Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Whence Adulthood?

I have long been an advocate of a bright-line for adulthood, rather than the tiered system employed by the current state of legislation that we now live under.  When I was growing up, you became an adult at age 18.  You could do, at that age, anything that any other adult could do .  Join the military, own property, enter into contracts, vote, and walk into a bar and get a drink.

In those innocent days (tongue firmly in cheek here), a father had the responsibility of training a boy into adulthood.  But, the line was clear and easy to recognize.  One day you were a child, the next day you were an adult; responsible for your own decisions and actions.   It was a simple concept.

In 1984, Congress passed the National Drinking Age Act, which recognized that states had the responsibility to set the drinking age, but which threatened to withhold up to 10% of their federal highway funds if they didn't set the drinking age at 21.  Many states bowed to the leviathan of federal highway funds, but some resisted.  Louisiana held out until 1998 or 1999.   I had a son of the age, who left for college at that time,  He could legally buy a beer when he left, but couldn't when he returned.  He was fairly perturbed about that.  We got around the law by the simple expedient of me buying a couple of cases of cheap beer, he inviting his friends, and we'd build a bonfire, lock the cars in the pasture, and I'd unlock the gate at daylight the next morning.    It perturbed the horses, but they got over it.

The bright line of adulthood got less bright during the Obama administration.  My daughter was going back to college after several years of living on her own, and needed my tax returns to apply for federal student loans.  She had been an adult for several years, but needed Daddy's paperwork.  Bah-humbug.  And, under that same administration, an adult could be kept on Daddy's health insurance until age 25.  Complete and utter nonsense.

I'm telling you all this because I read this morning that Wisconsin is thinking about lowering the drinking age to 19.    I say Hooray Wisconsin, at least for having the conversation.

I've always been one that argues for a bright-line age for adulthood, rather than the tiered system we use today.  Set one age where all the benefits and responsibilities of adulthood flow to the person.  It's sensible, easy to understand, and protects the rights of everyone.  For myself, I'd set that age at the time when the person can walk into a recruiting office and sign their own enlistment papers.  If you're willing to pick up a rifle and defend the country, then you should be able to walk into the club and buy a beer.

5 comments:

Judy said...

When I turned 18 and wanted to start college, I needed daddy's income tax return. Year - 1970. By the way, he made 33 dollars too much for me to qualify for student loans, $10,033.

Thank God, I have been able to keep my kids on my retiree insurance policy until they were 26. The college my daughter goes to wants $6,000 a year for her to have their mandatory coverage. I pay an extra 10er a month for her to be on my policy. This started before Obummer-care.

Theother Ryan said...

1- A very smart woman I know made a compelling case you really aren't an adult till 25. Thinking of myself and most folks I know I tend to agree.

2- A graduated system makes sense. Maybe rifles/ shotguns and beer/ wine at 18. Other stuff over a few years. In particular I think the ability to borrow money should be more like 21.

Jester said...

Glad to say I grew up in Wisconsin on this. Heck they could do an interesting experiment. If the Feds cut off the funding, perhaps the 19-21 year old drinkers foot the bill by way of the sales taxes or their sales tax goes in to make up the difference?

Anonymous said...

I like that phrasing, "A Bright Line". Makes you visualize a very definite point in time.
Now compare that with, "60 is the new 40" or "40 is the new 25". Those phrases are this generations way of saying that you can never grow up. Phrases that eternally infantilizes people.
Maybe, that's why we are having so many problems in society today!?!?

Steve

Javahead said...

I was going to college in Arizona back in the 70's. I grew up in rural northern California.

Back then, the age to buy alcohol in California was already 21, but the age to see an X-rated movie (in theaters, back then) was 18.

At that time, in Arizona, you could buy alcohol at 19 but needed to be 21 to see an X-rated movie.

A friend of mine commented it was a very good thing that there weren't any major cities within an easy drive of the border, or you'd have a two-directional traffic jam every weekend as college students from both states went in search of the forbidden fruit.

Oddly enough, I saw a lot less binge drinking in college in Arizona than in California. Maybe because they weren't quite as desperate to get it when they had the opportunity.