The Scarlet and Black Online


Volume 119, Number 15 | January 31, 2003

Daylight-savings time is a joke (literally)

carly schuna

carly's column of conspiracy

A few weeks ago (on the last Sunday in October, specifically), we in the United States all turned our clocks one hour back, because it was the end of this year’s daylight-saving time. For government officials, that time meant something special about saving energy. For the average person, that time meant an extra hour of sleep.

It’s probably not necessary for me to convince the average person that daylight-saving time is a conspiracy. After all, its logic is royally screwed - where’s the rationale behind turning clocks forward one hour in April, only to turn them back an hour in October? Sounds like something thought up by the same people that elected Jesse Ventura four years ago.

Surprisingly enough, daylight-saving time was thought up by Benjamin Franklin, not drunken voters. According to http://webexhibits.org/daylightsaving/, it seems that one day Benjy got bored and wrote a little something called An Economical Project. It was an essay mostly about “himself, his love of thrift, his scientific papers and his passion for playing chess until the wee hours of the morning then sleeping until midday,” and it was meant to be a joke.

However, an Englishman named William Willett (how can you take someone with that name seriously? Come on!) was apparently too dense to realize that Franklin was joking. Therefore, he thought it would be a novel idea to set clocks back for 20 minutes on each Sunday in April, and then turn them back on the Sundays in September. Eventually, daylight-saving time came to be as we now know it.

I don’t understand the purpose of this mysterious daylight-saving time. Why do we turn out clocks forward only to put them back again? Seems like a conspiracy to me. The website argues that, “Americans like daylight-saving Time because ‘there is more light in the evenings/can do more in the evenings.’”

Please tell me if I missed something, but what exactly is so special that you can do in the daylight that you can’t do when it’s dark outside? I find that things such as throwing Frisbees are much more fun to do in the dark anyway.

Lastly, it turns out that apparently the combination of daylight-saving Time and our government has really screwed things up in the past. For example, in 1973, there was an Arab-Israeli war going on, and gas prices in the United States were skyrocketing because of an oil embargo. Now. If you were a government official, how would you solve this problem?

That’s right! daylight-saving time, of COURSE! The daylight-saving time information website says that “Congress put most of the nation on extended daylight-saving time for two years in hopes of saving additional energy.”

Does this seem strange to anyone besides me? I find it just a little odd that the best solution Congress could come up with for solving an extreme gas shortage due to an Arab-Israeli war was daylight-saving time.

The U.S. Department of Transportation also decided to meddle with daylight-saving time. Apparently they are the ones with jurisdiction over the whole process, which makes complete logical sense because daylight saving and transportation go together ... oh wait, it doesn’t make any sense at all.

Anyway, the Department of Transportation decided to conduct two studies in 1974 and 1975, so in ‘74 daylight-saving Time lasted for ten months instead of the normal six, and in ‘75 it lasted for eight. The results of these studies? Daylight Saving Time “prevents crime and traffic injuries” and “saves lives” because “daylight is much safer than darkness.”

There you have it, folks. Daylight-saving time—it could save your life.