Who's The Idiot Who Foisted Daylight Saving Time On Us?
March 11, 2011 by Chip Wood
Who’s the idiot who foisted daylight saving time on us? Oh, wait, I know. It was Congress. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. Most of the really dumb things this country has done over the past 50 or 100 years began with something the politicians and their do-gooder friends dreamed up.
It all began back in the dark days of the Great Depression, I’m told. The idea was that moving clocks forward in the spring and back in the fall would give farmers one more hour of daylight each day. All of the money they’d save not having to burn kerosene or use electricity for that extra hour would save so much money the depression would soon be over.
Sure it would.
Truth is, all of the New Deal schemes Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his cronies could think of (some of which were modeled very closely on the economic practices of their buddies in Soviet Russia) didn’t do a thing to end the depression. What did bring that ghastly period of massive unemployment to an end was America’s entry into World War II. It got our factories roaring again—but at a terrible price.
With that depression long since gone and farmers having dwindled to a tiny fraction of our population, why then do we still have daylight saving time inflicted on us?
And not just inflicted, mind you, but “improved?”
The wizards of Washington decided in 2007 that if seven months of daylight saving time is good for us, eight months would be better. From 1986 until 2006, daylight saving time ran from the first Sunday in April until the last Sunday in October. Then Congress decreed that it would run from the second Sunday in March until the first Sunday in November.
I don’t know how many folks were late for church the first time the new rules took effect, but I’ll bet it was a bunch.
By the way, here’s an interesting twist in the law imposing daylight saving time on us. No state or municipality is required to follow it. But any that do (and that’s almost all of them) must follow the dates Congress imposes.
You may be aware that Arizona has never agreed to change its clocks. If you live there or do any business there, you certainly are. So for part of the year, Arizona is on the same time as California; the rest of the year, it’s on the same time as Colorado.
Confusing? Wait, it gets worse. Even within Arizona, the Navajo Nation decided it would obey the Big Chief in Washington. So it goes on daylight saving time with the rest of the nation.
Except it’s not the rest. Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands and American Samoa all decided to opt out of the time-changing deal. Hot as those places can be, I guess they didn’t need an extra hour of sunlight in the summer.
If you think all of this can be difficult to keep straight, consider what it must have been like in Indiana for most of the 20th Century. First, the Hoosier State is split into two time zones and, until recently, neither area participated in daylight saving time. Under the old system, 77 of the state’s 92 counties were in the Eastern Time Zone—but stayed on standard time all year. But two of those 77 followed the example of the larger cities nearby—even though those cities were in the States of Ohio and Kentucky—and adjusted their times each spring and fall.
The counties in the Central Time Zone—mostly ones in the Northwest, near Chicago, and the Southwest, near Evansville—alternated. Some followed daylight saving time, some did not.
More than two dozen efforts were introduced in the Indiana legislature to put the entire State on the same clock, so to speak. But until April 2005, they all went down to defeat. But that year a measure to join daylight saving time finally passed. But get this: 18 counties are in the Central time zone, while 74 others observe Eastern Daylight Saving time.
Are we having fun yet?
So this Sunday at 2 a.m. you’re supposed to turn every clock in your house forward one hour. (And don’t forget the clock on your microwave, your stove and in your car.) Says who? Says Congress, which in its infinite wisdom decided back in 2004 that an extra hour of daylight at night would save us beaucoup batches of energy.
Are they right? I have absolutely no idea. It means it stays darker longer in the morning. And it seems to me that sending our children off to school when it’s still pitch black outside is a bad idea.
Nor am I convinced that an extra hour of daylight at night is all that great. I remember when I was a youngster, back when the earth was cooling, how much I hated being sent to bed when it was still light outside. I had a very simple philosophy then: Night was for sleeping, daylight was for playing. (Okay, it was also for homework and chores. But those weren’t nearly as important to me and my friends.)
I’ve learned to my surprise that moving the start of daylight saving time is no minor matter. Microsoft has issued a warning that users of its software “should view any appointments… as suspect” until they have been reconfirmed. That sounds rather ominous, doesn’t it?
What’s the problem? Well, it turns out that any software written prior to the enactment of the new law has the time change wrong. Your computer or other digital device will tick off the hours as usual this coming weekend—but come April 4 will move all times forward an hour.
This reminds me of the time our company accountant missed a meeting with one of the most unusual excuses I’d ever heard. He claimed that the time on his computer had somehow been reset for the time zone in Tahiti, or something like that.
Anyway, all of his calendar reminders and appointments were off by several hours. Could the same thing to happen (albeit on a lesser scale) next week? We’ll soon find out.
My point is none of this was necessary. Someone needs to remind our Congress people, “It’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature.”
Here’s a suggestion for those lawmakers: Why don’t you do us all a huge favor and just leave things alone?
Come to think of it, that’s a pretty good idea to apply all of the time.
Until next time, keep some powder dry.