Just You Try It

Writing in the Washington Post, one Stan Cox, who presumably grew up in the jungles of New Guinea, suggests that we abolish the air conditioner, an artifact of human ingenuity that I consider to be roughly on a par with the invention of the wheel, or the taming of fire.

Mr. Cox (rhymes with “pox”) swoons over the projected result:

In a world without air conditioning, a warmer, more flexible, more relaxed workplace helps make summer a time to slow down again. Three-digit temperatures prompt siestas.

In the emergency room.

Code-orange days mean offices are closed. Shorter summer business hours and month-long closings — common in pre-air-conditioned America — return.

Capital idea! We’ll shut New York and Washington down for a month. Just the thing for turning the economy around. We can make up for the lost productivity with more government stimulus.

After a long absence, ceiling fans, window fans and desk fans (and, for that matter, paperweights) take back the American office.

Well, I do suffer terribly in the heat, but if we could really have paperweights again…

Best of all, Washington’s biggest business — government — is transformed. In 1978, 50 years after air conditioning was installed in Congress, New York Times columnist Russell Baker noted that, pre-A.C., Congress was forced to adjourn to avoid Washington’s torturous summers, and “the nation enjoyed a respite from the promulgation of more laws, the depredations of lobbyists, the hatching of new schemes for Federal expansion and, of course, the cost of maintaining a government running at full blast.”

Of course! The politicians can retire to Jackson Hole, Martha’s Vineyard and the Hamptons, and those left behind can just enjoy Washington’s “torturous summers” au naturel, knowing it’s for a good cause.

Over my dead body, Mr. Cox. All I can say is that when they come for my air-conditioner, I am going to be awfully glad that this proposal came on the heels of the recent Second Amendment ruling.

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