Cow Clocks and Cannons at Dawn: What time is it anyway?

Sunday is Spring Forward Day and the fight over Daylight Saving Time (DST) continues to rage. Contrary to popular belief, DST was not invented by Ben “early to bed, early to rise” Franklin, though Franklin did extoll the benefits of adjusting sleep schedules in a satirical essay claiming Parisians could save a boat-load of money if they just got their lazy butts out of bed earlier, thus replacing expensive candle power with free morning sunlight. In fact, Franklin jokingly proposed taxing window shutters, rationing candle sales, and firing cannons at dawn to get the “sluggards” out of bed. Another common misperception pegs farmers as DST proponents, but in fact farmers led the charge to get DST repealed in the US in 1919, over Woodrow Wilson’s veto. The farmers’ rationale: the only clock that cows listen to is the sun. Between 1919 and the passing of the Uniform Time Act in 1966, the US was in a state of what Time magazine called “a chaos of clocks” as states and cities were able to start and end DST whenever they pleased. In fact, at one point, bus passengers on a 35-mile bus route from Ohio to West Virginia had to reset their watches 7 times! These days, the debate over DST continues. Some folks (golf courses, makers of BBQ grills, etc.) say DST increases revenues. Some (TV business, farmers, etc.) say DST messes with their schedules. And some people just want us to get off the seesaw, pick a time and stick with it. In fact, politicians from Florida have introduced the Sunshine Protection Act in Congress, calling for the entire country to stay on DST forever, meaning Sunday could be the last time we ever have to change clocks. It makes no difference to us. No matter how you change the clocks, it’s five o’clock somewhere. Cheers!

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