The Hellish Idiocy of Permanent DST
There are few significant bills that make it through the Senate these days, let alone with bipartisan support. Yet they unanimously passed the misleadingly and obnoxiously named “Sunshine Protection Act” this month. This bill, if it passes the House and is signed by the president, would make daylight saving time permanent. My first reaction was simply to think that this was a stupid decision, because standard time is obviously superior to daylight saving time, and more sensible, which is why it is called standard. My second reaction, after I’d calmed down, was to think that at least there would be consistency and no idiotic twice-yearly time changes. My third reaction, after having some time to really think about it, was to be absolutely enraged at the utter stupidity of Congress, of our political decision makers in general, and abject horror of the nightmare reality that they are planning to inflict on our country.
Daylight saving time is an anachronistic relic. It’s always been stupid, and has at this point become just another quirk of American stupidity that we’ve gotten used to. The arguments for having it at all, let alone expanding it, are stupid. It does not significantly lower energy usage or crime rates, or increase production. Those are stupid arguments. It does, however, lead to mental and physical health difficulties. People suffer and even die every year because of the time change. While making dst permanent may help that specific problem, it will do nothing to alleviate, and will in fact worsen, the mental health impacts of the unhealthy sleep schedules of many Americans. As a species, like most species, we evolved to rise with the sun and go to sleep not long after it sets. Going to bed hours after sundown is one thing, but waking hours before sunset is scientifically shown to be detrimental to our mental, emotional, and physical health.
If daylight saving time is made permanent year-round, there will be mornings when the sun doesn’t rise until almost 9am. I have to be at work at 8am, meaning that I have to get up at 6am to take my dog out, exercise, and get ready for the day. It is bad enough having to do this morning routine when there’s not a trace of sunlight until 7am or later. It will be a nightmare under the new imposition. We’ll still be in darkness when I have to be biking to work.
But I know you don’t care about me and my problems. But won’t somebody please think of the children?
You know why I have to be at work at 8am? Because I work at a school.
You know what institutions open at 8am nationwide? Schools!
Millions of children are going to have to go to school in darkness. Apart from the impact this will have on their mental health and the risk of turning them into intolerably maladapted sleep deprived mutants, there are dangers in having those children commute to their schools in the predawn darkness. Congress is just begging for children to get lost, kidnapped, and hit in traffic accidents because all the harried drivers rushing to work won’t see them in the dark.
Also, parents, I don’t usually have something to relate to you on, but for those of you who drive your kids to school before going to work, do you really want to be making that commute in the fucking dark?
We shouldn’t be so tied to clocks to begin with. Why should I have to go to work at 8am year-round? Why should anyone be bound to a typical 9–5 schedule? Rather than structuring our lives around work and clocks and arbitrary numbers, our schedules should be determined by the rising and setting of the sun.
If this bill is made law, some things are going to need to change. Mine and other offices will simply have to open later during the winter. Or employers will have to accept that I and millions of others will damn well not be arriving to work at the ungodly hour when they’re expecting us. Or my state and others will need to pass laws to permanently preserve standard time within their borders.
If no solution is allowed, then it may be time to move again. I might have to go to Hawaii or Arizona, the only states in the union with enough goddamn sense to already be on permanent standard time. I have an obvious preference between the two. Or perhaps I’ll leave the sinking inferno warship that is the United States entirely, and move to a country unplagued by such idiocy. Somewhere near the equator, so that not only will I not have to suffer through daylight saving time (which, by the way, most countries in the world don’t observe, because they’re not fucking stupid), there will be less dramatic shifts of sunrise and sunset times throughout the year. That is the true, beautiful consistency that I’m really after.