than it used to be. I understand your concern that drunk driving can infringe on other people's lives, but just because there are a few accidents does not mean that people who can be drafted and given the license to kill, cannot drink a little. Give me a break. Besides, it's not like teenagers who want to drink can't get their hands on alcohol very easily anyway. My point here is that kids who want to binge drink are going to do so no matter what, but there are actually kids who want to just drink moderately at the age of 18, and they should be able to do so. They should not be punished for the irresponsibility of their peers. Hence, if you lower the drinking age from 21 to 18 you will not see a significant increase in binge drinking and drunken driving in today's educated, modernized age. What you will see instead, is an increase in the number of teens who drink moderately and socially.

Finally, in regards to Europe, dullurd makes a good point that I forgot to mention. In European countries you don't see a lot of binge drinking occur. Mainly this is because younger teens are able to drink with their parents and friends socially, so as to learn how to control their drinking habits as opposed to abusing their freedom when they reach college. With this point in mind, I would even consider dropping the age down to even maybe 16 like it is in some European countries, but I'll focus on the age of 18 for purposes of this debate.

Well I think that's about all I have to say. I understand that I didn't touch on gambling much but you know, w/e, we'll stick to alcohol. Anyways Libertarian thanks for debating me, it was fun, and good job in this debate as well as in the many others that I have seen you participate in.
TheLibertarian

Con

Though some of the things you say make perfect sense on the surface level, and in some cases would apply, on the whole they are pretty much dead wrong. I will first disprove your arguments, and then make a few closing comments.

First, you say that the 21 mandatory minimum age is unconstitutional. However, although the MLDA act was made by Congress, it is each states' option to pass it or fail it in their own state. The reason why all 50 states did was because they saw the risks of making a minimum drinking age under 21 and the dangers that would occur to their law-abiding citizens.

Next, you say that lowering the drinking age would have no real danger on society and other Americans' lives and liberties, however, this could not be farther from the truth. According to the American Medical Association, there was a 141% increase in DWI accidents in states that had a MLDA of 18 years old. By lowering the drinking age, you greatly increase the risks of accidents on the road, showing just how much lowring the MLDA would harm society. In addition, traffic fatalities increased 35% in these sates, which just shows how dangerous the road would be.

Your next argument states that by lowering the age, it would reduce binge drinking later on in life, as that is what happens in Europe. While this makes sense, in America this wouldn't work. A New York study showed that those who drank at earlier ages were in fact MORE likely to drink heavier in college and throughout their life. So instead of decreasing binge drinking, a lower MLDA would in fact INCREASE the likelihood of that happening.

To close, I feel that lowering the minimum legal drinking age would be a blatant violation of vast amount of Americans' lives liberties and pursitus of happiness. I feel that it would only harm America and all of her people, and is not only unconstitutional, but a bad idea on the whole.

Thank Vexonn, that was a good debate, and I would like to remind all voters to p[lease vote on who you thought debated the best, not on your own personal views in the issue, and thank you again.
Debate Round No. 3
10 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by PreacherFred 6 years ago
PreacherFred
I was part of a group advocated lowering the voting age in Mass. to 18. The legislature, however, lowered the age of consent to 18 thereby allowing drinking at that age. The results were disasterous and the drinking age reverted to 21.
Posted by cloppbeast 6 years ago
cloppbeast
Libertarian, My comment was made in jest, in fact, I commend your arguing skills. Vote for Ron Paul!
Posted by Vexonn 6 years ago
Vexonn
One thing I found interesting about your last comment was that you said that a New York study found that kids who drink earlier eventually end up binging more later in life. However, this is because in America drinking is outlawed for younger kids, so they use drinking as a way to rebel against their parents and the law. I'd argue that if drinking were made legal at a younger age, kids wouldn't binge as much because it would no longer be as powerful of a form of rebellion. It is for this reason that binge drinking is not as highly prevalent in Europe as it is here.
Posted by TheLibertarian 6 years ago
TheLibertarian
First, just because I debate something, doesn't neccesarilly mean I agree with it, to all of those who are saying it's un-libertarian (which it kind of is).

Second, to Kevin L., it's not unconstitutional. Unfair and exploiting a loophole, yes. Unconstitutional, though, no.
Posted by alvinthegreat 6 years ago
alvinthegreat
They're debating about the health impacts of drinking...instead I think the argument that should be made is whether 18yos deserves the choice of getting to drink or not, since it is ultimately their decision to drink or not to drink. It is the 18yos choice to drink right before driving, or binge drinking, but the point is, is the US government correct in taking away the choice to drink from 18-21 yos
Posted by cloppbeast 6 years ago
cloppbeast
Libertarian, Thomas Jefferson would want to lower the drinking age to 18.
Posted by KevinL75 6 years ago
KevinL75
I have a question for you, TheLibertarian (just out of curiosity). You think a national drinking age is unconstitutional, but what do you think about the way in which the de facto national drinking age was established? Do you think that the treat to cut funding to states who didn't raise the drinking age to 21 was (and is) unconstitutional?
Posted by Lazarus 6 years ago
Lazarus
Everyone who is somewhat intelligent knows that anything new introduced into a society needs to to assimilate. Alcohol does not act any differently.

Go Vexonn!
Posted by Solarman1969 6 years ago
Solarman1969
Who the hell doesnt start drinking at like 16 anyway?

sheesh !
Posted by dullurd 6 years ago
dullurd
One important point you might want to consider about the uptick in alcohol-related deaths from 1970-1975 is that is might largely be related to a generation suddenly being granted new privileges. If the drinking age had always been 18, the 18-20 year olds in that timespan would likely have been more responsible.

One other related thing is that in Europe, where alcohol age limits are generally only loosely enforced, there's a lot less "binge drinking" and alcohol poisoning because alcohol is just not as much of a big deal to the youth there. When you grow up in Europe, you drink a little with your family and no one lectures you about it. In the USA, since enforcement is so strict, when kids get to college, they're much more likely to celebrate their newfound freedom irresponsibly.
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