Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Time It Is a-Changin’

I once drove through rural western Indiana one summer day (don’t ask why) and wound up asking the gentleman next to me at the lunch counter a question most people would think strange: “Excuse me, but what time is it here?”

It was the same time as it was in Illinois, one state to the west in an earlier time zone, but one hour later than it was in the next county to the east. I thought of this as I ran around this morning fixing the alarm clock, the wall clocks, the microwave, the cable TV box and the dashboard of my car. As you should know now – just look to your right on this page – Sunday marked a return to “standard” time, that is, the time pretty close to what the solar system believes it to be (except in Arizona and some patches of Indiana.)

From early April until just before Halloween, the United States was on “savings” time, which gives us an extra hour of light at the end of the day by taking it from the morning. For decades farmers have objected to daylight time on behalf of their cows, who don’t use alarm clocks to feel the need to express milk (don’t ask.) Just know that cows don’t vote or contribute to politicians.

The dates for changing the clocks were extended some years ago as a supposed answer to the energy crisis (don’t ask). But those who object to savings time are in for a surprise. Congress has extended savings for another two months starting next year.

OK. Now you can ask.

The last extension increased retail shopping to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year – the biggest sidereal giveaway since Franklin Roosevelt, at the behest of Macy's and others, got Congress to make Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday of November, not the last Thursday. (Now you can ask: To avoid a shortened Christmas shopping season once every seven years.)

Ask again: Which special interest lobby successfully pushed to extend daylight time past Oct. 31. Look at the clock to the right and at the calendar on your wall and – correctemundo!-- Hershey, Nestle, Mars, Tootsie Roll and other members of the National Confectioners Association.

Is this a great country or what!

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