A daylight savings time confession

Had the idea of a government plan to shift the clocks back and forth twice and year been proposed today I am reasonably certain that I would have been against it.  I probably would have argued that it would be chaotic, inefficient and unnecessary (private firms could agree with their employees to change working hours at any time, right?).  Central planning of time!  Washington bureaucracy messing with the clocks!  Get your government hands off my time!  

And yet, it works and I like it.  It is good to be reminded of this twice a year.


What about the additional traffic deaths that result? Are you gonna tell little Johnny that his dad died because you "like it" this way?

gc, little johnny wasn't born, because his dad died before he would have been conceived.

Wow! that's an interesting insight! it's true that it wouldn't work as a reform policy these days:)))

It may reduce traffic deaths overall, but it redistributes them from morning to evening in the fall, and from evening to morning in the Spring. So, the point is not moot. Old people and little people tend to get hit with this particular time change. When we crunched the numbers a few years back and got some press on it, people came out of the woodwork to tell us what a bunch of know-it-all jerks we were.

I applauded the fall time shift til after Halloween each year, which seemed like a very wise move.

I remember reading an old screed against the communism when I was a young boy which noted with horror that the power of the Soviet dictators was so absolute that they could even declare that the sun was not at its peak at noon, and the people sheepishly believed them.

I took me a little while to realize they were talking about daylight savings time.

I must admit that I hate DST worse in theory than I do in practice. I still don't like it even in practice, though.

Don't know anything about the traffic deaths, but I have also seen that the latest studies find the supposed energy savings are nonexistant. As far as Halloween goes, since kids don't go out trick or treating until it gets dark, isn't the main effect that almost everything gets put back an hour so it mostly results in everybody being out an hour later (which seems a slightly bad result to me).

It would really have helped Alex's post here if he had said what he means by 'it works'. Maybe the moral of the story is that even intelligent people who are on the alert for inefficent government policies will become comfortable with such a policy when it is has been in place their whole life and not want to undo it. It is good to be reminded of this twice a year.

You actually like it? I find it an enormous pain in the neck.

Is it a federal law to follow DST or only to follow the dates in the law if it is observed? Hawaii and Arizona don't observe it.

Nice going, Alex. You really called out the loonies on this one.

"Is it a federal law to follow DST or only to follow the dates in the law if it is observed? Hawaii and Arizona don't observe it."

Whether to follow it is up to the states. For a long time, most of Indiana was on eastern time without DST (the rest was partly on central time with DST and partly on eastern time with DST. We changed some three-plus years back, and it's still a fairly hot topic here.

Whatever the merits of DST in general, it's a major pain to live in part of a state that doesn't observe DST while the rest of your state and all but two others do observe it. Many missed appointments in neighboring states and counties.


Would you have been in favor of a massive popular campaign to shift the "standard" workday to 8-4 local time?

The point of this post is that Alex is admitting that his biases are so strong that they would lead him to oppose things he might actually enjoy. This takes a lot of humility and self-reflection to admit. DST is merely the example, not the point. Yet, many of the readers seem intent on making DST itself the point of the post. More than anything, the condemnations of DST say to me that the poster lacks Alex's ability to admit they too hold such biases. It seems like an attempt to validate the biases rather than admit they might exist.

All these people acting like someone must be the DUMBEST PERSON EVER because they enjoy things like jogging after work or the ability to eat dinner outside on their patio under natural light. All this so that they can avoid admitting how their ideological biases contradict the preferences of many normal and rational people.

I applaud Alex for admitting this bias and sigh over the fact that so many people have focused on the example used rather than the idea expressed.

Oh sure, you like it. But some of us only get a 23 hour birthday.

It's cheaper than an energy tax....

My wife refuses to adjust the clock in our car - there it's always summer.

If they were introduced today, I would never approve of the income tax, wars, the pledge of allegiance, drug prohibition, the US postal service, copyright, big hair, shoulder pads, knitted skullcaps, fluoridation, price controls, DST, US imperialism, the Bilderbergers, or human sacrifice. But, having grown up with them, I have come to be fond of each of them. As an otherwise staunch libertarian, it is good to be reminded of this every once in a while.

It is "chaotic, inefficient and unnecessary" when they mess with it, as they did several years ago. Millions of man-hours were wasted confirming meeting times because not everyone's scheduling software was compliant. Hotel clocks were wrong. I had to spend a an entire day updating servers to make sure they knew about the changes - time I could have spent doing something useful.

Politicians thought it was great - "You mean all I have to do is sign this paper and everyone will save energy and money? They're gonna love me!"

The only question is whether we will have fewer of these disruptions in the future by going off the system completely (1 more disruption) or staying on it (unknown number more).

Here's what Jeff Hummel, economic historian, said about DST last fall at the Liberty & Power blog: http://hnn.us/blogs/comments/119234.html

Hummel made the point that, like so many interventions into the marketplace by government, DST was originally viewed as a war measure.

Technically, it's "Daylight Saving Time", not "Daylight Savings Time".

The public school system? I myself blame the communists for tilting the earth on its axis. Especially Einstein.

Seriously though, is opposition to DST part of some libertarian creed? Did Ayn Rand condemn it as the devil's work?

"Didn't WW I end?"
And interstate highways were built to make cold war troop and weapons movements more efficient. That is over, but they are quite useful so we keep them. The vast majority of people like DST, so we keep it.

Having timezones means that clock noon and local noon are different in most locations anyway. For GMT for example they only coincide on the 0° meridian. All DST means is that they are different at all locations.

It would have been fine, by the way, except for the fact we had to get up at a specific time. It occurred to me somewhat as an afterthought that that is kind of the reason we have clocks. I'm not even a fan of everyone being anywhere at the same time. Senseless coordination is inefficient.

Let's reduce congestion. Set all our clocks by 10 minute increments by the last digit of our Social Security numbers.

Why I hate DST:

- First, I pay almost no attention to the actual date of this change, so I am prone to missing apointements because of it.
- Second, I forget to change the clock in the car, which then always gives me the wrong time (it is also a hassle to change).
- Third, it is no big deal to gain an hour of sleep, but it is bad to lose one!

It's almost an arbitary measure of change! Why an hour, why not 45 min? Why this date not a few days later?
It also disrupts sleep patterns of millions of people. I'd like to see whether there is an effect there or not and if yes, then whether it is positive or negative.

Personally I hate DST, but it had never occurred to me that it was a government policy. I'd probably fully support a government program to set 9AM to be local dusk. (And yes, I'm pretty serious about that. Left to my own devices, I'd rather wake up at dusk and go to bed around dawn--nothing quite so nice as drifting off to sleep listing to birds chirp outside your window).

Any other confessions?
Is there anything else you don't like because of knee-jerk libertarianism that might might actually be a good idea?

I say we all move to GMT, as well as the option of specifying times at +- sunrise, sunset, noon, and midnight. With a location (GPS) enabled time pieces, this should not be any technical issue.

Thus you can set your breakfast meeting for 1h post sunrise for the meeting location, or set a video conference by GMT.

Makes sense for me.

Anything has to be better than congress deciding to move the day 3 weeks. Having to patch every computer on the planet (well, at least in the USA, everyone else will get the patch though), and it makes coordinating things with overseas really annoying for three weeks (I am supposed to overlap with overseas for turnover, but three weeks a year, that means OT, like it or not).

My twin 1 year old daughters hate Daylight Saving Time, therefore, I must as well...

For the record, I don't hate DST because it is a government thing. I hate it because it is asinine. There is only one time, now. Everything else is some non-reality construct. I hate that. That the government is involved is just a special bonus.

governments don't need to impose time zones. people have an interest in syncing up with each other and don't need to be coerced to do so.

daylight savings time - lets just put it to a vote and dump it if people don't want to keep doing it. And, no, I don't mean a vote by politicians.

"Daylight Saving Time is like cutting the end off of a blanket and sewing it back on to the other end to make a longer blanket."

Alex in 20 years:

"Had the idea of a government plan [to reform health insurance] been proposed today I am reasonably certain that I would have been against it....

And yet, it works and I like it. It is good to be reminded of this [now that I need health care]."

It works, but I hate it. And speaking as an IT professional I have to remind you that it has enormous hidden costs.

"My wife refuses to adjust the clock in our car - there it's always summer."

For some reason I always thought dearieme was female.

The US military tries to use Greenwich Mean Time (called by them "Zulu time") for everything, though in my experience with the army most of the time local is used (often specified "local"). This is probably because the army just doesn't do that much that requires coordination across time zones, but does interact quite a bit with people using the local time. The situation might be different with the other two services.

Time zones weren't invented by the governments, they were invented by the railroads!

OK. Different bureaucrats.

And, but per Wikipedia at least, they were poorly coordinated and confusing.

The confusion of times came to an end when Standard zone time was formally adopted by the U.S. Congress on March 19, 1918, in the Standard Time Act.

I don't mind DST too much, but the change days irritate me by reminding me how many damn clocks I have

Too late for anyone to notice, but may I just say to Bernard Yomtov,


...Time is necessarily artificial, and defined top-down. Daylight Saving Time simply ensures a more useful artificial time is used, and not a less useful one.

Aaron, I think you're failing to account for latitude. In Indiana, I'm guessing the days are an hour or so shorter in winter and longer in summer than they are in Georgia. Therefore, in Indiana, DST would be MORE useful. Assuming (and this is a big assumption) people won't adjust their nominal schedules, then in northern latitudes, you end up with a bunch of useless sunlight before the workday starts.

As a Michigander, I can sometimes even get in 18 holes after work in the summer. No way I could do that without DST or changing my nominal work schedule.

Also, in Georgia or Indiana, I'm sure school children can both go to and from school in the light if the times are scheduled right. The shortest days in northern Indiana are probably between 9 and 10 hours. That's longer than kids are in school.

The problem isn't that the numbers on our clocks change twice a year. It's that we let those numbers dictate when we get up and go to bed.

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Was honored to see such a good article!

Technically, it's "Daylight Saving Time", not "Daylight Savings Time".

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