OPINION

MASTERSON ONLINE: Even over sunlight?

We've allowed ourselves to become so divided as a nation that we can't even agree on how much sunlight at what hour to allow into our days as the seasons change.

This was on my mind as I roamed through the house surveying all the clocks to be moved ahead an hour. I finally decided to do what any self-respecting septuagenarian would do and paid a neighborhood youth $10 to handle that chore.

I wondered, as I do twice each year: Why we continue to do this to ourselves over and over again?

Business Insider reported a public opinion poll by YouGov to determine where Americans overall stand on the matter. It found 6 in 10 Americans, or 62 percent, want to eliminate changing their clocks entirely, while 21 percent want to keep the current practice. Seventeen percent apparently couldn't figure out how they felt.

The U.S. Senate by unanimous consent tried to do something that would put an end to the practice in mid-March last year with the Sunshine Protection Act of 2021. But of course that bill died in the House because it's members debated themselves into a stalemate by arguing over whether Daylight Saving Time (DST) was the healthiest, safest and most economical option for the U.S. Most economical for our entire nation, you say? Considering runaway inflation, a $30 trillion-plus national debt and recent bank failures, since when did worrying about our national financial welfare take precedence over gaining and retaining raw political power?

Business Insider reported that Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla, who led the 2021 effort, reintroduced legislation this month to make DST permanent and put an end to the "antiquated practice of changing clocks twice a year."

And if it it's shot down again, it's probably gonna cost me $20 a year for as long as I breathe, and for what?

The bill's future is uncertain since, of course, neither chamber of Congress has a majority supporting it, There's also no clear consensus among the public and opposition from sleep scientists and those who prefer permanent standard time.

The debate seems like a relatively piddling issue in the scheme amid our collective concerns over inflation, the border, rampant crime in the streets, and foreign relations, unless you're the one tasked with resetting daylight.

The Insider also reported that state legislatures continue to grapple with policy questions over changing our clocks. Since 2015, at least 450 bills and resolutions have been introduced in almost every state regarding either standard or daylight-saving time.

Over the last five years, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 19 states have enacted legislation or passed resolutions that would implement year-round Daylight Saving Time for their residents, if Congress would allow it, added the Insider.

Dogs and insurance

The following arrived from valued reader Sharon Kornas the other day: "I found today's column particularly interesting and informative. I had been wondering about insurance liabilities, and had thought to write to you along those lines.

"I was going to suggest that, when a dog owner had the pet vaccinated against rabies or other required shots, they show proof of insurance, in the event their pet attacks and harms anyone or anyone's pet. It could be in the homeowner's policy or it could be in the form of a separate policy. (Wouldn't the insurance companies and agents love that?!) Or it could be in the form of some sort of bond, like contractors, etc., have (or should have).

"There could be fines that could be imposed by the municipality or other jurisdictions, if insurance is unavailable or if the pet owner neglects to obtain the proper coverage. And all of these suggestions could be extended to all pet owners, not just those with 'vicious breeds,' thereby avoiding the label of discrimination.

"I'm sure you'll keep at this until someone does something about this sort of incident. Maybe it'll even be called 'Benji's Law.'"

Sharon, we just need to make certain, above all else, that our citizens are as protected as possible from being mauled or killed because of the actions or inactions of an irresponsible dog owner.

I seriously question the motives of any legislator who can't agree with that because of pressure from special interests. Although Benji would never know or care if he had a law named after him, gosh knows the little fella has earned at least that.

Chow concerns

Pat Harrelson of Little Rock said: "Mike, I agree with you about dangerous dogs. I have one more breed that I think deserves to be on this list because of at least three encounters, the chow.

"Once about 40 years ago, when I was in the Navy stationed at Naval Training Center Orlando, I was walking my Kerry blue terrier, and a chow being walked broke away from his owner and came after my dog. I was younger then and able to pick her up and keep her from being hurt.

"You are right about insurance. Our insurer USAA always asks what our breed of dog is. We still have a Kerry blue terrier and he would never hurt another dog, cat or person. All Kerries aren't this docile, but they are not usually mean and I have never known one to harm a person or their pet."

And from Clay Eastham: "Mike, I share your stand on vicious dog breeds before your wife and dog's incident and stand even more strongly afterward since I have had three similar incidents happen to me.

"As a child, I was first attacked by a vicious dog while my mom and I were visiting my mom's friend. Of course 'it had never done this before' and I had to undergo the painful rabies treatment as a result.

"The second incident was when a neighbor regularly failed to contain their dog. I verbally warned them of my concerns but they continued. My dog was killed as a result of inaction.

"The third was by a neighbor that had a pit bull on a clothesline run that was regularly off the chain and tried to eat the tires off my truck as I would go by to work many mornings before daylight. My wife and I were riding our bikes one day and the dog attacked us.

"Luckily I had quick recall of the scene in the movie 'Gladiator' where they gathered back to back with shields out to avoid injury. I used my bike to parry off the dog while it was attempting to climb through the frame at us. This lasted the entire half-mile back to our house."

Clay, It's that "regularly off the chain" thing we in Arkansas need an effective law to stop. Own a potentially vicious breed of your choice, but if it is one with a documented record of mauling, maiming and killing people and their smaller pets, you alone are responsible for its actions civilly and criminally if those occur because you failed to properly restrain it. And that's exactly how it should be.

Now go out into the world and treat everyone you meet exactly like you want them to treat you.

Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist, was editor of three Arkansas dailies and headed the master's journalism program at Ohio State University. Email him at mmasterson@arkansasonline.com.

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