The switch to Daylight Saving Time is so annoying. I get that Ben Franklin satirically created the idea to poke fun at the French, and that, later, supporters wanted to take advantage of the productivity that could be had by moving the work day to fit daylight hours; but today the switch is just nonsense.
I should really try to present the benefits and disadvantages of DST, in a discovery method for rhetorical reasons, but every year this just cheeses me off! Nay, twice a year! I’m obviously biased. We “Spring forward, fall back” each year, and for what? Which professions in our modern-day world necessitate daylight to begin the workday? I’d wager that it is a majority of professions that work indoors, with the aid of electricity and lighting, and even that half of American jobs are at a desk. Who works outside? Farmers? The Forest Service? Police officers? Commercial fisherman? Construction workers? Yes, I have named six, and not that any of them are unimportant, but only if this were a civil rights issue would we let the minority govern the vast body of whom this affects. And, regardless of which profession you have, you will still use electricity in lieu of daylight—whether in the morning or the evening!
The idea is that you go to work while the sun is up, and thereby don’t procrastinate capital gain or squander opportunity. You will naturally work while it is, because the tilt of the earth wanes the sunlight in the winter months. But is that really the case? Aren’t we just transposing when we use electricity? Until the Winter Solstice, the sunrise is continually moving later into the day. So before the sun comes up, you must use electricity to light the construction site, the field, or what have you. Only when the sunrise fits into your particular workday does DST actually benefit you. But even then, we still go home in the evening to be with our families: we still watch TV, use the microwave, charge our cell phones, and, let alone, light the house! It’s not the eighteenth century (no matter how much I wish it was)! We use power whenever we are awake. And there are laborers whose shifts run through the night. More businesses are open during sunset than sunrise. What is the difference? Only 1% savings during the summer, and 1% rise in cost in the winter. Indiana, a state that was only partially in with DST, found that switching off from DST cost them $9,000,000 (in unconverted 1970s dollars) more. Whether the goal is to be more efficient or to conserve energy, the results are lacking.
From a health standpoint, our circadian rhythms don’t adjust to an instantaneous jump. Our bodies are askew for eight months of the year. It’s even shown that men are more prone to suicide just after the change. Also, earlier daylight only makes people stay indoors after sunset. They certainly don’t prolong their time outdoors, especially in the cold. (I grew up in Alaska, and even in the land of snow, you can only snowmobile in the dark so easily.) They intuitively move from one warm and well-lit place to another. And what do people do when they’re cooped up? Binge watch Breaking Bad with a bowl or cone of comfort food.
There are logistical problems as well. Night shift workers get paid for an hour less work when the day is shortened, and an hour more when it’s lengthened. A passenger train only leaves a station on time, and thus must sit for an hour with all its passengers because of this cluster of a mess. And in the spring, because you can’t jump ahead, the only thing to do is just drive faster and try to not be late.
Some argue that in an increasingly DST world, it would seem a step backwards to abandon the practice. So? Since when have proclivities of other nations affected our domestic policy? (And when it has, is that right?) Isn’t it American culture to pursue your own happiness? Isn’t non- conformity what we teach in our schools? If a village is practicing superstition, does it obligate a disagreeing family to participate?
Is time is so arbitrary that we can actually choose when it is? If so, why not choose when it is forever? I advocate permanently setting the clocks to DST, and forgoing the change we make in November. By doing so we would save money, as was done during the oil embargo of 1973, to the tune of 10K barrels of oil a day.
I see no reason to continue applying this snake oil under poor guises.
Hats off to Arizona, Hawaii, India, Japan, and China for abstaining.