In an article published by the Cato Institute, Steve H. Hanke and Richard Conn Henry have proposed using a single time zone around the world. They write:
> This would mean that bank employees in the far East of Russia would > start work with the sun well up in the sky, while bank employees in > the far west of Russia would be at their desks before the sun has > risen. But, across the country, they could conduct business with one > another, all the working day. … One time throughout the world, one > date throughout the world. Refill dates for prescription drugs would > be the same day of the month, every month, every year. Business > meetings, sports schedules and school calendars would be identical > every year. Today's cacophony of time zones, daylight savings times, > and calendar fluctuations, year-after-year (sic) would be over. The > economy — that's all of us — would receive a permanent "harmonization > dividend." (["Changing Times," > http://www.cato.org/pub\_display.php?pub\_id=13940](http://www.cato.org/pub\_display.php?pub\_id=13940), accessed > 20111229)
And when would the working day be? Whose convenience would be served — who would get to be awake during normal daylight in a unified global work day?
Actually, China already uses a single time zone (Beijing time, Běijīng shíjiān 北京時間) across almost all its own territory, all the way to the western borders of its Central Asian possessions. Fewer degrees of longitude are involved than in the case of Russia, but the Chinese example shows that it is grimly over-optimistic to think we can regulate people on a turning globe* to live according to a single working day.
The Chinese single time zone is primarily an expression of central political power over the localities. But there is no question of people in the non-Han far west actually getting up and going to sleep at the same times as people in the Han east. People simply will not do that without coercion. They start work when the daylight is normal for them to start work, of course. If you want to talk to someone living many degrees of longitude away, you still have to figure out when they're awake or at work.
"Harmonization dividends", meaning not having to think about complicated things, do not come into it.
For China, where "harmony" (héxié 和諧) is a current catchword for obedience to authority, the only "harmonization dividend" from this system is the lip service paid to the single time zone of the east: a unified metric appears to be in use, but in reality people just ignore it when it ceases to be convenient.
* Of course, if the turning globe had one pole permanently toward the sun, a single time zone would be easy to enforce, and most of the population would live in the sunlit area. Stay tuned to see if someone proposes that next.