Time to knock the daylights out of ‘saving time’

Lee Pulaski
City Editor

Have you ever sat down to read, work on a puzzle, or do something that requires a lot of concentration and then realize you’ve lost all sense of time?

Well, of course you have. Even if you’re illiterate, have no idea what puzzles are and can be distracted easily by a laser pointer, you get that feeling at least twice a year thanks to the diabolical scheme known as daylight saving time. Waking up on Sunday morning and realizing your standard clocks are off by an hour while the tickers on your cellphones and computers are still reading the correct time can be discombobulating.

The origin of the idea can be traced back to 1784, proposed by Benjamin Franklin as a way to align people’s waking hours to daylight hours, and almost 2½ centuries later, the United States government and others around the world think it’s really a neat idea.

Me, not so much. There’s a quote floating around the internet, allegedly made by an “Old Indian Chief” that says that only a white man would believe you could cut from the top of blanket, sew it to the bottom of the blanket, and then that gives you a longer blanket. It rings true when you think of the stupidity of daylight saving time in this day and age.

For many, the lack of an hour’s sleep is offset by the notion that the sun will be setting an hour later than it was a few days earlier, and that means we’re in striking distance of summer. However, the practice is becoming tiresome for many others, who have been saying that the old-time practice should be abolished, either by not moving forward in March or not falling back in November.

There’s interesting caveats to each. Without springing forward, by the time the summer solstice arrives in Wisconsin, the sun would be popping through windows around 4 a.m. and would be dropping behind the hills shortly after 8 p.m. If we opt not to fall back, sunrise wouldn’t be until almost 9 a.m., but at least the sun would still be out for those who clock out at 5 p.m.

For most folks living in Wisconsin, the practice has been lifelong, right along with beer at church picnics and polka music at festivals. However, before I moved to Wisconsin, I lived in Arizona, and for more than 25 years, daylight saving time was nothing more than some goofy thing backwaters states practiced but did not affect me in the slightest.

Then I took a job at a newspaper on Arizona’s border with Utah. At that point, I actually had to take DST into account, because even though Arizona did not do it, Utah did. What’s more, the neighboring Navajo Nation, the bulk of which was in Arizona, also practiced it to be in alignment with Utah and New Mexico. That always made planning news coverage interesting during the spring, summer and bulk of fall.

When I moved to Wisconsin 12 years ago, I somehow managed to get into the groove of things, realizing clocks moved forward an hour in March and then fell back in early November, bringing forth twilight before 5 p.m. It doesn’t mean I like it, though, especially when you consider that it’s only practiced in the United States, Canada, the European Union, parts of Australia and a few others.

It’s especially annoying when you listen to the talking heads on television go on about how we’ve lost an hour in recent days, and in the fall, they’ll proclaim that you’re getting an extra hour of sleep. No, you’re not. The blanket is still the same length.

Fortunately, there are signs that the days of snipping off a part of the blanket and sticking it on the other end are numbered. Texas has introduced a pair of bills that would let voters decide whether the state, which actually exists in two different time zones, should end the practice of daylight saving time. The vote could be an interesting test to see if other states follow suit, assuming elected officials give the people the chance to chart their own destiny.

Of course, it could become a moot point if a federal bill by Sen. Marco Rubio dubbed the Sunshine Protection Act, gets through Congress. Putting the cheesy and laughable name aside, the measure did get through the U.S. Senate in 2021 with a unanimous vote but was given the brush-off in the U.S. House. The bill is being brought back again, presumably in the hopes that now that Republicans are the majority in the House, it might get some attention.

The act would mean that the recent clock change to spring forward would be the last time we’d need to fiddle with them. Daylight saving time would be year-round, which means those wonderful Independence Day fireworks would be going off around 10 p.m. still, but for the winter months, it’s going to require something other than the sun for folks to wake up in the morning.

Whether we stay ahead or behind when it comes to time, the only thing I care about is that we stop playing leapfrog with what hour of the day is. It’s time for the great government gaslighting to end and for us to realize that things will happen in their own due time, whether it’s 6 p.m. or 7 p.m.