Opinion: Tick tock, ditch the time change now, Speaker Pelosi
The absurdity of daylight saving time is about to hit the battlefields when Ukrainians, by law, change their clocks one hour ahead on March 27. Congress can’t do anything about that, but it can act quick to relieve Americans of the twice-yearly burden.
I have quipped from time to time that people get passionate about daylight saving time only four days each year — the two days on which we change our clocks and the day after each of those, when we stagger bleary eyed through the motions. After that, we move on to other things.
Timing, as they say in comedy, cooking, a March Madness pick-and-roll and politics, is everything. And our newly reset clocks are ticking.
So, I say to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, with all the feeling I can muster: Don’t let the moment pass.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look good.
According to The Hill, California Democrat Rep. Maxine Waters became downright irritated this week when asked about it.
“I’m really thinking about dying people and I’m thinking about what’s going on in Ukraine. We just had the (Ukrainian) president here,” she said. “I don’t give a d— about what people think about it.”
We’re all engaged with Ukraine and the suffering people there, too, Rep. Waters. We want you and your colleagues to do all you can for them. And, for the past two years, we’ve been fretting over a deadly pandemic. That’s why Americans need a morsel of good news — one that could happen quickly, without much debate or energy.
Maybe Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., should get an award for stating the obvious. “The funny thing about this place is we have the ability and the capacity to handle multiple issues at one time,” he said.
He might have added that Congress also has the ability to do absolutely nothing for a long time, as witnessed by how many times it has failed to pass a budget. It has missed its Oct. 1 budget deadline almost every year for 45 years.
But, speaking of the war in Ukraine. The absurdity of daylight saving time is about to hit the battlefields when Ukrainians, by law, change their clocks one hour ahead on March 27.
Russia no longer observes the time change, so perhaps Ukraine will enjoy a small tactical advantage if the invaders are an hour off for a while. Or maybe the time change will be just one more irritation for people who are struggling for their lives.
Congress can’t do anything about that, but the House could take one small vote. Don’t let the we’re-too-busy-to-deal-with-this attitude fool you. As I write this, House committees are debating such important things as rules on proxy voting and remote committee hearings and ways to find the right frequencies so airplanes and 5G technology can coexist. It isn’t all-Ukraine all day.
I’m well-aware of the concerns some parents have over their children going to school in the dark. Drivers would need to be extra vigilant during those winter months.
But, on the other side, evidence is mounting on the negative health impacts of the time change. Car accidents, especially those attributed to human error, increase, as Dr. Susheel Patil, who specializes in sleep medicine at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, told healthline.com.
Also, he said, hospitals see a 20% increase in patients injured because of human error, in its many forms. Evidence shows heart attacks, strokes and atrial fibrillation also increase as people deal with the subtle stress of being an hour off their routines.
As I have written before, researchers also say people are more prone to “microsleeps” after the time change. These are what the Christian Science Monitor defined as “momentary losses of concentration at critical times.” I call it “zoning out.” It’s not a good thing to do while driving, speaking of being aware of child pedestrians in the morning.
I was just as shocked as many senators in Washington when a bill making daylight saving time permanent passed the Senate on a unanimous voice vote this week. Few people saw that coming.
One of the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., acknowledged it wasn’t the most important matter of the day, but said, “If we can get this passed, we don’t have to do this stupidity anymore.”
As for Pelosi, she told The Hill she supports the bill. That’s all. No timeline for committee hearings or a quick vote.
“I, myself, support making daylight saving time permanent,” she said. “I think it’s not going to be much of an issue for us. But we have to socialize it in our caucus, and our Congress, not just the caucus.”
So, socialize already.
In reality, it isn’t just four days of the year we feel out of sync because of the change. Patil told Healthline.com it takes about one week to adjust.
After that, we won’t worry about this again until November. Madam Speaker, strike while we’re all still groggy.