(Trends Wide) — What time is it? It seems like a pretty straightforward question. You look at your watch, the phone, or the microwave, and you say to yourself.
But the United States, like many countries, does not seem to agree on what time it should be.
There are not many public policy issues where 70% of Americans disagree with the status quo and there is no true partisan divide. Well, that’s where we are with daylight saving time (designed to save energy), an issue in which Americans agree with the problem but not with the solution.
The fight for daylight saving time is over 100 years old. Should we move the clocks forward in the spring and set them back in the fall? If not, should we stick with daylight saving time or more traditional standard time?
This is the theme for this week’s episode of my new podcast “Margins of error.” Each week we go on a journey to explore topics that at first glance seem to be on the margins, but which is actually where the fun and knowledge begins.
Myths about daylight saving time
Let’s start with a little demystification about daylight saving time.
Contrary to popular belief, daylight saving time was not invented for the benefit of farmers. Nor was it really created by Benjamin Franklin, as some believe.
Parts of some states or entire states, like Hawaii, don’t even change their clocks.
But the battle over daylight saving time is beyond facts. It’s about how the federal government stepped in to create a uniform time system in the US in 1966, which only a third of Americans enjoy, a system that some in Congress are trying to repeal right now.
It turns out that, as with many other national issues and debates, there are competing special interests with a lot of money at stake. There are not many issues in which the film industry clashes with the golf industry.
Beyond special interests, the health of Americans is at stake, as some link changing clocks to rising heart attacks and crime, among other major problems.
To find out who is right and who is wrong, we will speak with experts (and yes, there are experts) who have dedicated a lot of their time (and their daylight hours) to getting the country to adopt summer time all year round, the standard all year round or even to maintain the current system.
You’ll have to tune in to hear “Pod Save America” host and guest Jon Lovett and me discuss what we believe is a fairly unique solution to resolving America’s time disagreement.
I must admit that I came into the episode with one belief about how we should mark the time, and came out with another. I’m curious if you think the same after listening to this week’s episode. Time will tell.