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Just another waste of time

There are ideas whose time has come. Then there are ideas that are ahead of their time. And lastly, there are ideas that should have been implemented a long time ago. Doing away with the twice-yearly time change is one of the latter — but that doesn't mean Oregon should go it alone.

Two bills before the Oregon Senate would do away with Daylight Saving Time. One would ask voters in the 2016 election whether to ditch the practice of resetting clocks in spring and fall, but delay the change until 2022 to give everyone plenty of time to prepare. The other bill would eliminate daylight saving almost immediately.

Both ideas are bad ones, but not because we love changing our clocks and want to keep on doing it forever. There are good arguments for ending the practice, but only if the entire country — or at least the entire Pacific time zone — did it at the same time. Otherwise, chaos would ensue.

Daylight Saving Time, which is really daylight shifting time, involves moving clocks ahead one hour in the spring, meaning it gets light an hour later in the morning and stays light an hour later in the evening. The reasoning is that this saves energy because people don't turn on lights as early at night.

The idea originated with Benjamin Franklin — who proposed it as a joke. While living in Paris, a city renowned for its nightlife, Franklin wrote an essay describing how he arose far earlier than usual one morning and was astonished to find the sun streaming in his window. What a waste of daylight, he argued, in a city whose residents routinely slept until noon.

Little did he know the idea would one day be taken seriously. Germany was the first country to do it, to save fuel during World War I. 

Modern-day studies have indicated the practice doesn't really save energy, and can actually use more in warm climates because of increased use of air conditioners.

One of the bills' sponsors says she would favor switching Oregon to the Mountain Time Zone to take advantage of an hour of daylight later in the evening. So why not just remain on daylight time all year long?

That has been suggested by many, and makes some sense — but again, only if every state in the country made the change at the same time.