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Journal tepples's Journal: How the Drinking Age Cements the Record Cartel 6

The Constitution for the United States of America is the supreme written law of the United States. It lays out a set of powers for an elected legislature called the Congress, reserving power over everything else to the several states (50 at last count). The Congress regulates commerce across state lines, but each state regulates commerce within its borders. This would seem to allow each state to set its own drinking age.

However, the Constitution has more to say: "The Congress shall have power ... To establish post offices and post roads". Nobody would want young intoxicated drivers on the highways, running the risk of colliding with postal trucks. Thus, courts have interpreted this grant of power as letting the Congress dictate the conditions under which states can qualify for federal funds for improving their highways.

Each state has power to set its own minimum age to purchase and consume "drinks" (beverages containing ethanol), but the Congress will not grant highway funds to states whose drinking age is less than 21 years. To make it easier to enforce this law, states have established separate licensing for establishments that serve food: "restaurants" admit minors, and "bars" don't. States also limit the amount of drinks that restaurants can serve.

A "rock band" is a group of people who routinely perform live rock music together in front of an audience. A rock band can choose to perform in any of several venues: a recording studio, a stadium, a theatre, a restaurant, or a bar. Problem is that many people won't spend money on a record they've never heard, and radio stations charge an exorbitant "independent promotion" fee to get a record played. Stadiums and theatres also charge an exorbitant venue fee, which many local rock bands cannot afford. This leaves restaurants and bars, and very few restaurants find it profitable to let rock bands perform on their premises.

Local rock bands also have trouble getting their records heard on the radio.

Therefore, minors have nowhere to turn to see a local rock band perform. A captive audience of teenage listeners is exactly what the largest publishers of recorded music (hereinafter "major labels") want, as they find it easier to cultivate a Britney Spears or *NSYNC than to find real musical talent. Instead of buying records at shows, they buy what they've heard on the radio, which the major labels control, or what they've seen in stadiums and theaters, which the major labels also control.

Google has more information on how the legal drinking age has affected the local music scene.

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How the Drinking Age Cements the Record Cartel

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  • Thus, the solution would be more public investment in young people? Underage non-drinking music venues, etc?

    I would be against lowering the legal drinking age- far more than just the safety of the roads is at stake, recent documentation puts maturity of the liver and ability to actually metabolize alcohol into sugar at a premium (haven't you ever wondered why a 16-year-old knocking back beers will be able to exceed a lethal dose of alcohol, but a 25 year old won't? It's due to how quickly a mature body c
    • Thus, the solution would be more public investment in young people? Underage non-drinking music venues, etc?

      Preee-cisely. However, governments seem to find it easier to take "considerations" from the major labels and from the radio conglomerates not to make such an investment.

      I would be against lowering the legal drinking age

      So would I. I understand many of the medical issues involved in setting the legal drinking age. Much of the article just represented my obsessive-compulsive diligence in estab

      • I fully agree- it seems that the more that campaign contributions become neccessary to our political system, the more that they turn into bribes; and since more money can be made by neglecting investment in young people than by actually trying to integrate them into society, they get ignored. This also, btw, explains how "No Child Left Behind" has become "Every Child Left Behind".
    • I would be against lowering the legal drinking age...

      I'm not. Here in Australia the legal drinking age is 18 and has been for (I think) quite a few decades. I could be wrong, but I don't think we have any greater problems with drunk drivers than any other modern country with a well developed road network.

      The real problem is with the culture and attitudes around drinking. IMNSHO, teaching teenagers and young adults to drink responsibly is very important. Instead we have beer commercials pushing the

      • There's also the physical problem that for those under age 21, the body simply doesn't metabolize alcohol as efficiently or fast. Certain genomes of humanity don't metabolize it at all. I fully agree with you that culture and attitude is one reason for the drinking age- but the other reason is sound medical science and research into how the human body metabolizes alcohol.

        Let's take your completely shitfaced example- an adult will stop drinking at a BAC of about .3%- pretty bad, but that's how fast the bo
  • The drinking age is yet another of many stupid, unenforceable, Prohibition-era laws that remain on the books. By way of analogy, how many billions have been spent on the "War on Drugs" while drug use continues largely unabated? The same goes for the "War on Poverty" and any of a hundred other fuzzy-headed Marxist ideas that were supposed to save mankind from his own stupidity.

    Fact is, the majority of the population drinks, and a certain segment are going to drink before age 21, laws be damned. So why no

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