So this story about 100 college presidents sending a letter asking Congress to lower the drinking age to 18 is making some waves in the blogosphere today. And people are proposing some bizarre policy recommendations. I can’t how serious they are, but Ezra Klein recommends lowering the drinking age if GPA is high enough (reading over this, it’s definitely not serious), and Cogitamus thinks we should bring back 3.1% beer or “allow bars to serve cocktails that are diluted enough to qualify as near-beer.”
Look, this is an issue of enforcement. The reason under-age binge drinking has grown into a problem is because it’s almost impossible to enforce; that is, there are countless avenues for skirting the age requirement. So if it’s impossible to really regulate a strict age requirement, what makes anyone think it would be easier to enforce more complex laws? Why would an 18 year old buy 3.1% beer when they could right now get their brother or older friend to just buy them the regular stuff?