Posted by: coastcontact | October 1, 2009

American Competitiveness – Are We Serious?

This was not an issue that I expected to hear about in the run for president.  Surprisingly Lincoln Chafee, the newest candidate for president, has re-introduced a discussion about the U.S.A. converting to the metric system.  I believe it is an issue because this nation refuses to accept the use of metric is a deterrent to America’s competitiveness.

The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not use the metric system as its predominant system of measurement.  We use a modified form of the English system of weights and measures.  The U.K. for the most part converted to the metric system in 1995. 

Both Canada and Mexico are on the metric system.   Mexico has an obligatory use of metric units established by law of June 19, 1895.  Canada made the change in 1971.

The voluntary plan for conversion to metric has met a wall of refusal.  The arguments are from those who say the change over will be too expensive and the change will be too confusing.  Interestingly the United States has been making the change but very slowly.  Soda bottles are now available in liter sizes, liquor is sold in metric sizes, and both prescriptive and non- prescriptive drugs are measured in metric weight.  Cameras/photo supplies, car tires, and a few other items are measured partially in both systems.

American competitiveness would be enhanced by a total conversion.  Still, neither The U.S. Chamber of Commerce nor The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) has the question of conversion on their list of issues.  Why haven’t American manufacturers and scientists been more forceful in bringing the nation in compliance with the rest of the world?  I cannot think of one good reason.

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