AARP: Clueless? : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

The American Assoc. of Retired Persons (AARP) posted an article on Y2K at their web site - I don't know if it also went out in their printed bulletin. For the record it's posted at:

It's another 'all-over-the-road' article by a group who really should know better. I hate to be critical because these folks have done a lot of good work but they are dropping the ball on Y2K and they need to wake up. So I will also add my commentary (in-brackets) to portions of their 'Y2K news' posted below. People have got to read these things critically...

Beating the Bug Computer Glitch Likely to Sting, But Not As Fiercely As Some Feared

[Say, That Is GOOD NEWS! Guess I don't need to worry]

(beside is a very cute cartoon picture of very large insect dangling from the ceiling by its legs - all tied up - holding onto the other end of the rope is a smiling man in a suit - flying from the rope is a banner with the words "HAPPY M" - short for "happy millennium" I guess)

[these kinds of picture implies we have conquered this problem - they do not convey the serious nature of the problem]

The computer bug that threatens to put the bite on systems everywhere on January 1, 2000, may not harm us as much as some people think.

But then again it might.

Such is the conflicting welter of expert opinion that, until the clock strikes the appointed hour, no one will know for sure whether the bug will just be an annoying gnat or the carrier of a dread disease.

[Most concede it will NOT be 'an annoying gnat'. Hmmm, these statements do not quite agree with either the title or the cartoon.]

Older Americans can take comfort, however, in the fact that work under way now should assure uninterrupted delivery of key services.

[One does necessarily follow from the other. Would you be comforted if you knew 'work was underway' to fix Medicare but also knew that there is not even a chance the work will be finished in time and that contingency planning is, for the most part, non-existent?]

And everyone should be aware that they can increase their protection by taking some simple precautions as the time approaches.

[Yep, there certainly are.]

"Benefit payments will continue uninterrupted in the new century," Kathleen Adams, who heads Social Security's massive computer fix, states flatly.

[Because...they will and all their data exchanges will complete their work?]

And while Gary Christoph, her counterpart at the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA), allows that there will be some problems for Medicare, he declares that "care will not be denied Medicare beneficiaries because of Y2K."

[Because....the hospitals won't demand payment for services? Because...doctors will work for free? Apparently, Christoph has not read the September GAO report. Medicare is in very deep, very serious kim chee]

But ahead of the curve are the financial services and telecommunications industries and large corporations, he says. "There still is risk out there ... but I'm an optimist. I hope all the yelling and screaming we've done about the problem will yield results."

[This test will not be graded on a curve and the goalpost are not moveable.]

Are the banks and the Federal Reserve ready? Just about, says Federal Reserve spokesperson Lynn Fox. In the most recent check of bank progress, about 95 percent ranked satisfactory, Fox says.

[How many of you software project managers have had to find the money to finish perpetually 'just about' projects that late, over budget or never finished? If several of the banks had been complete in their remediation, Fox would not have missed that opportunity to spread that good news.]

Social Security officials also are working with the Postal Service to ensure the timely delivery of payments made by paper check and with states whose computers process disability claims.

[So...the Postal Service obviously is ready itself, right? Say, isn't someone's hand going to get mighty tired writing all those SSA checks?]

(Oh Boy! Here's our happy cartoon again. Yep, it definitely says "Happy Millennium". Things must be really good if they use these same cartoon twice in the same article)

The SSA's Adams says if delivery delays become a threat, January benefit payments may be made "a little early," before midnight Dec. 31.

[WOW! I'll get my SSA check deposited 3 days early! This Y2K bug thing may be a real boon to efficiency!]

HCFA is not as far along in solving the Y2K problem as Social Security. In fact, HCFA's parent agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, gets an "F" grade from congressional overseers.

HCFA's Christoph says the agency is on track to debug its computers by the end of this year. But potential problems rest, he says, with the 60-plus contractors that administer Medicare and with the 1.6 million health-care providers whose computers may not be Y2K-compliant.

"The whole environment is so complex, there will be glitches," he says. "But my expectation is beneficiaries shouldn't see any problems."

[Again, One certainly does follow from the other!]

Although Y2K snags are iffy, it's not too early to think about your response should problems occur. Most of these problems may ultimately be corrected [or not] -- thus the situation may look different a year from now.

[The words will surely come back to haunt the writer.]

The article goes on to offer some reasonable, but insufficient advice (which again, does not jibe with the title or the cartoons).

If you are an AARP member, I urge you to contact the orginazation and demand they get off their butts and begin doing what their charter claims is their mission. :

"AARP advances the interests of its members at the national, state and local levels. We believe that Americans of all ages are entitled to a decent standard of living. "

(AARP stement on Medicare:)

"Medicare affects the lives of all Americans by providing affordable, quality health care to seniors and persons with disabilities. How we choose to ensure the short-term solvency of the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund and prepare for the baby boomers in the longer term will shape the way Medicare serves many generations to come"


-- Arnie Rimmer (, October 22, 1998


Arnie, maybe someone should mention to AARP that even though Social Security is doing well, the checks are actually printed by the Treasury Department who received a D+ in Sept.

-- Gayla Dunbar (, October 22, 1998.

I don't know...I guess today was just my day for unbridled cynicism. I'll do better tomorrow. I just think that there are some very smart folks over at AARP who haven't been paying attention.

Can contingency plans be made? Well certainly, at least some can be. But it's not likely to happen if there's no pressure to do so from major groups that have it with in their power to ask the tough questions. And AARP should not sit back and hope somebody fixes this and does all the contingency planning for them. They need to be out front. Vocal. Inquiring. Critical. Demanding real answers.

You can always tell when I'm upset -- my frequency of mispellings goes way up. OK, so I'll take a few deep breaths and at least compliment AARP on warning their members about the potential for fraud over the next several months. The elderly, especially those who are alone, are particularly susceptable to fraud - as are those people who are in a panic. This situation does present a 'golden' opportunity for such jackals to do their dirty work.

I sent AARP an email earlier today which I'm sure had more mispellings than my post above. If any of you are members of AARP or if your parents are members, please let these folks know to take this issue just a bit more seriously. Retired people stand to be disproportionately affected by this. Even what most of us consider to be relatively minor 'glitches' could hit much harder in this population.

(I think it was the cartoon that especially got me going. As long as people view this problem as a cute little cartoon insect, they will not take the actions they need to take to lessen the severity of any disruptions which do eventually occur.)


PS. I'll work on the spelling thing too.

-- Arnie Rimmer (, October 22, 1998.

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