As the year winds to a close, the organized among us are readying their 2012 calendars. And the super-organized among us are getting annoyed that the calendar system we use is so irrational. “Think about how much time and effort are expended each year in redesigning the calendar of every single organization in the world,” grouses Richard Conn Henry. So he (along with Steve H. Hanke) came up with a new calendar, one in which a date will fall on the same day of the week every year.
There have been calendar reform movements before, but none have ever gained traction. According to Henry and Hanke, that’s partly because most of those reformed calendars try to get rid of the seven-day week. The Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar takes a different route: they go back to the calendar instituted by Julius Caesar in 46 BC. (In 1582, Pope Gregory swapped that out for the Gregorian Calendar — and removed 11 days from that year. This is the calendar we still use today, more or less.) The proposed new calendar gives 31 days to September, June, March, and December; 30 to the rest of the months; gets rid of leap years; and adds an extra week to the end of December every five or six years.
The advantages? “One time throughout the world, one date throughout the world,” they write. (Oh, yeah, they want to abolish time zones and institute Universal Time, too.) “Today’s cacophony of time zones, daylight savings times and calendar fluctuations, year after year, would be over. The economy — that’s all of us — would receive a permanent ‘harmonization’ dividend.”
What are Henry and Handke’s qualifications for proposing that we toss the old system and start fresh with the Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar? Well, Henry is an astrophysicist at Johns Hopkins who also heads up the Maryland Space Grant Consortium. Hanke, an economist at Hopkins, is excited about the potential monetary policy benefits: “Our calendar would simplify financial calculations and eliminate what we call the ‘rip off’ factor,” he notes. “Determining how much interest accrues on mortgages, bonds, forward rate agreements, swaps and others, day counts are required. Our current calendar is full of anomalies that have led to the establishment of a wide range of conventions that attempt to simplify interest calculations. Our proposed permanent calendar has a predictable 91-day quarterly pattern of two months of 30 days and a third month of 31 days, which does away with the need for artificial day count conventions.”
So there you have it. The Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar: the perfect New Year’s gift for the rational reformer in your life.
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