Monday, May 2, 2005

Daylight Saving Time

Last week, the Indiana General Assembly voted in favor of Daylight Saving Time, sending the bill to Governor Mitch Daniels to sign it into law. It's a victory for the Governor that he ran on in the 2004 election, defeating former Governor Joe Kernan. Daylight Saving Time has always been a sore spot in Indiana, with most of the state staying on Eastern Standard Time year-round. For years, Indiana has been one of only three states that have not observed Daylight Saving Time, including Hawaii and most of Arizona.

I'm originally from
Cincinnati, in the Eastern Time Zone, as well, but in a state that fully observes Daylight Saving Time. I spent fully half of my life switching back and forth in summer and fall, and dealing with the time change as an excuse for being late to school or work (whether I was the one giving the excuse or receiving it, it was always a hard excuse to refute). Having lived the past six years in Indiana -- in the large chunk of the state that doesn't fall back or spring forward, I've grown comfortable with the practice of bucking the norm and staying on the same time year long. Local network affiliates actually delay broadcasts in the summer one hour to prevent the confusion of "nine/eight central" from causing Hoosiers to miss their favorite shows.

Throughout the debate, I've been an opponent of
Daylight Saving Time in Indiana, even though I did vote for Governor Daniels last fall. It seems to me a silly thing to keep switching our clocks back and forth year after year, especially when there is no truly valid reason to change our clocks back and forth anymore.

Daylight Saving Time began in the United States during World War I as a means to save fuel for the war effort by adjusting the hours of daylight to coincide with when most people were awake and active. While some areas continued to change their clocks after the War, it did not become observed nationally again until World War II. The practice became permanent with the passing of the Uniform Time Act of 1966.

Daylight Saving Time is now observed by most of the modern world, though the actual date of falling back or springing forward varies from country to country. My question is, why do we still change our clocks? Some say it's for the farmers, though most farmers are opposed to it having to rise with the sun regardless what time the clock says it is. Others say it's to reduce heating costs in the winter, though the result is increased energy consumption in the summer to run our air conditioners. And another big question: how is it that most of the world cannot agree on religion, democracy, or even a language, but somehow they manage to agree on something so senseless as changing our clocks back and forth twice a year.

As I said, I was long an opponent of
Daylight Saving Time. This morning, at 6:15 AM Eastern Standard Time (that's Chicago Time, which is actually Central Daylight Time), the sun was high in the sky over Anytown, Indiana, waking me, my son, and my Pug, who let me know he was ready to go outside with his incessant early morning yapping. I pulled myself out of bed and trudged out in the cold spring air and dewy wet grass. At the same time, which was 7:15 Eastern Daylight Time, the rest of the Eastern Time Zone was brewing coffee and getting ready for breakfast after having slept one full hour longer than I. This morning, I decided that maybe we should observe Daylight Saving Time. But I'm not a complete convert. I don't agree with this crazy falling back and springing forward. I say, let's spring forward once and for wall, never to fall back again.

And if all of this isn't enough confusion for you, how about reports that lawmakers in the House Energy and Commerce Committee in
Washington are busily crafting legislation that would extend Daylight Saving Time by two months. If passed into law, the entire country would spring forward a month earlier and fall back a month later. I guess it's a little closer to my new dream of never falling back again, but I still think it needs a little work.

What do you think?


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