What would happen if we all did nothing to prepare?

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Most people are doing nothing about Y2K in terms of personal preparation, even most of those who are fully aware of the issues and even the alarmist case. There might be various reasons for this passivity (can't afford it, too lazy, prefer to 'wait and see', whatever), but is it possible that there is a legitimate and valid case for doing nothing? That passivity might well be the most socially responsible form of preparation, even for GIs?

So what would happen if I did no personal preparation? What would be the consequences for me personally, and what would be the greater consequences - for my neighbours, for example, or society as a whole? Would my passivity make matters worse or better?

-- Tickle (Tickle_yer_fancy@hotmail.com), March 30, 1999


Tickle, that's a very difficult question because nobody knows what will happen. But ask yourself what would happen if you didn't have car or home insurance.

My own personal opinion is that if you admit there's going to be the least bit of disruption from Y2K, you have a clear duty and responsibility to prepare for three days, a week, a month, whatever, depending on how bad you think it might get.

If I know you and know you are aware of Y2K, yet you've done nothing about it, and Y2K turns out to be more than the proverbial bump, don't bother coming to my house because you will NOT get a handout.

-- Stern Old Git (anon@spamproblems.com), March 30, 1999.

I think the more people who plan for Y2K the better. If 10 years ago, all corporations had planned for Y2K there would be no Y2K. See what I mean. If you horde food and energy in advance then you will survive better and will be able to help those around you survive better. Y2K is a problem because of money. Most things could keep going. Take a bread factory, they can continue making bread and giving it away if the suppliers of flour give the flour away and the oil companies keep pumping oil to give to the farmers. But no-one is getting paid because the bank is stuffed. The trust is not there. People will only keep society functioning if they are getting paid. Everyone thinks like this - so we all lose. All preparation is good (except buying yourself guns and weapons).

-- Ben Herron (ben@jungle.com.au), March 30, 1999.

I don't know but we're about to find out.

Since less than 5% of the population will do anything to prepare the results will be about the same as if no one prepares.

Only those of us well stocked and far away from all will have the pleasure of "perspective". The rest will "live" it.


-- LM (latemarch@usa.net), March 30, 1999.

My question relates to whether the risks of doing nothing, not preparing personally, outweigh the risks of everybody preparing individually. To give you some context for this question: I make my living purchasing supplies for people in immediate emergency need (e.g. refugees in Kosovo). They need things like generators, water containers, manual water pumps, water purification tablets, non- perishable food, high-protein biscuits. If everybody prepared personally for Y2K, would I still be able to get the supplies I need to meet the needs of the Kosovo refugees, or others in non-Y2K related emergencies over the coming year (last year we had 63 life-and-death emergencies, involving millions of people, and this will continue)?

If Governments tell their people that they should prepare for three days or three weeks, we all know that a very large number will go far beyond that and prepare for three or six months, just to be on the safe side. We also know that it would be perfecly rational, from an individualistic point of view, to prepare for Y2K panic induced shortages, regardless of whether you think there will be a problem or not.

How do we avoid the possibility of a viscious circle, where doing nothing is not an option and the whole thing becomes a self- fulfilling prophecy? How do we avoid a situation in which anxiety around Y2K, based primarily on more or less informed speculation, induces abnormal levels of preparation that will have consequences for those who are already living the Y2K nightmare as victims of war and disaster.

-- Tickle (Tickle_yer_fancy@hotmail.com), March 30, 1999.

I don't see how passivity could ever be "the most socially responsible form of preparation", it can't even remotely be described as preparation. It's symptomatic of the entitlement and welfare state we currently live in. On a business level, it will make the difference in which companies survive Y2K by retaining a competitive advantage. The same with communities. My own town, in spite of our brain-dead selectman/state Y2K coordinator, is doing no contingency planning whatsoever, and near as I can tell virtually noone is preparing personally either. If nothing else (i.e., no infrastructure or food delivery problems), the town should be preparing for a sharp downturn in the economy. I think many newly-mortgaged residents could lose their homes, and the town budget, with all of our current bonding obligations and high bond rating, could suffer greatly. As someone else has mentioned, you have an obligation to your family and your community to provide for your own needs, even if your welfare doesn't mean much to you.

-- Brooks (brooksbie@hotmail.com), March 30, 1999.

Sorry, Tickle, if you're trying to make me feel guilty for taking care of my family rather than Kosovar Albanian refugees, it won't work. Don't think I don't feel for the Kosovar Albanians, or anyone else in dire distress--I heard via the Nato press briefing this morning that columns of refugees are being attacked--mortared, I think they said--by the Yugoslavs and it sickened me further. I think your thrust is based on the premise that Y2K won't be that bad. I happen to be in the 7-8 category, and I'd like to have supplies for six months. I believe it might well be that bad.

My question to you is, if Y2K does cause severe problems in this country, will you still be aiding the hungry abroad or will you help the people in this country? Not so easy to answer those hypotheticals, is it?

-- Old Git (anon@spamproblems.com), March 30, 1999.

Tickle, I fired off my previous response before seeing your follow-up. I'm glad to see the context of your question, but I think it smacks too much of Koskinen's attitude that the free market pressure of supply and demand can't possibly make a difference (afterall, you will be looking for supplies long after Y2K has settled down).

If we knew our communities were engaged in contingency planning, there would be less of a concern on an individual basis. Also, if the government and utilities and major businesses had gotten their act together last year or earlier, we would be in a much better position to know what individual actions are necessary. I say they have forced us into that position by daring to take us down to the wire. There has been no leadership.

Besides, there are significant preparations we can each make that have nothing to do with denying others, like saving 2-liter bottles for water and enlarging our gardens and reducing our debt.

I think Arnie said it best earlier this year that we must accept individual responsibility for our outcomes.

-- Brooks (brooksbie@hotmail.com), March 30, 1999.

Folks, in case you're wondering what Trickle really "thinks", if such a word is applicable, this just in from the banal Decker thread, "Y2K and Risk", courtesy of Trickle:

"Mr. Decker - Excellent contributions. I've just posted a question to the forum "What would happen if we all did nothing to prepare?". Is it possible to construct a valid argument for doing nothing special about Y2K?. Most people are doing nothing special and not necessarily out of ignorance. Are they wrong? Is doing nothing special, no personal preparation, just going about life as normal, legitimate or even possible? Will we be forced to make personal preparations regardless of whether we think there will be a problem or not, simply because the shelves will be cleared of basic essentials by GI induced mass panic?"

There's the deal, guys ("GI induced mass panic"). The more sophisticated trolls (Decker, Trickle, et al) are now on a "rational" mission to keep lurkers and/or regulars from continuing to prepare. That's it, there's nothing much more to it than that, though it's couched in all sorts of high-sounding nonsense. And don't forget that a lot of trolls cloak themselves in persona that having nothing to do with their real life. Fact of the Net.

To the trolls: keep posting anytime you wish. You post, we prepare. Post some more, we prepare some more. Prepare. Prepare. Prepare. Prepare.


It's the purpose of this forum and will only become more central over the next eight months, not only to this forum but to our fellow citizens by the tens of millions. Then, we'll be helping folks who haven't prepared to make it through the next few years.

Like you.

-- BigDog (BigDog@duffer.com), March 30, 1999.

Tickle: I broached this subject with my folks a year ago, to get their thinking cap on. After questioning them last week as to what stage they were at, they informed me the downside implications were too awful to consider so they won't think about it anymore. DWGI. When I told them in a trully sincere way, Good Luck, my mom became enraged and said among other things to never bring up the subject again. These are depression era, raised on the farm people but middle of Austin, Tx. dwellers now living on the doorstep of an ever-expanding dangerous part of town. After 1 year's time & $25k spent(stuff I was going to do anyway but just pushed up the timetable) I'm as ready as I can practically get. However knowing my folks certainly have the where-with-all to ready get some "insurance", they refuse to do so because it apparently rubs their current existence the wrong way. My tolerance for their attitude has been appreciably diminished since I know they are fully capable of addressing their future needs now in at least a minor way, with absolutely no financial strain.

LM: Same plan as mine.

And maybe politicians will be forced to do something productive for a living instead of being fulltime parasites.

-- Charles R. (chuck_roast@trans.net), March 30, 1999.

Thanks, BigDog. No wonder the hair on the back of my neck stood up when I read Tickle's post. "GI induced mass panic," huh? This is the same type of logic that blames gun manufacturers for the high rate of gun-related homicides. You may as well blame vehicle manufacturers for all vehicle-related fatalities.

-- Prepared Old Git (anon@spamproblems.com), March 30, 1999.

Just time for an apology for that "GI-induced mass panic" statement. I should have expressed it differently. I have prepared myself. I have also urged others to prepare. I just to want explore with you the consequences of this. Surely nobody can deny that anxiety has the potential to be infectious and we have a responsibility to think through the consequences of our actions as GIs or DGIs.

-- Tickle (Tickle_yer_fancy@hotmail.com), March 30, 1999.

Norm, Tickle, and Another Norm (ANP) have been zealously echoing each other to try (for an unknown reason) to persuade people that they should not prepare.

To answer the original question: maybe nothing. Or, Tickle and his/her family might be very cold and thirsty, as they sit in the dark trying to suck water from a potentially polluted faucet.

-- Robert A Cook, PE (Kennesaw, GA) (Cook.R@csaatl.com), March 30, 1999.

Y2K GLOBAL PROBLEM + late start in fixing it + late awareness of Y2K problem by the masses = PANIC.

-- Sure (tickled@myfancy.zzz), March 30, 1999.

What does "doing nothing" mean anyway? It should be perfectly normal for everyone to have a month's worth of food stashed away somewhere in their house. Cans alone, if nothing else, could half-fill one closet in most of the homes I drive past every day. Cans keep almost forever, & can be purchased cheaply if you're careful. Our homes are mostly filled with worthless crap anyway -- so clear some of it out, & stash some food there. How is is difficult or unreasonable, much less impossible, for the average family to store food? Why is this an emotional topic? Is it even worth debating?

-- stash it (in@a.closet), March 30, 1999.

Tickle, your handle is appropriate, you are masturbating in public.

-- Mitchell Barnes (spanda@inreach.com), March 30, 1999.

Dear Tickle, If your posting was to make me think, congratulations, it made me think. Your first post made me think, "what an idiot". Your next posts confirmed that initial view.

The phrase "socially responsible" is almost as bad de Jager's "enemy of the people", both are firmly entrenched in the collectivist camp.

Why would I have such harsh and unkind thoughts about you?(not to mention being totally politically incorrect, I should burn a copy of Atlas Shrugged and do 20 Sieg Heils as pennace)

Simple, obstanant ignorance kills people.

By my purchase of 2,000 pounds of diatomaceous treated wheat over ten years ago I have guarnateed to my neighbors that 5 Segers will NOT be in line for food handouts, therefore giving my neighbors greater access to limited public food. My list goes on and on, boy I'm happy I became a card-carrying survivalist in 1983.

Everybody forgets that before the introduction of just in time inventory and inventory taxes, that nice big inventories were a great social benifit, Adam Smith's invisable hand and all that. Since our society has choosen to take a bad wrong turn 80, 65, and 35 years ago, individuals stockpiling like mad are nothing more than an attempt to counteract the errors made by the larger society. You should be thanking us.

LM - I love this --> "I don't know but we're about to find out." On your next paragraph I have to disagree just a teensy little with, "Since less than 5% of the population will do anything to prepare the results will be about the same as if no one prepares." as that still leaves 5% more of everything to help the mentally or finanacially deficient. But I unfortunatley I do agree that if we lose power for several weeks, that extra 5% won't be enough to save the lives of a horrendous number of people. It is so sad because it can all be so easily prevented, all it would take is some common sense and some morality. So I'm doing what my time and money allow me to do and that is to set up a private system of shelters in the middle of nowhere to house and feed 14 people that would otherwise be smack dab in the middle of a major city and help out another 2 rural folk. That keeps 16 people out of the "relief lines". 1:16, not a bad welfare system for an objectivist.

-- Ken Seger (kenseger@earthlink.net), March 30, 1999.

After two posts, I seem headed for infamy. My first "post" was cut and pasted from another forum. It explained the near impossibility of fixed position defense. Second, I summarized some of the economic reasons I believe Y2K will not result in "the end of the world as we know it."

It is not my intent to dissuade others from taking what actions they deem responsible. "Preparation" is a personal matter. I do not want some central authority telling me what to buy, nor do I wish to dictate how others spend their money.

My former neighbors were members of the Chuch of Jesus Christ, Latter Day Saints (aka the Mormons). They stored a year's worth of food. Not once did I suggest they were foolish or misguided. Any number of events might disrupt our modern, complex society. In truth, however, I worry more about other events than about the Y2K problem. Of course, opinions may differ.

As I freely admitted in a previous thread, common sense and wise living provide the foundation of any moderate "preparation" plans. The "preparation" activities that I do not understand are those that presuppose a total collapse of western civilization. I am not sure any amount of personal preparation can adequately address a total meltdown.

I am sure people were very passionate when building bomb shelters during the 1950s. Some may feel the shelters were a very worthwhile investment. Although, like now, I wonder about the rationale behind building a bomb shelter to survive in a post-nuclear war world.

Since the 50s, each decade has had predictions of apocalyptic ends for civilization. Does any remember the Club of Rome? Preparation activities, if taken seriously, should not be "event driven." The most logical steps, in my opinion, will be just as valid if all is perfect on Jan. 1, 2000.

-- Mr. Decker (kcdecker@worldnet.att.net), March 30, 1999.

Tickle (tock),

It appears you are purchasing disaster relief supplies, which can be mobilized and transported to an area of dislocation.

The possible difference with Y2K, that you know full well emergency response managers have been concerned about (including FEMA, the Red Cross, and even Koskinen), is the magnitude and quantity of disruptions, dislocations, disaster or local crisis situations occurring simultaneously.

Any community of people at the center of an event are always first on the spot. (Think immediate triage). IF prepared, they are better able to set up collective coping responses. All outside assistance can take time to mobilize. (Kosovo illustrates that point nicely).

Preparation is just smart.

Especially since weve been gifted with a specific trigger date. Jan 1, 2000 -- think embedded chips. (Less concerned with the accounting software glitches). Its the life threatening things or related ones ... electricity, water, sewage, heat, telecommunications, transportation, fuel rationing, food supply & medical disruptions, etc....which pose the greatest potential problems for adequate preparation, or lack of it, and related risks.

If one of your loved ones was diabetic, and there a 50% chance of pharmacies running out of insulin, would you be willing to risk their death? When you had the early-warnings alerts?

Why gamble? Especially when you can pre-pare to save lives locally.

Mr. Decker,

Why do you assume everyone at this forum is presupposing a total collapse of western civilization? (You know what assuming does.)

The current indicators are global depression, unless and until worse, or better, trigger events happen. Economic Y2K repercussions can be quite disruptive enough to all our lives, broken, patched or fixed code and e-chips aside.

Get ready for change.


-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), March 30, 1999.

Tickle indeed !

Isee. Now that you've personally (and probably very quietly) prepared for your own potential future needs, you now pubicly question whether others should do likewise.

This is the height of hypocracy !

All of you politically-correct limosine-liberals can go straight to hell !

-- Pissed (gosucka@lemon.com), March 30, 1999.


I'll try to answer two of your questions:

My question relates to whether the risks of doing nothing, not preparing personally, outweigh the risks of everybody pereparing individually.

I seriously doubt that everybody, or even a majority of the public, will prepare for Y2K. If the news coming out later this year about Y2K is as good as the people who say "no need to prepare" say it will be, then only a small percentage of the public will ever prepare.

How do we avoid the possibility of a vicious circle, where doing nothing is not an option and the whole thing becomes a self- fulfilling prophecy?

Get an H.G. Wells type of time machine, go back to 1996, and somehow convince organizations here and abroad to start their Y2K work.

In all seriousness, I believe the die is already cast. There either will or won't be Y2K panic, regardless of what Ed Yourdon or anyone else says about it. It all depends on how much Y2K repair was made by different sectors of society--here and abroad--in 1996 and 1997.

As Peter de Jager said in chapter five, pages 79-80 of his book "Managing 00: Surviving the Year 2000 Computing Crisis":

[Capers] Jones also validates our estimation that an enterprise starting in 1997 is likely to get through only about 80 percent of its applications; if it waits until 1999, only 30 percent. And even conceding that only 30 percent of the applications may be critical to the business of the enterprise, that 30 percent is probably attached by data to another 40 percent of the other applications that won't make the transition in time. At best, the organization will be crippled; at worst, it will no longer exist.

-- Kevin (mixesmusic@worldnet.att.net), March 30, 1999.

Ken Seger, I to have at least a year of food for 14 and seeds for dozens of other families and only a family of 4. I too will help my neighbors but I sure can't help that other 95%. You have to realize that you and I are probably the exception in those prep'in. Most will only get enough set aside for themselves.

I'm praying it's only a 6 or 7 but prep'in for a 9.

A 10 is unimaginable and I am at a loss as to how to prep for that.


-- LM (latemarch@usa.net), March 30, 1999.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ