Daylight Savings Time and Eight Other Very Bad Choices We’ve Made

We all know it: Daylight Savings Time sucks. Like Columbus discovering America and diamonds coming from coal, the story of daylight savings — that we did it for farmers — is complete bullshit. The true origins lie somewhere between wartime, energy conservation and politics; farmers, in fact, were staunchly against it as a practice, so the fact that they became blamed for it is adding insult to injury.

Daylight Savings Time isn’t the only thing that remains part of American culture out of sheer inertia. The great John Oliver has a superb occasional feature called “How Is This Still a Thing?” that covers ridiculousness like Daylight Savings Time, as well as everything from Columbus Day to the popularity of Ayn Rand to pennies. But it’s not just tradition that sometimes sticks us with a terrible and yet still voluntary mess — sometimes we see the pothole, and we drive over the damn thing anyway, wrecking our national alignment. Here’s a list of other disasters we’ve gotten ourselves into….

8. Having One More for the Road
Our grandparents used to say this all the time…but then, the Greatest Generation used to say a hell of a lot of things that frankly weren’t so great. To be fair, this saying was popularized back when drinking and driving was more a thing that adults did once in a while. Frank Sinatra sang a song about it. And Jimmy Stewart’s George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life — a more mainstream and white-bread world you won’t find — gets drunk and drives his jalopy right into a tree. And after doing that, Bert the Cop is looking for him…just so he can take him home. Of course, you used to be able to hit kids in the ear and still be a good guy, so maybe that movie is a bad example of behavior in general.

7. Abandoning Public Education
Between the defunding of state universities, the insurgence of the charter-school model, and a general right-wing attack on public schools, education for all Americans is something that seems like an antiquated notion. People rail about how public education isn’t serving our nation’s youth, but after decades of budget cuts, an invasion of religious belief into pedagogical decision-making and an overall distraction from the public-school model by competing (and often commercial) alternatives, it’s no wonder that American public schools are suffering. When it comes to education, we should always ask ourselves: WWMKD (What would Mr. Kotter do)?

6. Taking Medical Advice From Jenny McCarthy
Jenny McCarthy is best known for having boobs. Still, she’s become known more recently for being an outspoken critic of vaccinations, stating that they can trigger autism. Which they don’t, but some people still believe it. It deserves noting that Jenny McCarthy herself has denied ever believing this, or even saying it (even though it’s, you know, on tape), but you have to give her credit: Even Jenny McCarthy doesn’t think you should pay attention to Jenny McCarthy.

5. Counting Ketchup as a Vegetable
Back in the early days of the Reagan administration, massive budget cuts were wreaking havoc on the National School Lunch Plan, which required that a certain level of nutrition be met for every child’s school hot lunch. To make institutional dollars stretch, certain recommendations were made, one of them notoriously (and erroneously) suggesting that ketchup could count as a vegetable serving. That wasn’t quite true; it was a slight exaggeration of the actual recommendation that offered that pickle relish would count, as would the thin layer of red sauce on school pizza. The result for kids everywhere was that their diets got worse…though their arguments against broccoli got a lot better.

Keep reading for four more very bad ideas.

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Teague Bohlen is a writer, novelist and professor at the University of Colorado Denver. His first novel, The Pull of the Earth, won the Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction in 2007; his textbook The Snarktastic Guide to College Success came out in 2014. His new collection of flash fiction, Flatland, is available now.
Contact: Teague Bohlen