TORONTO SUN: "Don't panic! It's all over" - 'one of the biggest and most costly frauds in history, but (probably due to the huge embarrassment of the experts, political leaders and media) publicized anger has been kept to a minimum' : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Jan 9, 2000

Don't panic! It's all over

By BOB MACDONALD -- Toronto Sun

Panic can cause some pretty stupid and very costly decisions in this little old world of the new millennium.

Two examples: One, gigantic and costly to most of us; the second, small and of interest mostly to those fanatics called football fans, particularly Buffalo Bills supporters.

In the first case, I'm talking about the $600 billion US that was shelled out by the world's governments and industry to avert a so-called computer-caused disaster when the year 2000 kicked in.

It turned out to be one of the biggest and most costly frauds in history, but (probably due to the huge embarrassment of the experts, political leaders and media) publicized anger has been kept to a minimum.

For the past six years, we Earthlings had been warned by computer "experts" that when the year 2000 came, our computer-controlled world was threatened with disintegration. Electric power, water supplies, sewage treatment, planes, cars, rapid transit, heating and food supplies. All would be in dire danger.

It was called Y2K, and the word was that billions of dollars of equipment replacement and computer upgradings had to be taken to avoid calamity.

One of the earliest prophets of doom was Ontario computer consultant Peter de Jager, who wrote a couple of warning magazine articles in 1993.

He opened a Web site on the matter and went on speaking tours where he charged $7,500 per speech. In later years, he allowed that the Y2K threat was lessened -- but still existed.

Others jumped on the doomsday bandwagon throughout the world. Of course, the greedy computer equipment and related industries did little to discourage such thinking. Too much big, big money was there for the taking. So the panic mushroomed -- and the media continued to spread the word. [Funny - I don't remember 'the media' saying much other than 'Calm down! Its gonna be a three-day storm.'!]

In Canada alone, an estimated $20 billion was spent on new equipment and other measures to fight the dreaded Y2K bug.

The federal government spent $2.5 billion of taxpayers' money, with $30 million alone going for a control centre.

The Ontario government shelled out $820 million.

The world's people -- especially the developed western world -- went on a stockpiling binge involving food, water, fuel, electrical generators and even cash. The warnings had been that computer problems could last for weeks and even months.

Of course, many fools, like myself, didn't stockpile a thing -- not even a single bottle of water. And we dared to leave our homes on New Year's Eve -- to go out and celebrate.

And so, midnight 2000 came.

Most people yelled, danced, sang and watched fireworks. But many others watched, waited, and held their breath. And nothing happened.

The Y2K panic was a huge fraud. But those who foisted it on the world claimed the hugely expensive preventive work had blocked disaster.

Ah, but the true test was that in the many countries that had done little or nothing to install new computer equipment or do upgrades had only a few minor problems -- and no major ones at all.

Now, de Jager and a partner are trying to sell their web site for a couple of million dollars -- while de Jager complains there's even been some post-Jan. 1 death threats.

And so the new millennium moves on -- except for the Buffalo Bills.

Yesterday, as I watched them be eliminated in the last seconds of a playoff game, I couldn't help believe they deserved it. Buffalo seems to relish its reputation as a city of losers -- four times to the Super Bowl and no cigar.

This time, coach Wade Phillips had panicked under pressure from loudmouth critics and benched the fighting spirit of the team -- quarterback Doug Flutie.

The little guy with the big heart and winning ways had saved the franchise last year and brought them to the playoffs this year.

But the panicky coach denied Flutie his lifelong ambition -- a chance to win in the playoffs. And so, the Bills reaped the rewards of that panic and disloyalty -- elimination.


-- John Whitley (, January 09, 2000


The issue of what happened/didn't happen ("so far", of course) in the FOF countries is as interesting to doomers as to pollies. This poor excuse of a journalist is correct in pointing to that disconnect as a problem in thinking about Y2K, pre- and post-rollover -- one of many.

-- BigDog (, January 09, 2000.

I bet Mr. McDonald hasn't talked to one technician who worked overtime to fix this so-called "fraud". In some ways I wish noone had done anything so these people would be left in the dark and cold.

-- BeerMan (, January 09, 2000.

This idiot did manage to get one thing right - Doug Flutie shoulda started yesterday.

-- Think It (Through@Pollies.Duh), January 09, 2000.

Never liked the Bills anyway.

-- Carlos (, January 09, 2000.

This article perhaps grieves me more than even our worst trolls could ever accomplish.

-- lisa (, January 09, 2000.

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