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OPINION

JUST PLAIN TALK: The electoral college and time changes

Buz Livingston
Buz Livingston

My deadline is looming, and still we don't know who won the presidential election. Like it or not, we're stuck with the Electoral College; it's part of the Constitution.

I am not an expert on Constitutional law, but the Founding Fathers could not have envisioned states with colossal population disparities. In 1790, the United States Census found just under 4 million residents; there was little difference between the haves and have-nots. What exists is a Rube Goldberg contraption ill-suited for modern times. Some, primarily conservatives, claim the Founders used the Electoral College to give smaller, rural areas more power, but that can't be true. In 1790, more people lived in rural areas versus urban. Others, generally liberal, claim the Electoral College was for the benefit of slave states. But in 1790, slavery was legal in all 13 states. Despite its many warts, the Electoral College is not going away. We are stuck with it like people in unhappy marriages. Fortunately, I don't speak from experience. 

While the Electoral College debate often spurs heated arguments, let's throw some gasoline on the fire. Most people don't, but I prefer Standard Time. The rationale for Savings Time is more time is available after work. If you cut a foot off a blanket and sew on the opposite end, the blanket is not longer.  

On Standard Time, I sleep better. Our circadian system, a natural, internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and repeats on each rotation of the Earth, takes cues from sunlight, not smartphones. Changing clocks twice a year is counterproductive. By one estimate, time changes cost our economy 1 percent of GDP annually due to sleep deprivation, a consequence of misaligning our social clock (Savings Time) with our natural clock (Standard Time).

Last year the Canadian Society of Chronobiology recommended ending our biannual clock switch and staying on Standard Time year-round. Other experts in the field agree. In a move endorsed by multiple health and safety organizations, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recently advocated year-round standard time as the best choice to match our natural body rhythm.  

Some people like Savings Time because there's extra time in afternoons for errands or recreation. No duh, days are longer during the summer. But with Savings Time, children have to wake up before daylight to get to school, especially in more northern latitudes. Suck it up buttercup, a child's safety should be paramount. 

Europeans may cast a skeptical eye at how Americans elect presidents, but they royally screw up time, and that's an easy fix. Currently, most of Western Europe uses Central European Time. Experts recommend only Germany remain with the U.K., France, Benelux, and Spain switching to Western European Time, an hour difference. Portugal, Ireland, and Iceland should be Azores Time, an additional hour difference. We have an excuse for the Electoral College; it's in the Constitution, but Europeans don't.

You can't always get what you want, but Buz Livingston, CFP, can help you figure out what you need. For specific advice, visit livingstonfinancial.net or drop by, masked, 2050 West County Highway 30A, M1 Suite 230.