August 18, 2004
By Mike Krause
Why is it that at eighteen years an American can volunteer for military service and take up arms to kill and possibly die in the desert, but cant legally hoist a cold one in celebration upon returning home alive?
Regardless of your political persuasion, you have to have a pretty soft and fuzzy thought process not to be able to reconcile the two.
So it was both sad and amusing to watch Pete Coors comments on the drinking age be blown wildly out of proportion during the recent primary elections. He really did nothing more than make a statement that accurately reflects the principles of limited government, federalism and individual liberty to which most Republicans lay claim, but which only a precious few practice.
And while the shrill response from the usual suspects on the authoritarian left was to be expected, the piling on by other conservatives makes it evident not only that the nanny-state is bi-partisan, but that Pete Coors is on to something.
While the drinking age dust-up is mostly symbolic, it reflects a larger movement away from liberty and responsibility and towards un-thinking devotion to the slogans and campaigns of busybodies and lifestyle police.
In early July at the Cherry Creek Arts Festival in Denver, the beer booths were posted with numerous placards proclaiming, Under 40 We ID. The same slogan marks the beer cooler at my neighborhood King Soopers.
Ironically, one of the booths in question was Coors Light. In other words, despite Candidate Coors correct criticism of the drinking age, his own company is part of the shrill nanny-state paranoia over the possibility of a teenager tasting a beer, which has dumbed us all down to the point where we accept that 39 year olds must be carded as part of the zero-toleranceor the more accurate zero-thinking movement in America.
It shouldnt be long until the new rule is Still Breathing We ID.
Truth is we have lost sight of something special. That becoming an adult in America earns one a fairly spectacular degree of personal liberty and empowerment as a citizen– tempered by equally important responsibilities in the exercise there of.
Some weeks after the arts festival I was part of a table full of consenting adults in a Denver area sports bar. Among the half a dozen Americans were several foreign nationals including two Brazilians in their late twenties and a Mexican, a Russian and a man from Uzbekistan, all in their early thirties.
Drinks were ordered and the waitress– barely of age herself but still deputized through nanny-state edict to act on behalf of the government– carded the table.
None of the foreigners were allowed to have a drink with dinner, because none of them were carrying their passports or IDsthey actually thought they were just going out for a little dinner and conversation and were genuinely bewildered to be asked to show papers to order to have a drink.
The Americans on the other hand– all clearly of age–reached for wallets and purses without hesitation.
The point is not that we should be more like Brazil, Mexico or the former Soviet Union, but rather quite the opposite.
None of foreign nationals at the table that night enjoy near the liberties, both personal and economic, that the U.S. provides. In fact, the contemporary histories of their respective homelands range from authoritarian one party rule, dictatorship and communism to runaway inflation and even death squads.
Yet it is the Americans who have swallowed whole the notion that government IDs must be carried and produced on demand to enjoy beer with nachos.
Sure it would be grand to see the drinking age lowered to eighteen again, though it is unlikely as there is no political will to make it happen.
What is possible is for those who are well past twenty-one to stop mindlessly submitting to nanny-state stupidity before our collective IQ drops any lower.