Saturday, April 02, 2005

Daylight Spending Time

* Curiously they occur at relatively the same time every year, inexplicably linked as harbingers of spring. As sure as the appearance of the first robin, the two of them hold open the door as Old Man Winter retreats.
* One, America's pastime, will be starting Sunday night as the World Champion Boston Red Sox invade Yankee stadium. The other, also a rite of spring is the annual change to Daylight Savings Time. On the last Sunday of October we turned the clocks back an hour. Now, on the first Sunday of April, we lose an hour of sleep.
* It actually seems skewed to me. We could use more daylight in the winter, not the spring! Did I say it was a rite of spring? It's more like a "wrong" of spring. Who thought up this hair-brained idea in the first place? Someone, somewhere surely must stand to profit from this practice.
* In 1784, Benjamin Franklin proposed to save daylight in order to save the consumers on the cost of wax and tallow. It was Franklin who once proposed that the turkey, and not the eagle should be the National symbol. As Franklin's suggested was not acted upon, one could assume that the candlemakers of the era had a very powerful lobby.
* The first legislation for daylight-saving was passed in 1918 under Woodrow Wilson. However, it was repealed the following year due to arguments that it was disrupting international trade, and that it had rendered almanacs useless. For one year in 1930, even the Soviet Union toyed with daylight-saving. Stalin scrapped it the following year.
* In 1942, at the request of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Congress approved a year-round daylight-saving plan as a measure to conserve fuel. After the war, the state of Virginia banned daylight-savings. In 1950 with some states participating and others refusing to practice daylight-saving, there were towns and cities within the same states using different times. On a 35-mile stretch of road between Steubenville, Ohio, to Moundsville, W.Va., a driver would pass through seven changes in local time. Neighboring farms were one hour apart with their clock settings. One farmer was said to have had an hour's difference between his house and his barn!
* In 1973, during the OPEC oil embargo, Nixon developed a plan for two years of uninterrupted daylight-saving to conserve fuel. When Nixon was impeached in 1974, the plan was never brought to Congress. The current Daylight Saving Time as we know it today, was a result of Reagans 1986 legislation resulting in seven months of daylight-savings.
* Looking closely at it, who benefits from Daylight Saving Time? Supposedly it was to aid the farmers so that they would have more daylight to work the land. Not so, say the farmers! It stole the morning daylight they needed to harvest grains, pick fruit, milk the cows and gather eggs. The farmers refer to it as "Daylight Robbing."
* Those who support Daylight Saving Time are the department stores, as more hours of light after work meant they had time to shop after work. Convenience stores also realized more profits as commuters would stop for one or two items rather than go to a supermarket. Also profiting were the industries producing barbecues and sporting goods. More daylight contributed to more golfers hitting the links. The recreational athletes inluding joggers, fishermen, tennis players and softball players had more light to enjoy their outdoor activities.
* But the biggest player was Major League Baseball. The extra hour gave school children more opportunities to see games. Hence, the hand-in-hand dance of America's pastime and Daylight Saving Time. After all, if you stand to profit from it, why not do most of your business when it is in effect? Time is an invention and thus can be manipulated. Think about it, when do you spend the most money? Time is money. As Daylight Saving Time has more to do with money than time, isn't it more accurate to call it "Daylight Spending Time?"
The info regarding the history of Daylight Saving Time is from the book by Michael Downing, "Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time."


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