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Count me among the sympathizers for doing away with the twice-a-year changes between daylight savings and standard time. It may not quite deserve the label “the modern world’s dumbest ritual,” which seems to have been circulating with greater frequency the last few years, but, well …

As long as care is taken how you do eliminate the changing times.

Idaho returns to daylight savings time soon, on March 10, so the recent move in the Idaho Legislature to take the state off the daylight savings schedule had timeliness going for it. That measure, House Bill 85, was defeated in the Idaho House overwhelmingly, 55 to 15. The debate against the bill (which evidently drew a lot of legislative support) centered on the idea that daylight savings time allows more time for summer recreational activities; baseball games seemed to be a major point of concern.

I’m skeptical that the change would have much effect on baseball. Its enthusiasts are often too invested to give up that easily, and schedule and lighting changes ought to be enough to solve most timing problems. I never much bought the original argument, either, that the change in daylight hours to savings time helps with farming in the spring planting season. As the bill sponsor said, reasonably, “We don’t change how many hours of daylight there are, we don’t change how many hours you have to enjoy it, we’re just adjusting the clock.” So adjust your wake-up time if you need to.

Idaho may not be looking to make day savings changes this year, but the issue isn’t dead everywhere. In Oregon, one state senator is calling her proposal “ditch the switch” (a cute slogan with some appeal to it) but would — in contrast to Idaho — keep Oregon on Daylight Savings Time year-round rather than eliminate it. (This proposal would go to Oregon voters as a ballot issue if the legislature approves it, which seems less than likely.) That would put Oregon in an unusual category of DST-only jurisdictions: Argentina, Belarus, Iceland, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Morocco, Namibia, Singapore, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan plus the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. Adjustments like these do carry a few issues with them. And those have to do with the idea that individual states probably are not wise to go entirely freelance on setting their clocks.

The world is highly variable on DST; much of the planet doesn’t observe the clock change. (I sometimes listen to a radio station in Australia, where – in this sector at least – time changes not just once but twice each spring and fall.) The pattern is not checkerboard, however. Nearly all of Europe uses DST, as do Syria, Jordan and Israel. The bulk of North America does as well, though not all.

The reason such large regions tend to clump together on their use or disuse of DST seems to be that keeping track of what your neighbors are doing can be complicated. The whole system of standardized clock time started, after all, because train systems had trouble making their departure/arrival systems work properly if local jurisdictions all did their own thing on timekeeping. If Oregon switches to permanent DST, how do Idahoans – who at present know they’re one hour ahead in the south, and the same time as Oregon in the north – relate to that? (And what about that little jagged piece of Malheur County in Oregon that’s on Mountain time? Those Ontario people could be stuck on a temporal island.) If Idaho moved to standard time only, how would Washingtonians or Utahns keep track?

Oh, sure, they’d all probably get used to it. But it’s one more complicating factor.

The reason most of these changes probably won’t pass is this: If you aren’t careful with how you manage things like this, the world can get a lot more complicated. And not too many people want that.

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Randy Stapilus is a former Idaho newspaper reporter and editor and blogs at www.ridenbaugh.com. He can be reached at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

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