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The Debate Over the Rising and Setting of the Sun

It really doesn’t need to be highlighted that agreement among our Nation’s elected officials is a scarcity. The legislative political bodies are clearly divided on just about every important issue. Many predict that the turmoil over issues like; the economy, inflation, open borders and, of course, taxes and revenue will not be resolved anytime soon. While all these topics are important and have a significant impact on virtually every citizen, The United State Senate has found one issue they can unanimously agree on, and it appears to be popular among the vast majority of Americans. The action is not likely to ease the negative effects of what is really ailing most Americans, nor will it bring about world peace, but we have agreement. Well mostly anyway.

Recently the Senate unanimously passed legislation that would make daylight saving time permanent starting in 2023, ending the twice-annual changing of clocks. The Sunshine Protection Act now goes to The House of Representatives, to be voted on before going to the President for signing.  Senator Marco Rubio, one of the bill’s sponsors, said supporters agreed the delay to November 2023 for the implementation would allow for organizations and the general public time to debate the issue and offer opinions before the law takes effect.

“I know this is not the most important issue confronting America, but it’s one of those issues where there’s a lot of agreement,” Rubio said. “If we can get this passed, we don’t have to do this stupidity anymore. Pardon the pun, but this is an idea whose time has come”. The changing of the clocks is an American pastime, occurring twice a year in the months of March and November. It has not always been universally popular nor have the reasons for the adjustments been wholly understood. While the springtime adjustment brought complaints from those who couldn’t stand the loss of an hour’s beauty sleep, most welcomed redemption when the hands of time reverted to the universal standard each Fall. The attempt to end the tradition has been debated for years, both at the state and national level.

Daylight saving time (DST) has been practiced in nearly all of the United States since the 1960s and was adopted on a national level in 1973. The practice was touted to improve energy efficiency and to positively impact the overall economy. Prognosticators argued that the change to daylight saving time would reap benefits in personal health, increased consumer spending for vendors of outdoor sports, recreation, home repair, landscaping and gardening. But the move to longer days of light had opponents predicting increased workplace accidents and increased danger for young school students traveling to school in the dark.

The reality of widespread economic benefits have proven to be inconsistent at best, however, retailers, the hospitality industry and entertainment venues report that DST observance does improve business. “It has been a remarkably effective retail spending plan,” says Dan Phaneuf, a professor of economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “If you give Americans sunlight after work, they tend to stop and shop on their way home.”

It appears, that while a majority of Americans favor ending the practice of switching time, disagreement continues to reign over whether Standard time (ST) or DST should become the new norm. Some health experts believe we should stop changing the clocks and make standard time permanent.  The American Academy of Sleep Medicine says, “current evidence best supports the adoption of year-round standard time, which aligns best with human circadian biology and provides distinct benefits for public health and safety.” Have we only agreed to disagree some more?

Business groups will take the time allotted (both ST and DST) before implementation to study the issue further. The National Retail Federation has “historically supported DST”, but that position does not reflect the current debate over creating permanent daylight-saving time, which is what has passed the U.S. Senate.

With all the continued discourse and debate, one might not be surprised that our politicians still haven’t gotten it right and, in the tradition of divided government, demonstrated that very little actually changes time after time.

And if you think coming to an agreement about the time of the sun’s rising and setting is difficult: Earth scientists now say that after 12,500 years, the magnetic poles of the planet earth are about to shift! Just take a few minutes pondering a solution about solving the debate about time while we all find ourselves standing on our heads.