Sunday, March 17, 2013

Dollars for Docs Mints a Millionaire Drug payments » New data show drugmakers’ payments to hundreds of thousands of doctors, and some have made well over $500,000. Tracy Weber and Charles Ornstein. ProPublica. March 11, 2013.

Jon W. Draud, the medical director of psychiatric and addiction medicine at two Tennessee hospitals, pursues some eclectic passions. He’s bred sleek Basenji hunting dogs for show. And last summer, the Tennessee State Museum featured “African Art: The Collection of Jon Draud.”
But the Nashville psychiatrist is also notable for a professional pursuit: During the last four years, the 47-year-old Draud has earned more than $1 million for delivering promotional talks and consulting for seven drug companies.
By a wide margin, Draud’s earnings make him the best-paid speaker in ProPublica’s Dollars for Docs database, which has been updated to include more than $2 billion in payments from 15 drugmakers for promotional speaking, research, consulting, travel, meals and related expenses from 2009 to 2012.
Payouts to hundreds of thousands physicians are now included.
Draud is not the only high earner: 21 other doctors have made more than $500,000 since 2009 giving talks and consulting for drugmakers, the database shows. And half of the top earners are from a single specialty: psychiatry.
“It boggles my mind,” said Dr. James H. Scully Jr., chief executive of the American Psychiatric Association, referring to the big money paid to some psychiatrists for what are billed as educational talks.
Paid speaking “is perfectly legal, and if people want to work for drug companies, this is America,” said Scully, whose specialty has often been criticized for its over-reliance on medications. “But everybody needs to be clear — this is marketing.”
When Dollars for Docs launched in 2010, it gave the first comprehensive look at the money that drug companies spend to enlist doctors as a sales force. The new data show how payouts to psychiatrists like Draud and other doctors have added up over time. And they underscore the key role physicians play for drugmaker profits even as scrutiny and criticism of such payments grows.
The companies say physician speakers are the best messengers to teach their peers about new and effective treatments. But critics counter that the speakers are little more than highly credentialed pitchmen who typically use the drug companies’ slides and talking points to sell rather than educate.
Attention to the issue has prompted prominent medical schools to tighten rules on faculty acceptance of drug company money for such talks. Questions about undue industry influence also have bedeviled medical journals and professional groups representing physician specialists.
Susan Chimonas, a research scholar at the Center on Medicine as a Profession at Columbia University, said many medical centers that regulate interactions between drug companies and their doctors would be “alarmed” by the high tallies in the updated Dollars for Docs.
“How do these folks have time to do their real jobs if they’re speaking so much?” Chimonas said. Hospital administrators, she predicted, would be “concerned not only about the conflict of interest, but also the conflict of commitment.”
Draud’s $1 million in drug company earnings is probably a minimum figure. Some of the seven companies he represented have reported their payouts for only a short time. And Draud has separately disclosed ties with at least four additional companies that haven’t revealed how much they pay speakers.
Draud has friends among the other highest-paid doctors in the database. He teaches continuing medical education courses with fellow psychiatrists Rakesh Jain and Vladimir Maletic. Jain, of Lake Jackson, Texas, has earned $582,049. Maletic, of Greer, S.C., made $527,850, according to Dollars for Docs. Both also speak for other companies that keep their payments private.
Draud and Maletic did not return several messages seeking comment. But in an interview, Jain said he loves teaching and delivers the same lectures about drugs and medical conditions regardless of whether a drug company is paying him.
“I am not a marketer, I am an educator,” Jain said.
In a later email, Jain said he is proud of his collaboration with Draud. “He’s been fair, balanced and is wickedly smart. And I like smart people who serve community needs.”
Jain and many top earners also have active clinical or research practices.
Next year, every drug and medical device maker that pays physicians will have to report such spending to a federal database as part of the Affordable Care Act health reform law. The first disclosure, scheduled for public release in September 2014, will include payments from August to December of this year.
The companies in Dollars for Docs accounted for about 47 percent of U.S. prescription drug sales in 2011. It’s unclear what percentage of total industry spending on doctors they represent, because dozens of companies do not publicize what they pay individual doctors. Most companies in Dollars for Docs are required to report under legal settlements with the federal government.
Even the $2 billion total underrepresents spending by these companies. Some in the database have begun reporting only in the past year, and others report spending in only a few categories. In addition, two companies reported some payments in ranges, so that spending was excluded from the total.
Overall, roughly half the payments were for research. A third went to speakers and the rest was for consulting, educational materials, meals and travel.
For Some Docs, An Earnings Drop
The push for transparency on physician payments started years ago.
Studies began showing that even trinkets doled out by drug sales reps could affect physician attitudes. At the same time, drugmakers were settling federal lawsuits alleging that they paid kickbacks and encouraged doctors to push drugs for unapproved uses. Two U.S. senators began calling out prominent physicians for not properly disclosing financial ties to the companies.
Dollars for Docs took transparency a step further by putting the available payment disclosures in one place and making them easy to search.
In 2010, many universities and teaching hospitals were surprised to find that their faculty members were engaged in promotional speaking. ProPublica compared the faculty lists of institutions with conflict-of-interest policies barring such speaking with the database and found a number of physicians in violation.
Drug firms, too, learned of problems with their chosen speakers. ProPublica found their rosters peppered with some physicians who had serious disciplinary actions against their medical licenses.
Both the drug companies and academia tightened their policies.
Only a handful of doctors who were among the 20 highest-paid in 2010 have maintained their level of income from speaking, the new data show.
Ten of the doctors dropped from making about $100,000 a year to less than $20,000 in 2012. Some doctors whose payments declined spoke about drugs the companies are no longer pushing. Others, like prominent cancer expert David Rizzieri at Duke University School of Medicine, faced new restrictions from their employers.
Rizzieri had been a speaker for Cephalon, GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis in 2010 and 2011. But after Duke restricted participation in speakers’ bureaus, his speaking pay dropped markedly in 2012, the new data show. All told, Rizzieri has received at least $567,300 in speaking and consulting payments since 2009.
Dr. Ross McKinney Jr., director of the Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities and History of Medicine at Duke, said university officials “had multiple discussions” with Rizzieri, who “is getting more restrained.”
McKinney said Duke physicians can deliver paid talks about diseases, but only if they use their own slides and presentation materials. “The general tone is a little bit more distant and less cozy than it used to be,” he said.
In an email, Rizzieri said he still did some paid speaking that is allowable within Duke’s new guidelines, but has focused his attention on a series of educational talks developed by the Division of Cellular Therapy at Duke.
New Drugs, New Dollars
Drug companies say their spending often reflects market realities — not a changing opinion on the use of physician speakers. Should a top-selling drug lose its patent, allowing cheaper generics to compete, there’s no impetus to push sales. A new drug or a new approved use for an existing drug, conversely, may prompt a burst of speakers.
New York’s Forest Laboratories, for example, is a fraction the size of its Big Pharma brethren Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Merck.
But when it comes to paying doctors to promote its products, the drugmaker has recently dwarfed its rivals.
During the first three quarters of 2012, Forest spent $31 million on doctors who touted the virtues of such drugs as Bystolic for high blood pressure, the antidepressant Viibryd, and Daliresp for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Nine doctors each made nearly $100,000 from Forest in that time alone, the data show.
Pfizer — whose U.S. sales are five times greater than Forest’s — spent a fifth of Forest’s total, paying out $6.2 million to promotional speakers during the same period. AstraZeneca, second to Pfizer in sales, spent $12.2 million.
Forest spokesman Frank Murdolo said in an email that the company spends more on speakers because it doesn’t use pricey direct-to-consumer TV marketing. It also has more new drugs than its competitors, Murdolo said.
In contrast, GlaxoSmithKline spent $52.8 million on speakers in 2010. That fell to $24.1 million in 2011 and $7.6 million in the first three quarters of last year.
Glaxo spokeswoman Mary Anne Rhyne wrote in an email that the company’s spending tracks with new drugs or new uses for existing products. “That activity has been relatively low in the past year, so spending for speaker programs has been lower, too,” she said.
The top recent speaking programs for Glaxo involved Advair, a drug for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and Jalyn, which treats problems with urination for men with enlarged prostates, Rhyne said.
Glaxo and other top pharmaceutical companies have laid off thousands of workers in the past couple of years as their top drugs have lost patent protections, the pipeline of new drug approvals has slowed, and cost pressures arose.
Other companies contacted by ProPublica about their spending would not reveal which products they paid speakers to extol or why.
“We don’t disclose how we allocate our speaker program budget,” Tony Jewell, a spokesman for AstraZeneca, said in an email. AstraZeneca’s spending on promotional speakers decreased from $31.6 million in 2010 to $17.6 million the following year and $12.2 million in the first three quarters of 2012.
“The decrease in spending is based on a variety of factors, including where our medicines are in their life cycles and brand budgets and strategies,” Jewell wrote.
The company’s blockbuster antipsychotic drug Seroquel went off patent last year. Another top drug, Nexium, which treats acid reflux, goes off patent in 2014.
Because each company is in a different stage with its blockbuster drugs, it’s difficult to compare their outlay on speakers and consultants head to head.
It may be too soon to tell whether continued publicity over the spending will cause companies to cut back further, said Chimonas, of the Center on Medicine as a Profession. But transparency might be having some effect.
At a recent conference, Chimonas said she heard that pharmaceutical companies themselves are using the disclosures about payments to “push back on doctors who are greedy.”
“They can say, ‘No. We see you’re taking this amount of money from our competitor. Why should we give you more than that?’” she said.
A Harder Sell For Antipsychotics
Once a reliable profit machine for drug companies, psychiatric drugs are now a challenge. And drugmakers are fighting hard to stanch the losses.
Starting in the 1990s, when the second generation of antipsychotics hit the market, drugmakers enjoyed a period of wild profitability. Doctors embraced these new drugs, such as Risperdal, Seroquel and Zyprexa, as safer and causing fewer of the troubling side effects of older psychiatric drugs. Domestic sales of Seroquel hit $4.7 billion in 2011, the year before it went off patent.
But as the drugs lost their patent protection, their makers have tried to shift the market to newer drugs in their stables. Critics say these new drugs are not appreciably different, but the drug companies claim they are easier to take or have fewer side effects.
Johnson & Johnson, for example, lost its Risperdal patent in 2008 but now markets Risperdal Consta, a long-acting injection, and Invega, another antipsychotic. AstraZeneca lost Seroquel but is now marketing Seroquel XR, which works for an extended period.
The pressure to reclaim sales is great. Overall, the market for antipsychotics dropped from $18.5 billion in 2011 to $13.7 billion last year, according to IMS Health, which closely tracks the industry’s ups and downs.
The newer drugs, like their predecessors, need someone to explain their benefits, several doctors said.
“I actually enjoy the aspect of educating my counterparts about developments in the field,” said Dr. Gustavo Alva, a California psychiatrist.
Alva has received $663,751 for speaking and consulting since 2009 for the companies in Dollars for Docs. He separately discloses speaking for other companies as well.
Tighter restrictions on speaking and consulting mean doctors will be less up to date on new treatments, according to several current physician speakers.
Psychiatrists aren’t always among the highest-paid. In 2010, when Dollars for Docs first launched, endocrinologists represented 11 of the 43 top money-making speakers. From year to year, the in-demand specialists are largely a function of the market.
But critics say psychiatrists are a particular concern because of their controversial role when the first waves of new antipsychotics hit the market.
AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Eli Lilly have paid billions in settlements to the federal government over allegations that they paid doctors to push these drugs for unapproved uses from children to seniors with dementia. One lawsuit alleged that a Florida psychiatrist switched patients from drug to drug based on his relationships with companies.
Texas psychiatrist Jain acknowledges the excesses of the past and said he does not excuse them. But he said he sees real value in the new brands because they give psychiatrists options if their patients are not responding to older drugs.
He said he has recently spoken on behalf of Forest’s antidepressant Viibryd, Merck’s antipsychotic Saphris, Lilly’s ADHD drug Strattera, Pfizer’s antipsychotic Geodon and its antidepressant Pristiq.
Having the financial support of drug companies does not lessen the value of this teaching, he said.
Jain’s tally in Dollars for Docs does not reflect his work with another group that is heavily sponsored by drugmakers.
Jain, top-paid speaker Draud and Maletic all serve on the advisory board and steering committee of the U.S. Psychiatric and Mental Health Congress, which will hold its annual convention in Las Vegas in September and October. Maletic is the 2013 program chairman.
The convention receives financial support from several drug companies, and some of its presentations are sponsored by the firms, according to information on its website. Much like professional medical societies, the congress also collects fees for drug company ads on things attendees see at their conventions, from tote bags to hotel room keys.
The congress is owned by North American Center for Continuing Medical Education, LLC, a for-profit New Jersey company that provides continuing medical education courses. Health professionals must take such classes periodically to retain their licenses. Draud, Jain and Maletic also teach classes for the company.
In response to written questions, Randy P. Robbin, president of the company, said members of the steering committee have “demonstrated experience and expertise in mental health and commitment to providing the highest quality education possible.”
The trio are paid for their work for the congress, but the money does not come from pharmaceutical sponsors, Robbin said. In continuing medical education courses, he said, drug companies don’t have a say in the educational content or speaker selection.
Jain said in an interview that his talks for the company are reviewed for bias before and after he speaks. “I cannot present anything at the Psych Congress that hasn’t been vetted repeatedly,” he said. “Pharma is not able to influence anything that I do at the Psych Congress.”
Scully, of the American Psychiatric Association, said he hopes all the drug company money doesn’t taint relationships between patients and their doctors.
“The public trust,” he said, “is too important.”
Utah doctors paid $25.8 million by drug companies
Drug companies have made $25.8 million in payments to Utah doctors since 2009 for research, consulting, travel and entertainment — a common practice, the scope of which is only now becoming clear and causing uneasiness in medicine.

Dollars for Docs by Utah doctors paid $25.8 million by drug companies Privately funded research moves drugs to market but triggers suspicion; law urges more disclosure. kirsten Stewart and Jennifer Dobner. The Salt Lake Tribune.

Drug companies have paid Utah doctors $25.8 million since 2009 for research, consulting, travel and entertainment — a common practice, the scope of which is only now becoming clear and causing uneasiness in medicine.
That’s the state’s share of over $2 billion in payments nationally, according to the latest update to ProPublica’s “Docs for Dollars” database, the largest repository of these payments.
Payments to Utah have grown six times in four years, and that only spans 15 manufacturers that account for 47 percent of the U.S. drug market.
Such payments have been secret for decades. But in recent years drug makers started disclosing them, some as a result of legal settlements.
Federal law requires all manufacturers to publicly report such data starting in 2013, an effort by the Obama administration to expose potential conflicts of interest. Research has shown such payments can influence doctors’ treatment and contribute to higher medical costs as patients are steered to pricey, brand-name therapies.
“Industry ties don’t necessarily mean that a physician is practicing bad medicine or making biased decisions,” said Aaron Kesselheim, a doctor and assistant professor of pharmacoepidemiology and pharmacoeconomics at Harvard Medical School.
“But if a physician is recommending a certain procedure, say, or a certain expensive brand-name drug, then knowing a physician has a lucrative connection to the manufacturer of the device or drug may weigh into a patient’s decision to accept the physician’s recommendation or perhaps seek a second opinion,” he said. “Making this information available and user-friendly is extremely important.”
Industry funding research. • In Utah, ProPublica’s data also spotlight a multimillion dollar industry of contract research organizations, or CROs, private companies that drug makers pay to test their drugs.
Among them is CRI LifeTree Research, which has received at least $3.4 million in drug company payments since 2009, according to ProPublica.
Co-founder Lynn Webster, an anesthesiologist, is listed as having received the single largest payment in the state: $1,687,771 from Cephalon, a big maker of pain medications. Only three other doctors in the country received more from Cephalon.
Nationally, Webster is among the top 50 for single largest payments received, behind marquee hospitals, such as the Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic and Duke and Harvard Universities.
A nationally recognized expert in pain management, Webster is under investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, which is looking into opioid overdose deaths of patients of his former pain clinic. A Senate Committee is probing his financial ties to Big Pharma.
Webster no longer sees patients, but serves as a medical director at LifeTree’s South Salt Lake location. Research payments to him cover overhead and other costs, including his salary as a lead researcher, he said.
“Research inevitably leads to better education, better systems and better therapies — things that are indispensable for medical advancement and quality care,” he said.
At Salt Lake City-based Foothill Family Clinic, primary care physician and obstetrician Shane Christensen conducts industry trials on contract through the CRO J. Lewis Research. He was paid just over $756,000 by two drug companies between 2010 and 2012.
The payments cover overhead, seven full-time research coordinators, 13 sub-investigators and stipends for participants, he said. He said he understands the large payments may leave some with a negative view of the drug industry, but adds the costs of conducting trials that meet federal regulatory standards add up fast.
“But we have the safest drugs,” he said. “Everybody wants the advancements of medicine. The dichotomy is, that if you don’t do research, (the drugs) might harm you.”
Christensen said he likes that the work puts him on the front end of medical advancements that may help his patients. But participation in any study is “a personal choice,” he stressed.
“We spell it all out. There’s informed consent,” he said. “Some people are totally interested and glad to get on a study. Other people would never, ever do a study and use the ‘guinea pig’ reference.
Rules on payments are stricter today than the days when drug companies wined and dined doctors, said Derek David Muse, a family doctor and part-time researcher for Jean Brown Associates, a CRO in Millcreek with 17 open trials, most of them for vaccines and pain medications.
About 25 percent of his income comes through research, Muse said. Often his clinic is one of several sites contributing to a study.
“Each one is reimbursed depending on how many patients we enroll,” he said. “We have a certain time frame to enroll patients and we only get paid a partial amount if a patient drops out.”
Reasons for skepticism • Industry-funded research by CROs fill a need by helping to bring to market new life-saving drugs, Kesselheim said.
But clinical trials carry risks, including serious harm, including death. And patients often enter them thinking mistakenly they’ll be cured.
And there are reasons for skepticism about the research results, he adds. There are “compelling” data showing pharma-funded trials are more likely to have positive outcomes than independent, or government trials, he said.
This can be due to the statistical approach and other quirks in the study’s design that bias the results, not necessarily because of fraudulent practices, he said.
Eliot Brinton, an internist and endocrinologist who recently left University Hospital and Clinics to pursue industry-sponsored research, agrees people should be wary of “research mills.” Drug companies control which of their self-funded studies to publish and some have hidden negative results, giving doctors a skewed view of the risks and benefits of a drug, he said.
But the medical community has gotten better at imposing checks and balances, he said. Studies that aren’t registered with the government at aren’t generally published by high-ranking scientific journals, Brinton said. And surveys have shown doctors place less faith in industry-funded trials.
Brinton received two of the single largest payments in Utah, both in excess of $85,000, for promoting drugs by GlaxoSmithKline, ProPublica’s database shows. He describes the lectures as educational and based on science.
“I love the science and I love to teach. And doctors are glad to better understand the drugs and how to use them. I’m careful not to act as a cheerleader,” he said. “If I’m a shill for the drug company I lose my integrity and integrity is really all I have to offer my patients and the drug companies.”
Brinton said he retired as a speaker for GlaxoSmithKline’s diabetes drug Avandia “because I was concerned about the science.”
Last year Glaxo paid $90 million to resolve allegations by federal prosecutors that it misrepresented the drug’s safety, including cardiovascular risks. Brinton said he served as an expert witness at trial, testifying against Glaxo.
The rise of the CROs •In the 1980s, most clinical trials were done at academic medical centers, said Jean Blackburn, a former obstetrics nurse who now owns Utah-based CRO Advanced Clinical Research. It received just over $1 million for research in Utah between 2010 and 2012, ProPublica data shows.
But at the academic centers, legal and financial red tape slowed the trials’ progress, frustrating drug companies that wanted to get products approved for the market, she said.
Industry’s next step was the doctor’s office-based trial model, which was followed by the development of the CRO, said Blackburn, who moved into the research industry in the 1990s. Her company has facilities in West Jordan, Boise, Idaho and Cleveland, Ohio.
She believes the CRO model makes sense because it presents fewer ethical conundrums — trial participants are not patients.
“Nobody is coming to us for care, they are coming to us to participate in a specific type of trial, so we don’t have any of that conflict of interest,” she said. “It’s always something (doctors) have to think about in private practice. Patients look up to you for guidance, so doctors have to be very, very careful that they don’t cross any line.”
The portion of payments paid to contracted physicians is typically 10 percent, she said. More than 50 percent funds office personnel, and the rest covers expenses such as recruitment, overhead and outside lab work.
After drugs are approved, “in the real world, stuff happens,” she said. “It started with phen-fen and the heart valve issue, and then Vioxx and Avandia,” she added, referring to drugs later found to have hazardous side effects.
Industry-funded trials can uncover problems with drugs, she said. “So I think industry has definitely paid big attention to this now. There are far-reaching effects and often there is no way you can foresee this in smaller trials.”
MarLynn James, 79, is participating in an Advanced Clinical Research study of a weight loss medication in West Jordan. A retired professor of physical chemistry who lives in Cedar Hills, James said he had only a cursory understanding about how the trials work, but felt well-informed about possible risks.
The double-blind study has James taking daily medication — which may be a placebo — and making lifestyle changes, such as increasing exercise and documenting what he eats. Since September, James said, his weight has dropped from 195 pounds to 179.
“Of course I don’t know if the difference is the drug or the other things I’m doing,” said James, who will be monitored over a period of four years. “My only problem now is that my belt is too long.”
Read more about Dollars for Docs
Pro Publica, an independent, non-profit newsroom, compiled two million records totaling $2 billion in payments from 15 pharmaceutical companies to health professionals nationwide. Read an explanation of how it assembled the database and its national overview story.
What is a clinical trial?
Trials test new drugs and medical devices on humans after they’ve been government approved as safe and effective in lab and animal tests.
Phase I studies focus on safety. These tests can last several months and usually involve a small number of healthy volunteers, 20 to 100, who are generally paid to participate. The studies investigate side effects at different dosage levels. About 70 percent of experimental drugs pass this phase.
Phase II studies test the effectiveness of a drug or device and can last several months to two years. They tend to involve hundreds of patients are generally randomized, which means some patients will receive the experimental drug while another “control” group receives a standard treatment or placebo (no treatment). Often these studies are “blinded” which means that neither the patients nor the researchers know who has received the experimental drug. About one-third of drugs make it past this phase.
Phase III studies are large-scale tests involving hundreds to thousands of patients and lasting several years. These are meant to provide a deeper understanding of a drug’s risks, benefits and range of side effects. Most drugs that make it this far, 70 to 90 percent, pass this phase and are approved for marketing.
Phase IV studies are done with drugs already on the market to compare the drug to others, monitor it’s long-term benefits and gauge their cost-effectiveness. These studies can result in a drug being taken off the market or having restrictions placed on its use.
Learn what questions patients should ask before entering a drug trial at:
Sources: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and CenterWatch, a company in Boston that produces drug-industry publications and operates a clearinghouse to connect patients with clinical trials.

Herbert would force homeowners to pay for natural gas refueling stations. Ronald Mortensen.

Governor Gary Herbert and Senator Stuart Adams (R-Layton) are behind a plan that gives Questar a virtual monopoly of natural gas fueling stations for motor vehicles and allows it to pass the cost on to citizens who use natural gas to heat their homes.
SB275 (Energy Amendments) authorizes Questar to construct, operate and maintain fueling stations. The bill also requires the Public Service Commission to allow Questar to pass all costs in excess of revenues generated by the fueling stations onto its rate payers which includes homeowners who heat with natural gas.
SB275 has the effect of turning Questar into an enterprise fund of the state and allows the legislature and governor to fund public projects through utility bills while telling citizens that they didn’t raise taxes.
This bill was first brought out on March 4, run through a Senate committee and then passed by the entire Senate on March 11 under suspension of the rules which dispensed of the requirement to debate and vote on the bill twice.
SB275 never received a House committee hearing although it is a major public policy change with far reaching ramifications. It is currently awaiting a vote by the full House before the end of the legislative session at midnight on Thursday, March 14.
In an Issues Brief, Questar praised, the bill and said that it would increase its investment in refueling stations to $5 million per year which is coincidentally the maximum reimbursable amount set by the bill.
According to Questar, the.typical customer’s bill will increase by 10 to 12 cents per month [for many years.]
In addition, according to Questar, the number of CNG vehicles in Utah will not change the amount of Natural gas produced for Questar Gas by its affiliate, Wexpro. The current Utah NGV rate is $1.49, but will change with supply costs and other regulatory procedings. Ronald Mortensen. March 13, 2013. 

UTA board chair hijacks clean air bill; Questar rates set to soar. Ronald Mortensen.

            Ronald Mortensen, Ph.D., is a retired United States Foreign Service      Officer (diplomat) with substantial experience in immigration matters.
On March 4, after coming under extreme pressure to do something about Utah’s air pollution, Utah governor Gary Herbert put forth an initiative to convert motor vehicles to cleaner burning natural gas.
Herbert then worked with Senator Stuart Adams and Representative Jack Draxler to find a funding solution that would 1) raise huge amounts of new revenue without raising taxes, 2) force the average citizen to pay for it and 3) limit the cost to Herbert’s big business backers.
SB275, therefore, tasks Questar Gas with building the infrastructure necessary to covert the fleets of interlocal entities to natural gas. (Interlocal entities include city and county governments, school and special districts, the Utah Transit Authority, etc.)
In return, SB275 allows Questar to pass the costs that it incurs in the “expansion of the infrastructure and maintenance and other facilities for alternative fuel vehicles” to all of its ratepayers (customers) rather than to those directly benefiting from the services. This includes constructing, operating and maintaining natural gas fueling stations and related facilities for interlocal entities.
Most importantly, SB275 converts Questar into a virtual, state controlled enterprise fund that can be raided by interlocal entities to cover non-related political driven projects just as is currently done by cities with municipal owned power companies.
The bill also grants Questar a virtual monopoly on natural gas fueling stations and related facilities in return for the ability of politicians and interlocal bureaucrats to take potentially hundreds of millions of dollars from Questar ratepayers in coming decades.
As originally drafted and passed by the Senate, the cost to ratepayers would have been capped at $5 million per year. However, when the bill came to the floor of the House, Representative Greg Hughes who also serves as the, Chair of the Utah Transit Board of Trustees attempted to amend it in order to totally eliminate the cap. Removing the cap was reportedly opposed by Questar.
Although Hughes failed to amend the bill on the floor, he was later assigned to the conference committee that was charged with making SB275 acceptable to both the House and Senate. When SB275 finally came out of the conference committee, it had been amended to remove the cap on the amount that Questar could pass on to its rate payers after July 1, 2018 or at any time after the first year based on a determination of the PSC through the rate making process.
The Senate unanimously passed SB275 late on the evening of March 14. In the House eight of fourteen Democrats (Cosgrove, Duckworth, Hemingway, King, Romero, Seelig, Wheatley and Wiley) voted no on SB275 on final passage while only five Republicans opposed the bill (Johnny Anderson, Bird, Greene, Powell and Roberts).
Hughes’ inordinate interest in SB275 may be driven by the financial challenges faced by the debt ridden, taxpayer subsidized Utah Transit Authority (UTA) that he heads.
UTA will be able to use its high powered lobbyists with the likely backing of the powerful Salt Lake Chamber which also supports SB275 to remove the cap after the first year. These same lobbyists will then be able to force the PSC to raise gas rates in order to provide virtually unlimited funding for UTA and other interlocal entities.
This new source of funding is critical for UTA since it is much easier to strong arm the Public Service Commission than to obtain voter approval for higher sales taxes that would otherwise be required to cover increasing operational and financing costs. It also makes it easier for UTA to replace projected federal funds that will be lost due to efforts to control federal spending and debt.
Hughes’ efforts to access to Questar ratepayer funding is especially troubling given the serious financial problems UTA faces. According to a Legislative Audit:
  • Debt Service Payments Will Consume a Great Portion of Future Sales Tax Revenues. This will in turn impose a financial strain on UTA.
  • UTA’s Revenue Projections Are Optimistic; Expense Projections May Be Understated. Between 2010 and 2020, UTA projects a 60 percent increase in sales tax revenue, a 141 percent increase in federal operating subsidies, and a 125 percent increase in farebox revenue. In contrast, operations and maintenance (O&M) costs are forecast to increase by a much more modest 52 percent. In our opinion, UTA runs a risk of being overly optimistic.
By requiring Questar ratepayers to provide funding, the governor and legislators have eliminated the need for truth in taxation hearings or votes of the public on tax increases. In addition, they have shifted some of the burden for supporting UTA and other interlocal entities largely to individual homeowners who rely on natural gas for heating or who use electricity generated by burning natural gas.
Hughes, Adams and Draxler were careful to draft the bill in a way that leaves the Public Service Commission no alternative but to rubber stamp Questar claims for reimbursement of expenditures forced on it by interlocal entities. However, even more importantly, they have made it possible for powerful government and business interests to legally plunder Questar ratepayers through a never ending series of rate increases.
Since this is “free money” to the interlocal entities, demand will be infinite and Questar ratepayers will see their home heating rates constantly increase at a much higher rate than otherwise would have been the case. They will also see their electric rates driven up on the ever increasing percentage of electricity produced by natural gas.
Senior citizens on fixed incomes along with the working poor will be hardest hit by the rate increases while Utahns who are not Questar customers, will be totally exempt from subsidizing UTA and other interlocal entities.
Herbert, Adams, Draxler, UTA Chair Hughes and the legislators who voted for SB275 have effectively ensured that interlocal entities can pick the public’s pockets without ever raising taxes or being held accountable for their actions. This is a fundamental public policy change that relieves elected officials of accountability for their actions and further increases the state’s power over the citizens. Ronald Mortensen. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A 15-year-old boy was hospitalized in extremely critical condition Tuesday after being hit by a car while walking to school.

Daylight Savings time:  Less than 36 hours after the switch to Daylight Savings
Time, a boy was hit by a car on his way to school.  Utah students now have
to walk to school in the dark with the change to Daylight Savings Time.

Teen boy struck by car while crossing street in Kearns

Utah auto-pedestrian crashes have increased, new report says
The accident happened about 7:15 a.m. on 5400 South near 5000 West when four teens were crossing the street near Kearns High School. The boys were not in a crosswalk, said Unified Police Lt. Justin Hoyal.
The boys were more than halfway across the street when an oncoming vehicle stopped to allow the boys to finish crossing. That caused other cars behind the vehicle to hit their brakes and swerve out of the way, Hoyal said. One of the other cars swerved right into one of the teens.
The boy was taken to a local hospital in extremely critical condition.
The accident comes less than 24 hours after the Utah Office of Highway Safety issued  a report that found fatal auto-pedestrian crashes in Utah recently reached its second highest level in the past 10 years.
Thirty-two people were killed and 770 injured in auto-pedestrian accidents in Utah in 2011, according to the report. That matches the second highest total in the past 10 years. Thirty-four pedestrians were hit and killed by motor vehicles during 2008.
But while the number of traffic accidents involving injuries have gone down over the past decade, the rate of auto-pedestrian accidents has steadily increased, according to the report — including the percentage of fatal accidents.
The Wasatch Front saw the biggest increase of fatal auto-pedestrian accidents from 2010 to 2011, jumping from 19 to 24, according to Michael Mower, with the Highway Safety Office. In 2010, the highest percentage of auto-pedestrian victims were in the 15- to 19-year-old age group, followed by the 10- to 14-year-old age group. In fact, an estimated 56 percent of all pedestrians involved in an auto-pedestrian accident in 2011 in Utah were 25 years old or younger, according to the Utah Department of Public Safety.
The group that accounted for the most fatal accidents, however, was the 50- to 54-year-old age group, followed by the 10- to 14-year-old age group and the 20- to 24-year-old age group, according to the report.
The biggest contributing factors of auto-pedestrian accidents, according to the report, were pedestrians improperly crossing the road — such as not using a crosswalk — and darting out into traffic.
In 2011, the highest number of pedestrians killed was during the 6 p.m. hour, with Saturday being the most deadly day, the report states.
The 25- to 29-year-old age group accounted for the highest percentage of drivers who were involved in fatal auto-pedestrian accidents in 2011. The majority of auto-pedestrian crashes occurred where the speed limit was 20 to 45 mph. In more than half of the auto-pedestrian accidents in 2011, the driver was under 40 years old, according to the Utah Department of Public Safety.
Other contributing factors in fatal auto-pedestrian crashes in 2011 in Utah included distracted driving and drivers failing to yield to pedestrians crossing the street. One-third of those accidents happened when a driver was making a left or right turn and didn't yield to the pedestrian in the crosswalk, Mower said.
Deseret News.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

In recent years several studies have suggested that daylight saving time doesn't actually save energy—and might even result in a net loss. Brian Handwerk. National Geographic News November 3, 2011

Daylight Saving Time: Energy Saver or Just Time Suck?
In recent years several studies have suggested that daylight saving time doesn't actually save energy—and might even result in a net loss.
Environmental economist Hendrik Wolff, of the University of Washington, co-authored a paper that studied Australian power-use data when parts of the country extended daylight saving time for the 2000 Sydney Olympics and others did not. The researchers found that the practice reduced lighting and electricity consumption in the evening but increased energy use in the now dark mornings—wiping out the evening gains.
Likewise, Matthew Kotchen, an economist at the University of California, saw in Indiana a situation ripe for study.
Prior to 2006 only 15 of the state's 92 counties observed daylight saving time. So when the whole state adopted daylight saving time, it became possible to compare before-and-after energy use. While use of artificial lights dropped, increased air-conditioning use more than offset any energy gains, according to the daylight saving time research Kotchen led for the National Bureau of Economic Research [PDF] in 2008.
That's because the extra hour that daylight saving time adds in the evening is a hotter hour. "So if people get home an hour earlier in a warmer house, they turn on their air conditioning," the University of Washington's Wolff said.
In fact, Hoosier consumers paid more on their electric bills than before they made the annual switch to daylight saving time, the study found.
(Related: "Extended Daylight Saving Time Not an Energy Saver?")
But other studies do show energy gains.
In an October 2008 daylight saving time report to Congress (PDF), mandated by the same 2005 energy act that extended daylight saving time, the U.S. Department of Energy asserted that springing forward does save energy.
Extended daylight saving time—still in practice in 2011—saved 1.3 terawatt hours of electricity. That figure suggests that daylight saving time reduces annual U.S. electricity consumption by 0.03 percent and overall energy consumption by 0.02 percent.
While those percentages seem small, they could represent significant savings because of the nation's enormous total energy use.
What's more, savings in some regions are apparently greater than in others.
California, for instance, appears to benefit most from daylight saving time—perhaps because its relatively mild weather encourages people to stay outdoors later. The Energy Department report found that daylight saving time resulted in an energy savings of one percent daily in the state.
But Wolff, one of many scholars who contributed to the federal report, suggested that the numbers were subject to statistical variability and shouldn't be taken as hard facts.
And daylight savings' energy gains in the U.S. largely depend on your location in relation to the Mason-Dixon Line, Wolff said.
"The North might be a slight winner, because the North doesn't have as much air conditioning," he said. "But the South is a definite loser in terms of energy consumption. The South has more energy consumption under daylight saving."
Daylight Saving Time: Healthy or Harmful?
For decades advocates of daylight savings have argued that, energy savings or no, daylight saving time boosts health by encouraging active lifestyles—a claim Wolff and colleagues are currently putting to the test.
"In a nationwide American time-use study, we're clearly seeing that, at the time of daylight saving time extension in the spring, television watching is substantially reduced and outdoor behaviors like jogging, walking, or going to the park are substantially increased," Wolff said. "That's remarkable, because of course the total amount of daylight in a given day is the same."
But others warn of ill effects.
Till Roenneberg, a chronobiologist at Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, Germany, said his studies show that our circadian body clocks—set by light and darkness—never adjust to gaining an "extra" hour of sunlight to the end of the day during daylight saving time.
"The consequence of that is that the majority of the population has drastically decreased productivity, decreased quality of life, increasing susceptibility to illness, and is just plain tired," Roenneberg said.
One reason so many people in the developed world are chronically overtired, he said, is that they suffer from "social jet lag." In other words, their optimal circadian sleep periods are out of whack with their actual sleep schedules.
Shifting daylight from morning to evening only increases this lag, he said.
"Light doesn't do the same things to the body in the morning and the evening. More light in the morning would advance the body clock, and that would be good. But more light in the evening would even further delay the body clock."
Other research hints at even more serious health risks.
A 2008 study in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that, at least in Sweden, heart attack risks go up in the days just after the spring time change. "The most likely explanation to our findings are disturbed sleep and disruption of biological rhythms," lead author Imre Janszky, of the Karolinska Institute's Department of Public Health Sciences in Stockholm, told National Geographic News via email.

Is Daylight Savings Bad for Your Heart? Mar 12, 2012. Sheila M. Eldred

Struggling to make it through your afternoon meeting today? You're not alone.
New research shows that springing ahead for daylight saving time may do more to our bodies than a triple shot of espresso can fix.
When we set our clocks forward for daylight savings, some researchers say the disruption in circadian rhythms and minor sleep deprivation is enough to trigger some people to have a heart attack.
"Every cell in the body has a molecular clock that allows the cells and organs to anticipate the day's events," Martin Young, PhD, a professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, told MedPage Today. "When there are time changes, such as shift work, traveling through time zones, or daylight saving time, it takes a while for these cells to reset their internal timing mechanism.

Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm used clock shifts for daylight saving time as a way to study the effects of minor sleep deprivation.
The researchers found a slight increase in hearts attacks in the week after setting clocks forward for spring. Among those taking cardiac medications and having low cholesterol and triglycerides, the risk was more pronounced.
There was no statistically significant change in heart attack incidence following the autumn "fall back" shift.

"Our data suggest that even modest sleep deprivation and disturbances in the sleep-wake cycle might increase the risk of AMI across the population," the authors wrote. "Confirmation of subgroups at higher risk may suggest preventative strategies to mitigate this risk."
Young also pointed out that more heart attacks occur on Monday mornings than any other time of the week. He suggests setting your clock ahead in 20-minute intervals in the days leading up to the spring shift.


Daylight Saving Time Wastes Electricity. Wallstreet Journal.

                                  Ben Franklin may not having been saving                            candlewax                   by springing forward.
As we prepare to lose an hour of sleep to Daylight Saving Time, which begins in the wee hours of Sunday March 10, we can take no solace from a 2008 Journal article that notes our sacrifice for springing forward does little to save energy. Read an excerpt below:
For decades, conventional wisdom has held that daylight-saving time reduces energy use. But a unique situation in Indiana provides evidence challenging that view: Springing forward may actually waste energy.

Up until two years ago, only 15 of Indiana’s 92 counties set their clocks an hour ahead in the spring and an hour back in the fall. The rest stayed on standard time all year, in part because farmers resisted the prospect of having to work an extra hour in the morning dark. But many residents came to hate falling in and out of sync with businesses and residents in neighboring states and prevailed upon the Indiana Legislature to put the entire state on daylight-saving time beginning in the spring of 2006.
Indiana’s change of heart gave University of California-Santa Barbara economics professor Matthew Kotchen and Ph.D. student Laura Grant a unique way to see how the time shift affects energy use. Using more than seven million monthly meter readings from Duke Energy Corp., covering nearly all the households in southern Indiana for three years, they were able to compare energy consumption before and after counties began observing daylight-saving time. Readings from counties that had already adopted daylight-saving time provided a control group that helped them to adjust for changes in weather from one year to the next.
Their finding: Having the entire state switch to daylight-saving time each year, rather than stay on standard time, costs Indiana households an additional $8.6 million in electricity bills. They conclude that the reduced cost of lighting in afternoons during daylight-saving time is more than offset by the higher air-conditioning costs on hot afternoons and increased heating costs on cool mornings.
“I’ve never had a paper with such a clear and unambiguous finding as this,” says Mr. Kotchen, who presented the paper at a National Bureau of Economic Research conference.
A 2007 study by economists Hendrik Wolff and Ryan Kellogg of the temporary extension of daylight-saving in two Australian territories for the 2000 Summer Olympics also suggested the clock change increases energy use.
That isn’t what Benjamin Franklin would have expected. In 1784, he observed what an “immense sum! that the city of Paris might save every year, by the economy of using sunshine instead of candles.” (Mr. Franklin didn’t propose setting clocks forward, instead he satirically suggested levying a tax on window shutters, ringing church bells at sunrise and, if that didn’t work, firing cannons down the street in order to rouse Parisians out of their beds earlier.)

Wall Street Journal. U S Edition. Wednesday March 13, 2013. 

Wallstreet Journal. Feb. 27, 2008 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Daylight Saving Time caused some Metro riders to be charged too much for their Monday morning rides, WTOP reported.

Daylight Saving Time caused some Metro riders to be charged too much for their Monday morning rides, WTOP reported.
Michelle Basch,

WASHINGTON - Some Metro riders were charged too much for their Monday morning ride, and the reason has to do with the start of Daylight Saving Time.
Metro had to "spring forward" on Sunday just like everyone else, but an automatic software update meant to change the clocks throughout the Metro system was not received at some fare-gates.

 As a result, Metro's Dan Stessel said some riders who used the system between 9:30 and 10:30 a.m. Monday were charged peak fares when they should have paid off-peak. The problem has since been fixed, and Stessel says affected riders don't have to do anything to get refunds.
Daylight Saving Time leads to Metro overcharge. Mar 12, 2013, 

Daylight Savings Time spikes Suicide Rates. Sleep and Biological Rhythms.

Small shifts in diurnal rhythms are associated with an increase in suicide: The effect of daylight saving


Large disruptions of chronobiological rhythms are documented as destabilizing individuals with bipolar disorder; however, the impact of small phase altering events is unclear. Australian suicide data from 1971 to 2001 were assessed to determine the impact on the number of suicides of a 1-h time shift due to daylight saving. The results confirm that male suicide rates rise in the weeks following the commencement of daylight saving, compared to the weeks following the return to eastern standard time and for the rest of the year. After adjusting for the season, prior to 1986 suicide rates in the weeks following the end of daylight saving remained significantly increased compared to the rest of autumn. This study suggests that small changes in chronobiological rhythms are potentially destabilizing in vulnerable individuals.
Sleep and Biological Rhythms: The effect of Daylight Savings Time. Feb. 21, 2008. 

Did You Remember Daylight Savings? Eric Dodds. Time News Feed.

Why DST Is Pointless: Seems like 2013 is the year that people (or at least the internet media) turned on Daylight Savings Time. Losing an hour of sleep for a night isn’t fun, sure, but it’s not often you hear folks complaining about an extra hour of light during summer evenings.
 (Gizmodo)Why Daylight Saving Time Is Pointless Jamie Condliffe

Daylight Savings doesn't save energy...

The Germans introduced daylight savings to lower fuel costs. The idea is that, while changing the clocks reduces the use of artificial lighting in the evening but increases use in the morning, the evening reduction outweighs the morning increase.
Great—but that was a century ago. Recent studies point out that, at best, DST might reduce the US electricity usage by 1% during March and April. Other estimates, by the National Bureau of Standards, suggest it has zero effect.

...but is incredibly disruptive.

So, none of the arguments for maintaining DST weigh up. I have one, very large, argument to support scrapping it, though: it loses the US billions of dollars every year. It damages retail, affects the stock market in a negative way, and even disrupts agriculture.
A century ago, we didn't have data to tell us whether DST made a real measurable impact; it was acceptable to run with it because, for all we knew, it was useful. Now, we know better. Day light savings sucks—and we need to get rid of it.  

 DST...doesn't make us any healthier...

It's true that DST does provide extra daylight in the evening, and that it may bring with it increased physical activity and reduced incidence of depression. But there is plenty of evidence that changing the clocks by an hour can have a detrimental effect on our health.
Clock shifts disrupt our circadian rhythms. Studies have show that, around the times of the spring clock changes, there are spikes in suicide rates and an increase in the number of recorded heart attacks. In fact, when Kazakhstan ditched DST in 2005, it cited health reasons. Sure, it might make you go for an extra jog or two every year, but it might also help contribute to a heart attack. I know which I'd prefer.

Rare Praise for Arizona. It’s the only state that doesn’t do Daylight Savings, so we should all probably move there. (BuzzFeedHunter Schwarz. Arizona Knows What's Up Because It Doesn't Do Daylight Savings Time
Five Tech-Savvy Tricks for Sleeping. Seems appropriately timed. White noise is the solution to all of the world’s most substantial problems. (mental_floss)
5 Tech-Savvy Tricks to Help You Get a Good Night's Sleep  

Monday, March 11, 2013

Daylight Savings time: that one lost hour can make a difference. Huffington Post.

When we turned our clocks forward one hour earlier Sunday morning to mark the start of Daylight Saving Time, it was with more than a little anxiety. We're well-versed in the all-too-real risks of getting too little sleep, and yes, that one lost hour can make a difference.
To start, that's one hour less on top of not very much sleep to begin with. According to the National Sleep Foundation's recent Sleep in America poll, American adults average about six hours and 51 minutes of sleep every night. Sure, that's only nine minutes shy of the seven to nine hours experts recommend -- until you make an hour disappear Sunday morning.
On top of that, even though it will only take most people a couple of days to adjust to the newly-brightened evenings, those first few days can spell trouble. On the Monday after the time switch, the number of car crashes increases, as does the number of fatal, alcohol-related accidents. Heart attacks become more common during the next few days, as do injuries in the workplace, not to mention that workers in general are less productive and more likely to waste time perusing the Internet.
And while there are ways to combat the fatigue, it's understandable why some have begun to question the necessity of this antiquated circadian rhythm shakeup.
In fact, according to a new poll conducted by mattress company Sleepy's, just about 70 percent of people support switching the start of Daylight Saving Time to 2:00 a.m. Saturday morning, giving us an extra weekend day to recover before heading back to the office Monday morning. Some have even taken action: Thousands of sleepyheads have signed a "We the People" petition to either do away with DST once and for all, or make it the year-round standard.
"The time clock may change with an easy click, but our body clock's adjustment is more complicated," sleep educator and Sleepy's consultant Nancy Rothstein said in a statement. "DST can challenge our sleep, health and even our safety by imposing an unnatural tweak to our internal clock."
This year's survey shows a 16 percent increase in people saying they'd favor the switch from a similar poll in 2011, perhaps a sign that, in the spirit of National Sleep Awareness Week, the general public is starting to recognize the importance of sufficient shuteye.
"It's nice to see people outside the discipline of sleep medicine recognizing the need for greater awareness of some of the consequences of Daylight Saving Time," says Michael Decker, Ph.D., an associate professor at Georgia State University and spokesperson for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. "I think it's a terrific idea."
Springing forward at 2:00 a.m. Saturday would mean two mornings before a workday commute and fewer drowsy drivers on the road, not to mention fewer exhausted attempts at making the schoolbus, he says: "There are tremendous numbers of sleepy children those couple of days after Daylight Saving Time kicks in, and think about what that does to diminish their learning abilities! Why wouldn't we want to do this?"
There seems to be no real reason why DST starts early Sunday, says Dr. Robert Oexman, director of the Sleep to Live Institute. "It typically takes about one day to shift our circadian clocks one hour," he says, "so if we do all the right things [and move Daylight Saving Time] we are going to set ourselves up to feel just fine on Monday morning."
"There's no reasons from a sleep standpoint or a business standpoint that I can think of that would say that this is not a good idea," Oexman says. "We might have to change some programming that changes calendars and clocks around the world, but we handled Y2K just fine!"
However, as tempting as it might be to sleep extra late this weekend to make up for the lost hour, experts advise against it. "We need to be especially diligent with sleep hygiene," says Oexman, since sleeping late Sunday or taking a nap in the afternoon can just make it harder to fall asleep Sunday night and harder to make it to work on time Monday morning. Some would likely still experience the "Monday morning blues" thanks to a weekend on a different sleep schedule, says Dr. Matthew D. Mingrone, lead physician for EOS Sleep California centers. "But giving the body clock an extra 24 to 48 hours to adjust would be a great idea," he says.
While a change may never come, at the very least, greater awareness will move us in the right direction. But, it seems there's no denying Daylight Saving Time's increasing insignificance. As Gizmodo so succinctly put it: "A century ago, we didn't have data to tell us whether DST made a real measurable impact; it was acceptable to run with it because, for all we knew, it was useful. Now, we know better.",sleep

During daylight saving time, the sun reaches its peak at 1 pm instead of 12 pm, and the crack of dawn comes a little later.

Arizona, Hawaii, American Samoa, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands don’t officially observe the time change each year.
Then in 2005, Congress granted Americans a cosmic courtesy: a little extra sun.
In the Energy Policy Act of 2005, intended to strengthen the electricity grid and increase domestic fuel production, Congress inserted a section that moved the start of daylight saving time back to the second Sunday in March and the end to the first Sunday in November.

This weekend, the clocks spring forward into daylight saving time -- the bittersweet adjustment that brightens the evenings while wreaking havoc on sleep schedules.
For most people, the shift is a nuisance. But for some, it provokes weeks of sleep deprivation that take a heavy toll on mood and productivity, according to Dr. Phil Gehrman, clinical director of the University of Pennsylvania's Behavioral Sleep Medicine program.
Since researchers began studying the effects of daylight saving time in the 1970s, the missing hour has been blamed for spikes in car accidents and workplace injuries, as well as dips in stock market returns.
"People think, 'It's only an hour.' But considering that most people aren't getting enough sleep to begin with, they often underestimate what an hour can do," Gehrman said.
The results are similar to jet lag. But no one gets jet lag when they lose an hour traveling one time zone east.
"That's because there's more light in the morning, and that helps you adjust your body clock," said Dr. Alfred Lewy, chairman of psychiatry and director of the Sleep and Mood Disorders Laboratory at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Ore. "But with daylight saving time, the new light-dark cycle works against your body clock. The extra light at the end of the day shifts it the wrong way."
The body clock is a cluster of neurons deep inside the brain in an area called the hypothalamus. It generates the circadian rhythm, or sleep-wake cycle, that spans roughly 24 hours. But it's not precise.
"It needs a signal every day to reset it," Lewy said.
The reset signal is light, which comes in through the eyes and transmits signals -- separate from those involved in vision -- that update the clock. But when the sleep-wake and light-dark cycles don't line up, people feel out-of-sync, tired and even depressed. Backs Statement: 'You Sound Tired' Scientists Probe Sleep Deprivation, Depression Links Sleep Deprivation Risks: 1 in 20 Fall Asleep at Wheel, CDC Says 

Daylight Savings time. “It’s outrageous, when you think about it, for the government to get that involved in every single aspect of our lives.” Utah Rep. Jim Nielson, R-Bountiful.

Daylight Saving Time May Hurt Utahns In Pocketbook (KUTV) For nearly 50 years straight – and almost a century intermittently – most of the country has been turning the clocks forward and winding them back twice a year, to save energy, but a recent study estimates Daylight Saving Time (DST) costs the United States at least $434 million per year. The cost is primarily due to an increase in heart attacks and “cyber-loafing,” or workers’ lack of productivity while surfing the Internet the Monday after “springing forward,” which begins on Sunday, March 10, at 2 a.m.
The metrics developed by Virginia-based firm Chmura Economics and Analytics indicate Salt Lake City loses nearly $1.2 million each year because of an elevated number of heart attacks and about $220,000 in increased cyber-loafing due to DST.
       “I had a bunch of emergency room nurses and physicians tell me that they had tracked an increase in heart attacks and an increase in strokes. The change in Daylight Saving Time is tremendously disruptive,” said Utah Rep. Jim Nielson, R-Bountiful. Nielson drafted a bill last year to get rid of DST. His bill was defeated, and, in February, Utah Sen. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George, sponsored a similar bill that also stalled. Nielson, however, hopes to change public opinion about a topic that has more than just an economic impact, he said.
Nielson claims children walking to school during the dark morning without the extra hour of sunlight because of the time change face a higher risk of being hit.

“I don't know how you how you count the human costs of the children that die because they’re killed on their way trying to get to school,” Nielson said

AAA warned the public about possible accidents caused by sleep-deprived drivers returning to work after losing an hour to DST.
Nielson also doubts the very reason DST was implemented: to save electricity.

“We're getting up, it’s already warm, so we turn on our air conditioner sooner,” said Neilson.

But supporters of DST claim adjusting the clocks mean more time for outdoor sports and an increase in revenue for the recreation industry. Some experts, like Michael Downing, author of “Spring Forward,” say more daylight means more shopping.

"If you give Americans daylight at the end of a workday, they're more apt to shop on the way home,” Downing said. Nielson, however, disagrees. “People have a certain amount of money they're going to spend on discretionary activities and, if they spend it on one thing, they won't spend it on something else,” Nielson said. Nielson rejected some of his opponents’ suggestions that his bill was an attempt to pick a fight with the federal government, but he did admit disdain for what he called mandated schedule changes.

“Imagine that the government were to come to you and every member of society and say to you, ‘No longer can you wake up at 7 a.m. You must wake up at 6 a.m. No longer can your church services be at 10; now they must be at 9. If we were to go through our entire society and mandate every single thing that is scheduled has to be changed… that would be absurd, but yet we see the same thing happen.” Nielson said. “It’s outrageous, when you think about it, for the government to get that involved in every single aspect of our lives.”
More car crashes occur after Daylight-Saving Time
A study by researchers at the University of British Columbia at Vancouver analyzed Canadian traffic data between 1986 and 1995 and found an 8 percent increase in traffic accidents on the Monday after the switch to daylight saving time. A similar study published in 2001 analyzed 21 years of deadly auto collisions in the U.S. Authors Jason Varughese of Stanford University and Richard P. Allen of the Johns Hopkins University concluded: "The sleep deprivation on the Monday following the shift to daylight saving time in the spring results in a small increase in fatal accidents." — Baltimore Sun, Jun. 5, 1953 
For most people, the missing hour Sunday means a sleepy Monday. But for some -- particularly those who aren't big on mornings to begin with -- it takes a heavy toll on mood and productivity, earning blame for car accidents, workplace injuries and stock market dips.
"It's an interesting paradox, because traveling one time zone east or west is very easy for anyone to adapt to," said Dr. Alfred Lewy, director of Oregon Health and Science University's Sleep and Mood Disorders Laboratory in Portland. "But in daylight saving time, the new light-dark cycle is perversely working against the body clock. We're getting less sunlight in morning and more in the evening."
The body clock is a cluster of neurons deep inside the brain that generates the circadian rhythm, also known as the sleep-wake cycle. The cycle spans roughly 24 hours, but it's not precise.
"It needs a signal every day to reset it," said Lewy.
The signal is sunlight, which shines in through the eyes and "corrects the cycle from approximately 24 hours to precisely 24 hours," said Lewy. But when the sleep-wake and light-dark cycles don't line up, people can feel out-of-sync, tired and grumpy.


Who holds the power of the purse? Robert Bennett. Deseret News.

                                                          Robert Bennett
While I fully support the idea of cutting federal spending in substantial amounts, I’ve made it clear in a previous column that I do not believe the sequester is the way to do it. I am convinced that its hidden costs and disruptive side effects will make its ultimate savings impact far less than $85 billion. However, my primary problem with it has to do with the way it undermines the Constitution’s most basic doctrine — the separation of powers.
Having had their fill of monarcy, the Founders separated power by dividing it among three branches. The legislative branch — Congress — was given the power to pass the laws, levy taxes and determine how money will be spent. The executive branch was given the power to enforce the laws and control the military. The judicial branch was given the power to judge the laws and life tenure for its members, ensuring their independence. Everything was carefully checked and balanced.
It hasn’t stayed that way. The executive branch has taken over much of Congress’s power to control the money. Movement in that direction probably began with the Civil War, when Abraham Lincoln, as commander-in-chief, was given a bigger voice in how much money had to be raised and how it should be spent than any previous president had had.
The trend accelerated with other commanders-in-chief during crises and wartime: Woodrow Wilson during World War I, Franklin Roosevelt during the Great Depression and World War II and their successors during the Cold War.
When I got to the Senate in 1993, I saw firsthand what had emerged as a result. At the beginning of each session, Congress waits to hear what the president’s agenda is — the State of the Union — and then see what his spending priorities are — the President’s Budget — before acting. However, I soon realized that we were not toothless.
The Appropriations Committee, through its twelve subcommittees, held the purse strings and therefore a hand on the throttle (or brake) of every executive agency. They conducted extensive hearings on the agencies’ activities and every year wrote a new bill giving directions as to how the money should be spent. Congressional opinion still counted. When I was a subcomittee chairman, the staff and I got our phone calls rapidly returned from all the agencies under our jurisdiction. We often ignored the president’s recommendations.
That process is called “regular order.” It has not been followed since 2009. Instead, the government has been funded by a series of “continuing resolutions” that allow the executive branch to “continue” to spend at levels designated in the resolution. Some have applauded this change, saying that spending has slowed as a result, a conclusion that is open to serious challenge.
What is not open to challenge is the fact that Congress’s failure to follow regular order has significantly decreased the agencies’ willingness to listen to or even deal with members of Congress. Since congressional committees no longer determine who will thrive and who will not, having ceded that authority to the president, why should an agency head pay any attention to congressional opinions?
Congress could deal with our financial crisis by giving the president specific appropriations bills to either sign or veto. By adopting the sequester instead, Congress has removed any check on the president’s ability to allocate money according to his own political agenda. If this precedent holds, historians will look back at the last two Congresses and consider them a significant factor in the further shifting of the power of the purse away from the legislative branch and into the executive branch.
James Madison would be appalled.
Robert Bennett. Deseret News. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Does daylight saving time cost Utahns money? Study says yes

Does daylight saving time cost Utahns money? Study says yes
Setting clocks • The argument about the practice starts anew every spring and fall.
William Shughart abhors daylight saving time.
“I think it’s a tyrannical action by the federal government,” Shughart, a Utah State University finance professor who’s written numerous articles on the topic, said in an interview this week.
Love it or loathe it, daylight saving time is on its way, with Americans (except for Arizonans and Hawaiians) springing clocks forward an hour at 2 a.m. Sunday.
The practice of setting clocks based on sunlight has had its critics since Congress started officially regulating time in 1966.
Some say the practice throws off body clocks, with one study citing an uptick in auto accidents the Monday following the time change and another showing a “significant” increase in heart attacks in the three days following springing forward.
But does it make any economic sense?
The conventional wisdom has been yes, daylight saving time, or DST, is an economic boon, with savings for consumers on electricity bills, time for outdoor enthusiasts (which means money for the recreation industry), and revenue for retailers, thanks to late-night shopping.
But a growing number of analysts quibble with those assumptions. A recent analysis by Chmura Economics & Analytics concludes DST actually costs each Salt Lake City resident an extra $1.23, when factoring in heart attacks, workplace injuries and a lack of productivity at the office. Shughart of USU thinks that number is low, arguing it takes 10 minutes to change clocks twice a year, the opportunity cost of DST works out to about $2.93 per person. Multiply that number by the U.S. population and he says we’re talking $1.7 billion annually.
“There are many costs of DST both to human health and to the economy and absolutely no benefits,” Shughart said. “No argument justifies the cost of DST.”
What about saving energy? Not flipping on the light switch until later in the evening saves on electricity costs, right?
One California study showed “marginal” electricity savings with DST, but that doesn’t appear to be the case in Utah. Rocky Mountain Power spokesman Jeff Hymas said consumers may hold off on switching on the lights during DST, but end up turning on the air conditioners more often during the hot summer months.
“Nationally, there seems to be a general consensus that daylight saving time contributes to an evening reduction in peak demand for electricity, though the overall impact may be somewhat offset by increased electricity use in the morning,” Hymas said. “In Utah, temperature affects our customers’ use of electricity much more than changes in the amount of daylight.”
But surely golfers and other outdoor-types justify DST?
Not so fast, said Rick Graham, director of public services for Salt Lake City. He said the city, which operates eight courses, has never done an exhaustive economic analysis of daylight saving time, but golfer behavior doesn’t seem to pay much attention to the clock.
“Golfers, they’re going to play golf as soon as they can see daylight and will stay on the course until they can’t see the ball,” Graham said. “They’re used to playing sun-up to sunset, so I’m really not sure (DST) has that much of an economic effect.”
Still, daylight saving has its fans. Shopkeepers large and small love it because it helps their bottom line, said Natalie Gochnour, chief economist for the Salt Lake Chamber.
“We definitely have retailers who have told us that daylight saving time advantages retailing because we have that extra hour in the evening,” Gochnour said. “They say people are more likely to shop ­­— and shop more — when it’s light outside.”
But even that may be anecdotal, said Jim Wood, chief economist at the Bureau of Economic and Business Research at the University of Utah. Although he admits he hasn’t studied the issue specifically, he’s cautious about assuming DST boosts sales numbers.
“If people are doing more retail shopping, they’re spending less on a vacation. They only have so much money to spend,” Wood said. “The net effect is a wash.”
Spring forward
Daylight saving time begins officially at 2 a.m. Sunday, March 10.
Voice your opinion
While recent legislative attempts to abolish daylight saving time in Utah have failed, an online petition to do away with DST is gaining supporters on the White House “We The People” website (  online petition to eliminate Daylight Savings Time