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Calendar Reform


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The Importance of Calendar Reform
to the Business World

By GEORGE EASTMAN
President, Eastman Kodak Company


Excerpted from Nation's Business, May, 1926, p 42, 46.

Business men are becoming more and more dependent upon accounting and statistical records for the proper conduct of their affairs. It, therefore, becomes increasingly important that the periods of time, which form the bases for all records, should be invariable. Unfortunately, all the units of time of our present calendar are not fixed and invariable. The day and the week are invariable, and the year practically so, but the month, the quarter and the half-years are not equal and uniform.

Defects in Present Calendar
The variations in the length of the month cause the most difficulty to business. There is a difference of 11 per cent between the length of February and of March. There is a greater difference between the number of working days and working days are the important factor in industry. . . . There is a variation from 23 working days in February to 27 in March, or a difference of 17 per cent. If, for instance, output or sales of a concern were uniform throughout the year, the monthly reports would show [variations], and obviously the manager would get a misleading impression. . . . All monthly comparisons are upset by this variation, and it is expensive to make the necessary adjustments.

Another feature of our calendar which causes great difficulty is that the month is not an exact multiple of the week, some months having four weeks and some five weeks. . . . This variation in the number of pay-days per year causes an endless amount of confusion and adjustment for the manufacturer in interpreting his cost and burden reports.

This variation especially upsets monthly comparison in those lines of business in which week-end operations are heavy, as in certain retail stores and railroads. There is also confusion in those small stores that make collections on a weekly basis and pay on a monthly basis, and corresponding confusion for those families whose income is on a monthly basis and whose expenses are on a weekly basis.

In addition to these outstanding defects there are other features of the present calendar which cause confusion. There can be a difference of three days in the two half-years, and of two days in two quarters of the same year. Holidays occur on various days of the week, changing each year; shutdowns for holidays occurring in the middle of the week are expensive in certain plants. Compications arise in setting regular dates for meetings, in providing for holidays that fall on Sunday and in reckoning the passage of time, as for instance, in interest calculations.

The "Wandering" Easter, another objectionable feature of the present calendar, causes the church year to be of varying length and sometimes causes dislocation in certain lines of business. Early Easters often cut down the volume of Easter retail trading and sometimes bring unemployment in the clothing and shoe industries.

In view of all these defects, the question immediately arises as to why the canlendar should not be changed. The length of the months in the present calendar was not based on a well-thought-out plan.

Origin of Present Calendar
When the Gregorian calendar was adopted in 1582 (in 1752 by England and her colonies), no change was made in the months, the only change from the Julian calendar being the arrangement for leap-year.

All the defects of the Gregorian calendar are due to three features: (1) the months are unequal; (2) the month is not an exact multiple of the week; (3) the ordinary year consists of 365 days, just one day over 52 weeks.

Several plans have been proposed to elinate these feature, but the plan which seems to have the most advantages and to be the most practical from the point of view of modern business is the Cotsworth Calendar.

The Cotsworth Calendar
In brief, the plan is to have thirteen standard months, with each month as follows:

S t a n d a r d  M o n t h
S M T W T F S
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28

The new month will be inserted between June and July, as at that time of the year the change will cause the least confusion in respect to the seasons. The 365th day will be December 29th but will have no week-day name. December 29th, to be known as "Year Day," will be inserted between Saturday, December 28th, and Sunday, January 1st. In like manner, in Leap Year the extra day will be placed between June 28th the first day of the new month.

All the defects referred to can be overcome by this plan. The proposed calendar will have the following advantages over the present calendar.

  1. All months would have the same number of days (28), the same number of working days, except holidays, and the same number of Sundays.
  2. All months would have exactly four weeks.
  3. Each week-day would always occur on the same four fixed dates of the month.
  4. Quarter-years and half-years would be of the same length.
  5. The month would always end on Saturdays.
  6. A holiday would always occur on the same week-day.
  7. The date of Easter could be fixed.
  8. Yearly calendars would no longer be necessary, one fixed monthly calendar would be sufficient.

These features would be of great benefit to business, accounting and statistical, for all months would be comparable without any adjustments. The month of exactly four weeks would obviate many of the adjstments now necessary between four- and five-week months. The reckoning of the lapse of time for interest and other purposes would be simplified. Meeting dates could be set in advance without difficulty. All holidays could be placed on Monday with advantage to industry and workers. A fixed Easter would prevent undesirable fluctuation in certain industries.

A Faster Money Turnonver
As there would be thirteen monthly settlements during the year instead of twelve, there would be a faster turnover in money; the same annual volume of business could be handled with less money.

The inconveniences and difficulties that would be experienced during the frist few years of the new calendar are comparatively slight compared with the many advantages which would be obtained in the business, social, and religious worlds by the adoption of the proposed calendar.

In 1922 the League of Nations appointed a Committee of Inquiry to study the question of calendar reform. More than 130 different proposals were submitted to the committee, but the Cotsworth plan is the one outstanding proposal which meets the needs of business. It has already been endorsed by a number of business organizations. . . . In fact, many concerns have already adopted a thirteen month calendar for their records and are already getting some of the advantages of the proposed plan, but there are obvious disadvantages to using two calendars. Only universal adoption of the proposed plan would be of real benefit to business as a whole.

 

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