Under US government policy, transition to the metric system is
voluntary in the USA. The law requires labeling for most packaged goods
to show both US and metric systems so that consumers and retailers can
However, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST),
an agency within the US Department of Commerce, is to propose a bill to
Congress that will end the use of inch-pound units. Hints of NIST's intention
appeared in November 2002 when it held a forum to:
identify areas of work needed to ensure the effective
voluntary transition to the use of metric units in all commercial
"ensure" something that is "voluntary" is a contradiction in terms. The NIST
proposal is now available on the internet. How does NIST get round US
government policy that metric is voluntary? It has developed a form of words
that describes its proposal as "permissible metric-only labeling", and which
appears to offer a choice for business:
A. Metric and US customary; or
IT'S A TRICK!
two labeling obligations proposed by NIST cannot lawfully co-exist. It
is impossible for the law to require both systems to be displayed while
also stating that only metric need be shown.
Accordingly, the only requirement under the NIST proposal is that
packaged goods show metric. Producers may print lb/oz/pint equivalents, but
such information is surplus to the legal requirement. Decoded, the phrase
"permissible metric-only labeling" means compulsory metric labeling,
since the word "permissible" actually refers to inch-pound.
NIST proposal, if implemented, will mean the end of US measures as trading
units for most packaged goods. It will be legal to sell a can as "454g" - but
ILLEGAL as "1 lb". The upheaval and costs to business will be huge, since
systems and processes will have to change to accommodate metric.
BRITAIN'S DISASTEROUS EXPERIENCE OF METRIC
Britain knows all about compulsory metric conversion. Since 2000, metric
measures have been made compulsory by the European Commission. In 2001, trader
Steven Thoburn was dubbed the "Metric Martyr" after being convicted and fined
for selling bananas in pounds and ounces. Packaged goods are meanwhile
"downsized" on conversion from English to metric quantities - with no decrease
in price. Surveys show 85% of British people prefer feet and inches, pounds and
archetype kilogram is stored in a vault near Paris. Thomas Jefferson said: "If
other nations adopt this unit, they must take the word of the French
mathematicians for its length
So there is an end to it!"
Americans want to defend fair play in the marketplace and freedom to use
customary measures then they must wake up to moves now developing to force them
to use metric.