Now that we’ve addressed all the problems involving terrorism, the deficit, racism and Constitutional rights, we can finally get down to solving the real challenges facing the country. What are we going to do about time zones? Check out this article from the WaPo from a couple of days back. They feature two guys named Steve Hanke and Dick Henry who are working on precisely this problem.
Before you can solve a challenge you need to admit one exists, and the time zone problem is far worse than I’d thought. Russia has eleven time zones. China has only one. (No wonder they got ahead of everyone economically for a while.) North Korea created a new one of their own last year and Tibet already had one that starts on fifteen minutes past the hour. The United States and its territories cover nine time zones. It’s madness, I tell you. Every time you get on a plane traveling any significant distance east or west you wind up having to reset not only your internal clock, but your travel alarm as well.
So what do we do about it? Hanke and Henry have the answer. Let’s get rid of all of them.
The plan was strikingly simple. Rather than try to regulate a variety of time zones all around the world, we should instead opt for something far easier: Let’s destroy all these time zones and instead stick with one big “Universal Time.”…
The logic of Universal Time is strikingly simple: If it’s 7 in the morning in Washington D.C., it’s 7 everywhere else in the world too. There are no time zones. Wherever you are, the time is the same.
As soon as I read this I had one of those I could have had a V8 moments. Sure, it may sound crazy at first glance, but why couldn’t it be the same time everywhere? (Or at least everywhere in our country since we couldn’t force it on everyone else.) The immediate argument which jumps to mind is that people would be waking up, going to work and hitting the sack at all sorts of odd hours. If we took Greenwich Mean Time as the starting point, where noon is the middle of the day, then in New York the sun would be coming up around one o’clock in the morning and you’d be going to bed around seven in the evening. But so what? Those numbers are completely arbitrary to begin with. If your lunch hour is at seven a.m. each day, who cares? The sun will still be high in the sky and the birds will be singing.
It’s not like scheduling conference calls on two coasts would be any different. You’ll still have to take into account the fact that people on the left coast start their day four hours later. It will just be the same time on the clock when the call begins. No translations required! Computers and phone systems won’t need to account for shifts from zone to zone. Is this really such a crazy idea? If we made the transition, within a year or two everyone would just be operating on those schedules and nothing in our daily lives would really change.
Now if we can just get rid of daylight savings time…