Here's a blog post from New Zealand that repeats what I've been saying, and what other (smart) Kiwis* have been saying: underage drinking is not the problem.The problem is how we, as a society, choose to drink, and that's something you and I have to face: not those Bud drinkers, or those drunks, or those frat boys: it's all of us. Not least because if we don't face it, and frame the problem and solution in a way that we find right, the New Drys are going to do it to us -- I mean, for us.
This is a serious problem. Look, MADD is right about one thing: drunk driving kills people, and it's preventable. Drunkenness and alcohol abuse are terrible problems, and if you can't acknowledge that, you've got your head in the sand up to your navel. Addressing parts of it -- underage drinking seems to be catching a lot of the hysteria, but there's energy booze drinks, there's cheap booze, there's high-ABV beer and wine: take your pick -- fails miserably because the demand for alcohol is hydraulic: push it down in one category, and it will simply pop us in another.
What we need to do...is have a serious national discussion about why so many Americans drink solely to get drunk; not lightly buzzed, or socially lubricated, or blissed, but loose-limbed nasty drunk. We need to talk about why we do it, about how dangerous that is in the short and long term, and about how we can stop. We need to change the drinking culture in this country...and no one has a clue on how to do that without Prohibition-type thinking.
*Here's something I posted on my old website five years ago, when the hand-wringers were first trying to jack up the drinking age: "I give you the comments of a police area commander in New Zealand, Pat Handcock, who says that "raising the age will not curb underage drinking...and that 'our generation' has to take responsibility for setting the drinking culture of today's young people. 'What we have to do is actually encourage a community culture that really lives the slogan that we've got to be careful with alcohol, because it can cause a lot of problems,' Inspector Handcock says. 'I don't think our generation and generations before mine have actually educated our children very well in terms of personal safety and alcohol. We've set the culture that binge-drinking is okay.'" Bingo.