For those who question the need for setting their clocks ahead one hour at 2 a.m. on the second Sunday of each March only to return them to their original setting at the same ungodly hour 238 days later: You are not alone.
In fact, many of your elected officials feel your pain, or at least your annoyance. In increasing numbers, they are working, often in rare displays of bipartisanship, to end the biannual chore of government-mandated clock calibration to serve the interest of daylight saving time.
In the past few years, legislators in 16 states have passed laws aimed at hastening the end of twice-yearly time changes through a move to year-round daylight time. Last year, such a proposal with bipartisan sponsors cleared the West Virginia Senate, but wasn’t taken up by the House.
Since states cannot mandate the implementation of year-round daylight saving time without Congressional approval, most of the state votes call for an automatic switchover the moment Congress gives states the authority to do so.
Last week, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, introduced for the fourth consecutive year a bill that would allow states to make daylight saving time a year-round proposition. Rubio’s co-sponsors include several Democrats not ordinarily inclined to shower him with support, including Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Oregon’s Ron Wyden.
Americans have been complaining about having to switch between standard and daylight saving time since it became a part of the national landscape.
Ben Franklin is often credited with — or blamed for — the concept of daylight saving time, but his sole reference to the subject stems for a humor piece he wrote for a French publication in 1784, near the end of his tenure as ambassador to France.
In “An Economical Project,” Franklin parodied himself and his French colleagues and their practice of socializing long into the night then sleeping until midday.
Franklin wrote that after bedding down several hours after midnight at the end of one such day, he was awakened by a sudden noise at 6 a.m. and was shocked to discover sunlight streaming into his room through a window for which he had forgotten to close the shutters.
After checking an almanac, he discovered that the sun would rise “still earlier, every day till the end of June,” he wrote. “Your readers, who with me have never seen any signs of sun-shine before noon, will be as astonished as I was when they hear of it rising so early.”
Franklin went on to calculate that the city of Paris alone could save the cost of 64 million pounds of candle wax annually by requiring its residents rise six hours earlier than the normal noon and use light from the sun for reading, writing, chess-playing and socializing.
Those looking for someone to blame for daylight saving time’s presence in America can claim Gavrilo Princip as a scapegoat. He is the Bosnian Serb nationalist who shot and killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in 1914, setting in motion the series of events that led to the outbreak of World War I.
Germany adopted daylight saving time to reduce fuel and power costs, and the U.S. Congress followed suit by imposing it nationally in 1918, but dropping it shortly after the war ended. It returned with a vengeance in 1966, and has been observed uniformly on a national basis since then.
Today, for some reason, the program is administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Is it because time moves forward?