THE COMING 6 MONTHS (UPDATE OF A PREVIOUS POST)greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
The post that follows this preface was completed by me at the end of April. Since I wrote that article I have had responses to "the Y2K problem" from both my wife's family and my own.
In addition to reposting my previous article (nothing more than my personal opinions/observations really) I thought you might find it of interest that most members of both my, and my wife's families, have now decided to engage in varying degrees of reparations. Perhaps the brief information leading to their awareness and focus will be useful to you on a personal level.
Our families Y2K awareness began with me, as I initially articulated my own awareness and my growing concerns. When I brought up the subject with them, I focused on the lack of clarity that surrounds all aspects of the problem - except the admitted "clarity" that there is indeed a problem. I then appealed to the general conservatism that resides within both of our families. Using the idea that "insurance" can be a prudent precaution when soundly based on a wise risk/loss/reward analysis, I suggested that most of that which they might invest in a "precautionary Y2K insurance plan," could then be reclaimed for use if the insurance proves to be uneeded.
With the exception of my wife's brother, all of my suggestions were initially rebuffed, rejected, or repelled - depending on your definition of each term. That was in January/February of 1999. It was at this point that I decided I would not mention the subject to them again. I would only repsond if they initiated the inquiry.
Several months passed during which I remained conspicuously silent. Questions were occasionally asked by various people and to which I responded. I should point out that my responses were always in a manner in which I consciously made it a point not to be thought of as trying to "sell them something." Apparently the seeds that I planted, together with whatever outside "nutrients" were being brought to bear, have now sprouted.
All of the family members on my side of the family will now be preparing - certainly in only a modest fashion when compared to those that I and my wife have made, but preparing nonetheless.
On my wife's side, her brother has made considerable preparations and has now been joined - at least spiritually, by her mother and father. Her sister and family remain apparently "unprepared" although the sister knows of the preparedness of her brother. Being less than a tank of gas away perhaps she feels she will have an option if the "unexpected" unfolds.
I fully expect that as the remaining 6 months passes, my wife's sister will too join the ranks of the prepared. Essentially that was the argument I made in the article that follows. I repost it now. I remain convinced of its validity.
Dave Walden ----------------------------------------------------------------------
THE NEXT 8 MONTHS
The next 8 months harbors the potential to be unprecedented in the history of our country (with appropriate implications for the rest of the world). I have just finished reading the comments on a previous thread initiated be "Robert," I believe. Its initial subject was "human nature." Many thoughtful questions and responses to consider. Many people on this forum are truly insightful and articulate.
It caused me to reflect on my own views of human nature. That, however, is a discussion for another thread. It has also caused me to think about Y2K, and my own views on what I believe will unfold over the next 8 months. This indeed is predicated on what I believe to be true with respect to, among other things, human nature.
Certainty is an elusive gem. It adorns its wearer with peace while they stand at the edge of the abyss. It is therefore, the wise among us who hedge their bets.
Most of us to varying degrees practice the above approach to life. Using my own life as an example, I would argue that the probability of doing so however, increases only with age. "Knowing everything" is a hallmark of the young. Yes there are "absolutes." To argue there are not is a contradiction. However, to arrive at one, and to proclaim it as such, can be reserved for only the most rational, the most disciplined, and only the most wise among us.
Using the vernacular of this forum, both the "Polys" and the "Doomers" would lead you to believe that they glow with the luster of certainty. Perhaps they do. However, Aristotelian logic mandates that while they both may glow with the luster, either one group or the other (or both) is/are merely radiating a reflection - one that does not come from a mirror. Perhaps they may be properly called "Zirconium's in the rough."
For most of them however, in whatever camp to which they swear allegiance, I submit in at least one respect they are not unlike you or I. Under the intense light of magnification, their gems of certainty invariably become clouded by opaque spots of doubt. Deep within the gemstone that is their mind, they are reminded of one of the certainties to which we are all subject, the certainty of potential error. The unassailable fact that in the past, on a subject of which our certainty was secure, we subsequently were to discover that we had in fact been wrong. This invariably leads to the constant reminder that we may now be so as well.
Hopefully the effects of being wrong are not harsh but only "lessons learned." If so the recipient of the lesson grows wiser. Unfortunately, the harsher lessons though potentially the most instructive, are not for the faint of heart. In my judgment such is the potential of Y2K.
It is here, using the context I have painted above, that I base my opinion on what the next 8 months will bring. I do so because though we each may be different, we are ultimately, at the most fundamental level, the same. That is not to say that some of us are not better able to search out and find those elusive absolutes than are others. It is obvious that some of us are. It is to say however, that we each share in the knowledge that error is always a possibility.
In my opinion the unalterable absolute that each of us may in fact "be wrong" will increasingly influence our society in the coming 8 months. Because of the nature of Y2K and the fact that "certainty" is particularly elusive in this case, and because of the fact that the values at stake are such, these circumstances will combine to cause us, no matter where our stance on the issue, to collectively, "hedge our bets."
As the months unfold, more and more of us will begin to take steps to prepare. Some of us at one end of the bell curve will be doing so in order to complete their previously and repeatedly updated plans. Those at the other end of the curve will be doing so "just in case." It is important to remember that the "Y2K problem" is just a technical problem requiring solution. Whatever can/will be fixed, will. What can't/doesn't, won't. However, our collective response in anticipation of the problem is a totally separate issue.
The demand for "supplies" will increase at an ever-accelerating pace. At some point in this rise it will be pronounced as a potentially serious national problem ("it" being the preparations - not Y2K). Depending upon the "trigger" for the pronouncement when it is made, it is likely that the President, together with the support of the Congress, will declare some sort of a state of emergency. Edicts, laws, mandates, appeals, and all manner of "pronouncements" with appropriate responsible and irresponsible behaviors defined, will follow. It is at this point that the real rush to prepare for Y2K will likely begin.
I say this because of the state and stature of our present leadership. In any crisis in which we are called upon to unite and act together toward a common purpose, if success is to be achieved there must be trust and confidence in the leadership. The present state of our leadership and the general level of cynicism in our country assures that virtually any pronouncement by our politicians will likely result in further distrust and cynicism. In this environment, a call to collective action, with the justification being given as unwarranted panic - caused by those that are needlessly and irresponsibly preparing, brought about by irrational fear, will motivate those that have thus far remained on the sidelines, to act. Having scoffed at those who were preparing for Y2K, the unprepared (emotionally unprepared as well) will begin to feel uncertainty and doubt where before there had been only the daily pursuits of life. They will begin to see the need to hedge themselves.
I do not pretend to know where this will lead. Quite the contrary, I heed the words with which I began this ramble, I know I could be wrong. However, I do know this: As the year 2000 unfolds, whatever technical problems surface, they will be what they will be. Their effects will be constrained by the capabilities of those among us that are the most able and remain willing to exercise those capabilities. I cannot help but recall the hero in Ayn Rand's epic novel "Atlas Shrugged" and it stirs a distant foreboding.
Should it occur, the justification for the national emergency would initially be the worn, tired, historically repetitive refrain, of saving people from themselves, pronounced by people who claim to know better. How long this justification will serve to renew itself will depend on how well those among us who, being the most able, continue to display their respective skills at their respective work. Sometime in 2000 I believe that whatever the stated basis for the "emergency," whether it be "irrational exuberance" on the part of those that had remained unprepared, who when finally in response to the "fear-mongering prophets of doom," had begun to act; or it be the passing of the economic consequences of the disruptions caused by the Y2K problem itself, the emergency will likely be over. The remaining emergency however, will be the one that history should have taught us all to fear. It is the one that our founding fathers so eloquently tried to prevent, the one that invariably arises when instead of taking responsibility for that which properly resides with each of us, we instead ask that the rest of us assume it for us.
Using the vernacular of this post I believe that during the coming 8 months we will all be hedging our respective bets. Those that have prepared will wonder if they haven't wasted much time, effort, resources, and emotional energy. Those who have not prepared will wonder of they should not now be doing so. My view of human nature leads me to conclude that most people will, prior to the end of 1999, have attempted to do so.
I have stated my reasons why I believe this to be the case. For the record I should make my position clear. I have prepared for periods of modest disruption. Having done so I calmly and with peace of mind continue to pursue those values that make my life a joy. I do so knowing that I have prepared for what I have reasonably determined to be coming. In response to that which I am unable or unwilling to influence, I simply try to arrive at a state of awareness that allows me to discover that realization.
While I could certainly be wrong in my speculations, they are mine to make. I accept the consequences for whatever penalties reality subsequently extracts from me for my errors, just as I will accept the rewards for the reverse. One of the rewards I currently enjoy is the satisfaction of knowing I have acted upon my own judgment.
We shall all shortly discover to what degree our initial bets were wise, and consequently the prudence of whatever "hedging" of our bets we choose to make..
-- Dave Walden (email@example.com), July 05, 1999
"acting in own's own judgment"...now there's a concept!! Individuality is necessary first for one to grasp the concept of "being responsible for that which properly resides within each of us". This has been the problem in convincing mine and my husband's family to prepare at least in modest amount. Nobody wants to be considered "wierd" or "nonconforming" as most people think: "y2k...what's that?" or...."oh yeah, y2k....please, do you really think the government is going to let everything collapse?" I am sorry to say that I believe this ignorance and apathy is widespread and to quote the old adage "All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men (or women, to "modernize") to do nothing", I pray that the upcoming "bump in the road" doesn't direct my family automobiles into the nearest oak trees which they can not see in time to steer out of the way.
-- NSmith (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 05, 1999.
I wouldn't bother giving this article to my DGI family and friends because you have written way over their heads. Your concise, dense phrasing will tax their patience within several paragraphs. What they need is something simple, as your rhetorical style is too complex for those having bonded with television.
-- Randolph (email@example.com), July 05, 1999.