Daylight Saving Time Redux

 

If you’ve been following me for awhile, you’ve already noted that I’m a BIG ADVOCATE of doing away with DST.  But, first, what this post needs is a photo.  I’ll be right back.

 

 

spring_7884c

 

 

While wandering around the Internet looking for that pleasant little visual, I stumbled across this fun, headline:

. . . the best way to prevent death by Daylight Saving Time may be to make it permanent, according to Standard Time abolitionists.

 

Death by Daylight Saving Time!

 

You heard right (read right?).  This quote is from The Oregonian, March 9, 2015, in an article by Joseph Rose entitled:  5 reasons why Daylight Saving Time week is dangerous for Portland area commuters

 

 

Rose encourages us all to get an extra hour of sleep each night of DST’s first week.  THAT’S THIS WEEK.  So, instead of laboring over a new post, I figure it’s more prudent (I love to use that word; it’s so old fashioned) to republish this post from November, 2013 while I toggle off to bed.

 

Here you go.    G’night.  

 

With the nearly nationwide return this past weekend to Standard Time (I say nearly because not all states or territories observe Daylight Saving Time) I got curious once again about this scourge of school children everywhere.

 

I’ll start with a short quiz.

 

1. What does DST stand for?

A.   Daylight Savings Time
B.  Daylight Saving Time

2. What parts of the US do not follow DST?

A. Arizona
B. Puerto Rico
C. Hawaii and Guam
D. The US Virgin Islands and American Samoa
E. All of the above

3. For what purpose was DST first instituted?

A. As a means to help farmers
B. As a safety measure during WWII to facilitate blackouts.
C. As a health measure to guard against heart attacks.
D. As an energy measure during WWI to save fuel

 

Ready for the answers?

 

 

 

The answers are 1-B, 2-E, and 3-D

 

I know. I thought it was Daylight Savings Time too.  I also thought it was supposed to help farmers.

 

I’ve learned a lot preparing for today’s blog. And I am encouraged. You see, ever since my two Peace Corps years in Kazakhstan where President Nursultan Nazarbayev did away with DST in his country with just a flick of his pen, I’ve been wondering why America doesn’t do the same thing.

 

Actually, because we live in a democracy — and one whose lawmakers rely on special interest groups for their information (and their money; sorry, I digress) — it’s not so easy to just do away with it. As we all know by now, democracy is not very efficient. I’m not knocking it, mind you. Just saying …

 

 

So, given we’ve got special interests lined up advocating for their interests, I wondered who  would these special interests be lining up to defend Daylight Saving Time? Who benefits from it?

 

Before today’s post, I assumed it would be the farmers. I can still remember one of my high school teachers telling us that DST would enable farmers to have a longer time for their harvest.

 

And, given that the U.S. extended DST during the energy crisis of 1973-74 (I remember that too), I thought probably DST saves energy. I also figured it must be popular among the majority for it to still be around.

 

I turned to the Internet for verification.

 

My first stop was an article from National Geographic magazine of November 3, 2013

from which I learned the following

 

  • DST “doesn’t save us money or energy.”
  • DST first began during WWI as energy saving measure, but today, in “any place that has air conditioning, … daylight saving is a loser.”
  • Arizona—except for residents of the Navajo Nation—Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Marianas Islands ignore DST.
  • Fewer than 40% of  Americans surveyed think DST is worth the hassle.
  • Over the past 50 years, DST has been stretched from six months to seven months to now eight months in part because several industries have been huge supporters.
  • Economics have always played a role in the politics of daylight saving time. In the mid-1980s, for example, the golf industry estimated that an extra month of DST was worth $200 to $400 million.

 

Golf?  How many Americans play golf?  What other industries benefit, I wondered. Then read:

 

  • During that same time (one extra month of DST), the U.S. barbecue industry pegged their increased profits at $150 million for that same additional month. [sic]

 

That figures. More time for bar-b-ques.

 

  • Daylight saving reliably increases the amount of driving that Americans do, and gasoline consumption tracks up with daylight saving.
  • Oil and auto industries have always been big supporters of DST

 

These are all quotes from the article. I didn’t make any of this up. Honest.

 

So, that’s who is lined up advocating for DST:  golfers, bar-b-quers, and the oil and auto industries.

 

But there’s an organized opposition too.

 

Turns out the farmers want an end to DST, particularly the dairy farmers. Seems their cows are a bit put out with the time change.

Teachers too (officially, the PTA, so maybe it’s more the parents).

And quite a few religious groups (particularly orthodox ones) whose prayer schedule is based on the sun.

The TV industry is opposed to DST. The most popular shows, according to the Nielsen ratings, go down by 10 – 15 percent in viewership during the first week of DST.

And the White House.  Here’s another quote: 

  • A White House petition to end DST entirely stalled earlier this year because it failed to garner the required number of signatures.

 

There’s the economic downside from DST. Here’s a quote from research done at the University of Utah:

  • the simple but inconvenient act of changing America’s clocks and devices back and forth represents an annual $1.7 billion of lost opportunity cost. This was based on the average American’s hourly wage and an assumption that each person spent some ten minutes changing clocks, watches, and other devices—time that could have been far more productively spent.

 

Then there’s the medical piece. Turns out there’s a 10% increase in the number of heart attacks in the few days following DST’s start in the spring. Fortunately, I hasten to add, there’s a 10% decrease in them once it’s over in the fall.

So, with evidence against DST mounting, I pick up the mantle. But, what can I, one lonely individual, do? Turns out there’s an organization dedicated to ending DST. It’s called

 

End Daylight Saving Time

 

Check them out, if you want to join my merry little band of revolutionaries  reformers.

 

So, how about you?  What’s your stand on Daylight Saving Time? 

23 Responses

  1. Ian Mathie
    | Reply

    Despite my Viking heritage, and you’ll remember the Vikings originated in northern latitudes where winter nights last for six months with nary a sight of the sun for most of the time, I really don’t like long dark nights. I don’t want to spend the whole of my life secluded indoors when I can be out and about doing things. So DST as you call it in the US, or BST as it is here in UK, is something of a bonus as we can get up and get on with things in daylight. At the same time, it doesn’t actually change the duration of available daylight. All it does is shift it by one hour.

    But it’s the change that causes all the hoo-ha, not the time itself. And we don’t actually save anything tangible. The change does, however, have measurable effects in terms of man-hours lost by people forgetting to change their clocks and arriving late for work; chaos in households trying to get children off to school on time – we all know how difficult it can be at normal times to get them ready in the morning, so how much worse during the week after the clocks change! There are dozens of things one can cite that demonstrate the inconvenience.

    In reality, however, we still have it because it’s something our politicians love. It gives them the opportunity to argue for ages, without outcome, about something totally irrelevant to what they should be doing to govern the country. It offers them valuable opportunities to get free publicity by demonstrating that they are standing up for their electorates and, most important of all, it distracts attention from their failure to do something substantial and effective about the country’s problems.
    In short, DST is the ideal obfuscation device and, like income tax, now that we’ve got it, we’re stuck with it. But we’ll carry on arguing about its merits and demerits until the cows come home.

  2. Merril Smith
    | Reply

    I’m having a difficult time adjusting to DST, and now I’m back to waking up in the dark. I don’t care if we’re on DST or Eastern Standard–just stick to one or the other!

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      HI Ian, Yes indeed. DST provides a marvelously absurd target for those of us genetically inclined to rail against the system, while helping us maintain a certain socially acceptable innocence.

      So, you’re related to Eric the Red, hey? Do you sail? And, more important, what does BST stand for. British Standard Time (I’m guessing here).

      • Ian Mathie
        | Reply

        That’s right, Janet, Eric the Red was a second cousin three times removed from an uncle of my great to the power of twenty seven grandfather, brother. As you can see, close family.

        BST is British Summer Time which begins at the end of March.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Hi Merril, Indeed. I too don’t really care if it’s EST or DST (though EST might fit better in among all those other time zones around the world). It’s the change I’m chaffing against. Thanks for adding your voice.

  3. Marian Beaman
    | Reply

    I’m with Merril. stick to one or the other. I have a clever image (borrowed from my Memoir class lecture!) with a comment about this very thing on my Facebook page.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Hi Marian, It was a great image. I stole, errr, copied it. Still, I loved the “Death by DST” headline best.

  4. Ian Mathie
    | Reply

    A neighbour of mine who was here just now and read this little exchange tells me that in their house BST means Blasted Screwed-u Time. I just thought you’d like to know that.

  5. Kristi
    | Reply

    Hello. I suffer from seasonal affect disorder so I would prefer that we leave the clocks set at DST, but never change it back. I also barbecue and garden (but not in the winter). Leave the clocks where they are, right now in DST. The same problems of heart attack and loss of sleep will still go away because we won’t change the clocks anymore. A true win-win, I say.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Hello Kristi, and thanks for adding your voice to this ongoing discussion. I hope you’ll join us again.

      • Ian Mathie
        | Reply

        I have a much simpler solution: stop wearing a watch and watching the clock and live by the sun. It’s far less stressful. 🙂

  6. Janet Givens
    | Reply

    Hey Ian, I’ve never had two active conversations going at once before.

    I lived without a watch from 1991 – 1993 sometime. I bought a new one once I realized it would be important for me show up for job interviews on time. One of those irritating cultural differences at work again.

    • Ian Mathie
      | Reply

      You can still be on time without a watch. The sun’s pretty accurate, even when you can’t actually see it. We’re too hung up on time in the west. I used to love it in Africa when someone said ‘I’ll come on Thursday’ and he generally did, although it wasn’t always the first Thursday!

      • Janet Givens
        | Reply

        Yes; I can probably be on “my time” just fine without a watch. It’s when I want to be on “your time” that it seems to matter. When was the last time you wore a watch?

        • Ian Mathie
          | Reply

          I often wear one out of habit, but never look at it. Too much trouble putting my reading specs on just to see the tiny figures on the face! I more or less know what the time is by the rumblings of my stomach!

  7. Janet Givens
    | Reply

    Hey Ian, I’ve never had two active conversations going at once before.

    I lived without a watch from 1991 – 1993 sometime. I bought a new one once I realized it would be important for me show up for job interviews on time. One of those irritating cultural differences at work again. I should add here that Woody bought this really REALLY expensive watch just before we left for Kazakhstan. Solar powered so he woulnd’t have to worry about batteries. Dates, five time zones, etc. Waterproof down to 60 feet or something. But, he couldn’t change the time backwards when the time changed! So for half a year he lived with a watch that was off by an hour. Had to go into the jewelry store and get them to do it, which got old real fast. Now he wears a cheap one and it works great.

  8. karen steward nolan
    | Reply

    love this post. love your information. I look it up every year, DST is one of my favorite rants. it’s such a postmodern problem, Kristi recommends that we stay at DST all year long, well, yeah, but then it’s not DST, it’s ST….what we really need to do, as Ian suggests, is be able to pay more attention to what our bodies need in terms of sleep, work and other habits. I always rant that we should just change the time that every thing happens (school/work/etc.)…it’s a vicious cycle when we inhabit a world full of people who want to cram too much into too little. Wishing us all luck this weekend when we finally change to Standard Time. I always go a little batty when the people around me don’t seem to know the difference between saving and not saving time…so i just say…”the clocks are changing!” 🙂 Lovely Blog Janet. Glad I found you!!!

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Hello Karen and welcome. I’m also glad you found me. I love how you say, “pay more attention to what our bodies need…” Indeed. Listening to our bodies means, to me, that I must get to a place where the background noise is silenced. At least for a bit. I’m very glad to have you join us here. If you’ve got time, pop over to today’s blog, there’s a whole series going on the past few weeks on friendship.

  9. […] have a choice today.  You can read my post on DST from 2015 (which is a rehash of my 2014 DST post) by clicking on the link […]

  10. Marian Beaman
    | Reply

    I see I commented last year, but I’ll comment again. My opinion has NOT changed: Still opposed to it. Why do the powers that be take this risk every year knowing it will cause more accidents and heart attacks. (Rhetorical, I know!) I did try to register my opinion on my congressman’s website but encountered a server error, so I’ll have to try again.

    As I happens I’ll do a point on my website next week strictly from the POV of sleep deprivation. Stand by! This week’s theme – St. Patty’s Day

  11. […] I’ll add this link from, Daylight Saving Time Redux  posted  March 11, 2015. […]

  12. John-Michael Mahnke
    | Reply

    I think that they should keep standard time all year round. because many people these days get up in the early mornings to go to work and many other things. Also Daylight saving time is not the correct time, has never been, and never will be the correct time, standard time is: 7% want daylight saving time year round, About 30% want daylight saving time as it is, 65% want to abolish daylight saving time gone.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Hello John-Michael, and welcome.
      I hope you’ve signed the petition I linked to. Every voice matters. I am curious though where your statistics come from. While they support my POV, they’re a bit higher than the ones I found.

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