Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Putting the bottle before the cart 

As regards the idea that lowering the drinking age would help campuses combat binge drinking, a thought from Milton Friedman in 1991:
...all of the experience with legal drugs is that there's a tendency for people to go from the stronger to the weaker and not the other way around, just as you go from regular beer to light beer. That's the tendency that there is: from cigarettes without filters to low-tar, filtered cigarettes, and so on.
Perhaps illegality induces binge drinking (the fixed cost of acquiring illicit substances over a larger quantity of booze or drugs), and maybe it doesn't. It appears the evidence on that is mixed. But I'd argue for no drinking age. My parents supervised my consumption of beer and wine, under rather generous limits (two glasses of wine with holiday meals was acceptable -- one beer was acceptable anytime if you asked first), and a couple of trips to unrestricted Europe as a car-less 15- and 16-year-old helped to inform me of the effects of drunkenness.

I wonder if we could convince MADD to accept a change in the laws that permitted one to drink before permitting one to drive? It might be a good test to see whether they'd put their time as drivers where their mouths are.

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