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I’m often asked if I think it’s possible we might face martial law in
2000 as a result of Y2K. Yes, I definitely think it is a possibility. A
lot of it depended on how much contingency planning was done before the
end of the year.
It has been my contention from the beginning that, to best prepare,
our citizens needed:
- full and accurate disclosure about Y2K, including the fact
that we are not going to get all of our mission-critical systems fixed
- information regarding the fact that there will be disruptions in
some of our critical infrastructure; and
- encouragement to make reasonable contingency plans in their
personal lives and communities;
If these thing had been done, the technological failures,
whether they be small or great, would help prevent making the situation
worse by adding to it the very real risk of public panic. In fact, this
is precisely what I told Congress last fall.
Unfortunately, the Clinton administration has done the exact opposite
of what I suggested.
- Instead of giving us full disclosure, they have overstated
progress on numerous occasions and launched an aggressive campaign of
- Instead of warning us about the inevitability of disruptions,
they have assured us that Y2K will be no worse than a “bump in the
road,” nothing more than the equivalent of a three-day winter storm.
- Instead of encouraging contingency plans, they have repeatedly
characterized people like me as doomsayers and people who prepare as
Their job has been relatively easy, given the fact that most
Americans are addicted to prosperity and do not want to contemplate the
notion that their precious little lives might be disrupted. The media
have also been a willing accomplice with their never-ending attempts to
link Y2K with various conspiracy theories, end-time prophecies, and
financial scams. When you brought up Y2K a few months ago, people seemed
to be genuinely concerned; now they merely chuckle. It is no longer
fashionable to take it seriously.
As a result, they are going to end up contributing to the very thing
they have said that they are trying to prevent: panic. From my
perspective, the only thing that will prevent this now is an abrupt
change of policy. If this doesn’t happen, then martial law might later
appear to be the lesser of two evils and the only reasonable choice when
panic erupts. I just hope this wasn’t the strategy all along.