Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Flash! I Agree With The Cato Institute

Generally I don't care for the Cato Institute, a libertarian think-tank that opposes almost all regulations and thinks that (OSHA actually causes more deaths than it prevents.

So imagine my surprise when I read this Washington Post op-ed that made a lot of sense to this very experienced parent of three teenagers. And then realized that it was written by a policy analyst for Cato.

Not that I would probably do this, but it does make sense, given the teen environment:
Imagine for a moment that you're a parent with a teenage son. He doesn't drink, but you know his friends do. You're also not naive. You've read the government's statistics: 47 percent of high school students tell researchers they've had a drink of alcohol in the previous 30 days. Thirty percent have had at least five drinks in a row in the past month. Thirteen percent admitted to having driven in the previous month after drinking alcohol.

So, what do you do with regard to your son's social life? Many parents have decided to take a realist's approach. They're throwing parties for their kids and their friends. They serve alcohol at these parties, but they also collect car keys to make sure no one drives home until the next morning. Their logic makes sense: The kids are going to drink; it's better that they do it in a controlled, supervised environment.
Makes sense to me, but not to Mothers Against Drunk Driving who want to throw the parents in jail.

Not only do such uncompromising approaches do little to make our roads safer, they often make them worse. The data don't lie. High school kids drink, particularly during prom season. We might not be comfortable with that, but it's going to happen. It always has. The question, then, is do we want them drinking in their cars, in parking lots, in vacant lots and in rented motel rooms? Or do we want them drinking at parties with adult supervision, where they're denied access to the roads once they enter?