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 In the US, the Standard Time Act of 1918 instituted it, but this was repealed in 1919.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?