This fall Californians will vote on dozens of very important, semi-important and marginally important political races and issues. They will, for example, elect a governor, reconstitute the state's Congressional delegation and decide whether to fund an $8.9 billion water bond.
Working our way down the list of importance — way, way down the list, to the bottom — we find such gems as the Board of Equalization, of which at least one candidate has said, if elected, he would move to dissolve, and Proposition 7, which would repeal the Daylight Saving Time Act.
Why do I find Proposition 7 so utterly devoid of significance? Note that Proposition 7 would not end the tyranny of daylight saving time, as some might assume. It would merely authorize the state Legislature to embark on a somewhat convoluted and dubious course.
The Daylight Saving Time Act, a ballot measure approved by California voters in 1949, requires that we adjust our clocks to fall back an hour each November and spring forward an hour each March.
Once the Act is canceled, though, then what? Switching California’s clocks to a same-year-round setting would require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature and the governor's signature. Then, if Sacramento chooses to go with year-round daylight saving time, the state would need the OK of both Congress and the White House. In other words, a fulltime switch would throw up almost but not quite the same number of obstacles as seceding from the Union.
And for what? We'd be aligned with Arizona and Hawaii but an hour off, for half the year, from the other 91 states, provinces and districts of North America. That would make everything from interstate business dealings to international air travel more of a hassle than it already is.
But there's something appealing about liberating the concept of time from the constraints of government management, right? — even if that management makes a lot of sense most of the time.
Sometimes that government yoke doesn't seem logical, though, and the associated frustrations are what we tend to remember.
I posed the question on Facebook this week — yea or nay on daylight saving time — and received a ton of feedback. Among the observations:
"Why do we change the clocks to make it get dark earlier when it's already getting dark earlier?," Bill Wolfe wrote. "Why do we change the clocks to make it stay light later when it's already doing that? I think we should have Standard Time year-round. Or am I missing something here? Quite possible."
No, Bill, you are not missing anything that I can see.
"I like to think that when our children are heading to school it’s at least sunrise," Ernie Oliver wrote. "Some of our older kids are walking to school at 6 a.m. and it’s still rather dark and unsafe."
True, but I put part of the blame on the schools for starting so-called zero period at ungodly hours. Can't we just fix that?
Repealing DST is a "good idea," Robert Woods wrote. "Last month's NatGeo issue on sleep pointed out the time changes do mess people up for a week or two. We are diurnal; Let's stop messing with it."
"Daylight savings time messes me up every time," Jen Newkirk wrote. "I have too many clocks. Half of them say the correct time, the other ones I just leave alone. They will have the correct time on them soon."
"Let's keep Pacific Daylight Time, please," Maureen Buscher-Dang wrote. "When it's dark at 5 p.m. in the winter there are several of us who deal with seasonal affective disorder."
Some were wishy-washy about it, none more so than Laurel Martin Shropshire.
"I go back and forth on this one," she wrote. "When daylight saving time comes — spring forward — I love the longer day, and when standard time comes — fall back — I dig that it means cooler nights. Sweater season! With that said, I can always use a longer day of light. I'm little help."
Just kidding with that wishy-washy crack, Laurel. I'm kind of the same way. So is Brian Parks, apparently.
"I think it adds some needed chaos in our rigid lives so, don't mind it," he wrote. "If it goes away it's one less thing to deal with so I'm good with that too."
Richard Reel chimed in from a state that has already made the big jump.
"For the first time since the beginning of daylight saving time, I will not need to change my clocks," he wrote. "Moving to Arizona removes that need. Hooray!"
Richard might want to consider Susan Clarke-Romero's experience.
"I always hated changing clocks," she wrote. "Now that I live in Arizona, I don’t have to. I do have to keep track of the rest of the country, which is a pain! I’m all for ditching it, for all states. It’s no longer relevant. The men with guns have night vision goggles and the men with farm tools have monster machines with lights."
All of this uncertainty and anguish might prompt some to look for compromise. John N. O'Connell offered one.
"Let's just change it by one-half an hour," he wrote, "and then leave it that way forever."
I didn't say O'Connell had a good compromise. Just a compromise — one that will hopefully never see the light of serious consideration. We've got enough problems. Like what to do about that redundant Board of Equalization.