Based on the number of comments, readers apparently took an interest in our Tuesday editorial – “This Saturday, Just Say No To The Clock-Changing Madness: It’s Pointless And Dangerous.” And we are happy to report that there were plenty of different viewpoints expressed.
We thought we’d respond to some of the points raised by our readers. (Note that the comments are reprinted as they appeared.)
- Don’t mess with God’s time!
As we point out in the editorial, we’re agnostic about whether we go on permanent Daylight Saving Time or standard time. But few said that standard is the only correct choice.
Gavin Greenewalt, for example, wrote: “when the sun is at its highest point it is NOON. that is GODS time. all others are mere fluffery.”
mso writes: “High noon at 1:00 PM? ~300,000 years of evolution has taught us otherwise.”
We once thought that way, too, until we looked at a time zone map. The sun is at its zenith when the clock strikes noon in only a tiny sliver of each time zone. The rest must suffer with “fluffery.”
And some time zones are ridiculously wide. Most of the western part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is in the Eastern time zone. But so is all of Maine. That’s a spread of more than 1,000 miles! When the sun sets at 5:20 p.m. in Bangor, Maine, it doesn’t set until 6:42 p.m. in White Pine, Michigan. You tell us which one of those is on “God’s time.”
Plus, the lines marking each zone are often wildly arbitrary as you can see in the above map.
In the Upper Peninsula, for example, you can cross the street going south and go from the Eastern to Central time zone.
Florida has a bizarre time zone squiggle in its panhandle.
Four counties on the western border of Kansas are on Mountain time. The other three are on Central.
In Idaho, the northern half of the state is on Pacific time, but the southern half is on Mountain time. Go figure.
So, please, enough with the “God’s time” argument. It doesn’t make the case for sticking with standard time.
- It’s for the children!
Several commentators defended going off Daylight Saving Time and “falling back” in November because otherwise children would have to go to school in the dark.
Glen says: “The reason not to have daylight saving time in the winter is that kids will have to go to school in the dark.”
Robert A Grise agrees, saying “You and I and one other poster seem to be the only ones that know why we have daylight savings time. It’s so kids don’t have to get on buses in the dark hello! It saves lives… Our kids lives. I don’t like the adjustment either but don’t blame the government just take the week off if you need time to adjust.”
This argument doesn’t wash, either.
First, we suspect that, given the oddities of time zones, there are plenty of children going to school in the dark, regardless of whether those areas are on DST or standard time.
But if we really want to help children, don’t make the rest of us suffer, just start school an hour later. While we don’t know of any research relating to the supposed dangers of children going to school before sunrise, research has made it clear that delaying the start of school by an hour would be good for children’s health.
From Psychology Today: “Two separate literature reviews have documented that when middle and high schools start later in the morning, kids are happier and healthier.”
- It’s good for the economy!
Jeff makes the case, which many do, for switching to DST in the spring, namely that it helps the recreational business. “This works to help summer business’ like golf courses or even personal things like hiking tennis, pickleball softball etc that require daylight to better utilize the available daytime.”
Sure. But then why switch back in the fall?
- States can fix this on their own!
As we pointed out, states can, if they want, refuse to go on Daylight Saving Time, but can’t opt to remain on DST year-round without a change in federal law. But there is a way around that law, as Mac McGyver pointed out:
A state can opt out of Daylight Saving Time.
A state can also choose their time zone.
Some states like Massachusetts and Connecticut
have considered doing exactly that.
Dropping DST and changing to the Atlantic Time Zone
would be the same as Daylight Saving Time year round.
- What a waste of time!
Others complained that there are far more important issues to address. We don’t deny that. But why should that stop us from commenting on this twice-a-year torture?
Our favorite comment along these lines came from Bryan Taplits, who wrote:
Only I&I (of which I am a proud and many times enlightened reader) would waste DST or Standard time on around 1,000 words, commenting on the change from one to the other. Of course I am just teasing I&I; if I&I wants to write 1,000 words on this earth-shattering subject, this is one reader who will avidly read it (or maybe I’ll just wait to read it until I get that extra hour)! I might even learn something (Oh, by the way: It’s about time that the news world editorialized about such a revolving and existential problem)!
We appreciate the kind words, but note that this editorial generated more comments than just about anything we’ve editorialized on the past four years. Seems to be a lot of interest in this topic.
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board