Wisconsin Drinking Age Revisited

Interesting. Three Wisconsin Republicans are circulating a bill to lower the minimum drinking age to 19. Libertarians object! Surprised?

Our Wisconsin Libertarian Platform of Beliefs reminds us that “Because only actions that infringe on the rights of others can properly be termed ‘crimes,’ we favor the repeal of federal, state, and local laws restricting our fundamental freedom to govern our own lives.In particular, we advocate:… The repeal of laws regarding a minimum drinking age which are in conflict with the legally recognized age for maturity and responsibility.”15710_news_rathskellarf.jpg

College students, married couples with children, combat veterans, and working, voting citizens are among some of the many “underaged” adults discriminated against by the state of Wisconsin.

 Who came up with the 21 drinking age anyway? Not the Wisconsin Legislature. Not Congress (That would violate the Tenth Amendment which gives all powers not listed in the Constitution to the states). It was a “highway safety” bureaucracy in Washington.

What other western nations have a 21 drinking age? None. The only other countries on the planet with such a high minimum age are Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, and Sri Lanka. With a 19 drinking age we could join Nicaragua and South Korea. Think about that.Drinking_Beer.jpg

The 21-year-old semi-prohibition law has created a number of problems. For example:

  • Some Wisconsin young adults go “underground” to consume adult beverages, which has encouraged irresponsible binge drinking.
  • Denying access to venues where older adults model alcohol consumption eliminates opportunities to learn to drink responsibly.
  • Inexperienced binge drinkers may choose hard liquor over beer or wine.
  •  Wisconsin’s drinking law even creates such bizarre situations as making service members returning from deployments to combat zones being denied the ability to legally share in a wedding toast at their own reception. Really?

The drinking law mandate undermines state sovereignty and makes Wisconsin merely an administrative district of Washington bureaucrats. Let’s go back to each state deciding for themselves how to govern.

Finally, let’s stop treating adults like children. Set the drinking age where it belongs; at the age of majority.

Jim Maas is a Libertarian activist residing in Weston, Wisconsin.

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