If Wikipedia is to be believed, Daylight Savings Time was not invented by Benjamin Franklin.345 6 If Wikipedia is to be further believed, some guy named “William Willett” was the one who thought of it.
Its a mixed blessing for Mr. Willett that no one knows his name. Ben Franklin gets the credit for daylight savings sandwiched between kudos for electric kites and bifocals. Then again, Franklin also has to put up with abuse from people who hate daylight savings. Such as myself.
Set aside for the moment the historical benefits to daylight savings time – the farmers getting out of bed and whatnot. I’ll stipulate that it may have served some terrific purpose yeas ago. The real issue is whether daylight savings time has any ongoing net benefits for our society.
Let’s assume arguendo there are practical benefits to getting everyone in your state to wake up, get home from work, and go to bed an hour earlier or later. They have more “time” to do whatever is they want to do. 7 Let’s even suppose that having an “extra hour” improves the mood of people with seasonal affect disorder. 8
Infrastructure. You have to admit that a truly Herculean effort is required to support the infrastructure necessary for daylight savings time. People engineer wall clocks that manipulate the time twice a year. Cell phones, computers, and TiVo’s all have to be pre-programmed to change the time twice a year. Its exactly this kind of ridiculous time-accounting nightmare that lead to the Y2K bug in the first place.
Manual Upkeep. All of non-computerized devices such as coffee pots, car stereos, wristwatches, ovens, microwaves, climate control devices, and sprinkler systems need to be manually reset. In this way, daylight savings time is almost like having a guaranteed power outage twice a year.
Productivity. The missed appointments, reschedulings, and groggy commuters and workers. I wouldn’t be surprised if Starbucks was behind the continued use of daylight savings time.
Workers’ Compensation Claims. The workers compensation implications alone are staggering.12 Every home and every office must keep one poor bastard around whose job duties include dragging a chair or step ladder around the office to change all the wall clocks.
If the Office Poor Bastard falls and gets hurt, you’re going to have to hand him a claim form. If the Office Poor Bastard gets an attorney, that attorney is going to see the mechanism of injury and argue for a higher occupational code than “Office Poor Bastard.”1314 The Office Poor Bastard will be considered an occupational code 482, “RIGGER, HIGH amuse. & rec.”15
There are two possible solutions.
First, we eliminate daylight savings time. If the potential drawbacks of daylight savings time outweigh the benefits, then it should be eliminated it.
Secondly, as an alternative we could agree to set the entire coutnry on the time halfway between daylight savings time and non-daylight savings time. If you get 100% of the benefits and drawbacks from daylight savings time, then at the time halfway in-between you’d get half the benefit and drawbacks. 1617
I’m in favor of eliminating daylight savings time altogether, but I would certainly be willing to “split the baby.”
- I wonder if I should try to put it on the ballot as a proposition… [↩]
- Original photo courtesy of Laffy4k. [↩]
- Third best Ben Franklin quote here. [↩]
- Second best Ben Franklin quote: “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to prosper.” [↩]
- Best Ben Franklin quote: “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Too political for a Friday? :/ [↩]
- Thanks QuoteDB! [↩]
- Keep in mind, they get no more than one “extra” hour. [↩]
- Not that I think anyone’s arguing this. I’m just setting up the best possible arguments in favor of daylight savings time. [↩]
- Those Arizonans really are mavericks. [↩]
- Or, how about: “Well, I guess Hawaiian and Arizonans are both mavericks!” [↩]
- Too soon? [↩]
- I bet you thought this wasn’t going to have anything to do with workers’ compensation. [↩]
- “211 OFFICE CLERK, GENERAL clerical,” for those of you playing at home. [↩]
- <shameless plug>I’d suggest this great workers’ compensation website to help you find such things.</shameless plug> [↩]
- I say this only half-jokingly. Years ago I had someone make this exact argument to me. Ken, I’m looking at you. [↩]
- This assumes an arithmatic progression of benefits and costs associated with daylight savings time. [↩]
- This also assumes that no new benefits or costs are conferred by half-daylight savings time. I can concieve of at least one additional drawback – namely that the United States would be in time zones half an hour from the rest of the world. Then again, I suppose that’s better than being a full hour off? [↩]