We want to know: Should the U.S. just have two time zones?

KUSA - This may sound a little outrageous, but hear me out.

There is an economist who's made the argument that the continental U.S. would be better off divided into just two time zones instead of four.

Depending on how you view it, Daylight-Saving Time is either fine or really, really dumb. And so, as we scrutinize DST, we're also taking a look at time zones.

USA TODAY | DST facts and why Arizona ignores it

And, as pointed out by economist Allison Schrager in Quartz, DST makes remembering what time zone people live in and what time it is there a living nightmare - a nightmare we will all be living this Sunday.

Before you think this is just an article written for the clicks - there are actually some serious arguments FOR this change.

Schrager points out that we've been using the four time zone system for the continental U.S. since 1883. Do you know why it's been drawn like that? Because, at the time, the U.K. was the most powerful country in the world and it made sense to organize time around their empire.

In the 130-plus years since the time zones were drawn, things have obviously changed. People don't travel on steamships and railroads. We fly. You can get from Los Angeles to London in just over ten hours on an airplane.

Schrager argues that, despite the different time, traders on the West Coast get up at 5 a.m. to participate in the markets that open at 8 a.m. on the East Coast. 

In a study done back in 2006 cited by Schrager, a group of economists found that people working at the same time are actually more productive.

"Communities are more productive when there’s more time coordination," Schrager writes. "Californians who work on Eastern time require services that can accommodate their schedule and see less of their families on Pacific time. Research based on time use surveys found American’s schedules are determined by television more than daylight."

 

 

One other thing that's the trouble with these time zones, is that since there's so many, 13 U.S. states are split into at least two. In one of the strangest turns, parts of Idaho are in the Western time zone and parts of Oregon are in Mountain time.

Parts of Florida are cut off from the rest, Kentucky is basically cut in half, and parts of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas are in both Central and Mountain time.

While it may seem like a radical (and, admittedly, out of left field idea) to cut down the number of time zones, that's nothing to some of the stranger suggestions:

Slate took a look at making the entire country live in the same time zone - something that China already does.

The Washington Post put out an article in 2013 arguing that the entire world enter the same time zone, meaning that when it's 5 p.m. in London, it's 5 p.m. in Denver - but it might be the middle of the night there while it's the daytime here.

RECOMMENDATION | WaPo: The radical plan to destroy time zones

 

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