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Should America Go Metric?

John Firth, Getty Images

Should the U.S. go to the metric system? The metric system is what I grew up on, well sorta. We grew up on “standic.” Distance we certainly used metric, centimetres, kilometres, etc. Temperatures were always given in metric, 30C is a fairly hot day, zero is freezing and boiling is 100. Pretty basic, visual, simple and tangible in a way.  Mass measurements were sometimes in metric, litres for liquid was widely used and food was sometimes sold per 100 grams. However, when we measured ourselves it was pounds for weight and it was in feet and inches for height. Shoe sizes were also in “U.S. standard.” Now, I’ve been away from Canada for more almost 20 years so maybe that has changed as well? 

The metric system is how the rest of the modern world operates except the U.S. If you really delve into America, it’s a country that doesn’t has an official language, it is also a country that is made up of a union of states. So national concepts aren’t really part of the mindset and thirdly America is about the ebb and flow of popularity and organic pragmatic changes but how it all relates to commerce.

So what does this all mean? In a nutshell the U.S. is metric where it has to be and where it makes sense to be. In science and the medical world measurements are in metric and then converted so the patient or the layperson understands. For example, cc or ml, by the way what it the difference between an ml and a cc? The U.S. is also metric in some trade, 2L bottles of soda, the magnitude scale, automobile engines, I’m sure if I pondered longer I could come up with more ways we’re metric. We in Maine have metric on many of Interstate road signs, swimming pools as well. A few examples of how America is metric.

Here are the reasons we’re not officially by government standards metric. One, it would be incredibly expensive to change all road signs and transition how people think. Each state would have to agree to go metric and that would take a lifetime. The Supreme Court would have to rule and standard measurements are an American tradition. We still have paper one dollar bills. We still want to buy gas and milk in gallons.

I think America will go metric as time moves along but in a way that isn’t by a government ruling. The private sector will dictate the U.S. metric system. When companies and other organizations find it cheaper and more efficient to make one metric version of something and sell it to the world and the U.S. then we’re metric.

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