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Public Sentiment in U.S. Inclines to Calendar Reform, Congressman Porter Says

December 17, 1928
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Text of Joint Resolution for International Conference (Jewish Daily Bulletin)

The question of changing the calendar has reached the stage in which an organized international effort is being made by numerous governments to determine whether public sentiment of the different nations approves it, declared Congressman Stephen G. Porter, chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, who introduced in the House a joint resolution requesting the President to propose the calling of an international conference for the simplification of the calendar.

The United States was the first to organize an unofficial committee under the active leadership of George Eastman. Most of the departments of the federal government are informally represented in the membership of this committee, which also includes from civil life, besides Mr. Eastman, representatives of finance, commerce, industry, insurance, railways, labor, and the press, Mr. Porter continued.

The committee was formally organized on July 9th with George Eastman as chairman and Charles F. Marvin, chief of the Weather Bureau, as vice chairman.

Much informative work has already been accomplished, and a widespread and growing sentiment strongly in favor of calendar simplification is found throughout the nation, he declared.

Public opinion, especially in the United States, is rapidly perceiving the shortcomings and defects of our present time-measuring instrument which has been in use with only slight improvements for nearly 2,000 years. Customs and traditions, which have heretofore opposed, or at least impeded, the consideration of the simplification of the calendar, are yielding to an advancing wave of popular recognition of the advantages of simplification which may be had by the process of world-wide adoption and legalization, Mr. Porter said.

The text of the resolution, which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, follows:

“Whereas, at the Pan-American Conference at Havana, plenary session, February 18, 1928, the following resolution was unanimously adopted by the delegates of the twenty-one nations:

“‘That it be recommended to the countries, members of the Pan-American Union, that they each appoint a national committee with a view to studying the proposal relative to the simplification of the calendar, and that they make the necessary preparation in order to participate in an international conference to determine which is the best method of reform’; and.

“Whereas, the present calendar has three fundamental defects, summarized as follows: (1) Inequality in the length of the divisions of the year. The divisions of the year, the months, quarters, and half-years are of unequal length. The months contain from twenty-eight to thirty-one days. As a result, the number of days in the quarters are, respectively, ninety (ninety-one in a leap year), ninety-one, ninety-two, and ninety-three. The first half-year, therefore, contains two or three days less than the second.

“(2) Want of fixity in the calendar. The calendar is not fixed; it changes each year; the year, in fact, consists of fifty-two weeks, plus one or two days. In consequence: (a) The dates of periodical events can never be fixed with precision. (b) The position of the weeks in the quarters varies each year; that is to say, the weeks overlap the divisions of a year in a different way each time, and complications accordingly arise in the reckoning of accounts, statistics, and so forth. (c) The 15th and 30th of the month are very important dates as regards the falling due and the payment of wages and rents. When these dates are Sundays, the payments must be postponed or advanced. (d) Finally–and this is, perhaps, the greatest drawback from a statistical and commercial point–since the various days of the week are not of the same value as regards the volume of trade and the years and the months do not from year to year include the same number of individual week days, there can be no genuine statistical comparison between one year and another, while the various subdivisions of the year itself–the half years, quarters, and months–are likewise incapable of comparison.

“Special disadvantages of the non-fixity of Easter–the date of Easter varies at present between March 22 and April 25; that is, over a period of thirty-five days, and involves a corresponding displacement of the movable festivals. Numerous disadvantages result, both from a civil and a religious point of view; and whereas the calendar may be simplified so as to remove these undisputed defects and result in the following advantages: (1) All months have the same number of workdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, and are directly comparable. (2) Each month has the same number of whole weeks. Fractions of weeks at month ends are eliminated. (3) The shifting of day names to dates in every succeeding year and month is avoided. The fixing of court sessions, educational schedules, and so forth, would be facilitated. (4) Periods of earning and spending would be coordinated; family and business budgeting would be simplified. (5) All months would be comparable without any adjustment being necessary for unequal number of days or weeks. Split-week pay rolls would be avoided. A great amount of clerical work would be eliminated and expense saved in the preparation of accounting and statistical reports in business, government, scientific, health and home affairs. (6) As there would be thirteen monthly settlements during the year there would be a faster turnover of money; the same business could be handled with less money. (7) Holidays would always occur on the same week day. (For the interest of both industry and workers it has been advocated that, irrespective of where the anniversary dates fall in the week, the holiday itself be transferred to Monday, as now when it falls on Sunday, the anniversary dates not being changed.) (8) The simplification of the calendar will permit the ecclesiastical authorities to avoid the shifting of Easter by agreeing upon a definite date. (9) The thirteen-month plan would revise the calendar scientifically, completely, and permanently; and

“Whereas, with the progress of civilization, certain shortcomings in our present time-measuring instrument, in use for nearly two thousand years, have come to be felt more and more. Its inconveniences are endured by reason of custom and tradition, inherited from generations past, which have fixed its use habitually in our lives. Custom and tradition have heretofore kept discussion of calendar change from becoming effective. But recently the movement toward improving the calendar became strong enough, especially in the United States, to start a serious and official international undertaking to decide the question; and

“Whereas, the time considered desirable for such a conference is during 1929 for the reason that the nearest convenient year for putting a new calendar into effect is 1933 when January 1 falls on Sunday, and the interval between 1929 and 1933 would be needed to prepare for the change; therefore be it

“Resolved, by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that the President is respectfully requested to propose, on behalf of the United States, to the nations of the world the calling of an international conference for the simplification of the calendar, or to accept an invitation on behalf of the United States to participate in such a conference upon the proposal of some other nation or group of nations.

“Sec. 2. There is hereby authorized to be appropriated, out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, the sum of $20,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, to meet the actual and necessary expenses of participation by the United States in such conference.”

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