The War of the Ages
Can someone please explain the logic behind “legal age” laws in this country?
How’s it possible that we allow 18-, 19-, and 20-year-olds to freely enlist in the military and perhaps even die a senseless death over in a faraway place — as indeed happens every single day — but these same brave young people can’t even buy a beer?
How’s it possible that we allow 18-, 19-, and 20-year-olds to appear in pornographic movies, but they can’t play a hand of poker inside most casinos?
What’s up with our thoroughly absurd “age” laws?
Seems to me that giving a 19-year-old the keys to a $50-million dollar tank — a weapon more than capable of demolishing an entire village of families — would somehow instill enough sense of trust that he’d also be able to order a draft beer or a glass of wine.
Seems to me that if a young, often desperate girl can freely make the decision to expose her body to the world and fuck on camera for money, she ought to be able to pull the lever on a slot machine. I know — I’m such a pervert filled with corrupting influences on the nation’s youth.
Fact is, our nation’s age laws are preposterous. Why? Because they don’t do shit to combat issues for which they’re intended. Largely sculpted by a well-meaning organization called Mothers Against Drunk Driving (M.A.D.D.), back during the 1980′s states began to uptick age-related laws shortly after I was lucky enough the make the final cut and slide into home plate as a boozing 18-year-old. During the Reagan and Bush (Sr.) Administrations, states were pressured into revamping all drinking laws to “age 21,” or else risk losing federal highway funds. So, any movement to protect the legitimate rights of young people was squashed.
But aside from the obvious hypocrisy of the military-drinking paradox, age laws on gambling are equally as baffling. Everyone’s up in arms about the prospect of young people gambling (shudder), including playing online poker. Alas, much of the resistance to legalizing online poker stems from (unfounded) concerns about young people gaining access to the family credit cards and then blowing up the entire credit line in a losing session of Hold’em.
Yet every poker player or gambler I know began playing poker and gambling well before the so-called “legal” age. When do you think gambling starts? That’s right — when we’re kids. Do we refrain from gambling all through our high school and college years, then suddenly starting to play poker at age 21? Hell, no. We all start gambling long before that. And drinking, too. So, let’s cut through the chicken shit and start facing the facts.
Most teens already know the nuances of poker, and in some cases sports betting too, long before the time they’ve reached high school. Let’s quit pretending that we’re protecting kids when there’s a real underground underage culture that’s thriving to the point some call it an epidemic. Instead of prescribing preposterous laws that don’t work, let’s declare “18″ to be the age of legal adulthood and be done with it. Moreover, instead of pretending things like gambling and drinking and sex don’t exist in teenage culture, let’s provide an open dialogue about these facts of life, including mandatory education. I’d even go so far as to make wine tasting and poker an electives in high school (as well as sex education). Let’s teach our kids how to engage in these behaviors responsibly.
Think I’m joking? Look at the rates of teen alcohol abuse over in Europe, where kids often drink wine and other alcoholic beverages with adults. Indeed, drinking is an indelible part of the culture in countries like France and Italy and by the time kids go off to college, there’s little incentive to binge drink or act like animals at every fraternity party. Germany guzzles more beer than any nation on earth, but its teenagers aren’t sneaking around to buy six packs.
Regardless of what number we agree that constitutes adulthood, let’s at least make our age laws consistent. If you can drive a car, suck a cock in front of a slimy movie director, or die for your country, then you sure as shit ought to be able to order a margarita or play a hand of poker.
Of course, many people in the industry where I’ve largely focused much of my energies over the past two decades won’t like reading this. We’ll go ahead and bow to the high priests of moral authority, begging for their blessing. You won’t get it. The bottom line is — prohibitive policies pushed by conservatives and nanny-staters have failed on virtually every type of human behavior they seek to control — be it drinking, gambling, sex, or even drugs. Their ideas are junk. Their credibility is shot.
I say, screw them.
If you can enlist in the military and come back in a body bag, you should be able to gamble or buy a drink.
End of discussion.
* * *
Well not quite the end of discussion. There’s more.
Unfortunately, nothing is going to change in our society. You know it and I know it.
That’s because the old screw the young every chance they get.
The old want the young to die in their wars (usually started by old people).
The old want the young to pay their bills and medical care.
The old want the young to provide all the basic services of comfort in their communities, while paying as little compensation as possible.
The old want every possible means of protection they can get, and they’ll do whatever it takes to protect those nest eggs at the expense of the next generation, and the next.
In short, the old have all the money and the power and while the young slave away, completely oblivious to their sorry plight.
Look at the present state of America. We saddle young people with bone-crushing debt, particularly those coming right out of college. We fail to provide nearly enough jobs for a highly-educated workforce. We scorch young people’s trust and confidence by the unpunished acts of the old who left the young with millions of upside-down mortgages, leaving lots of twenty-somethings to move back in with their parents.
What to know why the nation’s birthrate is falling? Because it’s too fucking expensive to have kids.
Oh, and then there’s the certain matter of leaving the next generation SADDLED WITH $15 TRILLION IN NATIONAL DEBT! Yeah, that’s right. A bunch of old people from the so-called “baby boom generation” have basically bankrupted their children’s future before it even begins.
Meanwhile, how are older people doing? Marvelously well, thank you very much.
Buoyed by generous private and public pensions and retirement plans, intimidating political clout that resists every reasonable attempt to raise the Social Security and Medicare eligibility age, and discounts and financial breaks at just about every outlet in America, older people are able to rats-nest their money while those who could really use a few breaks can’t find jobs, get thrown out of their houses, and pay full price for just about everything.
Obviously, those who saved and invested wisely deserve to keep much of what they’ve earned. Trouble is, way too many are feeding at the retirement trough. It’s one thing to keep your own money. It’s quote another to expect generous retirement benefits at the expense of everyone else, which has now come to cripple local government budgets and bankrupt once great companies. Old people and their selfish expectations are bleeding America dry.
Laws are made by old people for the benefit of old people. And no one really gives a flying shit about the young — so long as they continue to fight and die in our wars, continue slaving away at low-wage jobs paying off their college debts, perform all the menial tasks that allows older people to live in comfort, and then keep quiet about it.
And then there’s the worst insult of all. They can’t even buy a beer.