CHRONICLE/PERSPECTIVE: The ongoing debate on daylight saving time | Local News


When I was young and still living with my grandmother, you could count on her to say this twice a year: “Why don’t they just leave time alone?” time. She would repeat it in the fall when we resumed it.

I moved in at 14 after my grandfather died, and my grandmother refused to leave that old house on a hill. It was the only timepiece in the house, and few were the times it had to be reset because it wound it faithfully. Except of course those two lamentable days when the bureaucracy ordered it.

If she were alive today, she would have granted her wish. The US Senate unanimously agreed to make DST permanent in March 2023. So I believe what is now Eastern Daylight Time will become Eastern Standard Time. The Senate approved the measure unanimously. That alone should tell you it’s a dumb idea even though it’s the same people who are obviously capable of sane thinking. Congress gave Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a deserved standing ovation after he appeared before them electronically this week. I wonder though if it was because of what he said or if it was the first presidential speech they had heard in the past five plus years that made sense or was not self -enlarging.

Georgia’s General Assembly adopted year-round daylight saving time in its just-concluded session, but it needs federal approval to implement it.

We have already tried this summer time all year. During Richard Nixon’s last two years in office, the nation was in the throes of an energy crisis, and Congress made daylight saving time permanent to save nighttime energy. Nixon signed the bill, and it went into effect on January 6, 1974, requiring children to walk to school in the dark. Shortly after, eight Florida children were involved in predawn crashes. In Washington, DC, children carried flashlights to school.

Gerald Ford, who replaced Nixon, outlawed DST year-round about two years later.

Did it save energy? Some have estimated that power plants burn 20,000 to 30,000 tons less coal, but you wonder how much extra gas mothers used to drive their children to school rather than leaving them walking in the dark. Afternoon traffic accidents decreased while morning accidents increased.

Some argue that the Senate, consumed by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, had no intention of passing the bill. Unanimous consent meant it went ahead without a vote or debate. When Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Sunshine State, called for its review, no one objected, and that meant it passed. Many local governments have consent programs for mundane matters. But this one is not trivial. It matters.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island, introduced this sun protection law. I had no idea the sun was in danger, and if it was, I seriously doubt an act of Congress could save it.

He argued that in the dead of winter, the sun sets at 4:14 a.m. in Rhode Island, which means anyone working 9 to 5 has to burn their headlights on the drive home.

“They go home in absolute darkness, and it’s not really necessary,” he said. “Let’s do 5:15 instead.”

He also said people exercised more while the sun was shining and there would be fewer accidents and thefts in the evening.

If they were going to make daylight saving time permanent, they should have included a provision to change the opening of the national anthem.

“Oh, say, can you see, in the late light of dawn…”

I heard my favorite DST story on the radio decades ago. I’ve googled it 15 different ways, but can’t get more details on it or confirm what I’ve heard.

My hazy memory tells me that a city in Siberia had the word to move forward in the 1960s or 1970s and dutifully did so. It probably came from the Kremlin and it was something like: “Comrades, put your clocks forward one hour for the glory of Mother Russia and the revolution. Also, comrades, the clock in your house is the property of the state. You must comply or you’ll be sent to a gulag in Siberia where you’ll learn how to wind clocks and chop firewood. Even if you already live in Siberia, rest assured, comrades, we can make things worse.

When fall arrived, word to roll back didn’t reach the bureaucratic chain of command until the city of Siberia, so they stuck to daylight saving time. The problem got worse when they wound the clocks back a year every spring and left them. The children went to school at 2 a.m. and the stores were open in the middle of the night. The only good thing for the comrades was that the midnight shift was mostly during the day.

Someone finally figured it out and things were fixed, although it would have fixed itself after 24 years.

Some also claim that daylight saving time boosts tourism as it encourages people to go out more. Awesome. We’ll be getting more SPLOST revenue in Glynn County as low season is finally eliminated for good.

The House has to accept it, so it’s not yet law. Additionally, President Biden was there when permanent DST was tried in the 1970s, and he saw popular support wane daily.

Hope someone sees the light.


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