Retirement Metrics

April 26, 2011

Quick question: what do the USA, Myanmar and Liberia have in common?

Answer: The British Imperial System of weights and measures.

While we continue with ounces (of the dry kind), pounds, tons, inches, feet, yards, acres, ounces (of the wet kind), pints, quarts and gallons, tablespoons, teaspoons, cups, fractional portions of all of them, volumetric versions of some and Fahrenheit temperatures, the rest of the world (excepting Myanmar and Liberia) has gone metric including the British.

Why did they do that?

The metric system is simpler, easier and more logical: it uses fewer measures, e.g. meters for distance, grams for weight; it is scalable using standard prefixes across measures, e.g. “kilo” for 1,000, “milli” for 1,000th; it uses decimals which are a lot easier to work with in making calculations than are fractions.

The US Congress legalized the metric system for use in the US in 1866 (yes, 1866). In 1988, Congress declared the metric system was the preferred system for use in the US. What is holding us up? In large measure, it is probably the inertia of the familiar. But the vast majority of the industrialized world has gone/is going metric. The US will need to also if we wish to remain competitive. How can you help? Learn and use metric; remember it is simpler and easier than the British Imperial system we use now which has its roots in the Middle Ages.

Learn more here.

R. Kevin Price

© 2008-2011 R.K. Price