Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Politics of Daylight Saving

In the midst of our busy lives, gaining an extra hour on the weekend with the end of daylight saving time (DST) is always a huge relief. This year, some see it as an extra hour of Halloween (yes!). On the other hand, losing an hour when saving time starts can be fairly frustrating. However, the costs and benefits of daylight saving extends beyond just gaining and losing an hour. 

On a local level, many businesses must continue to operate the extra hour, but employees are not paid for this extra time. Others say that, for some jobs like being a waiter or waitress, it is a helpful extra hour to gain tips on a busy night (Source). In addition, when it's more light out, then people are more likely to stay out and spend money. This is why many businesses support DST- more time to gain business and money. 

On the state level, fourteen state legislatures have debated bills to stop daylight saving time last year. Currently, both Arizona and Hawaii do not practice daylight saving time. Proponents of such bills argue that the time switch simply confuses the public. In addition, it can cause disconnect between different states and time zones. Most of the time, these bills are shut down by state chambers of commerce, as businesses are often helped by DST. 

People who argue for the continuation of daylight saving time, besides businesses, argue that DST reduces crime rates, since when it's light out, people are less likely to commit crimes.  Other claimed social benefits are that, when adults spend more time awake when it is light out, people are generally happier, and there are fewer car accidents. All of these contribute to economic benefits as well, since less state money is spent with lower crime rates. 

Daylight saving time was signed into federal law by Woodrow Wilson during WWI, in order to save fuel by reducing energy usage as it is light out for later under DST. However, the idea was unpopular and Congress abolished it and even managed to override Wilson's veto. DST was reintroduced during WWII and generally remained afterward as a state option. 

Is daylight saving too much of a hassle? Do you think the benefits of daylight saving time outweigh the costs? Or vice versa? Is the continuation of DST mostly due to support from businesses? 
Should implementing daylight saving time continue to be a state level decision, or should it be required under federal law to maintain consistency between states?

Don't forget to turn back your clocks tomorrow, and Happy Halloween! 

Opinion: ProCon


Sameer Jain said...

I think that daylight savings isn’t really a hassle because of how long it’s enacted. It probably was a much bigger deal during the first few years than it is now. While the original purpose of daylight savings was to conserve energy, the rise of other benefits keeps its practicality. Even though there is a negligible change in energy consumption as a result of DST, there are many other benefits that have risen as results of DST.

Still, I think that DST ought to remain as a state level decision because many of the benefits are social. Since the people vary between states, the effectiveness of DST will vary based on location. In some cases, the benefits will not outweigh the consequences of DST, and the system will end up just causing problems. Because of this variation in effectiveness, states should continue being able to choose whether or not they would like to implement DST. This state-by-state sort of policy is similar to that of speed limits within states. Each state has speed limits that the state determines are safe. Similarly, the state will determine if DST is useful for the state.

Anna Joshi said...

I agree with Sameer’s point that the effectiveness of DST will vary based on location. Although most businesses do “tend to support DST,” for some it is just a hassle. Although DST has been a state level decision, and so far has worked out nicely to a point where majority of the states end up being on the same time in their time zone, I can’t help but wonder what would happen if states began changing their policies and times on their own. This would consequently make it far more confusing if states within a time zone are scattered between daylight savings or no savings. If this were to happen, I believe that it would make sense for each time zone to decide as a whole; therefore, it would limit confusion and times would be far more uniform. Yet, since this hasn’t been a problem, and is not foreseen to be a problem, I believe that states should retain their right to decide whether they would like to participate or not since benefits do vary between states.

Meghan Hilbert said...

I agree with both Sameer and Anna that DST should be a decision made by each individual state due to the fact that there are different time zones, and that unity by time is too complicating. I don't think that DST is too much of a hassle, for what Sameer earlier stated that it has been done for so long, and there have been no obvious issues with it. Time is still time; a family will go out to dinner regardless if it is dark or light out at 7 pm. I don't think light impacts business too much, so I believe it is a weak argument to stop this time change for business unless there is legitimate statistics disproving this. As for the criminal rates going up, that could be true, but I believe before that is concluded, there should be research done to think otherwise.

Nicholas Tong1 said...

In retrospect, I see that this article very much connects with today's lesson on civil rights. Do people have a right to have the safest streets possible and commerce that is as active as possible (assuming that the studies conducted on the benefits of DST are accurate)? In other words, is the government responsible for providing its best for its people?
Below are two links to two articles that both show statistics for lowered crime rates during DTS.
With this in mind, the benefits seem to outweigh the cost in my opinion. Granted, it is a hassle to switch our clocks twice a year, but we have been doing it since World War I, since the shortage of coal. Considering the costs of implementing the DTS and the benefits, it would seem DTS is an inconvenient though practical rule for the federal government to implement for the states.