Larry Victor: Compliant vs Ready : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

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Laurence J. Victor 3/17/1999

A coherent world is coalescing in the United States in relation to Y2K. In this world American ingenuity is solving the Y2K problem, and The American System will be ready for Y2K. Focus has shifted from fixing the bug to solving the problem, and the faith of the establishment is that they have now established processes of remediation, contingency planning, and emergency preparations so that The American System will quickly recover after Y2K, even stronger than before.

Peter de Jager's recent claim that the problem has been solved is not a turnabout in his mind (to the extent that we may know his mind). Peter's problem for these many years has been to convince the establishment to take the millennium bug (primarily the legacy code problem, not the embedded chip problem) seriously. Peter is a computer expert drawn into politics when he discovered the Y2K bug. He struggled many years in frustration trying to convince others to take the challenge. He has never strayed from being a believer in The System -- he was only trying to get The System working as it should. Now, in Peter's opinion, the leaders are aware and acting -- and thus HIS problem has been solved. He is also deeply concerned that actions, unwise in his opinion, by "some people" may disrupt The System's efforts to be ready, and thus his energy has been diverted from convincing the establishment to attacking the establishment's distracters.

"So? What do I mean when I state confidently we've broken the back of Y2K? In short, I mean we've overcome the largest Y2K hurdle. The Y2K problem was never the actual act of fixing the code (or the embedded systems… more on that later), it was the inaction and denial regarding a problem so easily demonstrated as real and pressing, and possessing consequences far exceeding it's humble beginnings. Overcoming denial was always a larger, more complicated, difficult and frustrating task, than actually fixing broken code." Doomsday Avoided by Peter de Jager

The problem facing America is not to have all computer systems compliant at Y2K -- it has long been admitted that this is impossible. The problem facing America is to be ready for whatever will happen. In basic concept, this is the same objective of most of the community preparedness movement. However, there remain differences as to what it takes to be ready or prepared, and what scenarios have possibility. What is now believed by most people (both leaders and the majority of citizens) is that the processes underway will have most mission critical systems compliant and that whatever happens at Y2K can be solved after Y2K by American ingenuity.

This is a coherent world, a world believed in faith. Worlds are not physical things, but mental constructions that guide action. This mentally constructed world may or may not fit well with coming "realities", but that is not a concern for those who constructed and who now live in, and defend, that world. The cognitive dissonance between accepted facts and behavior has now been resolved, in this new world. Only those facts that fit the model of readiness are accepted -- all other claims to fact must be rejected. The actions being taken will be sufficient. No challenges to this official world will be permitted. This new world of American Readiness for Y2K is a closed system -- a cult-style, "religious" belief system.

The American System is expecting a series of disasters -- which will be serious for those directly effected. But, The System has experienced disasters before, and recovered. Disasters, including wars, have often stimulated economic progress, a fact not unknown to the leadership. Indeed, economic progress today creates disasters for those who lose in the competitive game, and this is viewed as just a necessary part of the game.

The American System does have some concerns re Y2K: possible rejection of this world by the American people, which The System labels as "panic", and the unknown and uncontrollable effects of Y2K on the rest of the world, and thus on the United States and its global interests. I will not discuss these concerns in this essay.

How "real" is this American System of Readiness? There is consistency if you stick only to their accepted facts and don't question motives, past practices, and deep assumptions. My personal take is that the critical weak links are the proven lack of competence of leadership in facing complex issues and the necessary barrier they must erect and defend against any serious learning on their part. Basically, the leadership are religious fanatics in defense of their belief and that will block their ability to perform with the necessary creativity and flexibility the Y2K challenges will demand.

There will be very hard work by many organizations and people in the months leading up to Y2K. Many objectives will be met. What concerns me are those domains of action ignored because they fall outside their world, and where to accept these domains as real and important would be to question the faith. For example, there is faith in most remediation projects leading to compliance -- which ignores the past history of many such projects failing to meet their deadlines, meaning that some mission critical systems will not be compliant. Yet, to consider contingencies for this would question the faith. The faith precludes consideration that a negative synergy of all those systems deliberately not remediated (as not mission critical) may disrupt recovery. The full complexity of contingency planning (how there must be a regression of contingency plans for situations where the assumptions behind the first level contingency plans are violated) cannot be faced without questioning the faith. The reality is that adequate contingency planning is far more complex and time consuming than remediation (and there are very few persons with competencies for the requisite levels of contingency planning). No matter how ready we are, according to the criteria of the American model, events and situations excluded by the model may block the ability of this readiness to perform as the model proposes.

It is my view that this American Readiness System is relatively stable and will -- as a ball - bound down the hill, to crash into the wall at Y2K. Whether it goes through intact and is able to recover remains to be seen. I personally am not depending on it for my personal survival/thrival. Those who don't believe the faith might best prepare alternative strategies (to view Y2K as a gateway to a better future) instead of attempting to deflect the ball.

On January 24, 1998 I posted an essay on the distinction between "compliance", "readiness", and "preparedness", which remains consistent with the above analysis:

Visit my Y2K website for related essays:

-- Larry Victor

To comprehend The American System as a religious system I highly recommend the recent article by Harvey Cox, "The Market as God: Living in the new dispensation" in The Atlantic Monthly, March 1999, pages 18-23. There was also a tv special on ABC on "GREED" in early March, a very well done propaganda piece that elevated "greed" as one of the highest ethical forms of human behavior, essential for all persons, rich and poor, for living in the real world of the Market.http:

-------------------------------------------------------- Laurence J. Victor / Larry / et NUU / ABC_EARTH_2002

"What we all need at this point in human evolution is to learn
what it takes to learn what we should learn - and learn it."
-- Aurelio Peccei, No Limits to Learning


-- Critt Jarvis (, March 18, 1999


"Worlds are not physical things, but mental constructions that guide action."

Uh, no. This world is a real, physical entity. It exists. It exists independent of our wishes and desires.

The society built upon these real things, including or perhaps especially computers may or may not be objectively broken. Unless fixed, these broken computers will be the "cause" that produces numerous "effects" - which may include panics, or other social problems.

If these problems fall outside their "domains" is irrelevant. They will happen because of the law of cause and effect. Which try as the religionists and socialists might, still operates in the real world.


-- Jollyprez (, March 18, 1999.

My take is much like Jolly's.

Up until now, our computerized systems have worked well. Not perfectly, but well. Yes, Victor is right that we have all made the unspoken assumption that if we fix the date bugs, the systems will continue to work well. This seems like a reasonable assumption.

Victor's de Jager theory seems as likely as any other I've read, and a lot more reasonable than the crucifixion this forum tried to apply.

-- Flint (, March 18, 1999.

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