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Thursday, March 17, 2022

On permanent Daylight Savings Time

It is said that the fact that a law has bipartisan support proves it is a bad idea--if everyone agrees, there must be something wrong with it. I would add the same about any law that Marco Rubio proposes or supports.

Case in point is response to the bill--introduced by Rubio and passed in the Senate by unanimous consent--making Daylight Savings Time permanent. . Josh Barro takes down the idea (including a list of when sunrise might occur in major cities), which also was discussed on NPR's 1A. I have learned a few things.

    • As usual, bad understanding of public opinion has been used to support the law. Supporters insist an overwhelming majority wants the change. But what a majority wants is an end to twice-yearly time changes. There is no majority supporting permanent Daylight Savings as opposed to permanent Standard (I prefer the latter).

    • We tried this as a two-year experiment in winter 1974 (I do not remember it--I was 5); everyone hated it so much that Congress repealed the law that summer. Science supports permanent Standard time if anything--it is better for sleep cycles and energy levels to have light when waking up and starting the day than having light at the end of the day.

     • Some observant Jews are unhappy because it makes it difficult to attend morning prayers in synagogue before going to work or school in places where sunrise might be as late as 9 a.m. (although their bosses will be happy because they can work later on Fridays year-round, as Shabbat begins later).

Of course, the Senate did not debate any of this.

I cannot find the link, but one argument in favor of this change finds support in the habits of the pandemic experience. While working/schooling from home, people woke up later and went outside in the mid-to-late afternoon. Permanent DST conforms to those habits--no need for light at 7 a.m. if people are sleeping to 8 or 9, more need for light at 5 p.m. if that is when people venture out. Perhaps. But if the goal is to return to "normal" (i.e., pre-pandemic) life the disconnect between how we live and the light returns. My kid is back to  school at 8, which means leaving the house at 7, which means waking up at 6--all in the dark.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on March 17, 2022 at 10:11 AM in Culture, Howard Wasserman | Permalink


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