L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 56, September 30, 1999
Y2K: Soup, Raincoats, and the USMC
by Victor Milán
Exclusive to TLE
In a recent "N+N Alert" from his Nexialist News Service, TLE family
member Rick Rabbit reports an alarming "Open Letter" Congress on Y2K
to from something called the IEEE. In Rick's words: "For the benefit
of those readers who don't know IEEE from Clinton's last fling: IEEE
(The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) represents
THE folks who design, install, and maintain computer hardware and
IEEE's message is that Y2K will be Bad, Very Bad, and that Congress
should therefore leap to limit liability for damages attributed to
I'm a cynical bastard, and it strikes me that the IEEE's statements
are approximately 100% self-serving. They fall into two main
1. Don't sue us!
An under-appreciated, and actually real, Y2K problem is likely to be
that every fuckup and screwjob by any organization, or possibly
individual, who has a computer is going to be blamed on Y2K. Did the
teller at your bank pocket your last deposit and credit nothing to
your account? Y2K! Did a mistaken address cause ATF to reduce your
home to smoldering rubble under the apprehension you were an
unpopular church? Y2K!
In our current legal environment, not only does nothing die without a
lawsuit, nothing stubs its toe or gets hung over without one. Also,
the foundation of any hierarchical structure, such as our government
and big corporations, is that no one with any actual power can
actually be held accountable. Scapegoats must be found, and sued. So
when computer problems, real or imagined - or having anything to do
with Y2K - strike, an obvious expedient to deflect blame is to sue
the anoraks - especially if you can produce receipts for many hours'
"Y2K compliance" work at $250 per.
In other words, Y2K hysteria is raining soup for computer consultants
and unprincipled doom propheteers, and IEEE is out with its bowl -
but if what is falling from the heavens turns to piss, IEEE wants the
government to guarantee none falls on it.
2. The problem will never go away, therefore pay us forever!
With at least two major "Y2K" related doomsdays having passed without
much actual doom - one in April, the other the dread 9/9/99 - the
doomsellers, forewarned, have already entered a prevent-mode defense.
These hucksters are not going to want to face the wrath of those to
whom they peddled $2000 generators and $5000 of Meals Refused by
Ethiopians if the World As We Know It doesn't end on schedule.
So they've concocted a clever fallback position: well, OK, see, we
weren't wrong. Y2K's effects might be subtle, gradual, rather
than whack-you-inna-face immediate. Therefore, don't lynch us if the
lights don't go out at midnight on New Year's Eve: civilization
really is collapsing. Only too slowly for you to see.
Trust us. ...
In fact, hey: better buy more MREs while you still can before the
distribution system goes!
So it appears IEEE has likewise hit upon this ploy. They don't want
to get blamed - sued - if anything actually goes wrong; but if not
much does, they don't want the great Y2K Wonk Windfall to dry up,
either. It's like the ancient physician's description of the perfect
disease: the patient doesn't die and doesn't get better.
I don't claim to know exactly what'll happen on 1/1/00. I do doubt
the doomsday scenarios. I'm not convinced anybody's lights will even
flicker - unless they're made to.
I'm no computer expert. I do have a lot of friends, acquaintances,
and advisors who are - and very few seem much impressed with Y2K. In
my observation an "expert's" assessment of the dangers of Y2K varies
in direct proportion to how much that expert stands to make from
peddling Y2K fixes.
My own major concerns for Y2K are two:
1) That the economic bubble, our modern Tulipomania (which Rick's
Nexialist reports have done much to document) is due to burst here
pretty directly anyway. Since the bubble depends so much on
perception and expectation, Y2K might prove as handy a pin as any,
even if its direct effects are relatively minor.
2) A megalomaniac regime impatient to bump up the schedule of
government's endgame against human freedom might seize upon the
impending "disaster" to impose martial law. The feds might, say,
freeze food distribution and send Marines to actually throw the
switches at various powerplants - the first in the name of "assuring"
supplies, the second in the name of protecting the grid from
Y2K-related danger - in effect, deliberately or inadvertently,
causing the dire consequences prophesied for Y2K. The
government could then respond to the anguished pleas of our hundreds
of millions and simply take control of everything. Nothing like a few
January nights spent freezing in the dark to make the American people
appreciate their government - and willing to dispense with luxuries
like liberty (and, of course, all those nasty firearms) in exchange
for the lights and heater coming back on, and food returning to the
shelves at Smith's.
Some people, including Jeff Cooper, have claimed for several years
that the American military's number 1 mission for the 21st century is
subjection, specifically by disarmament, of the American people.
That's likely correct - indeed, in every US military intervention
from at least Panama on, one can readily see elements of dress
rehearsal for that Main Event if one cares to look. And then, of
course, there's all that "black helo" training in American towns and
cities, ostensibly to practice MOUT or "counter-terrorism." I have
one source in the military who claims there's a lot of sentiment at
command levels - military and civilian - to use Y2K as a pretext to
impose martial law.
So to all the doom peddlers, from Gary North to the IEEE: thanks a
pantload. You're facilitating dictatorship. Whether or not it really
comes - it wouldn't be the first opportunity for grand mischief the
government has muffed - it seems a far more likely outcome than
First Thing We Do ...
"Tort lawyers are now touting plans to utilize the
tobacco-litigation/extortion model against the producers of lead
paint, pharmaceuticals, beer, wine and liquor, chemical additives,
fatty foods, sports utility vehicles, and myriad other products.
These industries will be demonized, more and more severe regulatory
restrictions and excise taxes will be imposed on them, and their
stocks will tumble. No industry is safe from the greedy hand of
regulatory extortion." - Regulatory Sneak Attack; by Tom DiLorenzo;
presentation prepared for the Mises Institute's conference, "Austrian
Economics and the Financial Markets," Toronto, Canada, September
I'm Thinking BATF, FBI, SWAT ...
"I would hope that people would look, not just at what handguns have
done to America this year, not in the context of this case, but what
handguns have done to America over the last many years, and that this
nation would listen to its people who again and again cry out ...
asking government to make sure that we take reasonable steps to
ensure that guns are not placed in the hands of people who are not
lawfully entitled to have them ..." [emphasis added]
- "Jackboot" Janet Reno
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