Koskinen vs. Bennett (preparation vs. panic prevention)

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John Koskinen has been saying 3 days preparation is prudent. He isa lawyer and chooses his words carefully and delivers them with a crafted, measured tone for clarity. I believe he's afraid of openly recommending 3 - 4 weeks of personal preparation...now. I think he'll increase the time gradually.

If he said tomorrow that everyone should prepare with one month of essentials, I can imagine the evening news running video of grocery stores and Walmarts packed with people and "disturbances." My guess is that he's measuring the response and will up the ante a little each month -- Now that you have 3 days of stuff, go buy 3 more days of stuff...

If this is the case, do you think it's the wrong strategy?

Look, I'm not a member of the Koskinen Fan Club, but the job he has is enormous...agreed? At least his hasn't given up and run for the hills! (of course, that would open a few eyes, wouldn't it?)

Without looking back and explaining what he should have done, let's hear some ideas of what you would do if you were appointed to the job tomorrow. Put yourself in his shoes. Now...what are you going to do Mr. or Ms. y2k Czar?

-- PNG (png@gol.com), March 06, 1999


Right on, I think. Ramping up gradually gives the supply chain a chance to keep up. Also gives people time to get used to the idea.

The long transcripts of Congressional hearings, the long reports from congressional committees and the GAO, the USPS IG's report, with their grimmer implications, aren't likely to get much media attention -- 15 or 30 second time slots on the evening news can't even scratch the surface. So the strategy outlined by PNG here is at least a reasonable approach to an quite unpredictable situation.

Those who have ears to hear have already heard as much as they need, I think.

-- Tom Carey (tomcarey@mindspring.com), March 06, 1999.

I can't think of anything but HONESTY PNG. It appears that this trait was lost long ago by SOME members of government.

If .gov had gotten on this problem long ago we would not be at this point.

Of course you can SPIN it any way you want.


-- Ray (ray@totacc.com), March 06, 1999.

PNG, you really tie our hands by insisting that we don't get the job until tomorrow. That means we have to live with the mistakes of yesterday.

Yes, I'd ramp up the level of preparations, quickly, for two reasons. One is that a lot of people are beginning to question the 72 hour nonsense, so the office losing credability. Unless we start talking about a minimum of 7 days, he's lost whatever face he had.

Second, I would be honest about anticipated use of national guard or federal troops. People can relate to a contaminated water supply where the only solution is to bring in tankers full of water from outside, and can relate to the need to use military to do that.

Cut through the happy face stuff and start preparing us (the nation).

-- De (dealton@concentric.net), March 06, 1999.

PNG: I also see a gradual escalation of the three day period that they keep repeating, as time goes by, and have posted often that they are between a rock and a hard place because of not wanting a panic. They will keep turning up the awareness and release hard information when it suits their purposes, accompanied by a spoonful of sugar so as to keep balanced on the tightrope. Unfortunately, there are many folks that will be unable to go much beyond a certain level of preparation and the government knows this also. I expect to see a real ramp up in community activities centering around churches and schools and other community groups - this , to me, is the only viable way to turn up the awareness on a larger scale and at the same mitigate the possibilities of panic.

Your question of what would we do in their place is tied in with the subject of panic, and is inseparable. I have been of the opinion that panic is inevitable, and asked why not panic now instead of later, wouldn't this be better than building up the pressures and having it later. Some interesting discussions ensued on the thread. I came to the conclusion that although it would probably be better in some respects to have a panic sooner rather than later, the precarious situation of the international banking community and shortage of physical cash argues against the deliberate instigation of such a "pre-emptive panic". You may find some of the discussion interesting since it relates to your question. The thread is called "Panic: Inevitability and Timing.


-- Rob Michaels (sonofdust@net.com), March 06, 1999.

Tony Blair does not seem to be talking out of both sides of his mouth. The people in England are getting the message. I don't see any panic there.

-- Scotty (BLehman202@aol.com), March 06, 1999.

Scotty: I have a very good friend who lives in England. The PM has been openly talking about Y2K and the possible ramifications for quite some time. For example, last year at this time they were already hour-long Y2K TV specials on and wide spread media reporting. Y2K was almost two years away then. No panic, you are right, but the level of awareness there has been much higher and much earlier than in the U.S. from what my friend has told me, as well as others.

-- Rob Michaels (sonofdust@net.com), March 06, 1999.

You cannot serve two masters. Nor can you build an ark in one day.

-- Puddintame (dit@dot.com), March 06, 1999.

I think if Slick Willy himself came on with a special broadcast and laid it all out, there still would be no panic. There are too many DWGIs and too many that would never watch that kind of programming on TV. The only time we will see panic is when Jerry Springer does a special. And those people's idea of stocking up would not be beans and rice. It would be 6 paks, cigarettes, and drugs. The ONLY person in the country that could get Mrs. America off her butt and into the grocery store with full carts, is Opra Winfrey. I wish that she would do a serious show that would take 20 minutes explaining the issue and the rest of the hour telling Mrs. America what she has to do to prepare. Further more.....preparation NOW is a whole different scenario than it was 6 or 8 months ago when the GIs were all buying wheat grinders, canners, jars, generators, BayGen radios, etc. Most of that stuff is no longer available....its all back ordered along with all the freeze dried stuff. So newby preparation lists are going to be different than ours who have been at this awhile. Don't send someone to buy wheat if he can't get a grinder and has no solar over, dutch oven or whatever, to bake his bread. Depending on his area, he can't even get a good size propane tank now. Just my thoughts on the subject, being a person who ALWAYS has been prepared and lives with the idea of always having options.

Got two rocks to rub together to grind that wheat?

-- Taz (tassie@aol.com), March 06, 1999.


Just for the recent Koskinen perspective, see his recent House testimony ...


http://www.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg.tcl?msg_id= 000YYj

Excerpt ...

The Balancing Act

... we all continue to confront the challenge of encouraging organizations to take the Y2K problem seriously, remediate their systems, and prepare contingency plans without causing a public overreaction that is unnecessary and unwarranted.

[Define without causing a public overreaction. More than bank runs?]

... Our strategy is based on the premise that the public has great common sense and will respond appropriately when they have the necessary information.

[Say what? ... the public has great common sense ... and ... will respond appropriately when they have the NECESSARY information. Translation ... what WE THINK IS IMPORTANT FOR THEM TO KNOW, because they dont have enough sense to figure it out.]

... everyone working on this problem -- at the Federal level, at the State and local level, and in the private sector -- needs to provide the public with clear and candid information about the status of their Year 2000 activities.

[Right. ... candid information about the STATUS of their Year 2000 activities ... i.e. the good stuff, not the possible repercussions.]

... we will provide details of our contingency planning and are encouraging others to do the same.

... everyone working on this problem has a responsibility to ensure that their comments accurately reflect the factual information that is available, and that they avoid over generalizations that will only play into the hands of those who want to create panic for their own gain.

[In other words, our government policy is ... avoid over generalizations (truth) ... that will only play into the hands of those who want to create panic. *Big Sigh*]

What about more than adequate not minimal preparation? Thats NOT panic, Koskinen, its PRUDENT CONTINGENCY PLANNING at the personal level! Sheesh!!

Now, as Y2K Czarina, what I would ADD to what he has, or has not, already done, is get people ready, not just the businesses and services ...

1) Arm twist President Clinton into making a prime time nationally televised Y2K Address to the Nation speech, which TRUTHFULLY, states were we think we are, what we know what we do not know, and what we think could happen from global Y2K repercussions. Offer a really good explanation of the national and international supply chain and domino effects so viewers get it. (Encourage PBS or Nova and major TV broadcasters to develop illustrative supply chain & preparation documentaries).

I would also encourage him to call for personal, neighborhood, community, city and town, county and state, small medium and large business ... preparedness mobilization. Do this end of April, after IRS day and after we see what New York city does. Dont wait to fix preparation on failure or until next October -- too late, IMHO.

One of the key Y2K info problems is we must have National Leadership. Rightly or wrongly, Clintons the obvious choice.

2) Make widely available, information about three suggested levels of preparation for each of the key sectors noted above. Minimal ... 72 hours, Medium ... 2 weeks, High ... 2 months. Then also suggest, depending upon assessments of their local situations, people may wish to do more. I would have this information available - - in digital form -- on the Year 2000 web-site at www.y2k.gov, and several thousand mirror sites at the state and local levels, and -- in print form -- an EVERY town office across the country.

3) Encourage Know Your Community preparedness across the nation. Provide the how to do it information thats already been compiled by those that HAVE done it, across the nation. There are teachers and leaders in this effort who are reasonably visible already.

4) Encourage people to get to Know Your Neighbor (and your customer, in the best sense of the term.) Again, provide how to suggestions for organizing block gatherings, etc. The tested techniques and info is already out there.

5) Encourage a Know Your Local Government, Utilities & Services (and emergency responders) campaign. Motivate individual people and local businesses to get REALLY involved with their local governing, service and emergency response organizations.

Create local civilian/business/government co-operative teams for key assessed areas of local critical infrastructure. Encourage participation in Red Cross first aid classes and preparation classes for interested individuals, held at area businesses, not government offices.

Help overcome the prevailing mindset that the government or business will fix it even when it cant all be fixed. Involve people in the direct local contingency planning, not just them.

6) Key Survival Supplies -- Encourage community resource pooling of critical supplies, food, water, etc., rather like a Christmas food drive. Donate cans, etc. to your community stockpile. Have this take place at the school level. (Neutral ground, and possible shelter locations).

7) Health Care -- Encourage the identification of vulnerable populations -- seniors and special needs people -- and development of civilian/business/government neighborhood-level response teams. Set up health care in home and community center back-ups.

8) Food Development -- victory gardening projects. Organize the garden clubs, the schools, and the community green thumbs to begin co-op vegetable gardens in the city and county parks, at the schools and in peoples patio gardens. Doing it this spring, and going up the learning curve would be more pre-emptive than waiting until next year.

9) Water -- Community action plans for rainwater or snowmelt collection, distillation, storage (especially next to community gardens), transportation, and distribution. Create an alternate back-up system, to the city water supply.

10) Safety -- This means being open about police, fire, emergency responders, National Guard, and military deployment Y2K plans. (Quit ONLY emphasizing the terrorist angle). Take a page from Canadas illuminated book.

That all said, I have ZERO expectation, that any of this will be encouraged by Clinton or Koskinen until next Fall. And only if they are pushed into it.


-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), March 06, 1999.

The way this is being played out I don't think there will BE any panic, not until the very last minute at any rate. We have all vastly overestimated the ability of the herd to rub one brain cell against another :)

-- Andy (2000EOD@prodigy.net), March 06, 1999.

Diane, great list, and would that it were so! I think I'll email that to local/state officials and a few churches.

Taz, I'm afraid you're right: if Clinton, Springer and Ophra all at once tried to activate their audiences we might see a dent on store supplies. But even then, I'm not so convinced it would be more than a dent.

'preparation NOW is a whole different scenario than it was 6 or 8 months ago when the GIs were all buying wheat grinders, canners, jars, generators, BayGen radios, etc. Most of that stuff is no longer available....'

Not so, at least in my area: Every single item you noted, including the BayGen, can be bought locally right now -- I know because my daughter has just now shifted from buying food and clothing for her four children of various ages to buying these types of items which she deemed as 'less' essential. She is not buying on the internet or mail order -- she's going strictly local. I was surprised at the BayGen.

'...has no solar oven, dutch oven or whatever, to bake his bread.'

We are making our own solar ovens as a science project with my 10yr old grandson. Dutch ovens can be bought at the hardware store... Plus, remember you don't have to bake bread to use that wheat...think sprouts, sprouts, and more sprouts...and then there's cereal .... soak it over night in hot water with some raisins and add honey...

'Just my thoughts on the subject, being a person who ALWAYS has been prepared and lives with the idea of always having options.'

Taz, that's one of the really good things that may evolve out of the whole thing...assuming a bump to mild concussion...that we all learn to stay better prepared to care for ourselves and less reliant upon the system, and hopefully less consumer oriented.

-- Shelia (shelia@active-stream.com), March 06, 1999.

Taz - Good idea. Sending a polite, concise letter to TV shows does work. E-mail rarely works as a first contact method. Producers are always looking for ideas. Two or three papagraphs with a few pointers for them to do their own research works best. You've just been drafted. Good luck. Got stamps?

Czarina ( a.k.a. James Brown - the hardest working (wo)man in research) - Your wealth of data and your bookmarks must be organized very tightly. You always have the link. You are a huge resource. May I gently suggest that deciphering of other peoples' words for the choir has a poor time cost / benefit ratio?

Do you know how to make a web page? The ultimate y2k link resource for local media, local governments and community projects. The hook is the "Ask Diane" feature. See what I'm thinking?

-- PNG (png@gol.com), March 06, 1999.

PNG commented:

"Producers are always looking for ideas."

PNG, you must be watching networks that I do not have access to. These so called producers are beholding to the folks that write their paychecks. They tow the company line. They no longer report the news they MAKE the news.

Koskinen had an opportunity a year ago to take the high road but for what ever reason has sang the same tune all these precious months. The Federal government can't even get its story straight on where it is at in remediation. Take time to review their bimonthly remediation reports, it will be an eye opener. The die was cast the minute Koskinen took the job.


-- Ray (ray@totacc.com), March 06, 1999.

PNG, here are some stats you might take time to analyze.

Date Mission Critical Remediated
Systems Systems % Complete

May 97 7649 1598 21
Aug 97 8562 1646 19
Nov 97 8589 2296 27
Feb 98 7850 2913 40
Aug 98 7343 3692 50
Nov 98 6696 4049 61
Feb 99 6404 5059 79
Source: Office Of Management and Budget

Notice anything consistent here. The government continues to drop the number of Mission Critical systems in order to raise the percentages of completion. Does that tell you something?

The total number of Government sytems is 75,000 +/- They have now stated they have fixed 5059 of those 75,000 sytems, or only 6.7% of that number. 6.7% of all of the systems used to run the US Government.

The media without a shred of investigative work laps up the 79% complete figure and goes on their merry way. These folks ought ot be hung out to dry for misleading what has turns out to be a majority of Americans in deep coma.


-- Ray (ray@totacc.com), March 06, 1999.

Try for a better array:

Date ..........Mission Critical ........Remediated
...................Systems ..................Systems ............% Complete

May 97 .....7649 ........................1598 ..................21
Aug 97 .....8562 ........................1646 ..................19
Nov 97 .....8589 ........................2296...................27
Feb 98 .....7850 .........................2913 ..................40
Aug 98 .....7343 ........................3692................... 50
Nov 98 .....6696 ........................4049 ...................61
Feb 99 .....6404 .........................5059 ..................79

Source: Office Of Management and Budget

-- Ray (ray@totacc.com), March 06, 1999.


Wish I did know how to do a web page. I certainly like yours. There may be something brewing ... well see.

I dont always think its for the choir, posting here, so to speak. There are a lot of lurkers, uh, lookers that come here and [snip] things. Ya never know where the ripples flow.


(P.S. Thanks for the array, Ray.)

-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), March 06, 1999.

When did our democratic government become a babysitting service? I don't want the federal government deciding what to tell me and what to withhold because it might cause me to "panic". Let the nation react as it will... we have a right to know. We PAY them to gather information and give it to us. They work for us, remember? It's become so paternalistic, it's obscene.

Does anyone else feel offended and outraged at our so-called democracy acting "on our behalf" to this degree?

-- Sara Nealy (keithn@ptd.net), March 07, 1999.


I totally agree with your list. I fervently wish the powers that be would follow it - be honest and open on every point. BUT, at this point in time, were they to answer your list and be open and honest, how would we know? And, more importantly, who would believe them and why? Sort of like the embedded chip problem (or are they a problem?) - no one knows where they all are, are some or all date sensitive, are they or are they not programmable - the whole Y2K issue has become so muddled that one only knows the fact that there is no one who knows the bottom line and no one believes anyone who says they do. Of course, we don't believe the people who says everything is ok either. What a mess!!

-- Valkyrie (anon@please.net), March 07, 1999.

Even if they wanted to gradually increase awareness they could lose the spin/back-peddle. That just confuses people and makes them insecure...thus promoting panic.

If Washington were serious about all of this they could have special meetings with govenors and utilize states for preps and contingency plans. Many people would love to be involved in meetings and preps. There are many talented retired people who have the time to organize local meetings etc. They don't give us enough credit!! They think they have to treat us like toddlers and "protect" us from that bad info. Maybe they are afraid the people just might take America back if they all work together for once!

-- Moore Dinty moore (not@thistime.com), March 07, 1999.

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