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ere we go again. It's that lose an hour of sleep-time again. Only this year, it came a whole lot earlier than it did last year. In 2005 the GOP-controlled Congress got even with us for voting them out of office in 2006. They enacted the Energy Policy Act of 2005 that extended daylight savings time. Why would they do that? Because, they think, its a harmless way to make yourself look environmental-conscious and, after a week or two, most people adjust to daylight savings time and nobody is really hurt by it. And, of course, extending daylight savings time by an additional month over the course of the year shows that politician is even more in favor of doing something "environmental". Sadly, the idiots among us—which includes all of the politicians who voted for it—believe daylight savings time actually saves something. It forces families to consume more electricity for an additional hour in the morning. And, while the mature crowd probably does go to bed a hour earlier, the party crowd—which appears to be the majority of the population—continue to burn the candle long after the rest of us are asleep.

Prior to that lunacy legislation being passed by Congress and signed into law by a president who also wants to look concerned about the environment, we started losing an hour's sleep in the morning (which most of us need most) on the first Sunday in April. Now we start losing that sleep on the second Sunday in March. In the past we got that lost hour of sleep back on the last Sunday in October. Now, we will continue to lose that hour's sleep until the first Sunday in November when sanity will reign again for four and a half months.

If you talk to enough people around the water cooler or around the neighborhood you'll discover most of them are pretty much divided on the merits of giving up an hour of sleep in the morning for another hour of sunlight in the evening when most of us are in our vehicles, stuck in traffic, commuting back from the City where we toil for 8 to 10 hours each weekday. Most of those who favor daylight savings time don't have a one to two hour commute into a nearby metropolitan area and can sleep an extra hour or so a couple days a week if they need to catch up on some missed sleep. Also, most moms with young, school age children who have to leave the house in the cold, dark predawn to wait for their school bus don't understand the logic of liberal politicians who fail to grasp the reality that daylight savings time was good for a 19th century agrarian society that got up at, or before dawn, and went to bed shortly after sundown, but it doesn't do a thing for 21st century America.

The Germans, who were engaged in a continent-wide war with their European neighbors, believed they could manipulate the clock and add an additional hour of daylight to the day, save enough of the fuel needed to produce electricity to build a reserve for their military machines and to increase the production of war materials in their factories. Germany imposed a daylight savings law that took affect at 11:00 p.m. on April 30, 1916. Several other European nations: France, Belgium, Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, Luxembourg Sweden, Italy, and Portugal followed suit, believing that exchanging an hour of daylight in the early evening for an additional hour of darkness in the morning would conserve electricity and save fuel—which, in turn, would help the war effort. While there was some merit to the argument that daylight savings time worked in agrarian Europe between 1916 and 1919, it should be noted that few of the rural communities of Europe had electricity in the first couple of decades of the 20th century so while daylight savings time—or "summer" time as it was called in Europe—was popular with the farmers, it couldn't have saved anyone anything except perhaps a little tallow, coal oil or kerosene.

Standard Oil, which believed oil existed only in a few places on Earth—and that it was in short supply—was looking for ways to conserve every drop. Standard Oil lobbyists persuaded Congress that daylight savings time would conserve fossil fuels at a time when fuel was needed for America's machines of war. The 65th Congress enacted America's first daylight savings law on March 19, 1918 . Congress argued the European view to the American people that if you exchanged an hour of darkness for an extra hour of sunlight you would conserve energy. The government chose to ignore that people who get up in the dark need just as much luminance just as people who stay up after dark. An additional hour of darkness in the morning is nothing more than a tradeoff for the hour of darkness at night. The "...Act to Preserve Daylight and Provide Standard Time for the United States" divided the nation into time zones and set March 31 as the date that daylight savings time commenced. Congress justified daylight savings time as a war measure. Daylight savings time proved to be so unpopular with the urban dwellers that when the war ended Congress repealed it—and then had to override President Woodrow Wilson's veto because the Money Mafia wanted daylight savings time to be a permanent fixture in America..

During WWII—once again using the war emergency as an excuse to impose it—FDR instituted year-round daylight savings time (called "War Time") from February 2, 1942 to September 30, 1945. Roosevelt's War Time was no more popular than Wilson's. Without a national policy on daylight savings time from 1945 until 1966, States were free to chose whether or not to observe daylight savings time.

By 1966 daylight savings had gotten so much out of hand that States, counties, cities and towns were imposing daylight savings time—or exempting their towns from it. Efforts to study the affect of the shotgun application of daylight savings time was requested by the transportation industry in 1961. Nothing happened. The transportation industry formed a lobbying arm called the Committee for Times Uniformity. The transportation industry discovered than on a 35-mile stretch of road from Moundsville, WV (State Rte. 2) to Steubenville, OH, Greyhound bus drivers passed through 7 time changes. The lobbyists hammered Congress for 5-years before the House and Senate enacted the Uniform Time Act of 1966 [Public Law 89-387] that was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Any State wishing to opt out of daylight savings time could do so by enacting legislation to exempt the entire State.

On January 4, 1974—still hawking the oil company myth that imposing daylight savings time actually saves energy—President Richard M. Nixon signed the Emergency Daylight Savings Time Energy Conservation Act under the guise that it was prudent because OPEC was raising oil prices and soon gasoline would cost $1.00 per gallon if methods of conservation were not developed. Daylight savings time was hawked as the least painful way to conserve on fossil fuels. People, the environmentalist bureaucrats said, would save millions upon millions of barrels of oil without even realizing their contribution—or feeling the pain. In 1972 the law was amended to cover States that straddle time zones. It was amended again in 1986 to provide that daylight savings time would begin at 2:00 a.m. on the first Sunday of April and end at 2:00 on the last Sunday of October. Until the current change that went into affect at 2:00 a.m. on March 11, 2007, that is the practice those of us under 21 years of age have known from birth The Energy Policy Act of 2005 extends daylight savings time to begin at 2:00 a.m. on the second Sunday in March and end at 2:00 a.m. on the first Sunday in November. Congress was smart enough to retain the right to revert back to the 1986 time frames if the change proves to be unpopular with the voters. However,.Congress still isn't smart enough to realize that trading an hour of darkness at night for an additional hour of darkness in the morning isn't going to save a penny's worth of energy for anyone. It's a political shell game by environmentalist hucksters—most of whom actually believe they are somehow saving energy by shuffling the dark pea from the evening to the morning.

Most of the Washington, DC and Baltimore commuters I know that crowd onto the highways and byways from rural Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia's eastern panhandle every morning and evening like daylight savings time and wouldn't object if it was year-round because, a few told me, "I rather like the idea of an extra hour of sunlight in the evening. Let's me mow the lawn in the evening and frees up the time for me on the weekend." Myself, I never adjust to daylight savings time. I lose an hour of sleep from the day it begins until the day it ends.

Other than Ben Franklin (whom many claim was spoofing the Europeans when he suggested they go to bed and get up an hour earlier) it appears the first non-politician to seriously entertain the notion of daylight savings time was a Chislehurst, Kent (England) building contractor, William Willett who believed he could add another hour in the work day by juggling daylight. Willett petitioned Parliament several times between 1905 and 1907, but his arguments fell on deaf ears. In 1907 Willett published a phamplet entitled The Waste of Daylight in which he argued that if clocks were turned back 80 minutes in the summer time it would save England £2.5 million per year (keep in mind, that was in 1907.)

Energy conservationists still claim daylight savings time saves energy in a society that lives around the clock. They contend that, mathematically, artificially delaying sunrise and sunset increases electricity usage more in the morning than it does in the evening. A 1975 Department of Transportation computer model suggested that daylight savings time produced a net energy savings of between 0.7% and 1%. But there is one thing about computer models—the results they produce are based on the accuracy of the data entered. If the data inputted into the computer model is guesswork, the output does not become fact. Critics rightfully argue that the energy savings projected by advocates of daylight savings time are grossly exaggerated since, in the modern world, residential energy consumption in the summer is greater in the afternoon and evening with peak hours actually occurring in from 6 p.m. until midnight. There is no way the "exchange" of time conserves energy.

The daylight savings pundits are going to have to find a different reason to justify the reason for the season.



Just Say No
Copyright 2009 Jon Christian Ryter.
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