We don’t really need Daylight Saving Time
Fall back, Spring ahead. We just sprang ahead on Sunday. Ah, the time change. America sets its clocks an hour ahead in the Spring, then back again by an hour in the Fall. Because we have to. Except we don't. How does Arizona survive not doing it? How does Hawaii?
As hard as it is to accept, we really don't need Daylight Saving Time. Most everything you were ever told about the reasons we do it are a myth.
Back in 1784 Benjamin Franklin wrote an essay called An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light. In it he proposed a form of daylight savings time and noted Parisians could save on candles if they got out of bed earlier in the morning making better use of the natural morning light. The thing is, the idea appears to have been more of Franklin's wry sense of humor than an actual proposal.
Then during the first World War Germany began Daylight Saving Time and the rest of Europe followed along. It was supposed to conserve fuel. The plan then came to the U.S. with the Standard Time Act in 1918. It was not popular and it was rescinded after the war was over. From there it became a local option. By World War II Roosevelt brought it back until the end of that war. From then until the mid 60's some states did and some states didn't. Since that point the federal government has slowly tinkered with rules about the time change and it was often hotly debated.
One of many reasons given for it was conserving fuel especially during the 70's oil embargo. But the 2005 book Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time calls B.S. on every reason we've ever been handed about why we do this. On saving energy writer Michael Downing points out, "It turns out every time Congress has studied it, it's been told that we haven't saved anything. And in fact the best we have is from the Nixon era, when he went on a desperate attempt of year-round Daylight Saving as a result of the OPEC oil embargo. And he came up with nothing by way of saving."
Often we were told it helps the farmers. Yet farmers were in fierce opposition to the idea and said it only screwed things up. A cow that needs to be milked doesn't adjust to what time we say it is. Downing says it changed nothing for farmers.
Now here's one I never heard before. The candy business lobbied hard for Daylight Saving Time to include Halloween. Their theory was if children have an extra hour of daylight they'll collect more candy, and obviously the more candy collected means the more candy sold.
So is Daylight Saving Time basically meaningless? It appears so. But we are so used to it that if feels important. It feels there must be some reason we're doing this. Again, some states get by just fine without bothering. Think about that when you're feeling out of sorts in the days following an hour of lost sleep. Should we punt or stick to the tradition? Take our poll below.
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