Ready or Not, Y2K Is Coming by Sen. Robert Bennettgreenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
Please read this piercing article by the man in charge of the Senate's Special Committee on the Year 2000 Technology Problem.
Ready or Not, Y2K Is Coming
by Sen. Robert Bennett 1/27/99 Author: Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah)
With less than a year remaining until the year 2000, our nation is at a critical crossroads in its approach to the looming Y2K crisis. The press tends to characterize Y2K as one of two extremes: "end of the world" on the one hand, or "no big deal" on the other. They either focus on the most dire Y2K predictions-the "Chicken Little" approach-or they summarily dismiss Y2K as a non-issue.
Both approaches are wrong. The first road leads to public alarm, or even panic, the consequences of which could be even worse than those caused by the Y2K technological problem itself. The second road is equally dangerous. Deceptively smooth and far easier to traverse in the short term, it leads to a precipice that will not be seen until there is no time left to change direction. And there are no brakes on the vehicle in which we are traveling. Each day brings us closer to the brink.
Since 1997, when my co-chair Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut and I began hearings on Y2K, I have been called the "Paul Revere" of Y2K. That is an apt analogy. Paul Revere's ride and cry of warning is exactly the approach that other public leaders and the press should be taking. We need to state unequivocally that Y2K is indeed an event that has potentially massive and unpredictable economic, social, and geopolitical ramifications.
Our government is not going to get all of its critical systems fixed in time for the century change. The evidence for this is overwhelming, as I recounted in my address to the National Press Club last year. The General Accounting Office (GAO) cites countless other vulnerabilities. State and local systems that process Federal benefit checks are not likely to be fully remediated. County-operated "911" systems may have failures. At the corporate level, the price of fixing Y2K problems keeps outstripping original estimates. Many companies, like Chevron and General Motors, are now conceding that they cannot guarantee their service as of January 1, 2000.
Even John Koskinen, chairman of the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion, has publicly acknowledged that the time to begin Y2K remediation is past, and the time has come for crisis management and contingency planning. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the American Red Cross have both issued public statements that encourage the public to take Y2K seriously. Everyone-business leaders, politicians, community leaders, and families-needs to begin calmly and rationally preparing.
The recent blackout in San Francisco affected nearly a million residents. It was a microcosmic look at what we may face as the calendar ticks over to 2000. Although the blackout was not caused by Y2K problems, it shows how a simple technological malfunction - in this case, one caused by human error - can have major cascading effects. Multiply this problem by a thousand, or a hundred, or even ten and we begin to see the possible consequences that we face.
We cannot know for sure what computing failures Y2K will bring, nor can we know what effects those failures will have on our economy. This is certainly not the time to begin bunkering down with propane tanks and money stuffed mattresses, but we should begin treating the century date change as the real, but manageable, crisis that it is.
When I appeared on "The McLaughlin Group" in July, I made many of these same comments. Nevertheless, by a 3-to-1 vote, the panelists decided that Y2K will be merely a minor bump in the road. I am not sure if any of them have changed their view since that time. I do know, however, that the time is long past for responsible figures in government, industry, and the media to be telling the American people that Y2K will have simple, easily managed consequences.
During World War II, President Roosevelt exhorted our nation to victory. But his assurances that we would eventually prevail did not lead the press to deny the seriousness of the war "problem." Optimism was balanced with practical realism. We are now, in a sense, "at war" with Y2K, and there are many Y2K issues that need to identified, examined, and reported in a responsible and balanced manner.
Leaders at the corporate, national and community levels must begin educating the public in a forthright way about the likelihood of system failures. These leaders must at the same time explain the contingency plans that are being put in place. Honest disclosure will help build unity on a community level, so that we can fight this war with a united front.
Our challenge as a nation and a world community over the next 338 days is clear. We must acknowledge that we are, indeed, facing a crisis. We must look at each component of the problem and act rationally to find acceptable solutions. And because the precise dimensions of this problem will not be known until the stroke of midnight on December 31, 1999, we must focus especially on contingency planning.
Most importantly, we must face this crisis together, at the community, national, and global level. When Paul Revere made his midnight ride, America was younger, smaller, and far less technologically interdependent than it is today. The sky may not be falling just yet, but there is a threat on the close horizon, and more is needed than a lone horseman galloping through the darkened streets to raise the alarm.
Senator Robert Bennett (R-UT) is chairman of the Senate Special Committee on the Year 2000 Technology Problem. His regular column will appear exclusively on y2ktoday.
-- Ray (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 31, 1999
Thanks for the post. It helps newcomers to this forum when they can see a credible public figure making a statement like this.
-- Kevin (email@example.com), January 31, 1999.
I especially like this part, "Even John Koskinen, chairman of the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion, has publicly acknowledged that the time to begin Y2K remediation is past, and the time has come for crisis management and contingency planning."
ROFLMAO, "Even John Koskinen.......". That's like saying, "Even Clinton has publicly acknowledged the merits of fidelity."
I get the feeling that there is no love lost between Bennett and Koskinen and that Bennett does not believe that Koskinen is doing the job that the current situation requires.
-- MVI (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 31, 1999.
"I get the feeling that there is no love lost between Bennett and Koskinen and that Bennett does not believe that Koskinen is doing the job that the current situation requires. "
He is on record as saying that he does not thing Koskinen should have been picked in the first place. Sen. Bennett said Koskinen is a nice guy and all (I'm paraphrasing), but that only someone HIGHLY visible, such as Algore would suffice.
-- Anonymous99 (Anonymous99@Anonymous.com), January 31, 1999.
Is there a link
-- Linda A. (email@example.com), January 31, 1999.
-- Gayla Dunbar (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 31, 1999.
Nothing (too much) against Bob Bennett (at least he's saying something), but it strikes me as odd when I see him on the tube and he never says boo about y2k. Last week, for example (and to sight just one of many times he's been on the air lately), he was on for a solid 20 minutes on a standard impeachment hearing analysis segment. He kept saying, "We've got to be fair, but wrap this up, get back to the country's business." But who doesn't say that? To read what he has to say in pieces like the one above, when he's giving speeches, etc., (and seeing's how he's co-chair of the special senate y2k commnittee), you'd think he might just accidentally say something on television like:
"Look. Putting all this time into, all these resources, focus, all- consumming attention on these impeachment proceedings is insane! There's this thing called the 'year 2000 problem' going on. Y2K is an event that has potentially massive and unpredictable economic, social, and geopolitical ramifications. FEMA and the American Red Cross have both issued public statements that encourage the public to take Y2K seriously. Everyone - business leaders, politicians, community leaders, and families - needs to begin calmly and rationally preparing...Our challenge as a nation and a world community over the next 338 days is clear. We must acknowledge that we are, indeed, facing a crisis. We must look at each component of the problem and act rationally to find acceptable solutions. And because the precise dimensions of this problem will not be known until the stroke of midnight on December 31, 1999, we must put a little less focus on this political issue, and a lot more focus on the year 2000 problem - especially on contingency planning."
But he doesn't even come close to saying (hinting at) anything like that. He just talks like he's got the same tape recorder in his head that his "learned and distinguished colleagues" do. I never can figure that one out, can you? When Paul Revere made his midnight ride was it to let everyone know the Brittish were the Brittish, that they lived in England, and that the king may have been skimming more of the tea tax than Paul's distinguished colleagues from accross the isle may be willing to admit? Was he riding through the streets in the middle of the night to let everyone know that while they all needed to be fair, and take their time examining all the facts, it was important to get back to the nation's business ASAP?
Senator Bennett is saying y2k is a gigantic problem. But apparently it's not gigantic enough to risk interrupting the bizarre (mind numbing) protocol of the endless drone of televised analysis of things that were overanalyzed a year ago. Can't help but wonder what Paul Revere would've done with an entire television network at his disposal for 20 minutes or so. I guess America must have been younger then. Or a lot less schizophrenic.
What do you suppose? Is Bob Bennett thinking about the next election? Is he not wanting to be viewed as an out of line nutcase spewing panic juice on national television? If he's deeply and truly disturbed about y2k and its impact on the American way of life, and he's invoking the name of Paul Revere, why's he holding back on television? Why are any of those people holding back? If it's going to be "that bad," what would he/they have to lose? An election? Hmmmmmmm. How could there be an election without a power grid, phone system, voting machines, computers to count the votes, life as we know it?
Not that Bob Bennett could be thinking in those terms. Not that he could be thinking things might hang together. And even if he was, how could he possibly have a real clue about that? Just because he chairs that committee doesn't mean anything... Like he said somewhere else, the company reps that come before it all lie to them anyway.
But still. You'd think it it was life and death for America, and he's truly concerned for our country, he might've at least tried to work it into the party line a little, wouldn't you?
-- Bud (email@example.com), January 31, 1999.
It is called "Raising awareness while avoiding a panic" and it is a tough act on a shaky wire.
Also, proof of the future does not exist, and these guys do not enjoy looking like a fool any more than you or I would. Expect more of the same split personality spin in the future, the world may end but there is no reason to panic ;)
-- Uncle Deedah (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 01, 1999.
"This is certainly not the time to begin bunkering down with propane tanks and money stuffed mattresses..."
-- jhollander (email@example.com), February 01, 1999.