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HomeOpinionOp-EdsThe Sunshine Protection Act is Superficial

The Sunshine Protection Act is Superficial

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The U.S. Senate unanimously passed legislation to make daylight saving time the permanent standard time, beginning Nov. 2023. Although it is not one of the biggest concerns of the general public at this time, the Sunshine Protection Act represents a measure of superficial economic reform. As the act advocates for a shift to a permanent daylight savings time (DST), the country will remain an hour behind standard time. States like Alaska and Hawaii already follow this practice, in a way, since they choose not to follow DST. 

This practice is a remnant of war times. It allowed for citizens and manufacturers to conserve energy and money by reducing the use of electricity at the time, while giving employees time to produce more. But the need for an increased push for productivity is unnecessary at the moment as the country is not in a state of war. Especially after the clear adverse toll of physical and mental health experiences during the pandemic, it is important to re-establish what we view as “productive hours.” Instead of focusing on how time can affect sleep and waking hours, it is necessary for policymakers to reform labor practices and working conditions — especially considering the shift in public attitude towards unions today, with their recent victories and demands. 

When vague and under-explained “economic reasons” and lifestyle betterment promises are cited for changes to daily life, it is easy for policymakers to state that this change is one of the first bipartisan agreements in recent years. They conveniently choose to forget the real, sweeping changes that can make a much larger impact on productivity and prosperity. 

Several sleep scientists and educators hold the belief that maintaining the time change allows for seasonal recuperation and gives the human body time to harmonize with the environment. The annual one-hour change in time can aid that seasonal transition and help students and workers adjust to the seasons. But, the practices adopted by the international community also need to be noted. Several nations do not follow the wartime remnant concept of daylight saving time, and instead choose to adjust their workday practices and benefits — for both employees and students — in order to maximize efficiency. Multiple industrialized African and Asian nations choose not to participate in the practice, and still maintain their position in the world’s economy. European nations that do maintain the practice have other laws in place to keep the workers happy. For example, The Netherlands, which employs DST, has an average 29-hour work week and ranks for the happiest citizens in the world. This is in comparison to the average American 40-hour work week, with the 16th happiest citizens’ ranking. While the average “happiness” of citizens isn’t indicative of effective labor policies, it does point to the response and treatment of civilian lifestyle demands. 

Clearly, even though this act can be helpful in the way that it will standardize communications and transport coordination, it lacks the complementing policy that can actually affect a change in resource consumption and productivity. For example, reductions in mandated workdays and increases in social and health benefits have been proven to be effective in improving productivity and corporation-client relationships. Without providing for enforced labor reforms, this act would only change clocks, and not lifestyles impacted by the systemically forced false ideal of productivity. The necessity at the moment calls for systemic change, and not superficial change.

Nandini Sharma is an Opinion Staff Writer. She can be reached at nandis2@uci.edu