Gov't Said Playing Down Y2K Problem : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

From Yahoo Y2K news dated today. <:)=

WASHINGTON (AP) - Amid all the uncertainty over the impact of entering a double-zero year next Jan. 1, the federal government often seems uncertain whether to sound like Paul Revere or Chicken Little.

Critics say the government is sending out mixed messages and lulling Americans into a false sense of security by playing down the possible crises from computer systems that fail because they can't read the year 2000 date.

``They are erring more on the side of fear,'' said Liza Christian of the grass-roots Rogue Valley Y2K Task Force in Oregon. ``Fear that the American people will act with a lack of intelligence, that they will take bizarre measures.''

John Koskinen, head of the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion, acknowledged that it hasn't been easy to convey their central theme, that national systems - power grids, telecommunication networks, air traffic - are safe, but people should be prepared for some localized, temporary disruptions.

``It is confusing, but we are trying to make it as clear as we can,'' he said.

His council has created 25 working groups to make sure industries around the country are talking to each other about the computer problem and recently began a nationwide campaign, with a Y2K tool kit, to promote community conversations on the subject.

The key, he said, is for people to make cool, informed decisions. ``I told some of the doomsayers from the start that sometimes people in a well-meaning way drive the argument to the extremes.''

James Adams, head of Infrastructure Defense, a technology information firm that runs a Y2K news Web site, praised Koskinen's efforts but said he is underfunded and the United States is well behind such countries as Canada and Britain in making people aware of the possible consequences.

In recent testimony before Sen. Robert Bennett's special committee on the Y2K problem, Adams cited a survey taken last year revealing that two-thirds of Americans did not know what Y2K was. Some thought it was a tooth whitener, a movie rating, a stain remover or a brand of petroleum jelly.

People are now more aware of the problem, but ``the level of ignorance remains alarmingly high,'' he said.

Bennett, R-Utah, who chairs the Y2K panel with Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., agreed with Koskinen that there will almost certainly be isolated disruptions, but predicting where the problems will arise can be a risky business.

He recalled that when ``Tonight Show'' host Johnny Carson joked in 1973 that toilet paper was disappearing from grocery store shelves, the next day 20 million viewers rushed out to stockpile supplies and cause a real shortage.

``The antidote to panic is always accurate information,'' Bennett said in an interview. ``But some of the accurate information can be pretty scary.''

Bennett's Internet site advises people to check with police, doctors, pharmacists and grocers about their services, keep on hand batteries, warm blankets and ``a couple of extra cans of food,'' save copies of financial transactions and beware of Y2K con artists.

Bennett said that at his own home he has filled a 55-gallon drum with water and has stored food. ``That's prudent in modern life. There's so many things that can interrupt your life.''

Koskinen's council offers similar ``common sense'' suggestions such as preparing a three-day supply of water and nonperishable goods, filling up on gas and keeping copies of bank statements.

The Web page assures people that major national disruptions are unlikely, that planes are safe and that coffee makers, microwaves, elevators and other equipment without calendar functions should not be affected.

Others, such as Rogue Valley's Christian, say these guides seriously understate the problem and that people should have at least three weeks of basic supplies. She said President Clinton needs to take the lead in organizing a national fire drill this fall.

But Bennett said there is a limit to what Washington can do. ``I don't think it's John Koskinen's responsibility or mine to run around to every local community and say the federal government is checking on you.''

-- Sysman (, June 08, 1999


As long as Koskinen focuses on coffee makers, the public will remain completely unprepared for a disaster.

-- Doug (, June 08, 1999.

Is there any such thing as a "self-fulfilled prophecy"?

Has any "self-fulfilled prophecy" ever taken place in the history of mankind?

Would anyone care to educate me on this subject? I believe it is y2k pertinent.

I tried to find this out through a thread of mine a while ago, and no one really answered my question. Oh yes, some people did ramble a bit about "prophecies" at large, but that's NOT my question. I only want to know if there is any example in the history of mankind concerning "SELF-FULFILLED prophecies". If examples mentioned are not SELF-FULFILLED then they are NOT pertinent. It's pretty clear, right?

Thanks everyone

-- George (, June 08, 1999.

Well george....I can't think of one of hand. Hmmmmmm. Nope. It's one of those "the government is terrified" phrases, I suppose. MAYBE it's the highest form of finger-pointing. Hmmmm. Yup.

-- Will continue (, June 08, 1999.

I have an example of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

About 50 years ago computer memory was extremely expensive and to save space programmers shortened dates to only include only the last two digits of a year....etc.

In my mind the entire Y2k phenom is the result of programmers and management and their creation of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Everything that will occur is a direct result of program defects (the cause) and every problem as a result will be due directly to program defects (the effect). And all this could have been avoided if IT management would have been responisble early on. They weren't, defects continued and became more pervasive and time became shorter and shorter. The IT professionals have created this "self-fulfilling prophecy" and the unfortunate thing is we will all have to pay for it in one way or another.

IMHO anyway.

Thanks for the article Sysman.

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

-- Michael Taylor (, June 08, 1999.

That reminds me, I've still got to get a backup percolator (camp) type coffee pot.

-- Mad Monk (, June 09, 1999.

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