Author, "A Survival Guide for the Year 2000 Problem"
and "The Pentagon Papers of Y2K" Website
The following report was first published in Jim Lord's "Journal of Personal Freedom" newsletter, which is available at <http://www.JimLord.to>. It can also be downloaded in pdf format at the following address:
"The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Y2K"
By Jim Lord
With just hours remaining before the great century date transition it's time to recognize the heroes and the villains of the great Y2K drama. Some of my selections might surprise you.
The Two Eds.
Ed Yourdon is a giant in the software field and a hugely successful author and publisher of computing books. Ed Yardeni is Chief Economist, Global Investment Strategist, and Managing Director of Deutsche Banc Alex Brown, the big international investment bank.
Over the past five years, Dr. Yardeni has been one of the most influential economists on Wall Street.
What has impressed me so much about these two is their intellectual honesty. They had little to gain and everything to lose by being outspoken about Y2K. Each was at the peak of his profession and could have easily sat back in the weeds with their contemporaries. Instead, they took a huge risk because they believed in the results of their analysis. This willingness to be wrong in public indicates a refreshing courage rarely found in the public arena these days.
These folks are heroic above all others in my judgment. They were inspired by the purest of motivations -- service to their fellow man. In return they were vilified as extremist nuts by the press and, in many cases by their neighbors, family and friends, the very ones they were trying to help. Many are worthy of praise but a few deserve special mention.
Paloma O'Riley founded the Cassandra Project which started as a modest little web site offering Y2K preparedness information. She was soon all over the national media and eventually appeared on C-Span testifying to Senator Bennett's Y2K Committee.
Shaunti Feldhahn created Joseph Project 2000, a nation-wide, Christian Y2K community preparedness organization. She also wrote an excellent book on Y2K from a religious perspective. I was a speaker at their kickoff event in Atlanta which drew 3,000 people, still the largest event of its kind to my knowledge. These folks did some wonderful work for this nation.
Will Reishman and John O'Mara are two of my my favorites. Each is an early subscriber to my newsletter. Will organized the first major Y2K community event in the country purely because he cared about his neighbors. He eventually gave up his career as a stock-broker because he didn't feel he could serve his customers by keeping them in the stock market when he believed the market was going to go into the tank. John formed a nationwide preparedness organization entirely out of his own pocket. It never really got off the ground but he never faltered for a moment.
Like so many I have come to know over the past three and a half years, these four are decent and honorable people who made full commitments to their beliefs. The world needs more good citizens like Will, John, Paloma and Shaunti.
A few academics belong in this crowd.
Leon Kappleman, University of North Texas; Howard Rubin, Hunter College and Stuart Umplby and Paula Gordon, George Washington University stand out. These have spoken in public, organized Y2K events, written articles and in some cases been shunned by their professional colleagues. It takes a lot of guts to do what they've done.
General Accounting Office (GAO).
Jack Brock and Joel Willemssen are the architects of more than seventy studies on Y2K conducted by the GAO. This organization has long had the reputation of being politically unbiased and unrelenting honest in its investigative role. They have certainly lived up to their reputation throughout the Y2K Crisis. This level of professional-ism is immensely rare in government today. These guys are national treasures in my book. And the GAO is a government agency that actually works.
Many would have expected Congressman Steven Horn to be on this list. I left him off because I think he hurt Y2K efforts as much as he helped them. His quarterly Y2K report cards played a monumental role in informing the public about Y2K and putting political pressure on the Clinton Administration to address the issue. This was great public relations but the simplicity of his approach gave the administration the chance to play with the data in ways that actually made things look better than they actually were.
Hands down -- Gary North. He has done more to educate the world about Y2K than any three other people. The huge majority of people who have decided to prepare for Y2K have done so because of him. I think his conclusions about total collapse are wrong (Oh, how I hope they're wrong) but if you're going to analyze Y2K you better be able to defend yourself against his thinking. Gary is a powerful intellect and a savagely logical defender of his position. He was also an intrepid champion of my Navy Utility Survey when it went up on the Internet. It was awesome having him out front taking spears in the chest on my behalf. He would probably not remember this, but about half of the first printing of my book, "A Survival Guide for the Year 2000 Problem," were sold to subscribers of his newsletter because he made mention of the book therein. No matter how Y2K ends up, I will always be grateful to Gary North and his selfless efforts (for which he was soundly vilified). If Y2K turns out to be severe, many will owe him their lives.
Now to the other end of the spectrum. These are the ones who have done the most to misinform the public about the issue or to mismanage the Y2K Crisis. Or both.
The Two Bills.
First is Bill Gates, the biggest Y2K idiot in the world. He is living proof that being smart in one thing doesn't make you smart in anything else. He blew Y2K from the start. Because of his denial and foot-dragging, he will end up paying more for his stupidity than anybody when his company becomes the target of the largest Y2K class action lawsuit in history.
If he had come clean on Y2K two or three years ago, the world could have avoided most of the Y2K misery to come. And he would have saved his company. As is, Y2K will probably take it away from him before the federal government does the job.
Bill Clinton is, of course, the other. Many believe his legacy will be the coarsening influence on our society of his scandal-ridden presidency. This will be a factor, of course, but his remembrance could well be that he fiddled (with his zipper) while letting the Y2K fires consume the nation.
But then, what did you expect from this towering monument of virtue. The Veep. Al Gore could have saved the world but answered to political expediency instead. No one in the federal government had as much opportunity as this guy to really make a difference in Y2K. He could a been a contender. These three, the two Bills and Big Al, are most to blame for whatever happens worldwide with Y2K.
If any of them had come out of the closet long ago, the situation would not be so bad in foreign countries, small governments and small businesses. Two and a half years ago I predicted he would not be a candidate for president. If Y2K ends up serious, that may yet come true.
Gingrich, Lott, Gephardt and Dashell in particular. Well, what did you think we would get out of these Fat-Heads. Al and Bill may have dropped the ball but these clowns stood around and watched them do it.
Half of them are stupid. The other half are whores, snuggled up in the pockets of the politicians. The third half is just plain lazy. I can't tell you how discouraging it is to get calls from media fools wanting stories about Y2K and the end of the world. Then when they realized they had a serious and credible analyst on their hands they would turn disinterested because I refused to act like some kind of survivalist nut.
Over the past three years I have lost all respect for these leeches. The only exceptions I found were a few radio talk show hosts mainly of the politically conservative persuasion. C-Span was the only exception in the television realm.
John Koskinen is not a Y2K villain. He is just a very efficient Fat-Headed Bureaucrat doing his job -- and he is the consummate professional in that regard.
Big surprise -- Senator Bob Bennett is my choice as the baddest Y2K player of them all. Here's why. He had the chance to make a real difference and failed to take advantage of it. The nation (indeed, the world) is not prepared for Y2K and he could have changed that by taking on the Clinton administration in a partisan fashion. With Clinton and especially Gore AWOL on Y2K, a leadership vacuum was available but he declined to take on the yoke. Instead, Bennett abdicated his Congressional oversight role and went into partnership with the Clinton Administration, the very people who have botched the job.
Why did Bennett get into bed with John Koskinen?
To answer this question one need only remember that Bennett is a Member of the Senate Banking Committee and is also the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions.
Indeed, it was in that Subcommittee that he held the first Y2K meeting conducted by the US Senate. I believe the Senator got up close and personal with the opposition for a simple reason -- to prevent panic in hopes of protecting the banking system. I even have some unrelated evidence in support of this contention.
In early 1998, just before the Senate Y2K Committee was formally established, I spent an evening with John Harmer, former Lieutenant Governor of California under Ronald Reagan.
Harmer is a staunch, conservative Republican and a long-time, behind-the-scenes advisor to Senator Bennett. He had been asked to help assemble the staff for the new Y2K Committee.
Over dinner, Mr. Harmer briefed me on Senator Bennett's general strategy for the Committee.
In a nutshell, the plan was to prod the administration to get going on Y2K and, above all, to prevent panic amongst the American people. He didn't even mention preparing the people for a potential Y2K disaster.
I told him I was very disappointed in this strategy and believed it was very risky because if Y2K turned out badly, there would be great suffering. He indicated they couldn't take the chance of public panic but said he would pass my concerns along to the Senator. You see, right from the start, Bennett had no intention of preparing the public. The center of his Y2K concern has always been to protect the banking system.
I have another tale that demonstrates how tightly I think Bennett is working with Koskinen. When I released the "Pentagon Papers of Y2K" onto the Internet, requests for radio appearances poured in. The very first morning I appeared on Y2KNews, a nation-wide broadcast.
Prior to the show, the producers called CNN, the Associated Press (AP) and the White House and notified them an explosive Y2K story was about to go on the air. Ted Bridis, a Washington AP reporter heard the broadcast, downloaded a copy of the report from my website and drove immediately to Koskinen's office. He presented the report to Koskinen and asked if it was true.
The response was amazing.
Koskinen said the report was true but the information was dated. He then handed Mr. Bridis a floppy disc and told him it contained an updated version of the Navy Utility Survey. This happened less than an hour after the radio broadcast and less than 24 hours after the Navy report went up on my website.
Now, here is the $64,000 question. Why did John Koskinen have an updated version of an obscure Navy Report on Y2K in his pocket just when a major media reporter appeared at his office?
Here is the answer.
Forty hours earlier, Bennett conducted a Y2K Town Hall Meeting in Cedar City, Utah just twenty miles from my home. I met with him privately for six or seven minutes after the public meeting. I gave him a copy of the Navy utility survey and my report, the "Pentagon Papers of Y2K." When I asked if he had seen the Navy survey he said he had not but thought his staff had.
I told him I would be going public with the report soon and that he could expect some questions.
I believe Senator Bennett faxed a copy of the report to John Koskinen that very evening. This gave Koskinen forty hours to work with the Pentagon and cook up a story to deal with the press onslaught they knew was coming. This explains why Bill Clinton's Y2K mouthpiece was completely ready for the press when they showed up on his doorstep. Recently, I received confirmation of this belief from another current member of Congress. And there you have it. Many others could have been named to these lists of course but these are the most deserving from my perspective. A year from now, maybe we'll get a chance to revisit the subject.
Good Luck ! Jim Lord