Protect youths from alcohol addiction – and embarrassment

In response to your March 13 editorial, "No winking at underage drinking": The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has several studies showing that the younger that people begin drinking, the more likely they are to develop alcohol addiction.

NIAAA reported in 2006 that "The risk of those who began drinking before age 14 was multiplied by a factor (or "hazard ratio") of 1.78 relative to those who started drinking at age 21 or older."

The NIAAA also reported, "[O]f those individuals who began drinking before age 14, 47 percent experienced dependence at some point, vs. 9 percent of those who began drinking at age 21 or older."

There is no more powerful preventive tool than the truth. If young people knew why drinking is dangerous, they would be more apt to listen. It isn't because adults want to punish them. It's because they are more susceptible to the damages of alcohol than adults are.
John Coffey
Windham, Maine

In response to the March 13 editorial on underage drinking: In Spain, the drinking age is lower than in the United States, so there is less of a stigma associated with young people and drinking. When we visit there, my wife and I usually go to the plaza where the kids go because we like the music and vibrancy of life. The only drunk and foul-mouthed youths I see – I'm sorry to say – are Americans. It's very embarrassing. Spanish youth seem respectful and sober. They are socially enjoying themselves.

American children have not been shown proper behavior or been corrected by those they respect when they are wrong.

Oppression will generate a reaction, not correction. Providing a safe environment and guidance has a much better track record for keeping young people's drinking in check than our failed policies over the years.

We keep walking down the same road and falling into the same hole when it comes to youth and alcohol. It's time to wise up and walk down a different road!
Brian Dudonis
Spring City, Pa.

Unions hurt companies, and workers

In response to the March 12 article, "Unions see their star rising": My experiences with unions make me think that we should be concerned about their abuse of power. In a summer job as a college student in a unionized factory, I always tried to produce good work, efficiently. Yet without exception, I was taken aside by union representatives and threatened with the loss of my job unless the quantity and/or quality of my work were reduced.

After graduation, I worked for a medical-electronics firm that went through a unionization campaign that was very divisive. When the union lost, the increase in product defects and sabotage put us out of business within a few months.

Subsequent experiences with unions, in which they prevented workers who were sleeping or drinking on the job from being disciplined, only reinforced my negative feelings about unions and their ability to abuse power. The last straw for me was when a union official of the company I was working for was arrested for the theft of significant amounts of inventory from our plant. The union's response was to go on strike. The strike only ended when the company dropped the charges.

While I concede that there may be circumstances under which unions are appropriate, giving unions unchecked power is not the answer.
Maitland Davies
Lakeland, Fla.

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