Sunday, March 11, 2012
Daylight Savings Time
Leave us Alone!
Daylight Savings Time
By Stephen L. Wilmeth
So, how did we all feel this morning with the time change? Was the newest manipulation by government in our lives a welcome guest or were there gestures made at clocks about their rank as our number one most favorite thing?
Did we run out on tippy toes and breathe deeply in the freshness of the morning? How about all the energy savings? Did you turn your lights on or did you stumble around in the dark until the sun came up?
Ben Franklin missed the Boat
One of the greatest of Americans should have stuck with the definition of summertime. He should have adhered to a standard that was held inviolate by nature. Ben Franklin had no business dreaming another French delusion when he came up with the idea of Daylight Savings Time (DST) in 1784. Summertime should never have been reinvented as ‘Summer Time’.
Time is the purest and most basic of natural rhythms. It equates to the rotation of the earth.
The measurement of time, however, is purely a human invention. The Egyptians started the process in 4500 BC. They came up with a measure of 24 units that maintained even sun marks on the ground as days passed.
The separation of dark and light was the next mystery solved. The Mesopotamians separated light from dark in their recognition of hours. They were annoyed, though, that nights and days were always getting longer or shorter.
The refined use of 60 unit spans, seconds, came from the Babylonians. Those people had a strange adoration for the unit of 60. They even based their system of counting on it.
With the units of measure defined, the next step was to put it all together and plot time through the day. The Egyptians went back to their marks on the ground and created the sundial. They must have been ecstatic to find that the sun cast the same shadow on a surface when it stood at its zenith.
That method was used for 1500 years before another Egyptian found he could duplicate the measure with a device that dripped water into a vessel that could be measured. The water clock was invented.
The hourglass came later in the 11th Century. It was followed by the mechanical clock run with weights in the 14th Century. That was altered by a similar spring powered device in the 16th Century. Finally, the pendulum clock made its debut in the 17th Century.
For 300 years, the world was content to measure time by adhering to the natural rhythm of light and dark. There was the peculiar change of the duration of light, but the chickens didn’t care as long as their internal clocks were not disrupted. The cows were equally unimpressed as long as a schedule was followed.
The world of time was at peace other than the human worry of its passage.
The art gets high tech
The year 1927 should be ranked as a milestone in human history. That year, one W.A. Marrison invented a clock run by quartz crystal vibrations. His brainchild would serve as a near perfect measurement of time.
In 1948, a yet more advanced clock was introduced. The Atomic clock became the world’s most accurate platform to measure time. It even provided a more precise method to measure the standard of one second. A second no longer is simply 1/60th of a minute. It now equates to 9,192,631,770 vibrations of a cesium atom … Yehaw!
Government trial balloons
The world was unconcerned about saving daylight for nearly 125 years after Franklin concocted his idea. The chickens got fed on time and the cows didn’t need any clock to tell them it was time to head to the barn. The discomfort of a tight bag was ample reason to respond to the ‘HOOEY’ from the milker.
Then along came the bureaucrats that disrupted natural rhythms that haunt us to this day. In 1907, a fellow by the name of William Willet suggested advancing clocks 20 minutes each Sunday in April and retarding them similar each Sunday in September.
His logic is lost, but the outcome can be described by every American who makes a living by his own wits. Quitting time is not a function of a measure of time. It is a function of daylight. DST to a farmer or a rancher is a disruptor of all natural functions. At least another work hour is added to the work schedule.
In 1916, England tried DST. The Agricultural Sector became so enraged and disgruntled the idea was scuttled.
The United States tried the same thing in 1918. It was so unpopular it was repealed in 1919.
Roosevelt installed DST for the duration of World War II. The real gain of the change, the added hour of work and thus the added level of productivity, was accepted as a war time necessity. When the war was over, though, the influence of Agriculture demanded a reversal of the government mandate.
Government more Intrusive
President Johnson started the modern cavalcade in 1966. He declared that DST would commence on the last Sunday in April and end on the last Sunday in October.
In the energy crisis of the ‘70s, the assault into the lives of Americans by government became more overt. Federal studies suggested that electrical demand would decrease. Americans were told the decrease would equate from one to 3.5%.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) declared Americans enjoyed DST. Their study didn’t reveal the polls were taken after people were accustomed and had adjusted to the longer evening periods. Data was data. Agenda was agenda.
The studies also laid claim to enhanced safety attributed to DST. With more daylight and enhanced visibility, driving was safer.
Contrasting the DOT study supporting the practice, the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) disputed the results. In their study a year later, it was disclosed that people who must arise before sunup used more energy than less following the time change. That was particularly true of rural residents.
The DOT claims also failed to mention automobile accidents invariably increase immediately following the change in time. They failed to note the risk of heart attacks in the first week goes up by double digit percentage rates, sleep disorders become exacerbated, productivity initially plummets, and … chickens and cows don’t have any inclination to change their schedules!
Indiana, which has been one of the fiercest resistors of the practice, was talked into trying the change on a statewide basis. Their citizenry was told the state would save $7 million from energy savings. Following the switch, researchers found the savings was more than offset when they spent $8.6 million more in gasoline purchases driving more in the longer evening hours!
In fact, the NBS claims that the expanded use of gasoline with DST has been a known factor since 1930! At a time when gasoline prices are skyrocketing, the real question must be asked. Why is our government so intent on maintaining this lunacy?
Same old story
A hint of the reason can be gleaned from the creep of the dates of change back to standard times in the fall. The initial changes were made in September. That was bumped to October, and, then, in 2007 it was bumped again to the first Sunday in November. What happens in America during the last week in October? Yes, Halloween!
Just before the legislative action was made little candy pumpkins were found on the desk of every Congressional representative. It seems that the preservation of DST through Halloween meant more little ‘Trick or Treaters’ would be present on the streets of America. Parents were becoming less inclined to allow their young ones on the streets after dark!
There is also evidence that the lobby for indoor theaters was more active through the years than outdoor drive-ins. What happened to drive-ins in the face of DST?
Folks, it isn’t energy savings that keep us gyrating to the nonsense of DST! It is the lobby efforts that push for more productive hours for businesses that benefit from DST … we are merely the minions that fuel their machine.
The world should know that if it was left to Agriculture we wouldn’t have to put up with the manipulative nonsense of this meddling! The timelessness of the industry beat back the harebrained idea first in England when it was first tried near the end of World War I and then following World War II in America. Cows and chickens get used to a routine and don’t understand the rationale of a clock. Neither responds well to an hour’s worth of change in their circadian rhythm, but, then … neither do humans.
Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “There is a dove in a nest on our porch. She has been cooing promptly at 5:55 AM MST. This morning it was … 6:55 DST. Her clock remains free of bureaucracy.”