Why America Doesn’t Know What Kilometers Are

after a conversation with my friend Amelia — check her fabulous artwork out at ameliadraws.com or on Twitter @Amelia_Draws — I went off and wrote this quasi rant about America and the metric system that became… well… something else:

the only reason we don’t adopt the metric system here (which would save millions of dollars for US and international companies, not to mention ease international travel) is our own antiquated notion of “exceptionalism.” the same applies to the ICC and the security council; it’s a pattern of thinking that also supports insulating US officials from criminal prosecution from charges of crimes against humanity. as if america is somehow destined to lead the world and can never be wrong. but the brutal truth is that we *are* often wrong — so are other countries. we’re also often right.

but to oppose such a policy out of jingoism and hubris is just misguided. we’re one nation among 196; we have the world’s largest economy (in GDP) but are 9th in GDP per capita, 10th in PPP per capita, 3rd in population. yeah, we’re good, but we’re not bulletproof. we also rank 2nd in prison population per capita (only to the Seychelles), 36th (!) in life expectancy and 33rd (according to World Bank Gini coefficient data) in income equality.

it might seem like a trivial thing to raise a ruckus about, but it’s indicative of a mentality that’s led to top-level embrace of torture, disregard for inequality and crass disregard for the long-standing racial inequality that persists to this very day.

so i say, give us celsius and kilometers! …but also give us humility. “Humility is the solid foundation of all virtues.” —Confucius
Do better, America — because yes, we can.

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~ by Benji on 6 January 2015.

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