Safire in NYTimes: "Globalony Crisis" : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

No mention of Y2K, Safire poo-poos a global economic meltdown.

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"Every economic seer, sage and pundit has an incentive to predict what Jimmy Durante used to call a "catastrostroke."

If disaster comes, you can boast of your prescience to those still around. If, however, the sky does not fall, you need not confess to false alarmism; you say smoothly that tragedy was averted because the world took your warning to heart.

That's what we see in panicked assessments of "global economic crisis," or "meltdown in Asia spreading to Brazil," or "financial collapse and hyperinflation in Russia," or last week's Newsweek cover, "The Crash of '99?"


"To cushion a downturn and save jobs, we should stimulate now with solid tax reduction. But Republicans, fearful of Clinton sloganeering that the surplus must be "saved," await Election Day to bring the votes to override a veto of tax cuts.

No global catastrostroke hysteria needed. If we want to help our neighbors and ourselves through a rough patch, we should stimulate the growth that lifts the world."

-- pshannon (, October 15, 1998


The simplistic answer to every problem used to be "increase Federal spending". Now its "cut taxes and stimulate the economy". Wonder what it will be in 20 years? I just don't like simplistic answers.

It becomes very hard to distinguish between those who are truly concerned about a problem, those who just like publicity, and those who have an axe to grind or want to sell you something. After all that you have to weed out Pollyanna types who don't think anything can be a problem. I refuse to believe any information from those who want to sell me something unless I can confirm it from another source. I stay cynical about those who like the public eye, and I try to identify those who have an axe to grind in the public forum.

Just as an example - in 1972 it was announce that Lake Erie had 'died'. Now a lake isn't alive in any commonly accepted sense - so this got a lot of eyebrows raised. Then the eco shmuxpert(a great word coined by Robert Ringer - means a shmuck who fakes being an expert) who made the announcement explained that he meant the Lake had passed some arbitrary point of no return, and within twenty years nothing would be alive in Lake Erie but bacteria. The news media ate this up and the story was in the papers for months, with hearings and what can be done BS all over the place. No one paid any attention to the fact that over $100,000,000.00 worth of Lake Erie whitefish was sold that year to the New York market - a damn good performance for a 'dead or dying' lake. Funny thing - we haven't revisited the Lake for the funeral - last I heard it was still doing fine. Have you seen any follow up on the great "Oil Spill in Prince Albert Sound greatest natural disaster ever" story? Only thing I ever saw was a really brief follow up about two years later on the Discovery Channel late at night which tried hard to find as much damage as they could, but had to admit the Sound was recovering pretty nicely. With, of course, the usual statements about how never ever would it totally recover, because it just couldn't. If this was such a wonder of the world just how come we don't have any "before" tapes so we can compare? Seems funny, doesn't it. The self named interested 'ecologists' (I was exposed to ecological math for about 6 weeks - it starts with ordinary differential equations and gets harder from there - and most of these guys are the sort who brag that the only physics they ever took was exlax) have a vested interest in keeping you convinced that the end is near and only they can prevent it.

So watch out for the people who have an interest in stoking your belief that Y2K will cause problems. They will do anything to convince you that it is the end of the world. It isn't. It will cause troubles, perhaps even a recession, but the end of humanity or even Western Civilization it is not. Doubtless some people will die or be injured because of Y2K related problems. That is sad, but people die from floods, fires and earthquakes all the time, and the survivors pick up the pieces and go on. We will get through this.

-- Paul Davis (, October 15, 1998.

Paul - Forgive me (and at the risk of turning this into yet another Y2K flamefest), but your concluding paragraph and in fact much of your post contains little but dismissive comments about "eco math" (which has nothing whatsover to do with Y2K project plans) and simplistic cheerleading, to wit:

"So watch out for the people who have an interest in stoking your belief that Y2K will cause problems. They will do anything to convince you that it is the end of the world..." And so forth. Saying that "humankind" may survive is cold comfort indeed, and is in fact not really germane to the discussion. The issue is not macro level, it's micro (no pun intended.) Will your local infrastructure (power, water, food delivery, etc.) hold up? Will your personal preparations be sufficient? THAT is all that matters when things start going sideways.

A significant percentage of Y2K projects are in deep, deep yogurt. I've been a software project manager for many years. I know what makes up a good, doable plan and I know how to interpret project reports. There's a special sort of desperate dance that project manager start doing when a project slips, followed all too closely by the "deathmarch" (and a much greater risk of failure.) We are seeing this right now in far too many areas of great importance to our personal well-being. We therefore should develop and execute our own personal contingency plans.

I frankly don't care if the species survives - Homo sap will take care of itself. I care if my loved ones and myself survive and am taking steps to ensure this, based on the available data and resources. You say, "We will get through this." You betchum, but more will "get through" it if they get ready ASAP.

By the bye, it's a darn good thing you didn't post over in c.s.y2k, let me tell ya. Talk about yer flamefests!

-- Mac (, October 15, 1998.

Paul - Just saw your comment on the "I'll Believe It When..." thread. THAT explains it: you're one of those LAN/WAN guys! "Hey, the hubs are fine, the routers look good, no problems here - it must be your software!" 8-}]

-- Mac (, October 15, 1998.

Well, now, I thought Paul wrote a very sensible post here. No reason to come down on his conclusion. He's right: we survive disasters and catastrophes all the time. I am one who was initially numb with disbelief and terror, and over time, that has actually diminished to a manageable "we'll get through it" attitude. Am I a Pollyanna? Nope. I expect some major troubles. But it won't be the end of the world, not by a long shot. I don't believe people are going to start shooting at each other or looting and treating each other in lawless ways. Sure, it will happen in isolated circumstances, but not all over. Americans are pretty decent folk, when it comes right down to it, and they like to fix problems. The bigger the problem, the quicker they roll up their sleeves. And there will be a lot of sleeve rolling in January 2000.

-- Barclay (, October 15, 1998.

"Americans are a pretty decent folk"

Tell that to someone who was just cut off in traffic, and got the finger to boot!

Humans are the ONLY species that will TORTURE its own kind, for fun and profit. Civilization is a very thin veneer. Reread "The Lord of The Flies" then get back to me.

-- Uncle Deedah (, October 16, 1998.

My answer was intended to illustrate that many people like to give WAGS as facts, and then come to the conclusion that all is hopeless. Lake Erie ain't dead. The guys who claimed it would die were guessing. Gas is not $5.00 per gallon. The economists who claimed it would be there due to OPEC were guessing. They were wrong. There are many who claim the Y2K problem will virtually destroy America. I do not believe the evidence supports this. I think we may have a recession. Big deal. I lived through the Carter years when we paid the price for Johnson and Nixon messing with the country for their own political gain, and I made it through. I lost a job I had held for 17 years as a Senior Lab Tech in the coal mines, due to Bush and the Clean Air Act, rolled up my sleeves and went back to college and got a BS in Computer Science from a fairly tough engineering school. The wife had a baby halfway through the second semester. I kept on. Graduated with a 3.51 GPA. Couldn't find a job in the midwest so I moved south. Have had my share of troubles, and feel like I am getting out of them now. If TSHTF, well I have been in the fire before, and I came through it. I can do it again. You are tougher than you think you are.

-- Paul Davis (, October 16, 1998.

Gas is $5.00 a gallon in the UK, due to 80% tax!

-- Richard Dale (, October 16, 1998.

If we're talking about urban areas, have to agree wholeheartedly with Uncle Deedah . Anyone who watched the Rodney King riots knows that parts of the inner cities will get torched if the power goes out for any length of time at all (say, 8 hours.) If the outage is more serious (24-48 hours) and there are water and/or food problems, multiply impact (area and population) by 10. Impact in cities will increase geometrically with duration of outage. To quote the (in)famous Paul Milne: "If you're within 10 miles of a 7-11, you're toast."

-- Mac (, October 16, 1998.

Then why didn't we have riots when the earthquake hit in San Francisco? Why no riots when there is a big flood or such? You have to be a little more cynical about these things. Most riots are planned and executed by people who are going to 'make a statement' about something or other. There are a few spontaneous riots - such as when Dr. King died - or the draft riots in St. Louis during the civil war (yes Virginia, a lot of people did not want to fight during the civil war - see Mark Twain's Life on the Mississippi - near the end of the book he talks about being deputized to help put down the riots) but most riots are about as spontaneous as a Fourth of July celebration.

-- Paul Davis (, October 17, 1998.

That's not true , Paul. In 1965, when the whole Northeast lost power, I was directing traffic on a street in New York City with a flashlight. After the event, police said riots started ten minutes after the lights went dark. Ten minutes! This was not planned... this was not a political statement. This was urban human nature... a kind I want to be very far away from when TSHTF. Even if the power is out for only a short time it will be confirmation of everyone's fears and the anger will get out of hand very quickly. When the garbage starts piling up and many of NYC's 88,000 elevators don't work, and people don't get their welfare checks... they will think back on the year we spent with Monica Lewinsky and the 40 million we didn't spend on contingincy planning and they will will open their windows and say "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore"... unfortunately no one will be listening.

-- Keith Nealy (, October 19, 1998.

My take is that those in guvmint and commercial power structures who understand the problem are pedalling as hard as they can to AVOID PANIC as long as possible. Most of those who claim this is a non-event are wrassling with fullbore denial-- (and who hasn't been there?) IMO Safire is one of these, and is convenient to the first group's purposes.

Anybody who hasn't looked thru Cory Hamasaki's DC Y2K Weather Reports hasn't lived yet. He's been called the Hunter Thompson of Y2K-- and he's qualified to talk.

-- Tom Carey (, October 22, 1998.

Sorry -- the Hamasaki link is

-- Tom Carey (, October 22, 1998.

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