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Stubborn Resistance to Metric System Is a Symptom of Our National Malaise

December 04, 1988

Twin articles on the metric system by Keith Bradsher and Linda Williams (Sun., Nov. 20) were closely followed by presentation of the "American Agenda" to President-elect Bush by former Presidents Ford and Carter. All three reports underscored the need for change in an increasingly competitive and economically interdependent world.

It is a world in which the United States is often--and accurately--perceived as a pitiful, helpless giant, increasingly narcissistic, educationally backward, scientifically illiterate and unwilling to bear even the slightest amount of pain to ensure a more secure future for the generations yet to come.

Opposition to adoption of the metric system is symptomatic of our national malaise. Why must the United States persist in using a system that has been abandoned by all other nations but Burma and Liberia?

In recent years, Australia, Canada and Great Britain have successfully made the switch to liters, meters and Celsius, just as Japan had done following World War II. Clearly it is time for the United States to measure up and join the metric club. The economic integration of Europe scheduled to take place in 1992 and the U.S.-Canada free trade agreement should be reason enough to begin rebuilding the American economy with metrics on the blueprint.

HAROLD N. BASS

Northridge

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