by Jon Sanders
Director of the Center for Food, Power, and Life, Research Editor, John Locke Foundation
My recent column for the Foundation for Economic Education looks at Daylight Saving Time (DST). In it I discuss the negative repercussions of DST on health, the economy, the workplace, and more, and how research finds that those ill effects would not, as some seem to think, merely “go away” if the government made DST permanent.
Another aspect I highlight is that DST is a noxious form of paternalism that even requires us to use deliberately deceptive language. We are made to call it “Daylight Saving Time” as if the government heroically rescued the Fiat Lux of creation itself.:
“Daylight Saving Time” (DST) is a nonsense euphemism, as we well know that first dark morning. Daylight is a fact of nature. In imposing DST, the government hasn’t changed the sun, stars, nor the revolution of the earth that brings to us what we call daylight. Instead, the government has merely changed our reckoning of the time. The government requires us to declare the same actual time today to be an hour earlier than it was yesterday, and then we are to marvel that we have “an hour more of sunlight in the evening.” If we must persist in self-deception, the best that could be said is that they’ve “redistributed” daylight from the morning to the evening. …
The unspoken assumption behind it all is that the government is saving us from wrong choices. As the days lengthen heading into spring, we’re not enjoying them enough. We are still lying in bed as the sun is rising. If we’d wake up earlier, we could enjoy more sunlight throughout the day.
The government has determined that people who have a revealed preference for waking up and going to bed at consistent times are wrong and therefore must be corrected from persisting in their choice. If we insist on waking at, say, 6 a.m., then the government will order that 6 a.m. arrive at 5.
I believe George Orwell had it right when he wrote on how political writing was bad writing and how it conformed into “a kind of euphemism.” He was also spot-on to proceed to the observation that, “If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought,” and from there warn about how the “invasion of one’s mind by ready-made phrases … anaesthetizes a portion of one’s brain.”
To credit renaming the hours with “saving” daylight is stultifying. Nevertheless, there are even worse ways of thinking about it. I mention in the piece that there’s a bill before Congress that would make DST permanent. Look how it’s being presented.
Introduced by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) with a bipartisan list of cosponsors, the bill is called the “Sunshine Protection Act of 2023.”
Sunshine protection. As if “saving” daylight wasn’t brain-numbing enough.
Oh, but bill cosponsor Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) added even more: “With the Sunshine Protection Act, we can shine a light on the darkest days of the year and deliver more sun, more smiles, and brighter skies.”