Monday, January 28, 2013

A Modest Proposal

Well, I decided to return to blogging on Wise as Serpents after some time off. This was a form of pre-commitment on my part. I didn't want my WAS blogs to be seen as partisanly political, yet given the stark choice in outlook between President Obama and myself on matters of economics (and of the role of religion, for that matter), I didn't see how that could be avoided. Now that the election is over, I think that I can return to highlighting public policy issues in the Christianity plus Economics lens that I enjoy in WAS.

Today I offer a very short commentary, to endorse the proposals in the Wall Street Journal (behind a firewall) and Instapundit that a serious effort be undertaken to roll-back one of Ronald Reagan's biggest policy mistakes: the federal usurpation of state powers to set drinking ages and replace them with the familiar 21-year old federal mandate. It's terrible federalism. I could (and probably should) stop there. But, let me add that as a faculty member at a major public university I can guarantee that it doesn't stop 20 year-olds from drinking. As a result, enforcement is so selective as to make hypocrisy and capriciousness the watchwords of this particular area of law enforcement, which is never a good thing for law enforcement. I am also convinced by the evidence that the 21 year old drinking age has unintended consequences that make alcohol problems worse: for example, encouraging binge-drinking of high-proof spirits in relatively hard-to-monitor venues (in private apartments, deep out in the woods, across the Mexican border, etc.) rather than promoting responsible social norms regarding the use of alcohol. Finally, yes, it's a cliche, but I think that if you are old enough to be sent to Afghanistan and have your keister in jeopardy in the service of your country, then I ought to be able to buy you a beer in an airport lounge as a thanks when you return.