Sunday, March 23, 2014

Who Decided to Switch the Clock?

I don’t know about you, but my system is still re-calibrating to Daylight Saving Time. You’d think with more than a half century to get used to my internal clock resetting two times a year that this semi-annual switch would go smoothly. Nope, the older I get, the more my carcass resents folks in high places not understanding that you can’t cut off one end of a blanket, sew it to the top, and say it’s longer. Not only do those in power mess with where you put this amputated hour, they all too frequently legislate change regarding when that reattachment takes place. It’s no wonder heart attack statistics increase in the days following this time shift.

Once I began researching DST I am more traumatized. I discovered I’ve been saying it incorrectly.  I thought it was called Daylight Savings Time, but, no—it’s Daylight Saving Time.  No second S. Some countries simply call it Summer Time.

Several informational sites credit Ben Franklin with DSTs existence, making participation seem patriotic. In reality, he was long in the grave before anyone actually adjusted a clock. This business began in England prior to WWI. Once hostilities occurred, Parliament enacted British Summer Time in 1916. Hoping to save energy here as well, America followed suit for seven months in 1918 and 1919. Due to lack of support for the time shift, lawmakers retracted it.

Time-pieces and humans ticked along satisfactorily until America once again went to war in 1942. Congress determined that this change would save energy to support the war effort so it was reenacted from February 9th of ‘42 to September 30th  of ‘45. After this date, states and localities adjusted clocks as they wished. If I’m cranky now, I can’t imagine what that did to people dependent on train and bus schedules. How would you be sure to arrive at a meeting on time?

I guess it was okay for individuals to miss schedules, but once TV and radio stations mainstreamed into American life, federal legislation regarding a consistent time change followed. The Uniform Time Act of 1966 ended confusion by starting DST on the last Sunday of April and ending it the last Sunday in October.  Except for Hawaii and Arizona, the rest of the nation jumped on that bandwagon.

Until the energy crisis of the 70s, those dates remained stable. Some of us remember the burble called the Arab Energy Embargo where we experienced eight months of Daylight Saving Time in ‘74 and ten in ‘75. While many believe agricultural interests support DST, lobbying by farm states and others returned it to End-of-April/End-of-October status.

Americans enjoyed predictability until 1986 when President Reagan signed into law PL 99-359. This act changed the beginning of DST to the first Sunday in April. It’s ending date remained the same. Nearly twenty years later, Congress passed the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which, starting in 2007,altered the beginning date to the current second Sunday in March and extended its run to the first Sunday in November.

Interestingly, medical studies reveal a number of concerns regarding this cha-cha with the clock. With each change, heart attacks and accidents increase. Classroom and work productivity decrease. Humorist Dave Barry gets cranky. And so do I.

I’m for punchin’ the same clock that Arizona and Hawaii do. I want time out of Congress’s hands.

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