And Paul Davis is getting Sleeeeeeepy...Sleeeeeeeepy : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Poor countries unprepared for Y2K problems 1.45 p.m. ET (1846 GMT) January 26, 1999 By Harry Dunphy, Associated Press

(AP)  WASHINGTON (AP )  Most poor countries are unprepared for potential Year 2000 computer problems, raising concern they might have trouble obtaining food, health care and electricity, the World Bank said in a report Tuesday.

The lack of preparation is most acute in sub-Sahara Africa, but countries in Asia, Latin America and the former Soviet Union also could be hard hit, the report said.

"There is no consensus on how bad the Year 2000 problem will be or how much it will cost to fix,'' said Joyce Amenta, the bank's leading Y2K specialist. "What we do know is that most developing countries are unprepared.''

Ms. Amenta said a World Bank survey of 139 developing countries showed that only 15 percent are taking concrete steps to fix the problem, 24 percent were aware of the problem but are not taking action and 38 percent have appointed a Y2K coordinator, but this is not a measure of readiness.


Now, the Pollyanna will immediately and WRONGLY, point out that these countries will not be affected so badly. That is laughable ignorance. All countries are dependent upon others for trade. When that trade is cut off, chaos will ensue.

These 139 countries represent over half of all countries in thwe world. They are asleep at the switch.

'Might' have trouble getting food? 'Might' have trouble with electricity? 'Might' have health care problems? Don't make me laugh.

We are on the brink of complete disaster and little is being done.

This is evidence that not enough is being done. But all the nice Pollyannas ignore it. flint snores because he "can't *know* anything". Davis babbles incoherent claptrap on subjects he knows nothing about. And neuhardt treats us to a laughable display of his biases.

But NONE of them discuss the evidence and the facts. Joyce Amenta says she KNOWS that they are unprepared. flint blanches at 'knowledge'.

Now pay very close attention, ONCE AGAIN, to the response to this post. NONE of the Pollyannas will dispute the facts. What will be posted is another attack on the messenger because he is so RUDE as to mention the FACTS. Paul Milne If you live within five miles of a 7-11, you're toast.

-- Paul Milne (, January 26, 1999


Well, I'll answer my own post. It has been about five or six hours now and not a single Pollyanna in to rebut the facts. Not a one. Who didn't know that?

You see? When they can't rebut the facts, all they have is their foolish attacks. But, they don't care to make one to this post, do they? No. because they would be held up to ridicule for doing so in light of it.

So, finally, we have the refreshing sound of SILENCE from the bumfuzzled Polyannas. How lovely.

This is posted just to make absolutely clear that pollyannas CAN NOT address the facts AND maintain their specious position at the same time.

I'll be waiting, Pollyannas.

-- Paul Milne (, January 26, 1999.

Suppose this is given: Serious problems are likely due to Y2K.

Paul Milne's solution: Get out of the cities! Hide in the hills! Get 40 acres and a gun! Don't come near me if you're not prepared, I'll shoot you if you try anything! You're all idiots if you don't believe me! The cities are toast! You all deserve to die!

Now, do you really think that is the best response that we all should have to this crisis?

Another pollyanna post that doesn't dispute the facts, right?

-- no facts needed (anonymous@anonymous.anonymous), January 26, 1999.

Paul is entitled to his solution, as you are to yours. This is a free country. There will be six billion solutions to the y2k problem. I need to concentrate on mine.

-- Mike Lang (, January 26, 1999.

To no facts needed:

Like I said, no rebuttal of the facts. An anonymous cowardly post.

Once again, my point is proven in spades. I print evidence and Pollyannas merely attack. Same every day. And then they whine when they are attacked back.

The solution IS to be out of populated areas. Because to remain in one is to be surrounded by tens of thousands of people just like YOU, unprepared. But, YOU go right ahead and remain.

When you are ready to address the issues in the post, I'll be here, little one.

-- Paul Milne (, January 26, 1999.

Pollyannas merely attack? Milne does nothing but attack. Where's the beef? Jerk-y.

-- (, January 27, 1999.

Paul, top of morning.

Jolly good article, I had to root around in the site for a while, till I noticed it had the hour stamp on it.

Oh, btw, I wrote this post I think in a fairly civil way. You're complaining that you are merely attacked and not debated on the facts. On the other hand, you seem to enjoy writing profane and insulting attack posts yourself. If you prefer to respond in that vein, what the fu*k, it's OK by me. I myself would prefer not to cuss and sling mud in a public setting, but then again I'm not a great fan of turning the other cheek. If that happens, I'll just toss out my "mild mannered" hat and put on the "sarcastic condescending bastard" one back on. Either way, no problem.

Right, then let's deal with the FACTS, as you propose.

FACT: The World Bank exists to make loans to developing countries. Like the IMF, it receives money from industrialized member countries, and redistributes these funds in loans to the third world. Now, besides that and building fancy-schmancy headquarters buildings in European capitals, it may be involved in other activities which I am not aware of - but that's the way I see this particular FACT. It's a Bank. It lends money.

FACT: The World Bank is making y2k loans to developing countries.

[[ Already, the World Bank has lent $30 million to Argentina for Y2K preparation and approved $29 million for Sri Lanka last week. Other loans are under consideration, officials said ]]

( $59 million admittedly is a just petty cash for the World Bank - barely enough for a week's worth of bubbly and funny itti-bitty sandwiches )

FACT: Argentina is not as "developing" as Sri Lanka (irrelevant, but I though I'd toss it in)

[[ "There is no consensus on how bad the Year 2000 problem will be or how much it will cost to fix,'' said Joyce Amenta, the bank's leading Y2K specialist. "What we do know is that most developing countries are unprepared.'' ]]

FACT: Ms. Amenta believes that most developing countries are unprepared, and therefore, in need of such loans.

FACT: Ms. Amenta is the World Bank's "leading y2k specialist".

[[ Bank officials said that at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, next Monday, they and U.S. representatives will call for increased international cooperation to deal with the problem, including money to support a Y2K International Cooperation Center. ]]

FACT: A Y2K International Cooperation Center is being proposed, with direct ties to the World Bank.

SPECULATION: Ms. Amenta is looking for a little job security.

PREDICTION: US Members of Congress, like the degenerate sluts that they are, will only be too willing to fund this new Y2K International Cooperation Center. They'll get to fly on a junket to Davos, Switzerland, pal around with World Bank suits for a couple of days, and get stiffed on a couple of fake Hong Kong watches.

SPECULATION: Ms. Amenta, as the Bank's "Leading Y2K Specialist", will figure prominently in this new Center, maybe even be appointed Director.

PREDICTION: The raison d'etre for this new Center will rely heavily on the y2k progress, or lack thereof, of developing countries.

SPECULATION: Y2K loan funds will be funneled through this Center.

FACT: In the World Bank's opinion, looming y2k catastrophes in developing countries can be solved, or addressed, or ameliorated, with the help of y2k loans from the World Bank.

CONCLUSION: The World Bank (or at least Ms. Amenta) has a direct interest in projecting that developing nations are at severe risk of economic disruptions, and by extension, in need of y2k loans to remediate their problems.

OK, now that Ms. Amenta and her sinister, power-hungry agenda is out of the way, let's take a look at the second part of that article and the second international expert.

[[ Hugh Sloan, a bank information technology specialist for Africa said there was a false impression that the Y2K bug is much more of a problem in industrial countries and that the low level of automation in developing countries may immunize them against Y2K problems. "But actually, the impact could in fact be greater because the developing countries are more dependent on fewer and older computing systems and they have many more competing national demands for scarce resources,'' Sloan said. In Africa, where the World Bank has been holding Y2K awareness-raising seminars, Sloan said the problem could disrupt extensive regional cooperative efforts such as provision of electric power. ]]

Huh? Has this guy actually been anywhere further away than the coffee machine?

And now, you Paul: [[ Now, the Pollyanna will immediately and WRONGLY, point out that these countries will not be affected so badly. That is laughable ignorance. All countries are dependent upon others for trade. When that trade is cut off, chaos will ensue ]]

Well, thank you, Hugh (and Paul) [[ developing countries are more dependent on fewer and older computing systems ]] How's about JUST because there are fewer and older computing systems, developing countries are not as dependent on them? Same difference. Can you spot Hugh's bias?

FACT: Developing nations are not as reliant on IT as North America, Europe, or the Asian Tigers.

FACT: I've been to over 20 developing countries in Africa, Asia and the former Soviet Union. Not with the Peace Corps, not as a tourist, not as an Army Brat, but as a capitalist pig. So, I've done a little first-hand looking around.

SPECULATION: I know more about developing countries than you (and Hugh).

BUT, I could be wrong on that one, that's why it's speculation and not FACT. Have you been through, say, Algeria, Uganda or Turkmenistan? Cause if you have, then I take it back.

FACT: People living in third world developing countries are inured to much harsher living conditions, as compared with industrialized nations.

Y2k disturbances will be just another walk in the park, or rather, mine-infested malarial swamp. I lived in the Philippines for a short while in 1993, when power outages were a **daily** occurrence. Daily, every afternoon starting around three or four. Some days, no power. No power, no water, no refrigeration (and no cold beer). You may hate to hear this, but people really do show resilience under adverse conditions. People adapt. Myself, I used to lower a bag of San Miguel bottles into the irrigation ditch out back. Not exactly cold, but drinkable.

FACT: Trade and commerce and life goes on very well in the third world, sorry, developing nations, without computer systems.

That is, as well as can be said in a "developing" sort of way: inefficient, corrupt, obsolete, bureaucratic and full of new hurdles and complications each day (wait, I just described Washington). Banks still do longhand book entries. Ports operate with 1940's vintage offloading cranes (or sometimes with no cranes). Rail lines and rolling stock in Africa, installed by Chinese govt contractors, get along OK without embedded systems. The rails in the FSU are only slightly better. Some telephone exchanges operate with 1920's style operator plug-ins, or only in conjunction with the phases of the moon. Power plants are electro-mechanical and analog rather than computerized. Factories and production lines rely more on cheap labor, not high-tech automated production lines. Health care and Hospitals? Ha! Would you care to get sick in say, Sierra Leone? How is y2k going to make it any worse? This is not speculation to me. I've seen it first hand. Have you?

Having said that, there is still the mix of the modern and the old in the developing world. Say a cellular phone network in Malawi goes down because of y2k. Well, they'll go back to the way things were a couple of years ago, and rely just on the standard analog phone system, which didn't work half the time anyway. And yes, so these 139 countries are not preparing for y2k.. But hey, with a special loan from the World Bank, and ably advised by the Y2K Center for International Cooperation Center (you there, Ms. Amenta?) maybe they'll be able to afford some helpful (and expensive and Amenta-certified) Western consultants, and still not finish in time. It. Doesn't. Matter.

So 139 countries are not preparing the World's Bank satisfaction. Let me ask you this: why is that such a shocker? Why is anybody even remotely surprised that "developing" nations are behind the curve in y2k remediation? I mean, would you seriously expect Burma to be a y2k compliance trailblazer? And that titan of embedded systems technology, Kyrghyzstan, why they're even finished with remediation and are now well into testing.

"Laughable ignorance?" Ignorance? Heee heee. Let's pick a couple of random examples: One: Cement in Uganda comes from either Tanzania or Kenya. It's trucked along non-rain-compliant roads that during the monsoon season, get slicker than Clinton's testimony. Bridges along these roads get washed out a tad more regularly than Monica's dresses. Result? Intermittent or no supply of cement (and other materials imported overland). Problems? Well, in the capital Kampala not really. In the north of the country, chaos is pretty much a year-round season - along with war, and murder, and mayhem, and looting, and rapine.

Two: A Yemeni tribesman in Aden let's go up and tell him (politely, since he's packing a big knife and a loaded AK-47) that his life will be utter "chaos" after year 2000. Well, he'll look at a town still half-wiped from the north-south war some years back, and he'll say "So?" - in Arabic, of course.

OK, I'm running out of time, and probably taking up too much space.

Let's briefly recap. We have a World Bank "expert" (a loose definition - a number of people on this forum would know as much if not more) who is counting on the unpreparedness of developing countries to push loans. And an "African bank information technology" desk-jockey who thinks sub-saharan countries rely heavily on computer systems. Good ones. Good facts.


-- Morgan (, January 27, 1999.

I would add something, but the above post pretty much says it all.

-- Paul Davis (, January 27, 1999.

I like my toast with strawberry jam.. I plan to have some on hand..

Paul- I "get it". However, I do not like reading your posts not because I dispute the facts, but because you are RUDE in the way you speak to people. Insulting DGI's probably won't convince them that we are correct. It just pisses them off. Heck, sometimes I want to smack you myself. If you are using some kind of baiting technique to help them get it...I am not sure that it's working. Just my 2cents.

-- Sue (, January 27, 1999.

Morgan --- great post and worthy rejoinder to Milne, IMO. More facts, I must say, than what Paul Davis usually offers.

But I also believe that the flight from village to urban in country after country over the past 40 years has meant a tremendous drop in 3rd world self-sufficiency and great reliance on 1st world "support", including the sainted World Bank. I consider this a FACT, though I couldn't quantify its scope or significance. You know that the metro areas of 2nd / 3rd world are colossal .....

Assume that the currently rickety supplies of food, healthcare and electricity are restricted or trashed (as per article's speculation) while 1st world hogs the pitiful cream that is left for itself (ie, uses its resources on DeeCee, NYC, London, etc. Isn't it warranted interpretation from the fact above that many millions will die?

And, BTW, the article (stupidly, in my opinion) lumps sub-Saharan Africa with Asia et al. But, having linked them, couldn't we say hundreds of millions under such a speculation? And, sure, two billion more won't, thank goodness. But that's hardly good news. So, I would say that Milne's statement, reversing it, that "these countries will be affected badly" is quite true.

No one appointed me the referee, but I would judge this one a draw so far.

-- BigDog (, January 27, 1999.

Paul Milne often reminds us of the huge numbers of people throughout the world who depend on internationally imported food for their survival. Don't just think of food aid for famine stricken countries, but commercial imports to highly populated countries from neighboring countries and those on other continents. Most of us think America fist when we think of food exports to hungry people, but there are a lot of links in developing world food chain that Y2K is going to severe.

To get an idea, learn of all the countries in the world that import Argentine wheat. It takes communications, transportation and fuel for transport and processing to get that wheat to the hungry person in Brazil, doesn't it? Same for the overpopulated masses of Cairo, Egypt and the farmers in South Africa. South Africa to Cairo isn't possible on the ground except by the most fuel-inefficient method; trucks.

Live in Asia and want wheat? G'Day mate, Australia is the closest source. Excluding the US and Canada, Australia is the leader of this second wave of food exporters. And it's it's own island-continent which means that communications and transportation are tremendously critical. Almost as critical as the commercial links of its larger customers, the Middle East oil countries.

Just because the population of Nigeria doesn't all own PCs, VCRs, microwaves and the other technology-afflicted items we do doesn't mean they get off free from Y2K. Loss of critical basic systems and energy sources used in food distribution will pound them as hard or harder as it does us here. We have food stockpiles that will need to be transported within our country. They haven't the transport or the stockpiles today.

If you think a fully blacked-out and transport-strangled NYC is going to be bad come 01/07/2000, then think of Cairo, Egypt or Rio de Janairo, Brazil. The developing world suffers from the exact same urban overcrowding and dependence on utilities and transport as North American and European cities. In fact, the overcrowding is unquestionably worse.

And the answer for Y2K is the same those places as it is here. Go rural and prepare to farm the way your parents' generation did as kids. At least for a two or three year short-term situation as the worst of the problems are sorted out.


-- Wildweasel (, January 27, 1999.

and I notice that once again, the all mouthy Milne fails to respond when confronted by real facts.

What's a matter Paul... cat got your tongue? or are you just waiting for another e-mail from the head fear leader so you can cut-n-paste a nasty reply?

Burn DC to the ground indeed....

-- Mutha Nachu (, January 28, 1999.

Gotta go with Mutha on this one.

Milne posts his usual froth, and Morgan demonstrates Milne's idiocy masterfully, overwhelmingly. The fact that Milne vanishes is excellent evidence that he knows he's thoroughly licked.

And BigDog calls it a draw! I've seen referees make this kind of decision when the hometown boy is still standing at the end of the fight, bloody and incoherent, while the opponent is untouched. You can only shake your head in wonder!

-- Flint (, January 28, 1999.


In addition to all the third world countries, I also think of Mexico City. *Big Sigh*

Flint, there are times when ya just gotta ignore Paul. And be thankful he's NOT your neighbor.


-- Diane J. Squire (, January 28, 1999.

Flint, you said:

"The fact that Milne vanishes is excellent evidence that he knows he's thoroughly licked."

I doubt Milne ever thinks he has been licked. He is too egocentric and too convinced of his own infallability for that. I think it's something simpler than that.

Milne is the schoolyard bully who intimidates through volume because he has no strength of substance. People follow or cower because they have been conditioned to respond to volume without assesing it's substance. But, just like the schoolyard bully, when anyone is willing to stand up to him he disappears. He isn't here for the debate, or the learning, or even the casual conversation. He is here to be loud and see his own rantings flash across his screen.

Otherwise, why would he have refused to answer a single question I have ever put to him, including the 11 times I have requested a single shred of hard evidence that massive deaths are an inevitable result of Y2K?

-- Paul Neuhardt (, January 30, 1999.

Big Dog:

Thanks for the input. Been a little slow getting these response out, but here they are.

The point I was trying to make is that essential services like power, health care, and food distribution in the developing world are abysmally crappy to start with. Y2k disruptions, if severe, will only add another layer of misery for people who are well used to being miserable. I assume we're talking about truly backward nations here, and not places like Argentina and Israel. Third World Countries like Nepal, Belize, Bourkina Faso and Burma, with a misery index like my Uncle Jim's blood pressure.

Third world health care: It sucks anyway. I said as much in my previous post, and here's a true story to back it up - a couple of years ago, one of our crew had to have an emergency appendectomy in an Uzbek hospital. Lovely, lovely facility. Best described as a bring-your-own-antibiotics, bedsheets, food, cleaning supplies, rat traps, and catch-a-nasty-infection-before-you-leave kind of place. The poor bastard was left with a scar on his side like the laces on a football (and only too proud to show it off - God knows what stories he tells girls at the pub). I'm open to suggestions how a hospital of that caliber would be made any worse by the y2k problem.

Now, regarding the relatively low reliance of third world infrastructure on digital systems, let me give you some more specific and more detailed examples:

One, the oil refinery in Assab, Eritrea, which I visited about three years ago. Soviet-built, decrepit, perennial shortage of spare parts, and still churning out sub-standard diesel and gasoline. The crude input I seem to remember came partly from Yemen, and partly from Saudi Arabia. The finished product was then transported by tanker truck to Ethiopia, and by small tanker ship to the port of Massawa up the coast. I happened to visit the place since our JV partner owned the two small tankers that made the run. Big Dog, I swear there was not a computer or digital system in the place, ditto for the old tankers. Everything looked about a hundred years old. What there were were plenty of big ol' Frankenstein-type contact throw switches ------- not really, I'm kidding, but you get the picture.

No.. 2. I saw an article on Westergaard some time ago that mirrors the above. Located at: ---- a first-hand report that dealt with a power plant in Uzbekistan by y2k consultants who'd been there, seen and touched and heard ---- not just surfed the web for "research" ---- All systems were mechanical and/or analog, with two disconnected PC's that controlled the redundant SCADA system - which wasn't used in any case. Now, to be fair, I may be searching for facts that support my case, but on the other hand I haven't seen any hard evidence by anyone that third world infrastructure (power, refineries) will come crashing down due to digital embedded systems crashing in turn, etc. etc. But I'm always willing to reconsider. Here's a good rule of thumb: if you arrive in third world country and your entry visa is entered into a computerized immigration system - then you can start worrying. If not, then don't.

No. 3 - The Russian crude oil transmission system, comprising 30,000 miles of pipeline and managed by AK Transneft, ONLY LAST YEAR completed installation of a modern PC-backed SCADA system, supplied by Iconics (Mass.). There was none before, and leaks into the surrounding environment were legion. "Preliminary analysis of the pipeline system revealed that an advanced early warning pipeline leak-detection system was needed to address product losses and the adverse impact to the environment". This system allows technicians to respond much faster to leaks and dispatch work crews in timely manner. Well, you may say, what happens if the system goes down? Pretty much what happened before: the taiga gets turned into a tar pit on a more or less regular basis.

The assertion that "just because these systems are primitive doesn't mean they won't be affected" is myopic. Sorry, but it is. Primitive systems rely on manual operation by plentiful cheap labor, not expensive digital automation. These systems are inefficient, crude, and about as affected by a millenium date change as a she-elephant is satisfied by an amorous mouse. That's my assertion at this time, based on what I know. If anyone wishes to provide overwhelming proof to the contrary, I have enough of an open mind to change my opinion.

If pundits are predicting a global recession, there's a good chance they'll be right. After all, this latest boom has been going on for a while and the market's as overvalued as a Vegas hooker (just ask any cabby). In a recession, poor undeveloped countries are going to be hurt and hurt badly by lack of foreign investment as multinationals retrench and postpone capital investment projects. That's no great insight, any freshman macro-econ student can probably tell you that. Hell, these rotten low oil prices are even now buggering the heck out of the oilco's international E&P budgets (read: capital investment in developing countries.)

And yes, you're right. Population flight from the rural into the urban areas in the developing world is probably *one* of the factors limiting their agrarian self-sufficiency. We can also add war displacement (refugees, ethnic cleansing), poor farming methods, etc for good measure. I don't have the sociological or political science background to speculate on that further, but I'm sure that officials at the sainted World Bank, the holy IMF, and the positively angelic CARE can spew out reams of data about the evils of overpopulation, urban blight, etc. etc. I for one would like to see an immediate cessation to organized food charity and UN welfare. I'd like to see more leaders like Eritrea's Issayas Afewerki, who summarily kicked all the bleeding-heart leeches like Oxfam, Care, WFP and others of their sleazy ilk out of the country ---- out! Vamoose! thanks but no thanks, he said. You come to help and never leave. Teach a man to fish, etc. (as an aside and to give credit where it is due, I think the only UN agencies worth keeping around are UNICEF and UNHCR - first class org's, I hope they get their house in order - and other worthy causes, like Medecins Sans Frontiere, etc)


-- Morgan (, February 03, 1999.

Big Dog ----

I understand your points. In a nutshell you are saying that millions of people worldwide will die due to y2k-induced causes, the main one being the ultimate diet plan. Terminal Weight Watchers. Starvation. FAMINE.

Well, surprise surprise, I agree with you, but for quite different reasons. Here is my own prediction, and rest assured it is not facile or facetious, but based on some hard facts: MILLIONS WILL DIE OF FAMINE IN THE NEXT 3 YEARS.

There. That all these people will die has nothing to do with the scarcity of food. And nothing to do with Y2K. Merely callous, unfeeling statistical averages. Let's see: 10 million people died of starvation in the 18th century; 25 million in the 19th; and 50 plus million in the 20th. (William A. Dando "The Geography of Famine" 1980). This is just run-of-the-mill famine now, not including the millions felled by wars, genocide, gulags, plague, natural disasters, etc. So, carrying the trend a little further for the 21st century, you can do a little multiplying and see that millions will die of famine ANYWAY, y2k or no y2k. My prediction is as valid as yours or Milne's, only more so.

Speaking of "rickety supplies of food, healthcare and electricity". The lack or abundance of food has never been an issue in famine. *Politics* , otoh, always has. Professor Amartya Sen, author of "Poverty and Famines" (1981), says: "There has never been a famine in any country that's been a democracy with a relatively free press. I know of no exception. It applies to poor countries with democratic systems as well as to rich ones". Try Bangladesh in 1974. According to Sylvia Nasar, in a article on the political causes of famine in the January 17, 1993, New York Times, says: "one of the worst recent famines took place in a year of unusually high rice production" Unfounded rumors of a rice shortage caused prices to double. The Government of the "People's Republic of Bangladesh", led by self-styled socialist Mujibur Rahman, set about making things worse. The army was sent to arrest hoarders, "convincing people," says Ms. Nasar, "that [Mujibur] had lost control and fueling the price surge." The price surge led to a huge black market. Black marketeering exacerbated the already-wonderful corruption of the Mujibur regime. And people starved for no reason.

Populations may or may not die of famine in bad times - it depends on where they live and the nature of their governments. Professor Amartya Sen did a study on the 1983-84 drought in sub-Saharan Africa. He found that Sudan and Ethiopia had experienced, respectively, 11 percent and 12-1/2 percent declines in food production. Those countries suffered severe famines. But Botswana and Zimbabwe had a 17% and 37% decline in food production, and there wasn't a famine in either place. The reason was that Sudan and Ethiopia didn't mind that certain troublesome portions of their populations starved to death, while Botswana and Zimbabwe did mind.

Professor Sen reminds us that famine "is the characteristic of some people not *having* enough to eat. It is NOT the characteristic of there *being* enough to eat"

((( Credit where credit is due. The facts for the 3 above paragraphs were cribbed straight out of P.J. O'Rourke's "All the Trouble in the World", some passages shamelessly plagiarized word for word. Btw, great book, highly recommend it. )))

So, all the above FACTS to support my contention that "millions will die - anyway. Y2k or no y2k".


-- Morgan (, February 03, 1999.


Off the top of my head a couple of corrections - one, France produces more wheat that Australia and Argentina combined. Two, if you're an asian, you wouldn't want wheat, but rice (triple A grade thai rice). Three, as I said in another post, Saudi Arabia is self-sufficient in (subsidized) wheat, even exports some. The other Middle Eastern countries import their wheat, especially Jordan, although I was under the impression that it came chiefly from the EU. Australia does export sheep and beef to the Middle East, and lots of it.

That developing countries import food is not disputed --- that is a fact. After all, the output of top exporters like the US, Canada, Argentina and the EU has to go somewhere. That these countries may still be mostly agrarian economies, engaged in subsistence farming, is also a fact. Let's pick Tanzania at random (well, not exactly at random, I'm cheating slightly - I know the country better than say, Namibia). Tanzania is classified as one of the poorest per capita countries in the world, with an agrarian economy. It exports "luxury" agric. items, such as coffee and cotton. It imports machinery, consumer goods and transport equipment, among others. It has a relatively free press, and a wonderfully corrupt government.

Next, Nepal: also classified by the CIA factbook as "one of the worlds poorest and least developed" countries. Exports grain and jute. Imports fertilizer, machinery, and petroleum products.

There's this perception that just because the UN and various charity organization are in the food supply business that there is no food. No, there's plenty of food. Third world countries are dependent on food aid like Somalia was during Operation Restore Hope. During the height of the crisis, while kids were starving in the interior, brokers in Mogadishu were busily shipping livestock to the Middle East and re-exporting donated grain.

In a crisis, these countries may or may not respond in a way that forestalls famine. See the contrasting above examples of Zimbabwe and Sudan. In a crisis, the Tanzanian govt can very well suspend food exports, convert cotton fields to millet or sorghum or whatever the staple is, and go from there. Or maybe they won't and they'll have a famine on their hands. In early 1998 the region had the worst floods in 50 or 75 years, washing out roads, rail lines, bridges and severing communication between outlying towns and villages. Some people died and many more suffered. But no mass starvation occurred. No havoc. No riots. Roads were fixed, bridges were (eventually) fixed, and life and commerce got back to what passes for normal around those parts --- I'm willing to bet that few or no people on this forum ever heard about these floods.

And btw, if you can find someone with the nads to drive a truckload of wheat from South Africa to Egypt, then I'll shake his hand and buy him a beer.

Aside from speculation, do you have any facts on break bulk shipping being so badly affected by the y2k bug that small and medium sized bulk carriers will not be able to load and deliver. Not being sarcastic, just genuinely curious. By facts, I don't mean news reporters saying this and that "could" "would" "should" and "might" be affected. In my cursory talks with shipping brokers, owners, handlers, etc, I have not found anyone in the business who thinks that shipping will be paralyzed. Inconvenienced and delayed, yes and maybe. But not stopped.


-- Morgan (, February 03, 1999.

Morgan --- Man, you've been busy here! I appreciate your first-hand knowledge of Africa and related areas: it is certainly germane. If I understand the tenor of your posts, oversimplifying of course, you are saying:

1. Third-world countries' core infrastructure (at least food, energy, health care) is generally too primitive to be greatly affected by Y2K breakdowns.

2. The reliance and use of computers in these regions is too small to matter significantly.

3. A recession is overdue anyway and famines are a fact of life, regardless of Y2K. Famines are not a simple result of lack of food but of imbalances created or, at least, exacerbated by nasty politics.

4. It would be better if the relief agencies let people manage their own countries and if the focus of 3rd-world development was on the acquisition of reusable human skills.

Let's get 3. and 4. out of the way by saying I agree completely with both. But these are largely irrelevant to the subject of this thread, which, boiled down is, "will these countries suffer seriously from Y2K effects or no?" I take it your short answer is, "no"?

Is "no" indeed your answer? Or, if not, to what degree will they suffer? And, to what degree will 1st world troubles affect them or their troubles us?

I fully intend to give you my views on that, but it would be more productive at this point to hear your positive assessment first, I believe.

-- BigDog (, February 03, 1999.

OK Everyone get a picture of this in your mind...

We're all sitting in a bar, listening instead of reading this.

PNG turns to Morgan and say: "I'm sorry Morgan, I wasn't listening. Could you repeat that?"

-- PNG (, February 03, 1999.


Same bar, a pregnant pause later....

"PNG, since the next round's on me, quit hitting on the waitress and listen up....... and dammit, where's my lighter!"

-- Morgan (, February 03, 1999.

Big Dog:

Nice summary, succinct and to the point.

Let's start from the bottom. Sure, let's drop # 4 - sometimes I get the keyboard cranked up and away we go. Sorry, got carried away. No wonder PNG wasn't listening.

As for no. 3 <<<<<<<<< 3. A recession is overdue anyway and famines are a fact of life, regardless of Y2K. Famines are not a simple result of lack of food but of imbalances created or, at least, exacerbated by nasty politics. >>>>>>>>>

Proving that famines do occur irregardless of y2k consequences is only indirectly related to the thread topic, but certainly NOT irrelevant to your own post and statements therein that millions will die because of y2k. I didn't post it just to hear myself talk (so to speak).

As for the rest , the short answer will have to do for now: "No." Can't get any shorter than that.

And please, I insist, you go first with a "negative assessment". Here's a cut from above:

<<<<<<<<<< The assertion that "just because these systems are primitive doesn't mean they won't be affected" is myopic. Sorry, but it is. Primitive systems rely on manual operation by plentiful cheap labor, not expensive digital automation. These systems are inefficient, crude, and about as affected by a millenium date change as a she-elephant is satisfied by an amorous mouse. That's my assertion at this time, based on what I know. If anyone wishes to provide overwhelming proof to the contrary, I have enough of an open mind to change my opinion. >>>>>>>>>>>>>

I'll stop now, since there's the danger that PNG will not only stop listening, but doze off and fall off the bar stool.


-- Morgan (, February 04, 1999.

I don't have much time, but enough to agree that my 17 country experiences and perceptions parallel Morgan's on third-world infrastructure, or the lack therof. The acceptance level of conditions less than perfect from a third-world person is different than a first-world person's view. The daily struggle of life does not include irritation at office politics or finding replacement batteries for the garage door remote control. I'll point here to expand--

y2k may be a catalyst to first-world "dessetion" because of the converging lines of irresponsible debt, a bubble U.S. stock market and ill-conceived financial instruments. The pack mentality that has driven these three factors up, may unravel them with a pack- mentality fury. I hope not, but no one knows. One thing for sure, lots of experts will explain it afterward.

-- PNG (, February 04, 1999.

Try Here instead.


-- PNG (, February 04, 1999.

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