# Why doesn't the U.S. use the metric system? How hard would the transition be if they started?

Asked by Sakata (3340) February 10th, 2009

The metric system is so much less complex and, as a grown American man, I still don’t understand why we use the standard system of measure.

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My 6th grade math teacher told me the U.S. had “started” transitioning to the metric system years ago, but no one really cared enough to complete the “journey”. She said that’s why soda comes in liters, but milk in gallons.

I haven’t tried to master the english system because I figure that we’ll make the switch soon enough. The trouble is that a lot of our equipment would have to be altered, also America has this hangup about being right all the time. It’s a gift and a curse really, but we don’t have to change to suit any one. No one has the right to alter what we’re comfortable with just because it “makes more sense”. (I wish we used the metric system. Also, what’s up with Fahrenheit (sp?)? Why does the water have to have salt in it? Why make things compilcated?)

mrswho (1690)

I don’t know.. but I’m screwed if we convert. I missed this whole part of elementary math because I was ahead of everyone else. I know centimeters, that’s about it. :/

dlm812 (1679)

@dlm812 I think the sale of unit converters would go up just for that reason.

tehrani625 (405)

we won’t make the switch because there will no longer be subway \$5 footlongs… :p

dingus108 (233)

The cause of this question started when the wife and I couldn’t figure out how many cups were in pints were in quarts were in gallons the other night. It hit me how ridiculous our system is when people can’t even use it.

Sakata (3340)

I’ve been using Celsius for the past 3 months. Everyone looks at me weird when I tell them it’s going to be negative _ tonight. It’s OK though because I know I’m better than them.

The US is transitioning to metric. We now drink soda out of 67.63 oz bottles.

Grisson (4634)

My current car was manufactured in the US to be sold in Canada, so the spedometer is in Kilometers per hour with miles per hour underneath.

Vinifera7 (2851)

Ya’ll need ta take yer fancy mezurin’ asses back ta Mathsylvania where’n ya come from. spit

Blondesjon (33994)

You’re just trying to take away our way of life. Remember, my fellow Americans, that if we let them destroy our system of measurement, the terrorists win.

Jayne (6776)

Our government officially uses the metric system.

gooch (5744)

The US officially started conversion to metric in 1975. Unfortunately, people haven’t been too keen to the idea and many anti-metric groups popped up effectively slowing it to a virtual halt. As far as I know the only countries using the same system as us (that being the USA) are Burma (Myanmar) and Liberia.

AstroChuck (37560)

Would that be kinda like how we (the US) passed a law a few years back making English the ‘official” language of the U.S.A., or how we’ve been trying to get rid of the penny for 50-whatever years?

Sakata (3340)

@dingus108, don’t you mean the \$5——30.48 centemeter looooooooooooooooong!

blastfamy (2169)

I’m not aware of any law regarding English as the official language. Kind of ridiculous in a nation of immigrants.

AstroChuck (37560)

@AstroChuck We’ve actually passed it as a law twice in this country. France did it first, but they only had to do it once and stuck by it.

Sakata (3340)

Wow! I never would have guessed English was the official language of France.

AstroChuck (37560)

lmao… yea. Who knew, right.

Sakata (3340)

I dont mean to argue but I don’t believe that the US has ever made English the official language. Several states have tried to pass official language laws but have later been shot down in the courts. You will have to show me your source.

AstroChuck (37560)

I have to agree with Chuck on this. I’m not aware of any law that mandates English as the official language. I just did a lot of research for a paper about teaching a foreign language in schools. No where did I find anything about making it the official language. Actually many people are opposed to the idea.

Gruz06 (811)

I’ll search a little but my original source was my college history professor.
(Although his favorite topics were beer and hating the French lol)

He said France had passed the law making French their official language. This, in turn, caused everything publicly visible to be changed to French. I.e. a Batman movie billboard that was in English was changed to French within a month.

Sakata (3340)

I remember the animated metric commercials in the 70s:

“Take 10, America, and learn the metric way / A simple system based on 10 that you can start today / Efficient, more accurate, more universal, too / It’s good for our economy, our country and for you.”

So I remember that commercial. I remember what the measurements were. We were taught them in school. And they still aren’t used outside of liter sizes for soda. Ridiculous.

Gosh, all the useless info I hold in my brain is amazing. I swear, when I’m old I’m going to be like an griot or a seanchai.

aprilsimnel (30739)

Pride is a bitch, as they say.

Spargett (5395)

@AstroChuck & @Gruz06: The French passed the Toubon Law in 1994.

Technically the United States has no official language. I stand corrected there.

Sakata (3340)

Removed by me
no reason to add insult to injury

Sorry I don’t remember where but I read a report a long time ago by economists that the US would actually save a great deal of money in the long term because there would be less ‘work’ needed to equate units for foreign trade purposes.

Switching would be a fixed cost but if plants, people, and other facilities individually saved seconds/minutes of labour to adjust for these differences that adds up to a great deal of saved productivity that would continue into the future.

artificialard (2273)

I went to a school in first and second grade that had switched to metric. I learned it and then moved and my next school never mentioned it.

jessturtle23 (3318)

My husband who works in Construction says that he can’t see how they can ever convert in construction. Can you imagine a world without a 2“X4”?

Judi (40025)

With manufacturing (including construction) taking such a huge economic hit now, don’t hold your breath on any significant conversions in the near future.

So, would metric seconds and minutes save time? ;-)
Would metric dog years become 10 = 1?

steelmarket (3603)

@Judi Even though 2×4’s aren’t actually 2“x4”

Sakata (3340)

They are before they’re finished.

AstroChuck (37560)

Being in an Italian Family, I grew up with the metric system. But in school they forced me to learn the US system. They only had like, one section on the metric system in my Algebra Book. Now I am a bit rusty on it, but like it much better.

90s_kid (2193)

I have often wondered this. The metric system makes more sense anyway. If they started teaching it in elementary school and continued the U.S could probably convert. The country just likes to be different I guess. Lots of things would be easier if we converted to the metric system. Is there another country that doesn’t use the metric system?

Believe it or not, the evangelicalists were against the metric system when we were supposed to adopt it in the 70’s. They said that the metric system was inspired by the devil. I think the real reason is that most of them had trouble deviding by 10 or 100.

Ron_C (14475)

@Ron_C, my how things have changed! Many of my friends (Evangelicals- me included) don’t understand why we won’t just join the rest of the world and change!

GracieT (7393)

Actually, my company sells internationally so we use the metric system if it is specified. The U.S. is very conservative in many respects.

Ron_C (14475)

or