Daylight savings

South Carolina lawmakers are discussing measures to do away with daylight savings time, a move which would offer more hours of daylight around the year.

Springing forward always takes the bounce out of people.

You may have noticed folks were a little grumpier than usual this week, and for once it had nothing to do with the current occupant of the White House.

It’s all about sleep deprivation, although Washington deserves some of the blame. As usual.

Daylight Saving Time is like an annual mass alien abduction — all of a sudden everyone has missing time. And feels slightly violated until their body clock adjusts, which usually takes a week or two. But truth is, there are some people who really love this. They’re called politicians. Each spring, as everyone else is run down, they get wound up about the evils of Daylight Saving Time.

You can set your clock by it.

Right now, South Carolina’s General Assembly is considering no less than four pieces of legislation that would abolish this temporal bait-and-switch … at least in our state.

But don’t count your sheep just yet.

There’s always a legislative proposal to do away with Daylight Saving Time, simply because it’s good politics. But times change, and now all those proposals actually call for the permanent adoption of Daylight Saving Time. They just want to rename it Standard Time. Because no one ever complains about that, when we get an extra hour bestowed upon us in the fall. Except those of us who don’t like waiting another hour for football.

See, everyone really loves Daylight Saving Time — they like it staying light a little longer in the evening, to not drive home from work in the dark. Golf courses absolutely adore it.

So when politicians say they want to dump Daylight Saving Time, they really just want to rename it Standard Time ... and stop making us change our clocks. Because that’s never been popular.

This all started a century ago, in the final months of the first World War, sold as a way to conserve fuel. It didn’t last a year. People got up earlier in those days, and didn’t like it being dark outside during their morning work. It was so unpopular that Congress promptly repealed Daylight Saving Time.

The time change returned during World War II, for the same reasons, but Washington chucked it within months of the war’s end. For the next two decades, states — or even cities — independently chose whether they’d use Daylight Saving Time. Which was mildly chaotic, and didn’t go over well with the airlines, the railroads or the radio and TV people. So finally, in 1974, President Nixon and Congress brought us back to uniform Daylight Saving Time.

Except Arizona opted out. Then part of Indiana. And Hawaii never did it.

Washington has been monkeying with our clocks ever since, most recently extending Daylight Saving Time again in 2005. Today, Standard Time is actually the outlier — we spend most of eight months on Daylight Saving Time’s clock.

It’s fashionable for politicians to promise an end to these time changes, but nothing ever happens. That’s because there are inherent problems with one-time-fits-all.

Some people don’t want kids going to school in the dark (although they do anyway so we can run our buses ragged instead of buying more). And even people who like the idea in theory may begin to complain about December ... when the sun wouldn’t rise in Charleston until nearly 8:30 a.m. Is it more depressing to go to work when it’s still dark, or not get off until after sundown?

Even Senate President Pro Tem Harvey Peeler — a longtime opponent of springing forward and falling back — says South Carolina couldn’t realistically adjust its official time unless Georgia and North Carolina go along. Too confusing. He’s right.

Some states — California and Florida among them — have made moves to stay on Daylight Saving Time permanently. We’ll see. Trouble is, no state can set its clocks without the approval of Congress.

You know, those folks who can’t agree what color the sky is, whether the Earth is round or if Medicare is tantamount to socialism. So good luck. Waiting up on Congress to agree what time it is could lead to new levels of sleep deprivation.

Reach Brian Hicks at bhicks@postandcourier.com.

Reach Brian Hicks at bhicks@postandcourier.com.