Are You Ready for Daylight Savings Time?

Winter, as measured by the amount of snow and extreme cold, has dragged on for too long. I’m ready for spring. A milestone that signals the approaching of a new season is the annual switch to daylight savings time. In case this isn’t on your calendar, get ready. It occurs in a few days, this year on March 9 (if you’re in the US), when we spring forward one hour.

However, aside from a reminder of spring’s approach, I have no other affection for daylight savings time. Consider:

  • It’s a Misnomer: We don’t really save daylight; we just alter our perception of when it occurs. Incredibly, some people actually believe this gives them an extra hour of daylight each day.
  • It Wastes Time: We spend too much time changing our clocks.
  • It Costs Money: Businesses must pay someone to reset clocks, adjust equipment, correct payroll issues for people working during the time change, and so forth. This is an added business expense.
  • It’s Frustrating: I always seem to miss a clock or two. Sometimes it’s a week or more before I discover my error, but never until after I’ve had an initial panic that I’m late or messed up my schedule.
  • It Confuses People: After each biannual time change, invariably someone arrives at church at the wrong time. I’m sure it happens at work, too, especially on Sunday shifts.
  • It Takes Time to Adjust our Internal Clocks: Switching time, messes up our sleep; it takes up to a week for me to return to normal.
  • It’s Dreaded: I’ve never met a person who looked forward to changing time, but I know many people who complain about it.

While many, myself included, have advocated we skip this twice a year nonsense and pick one time, I have an even better idea: let’s pick one time for the entire world. After all, we live in a global world and should be in sync with each other.

Let’s all switch to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), also known as Zulu time. Then it will be the same time everywhere, with no confusion about time zones. No longer will we need to ask, “Is that 3:00 your time or mine?” There will be no errors in adjusting for meetings, conference calls, or deadlines with those in other time zones.

This will, of course require a significant mental adjustment, but we’d only need to do it once. If my calculations are correct, that means I’d get up at 10:00 a.m. (not 5); eat lunch at 5:00 p.m. (not noon), my work day would end at 10:00 p.m. (not 5), and bedtime would beckon at 3:00 a.m. (not 10).

Of course, while we’re at it, we could also switch to a 24-hour clock and forgo the a.m. and p.m. notations.

Want do you think? Could we make this time change once and just be done with it?

Peter DeHaan is magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Visit peterdehaan.com to receive his newsletter, read his blog, or connect via social media.

Three Responses to the US Election

The Presidential election in the United States is over. I, for one, am glad. The political phone calls, mailers, and ads now reside in our rear view mirrors.

Given the closeness of the outcome, I suspect about half of the people are rejoicing over the results and the other half, mourning.

For those with me in this second group, I offer three responses:

Respect the office of the President: Be glad for an elected president to lead us, not a dictator who controls or a king to serve.

Respect the person of the President: This doesn’t require affirming or even accepting his political views. Though often hard for me to comprehend, I see no evil or selfishness in our President, but a principled man doing what he feels is best.

Determine to be part of the solution, not part of the problem: With many issues needing attention, divisiveness must be set aside. Those who came up on the losing side can opt to be angry and obstruct progress or make the best of the situation, helping our country move forward.

I, for one, will view the glass as half-full — and hope not to be proven wrong.

Does Freedom of Speech Have a Responsibility?

One of the core tenets of living in the United States is a right we revere: “Freedom of Speech.”

Within very broad limits (such as not screaming “Fire” in a crowded room) we, in the USA, enjoy the freedom to say what we want, when we want, and in the way we want. At least in theory.

But if everyone is talking, then no one is listening. The flip side of “freedom of speech” then is the “responsibility to listen.”

That doesn’t mean we need to actually hear and consider every voice, but it does mean we need to show respect. Our freedom of speech doesn’t permit us to yell louder than someone else, shouting them down and thereby denying them their right to speak.

Sadly, I see this happening today, especially when the voice is advocating something unpopular or a “politically incorrect” view.

We are beginning to lose sight of all that freedom of speech entails. And if that happens completely, we might lose even more, including the very right itself.

[Freedom of Speech is provided for in Article 1 of the Bill of Rights.]

Anticipating the Primary Election

Today is the primary election in Michigan. Though the presidential primary was so long ago as to be unmemorable, the rest of the offices are under consideration now.

The positions in the US Congress and state level are contested by both parties, but the local offices are the sole domain of one party. The other party has nary an entrant. That means whoever wins the primary will be a sure thing in this fall’s election.

In our contested US house race the incumbent must have been concerned. It seems we were getting one piece of mail a day from him — and on several days, two. He ran a highly negative campaign and his challenger did not. For that reason I voted for his challenger.

On a personal note, my bride decided to run to be a county delegate. There was some excitement when she expressed interest, as apparently our area often goes without. And the ballot reflected that reality. The instructions were to “vote for not more than eight” — and hers was the only name listed.

I’m quite sure she’ll make it.

Even so, on Monday she passed out fliers to 28 neighbors.

Should Everyone Really Have a College Education?

A few years ago, there was a concerted political push to increase home ownership rates. The idea was to help renters become buyers. This, it was argued, would have many benefits for those who made the jump, including: an increased standard of living, greater self-esteem, and financial security (by building up equity). As a result, many people who shouldn’t have bought houses, were pushed into doing so.

This was exacerbated by some lenders who got greedy, sub-prime loans, the assumption that balloon payments would not be a problem, and the belief that the housing bubble would not collapse. We now know that these forces conspired together to create a perfect storm for economic disaster.

The truth is now known that not everyone should own their home.

It seems that the political emphasis has now switched from owning your own home to getting a college degree. Indeed the current mantra is “a college education for everyone.” Never mind that not everyone is college material. Some need to pursue a trade, join the service, or directly enter the workforce. Sending the ill-equipped, the unmotivated, and or uncaring to college will do nothing to make them better, but will saddle them with student loans, as well as harm the overall learning opportunities offered at the institutions they attend.

Plus if everyone were to obtain a college degree, then those seeking to distinguish themselves will be needlessly pushed into grad school. Indeed some fields are already like that.

If this effort to send everyone to college succeeds, the result will not be them getting a better job, but merely an upward push on required qualifications, as well as more money spent on schooling and increased student debt.

It will only be a matter of time before the college bubble bursts — just like the housing bubble before it.

The Long Term Problems with China’s One-Child Policy

In my family there are a lot of two-children families. My bride and I both came from two-children homes. We have two children ourselves and both of our kids’ spouses hail from two-children families. Plus, my sister has two children. So my mom has two children and four grandchildren. If the trend continues, she will have eight great grandchildren.

Contrast this with China’s one-child policy, which has been in place since 1979 (33 years). A child born in China today will be the only child of two parents and the only grandchild of four grandparents. If the trend continues, he or she will eventually be the only great grandchild of eight great grandparents. This child will also have no uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces, or nephews.

While this may be an effective means to curb population growth, it has two most negative outcomes:

First, a Chinese child will be the only child of two parents and of four grandparents. That means that six people are placing their sole generational focus — good or bad — on that lone child. There will be a tendency to spoil their only child and grandchild. And there will be tremendous pressure placed on that child to do well, succeed, get married — and have his or her one child. That’s a lot of pressure to put on one kid. Plus, all these overly indulged, “only-child” kids, being the center of their family’s attention, will most likely be narcissistic and selfish.

Second, a Chinese child will be the only grandchild to care for four aging grandparents and later the only child to care for two aging parents. There will be no siblings or cousins to share in these duties. That’s a lot of responsibility to place on one child.

In societies with no procreation limits, parents rightly make their own decisions on the number of offspring, be it ten, two, one, or even none. That is good and right, but when a whole society is forced to limit themselves to one, the ramifications are significant.

Michigan Votes in the Presidential Primary

Tomorrow is the primary presidential election in Michigan. I am glad that this day is upon us — for two reasons.

The first is that this time our votes will actually matter. Eight years ago, by the time it was Michigan’s turn to cast our ballots, the leading candidate of my preferred party had the nomination sewn up before we could vote. Four years ago, in an effort to be relevant in the nomination process, Michigan moved up the date of our primary. The ploy so angered party officials that they punished us by disregarding our delegates. So much for voting early. This time, however, the nomination is still undecided and our voice will matter.

The second reason I am looking forward to the primary election is that it will put an end to the incessant robo calls that we are being deluged with. Initially we were getting one call a day, then two, and then more. Yesterday, I believe it was six. Who knows what this day will bring. But come Wednesday, the phones will go silent, albeit until the general election in the fall.

Aside from the annoyance of their interruption, the calls are not helpful — and from my perspective they do more harm than good. For me, each call actually serves as a negative mark against the sponsoring candidate. The one with the most money to spend is calling the most often, greatly decreasing his standing in my eyes. Stop spewing the tired rhetoric, the twisted truth, and the out-of-context inferences.

I am wearied by the political process, but at least this time my voice will be heard.

Super Ads for the Super Bowl

Like many people I watched the Super Bowl and the Super Bowl Ads.

The game was a good one, with the outcome in doubt up until the very end.

The commercials were good, too. Many were creative and smart. But I was so drawn in by others that I missed the product being promoted. Although I was entertained, these ads failed at their primary mission: to inform or sway.

As always, I enjoyed the e-Trade ad and Doritos user-generated spots. I especially appreciated Matthew Broderick playing off his Ferris Bueller role, but don’t know what product he was promoting.

The ad I enjoyed the most, however, as a local spot that I believed aired at 5:59, right before the official coverage began. In it, US Senate hopeful, Pete Hoekstra, had a great ad that cleverly called his opponent Debbie Stabenow, “Debbie-Spend-it-Now.”

Although some people without a sense of humor are decrying the ad as racist, these purveyors of political correctness are choosing to miss the point. Michigan’s current senator has spent too much of taxpayer dollars, while her opponent, “Pete-Spend-it-Not” has a different idea.

Regardless of the controversy, that ad is my Super Bowl highlight.

The Future of the Legal Profession

I recently made the acquaintance of a lawyer who was a founding partner in his firm.  I asked what he saw for the future of his profession.

His answer was quick and direct: “There are too many law schools that are graduating too many lawyers.”

I pondered the ramifications of this.  “Does that mean there will be graduates who won’t find jobs,” I asked, “or an increase in lawsuits?”

His answer was sobering.  “Both,” he declared with a bit of acquiesced sadness.

The discussion of the group then migrated to states attorneys general, positions that are filled by lawyers.  I’ve never given this position much thought or concern, but I think that will change.  Someone in the group noted that the position of state attorneys general is viewed as a stepping-stone to state governorship, which was confirmed by the group to often be proved out.

Does that mean some of the preceding can’t-find-work attorneys might go into politics?

With apologies to my new friend, I shudder at the thought. I think we already have too many lawyers who are in politics.