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  • Michael, welcome to the White House.”

  • This is the 40th president of the United States, Ronald Wilson Reagan, and Michael Joseph Jackson.

  • 1984 Michael Jackson.

  • For Michael Jackson brings a thrill a minute to his millions of fan.”

  • We have quite a few young folks in the White House who all wanted me to give you

  • the same message - they said to tell Michael, please give some TLC to the PYTs.”

  • So this is not just a footnote in history.

  • It actually connects, in a weird way, to the reason that you have to be 21 in every state

  • in the United States to buy alcohol.

  • I'll show you.

  • States determine their own minimum legal drinking ages, and in 1975, they looked like this.

  • All these blue states are at 18.

  • All these green ones are 19.

  • Delaware's yellow, alone at 20.

  • These orange ones are 21, but with allowances for lower alcohol levels in stuff like beer

  • and wine.

  • And these red ones are the 21 and older states.

  • It's a complicated map.

  • Now look at the map today.

  • It's all 21 How did that change happen?

  • This story takes you to a political crossroads, and the Supreme Court, and, in a weird way,

  • to Michael Jackson shaking hands next to the president, while dressed like this.

  • But the drinking age change is ultimately a story...about roads.

  • Prohibition, the 18th amendment to the US Constitution, banned alcohol in 1920.

  • It was repealed by the 21st amendmentand after that, a lot of states settled on a drinking

  • age of 21 and older.

  • See the red here, in the late 60s?

  • Those are all 21 and older states.

  • In the 70s, the 26th amendment changed the dynamic again.

  • That amendment, as you know, provides for the right to vote of all of our young people

  • between 18 and 21, 11 million new voters as a result of this amendment.”

  • 18 year olds could be drafted to Vietnam and vote, so a lot of states decided they could

  • drink.

  • That map was short lived for one reason.

  • And here comes the President.”

  • Nearly 50,000 people were killed on our highways last year.

  • Now out of that statistic comes an even more chilling one.

  • Drunk drivers were involved in 25,000 of those fatalities, in addition to 750,000 injuries

  • a year.”

  • Drinking age reform advocates quickly attributed drunk driving fatalities in the blue states,

  • or 18 and older states, to earlier drinking ages.

  • People argued that teens driving across state lines to drink or purchase alcohol increased

  • drunk driving.

  • This 1983 map was still a hodgepodge, but see how more states turned greenfor 19

  • and yellowfor 20 years old?

  • That was driven partly by an awareness campaign.

  • Thank you very much, Mr. President.”

  • Michael Jackson?

  • He was being honored for letting his music be used in anti-drunk driving PSAs.

  • You're as good as dead.”

  • But tactics weren't limited to PR.

  • President Reagan is famous for saying: “The nine most terrifying words in the English

  • language are 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'”

  • That made his strategy kind of surprising.

  • For even though drunk driving is a problem nation-wide, it can only be solved at the

  • state and local level.

  • Yet the Federal Government also has a role to play.”

  • His thinking was influenced by two main groups.

  • Much of the credit for focusing public attention goes to the grassroots campaign

  • of organizations like MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, and RID, Remove Intoxicated

  • Drivers.”

  • CandaceCandyLightner founded MADD in 1980 after her daughter Cari was killed

  • by a drunk driver.

  • MADD's goals at the time included making it easier to obtain DUI convictions... and

  • raising the drinking age.

  • This direction was clear at River Dell High School in Oradell, New Jersey, where President

  • Reagan explained his unpredictable political evolution.

  • The problem: “I appointed a Presidential Commission on

  • Drunk Driving.

  • They told us that alcohol related automobile accidents are the leading cause of teenage

  • deaths in this country.”

  • The theory: “In states in which the drinking age has

  • been raised, teenage drinking fatalities have gone down significantly.

  • Here in New Jersey, you raised the drinking age to 21 in 1983, and you know what happened:

  • you had a 26% reduction in nighttime single vehicle fatalities among 19 and 20 year olds

  • in the first year alone.”

  • The dilemma: “I was delighted again because I hoped that

  • the states would, as they should, take this action themselves without federal orders or

  • interference.”

  • It's led to a kind of crazy quilt of different state drinking laws, and that's

  • led to what's been called blood borders, with teenagers leaving their home to go the

  • nearest state with a lower drinking age.”

  • And here?

  • This is where the roads come in.

  • The Interstate Highway Act of 1956 created a network of roads largely funded by Federal

  • dollars.

  • Those roads quickly became crucial to state economies.

  • That money also became a way to bend the states to Federal priorities, even if it meant Reagan

  • had to change his typical political positions.

  • “I've decided to support legislation to withhold 5% of a state's highway funds if

  • it does not enact the 21-year-old drinking age.

  • Some may feel that my decision is at odds with my philosophical viewpoint that state

  • problems should involve state solutions, and it isn't up to a big and overwhelming government

  • in Washington to tell the states what to do.

  • And you're partly right.

  • Beyond that, there are some special cases in which overwhelming need can be dealt with

  • by prudent and limited federal action.”

  • The law passed.

  • That's Candy Lightner, celebrating.

  • “I'd like to make you an honorary mother against drunk drivers.”

  • It wasn't technically a nationwide drinking age law, but in effectit was.

  • We have no misgiving about this judicious use of Federal power.”

  • States quickly adopted the 21-year-old drinking age.

  • Most couldn't afford to lose federal funding for their highways.

  • Louisiana was the only state that held out at age 18 (due to a loophole, which it closed

  • in the mid 90s).

  • South Dakota challenged the law to preserve sale of low alcohol beer for 19 year olds

  • and up, and it reached the Supreme Court.

  • You may proceed whenever you're ready.”

  • Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the court, the issue in this case is whether or

  • not Congress may condition the receipt of highway funds upon a state having in effect

  • 21-year-old drinking age.”

  • The court ruled 7-2, stating it was within Congress's powers to control spending that

  • promotedgeneral welfare,” argued as the reduction of youth drinking and driving

  • via the 21-year-old drinking age.

  • Did it work?

  • Most studies of studies declarecase closed” — that the higher drinking age saves lives,

  • andreduces alcohol consumption.”

  • Skeptics, like people from the libertarian Cato Institute, claim a broader cultural change,

  • not a law, should be credited with saving lives.

  • Reagan himself kind of argued both sides, saying that, “the new minimum drinking age

  • is working,” but thatmy friends, there's so much more to do, and it's not government

  • that can do it.”

  • Politically, Ronald Reagan using Federal purse strings to strong arm states is…a strange

  • pairing.

  • But beyond the politics, there's a bigger message.

  • The Federal government has used other levers to push states, but to change the drinking

  • age there was one big tool.

  • The thing that changed the country wasn't just the lines on states' edges.

  • It was the ones that run through them.

  • Alright, that's it for this road trip edition of Almanac.

  • I'm about to reveal what the theme for the next edition is gonna be, but first I want

  • to read some comments from the last video all about Route 66.

  • People born in the 20th century: the reasons in this video.

  • 2000s kids: Ka-Chow!”

  • Kachow!”

  • So many Cars comments.

  • That warning at 1:00 is basically TLDR; hey tourists, wild donkeys kick.”

  • Alright, that's it for this edition of Almanac.

  • In the next one, I'm gonna be looking at the big ideas that completely changed movies

  • and had nothing to do with Hollywood.

Michael, welcome to the White House.”

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Why the US drinking age is 21

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/08/18
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