Is the IRS scared? Should we be? : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

The Wall Street Journal of 4/22/1998 (front page) quotes IRS Commissioner Charles Rossotti re difficulties with the year 2000 problem, "There's no point in sugarcoating the problem. If we don't fix the century date problem, we will have a situation scarier than the average disaster movie you might see on a Sunday night. Twenty-one months from now, there could be 90 million taxpayers who won't get their tax refunds, and 90% of the revenue stream of the United States could be jeopardized." He further says, "It is a very, very serious problem that we are taking very, very seriously."

The IRS plans to spend nearly $1 billion on it. Edward Yardeni, a New York economist, worries that even that might not do the job. "Clearly, now is the time to prepare for systems failure at the IRS," he says.

Mr. Yardeni also fear many business aren't facing up to the problem. As a result, he sees "a 60% chance of a world-wide recession" that could start as early as the second half of 1999. - - - - - What sort of actions do you think the IRS (with support of Congress and the President) will decide to take when they know they won't make it? i.e., how would they prepare for systems failure? I understand that at the moment they are using carrots to keep their programmers - I believe they just gave them 10% raises. When the carrots quit working, what then? I can't see the government giving up 95% of its revenue without instituting pretty extreme measures.

My recollection of the World War II period is that the government decided who and what was "essential" to the war effort, and established priorities and rationing measures. How long before the President declares an emergency?

-- Dan Hunt (, April 23, 1998


>>How long before the President declares an emergency?<<

My best guess is that martial law will be instituted by the late first quarter or early second quarter of 1999. Most of the Executive Orders which would enable this to occur are already in place.

I certainly hope that I'm wrong, but I don't think we should discount the very real possibility that our current president will see this looming crisis as a way to extend his "benevolent rule" over us ignorant and helpless peasants. Certainly not a pleasant thought, but I feel it's plausible given the situtation.

-- Nabi Davidson (, April 23, 1998.

I won't argue with the idea that martial law is a possibility under current conditions. The American people have in general become such sheep that it wouldn't occur to them that doing so is a total violation of the Constitution, both in letter and spirit.

However, given the rise of the militia movement in the last decade, I have to wonder if martial law wouldn't trigger some kind of violent civil unrest.

Yes, the majority of people would go along with martial law: they're sheep. But there is a sizable minority who wouldn't. And there are people like me, who don't sympathize with some of the militias' causes but wouldn't join one without provocation.

Martial law would probably provoke me into doing so.

Make no mistake: the reason I use a psuedonym and an untracable e-mail "drop box" is for one reason alone: I don't really want to be found. I want to be free to advocate not paying taxes in 1999 and not get caught. I want the moral support of a forum like this without having to worry if I'm now at the top of somebody's list for "rounding up the usual suspects."

If martial law looks likely to be imposed, I'll take my family to my South Dakota land and sit. In fact, I hope Clinton does it, because it might be just the thing to galvanize my wife. And I'd rather go to South Dakota in July rather than January.

But to be honest, it's hard to imagine Clinton risking it. It would, frankly, require more conviction of principle than he has to date shown.

Can you really imagine Clinton doing something so politically risky? He's not stupid -- he knows that this would set off the militias. He also knows they'd immediately get the support of guys like me. He knows that they'd get the tacit support of some of the sheep, simply because a bunch of them would wake up and realize that the government had mostly been lying about militias all these years -- and worse, the militias turned out to be right after all: government really was after our freedom.

I admit it's not impossible. It's just hard to see this president taking such an action. Bill Clinton uses his cohones for one thing and one thing only. Bold political moves isn't it.

"John Smith"

-- "John Smith" (, April 23, 1998.

John, what if Slick Willy is a puppet and the puppet masters pull the strings?

-- Sam Mann (, April 23, 1998.


I know this is a common concern among some people. And anything is possible.

But personally, I have to draw the line at things for which I cannot see replicable evidence. The idea that Bill Clinton is under any other control than his own cognitive disabilities is hard for me to accept. I see no real evidence of it.

In fact, that idea that he's simply a power-hungry, statist boor makes most of his behavior completely understandable. I see no reason to assign any other motives to him: that alone explains everything.

My only real concern is that so many of my fellow citizens feel that a power-hungry, statist boor is an appropriate President.

It doesn't really matter, though. The issue is self-correcting in 21 months.

"John Smith"

-- "John Smith" (, April 23, 1998.

This statement by IRS Commissioner Rosetti is the first admission made by a highly placed official in a main stream newspaper in the US. The possible disaster that we all jaw about may sooner come to pass only because it is getting the publicity we all seem to want. The problems we all foresee may become a "Self fulfilling prophesey" If just 10% of the population hoard food and take their money out of the bank, there will be a run on the banks, and there will be food shortages. We may not need the computers to fail.

-- Bill Solorzano (, April 23, 1998.

>>We may not need the computers to fail<<

But they will fail anyway...

-- Nabi Davidson (, April 23, 1998.

Mr. John Smith, If you think that by using a phony e-mail address and name, that you will not be found, guess again. You can get nailed with your IP address. Also, those sattelites floating around up in space can grab any e-mail message that is sent!(saw this on CNN one night) Big brother really is watching. I was halted from enetering a Dept. of the Navy site. They knew exactly where I was calling from! And who might be watching you on that phony e-mail site? My guess is you could be tracked down in short order!

-- Gail (, April 23, 1998.


A couple of technical points that make what you're talking about difficult:

  1. My IP address is not static. It is dynamically assigned whenever I call my ISP. Even if "they" (whoever "they" are) got my IP, by the time they know what it is, I'm no longer using it. They'd track it to an ISP in suburban Chicago, but then, I tell people that much already.

  2. The ISP in question is not the one I work for.

  3. No satellite can intercept every e-mail message in the world. There is no central "clearing house" for e-mail.

    E-mail isn't sent as one single long packet. Like everything else on the Internet, it is broken into many -- possibly thousands -- of smaller chunks for routing. To get an entire message, you would have to capture all the packets.

    If I write an e-mail in my mail client, it is sent from me to my ISP's SMTP server via the nearest route -- which might not be the same route twice. To reliably intercept my e-mail, you would have to position a packet-sniffer off of my ISP's modem, preferably between his modem and his router. Trust me when I tell you that no ISP will allow this.

    I don't send mail that way, anyway. I compose from my dummy account inside my web browser. The same principle applies: in order to intercept the mail, you really ought to put a packet-sniffer between the modem and the router. If not that, between the first two routers.

  4. Once the mail gets to Hotmail, all the IPs in the world won't help someone track where it came from. After Hotmail, all the identifying characteristics belong to Hotmail, not me. And Hotmail doesn't record the IP address from which the message was sent to them (which wasn't static and belonged to another ISP in the first place).

  5. The same applies to this forum. No identifying characteristics are saved: just raw text.

  6. I'm curious about you being halted from entering a Navy site. What site and under what circumstances? How were you logging in? Was it a LAN connection, a dial-up ISP, what? Did you give it any identifying characteristics? Are you sure you were prevented from entering, or could the site have been down? Was it a web site at all?

    The Internet is an extraordinarily vague place. Just because you couldn't get into a specific host doesn't indicate any malevolent design. I spend whole days tracking down problems like you described for customers, usually from sites owned by people like Adobe.

"John Smith"

-- "John Smith" (, April 23, 1998.

OK John, I made a mistake. Sorry!

-- Gail (, April 23, 1998.

Sorry, Gail, didn't mean to offend you in any way with my reply. I'm rather naturally pedantic, I'm afraid.

Actually, it's the anonymous nature of the Internet at present that has the Federal government trying to bring it under control with thinks like the Communications Decency Act, attempted outlawing of encryption like PGP, badgering innocent citizens to keep them from using it, and a rather calculated publicity effort to make it look like the Internet is nothing but a haven for sex fiends.

Anything that gets the guys in charge nervous always has my attention. I'm happy to use the Internet in this way.


"John Smith"

-- "John Smith" (, April 23, 1998.

I have been reading "John Smith's" comments on this site and I find them fascinating. While I can understand his desire for anonymity, I would remind him that if he has ever demonstrated or stood for anything publicly, there is already an FBI or IRS file on him. If this crisis materializes, I think John Smith will be the least of big brother's worries.

There is a case, just decided in tax court and headed for appeals, where a church in Indianapolis decided to disincorporate in 1987. IRS assessed them for back taxes and failure to file returns since 1987. In the process of trying the case, Rev. Dickson, the pastor, found out that IRS had a file opened on him in 1957 when he was involved in defending a social cause. He had not done a single controversial thing between 1957 and 1987, yet he had an active file. Why did IRS care about a social cause?

It seems likely to me that the IRS 3038's may go down with the onset of government fiscal year 2000, which I believe begins on July 1, 1999. I would appreciate anyone who knows to comment further on this site. I will post a question to that effect.

-- Rev. Stephen L. Bening (, April 23, 1998.


I'm back to bother you again.

Regarding my question about Slick being a puppet. Please visit the site at

and read some of it. (You will have to ignore the editorializing to make the facts palatable, but if you persevere you can do it -- there are facts there to be had.)

The FRC and TC are the likely puppet masters (maybe one level removed). (It is my belief that they put Slick in office in the first place.) Their agenda is the socialization of everything except what is theirs. They are good at arranging things to achieve what they want. I'm scared.

It is easy to dismiss this thesis as too outlandish to be real, but five years ago if someone told you that computer systems' stupidity would cripple civilization you would have had the same reaction, probably.

Now for something on track with the original question. I have heard that IRS is or is planning to offer 10% stick-around bonuses to its programmers. They seem to think the problem is real. Unfortunately, the programmers can probably get 10% per month over the next few months, and probably will.

-- Sam Mann (, April 23, 1998.

John: Your precautions to preserve your anonymity sound impressive, and I hope they work. The thread brought to mind a recent case -- this school year -- in neighboring New Hampshire, at a very exclusive private prep school, where a student e-mailed a fellow student on campus and his message included phrases that could be interpreted as threats against the chief executive of the United States. The *next morning* Secret Service agents were on campus questioning the boy. The AP story said the Secret Service admitted that the e-mail had been picked up and traced by NSC. Apparently the school's e-mail system -- or the boy's private ISP, it wasn't clear in the article -- went through a network off school grounds, out in the wide world, where it ran through an NSC computer programmed to search millions of messages an hour for certain keywords. This story, BTW, isn't an urban myth I heard in a chat room somewhere. I saw the article in the Portland (Maine) Press Herald. To go back even farther, in the early 1980s, the old Progressive magazine had a cover article about word-sensitive computers being installed on telephone exchanges in Great Britain, Germany, and in the Washington, D.C., area, as well as other sensitive sites. It confirmed my own experience as an airman at Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, Strategic Air Command headquarters. I lived on base and had a private phone in my barracks room. One afternoon, I tried to tell my mother in Maine about my recent trip to Rifle, Montana, only to have the line go dead each time I said rifle. No coincidence -- I called her five times that afternoon, same thing happened each time. Never happened again, though.

-- J.D. Clark (, April 27, 1998.

If they want to get you.....they''ll get you!

-- Gail (, April 28, 1998.

One Congressman that is really worried is Steve Horn. He is a watchdog on the Government compliance, his comments:

"At the snail's pace they're going now, some won't conform until the year 2017, and the year 2018, and that's just crazy," says Congressman Steve Horn, who measures year 2000 compliance by federal agencies with a congressional report card. "So they're going to have to do a last-minute scramble." Latest report card is ugly: The latest report card reveals that computers in the social security administration that sends out checks to seniors should be debugged by 1999. But other departments are failing. The Treasury Department is not projected to complete its upgrades until the year 2004, Transportation in 2010, the Defense Department in 2012, and Labor and Energy in 2019. Expect confusion at the Internal Revenue Service, where it's costing a billion dollars to avoid mainframe meltdown. With 88,000 programs and 60 million lines of computer code, a late fix could mean late refunds, unprocessed returns, or faulty penalties for taxpayers. Disruption in the Federal Aviation Administration's 800 computer systems could ground up to half the nation's flights in 2000. Date-dependent computer codes could shut down software or show plane maintenance schedules as a century overdue.

For more reading on the subject go to:

-- Del Ball (, April 29, 1998.

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