Sunday, March 9, 2008
Willy Willet (1856-1915)
We can blame William Willet for taking away an hour of our weekend every year. He "invented" daylight savings time in 1907. I use the term invented loosely because the concept can be dated back to ancient civilizations. Even Ben Franklin was an advocate for it in some form...his theory was that if you just wake up a little earlier, people could economize on candles. You know that "Early to bed, early to rise" nonsense, that was him. Willet's intentions behind DST was to increase opportunity for outdoor leisure time. Other advocates say that it reduces energy use, but this is debatable because recent studies have shown no change in energy use in California, Australia and Japan. Sure you might use less at night but those early birds are turning on every lamp that they can find.
It took Willet 10 years and one world war to get his idea into action. During WWI DST was promoted in England, as a way to alleviate hardships from wartime coal shortages and air raid blackouts. In the US, objections to it came to an end when we entered the World War in 1917, and by 1918 the system was implemented. Sadly that was three short years after William's death.
Farmers have been against DST since its implementation because grain harvesting is best done after dew evaporates, so when field hands arrive and leave earlier in summer their labor is less valuable. But who cares about farmers when more people are out spending MONEY!!! Some people say we should extend DST into November so it is safer on the streets for Halloween trick-or-treaters, but then there would be less time to throw eggs and toilet paper houses. It's a coin toss in my opinion.
My biggest problem with DST is the time the clocks change. We LOSE an hour of our weekend. Sure you can say we gain that hour right back in six months, but that doesn't help me now in March. And in October it changes back at 2 am, I miss out on it completely because of sleep. My proposal is to have the clocks change on Mondays at 1:30 pm. This way if it jumps forward all you're missing out on is an hour of work, not precious sleep. And for those times when the clock turns back, it just increases my lunchtime by an hour. Great news, maybe I'll go spend some money in that extra hour and stimulate this economy. It's a win/win in my opinion.
INTERESTING FACT: Arizona has not observed DST since 1967.