It is simply not possible to carry out the licensing of responsible behavior among human beings. Michael Brake in his article ‘Needed: a license to drink’ says that people should be given licenses that show that they are fit to drink alcohol with responsibility . In the same way, Bobbi Leder in her article ‘Should people be required to obtain a license before becoming parents?’ says that the ability of people to be good parents should be checked before ‘licensing’ them to have children . Both authors think of the issues of alcoholism and bad parenting to be the same as irresponsible driving, fishing or hunting. However, the point of any such action would be to encourage responsible behavior, something which a license cannot achieve. This is why giving licenses to people to drink legally or become parents is not sensible and should not be implemented.
Brake says that since alcoholism has been linked to genetic traits, those who are genetically prone to the illness can be identified and informed about their vulnerability before a license is issued to them. He also says that, in lines of the road and traffic rules that have to be studied before getting a license, similarly, people should be made to study laws regarding alcohol drinking and drinking and driving. They should then be given a written exam to complete and should be given a license only if they pass the test. Brake says that people without a license to drink should not be sold alcohol in shops or eateries. Any shop selling alcohol to people without a license should be closed. Anyone drinking without license should be punished. Brake feels that this will bring down alcoholism in America. But this is not true.
The legal drinking age in America is 21. Still. 4700 people below that age die from drinking every year . Every shop or eatery knows that is illegal to sell alcohol to underage people, but it still happens. There is legal punishment if a shop is caught selling alcohol to underage person, but it still happens. How can one be sure that alcohol will not be sold to people without licenses? If a person wants to drink, he or she will find a way to buy alcohol. If they are not allowed legally, they will buy from illegal sources. This will lead to creation of unregulated black markets which is not good for the nation’s economy.
Leder says that government should check if a person is in stable financial condition, is mature, and can handle children before they issue a license to such people to have children. She says that people who do not have license should not be allowed to have children. Leder claims that only responsible people should get license to reduce child abuse and poor upbringing of kids. However, this is not a practical solution to bad parenting. As in the case of drinking, if a person wants to have children, they will lie about their personal habits and so on to convince authorities. Even if a person is in good financial condition now, it does now mean that they will be rich forever.
During the 2008 to 2009 global recession, 8.4 million people in America lost their jobs and many are still recovering from their financial troubles . Many big companies went bankrupt and several households were ruined as people struggled to pay bills. The point is, there is no such thing as financial ‘stability’, as life itself in unpredictable. A person might be earning enough to support a child when he or she is given a license but the situation may change after the birth of the child. Would Leder also propose that the children of parents who have become poor should be taken away? Similarly, a person’s nature keeps changing through life as they experience different things. A person who is happy today could go into depression because of some reason tomorrow. Emotions cannot be measured and licensed. By Leder’s logic, everyone with a driving license should be a good driver. But if this was true, then there would not have been 10.8 million road accidents in America in 2009 alone . Parenting is much more complicated than driving a car.
Both, Brake and Leder, seem to have formed their opinions in the topic of licensing based on their personal experience. However, as the examples given in this essay show, licensing will not bring down rates of alcoholism and will not make people become better parents. At the end of the day, people do not become alcoholic by choice and nobody ‘wants’ to be a bad parent. But people are forced into such actions by their situation. They may have been brought up in a bad environment, where alcoholism and child abuse was common. A girl may become a mother even before she has the chance to mentally mature into a woman. Licensing of drinking or parenting will not convince people to become more responsible. Instead it will only lead to more laws being broken, more people punished and more teenagers being sent to juvenile rehabilitation centers. Instead, it would be better if the government would focus more on programs that encourage family members to enroll alcoholics for treatment. Start teaching youngsters how to be responsible human beings from an early age.
Brake, Michael. "Needed: A license to drink." Newsweek 14 March 1994.
CDC. "Alcohol and public health." 1 October 2012. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 14 February 2013
Leder, Bobbi. "Should people be required to obtain a license before becoming parents?" OpEd News 7 September 2009.
The State of Working America. The Great Recession. 14 February 2013
US Census Bureau. "Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2012." 2012. Census.gov. 14 February 2013