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Drinking age agenda: Not just about college bingeing

To the editor:

The question of whether the drinking age in America should be reduced, as well as the purported reasons espoused by the college presidents identified in The Washington Post article, has numerous dynamics that need attention.

First, drinking alcohol and the age that drinking is acceptable, should be more a social matter than a political one. Yet, I do support legislating the sale and consumption of commodities like tobacco and alcohol even marijuana because of the effects of their use on individuals and the collateral effects on society (air quality, driving safety, etc). The conservative and liberal social aspects, however, will likely remain at odds with the national political agenda for the foreseeable future.

America is not France, or Mexico, or Japan, so the argument that lowering the drinking age to that of these countries (18) would somehow foster more responsibility within those who drink in America overlooks how alcohol is viewed across the ideological spectrum of American culture.

Second, from a judicial standpoint, barring a significant number of conservative Justices being appointed to the Supreme Court, I doubt the precedent of South Dakota v. Dole will be overturned should the matter reach that level.

Third, there are a host of questionable motivators behind this drive.  Is it simply capturing the moment of the presidential election cycle as both conservative and liberal agendas often do?  Has there been a decline in profits for the alcohol industry that lowering the age might help respond to?  Basically, what are the real motives behind this push that will inevitably get more people drinking?

Lastly, I think these college presidents are either ignoring or are unaware of how lowering the drinking age would impact certain sects of society other than their alleged target audience. The conservative base and much of the younger members of the military have long argued that underage soldiers die for their country, but cant drink a beer while off-duty.  Having served, I find that more young troops drinking would be detrimental to good order and discipline of the military, and I argue that most senior leadership would likely agree.  Additionally, high school drinking is a problem I suspect in many communities across the country, perhaps even Alexandria and Fairfax County. 

Lowering the drinking age would not only advantage the 18-year-old high school students or graduates, but would surely avail younger students with easier access to alcohol.  I think the last thing America wants is further problems with alcohol.

Franklin Barrett
Alexandria, VA

Put the Drinking Age Back Where is Belongs

To the editor:

This letter is in response to College Presidents Call for Lowered Drinking Age: Enlightened Thinking or No Thinking at All? (August 21).

This is enlightened thinking. The 21 or over law has created such an oppressive environment that drinking is now socially stigmatized, and if one has a beer or glass of wine in hand, then one is an alcoholic.

The rationale behind the 21 or over law is just plain dumb. Thirty years ago, one could buy beer at age 18. What was the driving reason behind that?

What I find astounding is the hypocritical nature of law. Its simply astounding the amount of fear and social stigma that can be applied to a product such as alcohol.

What can one do at 18?

– Buy a house, as one is considered a legal adult

– Buy a car, as one is considered a legal adult

– Be considered for the death penalty, as one is considered a legal adult

– Buy a rifle

– Buy cigarettes

– Vote in local, state and federal elections

– Be trained by the federal government to drive a tank, steer a ship, or fly a plane. Each one of these costs millions of dollars to build, and thousands to train a soldier to the point where they are considered elite.

When I turned 18, I could be drafted, issued a rifle, and sent to some foreign post to kill enemies of my country. If the federal government considers me responsible enough to be entrusted with thousands of dollars of training and equipment, then its damn foolish for them to think me irresponsible when I want to buy a six-pack.

Its time our elected leaders took their heads out of the sand and put the drinking age back where it was several years ago. Its time for groups like MADD to stop the social stigmatizing of alcohol, and go after the intoxicated drivers instead. Its time for alcohol to be realized for what it really is, a product. Nothing more, nothing less.

T.J. Parmele
Alexandria, VA

Lets Choose a New Direction This Fall

To the editor,

I am writing in response to your recent article, Alexandria Voters Key to Virginia Strategy.  As a resident of Alexandria, I think we all recognize that we must focus on the issues that affect us and that affect the key battleground state of Virginia.

We have a choice to make in this election. We can either choose a new direction for our economy, or we can keep doing what weve been doing and thats the course that Senator McCain would have us follow. Barack Obama will implement a tax cut plan that will create jobs and jump start the economy by providing needed tax cuts for Virginia families and small businesses. He will not raise any taxes on any family making less than $250,000. In fact, the Obama plan provides three times as much tax relief for middle class families as the McCain plan.

Families across America and Virginia know first-hand the hard realities of the failed policies of the Bush administration and Sen. McCain. In fact, just last week, American of Martinsville, a Virginia-based furniture company, laid off 20 employees as part of a planned elimination of 400 jobs over the summer. This kind of job loss is exactly what Barack Obama will fight to end.

McCain will provide more tax breaks to corporations that ship American jobs overseas and provide no direct relief at all for more than 100 million middle class families. He doesnt have a plan to insure every American and under his plan youd pay taxes on health care for the first time ever. And while he may claim to be the candidate of fiscal responsibility, he has no plan to pay for the $300 billion in tax breaks hes proposing meaning well have to borrow billions more from countries like China.

Well, weve tried this approach, and look where its gotten us. These policies havent worked for the past eight years and they wont work now.

Obama will reform our tax code so that its simple, fair, and advances opportunity, not the agenda of some lobbyist or oil company. Hell shut down the corporate loopholes and tax havens, and hell use the money to help pay for a middle-class tax cut that will provide $1,000 of relief to 95 percent of workers and their families.

I hope you will give the economic issues a lot of coverage in this election. I am an Alexandria resident who would like to be able to afford retirement some day. I, and we, need a stronger economy that supports all Americans, not just the very, very wealthy.

Jonathan Krall
Alexandria

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