How congress broke Daylight Savings Time

A letter to my congressional representatives

2007 November 02

Senator Edward M. Kennedy
Senator John Kerry
Congresswoman Niki Tsongas
Washington, DC

Dear Sir/Madam:

Daylight savings time hits hard this time of year.

It was cold and dark when I got up this morning, so the first thing I did was was turn up the heat and turn on the lights. That's going to jack up my energy bill for the month.

Then I drove my son to school. He missed his bus all five days this week. That's going to jack up my fuel bill for the month.

Then I dragged myself through another day at work. I don't function well when I have to get up before dawn.

The people in my family are all diurnal (dI-UR-nal). It means we sleep when it's dark and wake when it's light. The problem is that in northern latitudes (like Massachusetts) the sun rises later in the winter than in the summer.

To compensate for this, we have a scheme called Daylight Savings Time. Daylight Savings Time shifts our school and work schedules forward in the summer and back in the winter, to keep them roughly in sync with the sun. It used to work pretty well, but congress broke it a couple of years ago: now it goes too long in the fall and starts too early in the spring.

Most of the damage that congress does affects me at some remove, but this—this comes right out of my hide. When I'm stumbling around in the dark for three weeks next spring, I'll be thinking of you.


Steven W. McDougall

Steven W. McDougall / resume / / 2007 November 02