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Joining the Metric World

Comment 16th August 2010

The whole world has adopted the logical metric system of measurements for business, technical and everyday use; apart, that is, from the US and the UK – the last significant bastions of imperal irregularity.  Over forty years ago, the government of the day resolved that the UK should 'go metric', and we have still not achieved that objective. (The likes of Canada, Australia and New Zealand converted in about twelve years.)  Instead, we remain in the ludicrous position of selling, say, curtain materials by the metre that are so-many inches wide; buying petrol by the litre for vehicles assessed by how many miles they can do to the gallon; seeing packed meats and vegetables in the supermarket labelled 454 grams (i.e., the old lb.), and everywhere there is 'bi-lingual' pricing.  This is utterly crazy and costly.  We are existing in a nightmarish limbo.

Nostalgia is all right in its place but, like it or not, we really are not living in the 1950s.  The world has moved on and is still leaving us behind in so many spheres, of which our misplaced, ill-judged adherence to the past is both a symptom and the major cause.

Why does this matter?

We are a trading nation that needs to import and export goods and services to survive economically.  Being out-of-kilter with most of our overseas suppliers and customers demonstrates to them our unpreparedness to undertake the task seriously enough.

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