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LOCAL TAKE: Do we need daylight saving time?

Ah, the twice-yearly ritual of springing clocks forward an hour in spring and back in fall. Thankfully most computers and phones have taken over the task, but there’s still that pesky stove clock. Now, how does that work? Then there’s my watch. Oh, you say no one has a watch anymore?

Well, the Oregon Legislature is studying a bill (SB99) that would ask voters if they want to end this ritual, one that has been practiced in the U.S. Since 1918. That was 97 years ago —and back then it supposedly benefited farmers who, as we all know, love to make hay while the sun shines and need daylight saving time (DST) to do it. So, they reasoned, get Congress to give us more sun! 

Today, most farms are corporate and they have big headlights on tractors and all kinds of other technologies to get it done, rain or shine, night or day. States have the right to opt out of DST and two states, Arizona and Hawaii have done just that. 

Washington is trying to do it — and like other big changes, all it takes is for three or four states to do it and you get a cascade effect: everyone does it. After all, you can have a patchwork of states on/off DST. That would be chaotic for the airlines, just for a start.

One legislator in Washington favors year-round DST because statistics show there are more heart attacks, car wrecks and job accidents when people are thrown off kilter by the coming and going of DST. Some say it saves energy because the sun is shining in the early hours of evenings in spring and summer. 

We asked Ashlanders: “How do you feel about daylight saving time? Should we keep switching back and forth or set in permanently for 'normal' Pacific Standard Time?"

Alan Triplett — I like it to be as light as possible in the evenings. We need light for school children, so they have more time outside. I like light in the evenings so I can be out in the yard gardening, raising spring vegetables, like greens and root crops and playing with my dog, and also riding my mountain bike. I ride it everywhere, only using my car, which I do only when it rains a lot, like today. I wussed out today and drove.

Adam Hogan — I have no problem with daylight time. As a society, we used to have concerns about agriculture, back when lots more people practiced farming. I don’t see daylight time as essential now. It doesn’t change much if we forego it. All our clocks are digital now and we don’t have to change them. It doesn’t bother me to lose or gain an hour. It doesn’t matter to me about light in the evening. I work most evenings and it’s inside.

Suzannah Massey — I say keep it steady on the same time all year. It takes me four to six months to get used to the time rhythm and then they change it. It’s odd all of a sudden to wake and the sun is not up yet. I was just used to the sun being up when I was. I felt thrown off when it changed. I have kids and we were in a good rhythm with bedtime at nine. We felt naturally tired and now they’re not tired until 10. You have to force yourself to think you might be tired. Savings time was for farmers to get more light but they don’t need it now. Most people feel thrown off by it. Farmers now wake up when they want and don’t look at the clock anyway.

Harry Thompson — I think it’s a terrible idea to have one time, all the time. In summer, with standard time, it would get light so early and those hours would be useless. We’re not a farm-based economy anymore. No one gets up that early. I enjoy later days and lots of people do. I enjoy being out. I tend to be up late so I like long days. I can hike and go to the beach. It’s not a big deal, the effect on me. With standard time in the summer it gets light at four in the morning, too early.

John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.

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