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Puzzling pieces of legislation

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FromEditorsDesk Tony CroppedBy Tony Farkas
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I’m a pretty huge sci-fi fan, having watched all the Star Trek series, “Space: 1999,” all of the bionic peoples, “Twilight Zone,” “Night Gallery,” even “Doctor Who.” Far and away, though, my favorite series is “Babylon 5.”

I won’t bore you with the synopsis (but check it out anyway), but there was a scene in one of the episodes that I will recount for you, which has some bearing on this topic.

At one time in the past of a character’s planet, a daughter of the ruler found the first flower growing out of the snow. This princess was so enamored of the plant, and so worried about it being walked on, she complained to her father, who ordered a guard to protect the flower.

The king was deposed, the flower died, but for 200 years, the guard reported to that same spot, because no one countermanded the order.

That story comes to mind every spring and every fall, when we’re forced by legislative fiat to change our clocks for daylight saving time, which to my mind is as ridiculous an idea as legislating the weather to fight climate change.

According to almanac.com, daylight saving time had its roots in a proposal from Benjamin Franklin, but really didn’t gain traction in the U.S. until World War I. In order to fight the Hun, energy needed to be conserved, and DST was instituted for a two-year span in 1918.

It was ended after efforts from the nation’s dairy farmers, who rightly pointed out that cows don’t tell time, and when it was time to milk, it was time to milk, regardless of what Mickey’s hands said.

It cropped back up again in World War II, because we needed all our energy to defeat the Axis Powers. This time, its use fell off gradually, leaving states and counties to figure it out for themselves.

In 1966, Congress, to solve the willy-nilly nature of time in the country, passed the Uniform Time Act, forcing folks to not only observe time zones, but DST again. Except, Alaska and Hawaii didn’t have to, because loopholes, so again, things are all outta wonky.

So like with ice cream, meaning bigger is better, in 1986 Congress made DST longer, and 2005, made it longer still.

Farmers still hate it, because cows steadfastly refuse to learn to tell time, but the government, both at the state and federal levels, still can’t come to a consensus about it.

The Texas Legislature, to my knowledge, has a bill introduced just about every session to abandon the practice; just recently, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bill to abolish it, but it has languished in the House.

Here’s the rub: for a system designed to save energy, it doesn’t work.

Studies have shown that as far as electricity goes, it saves around 1 percent of costs, but strangely, costs for heating and cooling go up around 9 percent. That’s because actual house lights are no longer the big boy power eater, with electric stoves, heaters, water heaters, washers and dryers and, if Uncle Joe has his way, chargers for electric vehicles taking over the wattage wants.

So just like the guard who reports for no reason, this law exists for really no good reason, and should be abolished.

I’ve always thought that the government, which likes to empanel committees, should create a Sunset Committee, much in the same way Texas has, to evaluate services, programs and other laws for effectiveness and necessity. Once done, this can be turned into legislation that might actually be beneficial.

Or, we can continue to cut a rope from one end, attach it to the other end, and call it better.

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