From the March 1999 Idaho Observer:
101 (or so) Things to Do After Y2K
Or The Post-Industrial Renaissance
by Hari Heath
OK, so by now you are either crawling out of your cave dwelling after a long winter's hibernation, or you have already heard of that small computer programming error known as Y2K.
If you are a cave dweller your worries are little. Grab another leg of something to feast on and go back to sleep. For cave dwellers, your Y2K worst-case scenario is limited to defending your hunting territory from all those civilized folk who will be heading for your hills.
The possible Y2K scenarios for those living in the developed world are much more extensive. Many, probably most, computers will work just fine in the year 2000. Some won't -- and that is just the beginning of the problem.
The real problem of Y2K is the things we take for granted in our civilized society and have come to need. This problem is compounded by the incredible extent to which we have become dependent on computer systems, often without even knowing it. The fact that systems are dependent upon systems creates a domino effect. It only takes only one broken link to break the entire chain.
If you are like so many other modern Americans commuting to and from work in a new car with at least 50 on-board computers (embedded systems) -- and stopping by the convenience station to pay electronically at the pump and go -- through the urban integrated traffic control system -- off to your job ten floors up -- where you will teleconference with the main office -- and e-mail your time sheet so payroll can direct-deposit your pay -- just in time -- before the automatic payment on the mortgage for your all electric, climate-controlled home is digitally transferred from your account...well, a little attention to detail right now might be in order.
Let's face it, whether Y2K turns out to be a major cataclysmic event, or just a minor temporal inconvenience, it will affect our day to day lives.
No big deal you say, I don't have a computer, so it won't affect me.
Think again. If you are reading this you probably live in some part of the civilized world. Over the last few decades computers have begun to play a greater role in the advancement of our modern civilization.
If you think computers don't have an effect on your life, then look around your house for something of recent manufacture, say not more than 10 or 20 years old, that was not made, merchanted or delivered to your home by the aid of some computer. Just one thing.
Now look at all things in your life that come to you with the aid of a computer or perform some useful function because of an imbedded chip.
Do you own a cell phone? Home appliances that depend on an electronic calendar to make them work? Do you drive a modern truck or car?
Do you enter elevators and expect them to take you to another floor? Do you depend on traffic lights and train crossings to keep you safe? Would you fly if you thought the plane's navigation system might not be working or that air traffic controllers couldn't communicate? If the machinery at the plant where you work suddenly fell silent and refused to start, would you still have a job?
And do you get your food from a grocery store? Where would the groceries come from if the trucks and trains were gridlocked on highways and tracks? How could stores order food from warehouses? Will scanners and cash registers work? Can you have it your way, after Y2K, at your favorite fast food restaurant?
How will you know what's going on in the world? Will newspapers be able to publish and distribute? Would TV screens be dark, and radios silent? Will there be any power at all?
Could you and your family cook and stay warm without gas or electricity? Got water? Where is the outhouse gonna go? Do you know who your neighbors are? Got matches?
Armageddon or Opportunity?
While many Y2K proselytizers proclaim doom and societal collapse, no one knows for sure what will happen. Look on the bright side. This is not our gloomy demise, but perhaps humanity's greatest opportunity for advancement.
It might just be God's little slap in the face, saying wake up you stupid people, give thanks for what you have and strive to be that which you were created to become.
Heaven on Earth? It's gonna take some work on our part, but great things can be done. The Industrial Age may come to an end with Y2K, but this could be the beginning of a new renaissance.
First, remember that tyrannical parasite, otherwise known as government, that reaches into your pockets and takes, through direct or hidden taxes, 55 percent of everything you earn?
Gone. By its own admission the IRS won't have Y2K compliant computer systems. The same goes for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (you know, FEMA, the unconstitutional federal agency that has orders under various executive orders to take control of everything in case of a declared state of national emergency?), most of the military, air traffic controllers and many other important departments of this and that (does the government even know how many departments it has?).
As IRS Commissioner Charles Rossotti told the Wall Street Journal, there could be 90 million taxpayers who won't get their refunds, and 95 percent of the revenue stream of the United States could be jeopardized. Rossotti later told the USA Today, We have a very thin margin of tolerance to make this thing work. There is no Plan B.
If government loses its revenue stream, then Congress has nothing to budget, so the Treasury can't cut the workers any checks, so bye bye bureaucracy...
Yes, for those of you who have the government syringe of socialism stuck in your arm, cold turkey is gonna be tough.
Maybe they can just borrow from the big banks to get us through?
Gone. You see, sometimes people are stupid and just don't get it. Ever heard of fractional reserve banking? Ever wonder what it means?
By law, state banks only have to keep 10 percent of their deposits on deposit. Banks affiliated with the Federal Reserve Bank (most banks) can keep even less. Your money, or most of it is out there not in there. There is just enough money on hand at any lending institution to keep ahead of the daily transactions. This is a clever ruse designed specifically to prevent bankers from being caught with their pants down.
By some reports, our national banks' fractional reserve rates are down to 1.7 percent. Add in the FDIC insurance which is only reportedly able to cover for 1.25 percent of all deposits, and you get a total of 2.95 percent of your deposit and the insurance that secures it left in your account.
Rounding off to the nearest percent, that means 3 out of every 100 people can empty the bank vaults of America leaving the other 97 with nothing! Get the picture? There's only a fraction of what you put in your account still there on reserve. Your friendly banker took the rest to invest. Fractional reserve banking revealed!
Are you gonna be one of the lucky three and get your fraction out before the other 97? Do you have blind faith in the great fictional economy? The moment Wall Street gets wind of a run on the banks (or makes wind) the great paper pyramid will likely come tumbling down.
Emperors, popes, and all manner of elite overlords have dominated the common people throughout human history, but now the corporations are king.
The industrial age has brought a new system for management of the masses. No longer is brute force the main method of control. Paychecks and products peacefully subdue the masses at great profit to the corporate overlords.
Chartered by government and funded by the nearly empty paper banking houses, will the corporations survive? Will these mega infrastructures be able to function without paychecks for employees, communication systems, transportation and manufacturing, and a consumer market? Will Bill Gates trade a wagon load of potatoes for a new computer?
Many promising inventions and creative alternatives have been buried because they would cut into corporate profits.
How many alternative health remedies have been squashed by the medical industry and the FDA because they threaten, for example, the $multi-billion daily income of chemotherapists? What would happen to the manufacturers of cold symptom remedies if people found out that the cure for the common cold is a weed that grows in their backyard?
What kind of promising, alternative energy systems have suffered similar fates because they would reduce our dependence on corporate oil or mega utilities?
With Big Government, Big Bank, and Big Business collapsing in ruin, you will be able to get up in the morning and go about your own business, instead of your regular worship of the almighty paper dollar.
Like a dinosaur, unable to adapt to the rapid change of Y2K, the devil's triangle of the oligarchal overlords will be the first casualty of computer-dependent infrastructure.
Where to Begin?
Y2K is the time of the new millennium. As an educated society, living in the information age, perhaps this time we can remember our history and learn from our mistakes instead of being doomed to repeat them.
But before we try to rebuild the political systems of the world, getting our home world together is the first order of business. Let's start from what your standing in right now.
Got shoes? How long did you think those Nike's were gonna last? Wal Mart after Y2K? The ship from the Korean cheap labor shoe factory may not deliver those $20 sneakers without a functioning GPS system and a supply of fuel oil.
Will those Eddie Bauer hiker specials find their way to you? In your size?
Can you make your own shoes? Any cobblers still in business near you? Got leather? That comes from animal skins, right? First you need an animal. Then you take the skin off. Then you just make leather, right?
Are you hungry yet after making all that leather? One of the most amazingly stupid things I've noticed in my travels throughout America, is the time, energy and space people commit to yards that don't contain any edible vegetation. In most third world countries, gardening is about food.
Spruce needles, rhododendron leaves, and old lawn clippings may not make very good soup. A lot can be done with a shovel, a hoe, a rake, and some seeds. Got seeds?
Y2K is scheduled to occur in the middle of winter. Got clothes? Yes, you have clothes, but are they the kind you can stay warm in when there is no electricity or other heat source for your house? Or your neighbor's house? We are accustomed to going from one 72-degree environment to the next. This could change.
If the predictions of chaos and unrest come true and you are forced out of your home, do you have clothes that will adequately service you in, in the winter? Remember wool can be warm even when wet and cotton can be killer under adverse weather conditions.
Do you know how to sew? Can you sew without a sewing machine? Remember, we may have a lot of time on our hands but no electricity. Get needles and thread now.
Speaking of getting things now, our government and the media have coined a new no no -- Hoarding. This must be a bad thing because there's been talk of all those bad Y2K hoarders who are buying too much food and other essentials and hoarding them.
There's even an executive order that makes it illegal to hoard. Imagine those bad people with more than a week's supply of food or an extra barrel of fresh water in the basement.
Remember just a generation ago when it was called putting food by, or stocking up? When a kitchen had a pantry? My how we have changed since we have become instant everything America.
Black's Law Dictionary defines hoarding as ...holding and acquiring goods in short supply beyond the reasonable needs of the person... Since we don't want to get President Bill mad at us for violating his order, perhaps a little stocking up, within reason, while things are in supply, might be a good idea.
Some food to feed you and yours till at least the next harvest season? Water? What about some emergency medical supplies and alternative healing remedies? Garden seeds? Home defense systems and the ammunition therefore? Extra gas or other fuels to get through the winter? Have you stocked up on extra auto supplies?
And now that you've put by some food, what are you gonna cook on? Can you cook without electricity, gas, or propane? Do you know how to use wood heat without burning down your house? Got wood to burn?
Another thing to stock up on is trading goods and barter items. What kinds of things will others want that you can get or make? Do you have any special skills that are useful to your neighbors? Batteries, bullets, books, food and even water may become real valuable when our just in time store shelves empty out.
We have become so accustomed to cards, checks and paper money for everything, but these may fall by the wayside once the 97 percenters discover that the 3 percenters have already got everything the bank has to offer. No banks, no checks, and no more savings too. People may eventually realize the worthlessness of the paper money. A trading economy may become the only economy.
This may seem gloomy. Especially for those who put their life savings in the bank to retire on, only to find out its 97 percent not there. Have hope. First there is still time to be a three percenter and get out now -- convert to something of substance.
Second, these times will present a great opportunity to re-create an economy of substance.
The Constitution gives Congress the power to coin money. Not print money. Precious metal coins are part of an economy of substance, along with goods and services. Paper money only offers the promise of substance and only delivers substance when someone surrenders their substance for its' promise.
Until early in this century we regularly circulated coin as money which could survive the test of fire and still retain its value. Try the fire test on those hollow paper promises you keep in your wallet or purse.
In America we have become the car culture extraordiniare. Our whole world pivots around the automobile. When was the last time you walked over a mile?
Will there be gas? If you have some and others don't -- how long will you be able to keep your gas? And tires. And parts.
The size of your world could radically change to a world with a radius equal to the distance which you are willing to walk. For many, this may mean a world of only a few miles across.
Bicycles are an option, but get extra tires and parts now. Do you have a horse or two? A wagon? Saddles and harness? How are you gonna feed them through the winter if the tractor and baler can't get parts or fuel? Do you know how to use a scythe?
For many people one of the biggest changes they will have to deal with is time on their hands. If Y2K stops your work, school, and mechanized or computerized pursuits, what are you gonna do? If the TV, stereo, or the Internet has been the center of your life, finding new sources of entertainment and information may be a challenge.
Ever consider the book as an alternative to modern multi-media systems? They can also be good trade items. Or shared as part of community building. It has also been rumored that removing the TV from your home will raise the IQ of your children ten points.
What can Y2K do for us? We get our time back. Eventually, you may discover that you like having your life back. The slavery that our current financial system imposes on the working class might not be as preferable to getting up in the morning and doing the most important things first. Making your own choices. Working for you and the people you know. Bringing it all home.
How many projects are out in your garage just waiting to be worked on? How many toys do we grown-ups have in our yard, but due to the press of business in our modern society, we just never have time to do anything with them? Take your time, because it's yours now, and enjoy what you already have.
Our society has been radically altered by the car and the television. In the horse and buggy days when people passed each other on the road at least they could see each other. They may have stopped and talked. This builds and maintains community. We used to know our neighbors.
With the high-speed interface of the automobile this no longer happens.
Before TV, families would eat together and tell stories, go down to the grange and gather with their neighbors, or sit around the wood stove at the country store.
Now with two cars in every garage and often as many TV's in every home, we just don't have a sense of community like that anymore. The possibility that cars won't run for long and TV, satellite and radio broadcasters will be off the air, makes a great opportunity to build some community infrastructure.
Walk over to your neighbors and find out who they are. Have a community potluck. There might be a few hungry people around. Discuss problems and solutions and create a community plan for your survival and eventual prosperity. A community working together can accomplish more than a man or family working alone.
Consider how to rebuild, at least locally, some form of useful infrastructures. Is there a phone lineman that could rewire a neighborhood phone system? Do some of your neighbors have CB radio's for communications? Any ham operators that can provide long distance communication? Community water sources? Sanitation when the toilets won't flush? Community gardening?
How about a local security force if there are no more police after Y2K? Are there any older folks that might need an extra helping hand or have some special contributions to offer? Anyone with medical skills or other health practitioners in your area?
Are you in a good location? This is a very important Y2K consideration. Can you make it where you are living now? You may have to. Growing enough food to feed yourself on the balcony of your apartment might be an impossible challenge. Can you count on the neighbors you have when times get tough?
Is now a better time to move to somewhere better, or will you wait for some cold hungry January day to move? Does your present home provide adequate shelter for extended living without power? Do you have alternative sources of energy, sufficient for your needs.
Will it really happen?
If Y2K were a hurricane or a flood we could just send in the Red Cross and the National Guard. But it's not an isolated event. It's global in scale and set to happen simultaneously. You can send in the Guard from somewhere to somewhere else, but you can't send in the Guard from everywhere to everywhere else.
Many interdependent infrastructures will go down at once. One at a time they might be repaired, but in a collective collapse, they might all stay down. Consider the following:
Your PC could be just fine. But if the power company's computers fail, especially the imbedded chips, then almost every computer goes down.
If panic begins and the banks can't open because there's nothing to give the 97 percenters, then the institution of money as we know it, may be over.
If stores sell food faster than trucks can supply it, it is only a matter of time before more panic sets in. If riots empty the stores, no trucks will supply them. Once our just in time retail warehouses are empty, we're on our own.
If cars won't start and the wheels of industry sit idle, while the retail supplies disappear, who will restart business as usual?
If the banks stay closed what employer can issue paychecks or get the payroll in cash?
If the power comes back on, but no one has any viable money to pay their power bills with, will the utility just give away their power? Can a utility operate without employees if they quit for lack of pay?
Can any one of the major infrastructures of electrical power, petroleum fuels, communications, transportation, financial providers, or the food supply industries, operate, if any one of the others fail to operate?
Is it a fair assessment that, if one goes down, all go down? If any one of them brings the others down, how will these infrastructures be rebuilt?
It will be time to start small and close to home. Y2K may be the end of the global dominators and the beginning of the post-industrial renaissance.
Patrick Hogue, a self-professed Y2K thrivalist makes some excellent suggestions:
Learn to love change.
You will need help.
Y2K is bigger than you are.
We live in unprecedented times.
Don't disappear into the black hole of ignorance and apathy.
Take a 5-year sabbatical from the world you are now in.
Prepare for it.
Do what you always wanted to do.
Imagine what our country could become if we all took a five-year break and developed new ideas for new ways of living.
For those who wish to cling to the dinosaurs of the 20th century, Y2K could be rough. Mix a little American ingenuity with a healthy dose of necessity and great opportunities abound.
Maybe our creator wanted it this way.
Mr. Heath is an environmentalist logger, perpetual pro se litigant and father of several who produces his own food and clothing and electricity and lives in a tent at the very end of a long road near Santa. You can FAX him but he has to know in advance because to receive it he will have to fire up his generator -- unless, of course, the generator has already produced enough juice to fire up his computer while he composes an eloquent, pro se motion for federal court that is tighter than a motion drafted by some Harvard Law School graduate. The only impact that Y2K will have on Mr. Heath is that the lack of gasoline and a post office might interrupt his ability to submit a monthly column to The Idaho Observer (which will have to begin using a manual press just like Benjamin Franklin Bache of the opposition press Philadelphia Aurora [1790-1798]). So why did he write this piece? It is rather simple. He cares. Take care of your family's immediate future needs before it is too late. It is depending upon you.
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