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After a long silence, bothersome questions and concerns regarding the
year 2000 computer glitch have reappeared in the news. Several
well-known media outlets have again started mentioning that Y2K problems
may be possible. Their alarms may be somewhat muted still, but the
volume is growing.

The level of media stories on Y2K has increased substantially during
the month of May. Even the oldest news magazine show on television, 60
Minutes, broadcast a serious look at the issue. The May 23 show
interviewed U.S. Senator Robert Bennett, R-Utah, Mary Ellen Hanley, a
Y2K computer consultant hired by Washington, D.C., and Doug Duncan, the
county executive of Montgomery County, Md. All expressed their concerns
about the level of Y2K preparedness in this country and agreed problems
were inevitable.

Hanley was quite candid in her assessment. She believed that if such
20th century necessities as utilities, the supply of food, medicines and
other necessary items were maintained, any disruptions would be
localized. She qualified her prediction by saying, “All of those are big
ifs.”

Senator Bennett has been the chairman of the Senate’s Special
Committee on the Year 2000 Technology Problem for over 18 months. In
that time the committee has held public and private hearings, sent
investigators to research Y2K preparedness both here and abroad, and has
issued press releases and reports. Bennett is a reserved and very
thoughtful gentleman, not prone to bluster and exaggeration. In February
both Bennett and Senator Dodd, D-Conn., stated that Americans could face
widespread disruptions in health care, financial services, food, and
energy.

So it’s not surprising that on 60 Minutes Bennett said, “The dire
predictions will probably be fulfilled but on a sporadic basis, place by
place. If you’re in one of those places, the fact that the overall
system works is not going to be very comforting to you. But we would be
irresponsible if we were to say, there are no problems, everything’s
under control, because there’s still a lot of work to be done.” He also
added that “If there was a disruption in the food supply and food didn’t
get in … that could be a situation that could create some civil
unrest.”

As reported in
WorldNetDaily,

yesterday Bennett chaired a hearing on community preparedness. What he
heard wasn’t reassuring. He was told that the Clinton administration’s
lack of leadership is as abysmal as the media’s abdication of its
responsibility. Coinciding with the Bennett hearings, a Gallup
survey
was
released that supported the testimony being given on Capitol Hill. The
survey reported that 8 of 10 Americans believe that Y2K will have little
or no effect on their finances. Obviously no one has warned them of any
potential Y2K problems: not their banks, not the media, and certainly
not the government.

Is it possible that the media is starting to understand the enormity
of the situation? Even the New York Times had a headline on May 17 that
read, “Big Companies Falling Behind in Year 2000 Repairs, Survey
Says”.

This story is based on a survey of chief information officers of large
corporations done by CAP Gemini America. The survey data shows that not
only are the largest companies behind schedule for Y2K repairs, but that
their original budgets were woefully inadequate. The facts are
frightening. Almost one out of every 10 systems submitted to CAP Gemini
as fully ready for Y2K failed rigorous testing. Eighty-eight percent of
all those companies surveyed admitted they were going to again increase
their budgets for becoming Y2K-ready. Finally, 22 percent said they
won’t have critical systems up and tested by January 1,
2000. Last August only 12 percent of companies surveyed admitted they
would not be ready.

Last Sunday’s Minneapolis Star-Tribune
also quoted the CAP Gemini study and focused on companies which have
experienced Y2K computer failures. They report that 72 percent of the
companies surveyed had already had a failure caused by Y2K. Almost all
failures were not publicized in any manner.

When I wrote my WorldNetDaily article, “Watch Out for April 9,
fools!” on January 28, almost four months ago, I got several letters
informing me that nothing drastic happened on April 9, so I must just be
“one of those Y2K alarmists.” Although April 9 was mentioned, the thrust
of that article was that corporate America was way behind in preparing
for January 1, 2000. The latest news vindicates my reporting and could
even lead to the conclusion that I understated the problem.

Several other media outlets reported on Y2K issues recently. The
Memphis Business Journal
this
week covered a story on insurance coverage for Y2K losses. The insurance
industry, it seems, is certainly taking Y2K risk very seriously — Y2K
exclusions are included into every business policy it writes. Y2K
coverage, if available, is being priced at $650,000-$700,000 for $1
million coverage. The Evansville Indiana Courier-Press headline read,
“Y2K guru not certain if utilities are ready.”
Even USA Today has a special report on the Internet entitled
Millennium Countdown.
Although it is
covering such stories as the Asian Y2K crisis, preparedness of the oil
industry, and public concerns about the availability of prescription
drugs, it still has a bias against Y2K preparedness issues.

It’s way past time for the media to wake up and pay attention. When
the insurance industry requires a 60-70 percent premium for Y2K business
coverage, everyone should get the message. The news media, corporate
America, and our government should stop telling us everything will be
OK. Until they tell the truth, which has not been the case in this
administration, most Americans will pay attention to the soothing
statements from John Koskinen, chairman of the President’s Council on
Y2K Conversion, as he doles out the newest PR gimmick, a free Y2K
toolkit. The toolkit, which is packaged in cardboard box, includes a
video message from non-other than our fearless Y2K preparedness leader,
Bill Clinton; a guidebook; and some other materials. As for me, I’m
going to save it to put in my fireplace on January 1 when the gas
doesn’t work.

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