Let’s End the Clock Fiddle


While the sun and my roosters don’t recognize clock time, I must re-set eight clocks every six months, thanks to the US government.  Now that we have officially gone off daylight saving time, I vote to save time in the future by not having to re-set clocks again in March.

Supposedly, Benjamin Franklin first introduced the concept of daylight saving time in France in 1784, as a joke, but the French took him seriously.

Daylight saving time was first instituted nationally in the German Empire and Austria-Hungary in 1916.  It had been suggested in the United Kingdom in 1908 and had influential supporters but was opposed by farmers and theater owners.  It was adopted in the UK 1914-1918 during WWI. In the US, the Standard Time Act of 1918 instituted it, but this was repealed in 1919.  Franklin D. Roosevelt re-introduced it in the form of “war time,” in 1942 and it lasted year-round.  Between 1945 and 1966 there was no federal law regarding daylight saving time.

In the US, the Uniform Time Act of 1966 sought to establish a uniform DST throughout the USA, but allowed individual state exemptions.  Of the states, only Arizona and Hawaii opted out.  US-controlled territories Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and American Samoa have also opted out.  The Navajo Nation in Arizona uses DST.

In 1974-1975, during the energy crisis, the US Congress extended the beginning and end dates of DST as an experiment to measure its effects on energy use.  The latest adjustment to DST came with the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which re-set the DST start date to the second Sunday in March, and the end date to the first Sunday in November.

The use of seasonal clock adjustments varies around the world.  Daylight saving time is used in 70 countries, most in mid-latitude areas.  Russia, China, and Japan are notable exceptions.

The issue of daylight saving time is controversial and political.  Farmers and rural residents tend to oppose it, as their outdoor-based livelihoods depend more on daylight than on clock time.  The primary beneficiaries of DST are those who enjoy or profit from the post-work hours of sunlight in the summer.  These are the golfers and outdoor enthusiasts, and the retailers who sell to them.  In the mid 1980s, Chlorox (parent of Kingsford Charcoal) and 7-Eleven lobbied to extend DST’s seasonal duration.  Both Idaho senators voted for the extension, under the premise that fast food restaurants sell more French fries (Idaho potatoes) during DST.  Other supporters tend to be urban workers, retail businesses, outdoor sports enthusiasts and businesses, the tourism industry, and others who benefit from evening outdoor activity.

However, a 2014 Rasmussen report said only 33 percent of Americans see the point of DST.  The start of DST in the spring has been blamed for increases in heart attacks, traffic accidents, work injuries, and suicides.  Studies into energy savings are inconsistent, but indicate any savings are negligible.  What is saved in lighting may be lost in increased use of air conditioning in the summer.

Changing clocks every six months, especially since every country has different rules, creates confusion in the transportation, communications, business, and medical sectors.  Problems with clock-based thermostats, medical instruments, computers, and other equipment can lead to inefficiency and sometimes dangerous errors.

Why do we make things harder than they need to be?  Why create unnecessary confusion when the world is confused enough already?  Could Congress break through its stalemate to relieve us of this semi-annual Clock Fiddle?  If only to annoy our golf-loving president?  What’s your vote?



10 thoughts on “Let’s End the Clock Fiddle

  1. Sha'Tara

    There’s a story that goes thus: An American Indian chief said, “Only a white man would be stupid enough to believe that if your cut off a foot from one end of the blanket and sowed it to the other end every six month you’d have a longer blanket.” Daylight saving time is typical bureaucratic balderdash. It’s purpose is to inconvenience and confuse because angry and confused people are easier to manipulate and make better, less informed consumerist decisions during those times. So… in keeping with the goals of neoliberal capitalism, you get incremental sales.

    1. katharineotto Post author

      What most amazes me is that people put up with it. When Congress passes stupid legislation, like DST, the ethanol mandate, or outlawing incandescent light bulbs, the public just sucks it up, assuming, I guess, that Congress knows best. There’s no voice loud enough to be heard over the static. Thanks for your comment.

      1. MrJohnson

        When I heard of an incandescent light bulb ban I stocked up. I like the yellow light or maybe I’m just used to it. I’ve been known to not re-set clocks and just wait 6 months for it to correct itself.

      2. katharineotto Post author

        Mr. J,
        I stocked up, too, with 100 watt bulbs, but I just used the last one for heating my chicken coop. Incandescent bulbs have been used for heating, too, something the US Congress fails to understand.

        I, too, have refused to re-set clocks, but then I confuse myself. I’ve re-set seven of eight clocks and may not re-set the one in my car.

        Thanks for your comment.

  2. feistyfroggy

    I’m with you on this! I really do not see the point. Indiana didn’t even change time for years and then tried it with every county now deciding which time to follow. The results have been much less than desirable. I heard recently that Indiana may go back to not changing time at all.

    1. katharineotto Post author

      Thank you, Feisty. In my research I read that Indiana has had a mish-mash of approaches, which you confirm. It was the site of one of the energy savings studies, and the result was there was no energy savings. It must be terribly confusing if counties are all different, especially for those who cross county lines for work or other reasons.

      It would be great if Indiana joined Arizona and Hawaii to ignore DST. Maybe the answer is for each state to opt out individually. Talk it up in your area and let me know what you find out. I will continue to broadcast my views. DST is one of my pet peeves.

      1. feistyfroggy

        Yes, it can be quite confusing. Although sometimes it can be beneficial (but rarely). The only time it ever worked for us was when my daughter had to go to another town for a ceremony of sorts. We were behind and got lost on the way so we thought we were going to be late. We did not know that the county we were going to was on a different time so when we got there we were right on time although we thought and felt like we were an hour late!

        More often than not though, the reverse is true. It can be just as aggrivating to go somewhere and end up an hour early because you weren’t aware of the time change.

        In our area of Indiana it doesn’t really make much difference of “saving daylight.” I’m not surprised there were no enegry savings because as I said it’s not really different with “daylight savings.” You still need the lights on if it’s still dark!

        The only place it MIGHT make since is on some border towns if the majority of the population crosses the state border for work.

        I won’t have to talk it up since most people in Indiana hate the time changes.

      2. katharineotto Post author

        You’re already talking it up by providing specific examples. If we want to get tangible results, the issue has to be in the forefront of people’s minds.

        When you mentioned Indiana is considering dropping DST, I had the sudden revelation that it might be easier to approach it on a state-to-state basis rather than on a national level. Thank you for that.

  3. Gail Kaufman

    Interesting post. I wasn’t aware this was a controversial topic. I thought it was all about energy savings and extending daylight to early morning hours for school children. I agree it is a nuisance, and the fact that it is not adopted by all adds to the confusion.

    1. katharineotto Post author

      Gail, Thanks for your comment. I didn’t know it was controversial, either, until I looked into it. I couldn’t imagine anyone actually wanting to re-set clocks every six months. But alas, there are advocates for every imaginable stupidity. I’m waiting for someone who actually supports it to comment.


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