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Y2K - Panic Now and Avoid the Rush

April 15, 1999

The organized effort to suppress the coming Y2k public panic has failed. The orchestrated media campaign by utilities, the public relations propaganda blitz by corporations, especially banks and Wall Street, and the massive disinformation barrage by the government have all failed. Their failure is now readily apparent to even a casual observer.

Two things are now obvious about the Y2k situation. The first is that in the absence of clear, accurate and timely official Y2k information public uneasiness is heading inevitably towards mass panic. The Second thing is that the official Y2k information is now widely believed by significant numbers of the public to be merely self serving propaganda designed to maintain the status quo, especially the stock market and banking industry. This combination of public uneasiness, widespread hunger for information and pervasive distrust of official pronouncements is what makes Y2k so combustible.

Y2k has now achieved critical mass and synergized into something beyond a technical problem related to the binary 1,0 at the core of all computer code. Y2k has now moved beyond mere computer languages and spread into the mainstream of American, and soon global, culture. First as the butt of jokes-the crazed militia member with his M-16 and 10,000 rounds of ammo; then as the sense of unease increased, a more sober assessment with stories about freeze dried food and computer geeks in the wilderness. Now finally, Senator Dodd is officially saying you should have 3 days of food-the "prepare for a three day storm" idea.

If only he had said so back in January of 1998. If only Bill Gates, Microsoft's chairman, or Andy Grove, Intel's chairman, or any of the computer giants of our time had said anything at all. If only President Clinton or Al Gore had talked to the nation, said prepare for a three day ice storm-said anything about Y2k at all. If only business, political, religious leaders had said anything about personally preparing for Y2k back in 1997 or 1998, America wouldn't be facing a mass public panic. America wouldn't be facing chaos and worse if only a clear Y2k explanation and simple steps on how to prepare for it were given two years ago by the powers that be {See my Personal Preparations for Y2k in for what to do about Y2k}

But no one did. Y2k was relegated to the fruit cake faction of American society: loonies and crazies, militia members and militants, religious fanatics, UFO and alien abduction believers. Art Bell and his Hale-Bopp UFO interviews, Gary North with his end of the world crowd-these were how the American public first heard the details of Y2k. And in a time short, stressed out and information overloaded American culture, Y2k and its implications were simply ignored by the mainstream. Ignored because the message came over talk radio, and not mainstream television or radio. Ignored because the religious and political views of the early Y2k prophets were not politically correct and did not fit into America in the 90's. Doom and gloom in an exploding economy. Doom and gloom in an America at peace. Doom and gloom in an America that felt good about itself, confident in itself and proud of itself. Not only in the present, but into the next century. To year 2000 and beyond!

A hard sell this Y2k doom and gloom, especially over something no normal person could even understand. A Y2k bug that could frazzle the very foundation of society! Preposterous, the ravings of wild eyed fruitcakes or computer geeks and nerds. And who understands or cares about computers anyway. We have less than 265 days to go before Y2k officially strikes. These 265 days will increasingly be filled with more strident official pronouncements of Y2k success stories, but it won't matter. Fewer and fewer people will believe them. It will be like Nazi propaganda minister Goebbels promising victory as the Russians closed in on Berlin. People will hear the news as they sift through the increasing chaos in their personal lives.

Many people will continue to ignore Y2k right up until December 31st, 1999. They will deal with Y2k by buying some bottled water and bread on New Years Eve. And they will panic en mass during early January. Some will begin the personal preparations that will help them to weather Y2k with a minimum of disruption to their lives. These are the people who have been vaccinated against panic by the comfort and assurance of knowing they are reasonably prepared. And a few will completely drop out of society into fortified rural villas convinced that a new Dark Ages is upon us. If a new Dark Age does descend, these fortified villas will be targeted and looted systematically by company level military units. This is the lesson of the Roman Empire: a fortified villa cannot stand against 300 armed soldiers/barbarians.

If the polls are true, 15% of Americans will strip their bank accounts in December 1999. This equals a full blown banking panic. Probably about the same number will hit the grocery and hardware stores and strip them bare. This equals a full blown supply and distribution breakdown. The American government will then institute emergency measures that will then cause the other 85% of the population to panic. Terrorists will view the increasing chaos with the eye of an predator. A few selective strikes will cause a general feeling of hysteria in the land and across the globe-assuming we aren't already at war in the Mid-East or over Kosovo by then. This will equal a full blown social crisis. And then we will enter the millennium, subject to solar flares disrupting our technology, Y2k disrupting our technology and terrorists disrupting our technology. Sure looks like a lot of technology will be disrupted to me.

At any rate, this scenario is by no means the ranting of a diseased mind. It is as plausible as it was unnecessary. There was no reason America had to be brought to the edge of the abyss. There was no reason that Y2k had to emerge from its technical cocoon and turn into the butterfly from hell. There was no reason the specter of banking panics and runs, stock market crashes, global political instability had to cast a shadow over America in the year 2000. There was no reason for large numbers of Americans to sail into the new millennium unprepared and without the basics of survival items so easily attainable in 1997, 1998 and even early 1999.

Actually, there is a reason. This reason is really why Y2k has become so bad. You see, at its pure core, Y2k was never a computer code problem-"The code is broken"-nor even the social perception problem it has now become. Y2k was always really about how people reacted to it. Y2k was really all about management and leadership. How our leaders did or didn't prepare the American, and by extension global, populace. How our leaders did or didn't educate the populace about what Y2k was, what it meant and what to do about it. The code is broken, so what? The code is broken so what should I do about it? The code is broken and here is what our national leaders say you should do about it. But that never happened until far to late. So at this late, late date do what you can personally to prepare. Expect no useful information from any official source. You are on your own in many ways, but try to organize on a local, grassroots level. It's not just the code that is broken. The leaders are broken too and soon the "system" will join them.


Doug McIntosh

15 April 1999


Minting of gold in the U.S. stopped in 1933, during the Great Depression.
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