One of our most time honored traditions in Wisconsin is the ongoing debate over the consumption of alcohol: drunk driving, binge drinking, underage drinking, etc. It's important for us to have this debate, of course, since we really do have a problem (Hello, my name is Wisconsin, and I'm an alcoholic).
The most recent legislative response to said discussion comes from Sen. Judy Robson (D-Beloit) in the form of a bill that would alter the current law that allows persons under 21 years of age to drink in a bar so long as they're with their parents, guardians or spouse. "Bartenders are given the discretion to determine whether the child should be served."
The new bill would still allow those people between 18 and 20 years of age to drink if accompanied. Under 18, though? No more booze for boozy.
I'm of the opinion that the general legal drinking age should be brought back to 18 anyway. If you're allowed to vote, go off to war, and legally be considered an adult in general, why not be able to decide if you'd like a few nips or not?
But I also believe that the new bill makes a certain degree of sense. I'm not entirely convinced that a blanket restriction on under-18 drinking is the way to go, though, because there are exceptions to every rule - but overall, and call me a cynic, I don't think legal guardians are always the best judges of when and how much alcohol a minor should consume. Frankly, I think a lot of people make piss poor decisions - for themselves, and for their kids. This may well put me at odds with a lot of people, including The Sconz, who argues that "Parents who take their teens to wine tastings should not be decried for encouraging alcoholism, but lauded for encouraging moderation."
Problem is, there are far too many parents who don't know what moderation is, and who pass their bad habits on to their kids. That's liable to happen regardless of if it's at home or in public, but making it legal for them to do so out at the bars just makes the state an enabler.
Teaching moderation and responsible drinking habits, coupled with rigorous enforcement and punishment (you know, actually holding drunk drivers responsible sooner rather than 8 tickets later), are the best tools for curbing bad alcohol-related trends in this state. I don't think the former is accomplished by allowing children to belly up to the bar and throw a few back with their folks.