Time change needs public input

Now, let’s see.

With the United States having shut down some sources of domestic oil, energy prices have skyrocketed.

Inflation in the United States hasn’t been this high since four decades ago.

America’s border with Mexico has become a sieve.

Whatever one thinks of America’s involvement in Afghanistan, it’s hard to admire the 2021 withdrawal. For one thing, the United States left behind tens of billions of dollars in intact military equipment, all of it now in the hands of people who – to put it mildly – don’t wish the United States well.

And American weakness has played no small part in encouraging Russia to re-engage its longstanding practice of subjugating neighboring countries.

With all of this going on, one might think the United States Senate would have urgent matters before it.

One might think that any of them would need attention. Not in a week. Not in a month. Not later this year. Not some other year. Now.

Meanwhile, one might think that other matters, particularly those whose significance hasn’t changed much – if at all – in recent years, don’t need deciding first, much less in a hurry. They can receive the careful consideration they deserve after urgent matters receive the careful consideration they deserve.

But that’s not what the United States Senate did right after the change from standard time to daylight-saving time.

Instead, it passed by unanimous consent and sent to the United States House of Representatives a bill to do what? Put the United States on daylight-saving time permanently starting in 2023.

No formal, contemporaneous gathering of public input. No serious, contemporaneous debate.

In his usual, admirable, polite way, U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, said, according to reports, “It kind of snuck up on a lot of people. It’s something we haven’t heard a lot of conversation about.”

Therein lies the first response to what the United States Senate did: Evaluating whether to be permanently on daylight-saving time requires thinking it through. That, in turn, includes contemporaneously asking for, listening to, and considering public input. That’s not hard to figure out.

The second response is that the United States switched to permanent daylight-saving time in 1974.

It didn’t last long. Why? Because it didn’t take long to realize that during however many weeks on each side of the winter solstice, daylight-saving time had serious drawbacks and, at that time of year, it was better to have an extra hour of daylight at the beginning, than at the end, of the day.

For just one example, please consider how permanent daylight-saving time affected many – not all, but many – schoolchildren: During however many weeks on each side of the winter solstice, many pupils who had gone to school in daylight during standard time suddenly found themselves going to school in the dark during daylight-saving time.

In Chautauqua County, for example, everyone knows that around the winter solstice, it gets light about 7 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. That’s about 8 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time. At the other end of the day, it gets dark about 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. That’s about 6 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.

Advocates of permanently being on daylight-saving time should convincingly explain the reasons for the change. It’s not up to anyone else to prove the negative.

While they’re at it, they might want to explain why changing from standard to daylight-saving and back to standard time each year is any harder on the body than traveling to a neighboring time zone.

Meanwhile, they can please spare us the loaded title of the “Sunshine Protection Act.” Permanent daylight-saving time doesn’t protect sunshine. It shifts it from one end of the day to the other.

Randy Elf joins those who are waiting for the convincing explanation.



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