Authored by Steve H. Hanke of The Johns Hopkins University. Follow him on Twitter @Steve_Hanke.
The Saudis have just completed peddling their new $15bn bond issue (with more to come). One thing that’s been swept under the rug is a smoking gun. A smoking gun because it’s an indication of just how much trouble the Kingdom is in.
The most telling sign of the depth of the Saudi welfare state’s troubles is the fact that they switched from the lunar based, religious Hijri calendar to the western Gregorian calendar on October 1, 2016. The reason for this radical change is simple economics.
The Gregorian calendar has 10.9 more days than the Hijri calendar, meaning that the public sector can cut costs through the dilution of wages – same pay spread over more working days. In another move that touches on sensitive religious matters, the Kingdom has announced that it will increase visa charges for people completing their religious pilgrimage, the Hajj. Even in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, economics has trumped religion.
If the Saudis really wanted to embrace a calendar without any religious implications, and one that is superior from a logical, economic point of view, they should adopt a permanent calendar (read: the Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar). The Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar (HHPC) provides a comprehensive template for revising the contemporary Gregorian calendar. It adheres to the most basic tenet of a fixed (read: permanent) calendar – each year, each date falls on the same day of the week, and every year begins on Monday, January 1st.
The year is then divided into four three-month quarters. Each month begins on the same day (and date) each year. The first two months of each quarter are made up of 30 days; the third is made up of 31. So, each quarter contains 91 days, resulting in a 364 day year that is comprised of 52 seven-day weeks. This is a vital feature of the HHPC, because, by preserving the seven-day Sabbath cycle, the HHPC avoids the major complaints from ecclesiastical quarters that have doomed all other attempts at calendar reform.
Moreover, the HHPC accounts for the disparity between the necessary length of the HHPC (364 days) and the astronomical calendar (roughly 365.24 days, the duration of one full orbit of the Earth around the Sun) by simply tacking one additional full week to the end of every fifth or sixth year (specifically 2020, 2026, 2032, 2037, 2043, 2048, and so on). This keeps the calendar in line with the seasons — serving the same function as the leap year in the present Gregorian system.
If you wish to determine the day of the week your birthday will fall on forever under the HHPC, just look at the calendar below.