Gimme Back My Hour!

IMG_0007 (2)aIt’s been a week now, and the government still has not returned the hour it stole from us on March 9.

They call it daylight saving time. Like all wonderful government institutions — from the IRS to the TSA — it goes by an acronym. It’s “DST.”

It’s a “savings” in the way that government spending is an “investment.” Each spring they steal an hour of our life. They return it — without interest — in the fall after everyone has finally gotten accustomed to its absence so that everyone can then try to get reaccustomed to its presence.

Since when does the government get to decide what time it is? Isn’t this just the government jerking our chains?

As always, they deny it. They say it’s for our own good — just like the mandates of Obamacare, the ban on big sodas and Aspen’s monstrosity of an art museum.

Here’s their do-good rationale: It’s supposed to save energy. Benjamin Franklin suggested the idea (tongue-in-cheek, most historians think) as a way to burn fewer candles by shifting the daylight hours into the evening when people are awake and away from the early morning when they are still sleeping. These days, the rationale goes, it lets us burn less electricity for light bulbs in the evening just as it would have let Franklin burn fewer candles.

Don’t believe it. What Franklin didn’t consider, understandably, was the advent of air conditioning. Studies now show that whatever savings result from burning fewer light bulbs in the evening are more than offset by running additional air conditioners. It’s hotter, you see, when the sun is up.

That’s not all. Other studies published in Scientific American, National Geographic, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and various peer-reviewed medical and scientific journals show that the transition to and from DST is associated with:

• Higher suicide rates.

• Lower productivity.

• More “cyber-loafing.”

• More traffic accidents.

• More traffic fatalities.

• More illness, including the mental kind.

• More gasoline consumption.

• More heart attacks.

• Worse milk production from dairy cows that are confused by the rescheduling of milking time.

• Less exercise.

• And, worst of all, more golf.

In fact, DST was first implemented by “President” Woodrow Wilson, who candidly admitted that he liked more daylight in the evening for his favorite “sport” of golf. (No, golf is not a real sport, Wilson was not a real president, and real presidents like Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt didn’t play golf or monkey with the clocks, OK?).

Predictably, those who defend DST, despite the evidence, tend to be part of the government that imposes it on us.

So the answer to my question is yes. Yes, this is indeed the government jerking our chains. It reminds me of a certain pretentious resort full of little jack-booted, social-engineering government totalitarians where they regulate everything from the length of a dog leash to the menu of a restaurant, all in the name of tolerance and diversity, and at noon each day they wake you with the fire-station horn just to remind you that they’re the boss.

Except that between March and October they screw with the clocks in the middle of the night and then blow the noon boss-horn when it’s really only 11 a.m. — just to remind you that they not only are the boss but that they also get to choose how and when to remind you that they are.

Real citizens — real men and real women — would not let the government change the time of day. We would say, “Let’s meet at the bar around 11 p.m., real time, and drink, drink, drink till closing.” And when the bar wanted to close at 2 a.m., government time, when it’s only 1 a.m., real time, we’d refuse to leave and we’d make them put us all in jail, where we’d puke all over everything until they freed the hour that they’d clock-napped.

Then we’d go home to bed and sleep till their noon boss-horn awakens us at 11 a.m., and then we’d go down to the fire station and demolish the infernal thing (along with the “fire museum” that they spent $5 million of our money on).

But we don’t do that. Because long ago we made government our nanny. The nanny told us to go to sleep. So we went to sleep. And in our sleep the nanny did, and does, unspeakable things to us.

Maybe it’s time to wake up.

(Published in The Aspen Times on March 16 at http://www.aspentimes.com/opinion/10596380-113/government-real-hour-boss)

(Sketch by “Caroline” of Vancouver BC)

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