Every year I have hope that whatever sane adults exist in positions of power will come together to ensure we never again have to deal with government-mandated clock shifting. But every year the disappointing “spring forward” arrives, as it did this week.

There may not be a better example of the hubris of government than the idea that, by fiat, we can shift time itself. Solar noon, or “high noon,” measures when the sun is highest. Since time zones cover a lot of ground, this happens at different times within the zone, so “clock noon” isn’t usually exactly at high noon. The seasons of the year also affect it some.

For Raleigh, solar noon and clock noon match up exactly around Thanksgiving every year. They are farthest apart in February, when it reaches a 28 minute discrepancy. Solar noon was at 12:24 on March 11, so still near its farthest point. Farthest, that is, until a day later, on March 12, when because of Daylight Saving Time, noon in Raleigh is told to identify as 1:24 p.m.

There are all sorts of myths about why we do this, like that it helps farmers somehow. But the real reason it began was that in WWI, a theory swept the world that adjusting time in this way would save energy. Rather than just direct factories to start earlier during war time, they figured it’d be easier to change time itself. So President Woodrow Wilson, who never turned down a chance to use government for evil ends, signed the Standard Time Act of 1918.

The law caused such an uproar and chaos among Americans that almost exactly one year later, Congress voted to repeal the law. Wilson, committed to being on the wrong side of any issue, vetoed the bill. The bipartisan momentum was so strong though that they passed it again with enough votes to override his second veto.

But then, during WWII, the idea reemerged, again as a way to save energy. The War Powers Act was signed by the second most progressive and terrible president in our history, Franklin D. Roosevelt. The law expired, but the Uniform Time Act, signed in 1966 by Lyndon B. Johnson, another big government progressive president, has kept us in clock-switching hell ever since.

It should not come as a surprise that Woodrow Wilson, FDR, and LBJ, the three kings of American progressivism, are responsible for this testament to government-gone-wrong. Thankfully, progressives haven’t yet thought of ways to adjust the seasons to their preferences, like mandating that summer begin earlier.

If you want a good breakdown of all the problems that DST causes, read this article by my colleague Jon Sanders, director of the Center for Food, Power, and Life at the John Locke Foundation. He details how there are more heart attacks, car crashes, strokes, and work-place deaths, in addition to less work productivity, sleep, and overall happiness, due to DST.

Possibly even more infuriating, the entire reason for this charade, that it would save us on energy, turns out not even to be the case. In fact, a case study of Indiana’s energy use published by MIT found that it actually increased energy usage by 1%.

“Our main finding is that — contrary to the policy’s intent — DST increases residential electricity demand,” they concluded. “Finally, we argue that the effect is likely to be even stronger in other regions of the United States.”

Americans hate it

There might be a case for continuing the clock switching if, despite causing personal and economic devastation and not actually achieving the intended energy savings, people loved it. But, just like those in 1918 who despised the new Woodrow Wilson policy, Americans, by a 3-1 margin, want the nightmare to end.

What now?

The answer should be simple: scrap Daylight Saving Time and go back to Standard Time, with different time zones based on when the sun rises in your area. But things can never be that simple, can they?

What appears to be holding this back is that some people want to “make Daylight Saving permanent,” instead of a failed experiment in the dustbin of history. Rather than choosing to wake up earlier if they want to see more sunlight at certain times of the year, they want to declare noon to be permanently 1 p.m. — sun be damned.

N.C. Rep. Jason Saine, R-Lincoln, is proposing this permanent DST path in his yearly (righteous) attempt to end the clock switching.

That would certainly be an improvement from our current situation. But there hasn’t been a decision at the federal level on whether each state would decide for themselves or whether they would all have to be permanent DST or permanent Standard Time states.

In Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s bill, he wants to force all states to observe permanent DST, except for states and territories like Arizona, Puerto Rico, and Hawaii who don’t do DST now and could continue calling noon “noon.” Rubio’s bill would still be a major improvement, because it would stop the clock switching and would keep most states aligned. But it’s unclear whether this will be the approach taken.

Worst of all worlds: each state deciding DST, permanent DST, or Standard Time

If, instead, each state is authorized to declare their own state time, more government-imposed time chaos will only ensue.

Consider how many states North Carolina borders. Tennessee has passed a permanent DST bill similar to Saine’s, so they would move to that dynamic if U.S. Congress approves it. But hypothetically, they could change their mind and choose to observe Standard Time. This would mean someone could leave from Cherokee County, North Carolina, at 11 a.m. and, after an hour-and-20-minute drive, arrive just past Chattanooga, Tennessee (where the Central Time Zone begins), at 10:20 a.m. because of the two-hour difference in time zones covered in 72 miles.

The governments of Virginia, Georgia, and South Carolina may also choose to impose various times on their citizens. Those living in border areas of our state, like my parents in Roxboro or the entire city of Charlotte, will have to do some extra calculations to make sure they can get to their cross-border meetings and appointments on time.

Just scrap the whole thing

Neither of those possibilities — artificially living an hour in the future or state-by state time zones — are ideal; although both are better than clock switching. Most likely, the choice will come down to all/most states being permanent DST or permanent Standard Time.

The question I have for permanent DST people is: why do you need light so late during summer, the season when there is already much more light? Due to DST, Raleigh has a sunset at 8:30 p.m. or later for over a month (from June 10 to July 16). Trying to put my kids to bed is hard enough without the sun blazing above. Is the natural sunset at 7:30 so terrible?

Also, why do we value the sunlight needs of those who want to do late-night suntanning after work more than those who want to wake up and see the sunrise (rather than hours of darkness) in the morning? For much of December and January, one has to wait until around 7:30 a.m. to see the sun. Think of all the kids in the dark at all those bus stops.

Or at least think of those who have to leave for jobs in a windowless office, who end up living like coal miners, not seeing daylight in the morning before going into their work caves.

So, let’s get rid of this progressive overreach once-and-for-all and not make it more complicated than it has to be by trying to think of new ways to boss around Father Time.