© 1999 Michael S. Hyatt
Many people think that making preparations for possible Y2K disruptions is similar to betting on the Super Bowl. Either you win or you lose. If you make preparations and serious problems occur, you win because you're ready to deal with the disruptions. But if you prepare and problems do not occur, then you lose because all your efforts are wasted.
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This is the furthest thing from the truth. Preparing for Y2K is not a win/lose situation. It is a win/win situation. There are many benefits to making preparations regardless of how Y2K turns out.
The greatest benefits of preparing, of course, will be realized if computer-related disruptions do indeed materialize (which, please do not misunderstand, I don't want to see happen). Since so many facets of our prosperous way of life are at risk to Millennium Bug failures, for discussion purposes, let's focus on the Essential Seven: food, water, heat, light, waste disposal, health care, and personal safety. If one or more of these critical areas is adversely affected, the preparations you make in advance will help in the following ways:
- Your family will remain safe, healthy, and well-fed. For those people who are unprepared if and when Y2K disruptions occur, the health and safety of their families could be in serious jeopardy. Even if the chances of problems occurring are miniscule, who in their right mind would want to take this risk?
- You won't be part of a panicky crowd. I don't know about you, but jostling with my neighbors for handouts from the back of a National Guard truck is not my idea of a fun time. Even if Y2K disruptions are no worse than the oft-cited "three day snow storm," I would rather spend those three days indoors with my family, providing for my own needs, than depending on someone else to provide for my needs. (By the way, that three-day recommendation has nothing to do with the expected duration of Y2K problems. The American Red Cross has always advised that people have three days of emergency supplies on hand because that's how long it can take for government assistance to arrive. Even if Year 2000 problems were going to last a month, government officials want us to take care of ourselves the first three days, then they'll take care of us after that. Thanks, but no thanks.)
- You will be able to help others. I'm a firm believer in the idea that it is better to give than to receive. And I'm also a firm believer in the idea that it is better to be in control of a situation than to be a helpless victim. I would much rather be in a position to offer help to someone in need, than to be in need myself and be forced to depend on the mercy of others (especially after being aware for so long that serious problems are possible). If this means spending some of my money now to acquire supplies which may be given away to others later, so be it.
Even if serious Y2K problems do not materialize (which I hope and pray is the case), there are benefits to being prepared.
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- You can simply use up your "stuff." It's amazing how many people act as though preparation supplies will be worthless if Y2K problems don't happen. If I'm not mistaken, food, water, and fuel will still come in handy next year even if computer malfunctions are held to a minimum. I look forward to tiny grocery bills for many months. Yes, I understand that certain survival items will only be used in the event of an emergency, but the bulk of most people's preparations will not go to waste regardless of how Y2K turns out.
- You are prepared for other emergencies. This past year has demonstrated vividly how fragile life can be. The number of earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, etc., seem to increase each season. If we prepare for Y2K but Y2K problems don't occur, at least we are ready for the next power failure, ice storm, or whatever surprise emergency comes our way.
- You become more self-sufficient. It may come as a surprise to many, but not too long ago Americans routinely stored at least a year's worth of food in their barns and root cellars. Being prepared and self-sufficient was considered wise, rather than "panicking," as we are told today. I truly believe people are better off when they are more self-sufficient and less dependent on government and society.
- You develop a greater knowledge of your basic needs. I don't know about you, but in the last few years I've learned more about water systems, nutrition, health care, and electrical generators -- just to name a few -- than I ever imagined. Even if Y2K proves to be no more than a "bump in the road," this greater understanding of our basic needs, and the fascinating systems by which our economy meets these needs, has been enlightening. Many of the decisions I will make for the rest of my life will be shaped by this deeper knowledge of mankind's most basic needs.
- You can stock up while prices are low. As I write this, basic supplies are still plentiful and reasonably priced. (Because of just-in-time production and distribution systems, this situation could suddenly change if even a small percentage of the population alters its purchasing patterns.) For those who wait until December or January to make preparations, it is possible that supplies may be unavailable or extremely expensive. The dynamics of supply-and-demand have a very volatile effect on prices. Just ask anyone who has ever tried to buy a jug of clean drinking water the day after a hurricane.
- You can donate your supplies to charity. "The poor you will always have with you," a very remarkable man once said. Even in good times, homeless shelters and food banks are always desperate for assistance. If Y2K problems don't occur next year, and if you're not a big fan of canned and dehydrated foods, you can always donate your excess supplies to charity. It will be greatly appreciated and you can take a tax deduction.
- You will have peace of mind. By far the most important benefit to making preparations, regardless of how Y2K ultimately plays out, is the peace of mind you will have leading up to and through the century rollover period. Even though government and business officials keep telling us that preparation equals panic, the fact of the matter is, preparation prevents panic. It is when people are unprepared for an emergency that panic occurs. Personally speaking, just knowing that I have taken steps to keep my loved ones out of harm's way -- and all the sleepless nights this will avoid -- is well worth every dollar and every hour invested.
Year 2000 preparations are definitely not the same as betting on the Super Bowl. Preparing for this unprecedented event is a win/win situation. If problems occur, you and your family will be ready. If problems do not occur, there are still many benefits. The only way you can lose is by putting your faith in the spin-doctored P.R. statements emanating from businesses and governments and thereby exposing your family to unnecessary risk.