Time to cast off the chains of time

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

This Sunday morning we are 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.

A version of this was first posted in 2015.

7 comments on “Time to cast off the chains of time

  1. Rincon says:

    The article you linked to is certainly interesting. The real question is whether those who want permanent standard time and those who want permanent daylight savings time would be willing to join forces and compromise on a permanent time change of a half hour. I think it could turn out a bit like Brexit, but generally, I would yield to a clear majority even though I like it the way it is. Of course, if the plutocrats want to stop the clock changing, they will; if not, then it doesn’t matter what the rest of us think.

    From a Princeton study: “The probability of policy change is nearly the same whether a tiny minority or large majority of average citizens favor a proposed policy change” and, “When the economic elites support a given policy change, it has about a 1 in 2 chance of being enacted” and, “When the elites oppose a given measure, the chances of it being law are less than 1 in 5”. https://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/is-america-an-oligarchy

    One study is not the end all, but it agrees with what my eyes have seen over the years.

  2. Steve says:

    Pretty much. Once the politicians take up a cause it grows legs. No matter what the facts are.

    For instance, so called “assault” weapons are used in the smallest fraction of violent deaths due to firearms. Overwhelmingly, it is handguns used in violent acts that result in death. Those “scary” guns are really just about a zero effects on this if removed from circulation entirely.
    But politicians love the imagery and the public resists giving up their personal weapons.

    Another example is AGW. It is clear the majority of climate scientists do not express an opinion on this but the vocal ones have the politicians under their thumbs.
    This is why I trust the science, while remaining totally skeptical of the politicians and vocal, biased, opinionated scientists pushing a personal agenda.

    DST is another one of those sacred cows no one is allowed to touch.

  3. Rincon says:

    You’re on target (pun wasn’t originally intended, but why not?) about the assault weapons, but I’m not sure why climatologists not expressing an opinion should be considered evidence that there’s no global warming, or whatever anti-scientific establishment view you have. Using the same methodology, I suspect one would find that the majority of biologists don’t express an opinion on evolution. That does not mean that they have no opinion.

    So that I can know if I’m right or wrong though, perhaps you could tell me where you got that information. My information is different. Perhaps you could notify Trump that NASA has become a rogue agency, because here’s what they say: “Yes, the vast majority of actively publishing climate scientists – 97 percent – agree that humans are causing global warming and climate change. Most of the leading science organizations around the world have issued public statements expressing this, including international and U.S. science academies, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and a whole host of reputable scientific bodies around the world. A list of these organizations is provided here.” https://climate.nasa.gov/faq/17/do-scientists-agree-on-climate-change/

    I look forward to your reply.

  4. Steve says:

    Who said I say climate isn’t changing?
    The quiet scientists are adhering to the method. The vocal ones are being political. (Period)
    I take to task politicians and the politically motivated members of organizations who rely on tax money for their own paychecks.

    As to sourcing, we have been around that bush at least ten or twenty times. It was John Cook and his peeps who accidentally let the cat out of the bag on how many climate scientists actually express opinion on the state of AGW.
    Keep in mind, as I have said several times, it is impossible to not effect the climate when we are the dominant species on the planet.

    I say again, I do not it trust politicians and politically motivated, biased people who also happen to rely on the politicians for their continued paychecks.

  5. Rincon says:

    “Who said I say climate isn’t changing?”

    You have said in the past that nothing should be done at this time, and that we should not act until even Conservatives are convinced that AGW is significant. It’s like waiting for tobacco companies to admit that smoking causes cancer. With a view like that, you are advocating all of the same actions (or lack thereof) as a denier. Different in name, but not in deed.

    “The quiet scientists are adhering to the method.” You say the ones who voice an opinion are politically motivated and that since the ones who don’t voice an opinion aren’t loudly expressing it, then there’s no agreement, yet if the quiet ones voice their opinion, you throw them into the politically motivated crowd. With logic like that, we should allow chickens to vote. At least they have a 50-50 chance of being right.

    “It was John Cook and his peeps who accidentally let the cat out of the bag…” What cat? What bag? Are you talking Climategate? Here is a quote from the Web site that he created and maintains: “A number of independent investigations from different countries, universities and government bodies have investigated the stolen emails and found no evidence of wrong doing. Focusing on a few suggestive emails, taken out of context, merely serves to distract from the wealth of empirical evidence for man-made global warming.” I read the “most egregious Emails from Climategate. A fart in a hurricane. Go ahead, show me the dozens of Emails that show this massive conspiracy. You can’t because they don’t exist.

    “I do not it trust politicians and politically motivated, biased people who also happen to rely on the politicians for their continued paychecks.” So you’re waiting for data from private enterprise before making up your mind? Tell me, what private money is going to fund climate data analysis (other than fossil fuel companies, who haven’t done any original research that I know of)? This presupposes a massive, worldwide conspiracy by evil scientists from essentially every country in the world, with all of the nonparticipating scientists giving a wink and a nod. You really believe this?Anonymous is right. Don’t talk to crazy. Have a nice day.

  6. Steve says:

    No, sigh, no. I’ve never said “nothing should be done at this time” You may have read it that way but it’s not what my words were or are and does not fit with anything I have consistently said.

    Since I have been repeating it and repeating it…lets go for one more try.
    Politicians and biased vocal people who rely on those politicians for continued paychecks are not the place to get answers on what should be done.

    It is absolutely clear both Wind and Solar have proven they cannot and will never, be capable of filling the demand for energy the whole world is coming to rely on. Fossil fuels have proven totally capable of this.
    Manufacturing the chemical synthetic fuels is possible and totally compatible with current infrastructure.
    Natural gas is the bridge in use the next incarnation of fuels this world will use. Solar and wind have a part to play, but it’s not at grid scale.
    I have consistently offered real new ways to do “do something”. You just don’t like they are outside the doctrine required to be accepted in the liberal left community.

    You make up a whole bunch of shitty conclusions based on your own biases. Stop doing that and you might find discussion results. To date, the only step taken in the method is theory. Experiments have not even begun.
    If the science is settled (I repeat AGAIN) then the IPCC is done. Close it up and send them on to other projects. They have the answer and are all finished researching.
    This is not the case, they do not know enough about climate to formulate, experiment and prove.
    This is not your conspiracy theory Rincon. It is only reality.

    But please, by all means, go one making up shit you attribute to my words and then argue it all you like….OR you could take my words as written and discuss them as written.

    I doubt you will do that. It’s not in today’s lexicon.

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