Did you turn your clocks back like a good little citizen?

Despite the reference in the film "National Treasure" to Ben Franklin first proposing the idea of Daylight Savings Time - one of the many historical inaccuracies in that immensely fun but flawed film - the idea goes back to ancient civilizations who were apparently a lot more flexible in how they kept time than we are.

This National Geographic piece has some nice background on the history of DST, but the bottom line is that for most Americans, except those living close to time zone boundaries - Daylight Savings Time is unnecessary. There is evidence that there is no discernible savings in energy, little impact on public safety, and a negative impact on economic activity except for a few industries like convenience stores, golf courses and some retailers. At best, it can be said that there are as many negative effects as positive effects.

Why then, must we dutifully turn our clocks back today? Politics plays a role, as you might expect. Based on questionable studies, the US standardized DST in 1966 while giving states the option of participating. More flawed research on energy savings led to forced conversion to standardized DST in 2007 (states still have the option of not participating in DST at all but if they do, they must follow Washington's rules).

Meanwhile, farmers, school kids, and  shift workers suffer the consequences of having to get up and go to work in the dark. It's not for nothing that one wag dubbed it "Daylight Slaving Time."

It's not of monumental importance that the federal government forced this conversion on the entire country - and for mostly bogus reasons. But it certainly illustrates the lengths to which the national government has impinged on our daily lives. 

Despite the reference in the film "National Treasure" to Ben Franklin first proposing the idea of Daylight Savings Time - one of the many historical inaccuracies in that immensely fun but flawed film - the idea goes back to ancient civilizations who were apparently a lot more flexible in how they kept time than we are.

This National Geographic piece has some nice background on the history of DST, but the bottom line is that for most Americans, except those living close to time zone boundaries - Daylight Savings Time is unnecessary. There is evidence that there is no discernible savings in energy, little impact on public safety, and a negative impact on economic activity except for a few industries like convenience stores, golf courses and some retailers. At best, it can be said that there are as many negative effects as positive effects.

Why then, must we dutifully turn our clocks back today? Politics plays a role, as you might expect. Based on questionable studies, the US standardized DST in 1966 while giving states the option of participating. More flawed research on energy savings led to forced conversion to standardized DST in 2007 (states still have the option of not participating in DST at all but if they do, they must follow Washington's rules).

Meanwhile, farmers, school kids, and  shift workers suffer the consequences of having to get up and go to work in the dark. It's not for nothing that one wag dubbed it "Daylight Slaving Time."

It's not of monumental importance that the federal government forced this conversion on the entire country - and for mostly bogus reasons. But it certainly illustrates the lengths to which the national government has impinged on our daily lives. 

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