Will You Daylight Saving Time Whiners Stop Bothering Me And Work On Getting Rid Of It?

Will You Daylight Saving Time Whiners Stop Bothering Me And Work On Getting Rid Of It?

Histrionic complaints about Daylight Saving Time are a stain on our national character. Let's direct them elsewhere.
Mary Katharine Ham
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Here we are on DST-Day +4. How are you all feeling?

Having gone through our biannual b*tchfest over a one-hour time change, it occurs to me I may have reached whining saturation for this relatively small lifestyle change. The whinging to which I’m subjected every year far, far exceeds any tribulations occasioned by my 60-minute shift in temporal perspective.

There is perhaps no subject that elicits more outsized kvetching as compared to a generation ago than Daylight Saving Time. Fall back, must we? Spring forward, ugh. We shouldn’t even be doing this. OMG, I don’t know what time anything happens anymore! I’m living behind a bookcase in “Interstellar!”

Please. Almost literally every clock you own changes itself for you, and the ones that don’t are vintage nods to days gone by. Relish your clock-winding, hipsters!

Oh, and then there are the parents. I get it. I’m one, too. I see you. And it’s not as bad as we’re making it out to be. Granted, our children don’t understand how to sleep an hour later when they’re young. They don’t yet relish snoozing. It is an acquired taste of age and sloth. It’s worth noting early critics of the original Daylight Saving Time measures were dairy farmers who had the same complaint about their cows.

We must teach children to appreciate the snooze, just as we have to teach them other surprising things, like how to not to smear bodily fluids on walls and how not to out their parents for letting them watch inappropriate movies at too-young an age. (“Yippee-ki-yay, mutha..” “That’s enough, sweetie! My, we sure do love cowboys in our house!”) Presumably, our chances are better with children than with cows.

Particularly in fall, I think there’s some scapegoating going on. As Daylight Saving Time takes place just days after our culture’s annual Costumed Celebration of Breaking Every Parenting Norm We’ve Ever Set, we can all cast blame upon time itself instead of the 63 Sour Patch Kids we let Duncan and Sophia eat at 5:40 p.m. on Sunday (We both know you stole all their Reese’s). Yes, it is time that caused this problem! They simply cannot sleep when we change the time on them!

My mother and father had to change every clock in the house manually and they had three small children. Yet I never remember them complaining about something so inconsequential as Daylight Saving Time. My grandfather was, fittingly, pulling the drive chains on a grandfather clock before he used the outhouse. Yet I never heard from him about the great hardships of getting to church an hour early or nap time being a totally lost cause.

Every state in the union has the right to opt out of the Uniform Time Act of 1966, a codification of the wartime energy scrimping of World War I, in turn a codification of Benjamin Franklin’s theories on the subject, but only Arizona and Hawaii have. For something that seems to inspire so much vociferous, bipartisan anger, one would think the masses could mobilize to change the numbers.

I’d be fine with ditching the clock-change, but I’m more interested in channeling the complaining into something other than my Facebook feed. Particularly given all this anger is stirred up right before Election Day, time itself is giving such efforts an in-kind donation. Run with it!

Yet every attempt to change the status quo fails. Indiana even gave Daylight Saving Time a boost when in 2006 the charming, quirky part of the state that hadn’t observed it acquiesced to the conformist part that does. Is the Daylight Saving Time clangor every year yet another example of social media amplifying the voices of the most irate and therefore projecting a picture of a movement that is much broader than reality? Or is the democratic process’ inability to get this done anywhere, despite bipartisan annoyance, yet another symptom of our broken system caving to special interests over a passionate grassroots movement?

As we speak, Massachusetts is pondering a permanent shift to “standard” time, pushed by general New England annoyance with long winter nights and an organized group of cranberry farmers who don’t like doing their bogging at twilight.

“You have to quit that much sooner, you have to have everything picked up before the sun goes down,” said grower Scott Harding.

Montana tried to push a similar measure this spring, again spurred by a coalition of the mildly annoyed general public and farmers. It sailed through committee and was approved by a large margin in the senate, but met opposition from the unannoyed general public and school officials, eventually failing. A frequent concern of sticking with spring-forward time year-round is that it gives us more sunlight in the evening at the loss of daylight in the morning, when children are traveling to school, thus breeding safety concerns.

Mostly, such bills seem to be an opportunity for politicians to make silly puns. As far as I’m concerned, this is another selling point.

“This is a sunshine bill with an implied sunset,” remarked the Montana lawman who offered the bill, to the hearty chuckles no doubt of many elected officials with a deep appreciation for dad jokes.

This sentence is telling, from the Missoulian: “The lone proponent testifying for SB206 was the Montana Farm Bureau Federation, a grassroots membership group of farmers and ranchers with a long-standing policy supporting a permanent move to standard time.”

Where are all the DST slacktivists when it matters? One former slacktivist has made this his cause. Scott Yates of Colorado started his quest to #locktheclock three years ago when “he was challenged to stop complaining about the clock-changing twice a year by his wife, and do something about it.”

He now offers model legislation and talking points on the safety and health problems with changing the clock twice a year. Those reasons, by the way, backed by some research, are almost never the basis of the reams of complaints I hear every year. That’s an argument I’d listen to over “Ugh, it is so darrrrrrk at 5!”

Nonetheless, Yates’ best chances at a win fell short in New Mexico, where Sen. Cliff Pirtle of Roswell brought a bill in 2015 and 2017, only to see it felled by school concerns. He vows to keep at it, and you can join him. Please do, and direct your thoughts on this matter to your representatives.

Mary Katharine Ham is a senior writer at The Federalist.
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