Monday, June 3, 2013

Senator Frank Lautenberg Has Passed Away

New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg passed away on June 3 at the age of 89.  The late senator, who has been in office for five terms, was the man who wrote the National Minimum Drinking Age Act that coerced states to raise the drinking age to 21 nearly three decades ago.  However, we should also remember all the good he has done for nearly every progressive cause in this country since then, and it was unfortunate that he was on the wrong side of history as far as the drinking age is concerned.   A longtime liberal icon and a decent man overall, may he rest in peace.

The idea of raising the drinking age to 21 nationwide actually originated with MADD, especially its founder Candy Lightner.  New Jersey's so-called "blood border" with New York would have better been solved (and prevented entirely) if New Jersey simply kept its drinking age at 18 rather than raise it to 21 and have the feds coerce New York to raise it as well.   And the Canadian experience shows that drunk driving deaths still would have declined as fast if not faster.  The idea that the 21 drinking age saved 25,000 lives (or any lives for that matter in the long run) has been debunked as a statistical mirage by Miron and Tetelbaum (2009).  Had it not been for MADD and the moral panic over "teen drinking" at the time, Lautenberg probably would have opted for the smarter choice and rejected an unenforceably high drinking age of 21.  As for Lightner, who still supports the 21 drinking age so much that she went on national TV in 2008 and insulted our men and women in uniform just to make a point, may her name and memory be forever blotted out.