A Bipartisan Idea: Keep Daylight Savings Time All Year Round

It’s turn-the-clock-forward day again, the annual ritual when Americans lose an hour of sleep for no good reason at all.

Contrary to popular belief, Daylight Savings Time does nothing to help farmers and was not enacted on their behalf. It was started in World War I in order to conserve energy and candle wax for the war effort–and while it may have had an impact then, the energy savings from the practice today are negligible to nonexistent. In fact, the practice may even cost energy. It also does real damage to people and to society: strokes and related problems increase immediately after the change to daylight savings time. Fatal car crashes increase. When the clocks flip back leaving people in darkness, incidents of suicide and depression increase. It’s all-around terrible.

Since people generally prefer longer days and hate getting off work when it’s already dark, the best solution would be to simply keep daylight savings time all year round, rather than get rid of it.

So why don’t we? Sheer inertia. Legislators don’t want to risk upsetting constituents when they feel there are bigger problems to solve. Everyone in office wants to put their stamp on something bigger. Even Hillary Clinton, a famously obsessive policy wonk, had never even considered the idea when asked about it on the campaign trail–but she seemed open to it. It’s just not on most legislators’ collective radars.

But at a time when partisan rancor has never been stronger and every issue falls along ideological lines, fixing Daylight Savings Time should be a bipartisan no-brainer. Americans hate the ritual of setting the clocks back and forth, and there’s no reason that Democrats and Republicans shouldn’t be able to agree on fixing it. It would make us saner, happier, healthier, longer-lived and more productive with no externalized costs, taxes or deficits. I would even be willing to praise Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump for getting it done if they decided to take it up.

Somebody just introduce the bill and get the ball rolling already.

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David Atkins

David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.