Okay, it’s time to get serious about this whole Daylight Saving Time thing.
I can practically hear my readers now: “No, not that! Please, Mark – don’t get serious!” Well, it has to be. Every year I’m allowed five serious columns before they start docking my pay, and I can’t bank them year to year.
Many people in Indiana are still not interested in observing DST. That makes sense, if you understand Indiana – it’s not that we’re backward, it’s that Hoosiers have always preferred not to spring forward or fall back – we like to just stay where we are.
The people against it? Farmers, who don’t enjoy the sunlight so much as they work until it disappears, and drive-in movie owners, who believe (probably rightly) that people will think twice about going to the movies if they know they’re going to be up until 2 a.m. Also against DST are conservative people (I’m talking personalities, not politics) who just don’t see any reason to change, especially if it means resetting three dozen clocks and electronic devices every year. All of these people raise good points.
But for better or for worse, DST is now set – or so we thought. It’s coming, that we know, ending Indiana’s position as one of three states that don’t change our clocks. But, in the tradition of bureaucracies everywhere, our government has decided it won’t be as easy as all that.
Maybe because I’m from eastern Indiana, I had just assumed we would go on Eastern time, which means the sun would set an hour later during the summer. To me that just made sense: having the sun set at 10 p.m., instead of rising at 5 a.m., would allow us to enjoy it, not to mention save energy costs in the way of lighting. (Estimates are we could save 1% of our electricity, which is a lot of juice.) I thought that made perfect sense, which is maybe why it’s starting to look unlikely.
If we go to central time, the summertime sun will still come up before the roosters, and set at about suppertime. The difference will be in the winter, when the sun won’t set at suppertime – more like lunchtime. It would completely erase the psychological and energy consumption advantages that were the reason I supported DST for in the first place. Who would want that?
Big Business, that’s who. The theory is that the economic center Indiana is closest to – Chicago – is on Central Time, so we should be, too. Not only that, but we’ve since discovered that individual counties theoretically are the ones who will decide in what time zone they’ll be in.
Well, that was one of the problems they wanted to solve to begin with. 77 of our 92 counties were on Eastern Time, and two of them have always been on DST. The rest, in two different groups, have been on Central Time, and use both standard and DST. You could drive 20 miles and meet yourself going the other way. The government could, in theory, leave some or all of those areas on either time even after DST time goes into effect, the results being that our state will still be split and my head will explode.
Look, Big Business is not such a bad thing as we small fry would like to think. Many small businesses would like to be big businesses, someday. They employ people, they pump money into the economy, and they give us some great commercials during the Super Bowl. But that doesn’t mean they have to get everything they want. The problem when we didn’t follow DST was NOT that we were on a different time from Chicago half the year – it was the confusion caused by Indiana not being on the same RELATIVE time all year long. Going to DST time would solve that problem, by leaving us on the same time compared to surrounding states at all time, regardless of whether we follow Eastern or Central. Therefore, the argument for going to Central Time is bogus.
(I always wanted to use “therefore” and “bugus” in the same sentence.)
Listen to me, whoever may end up making the final decision, and use common sense: Put us on Eastern Time. Look at the map, for crying out loud – three of the four states surrounding us are on Eastern. If we go on Central we’ll make a bulge such as hasn’t been seen since Oprah went on a diet.
At a time when this country desperately needs to go on an energy diet, going on Central Time would be like shooting ourselves in the foot with a big ol’ electric gun. There’s also some evidence that keeping our towns lit up later in the evening cuts down on crime, at least a little. Crooks like darkness, but they also tend to sleep late, so sunlight in the early morning doesn’t help.
As for big business, they’re not run by dummies, usually. As long as we’re always on the same time, they’ll know whether that time is the same as them or an hour later.
I’m just a humor columnist. Any fool with a keyboard can write a column, and many of us do. But I’m also something much greater, much more important to anyone who is elected into office or who keeps the governments wheels turning: I’m a citizen. Please, Powers That Be, if we’re going to change anyway, do what’s best for the citizens: Put us on Eastern Time. I’ll keep going to the drive-in, I promise.