Redistributing daylight

Daylight saving time is mistakenly credited to Benjamin Franklin, but it may still be a good idea even if it wasn’t inspired by Franklin. Nevertheless, I find the commencement of daylight saving time today annoying.

As a morning person, I am not the least bit pleased by the extension of dawn by an hour so early in the year. By the same token, do we really need to move sunset back an hour this early in March? It seemed to be coming along fine all by itself. Couldn’t we wait a few weeks, until the start of daylight saving time wouldn’t be so noticeable in the morning?

Congress didn’t think so. In 2005 it passed a mammoth new energy bill that included the controversial monthlong extension of daylight saving time under which we are now operating. National Geographic recounts the story here (it also has a handy history of daylight saving time here.

A deep theory of energy savings was the basis of the applicable provision of the 2005 bill. As of the effective date of the new regime in 2007, however, National Geographic was noting that “the move’s energy-saving potential is uncertain and is already being called into question.”

Advocates such as Massachusetts Democrat Ed Markey, who co-sponsored the bill in the House of Representatives, said the plan is about more than just saving energy. Markey actually issued a press statement proclaiming: “In addition to the benefits of energy saving, less crime, fewer traffic fatalities, more recreation time and increased economic activity, daylight saving just brings a smile to everybody’s faces.” I’m not buying it.

Redistributing daylight is the kind of zero-sum game that underlies the liberals’ vision of the world. The hour of daylight in the evening comes at the expense of the morning. At least it is in fact only a zero-sum game.

The economy is not a zero-sum game, although liberals frequently treat it as such, as though the wealth of “the rich” comes at the expense of “the poor.” When liberals succeed in acting on or imposing their vision on us, I think on balance it produces effects that are detrimental or destructive.

Markey’s press statement demonstrates a certain credulity that puts me in mind of the scientists of Laputa discovered by Gulliver in the course of his travels. They sought to extract sunlight from cucumbers. Markey and his colleagues would undoubtedly find their project worthy of taxpayer funding. The additional sunlight would bring so much happiness.

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