Can we please just leave the clock alone?

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Ronald Reagon once joked that the “nine most terrifying words in the English language are ‘I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.’”

The folks around Beauregard, Alabama, will certainly welcome offers of help from whatever source, although we’re sure it will initially come from neighbors and friends, the American Red Cross and other private organizations long before the federal government steps in. FEMA money, provided it hasn’t been diverted to The Wall, will arrive slowly if at all.

With such mistrust of “the government,” one has to wonder why we allow it to control the most personal aspects of our lives — when to get up and when to go to bed.

Yet that’s exactly what we’re expected to do this weekend, when we’ll dutifully set our clock forward an hour before going to bed, losing an hour of sleep in the process.

We’ve railed against the daylight/standard shift many times over the years but recently heard a convincing argument that we should set the clocks forward and leave them there, year-round.

The evidence was presented by a law professor, Steve Calandrillo of the University of Washington, in The Conversation, an independent, nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary by academic experts.

Among his arguments:

— Lives would be saved. A Rutgers meta-study indicated 343 lives per year would be saved by year-round DST by moving more our activities to daylight, reducing the number of drivers impaired by alcohol, fatigue and being distracted by the need to get home before sunset. Year-round standard time would have the opposite effect.

— Crime would decrease, especially among juveniles. Crime rates are 30 percent lower in the morning.

— Energy would be saved, the original rationale for DST in World Wars I and II and the 1973 OPEC oil crisis, when it reportedly saved 150,000 barrels of oil to offset the embargo. Many more people are awake, using energy, in early-evening dark hours than the number who are active early in the morning.

— Improved health and sleep. It’s widely accepted that time changes result in more heart attacks, and even the stock markets suffer after the time changes, according to a 2000 study.

— Daylight is good for recreation and commerce, which could provide a needed boost to Nebraska’s tourism industry.

If the government really wanted to help, it would let us leave our clocks alone.

At latest count, there are 30 declared or possible candidates for president, not counting the incumbent.

We’d give careful consideration to any of them who included a year-round Daylight Saving Time plank in their platform.

You can read Calandrillo’s original article here.

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