Category Archives: Government

Daylight Saving Time is Costly–and Dangerous!

Clock-on pole

Well, it’s been a few days now since our semi-annual ritual of the “changing of the clocks,” otherwise known as Daylight Saving Time (DST).

Did you finally get that difficult-to-reach clock changed?

How do you feel? The change to DST can affect some people for a full 3 weeks following the changeover (Sleep Medicine Journal– 2009 edition).

How has this change affected your productivity and your business? I’ve been studying the effects of switching time standards on business productivity for some time now, and here are a few of the things I discovered:

  • The economic cost of changing over each year is estimated at $433,982,548. (“Estimating the Economic Loss of Daylight Saving Time for U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Areas” -2012 study by Chmura Economics & Analytics.)
  • On the job accidents increase in both number and severity on the Monday after DST starts. (Journal of Applied Psychology -2009.)
  • There is a dramatic increase in “Cyberloafing” (surfing the Web when you should be working) on the first Monday after DST starts. (Journal of Applied Psychology -2012 study.)

Based on the above information, it is obvious that changing time standards twice yearly is a detriment to the business community.

Perhaps more startling however, are some facts that indirectly impact the business community, such as:

  • Heart attacks are 3.9% higher than normal the first week after the start of DST. (Sleep Medicine Journal-2012 edition.)
  • There are 8.6% more traffic accidents than normal on the Monday following the start of DST. (New England Journal of Medicine -1996.)
  • The journal Accident Analysis and Prevention calculated that simply staying on DST all year around would save 366 lives from fatal auto and pedestrian accidents. (“Accident Analysis and Prevention” report -2004).

* * * * *

Apparently Ben Franklin first suggested ways to better utilize daylight in the summer months back in the 18th century—to save candle wax.

Proponents of DST cite energy savings as the main reason for the change, but a study done in Indiana when it went to state-wide DST showed that the switch cost the state of Indiana about $9 million per year in increased energy consumption.

It seems that since the days of using candles for lighting, the world has developed automatic heating and cooling; automatic street and highway lighting; automatic security lighting; and automatic building lighting… all of which are only concerned with temperature, dawn, and dusk—regardless of what our clocks say.

Cash Squeeze

But, if DST got you down this year (remember, it takes some people 3 weeks to adjust to the change), just be comforted in the knowledge that the folks in Washington know better than you do what is best for you.

And what do the folks in Washington care about only 366 additional fatalities each year because of the time change? That’s nothing compared to all the other deaths attributed to accidental causes.

Of course each state can opt out of DST if they want, but Arizona and Hawaii are the only two states to stand up to the Washington bureaucrats so far.

It seems to be the actual “changeover” from one standard to another that creates all the problems. I don’t think it matters much whether it’s standard time, or daylight saving time… well, maybe it does if you are lighting your home with candles.

Some time ago, I did a little research on the subject of “time” and the keeping thereof, and presented it in a blog post. If you have any interest in how we got to where we are today, you can check this out—click here.

What do you think—is changing time standards twice a year a good thing?

*

The Myth of Daylight Saving Time

Well, we are about to set all our clocks ahead one hour this coming weekend. As usual, I scratch my head to try and figure out why in the world we do that. Time and the keeping of time is a nebulous pursuit and what everyone thinks is the “actual” time is really just a fantasy.

I came to this conclusion when I did a little research on time and came up with some interesting information on how it has been perceived—and calculated—throughout history.

Here is what I found:

  • Folklore has it that clocks were dangerous, and that 2 clocks ticking in the same room could bring “sure death.”
  • In 1663, Massachusetts passed a law that made wasting time a crime. This created a demand for clocks, but the only ones available were expensive imports. It would be another century before America made clocks.
  • By the mid-19th century, time (or the telling of it) became much more important, and each city set its own standard time according to “solar noon.” That meant when it was 12:00 noon in Chicago, it was 11:50 am in St. Louis, and 12:18 pm in Detroit.
  • However, a problem arose as America’s railroad system was developed because train schedules were forced to follow the “solar noon” time of the cities. To solve this problem, in 1883 the railroads broke up the country into 4 different time “zones.”
  • That meant that in order to work with the new train schedules, Chicagoans had to move their clocks back 9 minutes and 32 seconds. Louisville had to set theirs back almost 18 minutes—but the folks in Bangor Maine passed a referendum in 1884 (by a 3 to 1 margin) to oppose a 25-minute change to their clocks.
  • Interestingly, the time zones set by the railroads in 1883 are the same time zones we have today. If you look at a time zone map of the U.S., you see where the land is flat the time zone is very wide (trains travel faster over the plains) and where mountains had to be climbed or avoided, the time zone is narrow. (The Pacific zone in Oregon is not even as wide as the state—due to the rugged Cascade Mountains.)
  • Daylight saving time was first adopted in the U.S. during the First World War, and then it was rejected right after the war ended. It wasn’t used again until February 3, 1942 when “war time” (daylight saving time) was instituted, and then lasted without change until September 30, 1945.
  • Daylight saving time is not (and never has been) consistent. Clock changes for daylight saving time in countries around the world have been made for 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 40 minutes, 60 minutes, and 120 minutes. Of course many countries do not change their clocks at all. So, why do we select 60 minutes in the U.S.? No one seems to know.
  • Of course, the states of Arizona and Hawaii do not observe daylight saving time at all, and several other states are considering opting out.
  • Canada has 6 major time zones, and their daylight saving time matches the dates of the U.S. schedule—although in the far North where it is sunny almost around the clock in the summer, I’m not sure why they bother at all.
  • Mexico has their own daylight saving plan—except in the North where the towns usually follow the U.S. time zones (which means that Mexico uses two separate systems).
  • Egypt used to change their clocks 4 times per year, because of Ramadan. The new transitional government abolished daylight saving time on April 25, 2011.
  • Iraq’s Council of Ministers abolished daylight saving time in Iraq in 2008.
  • Russia eliminated 2 entire time zones in March of 2010, and has made daylight saving time permanent as of autumn of 2011. No more clock changes in Russia. (What do they know that we don’t?)
  • What about the Southern hemisphere? Shortly after the U.S. moves their clocks ahead in Spring, Southern hemisphere countries normally move their clocks back one hour—making a two-hour gap for part of the year. Sometimes, because of the dates of change, there is no extra gap at all.
  • I remember seeing a news clip on the evening news, during the last “changing of time,” which showed a row of employees in a jewelry store standing at a counter changing the time on all their watches for sale. Can you imagine how much wasted productivity daylight saving time causes—just fiddling with clocks?
  • Apparently, it is not really the hours of daylight or darkness that matters—it seems to be the concept of “change” that creates all the problems with daylight saving time.
  • Then, of course, every 4 years we throw in an extra 24 hours for good measure (or should it be a bit more, or a bit less than the somewhat arbitrary 24 hours).
  • More and more studies are coming to light about: adverse effects of time changes on our health; increases in accidents (especially on-the-job accidents); increases in cost of energy; increases in suicide, and on and on.

As far as I can determine, every plausible reason for having daylight saving time has been struck down by thorough scientific studies.

Frankly, I don’t care what standards are selected for time zones—I just wish they would pick one and stick with it. Maybe Russia, Iraq, Egypt, Arizona, Hawaii, and (whomever) has the right idea.

In the meantime, we’ll follow the dictates of our leaders in Washington, because they obviously know what is “right” for all their subjects.

With the constant changing of clocks and times around the world—I wonder if anyone really knows what time it is?

Tell me what you think about changing all your clocks and watches twice a year. Does Daylight Saving Time benefit you?

*

Small Business Hit With Regulatory Costs

On the eve of the newly passed small business assistance bill (TARPll?), the Office of Advocacy of the SBA released a new report on the impact of government regulations on small business. The timing is somewhat ironic in that the report discusses the onerous cost demands being forced on small business–while the new bill offers to cut taxes…taxes on what; I’m not sure.

Just for a benchmark, this new report tells us that the cost of federal regulations for all businesses has increased to $1.75 TRILLION per year, as of 2008. That number breaks down to $7,755 per employee for large firms (500 or more employees) and $10,585 per employee for small firms (fewer than 20 employees). That is a 36% difference.

Interestingly, it appears from the report that a good portion of this cost is for paperwork required by various federal regulations (and bureaucracies). For many of the regulations there is no differentiation between small firms (fewer than 20 employees) and large firms (over 500 employees). They all have to adhere to the same reporting requirements.

It just seems to me that in the face of our current economy, the bill that was just passed totally missed the boat if the intent was to get small business going in order to improve the economy. Passing a bill to reduce some of the paperwork demanded by federal regulations would have accomplished much more.

In addition, are there any small businesses out there that are not concerned about the cost of the upcoming implementation of the new healthcare reform law in 2014?

Is it any wonder that entrepreneurship in the U.S. is falling behind the rest of the world? Or, does anyone even care?

*

It’s Got to Stop

Steve Wynn is  the most active and successful real estate and Casino operator in Las Vegas. He is concerned about the direction Washington is headed in and how it will affect businesses across the country. Part of his personal solution is to redirect his interests (and money) outside the U.S. Watch an interview he did with CNBC a few weeks ago…if you’re a business person you will find it interesting:

Is Wynn full of it…or is he right when he says “It’s got to stop.”

*

Business Funds for Veterans

Sadly, veteran owned businesses are at an all-time low. Fifteen years ago veterans owned around 20 percent of all small businesses, but today that number has dwindled to about 12 percent. Consequently, the U.S. Congress, through the SBA, has approved several programs to help veterans become entrepreneurs.

Here are three of the most popular:

  • Patriot Express Pilot Loan—This program is for all veterans and active-duty military people, including their spouses. However, this is a SBA “guaranteed” loan, which means the loan is made through a bank—thus requiring that you have a good credit history. Vets can borrow up to $500,000 with 85 percent of their loan guaranteed by the SBA. And since it is an “Express” loan, you will know within one day if you are approved. For more information, call your local SBA office or visit  http://www.sba.gov/vets
  • Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan—This special loan is for the small business that has a key employee, or the owner, called up for active duty. The concept is to loan the business additional operating money to help it either get through the period of absence, or recover from the temporary loss of a key individual. You have a year after the return of the key employee to apply for the loan, or you can apply immediately upon the notice of call-up (a good idea if it is the business owner). For more information, call your local SBA office or visit http://www.sba.gov/vets
  • Veterans Transition Franchise Initiative—This is not a loan program; it is a government-sponsored program that gives ten to 20 percent off franchise fees at almost 400 different franchising companies. This program works well for the vet who either has the additional money, or can raise it, to cover the remainder of the franchise fee, plus any operating capital requirements, and who prefers to work within the structured franchise model. For more information, visit http://www.vetfran.com

These are special programs set up to help veterans returning from active duty, or while on active duty, so don’t hesitate to take advantage of them if entrepreneurship is in your future.

Representatives of the People?

Obtaining high political office today is quite a challenge—a challenge to raise enough money to buy the position, that is. The days of a common person from small-town-America rising through political chairs just on the basis of their honesty and ethical behavior are long gone. Today it takes excessive amounts of one major ingredient to win high political office—MONEY!

Most of us are still reeling from the report that Michael Bloomberg spent over $87 Million on his resent mayoral campaign, which is $157.45 per vote. That got me thinking about the impact of money on political office, and while researching, I ran into some interesting numbers in the latest issue of Newsweek magazine.

Newsweek published the public numbers for campaign costs for Barack Obama, Michael Bloomberg, and 35 Senate campaigns run in 2008. You might find the following interesting:

NAME

POSITION

AMOUNT SPENT

COST PER VOTE

Barack Obama

President

$760,369,688

11.37

Michael Bloomberg

N.Y.C. Mayor

87,710,101

157.45

SENATORS:

Mitch McConnell

R-KY.

21,306,296

22.54

Al Franken

D-MINN

21,066,834

17.37

John Cornyn

R-TEXAS

16,454,518

3.80

Saxby Chambliss

R-GA.

15,692,294

12.85

Mark Udall

D-COLO.

12,987,562

11.14

Mark Warner

D-VA.

12,515,479

5.29

John Kerry

D-MASS.

12,279,425

6.27

Mary Landrieu

D-LA.

10,146,669

10.29

Kay Hagan

D-N.C.

8,953,274

4.02

Jeanne Shaheen

D-N.H.

8,208,542

22.87

Max Baucus

D-MONT.

8,164,703

23.60

Frank Lautenberg

D-N.J.

8,135,752

4.44

Richard Durbin

D-ILL.

8,016,455

2.28

Tom Udall

D-N.M.

7,841,889

15.77

Susan Collins

R-MAINE

7,765,295

17.47

Jeff Merkley

D-ORE.

6,501,315

7.96

Pat Roberts

R-KAN.

6,297,288

8.84

Roger Wicker

R-MISS.

6,160,116

9.49

Carl Levin

D-MICH.

5,784,520

1.91

James Inhofe

R-OKLA.

5,477,730

7.18

Tom Harkin

D-IOWA

5,022,490

5.40

Joe Biden

D-DELA.

4,907,245

19.06

John D. Rockefeller IV

D-W.VA.

4,820,379

10.85

Lamar Alexander

R-TENN

4,571,728

2.91

Tim Johnson

D-S.D.

4,550,590

19.13

Lindsey Graham

R-S.C.

4,463,619

4.21

Mark Begich

D-ALASKA

4,443,284

29.48

Mike Johanns

R-NEB.

3,781,316

8.45

Jim Risch

R-IDAHO

3,573,256

9.66

Mark Pryor

D-ARK.

3,284,632

4.12

Jeff Sessions

R-ALA

3,240,151

2.49

Jack Reed

D-R.I.

2,258,706

7.44

Thad Cochran

R-MISS.

2,063,627

2.85

John Barrasso

R-WYO.

1,981,441

11.11

Michael Enzi

R-WYO.

1,247,841

6.77

____________

TOTAL

$1,112,046,050

(Newsweek© research by Ian Yarett)

And the above total is just for the winners. Can you imagine what the actual amount spent would be if we added in McCain’s, Clinton’s, and all the other opponents of the above politicians? This is also just a sample of 35 offices out of many hundreds, especially if you include high state and big city positions. Obviously, several billions of dollars are spent annually (not only in election years) just to get into political office.

So, where does that money come from? Well, a small amount comes from American citizens. Another dab comes from small businesses, and this usually goes directly to the politician. But, the bulk of the money comes from big business, and winds its way through various political action committees and other means of circumventing campaign contribution laws.

The point here is that these enormous sums of campaign money can only come from wealthy people and big business. These are the same people who hire their minions on K Street to make sure the newly “supported” politicians act accordingly.

Is it any wonder that small business gets short shrift from their representatives? Small business cannot begin to compete with the mountains of money dished out by big business.

Sadly, this is not likely to change until we eliminate the “club” atmosphere in Washington—by instituting term limits, and passing actual campaign finance reform laws. Will that happen? Not likely, because those in the “club” like it the way it is…it will take a near revolution to bring this kind of change to pass.

But, maybe small business owners should keep this in mind the next time they get trampled on by legislation that favors only big business.