Why Reorganizing U.S. Time Zones in the Name of Global Commerce Is a Bad Idea

Here are some words that are missing from economist Allison Schrager’s piece in The Atlantic proposing the abolition of Daylight Savings Time and the reduction of the contiguous United States to two time zones:

sunlight, season, summer, winter, sunrise, sunset

In other words, virtually all the words that would explain why we have Daylight Savings Time and time zones in the first place.

Freed from the physical reality that places the United States in the temperate zone of a tilted planet, Schrager is free to reorganize regional schedules in the name of “economic efficiency” without regard to what this would actually do to people’s lives.

She wisely declines to describe the results of her scheme, maybe realizing that the idea of putting the West Coast permanently on what is now Central Standard Time would have limited appeal had she spelled out that in mid-December, the Sun would set at 2:43 pm in Los Angeles, 2:27 pm in Portland and 2:18 pm in Seattle.

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If Schrager‘s advice is taken, this could be Los Angeles’ view at 3 o'clock in the afternoon. (cc photo: Siavash Ghadiri Zahrani)

Schrager does have one nod to the human cost of ignoring what the Sun is doing when deciding how to set our clocks:

It’s true that larger time zones would seem to cheat many people out of daylight by removing them further from their true solar time. But the demands of global commerce already do that.

And who are mere humans to resist the demands of global commerce?


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