Of Four Loko and Student Loans: My Generation's Accountability Crisis

Four Loko Bans and Student Loans
Four Loko Bans and Student Loans

Under the imminent threat of an Food and Drug Administration ban, the makers of Four Loko, an alcoholic energy drink that has come under scrutiny in recent weeks, are changing their recipe to remove caffeine, guarana and taurine. Nine Washington college students were hospitalized recently after consuming significant quantities of the drink at an off-campus party.

Phusion Projects, the manufacturer of the drink, said in a statement on its website:
"We are taking this step after trying -- unsuccessfully -- to navigate a difficult and politically charged regulatory environment at both the state and federal levels."

One family is even suing the company after their son, who was a student at Florida State University, spent 30 hours drinking, then accidentally shot himself while playing with a friend's firearm that he thought had the safety lock on.

Right: If someone gets trashed and decides that's the most appropriate time to play with firearms, clearly the manufacturer of the alcohol is at fault. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), in predicting that the FDA would take action against
Four Loko, said "Parents should be able to rest a little easier knowing that soon their children won't have access to this deadly brew."

Exactly: If a kid wants to get simultaneously trashed and caffeinated, with potentially tragic results, he'll have to do it the old-fashioned way -- by mixing Red Bull with vodka himself. Score one for self-reliance.

Legislation Rather Than Responsibility

The argument for banning Four Loko goes to the heart of a disturbing trend in the discourse on college students, a conversation in which we're seen as hapless victims in need of regulations and handouts, and in which the question of personal responsibility doesn't come up. Parents should rest easier knowing that the federal government will step in to ban a product that can be abused by college students.

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As U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) once noted, "If we were to outlaw for adults everything that college students abuse, we would all just sit home and do nothing."

Incidentally: Does anyone notice a strange contrast between students lobbying for increased funding for higher education because paying for college is impossible without borrowing a bunch of money -- and then those same college students binging on $2.19-a-can alcoholic energy drinks? Simultaneously, students complain that requiring them to hold a job during college leaves them with insufficient time to study -- but many do manage to find time to drink their way into the emergency room, and occasionally the morgue. According to The College Board, tuition and fees at the average two-year public college run $2,713 per year. That's the equivalent of 3.4 cans of Four Loko per day.

Bottom line: It's time for college students to start taking responsibility for their lives, and for politicians and parents to stop demanding handouts, bailouts, litigation and regulations in the vain attempt to prevent people from doing stupid things.

Zac Bissonnette'sDebt-Free U: How I Paid For An Outstanding College Education Without Loans, Scholarships, Or Mooching Off My Parentswas called the "best and most troubling book ever about the college admissions process" by The Washington Post.