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Opening Arguments

DST blues

Welcome to the first DST Monday of the year. Why is it such a bad idea? After Indiana finally joined the herd in 2006, two California economists did a study:

“Having the entire state switch to daylight-saving time each year, rather than stay on standard time, costs Indiana households an additional $8.6 million in electricity bills.” It turns out that the change drove an increase in air-conditioning costs as well as an increase in heating costs. There was a drop in lighting costs, but that is the least expensive use of electricity. In other words, by imposing DST, the state of Indiana quite literally forced its residents to fork out millions of dollars for the privilege of joining their fellow Americans in having their circadian rhythms thrown out of whack.

And the cost isn't just in dollars:

As Bora Zivkovic writes in Scientific American, “Chronobiologists who study circadian rhythms know that for several days after the spring-forward clock resetting … traffic accidents increase, workplace injuries go up and, perhaps most telling, incidences of heart attacks rise sharply.”

The best argument for going to DST was that, however good or bad it is, all but two states were on it and joining in made things less confusing. That's not a very good reason, as parents have long told their children. ("Listen, if all your friends were going to jump off a bridge, would you . . .?") But no state will be willing to go it alone in dropping DST -- it's one of those things where everybody quits or nobody does.