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.


  1. To be honest, I was never a fan of Frank Lautenberg because he gave into moral panic created by the ageist organization, MADD. The National Minimum Drinking Act must be repealed so that more territories and states will have a drinking age of 18. Courageous and tolerant legislators will be necessary to repeal that law. When more people are capable of rejecting ageism, then our movement will have an opportunity to help legislators implement an effective drinking age of 18. Young women and young men who are 18-20 years old should be allowed to drink alcoholic beverages. Although it's a different type of beverage, it's not bad.

    1. He kinda reminds me in a way of FDR, who gave into the moral panic of the day (created by racists and business interests) and outlawed cannabis in 1937. America (and the world) is still paying a heavy price for that decision to this day. But overall, FDR was an excellent president who got us out of the Great Depression, defeated the Nazis, saved the world, and of course ended alcohol prohibition.

  2. I like FDR but he did make some decisions based on society's inclinations at the same time, like Lautenberg, so I agree.