Last night, at 12 a.m., Daylight Saving Time (DST) began when our clocks moved forward an hour. Whereas I would have seen the sunrise at 6:11 in New Jersey, instead, it’s at 7:11. Correspondingly, sunset switched from 6:02 on March 13 to 7:03 on March 14.
Shown below, at “NOW,” our clocks spring forward and remain there until November:
Regulating Daylight Saving Time and Time Zones
It’s pretty much a sure thing that the Congress won’t pass a bill to keep Daylight Saving Time (DST) year round. Proposed by Florida Senator Marco Rubio, the act is called the Sunshine Protection Act. And no, it does not protect sunshine. It just shifts when we see sunshine.
But our government does take care of the time. It decided that we would have four time zones when the railroads needed standardization during the 19th century. It mandated DST temporarily during WW I and then agin during the second World War. More recently, the U.S. Department of Transportation became responsible for our time zones.
Meanwhile, displaying what other governments decided to do, the list of time anomalies is long and varied. It includes China’s one time zone and Russia’s 11. In 2015, North Korea declared “Pyongyang time” by setting its clocks back a half hour and then, to coordinate with South Korea, it moved them forward in 2018. Perhaps most oddly though, rather than an hour, Nepal’s local time differs by 45 minutes from other time zones. (It is 10 hours 45 minutes ahead of my NJ time.)
Our Bottom Line: Transaction Costs
Semiannual time shifts and different time zones add to the complexities of an increasingly intertwined world. Whether looking at transportation, trade, social media, or finance, all would benefit from a standard that sidesteps global inconsistencies from one nation to the next. That standard could be one time zone.
For starters, do consider this one minute video:
The Vox video is describing what Johns Hopkins scholars Steve Hanke (economist) and Richard Conn Henry (astrophysicist) have supported for decades. They tell us that the world needs one time with individual municipalities adjusting locally to daylight. Assume it was 9 a.m. everywhere in the world but the sun was not going to rise for 4 hours in your hometown. Then businesses might open and schools could start at 2 p.m.. Equally crucially, for a 1 p.m. conference call with people in Indonesia, France, and Mexico, everyone would know what you meant.
An economist might say that a global time zone would diminish our transaction costs. About more than money, they involve the time, the forms, the lines, and all that slow a task. Certainly, trying to figure out the time elsewhere is a transaction cost that would shrink with fewer time zones and time shifts.
I know that we are constrained by the past. But the bottom line is that we can decide what time it should be.
My sources and more: With the DST shift, it was again time to think about Steve Hanke’s proposal, here, here, and here, and the Uniform Time Act of 1966. However, for all the details you could possibly need about the time, this one website should be your destination.