Time to cast off the chains of the clock

It is time to cast off our chains and free ourselves from slavery to the clock.

This Sunday morning we were required to turn our clocks back an hour, if we wish to remain in synch with the rest of the nation, get to church and work on time and tune in at the proper time to our favorite radio and TV programs.

Mankind once worked from can till cain’t, as my ol’ grandpappy used to say — from the time you can see till the time you can’t — and farmers and ranchers such as grandpappy still do. But to make the trains run on time, we strapped ourselves to the clock, even though the clock is uniform and doesn’t change when the amount of daylight does.

Ol’ Ben Franklin, while serving as ambassador in France, accidentally figured out that this out-of-synch arrangement was somewhat uneconomical when he mistakenly arose one day at 6 a.m. instead of noon and discovered the sun was shining through his window. “I love economy exceedingly,” he jested, and proceeded to explain in a letter to a local newspaper how many candles and how much lamp oil could be saved by adjusting the city’s lifestyle to the proclivities of the sun.

Franklin observed:

“This event has given rise in my mind to several serious and important reflections. I considered that, if I had not been awakened so early in the morning, I should have slept six hours longer by the light of the sun, and in exchange have lived six hours the following night by candle-light; and, the latter being a much more expensive light than the former, my love of economy induced me to muster up what little arithmetic I was master of, and to make some calculations, which I shall give you, after observing that utility is, in my opinion the test of value in matters of invention, and that a discovery which can be applied to no use, or is not good for something, is good for nothing.”

Then he did the math, and exclaimed, “An immense sum! that the city of Paris might save every year, by the economy of using sunshine instead of candles.”

Thus, in 1918 in a effort to be more economical during the war, Congress borrowed from Europe the concept of daylight saving time — springing clocks forward during the summer and back in the winter. From shortly after Pearl Harbor until the end of the Second World War, the nation was on year-round daylight saving time, or war time, as it was called.

National Geographic photo

Moving the clock forward in summer might well save a few kilowatt-hours in lighting, but in states like Nevada that savings is more than made up for with increased air conditioning costs and the fuel used to drive about more after getting off work.

One study found that springing forward causes enough sleep deprivation to cost the U.S. economy $435 million a year. The New England Journal of Medicine found an association between that one hour loss of sleep from daylight saving time and an increase in car accidents, as well as a 5 percent increase in heart attacks in the first three weekdays after the transition to daylight saving time, while an Australian study found an increase in the suicide rate.

The changing of clocks twice a year is really a bit of a nuisance and, dare I say, a waste of time — or at least that is what I said in a newspaper column a few years ago.

In a probably futile gesture to end the charade, the state Legislature once passed Assembly Joint Resolution No. 4 that proposed to make Pacific Daylight Saving Time year-round.

“WHEREAS, Congress also found and declared that ‘the use of year-round daylight saving time could have other beneficial effects on the public interest, including the reduction of crime, improved traffic safety, more daylight outdoor playtime for children and youth of our Nation, [and] greater utilization of parks and recreation areas …’” AJR4 reads in part, also noting possible “expanded economic opportunity through extension of daylight hours to peak shopping hour. ”

It passed both the Assembly and Senate and was enrolled by the Secretary of State.

Changing to year-round daylight saving time might not save electricity, but it could increase productivity and prevent car wrecks.

Alas, as with everything else, the power to fix this lies in Washington, though I can’t seem to find this enumerated power in my copy of the Constitution. Perhaps it is outdated.

In another glaring example of the efficiency and sincerity of our elected officials, in the fall of 2015, as we were being required to fall back and reset our clocks again, the morning newspaper was reporting that no one in Washington had ever heard of AJR4.

AJR4 concludes by beseeching Congress to amend The Emergency Daylight Saving Time Energy Conservation Act of 1973 and allow each state to opt out, the same as Arizona and Hawaii have opted out, but rather than sticking with standard time, AJR4 would adopt Pacific Daylight Savings Time all year. Why should it get dark at 4:30 p.m. in the winter anyway?

Get used to it. Washington is in another century, much less a different time zone.

 

8 comments on “Time to cast off the chains of the clock

  1. Bruce Feher says:

    There you go again, making sense!

  2. Steve says:

    It’s easier to repeal a tax.

  3. Bob Coffin says:

    For sound commercial and tourism reasons we need to match California. Let’s encourage their change. There is a big move to do it there. And, if anybody says “Californication” they need to move to Utah.

  4. Steve says:

    Tell it to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bob.

  5. Rincon says:

    “Moving the clock forward in summer might well save a few kilowatt-hours in lighting, but in states like Nevada that savings is more than made up for with increased air conditioning costs and the fuel used to drive about more after getting off work.” Seems to me that, since people get off of work an hour earlier, that air conditioning costs might actually be less. People have to drive around more after work because it’s light outside? That’s news to me.

    “One study found that springing forward causes enough sleep deprivation to cost the U.S. economy $435 million a year.” Did they study the extra productivity resulting in the fall from people getting that extra hour of sleep or was it perhaps just a little biased, since they didn’t bother to look at the side of the equation that didn’t interest them?

    I’m not against some reasonable scheme to spare the people of Nevada and other greatly put upon (?) states, but it would have to be simple. Drivers shouldn’t have to correct their timepieces every time they cross a county line (quite possibly needed to achieve your desired fairness, since one side of a time zone is a full hour [OK, 59 minutes and 59 seconds] ahead of the other side), or even every state line. In the Chicago area, most would find sticking to sun time completely unacceptable. The sun rises at 4:15 AM sun time on June 21, and it gets light a good 20 minutes before that, so one might easily be awakened at 3:55 AM if the shades aren’t drawn. Permanent daylight savings might be possible, but people hate to drive to work in the dark.

  6. Wendy Ellis says:

    Now that I have the hour back that was stolen last spring, why can’t they just leave the clocks alone? 🙄

  7. Steve says:

    I’d rather they leave the bottom of the blanket attached to the top. Much nicer having more light at the end of the day than the beginning.

  8. bc says:

    I never understood the commotion about daylight savings time. I like having the extra hour of daylight at night in the summer and going back to normal time in the winter makes sense rather than having the sun come up at 9 am in Dec-Jan.

    As far as different counties doing their own thing, years ago I spent a week working in NW Indiana where part of the state wanted to be on Chicago time at least during the summer. Talking to the local tech I was working with, he said that he and his wife had three alarm clocks in their bedroom. One was set at the time where they lived, one at the time where he worked and one at the time where she worked in Michigan. Only way they could keep it all straight.

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