(CBS News) — A radical new calendar proposal promises to eliminate leap years and time zones, and, according to the professors who designed it, save you $575 every year. Steve Hanke and Dick Henry, professors at Johns Hopkins University, tout their calendar as “very close to perfect,” and argued that the current system is “costing us” time and money.
The concept of leap years was originally designed to account for how long it takes the Earth to orbit the Sun – 365 and a quarter days. The Gregorian calendar set a leap year pattern that the world has been following since the 16th century.
Alexander Boxer, author of “A Scheme From Heaven,” which examines how we organize dates, called the current calendar a “fascinating product of many civilizations.”
“The leap year marked the end of an attempt to sync up the calendar with the cycles of the moon, and acceptance of a calendar that was purely solar,” he told “CBS This Morning: Saturday” co-host Jeff Glor.
Dick Henry criticized the current system as disorganized.
“The thing jerks around by a day or two. And think how many people around the world, and sports schedules, and all these things that jump and jerk and jerk around,” he said. Their alternative would add an extra week at the end of December to make up for not having leap days.
He and Steve Hanke argued their proposal favors consistency.
“January 1 is always on a Monday – forever,” Hanke said.
The Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar would set all birthdays and holidays to the same day each year – likely bad news for those whose special days fall on a Monday or Tuesday. October 31, when many celebrate Halloween, would be eliminated altogether along with every “Friday the 13th.”
The pair said the shift would be more efficient because it makes school calendars more predictable and simplifies financial calculations with evenly divided business quarters. They claim the “general efficiency” could save the average person over $500 annually.
Eliminating time zones, though hard to grasp, is not an unprecedented idea in the Hanke-Henry calendar proposal.
“It’s already implemented for all the airline pilots,” Henry explained. “Every airline pilot in the United States does not use [time zones], they use Greenwich Mean Time. And they better, because if they’re flying across the Mississippi River, they don’t want to change their watches by an hour and then change their watches. I mean, it’s ludicrous.”
The pair said they had been working on their calendar for “decades,” but the debate for alternatives to our current system will likely continue as long as people’s fascination with leap years does.
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