Galactic I trademark Jim Davidson

The Iconoclast Ventures Out

Occasional essays on significant topics from the Iconoclast's perspective.

Goring sacred oxen is my specialty.


The essay which appears below is one of the more embarrassing diatribes I've emitted for quite some time. I include it here as part of my personal wall of humility. It contains a few ideas which suggest that at least some thinking was going on during my otherwise impenetrable haze of millennial angst. Unlike certain other authors who have tried to bury their Y2K lapses, I like to brandish mine in much the way Samuel Pepys is reported to have brandished his enormous bladder stone after successful surgery to remove it. Think of this essay as a sort of cautionary tale. You could do worse than to remove thoughts of this sort from your mind. Every once in a while, I like to remind myself that I'm fallible.


Recently, Thomas W. Chittum completed an essay on the subject of the Year 2000 (Y2K) computer crisis as it may relate to a potential second American civil war (CW2). In this essay, Chittum predicts zero probability of such disorders resulting in civil war.

In his approach to this issue, he seems to be taking almost an Augustinian attitude: "Give me civil war, rioting in the streets, and bloody turmoil, oh Lord, but do not give them to me just yet." It is an attitude formed, perhaps, from a misplaced insistence that ethnic conflicts form the essential core of all civil wars.

Here's my view:

"The past as an aid to the interpretation of the future"
The first Civil War of the United States, known in the South mostly as "the War of Northern Aggression," or "the War Among the States," was not fought between ethnically diverse populations. Indeed, severe economic issues largely having to do with tariffs to protect northeastern manufacturers promoted that civil war where, quite literally, brother fought brother. The bloodiest war in American history, in which more American soldiers died than in all other wars combined, in which the total civilian and military casualty count was in the high hundreds of thousands, was fought by a comparatively homogenous ethnic population.

Northerners, while having perhaps somewhat more Scots-Irish ancestry fought against Southerners of quite the same ethnic makeup. The fighting was delayed for a very long period, as an increasing number of Southern states became home to increasing numbers of disaffected individuals. However, at no time were a majority of these ethnically diverse from their Northern brethren.

While it is clearly the case that the tradition since 1848 has been to find civil wars and "revolutions" largely founded on ethnic lines, it is also the case that a number of such wars simply don't follow that course. The French Revolution of 1789 was fomented by a middle class leadership not ethnically distinct from the aristocracy they overthrew. The Paris Revolution of 1848 was similarly carried out among ethnically homogenous people. The English civil wars of the seventeenth century included significant religious strife, but that does not equate to ethnic strife. The American Revolutionary War pitted British soldiers against British colonists of very similar ethnic stock.

Disorders
Mr. Chittum rightly acknowledges that there will be "resulting disorders" from the Y2K event. Let us consider some of the consequences of the Y2K computer software crisis, its causes, and its ancillary events, before returning to the text of Mr. Chittum's essay.

It all began with money. Ever since Konrad Zuse completed his "Z-1" in 1938, digital memory had been costly. This unhappy state of affairs continued through the latter stages of World War Two, often referred to by the chilling term "Cold War." Until the advent of the microcomputer revolution, which brought consumer levels of demand into the equation, memory was expensive. So, too, was computing time.

With computers being costly, their number limited, and the usual ineptitude of large bureaucratic institutions which surrounded them, it was often difficult and invariably expensive to get "central processing unit" or CPU time. It was also difficult and expensive to store large volumes of information in active memory, let alone get it off tape or out of other long term storage.

Economics drives every aspect of human behavior, and may well represent the only meaningful scientific study of such behavior. Economics drove computer programmers to the two-digit year. In storing date information, it was useful to pare the "19" off of the dates being stored, and simply assume that all the years referred to the present century. While such a savings seems trivial, when you store 20,000 dates, saving 16 bits each comes to 320,000 bits of data. The savings in CPU time is even more significant.

Adding and subtracting two digit numbers is significantly faster than adding and subtracting four digit numbers. This fact seems obvious by inspection. When you consider that some of the early floating point operations carried out by computers were severely limited in the number of digits they could handle, the necessity becomes even more understandable.

Besides, in those heady days of the late 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s, nobody believed that any computer program would last more than a decade or so. Hardware was changing rapidly. Software improvements were always being made. A patch here, a patch there, and a program might last 10 or 20 years, but who would imagine that government agencies would be using the same software for 30 years and more?

Ooops.

It was a mistake to assume that the software written in the late 1960s and early 1970s would be replaced long before the year 2000. While such an approach is sensible, and has been the norm in the private sector, it is not always the case that governments make sense. Indeed, the bureaucratic imperative establishes some tremendously perverse economics, which often have to be seen to be believed.

The bureaucratic imperative is a term of my own devising which refers to the two things which tend to improve the economic circumstances of bureau-rats. A bureau-rat will make more money if he has more people working for him, or if he has a larger budget to spend. Thus, all his incentives are set up to encourage him to hire more staff and spend his entire budget. If he fails to spend his entire budget, he will find his budget reduced in the next year. His salary may suffer accordingly.

The political imperative which drives the bureaucratic imperative is similar. In order to get re-elected, the politician wants to provide as many jobs as possible to his constituents. He is thus perfectly eager to reinforce the bureaucratic imperative of larger staffs, even though it may mean larger budgets and larger deficits. The resulting economic chaos can doubtless be put off at least a few terms, and thus becomes shrouded in Douglas Adams's "Somebody Else's Problem" invisibility field.

Computers are labor saving devices. They are one of the driving forces behind the huge increase in per capita productivity worldwide. As a result, standards of living are increasing on a global basis, and population growth is slowing significantly.

For the bureau-rat, however, computers are not necessarily a good thing. While the desktop PC on which I'm typing this essay has much more computing power than the entire world had at its disposal in 1960, in terms of long term and random access memory as well as in terms of CPU speed, it only takes one person to operate it. In fact, I have at times operated as many as four PCs carrying out related or diverse functions simultaneously.

That's bad for bureau-rats. The mainframe computers of the 1970s required dozens of staff to program, operate, maintain, and keep running. As they have aged, additional budgetary funds have been needed to buy or build parts for their maintenance. If one were to replace the mainframe computers with which the US Treasury Department writes checks (to a goodly portion of the residents of this country) with a small network of PCs and network printers, the resulting labor savings would have a noticeable impact on that Department's budget.

In the private sector, even in large and hidebound companies, such a savings would be hard to pass up. While the bureau-rats in large companies do fight for the preservation of their computer priesthoods, the economic equation ultimately prevails.

In the public sector, however, the economic equations have been inverted. If replacing a mainframe with three PCs reduces staff from 20 to 10, that means a significant reduction in budgetary authority. Bureau-rats are good at finding ways to spend money, in the expectation that they will have larger budgets, larger staffs, and thus, ultimately, larger salaries.

And thus, nobody who thinks about it for very long should be overly surprised that the IRS has spent billions to replace its computer systems without ever actually ridding itself of the 1970s era hardware, software, and related staff. While the Social Security Administration has been working on the problem for almost a decade, it has also failed to relieve itself of the full burden of its Y2K-uncompliant software.

As of November 1997, about 30 million lines of code remained unfixed in Social Security software alone. Worse, several thousand computers which send information to the Social Security Administration, including those from hospitals and city governments around the country, have not been checked.

Even if the Social Security Administration were in a position to confidently send benefits information to the Treasury Department, that Department will be unable to send out checks in the Year 2000. And that is bad news, indeed.

Let's go back to Mr. Chittum's essay for a few thoughts on how much that bad news is going to affect you and me. He says, "We are not currently basking in the flames of our second civil war because the critical, underlying demographic patterns are not suitable to ignite this still-embryonic event, and these demographic patterns will still not be suitable at Y2K."

It is true that the underlying demographic patterns which Mr. Chittum sees leading to a bifurcation (at least) of the United States with a Reconquista-dominated Southwest being one portion is a serious threat to the long term stability of the American Empire. It is also quite clear that we are not now basking in the flames of a second civil war. Of course, we have some time yet before Y2K.

"At present, the only imperial subjects sufficiently disaffected to provide the required ignition factor for Civil War Two are still largely confined to the inner cities," continues Mr. Chittum. And, again, he is correct. At present, that is the case. It is not presently Y2K, either.

How disaffected will our military and police forces be when they don't get their paychecks in January 2000? How much more disaffected will they be when they don't get paid in February, March, April, and May? How long before they return home, either deserting or being relieved of duty, to take up their disaffection from their own turf?

How disaffected will our senior citizens be when they don't get their paychecks from Social Security in January 2000? How much more disaffected will they be when these checks don't arrive in February, March, April, May, and on into the foreseeable future? If you live near a large concentration of elderly, you might want to be circumspect about to whom you mention your computer skills.

How disaffected will our ethnically diverse poor be when they don't get their paychecks from welfare agencies and their food stamps and their support payments from various government bureaucracies? Many of our less fortunate citizens who work regularly are heavily dependent upon their income tax refunds. When these people get their W2 forms in late January, they are very early filers. They "need" their refund for deferred maintenance on their homes and vehicles, for major medical expenses, for major appliances, sometimes even for sufficient food and clothing to keep body and soul together a little longer.

January 2000 will be a disappointment to many people in terms of cash flow. Those who have funds in the bank may find them missing, or unobtainable due to software problems. Runs on the banks will be likely. Widespread deflation of calamitous proportions seems certain. The rest of 2000 won't be much better, and may well be much worse.

Even such relatively vision-free publications as Forbes have pointed out, repeatedly, that the IRS will simply not be able to issue refunds in 2000. All by itself, that represents a tremendous liquidity problem for the US economy. Tens of billions of dollars of expected cash will simply not be available to the economy, each month.

Government workers in city, county, state, and federal governments will be without pay. Whether this situation lasts for weeks or months depends on the extent of the software problems in each agency, as well as the willingness of the politicians and bureaucrats to adopt emergency measures. Writing out checks by hand will soon become a task for thousands of clerical staff.

After several months, these hand-written alternatives and similar measures may be in place. It takes time to set up such operations, and longer to get them to run smoothly. Don't expect such alternatives to be in place beforehand, as bureaucracies rarely work that way.

Mr. Chittum continues, "Therefore, our current disaffection-driven rioting is also still confined geographically, and rioting that is restricted geographically is also restricted in the critical dimensions of intensity and time." Again, true enough as far as it goes, but it doesn't go far enough.

Perhaps, as often, I go too far. However, I think not. It seems to me that disaffection spreads quite rapidly, and the elderly, the poor, and the government employees will have significant and reinforcing reasons to become disaffected. The economic factors driving the Y2K crisis will be geographically diverse, and that suggests that disaffection may be geographically diverse, as well.

Worse, the Y2K crisis is not confined to the time immediately following rollover into the new style of year, but may be prolonged by inaction, ineffective action, perversity, rioting, and bureaucratic ineptitude well into the year. It would not surprise me greatly to find government agencies still pondering their alternatives well into the year that signals the actual millennium shift, 2001.

Rioting will thus not be limited in time, but will crop up repeatedly throughout 2000. Some of these riots will be food riots, owing to the breakdown of certain aspects of the transportation and distribution network. Many of these riots will lead to the lynching of computer programmers. Even more will involve burning computers, both in effigy and in reality.

When rioting is not limited in time, it can easily spread to become unlimited in geography. As with the Paris Revolution of 1848, some entire cities will become barricaded. Some states may even see large geographic areas become free zones, or regions of anarchy.

Imperial Security Forces
Mr. Chittum: "The responding imperial security forces, which are still heavily European and thus militarily cohesive, enjoy the military advantage of quickly assembling in nearby outlying areas, and then mounting overwhelming assaults on these riot zones, crushing these disturbances with relative ease before they can escalate into out-and-out civil war, which is the natural evolutionary course of such events when unchecked due to the absence of various restricting factors." Without undue criticism of style, it may be said that this sentence requires some significant parsing to properly evaluate.

Imperial security forces are still heavily European. Sons of the South still find themselves encouraged by their families to take a career in the military. Many Americans of European descent still take the constitution seriously, and see its defense as the obligation of the military. It will not always be so.

How many riots can our imperial security forces crush simultaneously? Two? Certainly. Ten? Probably. Two hundred? Almost certainly not.

Over what period of time will these forces maintain unit cohesion in the face of undependable supplies and unavailable pay? Days? Definitely. Weeks? Certainly. Months? Probably. A year? Perhaps, though not universally.

Mr. Chittum:"It's not Apocalypse now - it's Apocalypse when."

I quite agree. It starts in January 2000, and escalates from there. While Apocalypse may be too strong a word, it is quite like Ragnarok. The gods themselves will be at war.

What happens to our missile silos and missile submarines when the year 2000 rolls around? Do they all have software updates in place, or will some of them find reasons in their code to launch or detonate?

Mr. Chittum:"Therefore, excepting the real possibility of a sort of Vietnam on the Rio in the event Mexico falls to communist insurgents, there is essentially no chance of a second civil war in our unsteady empire until such time as an entire geographic region (which will almost certainly be the Southwest) is solidly populated by extremely disaffected subjects." Elsewhere, Mr. Chittum has suggested that such a date might be "Cinco de Mayo" in 2050 or thereabouts.

My feeling is that by the 5th of May 2000, there will be enough sufficiently disaffected people in the Southwest and elsewhere to begin extensive rioting, if such is not already roiling out of control. After four months without government-issued checks, there will be widespread disaffection.

Mr. Chittum: "At this imperial milestone, the rioting will be of such dimensions in violence, geographic extent, and extension in time, that these disturbances will develop into actual civil war." Couldn't agree more. While the disturbances of 2000 may not escalate into actual civil war, they will have a strong insurrectionary character. The peasants have voted themselves bread and circuses, and will not be satisfied with promises.

Mr. Chittum: "The rioting Reconquistas - Hispanic secessionist militias and politicized street gangs - will crack open national guard armories, acquire heavy weapons, disestablish the local imperial establishment, set up their own new government, raise the Mexican flag, dig in, and prepare to receive the inevitable imperial counterattack - an actual Yugoslavia USA."

Don't expect less from the elderly-dominated regions nor from the other disaffected (impoverished) minority populations. It was black street gangs in South Central Los Angeles versus ethnic Korean shopkeepers just a few years back. There will be more such battles in 2000.

Mr. Chittum: "The local security forces and politicians, who will be mostly Hispanic, will either refuse to confront the rioters, or will actually side with them, as has been the case in other unfortunate multiethnic empires that have recently paraded across our TV screens, filling them with the most fascinating gore." Indeed. We have seen the same in Rwanda, Bosnia, Somalia, and elsewhere.

Osama bin Laden and his ilk will be busy in Y2K, shipping software infected with millennial viruses and engaging in more violent acts of terror. Significant numbers of "imperial security forces" may find themselves bogged down in Afghanistan and the Sudan, as well as other Islamic fundamentalist enclaves. Afghanistan ripped apart the British Empire and helped dissolve the Soviet Empire.

Mr. Chittum: "The responding federal security forces will, for the most part, have to assemble at military installations outside the Southwestern regional riot zone, a time consuming necessity impeded by much Clauseitzian [sic] friction and fog." That would be "Clausewitzian," or perhaps, "a la Clausewitz."

My expectation is that such assembly points will be established in May and June 2000.

Mr. Chittum:"These federal security forces will be thoroughly multiethnic." Certainly by 2050, if the American empire survives that long, its military will reflect the ethnic diversity of its population. That will be problematic for the military leadership, as Mr. Chittum has detailed elsewhere.

Mr. Chittum: "Many individuals in these units will refuse to open fire on their co-nationals, by which I mean their co-ethnics. Others units will fracture in firefights along ethnic fault lines, the survivors going their separate ways, swelling the ranks of anti-imperial ethnic militias even while they deplete the imperial army of internal occupation."

It does seem questionable whether the military will see widespread breakdown on ethnic lines by 2000. The ethnic diversity is not so widespread, as yet, as to make such breakdown inevitable. However, many police forces and some state guard units will be dominated by ethnic minorities, and may find themselves unwilling to open fire on their co-ethnics.

Mr. Chittum: "Ironic as it may seem, the imperial establishment, by amassing a multiethnic and therefore conceptually unsound army of internal occupation, is assembling and arming the ethnic militias that will escort them from yacht clubs to lampposts in Civil War Two."

My concern is being escorted from my computer keyboard to one of those lampposts in Y2K. There will be some pissed off government dependents looking for scapegoats until well into 2001.

Mr. Chittum: "I will allow that the Y2K event just might inspire rioting of considerable magnitude in some cities - particularly in the lower, mild-wintered tier of our vast, polar-to-tropics, Pacific-to-Caribbean empire - where the perpetually outraged will doubtless be poked and goaded by the usual talking heads, and enlivened by the the easy abundance of liquor emporiums and gun stores whose owners are sufficiently senseless to leave stock on the shelves or collectibles in the till."

How one might run a liquor emporium or gun store without having stock on the shelves or funds in the cash register, for an entire year, would be an interesting issue to explore. My expectation is that quite a number of such businesses will find themselves operating on the web, or not at all.

Be that as it may, there is certainly plenty of reason to expect rioting to be more widespread in Y2K in the lower tier of states. Ethnic minorities have significant populations in the Southeast (largely black) and Southwest (largely Hispanic). The elderly are also concentrated in the South. These groups are the most likely to be significantly disaffected. However, other cities will be affected.

Utility companies share many features with governments. Some utilities, notably water, are government-run monopolies. There will be utility failures in Y2K due to software and embedded controller failures, as well as due to Millennial Virus problems.

These failures will be geographically diverse, and so will the resulting riots.

Mr. Chittum: "Still, the rioting will yet once again be confined to Third-World America - at most a liquor, arson and loot-driven bonanza for the street gangs, and a political windfall for the talking-heads, ever in energetic pursuit of their globalist agenda. They are well advised to enjoy the bounty of their labors while they may."

As far as the geographic extent of the rioting, I disagree. The globalist agenda will certainly be a factor, with a significant possibility of UN troops under foreign military command brought in during the latter months of 2000. It would be entirely in character for Clinton to declare a national emergency, suspend habeas corpus, and invoke martial law. Assuming that particular egotistical bastard is impeached by then, I wouldn't put the same opportunity past Gore. He is about as sleazy as the current president, if a little more circumspect in his private life.

While it is clear that the majority of US imperial security forces remain ethnically homogenous, it is not at all clear that they will fire on American civilians, especially if directed to do so by foreign UN military commanders. There are units of the US military who have been preparing logistical support for several years under the assumption that they will need to defend the Constitution from those who run the current regime.

Tattoo You
Mr. Chittum: "I say without reservation that the heavily European suburban areas will not riot despite the severest disruptions that Y2K may trigger."

Perhaps. I would expect that significant demonstrations, possibly leading to riots, will be found in a number of elderly-dominated communities. Some of these probably meet Mr. Chittum's definition of "heavily European suburban."

Mr. Chittum: "They will simply not rush out of their houses and burn and loot and assault the police and each other, their imperially-assigned tier being held financially accountable for their conduct under our current ethnic tattooing system."

That would seem to be the case, even in the 2050 scenarios of Mr. Chittum's other writings. It is also clear from the experiences of the communities surrounding South Central LA in their recent riots that the owners of these houses will rush out with guns loaded and barricade their streets. Jerry Pournelle reported on that aspect of the situation with some delight not long after the events. He said it was amazing to see how many of his liberal neighbors suddenly sprouted shotguns and rifles, despite years of harping on gun control themes.

For some reason, I seem to have missed out on the "ethnic tattooing system." Just lucky, I guess. I wonder how that works in Oklahoma, where tattoo parlors are illegal?

Mr. Chittum: "Therefore, we shall have the same basic demographic-military pattern as in the Los Angeles riot of '92, and therefore an identical spatially-defined (and thus militarily-defined) result - the disturbances confined and crushed long before they can leap the gap from mere riots to war."

If it were the case that I believed that the demographic/military pattern were the same, I would be forced to concur that the militarily definable results would vary around a mean expected value much like the results of the LA riots. However, I don't think the demographics will be the same.

The people who riot in Y2K because of spiraling deflation, scarcity of funds, unavailability of government pension and pay checks, and repeated lies by bureaucrats and politicians will do so for reasons entirely different from those of 1992. The explosion of emotion and violence which followed the verdict in the Rodney King police brutality trial was limited both geographically and temporally.

The riots of Y2K will not be so confined. They will crop up repeatedly thorugh 2000, as promised paychecks are postponed again and again. Weeks of delayed payments will become months, and the result will be riots.

Mr. Chittum: "That's my assessment of the military impact of Y2K, essentially none."

Clearly that assessment is incomplete. Would that it were true.

Mr. Chittum: "Y2K will not trigger Civil War Two because the underlying demographic patterns are not yet suitable, and these critical demographic patterns will remain so unsuitable until about a generation from now."

That does not seem to be the case. The ethnic patterns are certainly not in place. Demographics, however, includes age variations as well as economic variations, and these seem ripe for considerable violent implications in Y2K. It is the case that geographically diverse people are dependent on government payments which will simply not be available.

It is also the case that the unavailability of these funds will persist for months if not years. There will be a tremendous economic collapse, runs on the banks, stock market closings, bankruptcies, food riots, blackouts, water system failures, international conflicts, terrorist incidents, and no shortage of disasters. Nuclear detonations are a real possibility, both intentional and accidental.

Party's Over
Mr. Chittum: "What can be said of the nature, scope, and duration of disturbances that the Y2K event might trigger?"

Plenty. See also Ken Holder's pages. Or do a web search. Yahoo has ten subcategories and 215 sites.

Mr. Chittum: "I simply don't know, and neither does anyone else, not with any impressive degree of certainty. On the whole, I'm inclined to give our inner city neighbors more credit than most visitors to my web site's guestbook."

Me, too. I've lived in several inner city neighborhoods, and expect quite a bit of cleverness and intensity from these people.

Mr. Chittum: "There's a difference between rioting induced by disaffection - such riots being military in nature - and rioting that will essentially be great parties that have simply gotten out of hand, as will be the case of any Y2K rioting."

That statement seems to suggest that all Y2K riots will evolve out of New Year's celebrations gone awry. While there will be much vigorous activity when 1999 becomes 2000, including some blackouts and utility failures, there will also be little reason to get very excited in the first days of January 2000.

When April turns into May and the software problems have proven pernicious, the rioting will explode in earnest. Take it seriously, and don't get caught unprepared.

Mr. Chittum: "Such Y2K rioting, if any, will simply dissipate of its own accord, lacking the disaffection-driven nature of the more usual rioting we are accustomed to in our glorious imperial republic."

Certainly any rioting that is initiated on the first of January, due to the opportunities of blackouts and the like, will be of limited intensity. The disaffection-driven riots won't dissipate, and they will be running right through 2000.

Mr. Chittum: "Besides, every helmeted club-swinger the empire can muster will be manning the walls, and the usual suspects more interested in partying than belligerence."

In January, yes. In May? Maybe. In December 2000, rioting will be insurrection in many places. Not all the helmeted club swingers will be playing, some having been taken out of the game with death and injuries, more taking themselves out of the game for lack of pay. Still others will have responded to the constitutional crises with unit disaffection, potentially leading to open war between military units.

Mr. Chittum: "I was a computer programmer for many years."

Me, too. Still am, though I won't be saying that to anybody in 1999.

Mr. Chittum: "While this by no means makes me (or anyone else) a Y2K guru, my background does give me a solid understanding of the potential of the Y2K event."

Mine too, and I, too, disavow any guru-status. If my paranoia is a bit more intense or my pessimism a bit more pronounced, it may be owing to a particular perspective we libertarians get when once we've been incarcerated in a sewer-water filled cell. Or two.

Mr. Chittum: "A few weeks ago I had a long telephone conversation with a gentleman from Media Bypass Magazine who, like myself, had an extensive background as a computer programmer, and who had given considerable and informed thought to the Y2K event. It was an enjoyable conversation of two veteran computer jockeys talking shop, and I learned much from him. At some point before Y2K I will roll out my own fearless forecasts about the non-CW2 aspects of the Mother of all Meter Rolls, and that's all my guesses will be, guesses."

I certainly look forward to hearing more from Mr. Chittum on this cataclysm-to-come. It seems to me that the solutions I've heard, ranging from "set all the clocks to 1940" to "go back to manual approaches" have numerous and deadly flaws.

Y2K is quite the phenomenon. It is pervasive. It is diverse. And solving all the Y2K software problems is not possible at this point. There will be failures. Stopgap measures will be implemented, and many of these will fail.

On top of the Y2K glitch is the entire set of Millennial Virus problems. These have rarely been contemplated by those considering the Y2K situation. A very large number of systems are going to stop working at the end of December 1999. Many of them will simply never work again.

The disruptions to your life can be minimized. You have time to prepare, to stock up, to get ready. You have time to move, and be where the problems aren't. You have time to work out arrangements with friends and neighbors and relatives to your mutual advantage.

But you'd better be thinking, you'd better be planning, and you'd better be prepared. Y2K is not going to be fun. As "the Artist" who used to be called Prince once said, "Two thousand zero zero, party over, out of time."

It will be an interesting time. There is an old Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times." We're going to do so. In spades.

Jim Davidson
Late of Houston, Texas
August 1998

Mr. Chittum's comments are copyright 1998 by Mr. Chittum.

Mr. Davidson, the Iconoclast's comments are copyright 1998 by Mr. Davidson, all rights reserved.

Further comments copyright © 2005 by Free West Trust. It seems that somewhere around 2002, I learned the rest of that Chinese curse. Its full text reads, "May you live in interesting times and come to the attention of important persons." While Y2K wasn't a crisis, there was a huge burst of Federal Reserve monetary inflation which followed on the heels of various other crises, and which was itself followed by further monetary inflation justified by wars, rumors of wars, terror attacks, and the like. Bob McTeer of the Dallas Fed once said that Y2K was a bullet that the Federal Reserve dodged by providing adequate capital at a critical time, though I have no idea what his basis for that claim might have been.

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