The silence of the government : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

I have been very critical of the governments silence on the issue of y2k until just recently. Consider if you will, what will surely occur once the government pronounces the real probobilities of the situation. The panic would probably not encourage and generate preparation. More than likely there would be mass migrations from the northern states towards milder climates. The southern states could not in any way support the sudden influx of people. Sewer systems, water, power, food the whole shebang would be overtaxed in a few short months. Lawlessness would increase if criminals knew they could not be tried or jailed. Northern cities would be abandoned. Finance and Commerce would crumble way before it had to. Our international balance of power (such as it is) would be up in smoke. In short, I, no longer criticize the government's silence. There is no doubt in my mind but that the terrors of the y2k situation are known to the government and that their silence is policy probably advocated by the best minds in the country. Perhaps there would be less carnage if things hit with everyone "in place" A little bit like not being bunched up when there are incoming rounds being fired. Those of you with military training will surely remember,"Spread out. One grenade will get you all"

-- Bill Solorzano (, October 11, 1998


I agree that the true situation is known at the top. However, I doubt your scenario of mass migration. People tend to hunker down at home. Mass panic buying would be likely. However, given the scope of the threat, why not nationalize the power companys? Part of the problem is the extreme variance within the power industry. (this is fantasy but..) Draft everyone who works for a power company, put them under military orders and standardize the remediation effort. (I know, I know... not enough time left now. Should have done it in 1995!!)

-- R. D..Herring (, October 11, 1998.

I think you're generally correct about the Fed. Gov. not wanting to foster panic. Government spokesmen always make things sound better than they are. (Some would call this lying.) But I'm sure everyone in the government is not in agreement about the severity of the situation. Their opinions vary as much as those of us who follow this forum. Of those who make the public statements, I think Sen. Bennett and Sen. Dodd are the most realistic. I've said before, that they probably know we are in deep doo-doo, but are avoiding saying so in order to maintain credibility with as many of their collegues as possible. (Most Senators are pretty good politicians.) Government spokesmen always make things sound better than they are.

R.D. is right about the mass migration. I'd rather prepare here than become a Y2K refugee in some southern state. If TSHTF there will be more to surviving than just keeping warm.

-- Mike (, October 11, 1998.

R.D. said:

"Draft everyone who works for a power company, put them under military orders and standardize the remediation effort."

First, R.D., what indication do you have that government supervision improves the output of ANY project? That's absurd......we'd slip 10 years in the first 6 months of 'nationalized' power.

Second, have you ever been drafted? Our last experience with a draft was early in Nam war......where young 18 year olds were called, went off, and came home to be spit on. That left an indelible impression on our nation. That impression is: "Draft is bad. Avoid draft. Dodge draft." Our poster boy is Bill Clinton. After slipping 10 years because of the government intervention in the power industry the sabotage that would result from people being drafted would make us a 3rd world nation.

Do agree that migration is not a likely candidate. More than one person has mentioned that heading for bad weather (assuming you're prepared to survive it) will reduce the local disturbances. Most people don't riot in blizzards.

I think the bozos in government simply don't know what to do. Clinton is preoccupied with Monica, Congress is preoccupied with Clinton, and everyone's looking to play that great old political game of 'pass the buck.'

They do fear spite of evidence that most people will remain apathetic in spite of being informed by the goverment. Unfortunately, I think most people will have to be led by the hand: "...go to the, not just food for this week.......get a little for, you know, that's for being self reliant. Oh, I see, you only rely on the government." Oh, well.


-- rocky (, October 11, 1998.

Since the 1960s there have been discussions of "what would the government say if (insert here: alien invasion, asteroid, certain nuclear war, nuclear disaster)" It's the stuff of B-grade movies. Now Y2K is that cliche in real life. And just like those old movies, the government stays silent "Better to keep the population uninformed. Panic would only increase the casualties." See the movie "Fail Safe" for that line. It sure sounds awfully true today.

-- vern moore (, October 11, 1998.

The question assumes major and prolonged power outages, of course, so let's go along with that for now. Mass migration to warmer climates sounded pretty far-fetched to me, too, until I started thinking about it. If you're in Boston/NYC/Chicago/etc. and the power goes off for a day or two, sure, you'll hunker down because you'll know the outage is only temporary. But January in the Northern Tier is usually pretty darn cold, and we're talking about an event that isn't just local or statewide, but regional or even transnational. The TVs won't be filled with stories about convoys of repair trucks from other power companies rushing to turn the lights back on in Boston. They're gonna have their our troubles. Once the pipes start freezing and the reassurances over the battery-powered radio start to sound a little hollow and the shelters get overcrowded and violent, anyplace south of the Mason-Dixon will start to look pretty good. I don't see lines of ragged men women children doing a forced march down the New Jersey Turnpike, but most cars with a full tank can make 350-400 miles without refueling. By the end of the first week, I'd be surprised if a substantial number of urban residents with the means -- or the ability to beg/borrow/steal the means -- didn't try to head south in search of warmer weather. Makes me glad I live north of the major metro areas.

-- J.D. Clark (, October 12, 1998.

I hate to agree with the policy which my wife points out is reasonable but I'm going to have to since I have been in a situation which you all may find enlightening. My bride's comment when I mentioned that I was kinda frustrated with the Network's (any one , U pick) lack of reality on Y2K and she said "How do you know that there hasn't been a call from someone in Government to the Network Head about it?"

At that point it fell to mind that I have been known to advocate JUST such a position!!

I have, for the last 15 years been INTIMATELY involed with an event that gathers between 400,000 and 750,000 people (NO EXAGERATION!) in a lakefront park for the 4th of July. My responsibility has been the provision of first aid stations and BLS (Basic Life Suport) aid while the local EMS handles the ALS (Advanced Life Support) functions. In any number of planning meetings, we have had the discussion of what might happen if a tornado warning were issued for a storm coming in off the lake, at , say, 7:30 in the evening. I have always voted for an absolute silence on teh matter for the following reasons:

We can assume the following probabilities, based on the Cincinnatti Greatful Dead Concert Incident: 20% injuries 3% deaths coming from notification-caused panic evacuation. (ps there is nowhere to go except a couple of small pavilions and two pedestrian tunnels)

Lets do the math (BEST CASE) 400,000 X .2 = 80,000 400,000 X .03 = 12,000 and these are due to trample injuries. The situation at the Concert was the possibility of seats. How much more for the possibility of avoiding injuyr or death??

Now, if we say nothing: We lose maybe about 30 - 50 people due to lightning and falling trees, and maybe 400 - 500 injuries. This tends to shut up most of the weaker "We should tell thm as soon as we know," folks.


And, now, I think I'll plan a little trip to Lehman's, with a U-haul!


-- Chuck a Night Driver (, October 12, 1998.

My only problem with what you say, Chuck is that with Y2K you are dealing with much bigger area, and hugely larger number of people. Most importantly, the symbolic tornado is a bit farther off than a couple hours or an hour....I keep wondering..what would the 30-50 dead have preferred...warning or no? How about the thousands of injured? Warning or no. Human beings deserve information that will help them to make choices about their survival.

Preparation is not synonymous with panic, and done in a psychologically adept way, the people of the world could be helped to prepare.

-- Donna Barthuley (, October 12, 1998.

Here's a quote from Westergaard's Victor Porlier on the subject:

"We used to believe that people faced with great danger would panic and therefore warnings should be withheld until the last minute. But a study of three decades of disasters by the Disaster Research Center at the University of Delaware concluded that this thinking is a myth. The reality is, 'Information about danger should be disseminated - not withhled because of fear that people will panic. They will not.' Panic is more likely when information only becomes widespread at the last minute."

People have a right to know the truth.

-- Faith Weaver (, October 12, 1998.

I have reconsidered my more or less reasonable post above. Addressed now to arrogant bean-counter types:

What kind of mental gymnastics does one have to do in order to calmly state, "We'll choose for them who can live and who can die."? This is the stuff of government bureaucracies pondering dots on a demographers map when contemplating so-called limited nuclear engagements. Closely followed by the etherizing euphemistic phrase "collateral damage". It is the stuff that I am hoping a moderate Y2K scenario will clear away, bringing humanity in small communities to a world that has been missing it for thousands of years.

Years ago I sent a letter to an illustrious actor who had gotten himself elected as president to ask if he considered his children and grandchildren numbers to be crunched by bean counters. I also proposed a photo exchange by people from the US with people from so-called enemy nations...hard to demonize and vote to kill people whose faces you know.

I have thought for some time that We the People" with a capital P was significant...most of us are NOT "The People"...the power-wielders know THEY are "THE People".

It behooves us all to up our empathy quotient as the change time begins to roll faster. Your neighbors capacity for empathy may mean your life,... the city council person's ability to maintain connection with his/her (non-robotic, cold) real emotions may also mean the lives of the city residents.

So far the rant....

-- Donna Barthuley (, October 12, 1998.

"I'M not gonna tell anybody! They'll call me a nutcase and then come steal my grub!"

"WE'RE not gonna tell anybody! They'll sell their stock, run the banks, and riot!"

(ya maybe if nobody tells 'em, it will all just quietly go away.)

-- Faith Weaver (, October 12, 1998.

Just a footnote:

In this week's New Yorker, there is an article by Seymour M. Hersh about the recent bombing of Sudan entitled "The Missiles of August."

This paragraph, p. 37, 2nd column, caught my eye:

"One former top Pentagon official told me of a recent White House meeting with Berger [Samuel R., the President's national security advisor] and his aides to discuss a soon-to-be-released government report on a significant national-security issue. 'All they wanted to know was how it was going to affect a [congressional] vote in three days,' the former official said. 'Nobody in that White House wants to hear bad news.' The President, he added, deosn't have a national-security policy. 'It's all ad hoc. All off the shelf. Decisions are random. Suddently, this one time he has to move fast.' "

When I read those ominous words, "soon-to-be-released government report on a significant national-security issue," I thought, Oh my God, here it comes. Y2k.

In retrospect, however, I realize I've been reading up on Y2K too much, and haven't a clue what this national security issue might be.

Does anyone else?

-- Anon. (, October 12, 1998.

Eastern Europe, Albania...some urgent thing somewhere that distractds from the end of government as we know it?

-- Donna Barthuley (, October 12, 1998.

Teacher! Teacher! Donna can't spell "distracts"!

(karma, sweetie; gets ya every time)

-- Faith Weaver (, October 12, 1998.

Faith, good use of that Victor Porlier quote. Sure does apply to what's not happening, doesn't it?

Glad to see you back on this forum, but does this mean that I have to use my spel cheker now? Tattle tale :)

-- rocky (, October 12, 1998.

Sort of on topic, but I read an article on Holly Deo's Noah's Ark site that really scared me. Holly had a lawyer research the EO's pertaining to FEMA. This little jem appeared in the report to Holly. I can't vouch for the accuracy, only provide a link to the source, at: ---------------------------

"In one of the GAO reports, Alabama wanted the guarantee of federal funds to evacuate the population near a huge Army storage site of chemicals, prepare 21 or more sites for people to stay for more than 3 days at and protective gear, in the event of contamination in the safe places. FEMA overrode the state's concerns and said, "No, you will leave the population in place. There will be no evacuation. There will be no protective measures taken other than to tell them to stay in their homes for about 8 to 10 hours." Well, the representatives in Alabama went off on FEMA which has resulted in a bureaucratic nightmare and nothing achieved. The original costs to implement the plan Alabama wanted was $110 million. Now FEMA/U.S. Army says it's over $1.03 billion and rising. Huh?

The conclusion? It appears that FEMA feels it's much more economical to let 'em all die."


With that kind of thinking in our government, why should we expect them to warn us?


-- rocky (, October 12, 1998.

Anon said, "In retrospect, however, I realize I've been reading up on Y2K too much, and haven't a clue what this national security issue might be."

Donna and Faith, can you spell KOSOVO? I knew you could! :-) Now the hard part: can you find it on the map? Unfortunately, our planes will.

-- Gayla Dunbar (, October 13, 1998.

I wholeheartedly agree to a right to know if the information is available soon enough to make timely decisions about options . Thus, I would opt for a full disclosure NOW so all of us can make timely plans. In our situation, I certainly can move 200,000 people, but I gotta have a place to move them to and some reasonable time to move them in, not the typical tornado warning lead time. Talk to anyone in SKYWARN or at a weather service to find out how that system works. < THREAD DRIFT ALERT >

we were working from a base of what can we handle medically, and what can we accept as acceptable losses. I agree, I'd rather not be among the relatives of teh thirty or so but we can predict MANY MORE relatives of the 12,000. Also, while my town has medical facilities that very few, if any, other US city can boast, 80,000 is too many for anyone.

-- Chuck a Night Driver (, October 13, 1998.

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