August 20, 2007

the drinking age

There has been a lot of fuss recently about the problem of violent drunken yobs and the fact that the police don't do anything about them. Can it be that this has only just come to some peoples attention? Crime has been getting worse continously since the end of World War 2 and the introduction of the Welfare State. The solution de jour is to increase the age at which people can purchase alcohol to 21. This solution is, of course, complete bollocks. The trouble comes from teenagers hanging around the streets and getting drunk and violent. Buying alcohol when you are less than 18 is already a crime. Getting drunk and disorderly is already a crime, and if I remember correctly so is stabbing people. By raising the age at which alcohol can be bought you will not criminalise any of the bad behaviour of these yobs, because their behaviour is already criminal. All that will be accomplished is that even more normally peaceful law abiding folk will have been turned into criminals.

The current 18 year limit is probably the most broken law in the country (something that would not change for the better by criminalising even more young drinkers), personally I do not know anybody that did not try drinking before they where 18. By being so universally flouted the drink age laws are amongst those laws that undermine the respect for the rest of it.

If under age drinking is going to continue, and we all know that it is, then a better solution would not to be to command the tide to retreat but to try and minimise its damage. This could be helped by having special centres where drinkers could go to imbibe and socialise away in a regulated way rather than on street corners. You could use regulation to make sure that those dispensing did not serve to those already drunk, and allow them expel trouble makers. They would naturally become social hubs so not being allowed in because of bad behaviour would be a major social stigma, and enough to keep most inline allowing them to learn to drink in a responsible fashion. Perhaps we could call these establishments 'Pubs'.

With the majority of the youth trying to get enough dutch courage to overcome the awkward inhibitions of socialising in these 'Pubs' there would only be the small hard core minority left, and separated from any that might be normally good but easily lead astray. So at the same time we could actually get the police to do their jobs. We could get them to try and prevent crime and disorder by getting out from behind their desks and patrolling then arresting the violent minority under the multitude of laws that we already have against violence. In order to do this we might have to reduce the amount of paperwork and so some of the paper shuffling bureaucracy might end up loosing their over paid non-jobs. However given the problem at hand this is a price we are just going to have to pay.


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