I'm a big fan of Benjamin Franklin. As a writer, inventor, scientist, diplomat, etc., Franklin excelled and was a truly brilliant man, in my opinion.

I'm a big fan of Benjamin Franklin. As a writer, inventor, scientist, diplomat, etc., Franklin excelled and was a truly brilliant man, in my opinion.
I'm not a big fan of an idea traditionally attributed to him: Daylight Saving Time. This kooky time shift scheme of moving clocks forward to swap daylight around was “kind of, sort of, indirectly” dreamed up by Franklin in 1784, when he published his notions in a letter to a Parisian  newspaper. I say “kind of, sort of indirectly” because nowhere in his letter does Franklin mention anything of moving clocks forward or backward or sidewise. Really, all he basically says is that people should get up earlier and go to bed earlier to save on energy costs. Use natural light instead of artificial light and you'll save money. That's the gist of it, written in Franklin's humorous style. In fact, the whole letter is rather tongue in cheek.
If you know anything of Franklin you know he was conjuring up stuff all the time. I mean, he was an inventor, after all. Cooking up a goo of ideas and throwing them against the wall to see if any stick was what Franklin did to amuse himself. He could just as easily could have come up with a scheme to use kangaroos as rickshaw drivers as a new mode of public transportation. Maybe I'm being unfair to Mr. Franklin. Most of his ideas were good ones, as it turned out. I don't wish to imply that he didn't think ideas through. He was just creative is all.
Like much of his writing, Franklin's original letter – later considered an essay – where he introduces the thought of taking advantage of daylight hours is half in jest. He jokes about how, like most Parisians, he never gets up before noon but that one day he was awoken suddenly in the early morning and was amazed to discover the light in his room wasn't coming from oil lamps but from the sun! He had no idea the sun came out so early! Of course, he was being facetious.
Frankin did some math and calculated the number of candles burned in Paris between March 20 and  September 20 – the spring and autumn equinox – during hours that the sun was already shining.
So Franklin proposed – again, tongue in cheek – a number of things to make stubborn people rise with the sun and consume less candle wax and lamp oil:  
1. Place a tax on every window that has a shutter. Shutters keep out the sun. If windows don't have shutters, people will use natural light instead of artificial. And they will know when it is daylight.
2. Ration candles to one pound per family per week.
3. Place a sunset curfew on all coaches except in medical situations.  
4. Ring bells and fire cannons if necessary every day at sunrise to get people out of bed and start using natural light. It's a given that if people rise earlier they will probably go to bed earlier and not use as much artificial light at night.
That last little recommendation was the kernel that people snatched, planted, tended, and eventually grew into what we now know as Daylight Saving Time. Instead of bells and cannons to make us get up earlier, we move the clock forward. Thanks to that, we are all condemned to rising what amounts to an hour earlier than the time our bodies have grown used to for seven or eight months out of the year. Then we go back to the actual time – the real time – for four or five months in the winter, and then confuse our internal clocks once again in the spring. Back and forth, back and forth, over and over and over. In exchange, we tell ourselves we are gaining an hour of daylight in the evening. The clock says 9 p.m. but we have turned the clock into a liar. It is actually 8 p.m. That is the real time. The sun rises and sets on its own schedule, no matter what time we mortals point to. We have more hours of daylight in the spring and summer months because of the tilt of the Earth, not a man-made time shift. If you want to rise with the sun, get up an hour earlier on your own. For the love of Pete, let the rest of us sleep.
At to the energy savings argument, researchers examining certain counties in the state of Indiana found out something rather interesting after Indiana implemented state-wide Daylight Saving Time in 2006: Energy usage actually went up in those counties after the changeover to Daylight Saving Time. The best guess as to why? Air conditioning. In the summer months when people get home from work an hour earlier, because of the clock jump, they tend to turn on, or lower, their air conditioner. That more than cancels out other energy savings.  
The states of Arizona and Hawaii do not observe Daylight Saving Time. Hawaii I can understand, because it is closer to equator and daylight hours are pretty constant year-round. Arizona, though, is the last holdout in the continental United States, ever since states were allowed to opt out of Daylight Saving Time.
And in case you were wondering, Daylight Saving Time first came around in this country in 1918, was repealed the next year, then reinstated for all-year-round during World War II, then scaled way back to local option only, then reinstated nationally in 1966. States could opt out, and several did at first.
Most of the time I'm a strong advocate for local control. In this case, however, I propose that the U.S. Congress repeal Daylight Saving Time nation-wide and do away with this silly time see-saw. I have heard some people call for establishing Daylight Saving Time as the standard time year-round. However, if we do that, a lot of kids will be going off to school in the pitch-black dark for part of the year. A lot of parents might frown at that for safety reasons.
One day Benjamin Franklin, at 78 years old, suffering from gout from the self-admission of too much wine and rich food, and probably just sitting around, had a thought and wrote it down in the form of a funny letter to the newspaper. Now, 234 years later, we are about to find ourselves yawning again as an indirect result of that letter. Ben Franklin didn't invent Daylight Saving Time, he just sort of inspired it. Thanks, Ben. Thanks a lot.

Wes Franklin writes a column for the Neosho Daily News.