The Coastal Post - September, 1998

Be Prepared

By Kirby Ferris

The official mockery of people with educated "Millennium Bug" concerns has begun. In an article in the September issue of Money Magazine, a man by the name of Joseph Nocera plays journalistic Minister of Propaganda for the establishment business and banking K turmoil.

The first thing he does, with rather familiar innuendo tactics, is infer indirectly that anyone who harbors sincere fears about the enormity of the Millennium Bug problem is something of an anti-Semite, a right wing kook, or a conspiratorialist. He doesn't say this directly, but study his language in the first three

paragraphs. Notice how he intertwines sincerely held, common sense apprehension with extremism.

Next Nocera labels concerns about Y2K's impact as "millennium hysteria." This is absurd and simply a lie. The Millennium Bug is a computer glitch, man made in every sense of the word. There is nothing mysterious about it. It is, simply stated, the most disastrous technical error ever made. This isn't Nostradamus or Edgar Cayce stuff, folks. This is nerds getting pretty damn nervous about what the hell to do about a glitch that absolutely will effect every person in every civilized society on Earth. There is not enough time to fix this problem. The pooch has been screwed, and Nocera seems to be playing shill for the vast echelons of Big Business and Big Banks who hope to wring every last penny out of the public before the sheep realize that the feces is going to hit the fan. So call me an extremist, Mr. Nocera.

Nocera claims that Y2K fears have been fomented by software fixit companies who want to cash in on increasing concern. This may or may not be true, but how does any kind of attempted profit making from the Millennium Bug problem cancel out what vast, quietly insistent numbers of computer experts are trying to tell us? There are companies who make money cleaning up oil spills. Does this mean that we should ignore the danger of oil spills? Or should we attack a company that sells updates to software programs that iron out bugs in previously marketed systems? Should we attack software companies who market anti virus programs?

Nocera then tosses a bit of slop at Dr. Gary North (who has a Ph.D. in history, and, by the way, is a very intelligent and articulate man). I'll give you Gary North's website: www.garynorth.com. Nocera doesn't mention the website address in his article, so you are left with a truly false impression about North's extremely relevant views on the Y2K subject.

Just to make you think he's giving you a balanced look at the issue, Nocera gives passing credence to Ed Yardeni's fears (Yardeni is an inarguably credible expert on the Y2K problem) as well as the views of Peter de Jager, another guy that Nocera can't besmirch too easily. This is something of an intellectual "good cop bad cop" approach. To me it stinks of semantic sleazery.

Then Nocera mentions a "long list of respectable alarmists", and by inference casts Gary North as not respectable, I guess. But Nocera doesn't tell you how to access the views of those on this "long list", does he? Folks, I call this type of presentation propaganda of the smarmiest sort.

Nocera declares that the Y2K problems will be fixed in time because "All over the country, companies that rely on mainframes are spending tens of millions of dollars fixing their computers." In one sense I say "so what?" American government and business has spent tens of billions of dollars trying to cure cancer, create nuclear fusion reactors, and raise the basic skills of American school children. No matter how much money has been spent, one must accept the fact that none of these immensely expensive projects has been successful. We still have cancer ravaging our population, no sustained nuclear fusion reaction, and stupid kids.

In another sense (that Nocera patently avoids) the amount of money businesses and government are starting to apply to the Y2K crisis is very, very indicative of just how frigging seriously they are quietly taking this thing. But the clock ticks on, amigos. The clock ticks on.

Then this Money Magazine writer (an "expert", we would assume) says: "There are far fewer computer transactions that are date sensitive than the alarmists would have you believe." What a pile of crap! Every banking transaction is date sensitive! Nearly every computer communication in our nation's electrical power grid is date sensitive! Every computer driven instruction in our nuclear power plants is date sensitive! Every inventory program and spread sheet in American manufacturing is date sensitive! Every insurance policy is date sensitive! Every damn IRS file (that means yours, pal) is date sensitive! Computers and time/date stamps go together like pork and beans. Anyone can see this! How can a respected journalist get away with this kind of baloney?

Nocera also declares that it will be the fear of the crisis that will cause a crisis, not the technological failure itself. He proclaims that people like Yardeni and de Jager will be the reason why there might very well be runs on banks. Yes, there will be runs on banks, but the reason will be the same as in 1933. The banking system, with its utterly dishonest "fractional reserve" lending system is corrupt and vulnerable to the core. That's your money in those banks, friends. You have a right to withdraw your savings in

cash any bloody time you want. If you choose to do so, because you honestly fear the Millennium Bug's potential effect on your life, you are not a religious fanatic or a reactionary. It is your money! Our banking system is no more honest than a Ponzi scheme chain letter. You had better learn about what banks really are. I don't call a person trying to protect his or her life's savings an extremist. I call that person intelligent. Think about it, if the banking system were honest, bank runs would be impossible. Think about that for a second. I repeat for the third time: It is your money in there!

In closing, I ask each of you to do a little experiment. Call your bank manager. Ask the bank manager to answer one simple question: "Is this bank Year 2000 compliant. Yes or no." Don't take some vague answer with flowery and wispy reassurances. Just get a "yes" or "no" answer. If the bank manager says "yes" get that declaration in writing, with a signature.

Then call your electric company, and your stock broker, and your insurance agent. Your car dealer should tell you if the computer chips in your auto are Year 2000 compliant, also. Because if they aren't...whew boy.

I don't like telling you all this. But someone has to sound the alarm. The Millennium Bug is huge, huge, huge. Do something about it by protecting yourself as well as you can as soon as you can. If I'm wrong (along with the likes of North, Yardeni and de Jager) then you can breath a sigh of relief and go on with your life. But if I'm right, and you could have made defensive decisions to protect yourself and your loved ones, but didn't, then you, not I, have been the fool. Trust in God, but keep your powder dry. And, the Boy Scout's motto: "Be prepared."

MANDATORY READING: "THE MILLENNIUM BUG" by Michael S. Hyatt. There ought to be a law that you have to read this book.

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