Monday, February 20, 2006

Drankin'

I was driving around today and listening to WGAU during the 9:00 hour.  The subject was drinking, which as we all know, has become the issue du jour in the last few weeks.  Host Elizabeth Dalton had a bevy of current UGA students on the show, and I’ve got to tell you folks, it’s really interesting to see how this issue has evolved, even over the last few weeks.

Right now, playing the blame game is all the rage.  Some folks in the UGA administration are blaming the local government for a lack of enforcement downtown.  Folks in the community are blaming UGA for not keeping their students under control, whatever that means.  People all over the place are blaming the bar owners downtown for serving underage drinkers – a position that is ridiculous, and probably exaggerated.  

Problem is, no one is blaming the people who are actually at fault: immature, irresponsible college students.  The University of Georgia is not these students’ mommy or daddy.  Society presumes that if you make it through four years of high school and jump through the necessary hoops to get to college, then you’re supposed to be a reasonable, rational adult.  

The local government could do more for enforcement, to be sure.  But ask yourself this: Would you rather focus the limited resources of the ACCPD on keeping 18-year-olds from getting into the Allgood, or would you rather the men and women in blue be out on the streets keeping them from driving home drunk?  Perhaps (heaven forbid) the cops could even be doing something about the growing gang problem in ACC?  

And what about the bars?  Well, to put the bar owners on the gallows for serving underage drinkers is popular, but remember the first rule of economics.  Businesses enter the marketplace to increase profit.  Business owners may have a social conscience – many in fact do – but businesses themselves operate for profit.  It’s capitalism, and if you don’t like it, then move to North Korea.  

You want to make it harder for bar owners to serve the under-21 set?  Put more cops undercover and start handing out more fines.  Of course, if you do, then be prepared to sacrifice enforcement in other areas, like DUI.  

Even if you closed down every bar in Athens, you would still have incidents like the recent one with Lewis Fish.  If an 18-year-old wants to drink, he or she is going to find a way to drink, probably through the assistance of a friend who is legal.  

That same argument goes for every other straw man that gets thrown up for us to beat on.  The ACCPD could put every officer they’ve got at the door of every bar and liquor store in town and check the ID of every person who wants to walk through the doors.  It wouldn’t matter – you’d still have drunk 18-year-olds, and occasionally one of them will drink to excess and die.

The problem is not bar owners, or the local government, or the University.  It’s social, it’s cultural, and it isn’t going to change overnight.  It’s immature kids, a few months out of high school, on their own for the first time, and feeling invincible.  

So, when someone can come up with real solutions to the drankin’ problem, we’ll be more than happy to listen.  But until they do, we’re going to continue to write the “problem” off to a fundamental lack of personal responsibility, and something that isn’t going to change anytime soon.  And we’re going to keep saying, perhaps too bluntly, that everybody involved needs to grow up – including the Chicken Littles who think the alcoholic sky is falling in ACC.

32 comments:

DoubleDawgDareYa said...

The police are outmanned as it is downtown, and it's usually all they can do to maintain general law and order. Using them to enforce the underage drinking laws inside the bars would be a gross misallocation of limited resources. I'd much rather have them, as you point out, stop the DUIs, and stop any more Insomnia stabbings.

It is ultimately, as you say, about personal responsibilty, both on the part of underage individuals and the bar owners and tenders serving them. Of course, if the police happen upon an underage drinker during an open container or DUI investigation, they should charge the crime. And the same if a bar that is flouting the law is discovered. But assigning resources into affirmatively investigating either is inefficient and would dangerously reduced the police's ability to effectively control downtown otherwise. And as far as excessive drinking in other places, e.g. frat houses, well good freaking luck with that. Again, personal responsibility.

Anonymous said...

This all boils down to our ridiculous drinking laws. If Americans were more like Europeans - teaching kids responsible drinking early on - then we'd have fewer alcoholics and alcohol related crimes.

DoubleDawgDareYa said...

Well, there is that too. Agreed.

Ned said...

Let the kids drink a reasonable amount of alcohol and focus on getting them home safely.

We're not going to stop underage consumption because the people breaking the laws feel like the law is unfair and ultimately they have control over the own bodies.

If Fish had been allowed to drink legally then he probably wouldn't have died that night - he most likely would have been downtown and a bar would have never served him a giant bottle of whiskey. They would have cut him off after he drank too much and if he was puking/looking like he was going to die a bartender would have called the cops or an ambulance and he would have been able to get medical attention.

If we allowed UGA students in good standing to drink legally it would really help set a standard about drinking responsibly in Athens. Instead we have a system that encourages students to drink as much as they can when they can because alcohol ends up being a forbidden pleasure which students seem to enjoy too much.

I don't think the ACC or the ACCPD is interesting in solving this problem - they just want to look like they are trying to prevent another death without actually doing anything different.

DoubleDawgDareYa said...

I understand where you're coming from ned, but there are several problems with what you're proposing.

First, drinking under 21 is illegal under state law. It may be stupid, but it's the law. And if it weren't the law, we'd lose a huge chunk of highway funding. So since it is the law, we can't very well make it official UGA or ACC policy that 18-21 year old students will be allowed to drink.

Second, Fish was doing a lot more than drinking. I'm not sure that a rational relationship can be drawn between repressive alcohol laws and an 18-year-old's drug use (there are of course repressive drug laws too, which is a whole other discussion; I support the ones against the coke and heroin Fish was allegedly doing, but not so much for the ones on marijuana....I can see the tangential debate being launched as I speak).

Your argument makes sense in the abstract, but it would require a system-wide (and by system, I basically mean American society, including the legal system) overhaul of attitudes, laws, and policies, that quite frankly I don't see occurring anytime soon.

ClassicCityCitizen said...

There can only be two parties that can be at fault. The establishment(s) that serves or sells the alcohol to the underage person and the underage person that buys it. Yes, the owner of the establishment is in it to turn a profit, but the law is pretty straight forward – 21 or older. If the owner decides to disregard the law, then they have to take responsibility in whatever ensues. However, the underage person has to be held accountable for buying the alcohol in the first place. I don’t think the owner cares if the alcohol that was sold is consumed or not. Who drank it?

andyrusk said...

Well, there are bars that do cater to the underage set. Like Bourbon Street. Walk by there some night and see what I mean. Looks like the Babysitters Club.

hillary said...

Again, is there any kind of proof that we have an increased problem nowadays?

The fact that there probably isn't doesn't mean we should do nothing, but I'm gonna put it out there once more that the HOPE scholarship (or, rather, many of the parents whose kids get that scholarship) is not helping the situation. On the other hand, you can't exactly expect a town whose economy is fairly well reliant on those kids having that disposable income to rally agin it.

DoubleDawgDareYa said...

I would wager that, if anything, it's actually statistically LESS of a problem (underage drinking downtown, that is, not drinking overall) than, e.g., when I was in high school (early 90s). High schoolers, my co-editor and I included, routinely frequented downtown bars in those days, and could purchase beer without being IDed rather easily (although at the time I wasn't much of a drinker; don't worry, I've more than made up for it).

Dawg Corleone said...

Oh, God, another "if we were only like the Europeans" argument: if only we teach them to drink early like the Europeans do...

Should we also teach them early on how to do heroin?

Ned said...

Yes, because the American Way™ is always right and there is no possible way another country could have a more reasonable system of laws regarding alcohol.

Tell us Dawg Corleone, how did you like life during Prohibition? I'm just kidding of course, but let me ask you this: When you turned 18, what was the legal drinking age then?

Jmac said...

I don't know if it's necessarily a European thing or not, but it's more about parental involvement. I grew up in a household where alcohol was regularly consumed and where I learned about the responsibilities that came with drinking - I knew not to drink-and-drive and not to ride with anyone who had been drinking; I knew that drinking a large quantity was probably not the best idea in the grand scheme of things, etc.

Do Europeans, in general, probably have more responsible attitudes when it comes to alcohol consumption than Americans? I'd agree with Ned and say, yes.

But, at the same time, I'd agree with Corleone and say that Europeans also have more tolerant attitudes of, say, drug use and prostitution than Americans have, and embracing that isn't something we should run out and do.

Ned said...

We already have places in America that are just as tolerant to drug use and prostitution as parts of Europe. The good thing about America is that different states can have different laws about things like drugs, sex, and alcohol.

The big problem with the drinking age is that it is a law the is "left up to the states" but MADD got the federal government to revoke highway funds for states that didn't want a legal drinking age of 21. It is some sort of government extortion that Republicans should be apposed to but that is another argument.

I know we can't live without those precious highway funds but it would be nice to try and see if we can let 18 year olds drink alcohol without killing themselves from driving afterwards. You know how to stop kids from drunk driving? Allow them to live in such a way that they don't have to drive a car all the damn time. Athens is a good place because we can make it so students don't have to drive when they are drinking because they can take a bus back to campus or live downtown.

Why can't we let students who make responsible decisions about drinking be allowed to drink? If a student doesn't own a car and doesn't know how to drive is there any danger in letting them drink alcohol before they are 21? Athens can be very safe for students who drink under the age of 21 as long as they don't drive.

Really, UGA could do a lot to help solve this problem by letting freshmen who live in the dorms and choose not to have a special ID that allows them to drink at UGA approved bars. A plan like this would reduce the amount of parking needed on campus and might actually encourage students to live in the dorms for more than a semester.

I'm sorry if I am boring everyone with writing so much about this issue. It kind of overlaps two areas of interest - allowing people to do what they want with their bodies and turning Athens into a town where you don't need a car.

monticello_pres said...

We are all over the place on this one. Which is consistent with this topic since the tragedy at 555 Riverhill.

Some of us have decided that Europe is far ahead of us. Of course, they don't have any problems and we are so far behind them culturally. I have to call BS! And if we are going to throw out one blanket, I'll toss out another. Remind me, were the (alleged) drunk rapist murderers in Aruba from Europe or from Alabama?

Next we have decided that we reached the finite number of police officers available for A/CC and we must choose to either enforce the 21 year old drinking age OR the DUI issue. Well, I again call BS! Let's review our A/CC budget and find ways to squeak $250k for 5 additional officers. Let's try a year of zero-based budgeting and see what pork we can cut from the budget. It would be an amazing experiment.

Another line of arguement has gone that MADD is a corrupt bully like the Republican party and pushes their weight around for the sake of it. I'm not sure I should waste time with this one... but I'll call BS! since I've already wasted some energy to get this far.

The bottom line is that the initial post was right on. The kids are not kids. They are 18 yr old young adults that need to take responsibility for their actions. Mr Fish, as sad as it is, decided to drink excessively, take heroin, smoke a joint, and snort a line. Well, my man, bad call. And it was too harsh a lesson that he just learned.

I have done some stupid things in my day. I probably have a few more up my sleeve. But thankfully I had enough common sense to know that combination of products would lead to trouble. And, if someone doesn't, well there is one more proof for Darwin's theory.

As a Post Script, I would agree that my impression is that underage drinking is down in bars at this point. The 80s were wild with all-holds-barred parties in downtown bars and no IDs could be found. And without a scientific poll, I'll say that underage drinking in downtown bars has dropped by 50% (from 2/4 to 1/4). Not exactly a gallup poll, but it's all I have at this point.

Publius said...

MP brings up a good point. First of all, can we all agree that the drinking issue has come up with such force lately due mostly to the Lewis Fish case? I'm going to presume so, since very few people were talking about excessive drinking a month ago.

Now, when Lewis Fish died, he had substances other than alcohol in his body, and while I don't know from CSI, I'll bet that it was the combination of booze, weed, coke, and heroin that was the largest contributory factor to his death, not excessive intake of alcohol per se.

If so, if everyone out there can agree we're on the page so far, then the "bars are evil" argument is a non-starter, since, as of the last time I went out drankin' (two weekends ago, if you must know. Hey, I'm a busy guy), you couldn't exactly pick up an 8-ball at the Globe. Sure there are places where you can buy drugs, and I'm sure some of them are bars, but it's different because drugs are illegal whether you're 18 or 81.

To engage in one of those tangential digressions that AthPo is renowned for, I'll ask this: Should we as a nation lower the drinking age?

On one hand, there's the arugment that if booze isn't forbidden fruit, as it were, people will tend to drink more responsibly. In other words, you take the fun of breaking the law in an innocuous way out of the equation. There's probably some truth to that, actually. I drank a lot more before I hit 21 than I did afterwards. Some of that was probably due to increased age and more maturity. In any event, it's anecdotal evidence, and your results may vary.

On the other hand, if you're immature enough to drink excessive amounts of illegal booze at age 18, then you're probably immature enough to drink excessive amounts of legal booze at age 18. Irresponsibility is irresponsibility, no matter what the law says.

On the whole, it really doesn't matter whether the drinking age is 18 or 21. There are plenty of folks in the over-21 crowd who don't know when to say when as well. Bottom line is that alcohol is an adult beverage, and no arbitrary age limit can define an adult well enough to completely stop stupid and irresonsible behavior.

One final thought. MP is right about trying to dig up an extra $250,000 for five more officers, although I think the budgeting is a hair more complex than he makes it out to be. Regardless, his point is valid, and as Andy Rusk will tell you, we do have something of a budget surplus.

You know, come to think of it, $500K would buy us ten officers, using MP's math. (I'll accept his math, because I'm about to indulge in some fuzzy, simplistic math of my own, so hoist us both by our own petards.) Now, we've got a hair over 100,000 folks living here, and to be conservative, let's assume that 20,000 of us own or rent property in town. (NB: I'm totally making that number up. Could be way high or way low, I don't know) Well, it's worth an extra $20 a year to me on my property taxes to put ten officers on the streets. (SPLOST on steroids?)

But, I'd rather see all ten of them working on the gang problem, not keeping Todd and Hunter from doing the technicolor yawn on the corner of Clayton and College.

Publius said...

At the risk of sounding even more crass than I have in the original post and my previous comment, I'd like to add one more thing.

Nature has provided us with the best way of preventing excessive drinking. It's called a hangover. Get enough of those really crippling, my-mouth-tastes-like-a-movie-theater-floor, don't know if I have to puke, poop, or both, hangovers from hell, and you learn the meaning of moderation tout suite. It's nature's way, and it's a damn sight more effective than any laws we could ever pass.

That's why I can't even smell tequila without getting a little woozy.

Ned said...

MP - read this before you tell me you are going to waste time debunking my MADD arguments.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mothers_Against_Drunk_Driving

and check out the madd.org website - they are a prohibitionist organization. If cars were outlawed tomorrow and replaced by mass transit for everyone, MADD would still exist and their message wouldn't change one bit.

Fishplate said...

I've always wondered how it is that one can, at eighteen, be smart enough to vote, smart enough to take up arms and kill for one's country, but not smart enough to buy a beer...

And back in the day, when DDDY was in Junior High School, there were way fewer bars downtown, and those closed at 11:45 on Saturday night. Guess what happened? There was a wide open house party every weekend night, often you had your choice of parties. And nobody was checking IDs...

I don't think the quantity of drinking has increased, it's just been localized. And poor Mr. Fish was not downtown as I understand. So no amount of added policing would have made any difference.

The answer is a culture change, not a legal change. I have no idea how to accomplish that.

Publius said...

To get back briefly to my original post on the issue, I guess what pissed me off the most about the radio show this morning, and specifically the legion of UGA students on the show was the students' willingness to blame everybody but themselves.

In a lot of ways, that's the same type of irresponsibility that I'm complaining about with the drankin'.

FP is dead on. To my knowledge, Lewis Fish wasn't downtown. So, my original point still stands. No matter what you do, you're going to have immature people (not all of them under age, as some have pointed out) who don't know the meaning of the word "moderation."

Interesting stuff from Ned about MADD. I don't know what to make of it yet, but I would point out that the Wiki format lends itself to spin. Still, there's probably a nugget of truth there.

I wonder how relevant MADD is nowadays, though. I mean, until it was brought up in this discussion, the organization didn't even cross my mind despite all the brouhaha on drinking. I've got a good friend who works for one of the major beer manufacturers doing govt. affairs stuff. Next time I talk to her, I'll ask about exactly how strong a player MADD is legislatively.

monticello_pres said...

I appreciate the links, Ned. And despite the strength of my comment previously, I do not hold MADD to be an organizational icon. I just don't know enough about them to make a comment either way.

But I also think there is a bit of spin involved whichever way you want to describe MADD. And I also opine that the goals of MADD have changed/strengthened in the last 26 years. A little success leads to a little more boldness in their platform. And so on, and so on.

Nanny state? Maybe. But I'm not sure that the statement "critics contend that it has shifted its original goals from preventing drunk driving fatalities to preventing any drinking and driving..." is all that bad.

I am in the insurance industry and see wrecks - ranging from fender benders to fatalities - every day. And alcohol plays a role in a ridiculous number of these accidents. So I would echo the goal that the prevention of drinking and driving is noble. I'll be the first to admit that during times in my life I have made some poor choices. And only luck or grace kept me from injuring myself, my property, my friends, or others. Unfortunately not all are as lucky as me (and the folks driving near me) during those bad decisions.

Personally, I don't mind the reduction in the blood-alcohol limit to 0.08 and I don't mind the lobbying of DC to control fed dollars to local states. MADD doesn't exactly have the corner on this market, you know.

Now, I will offer that MADD's existance and MADD's actions seem "reactionary" to me. Prohibitionist, I'm not sure. But reactionary for sure. And reactionists only accomplish so much. After all, most of us are better rear-view decision makers. The real challenge is to make changes and influence action PRIOR to the problem.

But regardless of the significance of MADD at the federal-to-local level, this post was about personal responsibility and our ability to blame everyone except the guy who ultimately made the poor choices at a Beechwood party. And nothing that we do regarding 21-yr drinking ages or DUI enforcement would have prevented this unfortunate event.

(A quick review of the FY2006 A/CC Budget shows that it takes approximately $62k to fund a police officer rather than my $50k estimate. So make that 4 officers for the $250k mentioned previously. Maybe we can find another officer by replacing one of our new tree ordinance staff. Of course, if that were the case, the ramifications in landscape culture could be catastrophic.)

DoubleDawgDareYa said...

Hmmm...too much since I last commented to comment on it all. I'll just say this, for the record:

While I support in theory reducing the drinking age to 18, I am also in support of just about any measure to reduce drinking and driving (I don't really see how the 21-drinking-age does this; it simply adds another crime for the under-21 person who gets caught for DUI, but oh well, that ship has pretty much sailed). While I support anybody's right to do whatever the hell they want to their own body with alcohol, once somebody drinks and gets behind the wheel, other people's lives get involved. So far as I can tell, eliminating drinking and driving is MADD's only goal; if they're "prohibitionist", well then I obviously don't support that, but I will first have to be convinced that they are such.

To wrap up in general, everybody who said:

(1) that Fish was basically an isolated incident of a really bad behavior choice that is unrelated to any perceived downtown underage drinking problem; (2) that there is no new problem; and (3) there's not really much we can do about the "problem" to the extent it exists;

is absolutely right.

Ned said...

Unfortunately MADD does have the corner on the Anti-Alcohol/Drunk Driving lobby. If you try to vote against some of their legislation your opposition immediately gains a piece of smear ammo. How many times have you seen a political ad like this: "John Johnson was given an F by MADD. He wants more drunk drivers on the streets. -Shot of some drunk getting in a car- John Johnson trusts this man with the keys to his car, would you trust John Johnson with the keys to our state?"

If you get on the bad side of MADD, it is going to be hard to run for congress again.

Personally I agree with MADD when it comes to drunk driving, but I think they are totally wrong about Parents letting children over the age of 18 drink with them. Why do they insist on making you wait until you are 21 to drink even if it is in the most responsible environment possible? I'm not going to use the word nanny state, but if you are legally considered an adult and with the people who created you and raised you, what kind of state makes it illegal the parents to share a bottle of wine with their 18+ children?

I know what you mean about people making poor choices at parties. Unfortunately, once someone has made a poor choice and drank too much, how many good choices do we leave for them, especially if they are underage? Are your friends going to take you to the hospital? Not if they are going to have to talk to cops and risk failing out of school - they will tell you to sleep it off and then you die in your sleep. All of the punishments we dole out lead to people in bad situations failing to get the medical treatment they need because the people who are with them are afraid they could spend a serious amount of time in jail.

DiDDY - I pretty much agree with you 100%. You summed up my thoughts well and I think driving is the part of drinking and driving that is ultimately responsible for any drunk driving deaths. If we can stop someone from driving then we keep the roads safer - and what better way to do this than to provide efficient alternatives to driving.

Jmac said...

MP, I think you made mostly good points I agree with, but this ...

And if we are going to throw out one blanket, I'll toss out another. Remind me, were the (alleged) drunk rapist murderers in Aruba from Europe or from Alabama?

... is quite a fabulous straw man. Kudos my friend. You admit it's a blanket assumption, so I'll give you that, but I don't exactly know what blanket assumption you're trying to parallel. I think any reference to European culture was merely stating a factual observation - that European cultures have lower drinking ages and typically begin drinking at younger ages (The Wife recalls living in France one summer during high school through an exchange program and every meal, every person got a glass of wine ... as an aside, she didn't really care for the country).

I don't think anyone suggested Europe is better than America. I think quite the opposite actually. But it's hard to argue they don't have a more open society when it comes to drinking.

Still, the rest of what you said is good stuff.

Anonymous said...

The drinking age was 18 when I was 18, and let me tell y'all, none of us waited until that magical age to indulge. I remember putting on all the make-up we could find, donning high heeled shoes, and going to O'Malleys to drink white wine spritzers and flirt with the college guys. I was 16!
It's all these years later, and we're just noticing that people don't wait until the legal age to drink? C'mon!
Kids at that age want to be grown up. That's the age we experiment with cigarrettes, sex and oh yea, more sex and yes, drinking.
And if we live through that phase, we hopefully make good choices, and don't kill ourselves on drugs or w/alchohol. I hate to sound cold, but the young guy who died is kind of an inevitable result of having so many young'uns here in town pretending to be grown. Statistically, there are a certain number of kids who are going to die each year from alchohol and drug related causes. It's niave to suppose that Athens will be immune from the consequences of really really bad choices made by adolescents. After all, our economy depends heavily on those same adolescents.
I keep using the word adolescent to remind myself that these are children. Even if they're 18, they're still kids. As evidenced by the lack of maturity so many of them show when given the opportunity to drink!
While I'm glad to see UGA pretending yet again to care about this issue, I predict that just like every time this issue has come up in the past 25 years that nothing will really change.
Nothing. And in a few months, or maybe a few years, or even a decade, we'll lose another child to bad choices. I don't think there's anything we can do about it except wish it didn't work that way. But it does.

aquariusrizing

hillary said...

Yes yes, we all agree that the U.S. rules. Insert waving flag.

Don't they also have higher ages at which you can get your driver's license in Europe? That. Ahem. Might not be such a bad idea.

gap said...

I agree with Hillary on that last point. Raising the driving age is a good idea but parents will never let it happen.

Dawg Corleone said...

They also have rules in some Arab countries that women don't drive at all.

Hmmm...


Just kidding. Agree re the higher driving age. It's insane that 16 year-olds are operating vehicles on the downtown connector in Atlanta.

DoubleDawgDareYa said...

Also agreed re: raising the driving age. Teenagers on the road are a menace. The main reason is speeding; In 2003, drivers aged 16-17 involved in crashes received 335.3 speeding citations per 10,000 drivers, compared to 92.5 for crash drivers aged 25-64. Their brains just haven't developed to the point of realizing the danger of driving too fast.

Interestingly, that age group is not a heavy offender when it comes to DUIs. The worst offending age group for DUIs is the 21-24 crowd. In Athens, that translates to college students old enough to drink. Lot of fat good a 21 drinking age does there.

Lots of more interesting stats where these came from at http://www.dot.state.ga.us/dot/operations/traffic-safety-design/SubUnit/DMVS/ARU/PDF/2003Casi_Section2.pdf.

Anonymous said...

Driving could be a hell of a lot safer even without factoring in drunkenness. i really wish somebody would work on making roads safer on a national level in a meaningful-not just lip service-way.

Patrick Armstrong said...

From drankin' to drivin' and Europe in between. That is a critical mass of national/local issues to deal with in a 30 comment thread.

I'll do my best.

RE The drinking age: Statute varies from state to state. Last time I checked up on South Carolina, at private functions, you can drink at any age if your parents consent. Passengers in cars could consume from open containers as long as the driver wasn't. Louisiana raised their drinking age from 18 to 21 only a few short years ago, in order to qualify for Federal highway funding. Minnessota is considering lowering the drinking age to 17. Wisconsin thinks they have lost their minds. In Georgia, there is a complex formula to use in order to figure out if you are a 'restaurant' or a 'bar' and if you can serve alcohol on Sundays.

Here in Georgia, we could eliminate the drinking age altogether if we wanted, we'd just have to come up with a way to pay for our roads without the Federal handout. (Please see: roads in Louisiana Pre-Katrina)

RE Who's better, Europe or America: My vote goes to the home team. Though I think the US of A is the only majority Christian nation to have ever banned the sale and manufacture of alcohol nationwide. We have a cultural hangup on alcohol that goes all the waaaay back to our Puritan New England roots. Any discussion of alcohol may require us to deal with those in our society who think all alcohol is evil.

RE The driving age: I think it doesn't matter what age you can get your lisence, if you aren't trained to drive a car, you shouldn't drive one. I don't care if you are 16 or 61, if you can't handle the wheel, you don't get a lisence. If you raise the driving age, and still the only test is four left turns and park the car, we're going to have fatal wrecks from the ATL to Island City, whatever age is involved.

DoubleDawgDareYa said...

And if you make the test harder, we'll still have fatal wrecks, though perhaps less of them. And if you raise the driving age, you'll have less too. The two are not mutually exclusive.

Anonymous said...

I wanna know where they $62k/annually to fund a police officer is coming from. Everyone I know that works for the department doesn't make near that amount of money. I'm interested to see what is factored into the "cost" when the starting salary is just a hair over $28k/yr.