Some people like the idea that our country is switching to the metric system. Some don't. But like it or not, we're slowly but surely making the change.
Whether or not you and I make the transition easily, our children will almost certainly use metric measurements and be comfortable with them.
Liquor drinkers have already met the giant 1.75 liter bottle, which ought to cost about 8 per cent less than a half-gallon but seldom does. Motorists are on notice that speed limit signs will soon be posted in kilometers per hour instead of miles per hour, and other changes are also on the way.
However, one of the last segments of our society to make theswitch may be Wall Street, which is now 200 years behind the rest of the country in replacing Spanish pesos and eights of pesos with the dollar's decimal system.
Except when they buy and sell stocks, Americans count money in dollars and hundredths of dollars.
On Wall Street, and along 15th Street here in Washington, where millions of dollars change hands with the speed of electrons zipping through computer circuits, money is still tallied in dollars and eights of dollars.
All a floor trader needs to achieve just the right atmosphere for the pricing system under which he works is an eyepatch, a wooden leg, and a parrot on his shoulder squawking, "Pieces of eight."
Inasmuch as the financial community has been talking for some time about modernizing its quotation system and listing every stock in the nation on one exchange and one tape, I thought the modernization program might include a switch to the decimal system as well. However, inquiries at several local brokerage houses this week drew a blank.
"Switch from eights to multiples of ten?" one registered representative echoed. "What for? I mean, why change?"
Another said, "You mean quote a stock at 21 dollars and 60 cents instead of 21 and 5/8? There used to be a tiny exchange that did that. It went out of business. I don't think the big exchanges would be interested in changing."
Gee! And I though Wall Street activity reflects conditions that can be foreseen six months to a year into the future - not conditions that existed 200 years ago.