Steve Hanke is agitated. An influential economist given to sonorous talks on troubled currencies, he sits in a book-jammed office, jabbing his finger at an offending email printout. It’s from a factotum at Johns Hopkins University, where Hanke is a professor of Applied Economics. The email informs the faculty that, due to the ever-shifting date of Labor Day, fall classes will begin on a Thursday (but on a Monday schedule) and skip a Friday. “Every year,” says Hanke, “I have to completely revise my schedule.” Such jiggering is a waste of his time. Multiply his frustration by an entire school, add the time suck at thousands of other places making similar changes—sports leagues, government agencies, your company—and you get chaos! Trillions of wasted work hours! “Imagine the meetings!” says Hanke, hoisting his eyebrows like a blazer-wearing radical.
Hanke is indeed a radical, but one on a rational mission. The son of a watchmaker, he craves precise measurements. He wants to shred our current Gregorian calendar, adopted in the 16th century, and replace its messy floating dates and leap years with clocklike regularity. Under the Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar, developed with Johns Hopkins physics and astronomy professor Richard Conn-Henry, every January 1 falls on a Monday. Each day of each month maintains its position year after year. Your birthday would always fall on the same day of the week. Never again would you need to buy a new Curious Kittens wall calendar. Imagine the eternal surety: “You would know, every Wednesday, forever, that the Baltimore Orioles will be playing the Toronto Blue Jays, and that’s it,” Hanke says.
The Hanke-Henry system would ground floating holidays like Memorial and Labor days. In addition, the grid pins Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve on Sundays, nixing time (and money) wasted wrestling with year-end
schedules. “A positive pop in GDP growth,” Hanke muses.