Slate has a new article denouncing the current efforts by a coalition of university Presidents to curb binge drinking by lobbying for the national legal age for consuming alcohol to 18.
The article argues that lowering the drinking age won't be effective, and will actually do more harm and cost more lives, pointing to evidence from other countries who lowered their drinking ages. I wouldn't expect anything other than a spike in drinking once a given demographic gets new legal access. Long-term statistics are more meaningful, but we don't get those.
But even if the higher drinking age saved more lives and led to more binging and not less, there's a very simple, powerful reason why it's stupid and should be changed: It's not consistent and it's not just.
In every other facet of life, our country designates 18 as the age when a citizen becomes an adult. When you reach 18 you can buy porn and cigarettes. You can marry. You can vote. And if you are male, you are required by law to register with the Selective Service, which means you're put into the draft pool for war. There is a fundamental absurdity with saying that someone is old enough to operate a multi-million dollar piece of military hardware, kill others for their country, and die for their country, but is not mature enough to buy and drink a can of beer.
So the drinking age needs to be lowered to 18. Either that, or we need to unilaterally recognize a higher age (like 21) as the threshold for adulthood. The mismatch just doesn't make any sense.