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As we begin the last year of the 20th century many pundits make
grandiose predictions. And if the prediction proves true, within the
ensuing year, the pundit will toast to his or her brilliance. But the
accurate predictions is few and no one boasts of the failures. Bill
Clinton began his administration with a very famous prediction. How many
of us remember, “We will have the most ethical administration in
Somehow, I have always equated being ethical as following the Ten
Commandments. During my introduction to American history and our
nation’s first president, I was very impressed by the story of George
Washington and the chopping of the famous cherry tree. After all, the
Father of Our Country could NOT tell a lie.
For most people the prediction business can be injurious to one’s
reputation. After all, most of us hate to be wrong and having to admit
it. In addition, if I predict trouble or failure, and it happens, some
people will call it a self-fulfilling prophecy. However, I, like Joseph
Farah and others, have been discussing the magnitude of the problems
facing the turn of the century. You see, it’s not just about personal
computers, although many will be affected. It’s not about whether or not
the power is still on after 12 midnight on Dec. 31, 1999. It’s not
really about gas generators, dried food and personal water supplies. It
is really about the America we want for the
children of the 21st century.
Let’s examine what happens when Mother Nature changes the orderly ebb
and flow of life, as we know it. Over New Year’s weekend Mother Nature
decided to wreak havoc on the Midwest, but the ramifications of the
disastrous blizzard have affected people all across the country. This
blizzard and its consequences forced even the presidential trial of the
century from the top of the news for several days on end. And remember,
the severe weather was limited to only one geographical area, not the
According to AP, “The New Year’s holiday weekend storm and its
aftermath claimed up to 60 lives, according to some reports. … In
Chicago, public transit service buckled under the pressure of
weather-related breakdowns and additional passengers who abandoned their
snowbound cars in favor of subways and buses.” Yet, there were places
for shelter available. A blizzard, a hurricane, or even a big city riot
does not touch the entire population of an area or a country. What
really happens when there is a global breakdown? How do local, state and
federal governments cope? In fact how does the world cope?
Another international warning is delivered in an article by John J.
Edwards, III on TheStreet.com which begins, “If you’re trying to get a
handle on just how serious the year 2000 problem is in the world beyond
the U.S., a trio of statements from the Global Millennium Foundation
make it starkly plain: All countries have a serious year 2000 problem.
No country is further advanced than Canada. Canada is losing this race.”
Last month the United Nations held a conference on coping with Y2K
problems. Although the U.N. usually moves at glacial speed, they were
to pull this conference together in three months — probably a UN
record. No one anticipates that the U.N. can or will solve this global
problem, but they did acknowledge its existence. The Pakistan U.N.
ambassador’s expression of
concern summed it up: “… even those countries that have done the
compliance work are at risk from those who haven’t because Y2K, like a
virus, can jump backwards and forwards between countries.”
Collapsing economies and collapsing infrastructures like viruses can
do spread. In the mid-nineties, long before Japan publicly acknowledged
vast economic troubles, the rumblings were being felt in Hawaii as
tourism slowed to a trickle.
As this fateful year progresses, more and more warnings will be
Reuters already reported on Dec. 30, 1998 that some medical devices may
not properly transition from 1998 to 1999 and stated that “According to
FDA, because these “year 1999” problems exist in two products, there
may be other devices with similar, but unidentified problems.”
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is pushing hard to assure that the trial
lawyers do not clog the courts with Y2K litigation. The chamber appears
to be having a recurring nightmare of millions of plaintiffs suing their
members for any Y2K problem. If the chamber is concerned about such
unintended consequences, what does that portend for the average citizen?
After all it’s the unidentified and therefore unanticipated problems
will cause the havoc. And with each passing day of 1999 we will slowly
learn about some of the millions of unidentified problems across the
globe, which may all become problematical at the same time.
The Y2K problem is really a 1999 problem. Can this country and the
world realistically come to grips with a problem that many Americans
refuse to acknowledge is a possibility? Can we find solutions that are
achievable, and do not destroy the freedoms we have come to cherish? The
answers lie in the hands of an American people who have shown very
inclination to get involved. I do not believe that Jan. 1, 2000, will
herald the coming of the next ice age; I believe that in 1999 Americans
will be making decisions as momentous as those made by the brave
patriots that stood up to King George. I worry that apathy and fear will
stifle our resolve.