Mt Rushmore

Mt Rushmore
My driving partner and I take in Mt. Rushmore during the recent media launch of redesigned 2018 Subaru Crosstrek in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Those Putting Their Lives on the Line Should be Able to Drink a Beer

I see there is a movement afoot in Alaska to lower the drinking age for members of the military from 21 to 18. The reasoning of the Alaskan legislator sponsoring the bill is that if we ask our kids to serve and possibly die for us, shouldn't we treat them as adults? Why, yes we should.

In fact, age 21 as the federally mandated legal drinking age is purely an arbitrary number anyway. If 21, why not 20, 22 or 25, which is what most rental car agencies consider the magic age when a person suddenly becomes more responsible? Why not 50? At age 18 our government has deemed a person responsible enough to vote in an election and be killed in a far-off war, but not responsible enough to drink a beer. Hmmmm...

Of course, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) has come out against the proposed Alaska bill. MADD, having achieved its original stated goals of substantially reducing drunk driving fatalities and establishing 0.8 as the legal limit for blood alcohol content (BAC), continues to work tirelessly to ban all alcohol. Why? For one thing, MADD is big business. It's a money machine. Greed has assumed control of this "nonprofit" organization and it has set its sights on whatever keeps the money flowing. And, according to the Better Business Bureau,  it flowed to the tune of $44,450,000 in 2010.

Eric Hoffer once said, "Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business and eventually degenerates into a racket." MADD is there. It is no longer simply interested in getting dangerously drunk drivers off the road; it wants alcohol banned, period. According to a statement from the American Institute of Philanthropy (AIP), "Mothers Against Drunk Driving spends most of its time in self-perpetuating fund-raising efforts." In evaluating MADD, AIP recently issued it a grade of "D".

Furthermore, MADD's founder, Candice Lightner, officially left the organization in 1985, five years after starting it, because its efforts had shifted from curbing drunk driving to a much wider, anti-alcohol agenda. Oh, and MADD of Canada is pushing a 0.5 BAC as the legal limit; can MADD in this country be far behind? Drink a beer; drive your car; go to jail.

Now where was I? Oh yes, the move to permit 18-year-old members of the military to drink in Alaska. I am all for this bill. I understand that some age standard must be established for alcohol, but until someone proves otherwise, I believe 18 is just as good as 21, particularly for our military.

If this bill passes -- highly unlikely -- it will cost Alaska approximately $50 million a year in federal highway funds. To provoke all states to adopt the federally mandated legal drinking age of 21, the law provides that states not falling into line will lose 10 percent of their federal highway funds. For Alaska, that translates into about $50 million. Can you say, extortion?

So let's see if I have this straight. The federal government collects taxes from citizens of a state; launders that money through its Washington bureaucracy; returns the citizens' money to the state in the form of a highway subsidy; and then uses that subsidy to pound that state into line. Is that about right?

What in the hell is going on here?

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