Who keeps messing with my clocks?

Bob McKee

Daylight Savings Time is supposed to come to a close this weekend, 2 a.m., Sunday to be precise. Most people, including the ones in this household, change the time on their clocks before going to bed Saturday night.

My days of being up until 2 a.m. are long gone. I may be up for a sleep-interrupting, bladder-enforced trip to the bathroom but I’m sure not going to stay up and go through the frustrating process of changing the time either an hour ahead or an hour back on a bunch of digital clocks. My brain doesn’t work that way at 2 a.m. 

That usually doesn’t happen until the next morning at a decent hour and only after at least two cups of coffee. Sometimes that doesn’t  help. Changing the clocks is a different process in every room of this house that has a clock. It is my good fortune that the clock on the television set, the thermostat and cell phones automatically update themselves every spring and fall.

So who are the people that keep messing with the clocks? They are the same people who are responsible for most of our misery, of course: the men and women we elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate who have a well-founded reputation for messing around with everything. Somehow a few years ago they snuck in four more weeks of daylight savings time without anyone knowing it.

Well, I didn’t know it.

The extended daylight savings time became effective in 2007, a result of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. I thought then that the day we turned the clocks ahead came earlier and the day we turned them back came later than usual. But I didn’t think too much about it. I normally keep close tabs on both Houses of Congress and any action they take that might somehow affect me.

But I missed the legislation that extended daylight savings time. Maybe that was the year I spent more time than usual at the corner soda fountain and failed to follow the outside news as closely as I should have. At times that year, Congress could have slipped anything past me. And apparently they did.

Now daylight savings time is from the second Sunday in March until the first Sunday in November, some three-fourths of the year. I still remember the olden days when daylight savings time was in effect only for the months Benjamin Franklin intended it to be; basically May, June, July, August and September. No, I don’t remember Ben, but I appreciated what he tried to do even though I never met the man.

Daylight savings time became the official policy of the United States during World War I in an effort to save energy for war production. It went away after that war, but was reintroduced in World War II for the same purpose. After that war, Congress left it up to the individual states whether or not to implement daylight savings time during the summer.

As usual, Congress was unable to keep its nose out of state business and in 1966 passed the Uniform Time Act. Somehow, though, Congress allowed states and territories to opt out. Arizona and Indiana, as well as Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and America Samoa did. All but Indiana, which fell into the fold in 2006, still don’t change their clocks twice a year like the rest of us are forced to do.

Incidentally, Indian reservations in Arizona can adopt daylight savings time if they choose. Hawaii and the rest have enough sunshine as it is and obviously don’t need or want another hour of it.

By giving us four more weeks of daylight savings time, The Energy Policy Act of 2005 will save 10,000 barrels of oil a day, say our esteemed legislators. The logic is that we won’t turn on the lights as early in the evening now, taking advantage of that additional hour of daylight to stumble around in our homes.

I see one flaw in that argument: It was still dark when I got up this morning to write this column. Instead of feeling my way around in the darkness, I chose to turn on the lights, which use energy, to see how to turn on the computer, which also uses energy. But first, I made coffee, which used energy to brew and more energy to keep hot. 

I will believe I’m saving energy when the next bill from Crawford Electric Cooperative arrives.