“Reducing demand for expensive wax candles,” wrote Ben Franklin in an April 26, 1784 essay entitled“An Economical Project”, was reason enough to save daylight by simply moving the hands of the clock.
And it was with that pronouncement, upon which the American delegate to Paris pontificated whimsically at length, that over two centuries later nations around the world saw the light and employed variations of Franklin’s formula.
We here in America, with some pockets of resistance, call it Daylight Saving Time whereby “in the wee hours of a Sunday morning in March, 60 minutes vanish from the clock and the time reappears each year in November.”
Had it not been for his friend Antoine Alexis-Francois Cadet de Vaux, editor of the “Journal de Paris”, the aging Franklin would not perhaps have known what to do with himself. But as it was, the long-named news publisher encouraged Franklin to write on simplifying problems that might otherwise appear complex.
But more on that in a moment.
One has to wonder why Franklin’s visage is imprinted on the $100 bill when if anything – and Franklin was known for many things – a penny would have been more symbolic given the great inventor’s penchant for penny-pinching thriftiness.
Utility, and economy – i.e. saving expensive candle wax – were the elements by which Franklin built his case for saving daylight but amusingly he did so by appearing to advocate beating the daylights out of those who would dare to defy his discovery.
Franklin calculated, that if “100,000 Parisian families burned half a pound of candles per hour for an average of seven hours per day (the average time for the summer months between dusk and the supposed bedtime of Parisians),” and there being “183 nights between 20 March and 20 Septembertimes 7 hours per night of candle usage,” that would “equal 1,281 hours for a half year of candle usage. Multiplying by 100,000 families gives 128,100,000 hours by candlelight. Each candle requires half a pound of tallow and wax, thus a total of 64,050,000 pounds.”
Franklin then estimated the price per pound of tallow and wax and announced the astronomical sum as “immense that the city of Paris might save every year.”
Franklin anticipated the fallout from folks flummoxed with the fallback clock change come Fall, or any other time of the year. For those of the “population of Paris who refused to rise before noon” (because they had stayed up so late the night before playing chess as Franklin was fond of doing, and burning way too much candle wax in the process) Franklin then waxed eloquent in proposing the following four government regulations.
And this is where Lakewood comes in.
First said Franklin, “a tax be laid on every window built with shutters to keep out the light of the sun.”
Second, “candles rationed to one pound per family per week, and the regulation enforced by the constabulary.”
Third, “guards posted to stop the passage of all coaches, etc. upon the streets after sunset except those of physicians, surgeons and midwives.”
Fourth, “every morning as soon as the sun shall rise, church bells and, if necessary, cannon shall inform the citizenry of the advent of light and ‘awaken the sluggards effectually and make them open their eyes to see their true interests . . . Oblige a man to rise at four in the morning, and it is probable he will go willingly to bed at eight in the evening.’”
Turning back the clock however, simplifying what is needlessly complex, seems lost on Lakewood’s leaders who in contrast appear to have been burning the candle at both ends given they will announce this November 7, (p.24), the most recent fee proposal to compensate city-approved clipboard-carrying ‘constables’ who shall check 69 boxes on their seven pages of inspection upon entering – entering – rental properties throughout the city.