Rushville Republican

April 2, 2013

Barada: Move to DST made good business sense

Paul W. Barada
Rushville Republican

RUSHVILLE — Back on March 10, everyone (well, nearly everyone) in the United States moved their clocks ahead one hour. So, instead of it being 1 p.m. in the afternoon, the time moved ahead to 2 p.m. Next November we’ll all move our clocks back one hour. The easy way to recall how Daylight-Savings Time works is to remember the little saying, “Spring ahead, Fall back.”

Even though Indiana adopted Daylight-Savings Time in 2006, there are still people who oppose it. Why, exactly, I’m not sure. Every state in the Union observes Daylight-Savings Time except Arizona and Hawaii. It isn’t as though the idea of Daylight-Savings Time is new. Benjamin Franklin first suggested it way back in 1784 in an essay he wrote, called “The Economical Project.” Like many new ideas, Ben’s didn’t catch on in the United States until approved by Congress on March 19, 1918. The states were given the option of going to Daylight-Savings Time or not. We Hoosiers didn’t manage to approve it until 2006, 88 years after the fact.

One of the arguments against Daylight-Savings Time, at least in Indiana, is that farmers, who get up with the sun, are inconvenienced by having to change their schedules to sell produce to people who observe Daylight-Savings Time. That might be a valid argument if Indiana was the only state in which farming is done. But, obviously, it isn’t. Farmers all over the Midwest, from Iowa to Pennsylvania and from Minnesota to Mississippi seem to manage quite well observing Daylight-Savings Time, thank you very much! How are Hoosier farmers any different? It could be that Hoosiers, generally, just don’t like change. That certainly has been the allegation here in Rush County for a very long time. As a very good friend of mine once said in jest, “I’ve seen a lot of changes in Rush County over the years, and I’ve opposed every one of ‘em.” Well, change is inevitable and when every other state in the continental United States can manage to get along on Daylight-Savings Time, save Arizona, we certainly can.

Daylight-Savings Time was a logical step for every business that has customers any place east of our eastern boundary. Without Daylight-Savings Time, when it’s 4 p.m. in Indiana and 5 p.m. everywhere east of here, that’s a full hour of business time that’s lost to Hoosier businessmen. Everybody’s gone home east of us when we still have an hour yet to go. In the morning, it’s already 9 a.m. everywhere east of Indiana when Hoosier businesses are just opening. That’s another hour lost if we’re not on Daylight-Savings Time! That’s two hours per day, or over a full week, a full day gone. Ten full hours lost. Daylight-Savings Time enables Hoosier businesses that have customers east of us to be on the same time and avoid missed calls, deadlines, conference calls and all sorts of other lost business transactions.

Ironically, between 1957 and 1961, Indiana did observe Daylight-Savings Time. The General Assembly repealed the 1957 law and made Central Standard Time the official time in Indiana, which meant that we were an hour behind every state east of us for half the year, and two hours behind the eastern states that observed Daylight-Savings Time during the warm weather months when the days are longer.

Here’s an interesting tidbit about how we measure time. In the 1880s, clocks were set at noon when the sun was at its highest point in the sky. Obviously, when the sun is at its highest point in Rush County, it’s not quite at its highest point in cities and towns west of us. “High noon” is four minutes later for every degree of longitude as the sun moves west. The net effect was that the time was different in every town and city. So, it might be high noon in Rush County and only 11:40 a.m. five degrees of longitude west of here. In 1883, however, because of the emergence of the railroad as the most popular means of travel, the major carriers in the US began operating on “standard time” and established four time zones across the country. So, on November 18, 1883, each city set its clocks according to the time zone in which they were located.

But the story doesn’t end at that point. Despite the fact that most Indiana Counties are on Eastern Standard Time, a handful of counties in the northwestern and southwestern parts of the state are on Central Standard Time. The reason for this is in the north the counties on CST were really part of the greater Chicago metropolitan area and in the south the orientation is more toward Louisville’s metropolitan area. Put another way, both western corners of the state are more aligned with Chicago and Louisville than with Indianapolis. Not to mention the fact that lots of Hoosiers in those corners of the state work in either Chicago or Louisville. That disparity still exists, but the entire state finally adopted Daylight-Savings Time in 2006.

After over six years there are still those in Rush County and in Indiana who oppose Daylight-Savings Time despite the fact that the entire United States seems to prefer it, except Arizona, of course.

Over the years, Indiana’s continuing dispute over Daylight-Savings Time gave rise to the ongoing joke about the Hoosier state. When people asked the time, the answer was followed by the snide comment, “Yes, but what time is it in Indiana?”

That’s -30- for this week.