"The problem is panicky people" (latest draft)

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A few days ago I posted a draft here of an article for a Catholic newspaper. There was some good comment, and i have considerably revised the article in light of those comments. here is the latest draft, comments are welcome.


The Top Ten Millennium Madness List: #1:The main problem is people panicking!

Huh? Say what? Y2k is a danger relating to broken technology and software. The evidence of the reality of the problem is overwhelming. Upwards of a trillion dollars is being spent to fix the problems, many Y2k failures have already occurred, the current uneasiness comes from the lack of certainty that all of the problems have been found and fixed. People remember the many times that corporations and politicians have deceived the public. A "trust us" public relations campaign can hardly repair the situation overnight  especially when they demonize and marginalize those who disagree with them to make their point.

The uncertainty and distrust is aggravated by the lack of a transparent readiness verification system for many sectors (such as electricity and city water supplies). Most government agencies are not exercising any oversight other than receiving reports, filing them, and then issuing "everything is OK, go back to sleep" press releases (banks are the one exception to this). When an agency or business claims that "100% of their critical systems will be ready", they are admitting that they've given up trying to fix all their systems, they have triaged their operations, and they hope they have found all the "critical" systems. Last month Social Security sent thousands of notices terminating benefits on "January 1, 1900", due to a system previously identified as "non-critical. Oops.

Instead of demanding accountability, the media is fixated on "panicky people," reporting the comments of corporate executives without critically examing them. Why would capitalists not want customers to buy their products in huge abundance? They talk like they have some kind of "right" to their business methods, such as the popular "just in time" inventory" system. But maybe this system has hidden risks and dangers  such as the inability to accomodote sudden swings in the buying patterns of consumers  that nobody bothered to think about. The executives don't want their stockholders to notice this because they might worry that their investments had been placed at risk by the bad decisions of their management. The free market is dynamic, people change their buying habits all the time, if a company can't keep up, that's tough for them, somebody will come along to give the customer what he or she wants.

There's another issue. When I hear people disparaging the idea of keeping one or two months' supply of food on hand, I know that the commentator has never been poor.Typically, the grocery list is the one flexible item in a poor family's budget. If there is an emergency, that's the only extra cash available. If the family has put aside 1 or 2 months of food, they can raid their grocery budget and still put dinner on the table. If they have no food stored, they are out of luck and out of food. The less economic security a family has, the more important it is that they keep some of their savings in food. Did these bankers and politicians think about this? Not likely, that's why they're preaching against frugality, prudence and food security.

Regarding these smart guys who are so sure that people  not broken technology  are the problem, this is not the first time we have had this problem. Here's what the great Catholic writer, G.K. Chesterton, had to say about Y2k, long before computers were even invented: "It is easy enough to say the cultured man should be the crowd's guide, philosopher and friend.Unfortunately, he has nearly always been a misguiding guide, a false friend and a very shallow philosopher. And the actual catastrophes we have suffered, have not in historical fact been due to the prosaic practical people who are supposed to know nothing, but almost invariably to the highly theoretical people who knew that they knew everything. The world may learn by its mistakes; but they are mostly the mistakes of the learned." RMW

-- robert waldrop (rmwj@soonernet.com), October 02, 1999


The number one problem is ignorant people, and a govt that wants to keep them that way.

-- Bill (bill@tinfoil.com), October 02, 1999.

The number one problem is ignorant people, and a govt that wants to keep them that way. Go back to sleep sheeple, watch football and game shows, just a BITR. Ooops, just do what the soldier says and you will be fine.

-- Bill (bill@tinfoil.com), October 02, 1999.


If Chesterton were alive today, he would be sounding the alarm with posts and protests.

If other deceased geniuses were alive today, would they not also be warning the general populace?

And would it do a bit of good? Maybe to their idolaters, but not to the common masses.

If Christ Himself were to suddenly appear with dire warnings, the majority of humans would not take heed.

America will fall suddenly.

The time is ripe for judgment.

-- Randolph (dinosaur@williams-net.com), October 02, 1999.


Very well written article.When I was reading it,the thought came to me of so many people freezing in their homes,due to lack of preparedness because of all the assurances that everything will be fine and the false hope if there was a problem warming centers would be set up to take care of them.I'm sure there will be some,but not near enough to feed and shelter the hungry masses(sp?).

-- Maggie (aaa@aaa.com), October 02, 1999.

Excellent, Robert.

I just printed it out and will pass it on.


-- gene (ekbaker@essex1.com), October 02, 1999.

Yep, the biggest problem is panic. So, if all those who didn't prepare will just stay in their homes and die of cold and hunger quietly, all will be fine. Yeah, that'll happen.

The problem may very well be panic, but the panic will be caused by the very real collapse of the infrastructure. And because the collapse is a real problem, there will be no avoiding the panic. Keep your head down and stay out of the line of fire.

-- rob minor (rbminor@hotmail.com), October 04, 1999.

Good job, ArchBishop ;^)
TPTB rail against the prudent who invest in food & water insurance. Crazy times turned inside out.

-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (allaha@earthlink.net), October 04, 1999.

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