At some point during wrenching itself from the Middle Ages to the 21st Century, Queensland decided to buck the trend in all things sensible. Not content with butchering the pronunciation of maroon (I mean come on), having cultural heritage in the world’s dirtiest river and unironically drinking XXXX, Queenslanders further decided that changing the clocks twice a year was simply too much to handle.
Forgive me, but you’re wrong. Today we discuss the miracle that is Daylight Savings Time and rebut some of the key talking points bandied about at social gatherings where the conversation has gone stale. I’m joined on this journey by fellow Publications Officer Lucy Muir, who will be posting a rebuttal on behalf of the less sunnily-inclined. At the outset, it should be noted that these people are clearly biased against both barbeques in the evening and frolicking outdoors with friends, which is cause for immediate concern (or perhaps the conclusion that their social group look better in the dark).
Given the attention span of anti-DSTers is frighteningly short, I considered that dot point format might be the most appropriate means of engaging with the Neanderthals other side. Nevertheless, as the true test of one’s argument is the court of public opinion, I have instead created a fictional universe in which I present myself as charming and witty and intelligent, and deliberately strawman my opponent’s position in order to make myself look correct and them an idiot. The following chronicles may or may not be fictional.
EXT – DAIRY FARM IN WESTERN QUEENSLAND – 5AM
The flat sunburnt soil stretches for miles in every direction. Flies buzz incessantly. Ryan and Lucy enter, walking amongst the herds of cows.
Lucy: Did you really have to take us here to make your point? My Birkenstocks™ are getting dusty.
Ryan: Yes, yes I did. Observe the cows Lucy.
They observe the cows.
Ryan: Have you ever thought about what it’s like to be a cow? I have. At greater length than I care to publicly admit. And, this may surprise you, but they don’t really care about the time. Watch.
Ryan takes out his watch and changes the time from 5am to 6am.
Lucy: Oh my god what are you doing?!
Lucy looks around frantically, and begins running between the cows to check if they are alright.
Ryan: Nothing, Lucy. I’m doing nothing. That’s the point. Time is a social construct.
Lucy: No you changed the time! The cows will be confused!
The cows continue shitting everywhere, unaffected.
Ryan: Moving time forward by one hour doesn’t have any practical effect on animals at all! The amount of sunlight is fixed, irrespective of what we decide the time to be. Daisy here doesn’t care what you think.
Lucy: You say that, but the farmers will have their routines disrupted by having to change the clocks twice a year. Dairy cows are milked twice a day, every day.
Ryan: That’s true, but if you take any stock in what the Oregon Department of Agriculture says about DST, you’ll find that, in agriculture, daylight hours are the key consideration. They adjust their working hours on the mornings that they need to with little or no hassle.
Lucy: But there’s no real benefit to them, so why should they have to change the time?
Ryan: Well if there’s no discernible effect on agriculture but there is a positive effect on others in the state, then it is worthwhile doing as there would be a Pareto improvement – at least one party made better off and none made worse off.
Lucy mumbles incoherently about ‘curtains’ and ‘fading’.
Ryan: It’s not the curtains you should be worried about Lucy, it’s the worldwide government-fueled genocide that is chemtrails.
Lucy shamefully removes her tin foil hat and stuffs it in her pocket.
Lucy: I don’t know what you’re implying…
Ryan: It’s okay, I know exactly what group on Facebook you run.
Lucy: It’s just a hobby, I swear.
Ryan: Your secret is safe with me.
Lucy: I think everything west of Ipswich and north of Noosa should be its own state.
Ryan and Lucy are instantly whisked to George Street. It is ‘5:30pm’ on a Thursday afternoon – rush hour traffic. There has been an accident.
Ryan: I see where you’re going here. Are you suggesting tha- oh my god!
Dying Man: Help! I’m dying!
The Dying Man clutches to Ryan’s leg.
Dying Man: The lights! They’re… fading…
Lucy: See! That’s the sleep deprivation caused by the switching of the clocks last night.
Ryan: I mean it could just be that he’s dying. I don’t think I’ve ever fallen asleep this dramatically.
Ryan shakes the man off his leg, and hands him a brochure about daylight saving time.
Lucy: Or it could be that he’s dying because of the sleep deprivation. You didn’t think of that.
Ryan: No I… guess I didn’t. But there has been a five-car pileup here. That ute over there was clearly the cause.
The driver is sound asleep on a mattress in the back of his disembodied ute.
Lucy: Aha! A DST induced mid-drive slumber is the cause of this kerfuffle. It’s well proven that there is a spike in car accidents the morning after the clocks change, due to people getting much less sleep.
Ryan: Touché, but surely there would be a corresponding decrease the night after the clocks change back, when everyone is able to get that extra hour.
Lucy: You’d think so, but you’d be wrong. The decrease in accidents is relatively minor, and means that overall more car accidents occur when there is DST in place.
Lucy pockets the chloroform she had given to the truck driver.
Ryan: So, you’re telling me that Queenslanders can plan for the State of Origin three weeks in advance, which, let’s face it, is just watching fully grown men run at each other in an orderly fashion, but can’t plan a day ahead for changing the clocks?
Lucy: Well Jonathan Thurston’s juicy thighs are far more important than getting an extra hour’s sleep. #8inarow.
Ryan: Did you just say ‘hashtag 8 in a row’?
Lucy: Of course.
Ryan: Can you… can you do that? Can you say hashtag in real life?
Lucy: I think it’s more socially acceptable than being a NSW fan.
Ryan: That’s fair. But anyway, surely you agree that watching sport and being outdoors gives utility to people?
Lucy: If you’re one of those wierdos who don’t own a million dollar house on the Brisbane River.
Ryan: Well most people don’t own those kinds of houses —
Ryan: — and so I mean, yeah, lots of people by your standard would like to be outdoors.
Lucy: I don’t understand them but I’ll humour you.
Ryan: How lovely of you. If you were the type to actually utilise your – I don’t know, parents’ tennis court – you’d agree that you’d rather do that after work with your friends at 7pm, instead of at 4 in the morning when you’ve only just woken up.
Lucy: I don’t have friends, just associates and LinkedIn Connections. What about people who go for a morning run?
Ryan: I’m as concerned about those strange folk as you are Lucy – especially the Lycra. Those who are up at 4am are a relatively niche section of the population, and the utility that 100% of the population will get from it being light at 8pm will outweigh the small loss of utility for those wacky folk up between 4 and 5am in summer.
Lucy: Are you alluding to a Hicks improvement?
Ryan: I am. The total welfare increase is worth the small loss.
Lucy looks visibly ill at the mention of the word ‘welfare’.
Lucy: I’m not convinced. This is just personal preference. Some people might just prefer it to be dark at 7pm.
Ryan: Yes but those people are stupid.
Lucy: That’s not particularly economical – isn’t economics supposed to be an objective science?
Ryan: Of course! That’s why we have a distinction between positive and normative statements, and why economists often try to keep them so separate. Focusing on the maths or the empirical evidence can stop us conflating fact with opinion.
Lucy: Sort of like why arts students and engineers don’t get along?
Ryan: I guess?
Lucy: Or college students and day rats.
There is a long pause.
Lucy: But really, Ryan, you’re just some British dude feeling nostalgic about How Things Used to Be and trying to state that that is How it Should Be because How Things Used to Be is in your opinion better.
Ryan: That’s the beauty of it. I can take my subjective opinion and try to find some empirical basis for it, and then just parrot it at you as if my personal opinion is fact. I mean really, you think I’ve come up with this shit myself? We all know I’ve just been stating what I think and then frantically Googling in the hope that there is some article which I can quote out of context in order to support my flailing point. Then, people who might actually research what I’m saying to form some counter-argument will at least be somewhat sated provided they don’t go past, like, the second link.
Lucy: That’s… oddly specific.
Ryan: DST is objectively better.
Lucy: I don’t think that means what you think it means.
Ryan: Objectively. Join the revolution.
Ryan is a fourth year law and economics student who enjoys the study of economics in spontaneous gif format. When not writing articles about economics he can be found at Beltop, where he consumes enough coffee to power a small nation.