Daylight Scammings Time

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Crazy time! I miss my backwards Bullwinkle clock.

Those of you unfortunates in the rest of the USA lost an hour today. We in Arizona (and Hawaii; our fellow holdout Indiana succumbed to the Borg a few years back) do not practice such nonsense. The idea was first proposed by Benjamin Franklin, though it was a moot point since official time zones had not been established. It came into common usage in Germany during World War I with the rationale of saving coal by promoting energy savings. Daylight Savings Time is the archetypal grand government scheme in that its proponents exaggerate benefits and ignore negative external costs. If it’s such a great idea, private businesses are free to adopt summer hours on their own initiative. There’s no need for coercive standardization.

The original benefits touted for DST were energy savings. By adjusting the hours most people were awake, it would supposedly require less use energy usage. Wikipedia’s article on DST reports several studies in which energy savings were predicted, but subsequent follow-ups showed little to no benefits. In fact, when Indiana adopted DST in 2006, energy consumption actually increased due to greater use of air conditioning in the summer evening hours.

The other alleged benefit of DST is that people can enjoy more time after-work outdoor activities in the summer. Here in Arizona, this is a drawback. Due to the high temperatures, we welcome the sunset. (A few years back, our august legislature proposed reverse DST. Ugh!) Again, private businesses are free to adopt summer hours. Government offices could do so as well. However, with increasing air pollution and traffic congestion, communities would benefit far more from staggered work schedules, which would render the whole issue moot.

Now for the widely ignored downside: DST has a significant detrimental effect on health. Days on which the clock shift see a 10% increase in heart attacks (also from Wikipedia.) Its effect on global business is a nightmare because the many nations who observe “summer time” tend to shift their clocks on different days, making time coordination more baffling than a backwards Bullwinkleclock. For example, Mexico adopted DST as a result of NAFTA (so-called “trade pacts” have little to do with reducing tariffs and everything to do with the centralization of authority) even though, as a sub-tropical nation, it sees little benefit. It’s interesting to note that Mexico changes its clocks on different days than the US, meaning this “standardization” simply increases confusion.

Daylight savings time is a scam that offers our citizens little or no benefit at a significant cost. If we’re going to eliminate grand government schemes this would be a good place to start, since its repeal wouldn’t bankrupt any companies or start any rebellions. President Trump, gadfly that he is, should consider this move as a less controversial way to benefit America.

The wise Victorians didn’t observe DST. Escape to a simpler time with my steampunk novels Fidelio’s Automata and Miss Ione D and the Mayan Marvel.

 

FREE SPEECH FRIDAY: My Predictions for 2017

crystalball

Gaze into the future…

Why make predictions, one nobody can see the future? I say, why not? At the very least, it’s an interesting exercise to see how much we can guess correctly.

First I’ll review my arcane and esoteric predictions from a year ago, at the start of 2016:

1. My 2016 prediction about Trump not winning the Presidency was wrong, and I’m in good company because even most of the Donald’s most devoted advocates expected him to lose. It’s not that I believed the media’s slanted coverage of him; I just didn’t think the Powers That Be would allow him to prevail.

2. Economic stagnation continues – I was mostly correct. Despite the Obama administration’s propaganda about a recovery, there are still millions unemployed and thirty-year-olds living with their parents. The post-election stock market euphoria doesn’t count; to most Americans, it has yet to deliver any material benefit.

3. Unrest expands beyond the inner cities – also correct. With the Dakota Access Pipeline, Black Lives Matter, and anti-Trump protests, we’ve seen plenty of that. Thankfully, there hasn’t been as much violence as I expected. 2016 was indeed a year of surprises.

Now for my prognostications for 2017: having gone 2 for 3 in 2016 I’ll double the number.

1. Happy days aren’t here again. The economy will worsen and perhaps even return to 2008 levels. Trump will be the cause, but not directly. Because he’s an independent actor, the usual suspects at the Federal Reserve have no reason to support him and will finally raise interest rates. On the good side, it will be a long-overdue detox from the fiscal meth high of the “zero interest rate” policy.

2. Russia, Russia, Russia! Russia will continue to increase its influence, especially if Trump can put an end to those foolish economic sanctions. The Russian economy will grow through 2017 and the Kremlin will win battles and gain allies in the Middle East.

3. Oil prices are headed upward. This is a contrary view, but the world’s biggest oil producer, Saudi Arabia, has gotten itself in financial trouble with its overly generous welfare state. Furthermore the royal family’s covert support for ISIS and their meddling in Bahrain and Yemen will come back to bite them. The resulting political turmoil may cause a significant increase in prices by the second half of the year.

4. Havana will be the new boomtown. With Fidel gone, Cuba will go the way of China and attempt to meld communism and capitalism. It will be the “in” place for investors, though the Raul Castro regime will give a lot of them the shaft.

5. Humpty Dumpty sits on a wall in Brussels. If Le Pen wins in France or Wilders wins in the Netherlands (I’d say the odds are at least 50-50 for at least one of these,) the EU will effectively collapse by year’s end. If not, this autocratic alliance will continue its slow march into oblivion.

6. The corporate media grabs at straws. The “fake news” nonsense shows that media corporations are desperate. When their propaganda fails, they’ll attempt to absorb and co-opt the alt media. A few might have some limited success, but in the long run, the dinosaur networks and newspapers are doomed.

One year from now we’ll see how they stack up. Despite my pessimism, I’d like to wish you all a prosperous (or at least interesting) 2017.

If you wonder about the future (and who doesn’t?) check out the story collection Valiant, He Endured edited by George Donnelly and containing the short story “Ghost Writer” by yours truly.