The White House Says You Can Use the Metric System If You Want To

Illustration for article titled The White House Says You Can Use the Metric System If You Want To

When we saw a 'We the People' petition to the White House to make the US move to the metric system, we listed very sensible reasons why the US should listen: The imperial system is archaic, irrelevant, doesn't scale easily and to be honest, there are just too many damn units to keep track of. Well, the White House listened and is going to do... nothing. In their response to the petition, they basically said use the metric system if you want to.

First, the White House says that America actually uses the metric system all the time! The US uses metric to "define all basic units used in commerce and trade" and says using the metric system with the imperial system actually makes the United States "a truly bilingual nation". I guess since most of us only speak English (and not fifteen thousand languages like citizens of other countries), we'll take that as a compliment. Still, that sounds a helluva lot like a copout.


But basically, what it boils down to is making the use of the metric system (or imperial system) a choice. They're encouraging the voluntary use of a metric system!

Ultimately, the use of metric in this country is a choice and we would encourage Americans to continue to make the best choice for themselves and for the purpose at hand and to continue to learn how to move seamlessly between both systems.

In our voluntary system, it is the consumers who have the power to make this choice. So if you like, “speak” metric at home by setting your digital scales to kilograms and your thermometers to Celsius. Cook in metric with liters and grams and set your GPS to kilometers.

The White House ends the response by saying 'choose to live your life in metric if you want'. Basically, do whatever you want because the US will never officially change to the metric system. Damn. How many ounces in a cup in a quart in a gallon again? [White House]

Image by Håvar og Solveig under Creative Commons license


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Here are some things to consider:

the US is the last western country that still uses the imperial system. Even the "Empire", I.E. the UK, has converted to metric, and so did all other English speaking countries. Today the are only 3 countries that are still officially using teh imperial system: The USA, Burma, and Liberia..
The first 30 years of my life (that's half) I lived in countries that use the metric system, and I was fortunate to move to Canada when they transition to metric. It is not as expensive as you think. You need to start selling gas in litters, food in grams and kilos, road signs, when replaced, start with both metric and imperial distances. If you ever driven in an area that has a military base, you will notice that road signs are "bilingual", both in Miles and Km. That is because the US army is 100% metric ever since we joined NATO. So every US veteran can "speak" metric, and apparently there head didn't explode.. :)