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December 28, 2011

Fix the calendar so Christmas is always on Sunday?

Steve Hanke and Richard Conn Henry of The Johns Hopkins University have proposed the latest in what will probably be a perpetual series of calendar reforms as long as men and women breathe. It's presented as a business-friendly calendar, eliminating uncertainty over which holidays fall on which days of the week and how many days are in a month and a fiscal quarter. It reminds me however of the French Republican Calendar of two centuries ago in its attempt to rationally boost efficiency and minimize religion and tradition.

Hanke and Henry would have twelve months with same names as those we use now. The year would have 364 days. The first two months of each quarter would have 30 days; the last, 31.The week would remain the same, with Sundays every seven days as a nod to the devout. However each date would share the same day of the week each and every year. Since Dec. 25 was on a Sunday this year, in their calendar it would always be on Sunday.

Why reform? One reason is that giving every fiscal quarter the same number of days would eliminate uncertainty about how much interest investments earn over short periods. From Hanke/Henry's article in Globe Asia.

The best example comes from calculating accrued interest between February 28th and March 1st in a non-leap year. A corporate bond accrues three days of interest, while a government bond accrues interest for only one day. The proposed permanent calendar — with a predictable 91-day quarterly pattern of two months of 30 days and a third month of 31 days — eliminates the need for artificial day count conventions.

The universe, of course, refuses to be put in such a square box. Like other reformers Hanke and Henry have to true up their calendar every few years to stay in sync with the seasons. The calendar we have now is 365 days with a leap-day every few years to catch up to elapsed and uncounted fractional days. They propose what looks like a leap-week every five or six years to keep their neat structure of weekly blocks intact.

They also want to eliminate time zones and put everybody on Greenwich Mean Time.

Posted by Jay Hancock at 6:03 AM | | Comments (9)
        

Comments

sounds like restructuring the calendar to best suit the 1%... no thanks, we're good

I think the calendar change is a fabulous idea. I have been talking about making Christmas permanently fall on Sunday for weeks. The GMT thing is a little weird, does that mean I would work from 12-9 instead of 8-5? YOu can change the time but not our biological time clocks.....

I think this is a great idea! While we're at it, can we make Halloween on a Saturday? Having Halloween on a Monday this year was just wrong!

better yet, let's put christmas on a thursday so the man has to give us friday off too!

A proposed "Barlow" calendar added a few "Nodays" at the end of each month. The NoDays weren't days of the week, but instead were the various (local) holidays. That way each month could start on Monday the 1st and run through Sunday the 28th, then the local holidays. February on Barlow's calendar had one extra holiday "noday" in leap years.

Instead of switching to a 30-30-31 pattern just keep most of the current days and drop a single day, like July 31st. True, people with anniversaries on that day will object, but it is better than this plan of dropping 5 days.

If you also want even, 91-day quarters then add February 29th and drop November 30th. Do this and the calendar actually has a reflexive pattern too.

Instead of switching to a 30-30-31 pattern just keep most of the current days and drop a single day, like July 31st. True, people with anniversaries on that day will object, but it is better than this plan of dropping 5 days.

If you also want even, 91-day quarters then add February 29th and drop November 30th. Do this and the calendar actually has a reflexive pattern too.

No thanks. This calendar is fine. Who wants to always have their birthday in the middle of the week? We don't need a calendar based solely on business interests.

My wife worked for a company that if Christmas or any holiday fell on the weekend she did not get off. She had no benefits or vacation time. Some years she only got of 2 or 3 days off a year. The people who love capitalism the most are the ones who benefit the most from other people's misery.

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About Jay Hancock
Jay Hancock has been a financial columnist for The Baltimore Sun since 2001. He has also been The Baltimore Sun's diplomatic correspondent in Washington and its chief economics writer. Before moving to Baltimore in 1994 he worked for The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk and The Daily Press of Newport News.

His columns appear Tuesdays and Sundays.
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