By Anne Grylady
I firmly believe it is high time the citizens of this town — and indeed of the entire State of Alaska — take a stand against the yearly arbitrary manipulation of each citizen’s private life in the name of the institution euphemistically denominated “daylight saving time.” Public authorities must be called upon immediately to justify the removal of one hour of each citizen’s existence. (With, I must point out, no guarantee of its being returned to its rightful owner in a few month’s time. These public authorities must be held accountable for each and every minute thus purloined.
Within the city limits of Homer alone, the number of hours confiscated overnight amounts to well over 4,000 one-hour units, for a sum total of a minimum of more than 16 24-hour days. That is a not-inconsiderable patrimony of hours and minutes by any person’s standards, especially in a community already hard-pressed for time to take care of all its responsibilities.
In a state with a population of more than 700,000 people, the amount of time illegitimately subtracted in a single night from the lives of citizens can be seen to be simply astronomical in proportion. Add to this the fact that these hours are customarily subtracted from our sleep at a time chosen arbitrarily by some governmental body with no reference whatsoever to the needs or desires of the individual parties in question, and we have — in my opinion — a very clear violation of the civil rights of all Alaskans.
We are offered no option as to which hour will be subtracted from our daily allotment of 24 each. While losing one hour’s sleep on a Saturday night might well suit some people, shortening a dreary Monday workday or a night rendered sleepless by financial worries, an aching body, or a sick baby might work far better for others, for example.
We are offered no indications of how or where the hours recently subtracted from the night between March 8 and 9 will be stored and cared for; Or how they will be kept safe and intact for restoration to their rightful owners some months from now.
Undoubtedly, some of us will no longer be around to collect the purloined hour at the appointed, arbitrary time of its restitution — having passed on (one full hour prematurely) to our eternal rest. Who then becomes the beneficiary of that warehoused hour? Is it lost forever? Duly returned to the estate of the deceased? Tossed into a slush fund for the random use of truant legislators or philandering government officials at their discretion? Bartered on the open market with foreign economies in exchange for the reduction of interest rates on national loans? Placed in an hour bank for the use of condemned prisoners or the terminally ill? How does one, in that case, access this resource, and who is responsible for administrating such a fund?
A recent investigation into the history and purported economic benefit of the Daylight Saving plan by a national news service pointed out that certain industries do, indeed, reap considerable benefit from the institution in question.
In regard to the “spring forward” movement of the clock hands, these include primarily those industries dealing in venues and products for outdoor activities such as golfing, the manufacture and supply of home barbecue equipment, service stations and convenience stores, which benefit from increased traffic and fuel sales, as well as big box stores which benefit from the possibility of later shopping hours due to the increase in daylight and the displaced sleep rhythms of potential customers.
In regard to the “fall backward” movement, it turns out that in recent years this date was heavily lobbied by international candy manufacturing corporations wishing to cash in on the traditional celebration of Halloween and the billions of dollars of profits engendered by candy sales associated with this celebration directed at children.
None of these industries indicate concern with the mental and physical health issues created by the continued arbitrary disruption of natural sleep/wake rhythms created by the daylight saving system, particularly noticeable in the very young and the elderly.
In addition, none of these take into consideration the fact that, if daylight could indeed be “saved” and “banked” for future use, here in Alaska, where we are short of that commodity in winter and immensely oversupplied with it in summer, we would very likely manage the program differently than in other parts of the nation.
You will agree, I hope, that the questions raised are legitimate concerns of a voting public in a democratic society, and find it in your heart to publish this heartfelt cry for a local and national conversation considering the immediate abolishment of this barbaric practice and the return to the time-honored tradition of letting human beings manage their given hours of daylight and darkness themselves, as they have done admirably for countless millennia.
Anne Grylady is a Homer resident.
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