Time – How barbaric is DST


Having lived for 11 years in the civilized enclave that is Arizona, my first cycle back to barbarism is today. I speak of the biennial changing of the clocks.

Today is supposed to be the “good” switch, where you gain an hour. At 2:00AM the time is magically 1:00 and you get this extra hour of sleep. And you get to hear all the people at work say how they “gained an hour” over the weekend.

Balderdash, you gained nothing, because in the spring you set the clocks ahead, and lose an hour. That week you hear nothing but grumbling about the hour that they lost when the clocks switch ahead.

Of course the common misperception is that Benjamin Franklin was the father of DST, and that it was instituted to serve the farmers of our agrarian population. Again, more bollocks.

DST was first implemented by Germany in WWI to conserve fuel, the first observation of DST was May 1, 1916. Europe soon followed the lead of Germany, and the US began in 1918 with the Standard Time Act.

The standard time act did far more than start the DST wheel rolling, but it set the standard timezones the US still has today (Pacific, Mountain, Central and Eastern). The DST provision was wildly unpopular with the population, and became a local option.

It didn’t become largely mandated until 1962, when the transportation industry banded together to force the issue. The patchwork of time variations was apparently impeding their ability to schedule and operate with a modicum of predictability. Duh.

However, Arizona, part of Indiana, and Hawaii were holdouts until 2006 when Indiana fully switched, leaving Arizona and Hawaii as the last bastions of sanity in the USA.

It should be noted that the original motivation behind the establishment of timezones in the mid 1800’s in the US was the railroad industry. Prior to the creation of “zones” each city or region would tie the clock to the local noon, when the sun was at its zenith. Of course, 100 miles away, the local noon would be a few minutes different. Imagine the hell that this caused on train schedules.


In short, this is one thing that I think Arizona got right, and everybody else in the world is wrong on. The foggy memory of DST to preserve daylight hours for farmers or agriculture workers is weapons grade baloney, as is the argument that it saves fuel (proven by the before/after consumption of the sliver of Indiana that switched in 2006).

Daylight savings time just makes life miserable for the world for no net benefit. As my niece just figured out (working on her residency) that today means that her on call 24 hours is really 25 hours of on call.

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By geoffand

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November 2014

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