I deal with the traveling public almost every week, and people are worse behaved now, then 20 years ago. I think this is partly because flying is simply not fun anymore, between cramped planes, TSA, etc. I also don't see it ever getting any better. It's controversial, but if we charged for overhead bin space, and did not serve alcohol on the plane or at the airport, it would go a ways to helping... Most of the issues I've had in the cabin, have been related to those two things.
I'm having a difficult time following the logic of your post. Things are worse today than before, but we if we just turn the screws a little tighter in the same direction, then things will get better again? If we want flying to return to the much more relaxed and enjoyable flying experience from 20 years ago then maybe we should revert to the much more relaxed rules and regulations from 20 years ago. I realize that a more relaxed attitude toward modern travel may be hard sell to worrywart homebodies, but for those of us who travel regularly it would be a welcome change indeed.
It's been a known fact that alcohol is one of the main factors in air rage cases. I've seen it many times. The relaxed rules and regulations of 20 years ago are gone forever. This isn't about tightening the screws, it's about dealing with the conditions of air travel today, which are never going to go back to the "good ole days," sadly....
Drinking may seem like an easy and obvious foe to vanquish but imbibing to the point of inebriation predates air rage by centuries. I don't doubt that it's an issue for you but access to alcohol has yet to cause me any problems. If anything the continuing degradation of the typical flying experience makes the option to drink your way to a slightly more comfortable seat even more valuable. That's not to say that I've never witnessed any air rage, just that all parties involved appeared to be perfectly sober (although physically exhausted and/or mentally exasperated as well) at the time. So far as I can tell the fundamental experience of modern flying itself is the primary culprit.
Staff that vacillate between proud indifference and casual escalation. An ever growing number of punitive fees and gotcha penalties that are difficult for many to accurately track and anticipate. Long lines and sometimes degrading treatment, especially from the perspective of the infrequent and uninitiated traveler. Shrinking seats and increasing rows that are packed to the point of shoving full sized adults into petite child-sized quarters for up to eighteen hours at a time. The lack of preapproved pressure release valves and deescalation training for adverse situations. Maybe if we did something to address those issues before chasing a teetotaler boogieman from the twenties it would help both the staff and their customers.