October 25, 2008

Daylight saving time

Tonight we Europeans will shift our clocks, as we do twice a year. Clock shifts are an inconvenience but few question the practice. People assume that the government has adequately studied the matter and that it is taking care of our collective interest, instead of serving the goals of lobbies, or maybe just making an extravagant, but appealing to submissive citizens, display of arbitrary power.

Submission has its benefits. It is, for example, a powerful sedative. Even bright people sometimes give in to its temptation. Read Tyler Cowen. He argues that Bernanke and Paulson are doing certain things right because many banks are in trouble, and as evidence that many banks are in trouble he cites the "very actions of Bernanke and Paulson -- both smart and competent people." Questioning government decisions is too tiresome.

The truth is that, tiresome or not, questioning government decisions is usually ineffective. ArsonSmith put it clearly in a comment in Slashdot about clock shifts:
Sorry, once the government has adopted something you can't get rid of it. You can change it for better or worse (usually worse) but it is there for ever.

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