Or so I am led to conclude by reading The Measure of All Things: the Seven-Year Odyssey and Hidden Error That Transformed the World. [Probably doesn't help that I just finished Brunner's Shockwave Rider after the library finally got it to me, as well.]
Standardized measures mean goods and services can be sold more places more transparently. Factories elsewhere can make standardized parts that will work here, there and everywhere. I can buy a socket-wrench set Made In China (or where-ever) and it will be of use here.
It's a very odd feeling, to develop suspicions toward a measurement system I am fond of for its scientific cachet. It goes to prove that everything about human history and behavior is complex and nuanced, and that none of the records will ever capture the whole.
It's fractal, it's Godel's incompleteness theorem. It's why culturally, we'll never hit that dreaded 'singularity' of being unable to cope with whatever we throw at ourselves. It is, if you can imagine, the positive side of being the frogs in boiling water.
But it's no excuse not to heed the call of the third frog, and get the hell out of a bad situation - it just means we've got the coping skills if we simply remember to utilize them.
Yes, I know this sort of thing is going to get me kicked out of the Misanthropists Club. Blame the Wellbutrin.