Organized Panic : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

In his written testimony to the Senate today, Ed Yourdon wrote: The great irony is that if we collectively participated in an "organized panic" now, we would still have time to equip each family with at least a modest supply of food, water, and other essentials.

In February I started a thread about this subject and thought the time right to bring it up again thanks to the above line in Eds testimony.

I have long thought that panic is inherently uncontrollable. Nobody wants a panic on their hands, and nobody is ready for one - yet. Do the 'powers that be' think that by waiting they will be able to better control a panic, or that it can be contained, or perhaps they believe a panic is not inevitable?

Some of us feel that one downside to preventing people from becoming alarmed immediately is that they will fail to take meaningful actions for preparation now, while they still can. Others say the later most people get it, the better, since it gives them personally more time to prepare if others aren't competing for the same supplies. I think that the powers that be have been, and continue to be, "between a rock and a hard place". No great choices. If they get folks alarmed enough right now to make serious preparations they risk creating a panic now, especially in certain sectors such as the banks. OTOH, if they continue the downplaying of Y2K, then many shall remain Y2K asleep. When people finally do get it later I think that they are still going to panic - only there will be less time to prepare, which argues for worse panic, and also people may be angrier at the powers that be for the obvious reasons. If you accept the assumption that Some level of panic is inevitable, then why not get it over with now? It is hard for me to imagine people in a continual state of panic for the next eight months. This will give more folks, more time, to get more prepared. If you do not accept this assumption then say why.

So the question is do you think an organized panic is feasible?

-- Rob Michaels (, May 25, 1999



The phrase *organized panic* seems to be dialectical at best. But I have no question *power* is the origin of such concepts. It does, in some way, beget such oxymorons.

To me it means *intentional pain*, and as such, is very hard for me to conceptualize. What kind of minds come up with the torture of other human beings.

I have recently internalized the idea spoken of in the Bible, stating that we/I are aliens to this world.

My personal torture these days is of having to bring a childhood allegory to fruition. Will I kill another human being to save the ones I love? I already know the answer, but I hate like hell having to possibly face it.

Now is the time for come to the aid of our country.

-- unspun@lright (, May 26, 1999.

Unspun: Because I view panic has inherently uncontrollable, an organized panic is conceptually oxymoronic to me. Since Ed wrote what he did though, my assumption is that he thinks that it is feasible, so perhaps I am not looking at this correctly. This is what has prompted me to raise the question to the Forum. I do not see this as feasible and would welcome some opinions.

Regarding intentional pain, if this results in potentially less pain than the alternative of letting panic come if/when it will, then it would be one reason to consider an organized panic. In this case isnt there also unintentional pain which would probably be more severe? Like the old commercial used to say, you can pay me now, or pay me later.

Alien to this world? If I didn't know better (Hmmm, perhaps I don't) I would think you are the reincarnation of a former poster called Runway Cat!

-- Rob Michaels (, May 26, 1999.

The waste of time has been tragic. There are so many that don't have the money to prepare at the last minute! They needed time to set aside supplies slowly and surely, with long-term planning and budgeting. If they had just KNOWN, then they would have postponed the fancy outfit, the vacation on the credit card, that bigger home entertainment system. Maybe he wouldn't have quit the second job, and she would have accepted the increased hours.

By NOT TELLING the masses the truth, the .gov has set up a recipe for aghast horror, disbelief, anger, betrayal, fury, and civil unrest. It has gone beyond stupidity into calculated evil. There can be no excuses anymore, long past rationalizing.

The timebomb is ticking, and it could have been defused with just a little forethought and compassion ...

xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx

-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (, May 26, 1999.

To show you how bad it really is....I have a neighbor two houses down from me who took out a wood burning stove and put a bookshelf in it's place! The stove was sitting in his driveway and my son asked him about the stove and the guy said he could have it! Can you believe that!!! And we live in a cold climate!!!

-- fgreddie (, May 26, 1999.

Ashton & Leska,

I agree with your assesment of the spinmeisters wholeheartedly. I used some of your post in Hoff's pollysoap thread previously. Thanks

-- R. Wright (, May 26, 1999.

What I am trying to figure out, with your help, is if something as seemingly contradictory as "organized panic" could actually be possible, and if so, how.

-- Rob Michaels (, May 26, 1999.

Wouldn't an "organized panic" far ahead of any serious disruption mean that supply chains could compensate for the additional demand by ramping up production/delivery?

Otherwise, what we are left with is immediate demand without the capability to meet the demand. We're already seeing that in backorders for food and other goods.

The bottom line is that if there is a panic now there is still time to increase supply and meet demand before TSHTF.

If panic happens too late, a whole lot of people will be extremely angry, frightened, etc. and they'll be out of luck even if they riot and loot. There will still only be a limited supply and a whole lot of people will be left without. Then, it just starts all over again.

Mike ============================================================

-- Michael Taylor (, May 26, 1999.

I agree with every word, Michael. I just don't see how it is possible to implement - assuming it is true that any panic , regardless of if it is orchestrated or not, is still uncontrollable. Specifically, I think of potential bank runs and peoples reactions to any Y2K alarm ringing loudly, even if the alarm is unrelated to the banking or financial industries. If folks were told they needed to prepare for Y2K, some may decide to withdrwaw funds. As you probably know, even a very small percentage doing this could cause big problems, given the ratio of amounts on deposit to actual physical cash on hand.

Also, ramping up ability it seems to me varies considerably by sector, so some things may not be available in a very short time after trying to implement any organized panic.

-- Rob Michaels (, May 26, 1999.

Better now than later Rob. Whatever flexibility exists in the system will strech better June to December than November to December.

Panic is a poor word. If our numbers multiplied ten fold we'd still be only about 10%.

-- Carlos (, May 26, 1999.

To me, the thought of "controlled panic" implies that the majority of the population have common sense and this could be called upon in an emergency. I used to believe most people do have common sense. Where is it? Give me some examples of common sense being used in mass.....please. I just can't think of anything off-hand. Those guys who got together and wrote the Constitution had some, but I'm trying to think of a more recent example, hmmmmm.

-- Will continue (, May 26, 1999.

Its interesting that my Tuesday newspaper had an article that folks in yugoslavia are starting to buy candles, kerosene, bottled water,etc. now that the water and electricity are being targeted and bombed off.

Many of the folks there are sure that the government and Milosevic are not suffering any lack of electricity or water, which is not really logical but very human.

Human beings can have an amazing lack of foresight for themselves and a remarkable ability to ascribe unreasonable things to government, including power and resources government doesn't realistically have.

Just musing.......

-- seraphima (, May 26, 1999.

I think "motivated action" is what is required. A strong sense of urgency and the shortness of available time.

A secular wave of feeling with the kind of fervour generated by a billy Graham figure.

My view is that each area across the planet could be organised into acting much like a global Mexican wave, call it a Y2K Wave. Some additional coordination would be required to ensure that the wave of supplies went out to stores ahead of time and all the hands lifted goods in sequence across the land. The sequence is important to ensure that surplus transport can do the JIT job now, (wont do it in the future after 2000).

Since the turnover would be increased I cannot see resistence from the retailer. An additional welfare payment could be made to the dependent on a specific day and strong social pressure applied to ensure that the funds went in the right direction.

In the spirit of promoting self sufficiency such "motivated action" may just work.

It certainly beats the disruption likely if preps are not being carried out in time.

A special person will be needed to front this kind of effort.

Any hands up for a place in History?

-- Bob Barbour (, May 26, 1999.

Carlos: I am in the better now than later camp also. You bring up a valid point about semantics here  panic being a poor choice of words. To me in doesnt belong next to the word organized

Will continue: Yes, common sense is not so common. I think many people will react not according to common sense, even if they have some, but according to human nature, which is immutable. This is one of the reasons I hold that panic is inherently uncontrollable. Predictability is a whole nother matter though.

Seraphima: People will insist that government save them, which is ridiculous. After reading some, not all, of the Executive Orders I am in no way wanting to be saved. It is preferable for people to realize that we are entering a period of consequences and personal responsibility, and accept that, which when you get down to it is the only way any kind of orchestrated panic could have a chance. Yeah, yeah, I know, LOL right? I would draw a distinction between entering this period and accepting responsibility voluntarily versus having it forced upon folks, which seems more likely to me.

Bob Barbour: Thank you very much for giving an opinion on the question I am trying to answer. Perhaps this idea, or something like it, is what Ed Yourdon was thinking of. No hands raised though from where I am standing.

We all agree that mass preparation now, (yesterday actually) is what is needed now and has been needed all along. How to raise the Y2K alarm to the 'masses' without panicking people in the process? That is the question. This is what Mr. Yourdon's remark to me implies. Is it even possible to answer?

-- Rob Michaels (, May 26, 1999.

There are MANY possible solutions to avert panic....if implemented in 1996. Too bad we elected the good-looking guy with the $400 haircut! This is nearly *JUNE OF 1999*. Any talk of averting panic and mass chaos is mute. It ain't gonna happen people. The time for "thoughtful and calm discussion" is now long gone. Just take a look at the comments from the retail Queen at yesterday's hearing. That's where we're at now, at this late date. She represents much more than the retail industry. She is an example of the thoughts of the majority. Creative solutions are a complete waste of preparation time. Preparing for y2k is, once again, common sense. What percentage of the population is ACTUALLY preparing? You got it, common sense is dead. It's outgrown it's usefulness. People just don't need to have it any more because they have the government and thier television sets to do thier thinking for them. Boy, I'm in a really bad mood this morning......sorry, it happens!

-- Will continue (, May 26, 1999.


Good thread. Panic will ensue no matter what happens. Perhaps it can be marginally controlled by when it happens.

This seems to be a matter of the dissemination of truth. A choice between truth and lies. Are we discussing which is right, which makes more sense, or which is the least damaging?

Has truth become negotiable?

-- Mike Lang (, May 26, 1999.

Gee Rob,

Lets hold a Koskinen-style Community Conversation about it.

Perhaps Ed choose the word panic because thats what the government, news media, et. al. considers a hot button. The idea is to juxtapose two disparate concepts to force a pause in thinking.

Our government, etc. tends to still have a fix-on-failure attitude, while encouraging contingency plans for them, not the rest of us.

They are also pretty lazy with the truth, we hold to be self-evident.


-- Diane J. Squire (, May 26, 1999.

Mike said, "This seems to be a matter of the dissemination of truth. A choice between truth and lies. Are we discussing which is right, which makes more sense, or which is the least damaging? Has truth become negotiable?"

Yes. Regrettably. At least in the public space.

The dilemma is that only relatively irrefutable facts or near-facts about Y2K (for instance, government declarations that refineries WILL go down or that an accidental nuclear launch is an authentic possibility) will generate "actionable" awareness. To keep that from becoming panic is beyond even the spin-meisters.

I suspect Ed is thinking of a staged (staged in the sense of "coordinate") series of events and announcements that gradually ratchet up the sense of concern and spur to action. That might work, at least with racheting up overall preparation (everything helps) and creating more realistic expectations of potential breakdowns.

I still believe the powers-that-be judge that the risk of market panic is too great to risk straight talk with citizens.

-- BigDog (, May 26, 1999.

Unspun writes: "To me it means *intentional pain*, and as such, is very hard for me to conceptualize. What kind of minds come up with the torture of other human beings."

Thousands of bodybuilders, cyclists, and marathon runners voluntarily engage in 'intentional pain' every day. They call it "working out," and they work hard at it. "No pain, no gain," they say.

Nobody can be forced to "panic." It may not be appropriate, but it's always voluntary.

-- Tom Carey (, May 26, 1999.

Chuck, a night driver, made this observation on a previous thread (paraphrased as follows):

It is possible that the powers that be have run the numbers and concluded that the Y2K damage will be less severe if they allow Y2K to hit at a low level of preparation/disclosure. The damage assessment of Y2K versus Y2K plus panic may indicate that the total impact is less if panic is avoided.

T.S. Elliot concluded his poem "The Wasteland":

"This is trhe way the world ends; this is the way the world ends; not with a bang but a whimper."

I do not understand why everyone is not preparing today - there is certainly enough information out there. Would more info get more people to prepare?

-- Bill P (, May 26, 1999.

I do not understand why everyone is not preparing today - there is certainly enough information out there. Would more info get more people to prepare?

I disagree with the premise: there is not nearly enough information out there.

Well, if you're on the 'Net, and visit the websites and the newsgroups, there's plenty of information. But for most people, who get their news from the TV and the newspapers -- there is next to nothing.

The most balanced hard look at Y2K on national TV has been Sunday's "60 Minutes" segment: 15 minutes. Most people got way more Star Wars "information" in the past two weeks than Y2K information in the past two years.

-- Lane Core Jr. (, May 26, 1999.

The saddest part of all of this is there WILL be panic. It could have been avoided. For this, I blame 2 the Government and the Media. If we choose to prepare, were looney, I'm tired of it, so I dont really discuss it anymore. I got a call from a Probation Officer friend in California yesterday, she asked what I was doing, I told her " I'm in the midst of assessing my y2k cabinet for inventory, she just laughed.And California was in my opinion very verbal media wise on preparations (correct me if i'm wrong Diane). I was in Ca in December and was amazed at the awareness. Here In Ohio, it is DEAD silence. I have no idea what/if local contigency plans are available, other than Red Cross. In Cleve our Mayor appointed a Y2K task force Woman who is telling us ALL IS WELL, do not worry, yet our gov is holding very important meetings....Too many little time.

-- consumer (, May 26, 1999.

Rob, I agree, I do not think panic is ever organized or controllable. The government is indeed between a rock and a hard place. From what we've seen lately, I think they've made their decision (right or wrong). Publically encourage preparations at a level that will sustain folks for a few days, discourage panic to protect the banking system and the economy all the while covertly planning and training to respond with military intervention if the need arises once everyone's 3 days of food and water is exhausted (i.e., special forces protecting food distribution centers). That seems to be the direction they've chosen and it's almost too late for any other alternative.

-- David (, May 26, 1999.

I believe the government is doing everything possible to prevent a panic, for one primary reason. Banks. Part of a panic is concern over cash, and bank runs pose a serious threat. A panic can't cause electricity to go off or the telephones to stop, but an uncontrolled bank run would bring down the banks, in 1999.

So the logic is to calm the public, see if the banks survive rollover, and deal with Y2K the best they can. The government doesn't want to deal with both a panic and Y2K.

Still, I think the chance of panic is a virtual certainty. It could be ugly.

-- Doug (, May 26, 1999.

"Organized panic"- would that be when all the cows in the stampede are headed in the same direction?

Seriously, if there are serious problems with 2k I think it's too late for much to be done given the level of mental, spiritual and physical unpreparedness that seems to exist. If what Ed meant was seriously motivated preparation activities when he said 'organized panic,' that might have worked a year ago. It takes people too long to move from decision making to action in most cases for much to be accomplished now. Still, better late than never... .

-- Lee (, May 26, 1999.

It is entirely possible that Diane is right with regards to Eds context regarding organized panic. BigDogs comment about irrefutable facts or near-facts being the only thing that would generate action and prep rings true. Most folks will act only when forced by circumstance to.

I think it is interesting to see that a number of you agree that there is zero risk tolerance for a banking panic and that this is a primary cause for the continued silence of the Y2K alarm bells, and also that there is some agreement that panic of some extent is thought to be inevitable. Doug makes an interesting point about leadership waiting to see if the banks survive rollover, and deal with Y2K the best they can. This makes sense to me since our leaders do not know just what will happen either  nobody does. So why run the risk of not only crying wolf, but also precipitating a panic which may have never happened otherwise in their eyes.

Tom Carey: Your wrote about panic always being voluntary. I have never thought of it that way and will have to consider it. Seems to me that the circumstances that have the potential to precipitate a panic can certainly be forced upon us since they are largely out of our control if unprepared, yet the actual individual (or mass) choice in terms of the subsequent reaction may always be voluntary.

Thank you Bill for posting Chucks observation regarding Y2K versus Y2K + panic. It seems like a reasonable deduction to me, and would explain the current mindset.

Lane Core: You are right about the if youre not on the net thing. Sadly, Who can dispute your astute observation about people getting more Start Wars information. I looked through two papers today and saw nothing about yesterdays Senate Hearing. Not one word.

One last point: The general feeling of too late unfortunately is correct, to a large extent but not completely. What becomes important here I think is the better late than never thought. The sooner and the more people make prudent preparations the less likely they will be part of the problem. There is currently still time for preparation, and nobody knows how long this will last. It may be now or never. The point here is that since it is still possible to prepare, even a relatively soft alarm bell would result in a higher percentage of Y2K ready folks later. How many people do you know that are still Y2K oblivious? Is one of them someone you love? Better late than never may not be ideal, but suppose it was your loved one who heard the softly ringing alarm and joined the better late crew. How would you feel ? Beats never doesnt it?

-- Rob Michaels (, May 26, 1999.

What did Ed mean? Well, if you know the following information was contained in the February 5, 1999, Senate Y2K Committee Food Supply hearing and that Ed couldn't possibly have missed it, then you can probably figure out what he meant:

Sen. Dodd said food producers need 6-9 months to tool up for increased production.

Let's see, this is almost June. . .

-- Old Git (, May 26, 1999.

It *is* so sad Leska, I do not fault Ed for establishing a firebreak for the coming events, but I am convinced that my perception of Panic can not be organized. I can not grasp the picture of organized panic.

There are any number of definitions or causes of panic as I see it. My wife suffers from panic anxiety disorder. There were many times at the onset that the paramedics were called for, control was impossible. Each and every time, even with a past history to draw conclusions from, she could not control the feelings of imminent danger. No matter how much I tried to help with calming words, reviews of past episodes, I still ended up calling for help, just in case. It is very scary for those outside looking in.

Organized panic points out the urgency of our plight. I have experienced life threading experiences more than once in my life. Once I had to be brought back. Even at these junctures, I did not panic, because I seem to have an affinity for solving problems. As long as there *may* be a solution, no matter how slim, I continue to fight to find it. Similar to a great end game in chess.

The overwhelming matrix involved in this match were seemingly unchallengable at first. Just to many facets, physical, social, antisocial, and on and on. Too many factors that were totally of out of my sphere of influence. Panic began to set in.

Then the resignation to the big picture and I began a quest to solve even 'one' of the potential facets. More out of anger and torment for the risks for my loved ones.

Food, shelter, clothing. This I remembered from some long ago school day in my youth. The basic essentials for survival. This is where I would begin to empower myself,in the face of all the uncertainty

I believe we are in process of mass conditioning by the government right now. It just seems too much (perceived?) spin, directly points to where I think we are heading to be explained away as imagined coincidence.

I pray for all here that would help others grab what little slice of control possible, over the impending rendezvous with the future. My sincere hope is that we won't end up like Kasparov, and become overwhelmed to the breaking point by "Deep Blue"

Organized panic: Our choices have indeed become desperate and drastic. I hate to have to, but I agree with most here. What other choice do we have? Sad!!


-- unpun@lright (, May 27, 1999.

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