Mike Adams' last gasp

The last time I published the facts about Mike Adams, he threatened to sue me. This week, he's encouraging a national spamming campaign against the press and politicians to stir up enough anxiety to clear the shelves of Y2K supplies.
Written by Mitch Ratcliffe, Contributor
The last time I published the facts about Mike Adams, he threatened to sue me. This week, he's encouraging a national spamming campaign against the press and politicians to stir up enough anxiety to clear the shelves of Y2K supplies. So, I guess I should warm up the lawyers, again.

Adams' "Thirty-Nine Unanswered Questions About Y2K" have arrived in my mailbox about 50 times today, forwarded by people who apparently have not taken the time to read ZDY2K, because we've dealt with every one of these issues over the past 18 months. Nevertheless, in the interest of full disclosure, I'll take the time to respond.

I would have liked to receive feedback that was actually targeted at our coverage instead of the Adams-spam. We do want to hear from you and I have responded to every email sent about Y2K personally. We urged you, dear reader, to take matters into your own hands more than a year ago, in " Suggestions for Y2K Leadership."

It is unfortunate that we must acknowledge Adams at all when responding to this spam campaign. However, I think it's important to point out his background, which, according to the bio posted earlier this year on one of his many marketing Web sites, includes:

"In 1999, in an effort to fine tune his web marketing techniques, Michael launched a six-month experiment to determine what kind of revenues are possible when combining his proprietary techniques and technologies with a high-awareness topic. The result? In six months, with the help of only one employee, he created a subscriber base of over 50,000 people and sold over $400,000 worth of information products while offering an open-ended, 100% moneyback [sic] guarantee."

The high-awareness topic was, of course, Y2K. He told me by telephone he was dedicating himself to full-time during 1999. The statement from the Web site stands in stark contrast to Adams' repeated assertion that he has no profit interest in Y2K. Adams, unlike those of us who stand by our words for a living, has removed this page after people looking into his background found it. He used a pseudonym until confronted about his identity by myself and others in late 1998. Judge him for yourself.

I've spoken with Adams on the phone and he seemed like a well-intended person, despite many inconsistencies. He spoke about Vietnam as though he himself had served there, but when pressed admitted he was barely out of diapers when the war ended. Likewise, he has cited fears of reprisal by government organizations when invited to participate in public debates, even by telephone. He also expressed his criticisms about the Federal Reserve, which are similar to those of the John Birch Society and woven into every "economic" article he's written.

So, here goes:

Thirty-nine unanswered questions about Y2K:

1. Why is there not a single Fortune 1000 firm that has said, in its 10-Q SEC statement, that it is fully, unequivocally Y2K- compliant?

We have addressed this issue many times. The answer comes down to the fact that no corporation can make that guarantee, because no lawyer in his or her right mind would let it. This implies a warranty and, in the context of an SEC filing, would be a forward-looking statement that constituted a promise to investors. If a company has any Y2K problems, even in a trivial process, this would violate the implied warranty, making the firm liable for having misled investors.

This statement also assumes that a company must be 100 percent compliant to be ready to operate normally in 2000, what I dubbed "the 100 percent fallacy" in 1998. This simply isn't the case, because some systems are irrelevant to operations (in fact, Y2K assessment has helped many companies rationalize their IT systems) and others fail often for other reasons and backup procedures are well prepared.

Here are a few of the articles that have dealt with this issue - from both sides - on ZDY2K:

The 100 Percent Fallacy

Information Prospects

Comments on Bonnie Camp's 10-K Analysis

Edward Yardeni on Corporate Disclosure, So Far

How Much Has PECO Energy Really Spent?

2. How can an entire industry be deemed "Y2K ready" if no members of that industry are claiming full Y2K compliance?

Again, this is a projection of the 100 percent fallacy. Industries are made up of large and small players with different levels of Y2K preparedness. In general, the large companies spend more, because they have more at risk, though the percentage of Y2K spending compared to annual revenue may be the same, or even greater, for small companies. Where one company may not be able to operate normally over the New Year, its competitors might pick up new business.

On a deeper level, however, there is ample evidence, based on past critical dates, that very complex industries can operate normally at very low levels of compliance. There is no greater single example than the airline industry, which began selling tickets for year 2000 flights without a hitch in early 1999. This required not only that the airlines be ready, but that more than 35,000 individual travel agencies be prepared. Despite a reported compliance rate of just about 40 percent, the reservations systems ticked over into post-2000 operation without errors reported by travelers.

Just a few articles on industry-wide preparedness on ZDY2K include:

NERC Reports On Utility Progress

Consumer FAQ: Appliances

The Y2K Challenge: A Semiconductor Industry Perspective

Consumer FAQ: Will Airline Travel Be Safe?

American Water Works Association Y2K Readiness Survey

3. Why is it politically correct for pharmaceutical companies to stockpile life-saving medications but not for a family to do the same thing?

Adams' uses the loaded phrase "politically correct" a lot. It's a buzzword that, while meaningless in any sense of the political spectrum (because many subjects are uncomfortable for different people), places the onus of rationalizing an argument on someone other than the speaker/writer. So, in this case, Adams doesn't have to explain why the pharmaceutical industry should not be stockpiling. There is very little evidence of actual stockpiling going on, based on reporting by companies of their inventories.

Why doesn't it make sense for a family to "do the same thing?" Well, the reasons are many. First, your insurance doesn't cover extra medication, so you will pay full price for the extra month's or days' pills or injections you buy. Second, many medications expire, so extra meds will ultimately go unused (even if you use the extra supply you bought, you ultimately paid extra for the convenience of stockpiling). Third, the only way a shortage will occur is if demand changes - stockpiling may limit the availability of medicines in your area. A company stockpiling drugs has the ability to ship those drugs to virtually anywhere in response to demand, but one demand rises in a particular area, some families have to wait the extra shipment.

See the article on family preparedness in relation to the level of preparation required of a company or government: Why Companies and Goverments Must Prepare.

4. How can the U.S. economy not be impacted by major infrastructure failures in countries with which America trades goods and services?

The assumption is that there will be major interruptions around the globe. This is due, in part, to an unfortunate feature of the US government's Y2K effort - it has derided other countries' preparations in order to make its own appear more thorough.

In the end, the effect of Y2K on US companies will be offset by their spending around the world, through Y2K efforts at subsidiaries and joint ventures. Here are a few of our articles on the subject of international supply-chains:

• "="https://www.zdnet.com/enterprise/stories/zdy2k/news/0,6158,2375471,00.html"> What Will Happen: Electric Power and Energy

The Spooks and The News

What Will Happen: Banking at Y2K

5. Why did the April 9, 1999 and September 9, 1999 power industry drills held by the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) not test power generation or power distribution equipment? And why did NERC say, in a document found on its web site, "Do not make the drill too complex. We want to have a successful and meaningful story for publication." Source: Y2K Newswire: http://www.y2knewswire.com/archives/power/NERCdrill.pdf

The reason is simple. NERC testing was designed to test managers' ability to respond to a range of possible errors. Participants reacted to simulated outages and generation failures using back-up communications systems. It was not a physical test of the infrastructure, which has been extensively tested. Dozens of facilities have publicized that the clocks in generation plants and control centers with the system clocks turned ahead to 2000. Here are some of the stories we've run about the electrical system:

How Bulk Electric Transmission Works

What Will Happen: Electric Power and Energy

6. Were you aware that our nation's political leaders made a conscious decision to downplay preparedness advice out of the fear it might threaten banks and the stock market? Isn't this a strategy that essentially says the stock market is more important than the safety of Americans? Source: WIRED News, February 18, 1999: http://www.wired.com/news/news/politics/story/17986.html

This story represents one interpretation of the reasons for the government's preparedness advice. Viewed from all sides, the reasons for the US Federal Emergency Management Agency's advice to have three days worth of food and water set aside are quite reasonable. They are based on realistic assessments of the risks of Y2K interruptions and concomitant preparations made to support affected areas.

Adams makes an absurd suggestion: That the stock market can be isolated from Y2K problems. By hiding Y2K problems, the government and corporations would actually be setting the stage for a greater investor panic. Consider this recent article, about companies that are over-stating Y2K concerns to improve their Fourth Quarter 1999 financial performance: "Loading the Dice."

Our articles about the level of preparedness necessary are numerous, including:

A 50-Day Preparation Plan For Y2K

Your Money Is Safe

Talking 'Bout Preparation

7. Why was the FAA unable to produce documentation backing up their claims of an independent audit declaring 100% Y2K compliance? More importantly, why did no publication in this country even attempt to track down these independent audit documents before repeating the FAA's claims as fact? Source: Y2K Newswire: http://www.y2knewswire.com/reports/Airfoiled-Public.htm

This is a difficult argument to have briefly, but the fact is reporters are consigned to reporting the public statements of officials in order to create a public record. No such documentation exists, or it would be part of the public record. Sorry, reporters are people, working to report accurate news, not miracle workers. That said, we do research and make contacts behind the scenes to try to find contradictory information, which is used to confront officials.

Nevertheless, certification is expensive and many agencies and companies have opted to forego external auditing, believing they've spent enough on Y2K already.

Our coverage included:

FAA and Power Grid Pass Tests

No Stamp of Approval for Y2K Certification

Time Digital: Fly2K - The FAA and the Year 2000 Problem

8. Has anyone from your publication actually seen a single signed, independent third-party audit that assigned 100% Y2K compliance to any Fortune 1000 firm or federal agency?

This is the same question as Number One. Public companies cannot make a warranty. Federal agencies have conducted internal audits, especially through oversight agencies. One such review uncovered falsified data provided by the agency that manages the US nuclear arms inventory. See the following links published on ZDY2K:

Federal Computer Week: Air Force Criticized on Y2K Oversight

Making Truth the Top Priority

USA Today: Pentagon Exaggerated Y2K Readiness

9. If your publication only trusts and quotes "official sources" on Y2K topics, and if those same official sources have political, professional or financial reasons to understate the severity of the problem they're facing, isn't it true that the information you're relying on for Y2K reporting may be inaccurate?

Easy question. No one at ZDNet, nor any credible news organization trusts only "official sources." We do dig and, when we find verifiable conflicting information, we publish it.

10. Given that Y2K remediation costs have already exceeded the cost of the entire Vietnam War, with some organizations spending over a billion dollars on repairs, isn't Y2K already in the category of a huge, man-made crisis, even if no problems occur on January 1? Y2K remediation costs dwarf Savings & Loan bailouts, yet the S&L situation is, still today, called a "crisis" by publications like USA Today and the Washington Post. But S&L bailouts pale in comparison to the hundreds of billions already spent on Y2K. Why is a $6 billion mistake called a "crisis" but a $600 billion global mistake called no big deal? Sources: USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/news/court/nscot010.htm Washington Post: http://washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/govt/fedguide/stories/fdic.htm

This is a semantic argument and quite pointless. The response to Y2K has been broad and serious. It has claimed at least as much ink as any other major story. On ZDY2K, we've published more than 500 original articles and links to thousands more.

In fact, the S&L Bailout cost more than $300 billion by the time it was taken care of, in adjusted dollars about the same as Y2K. More importantly, it had a much more direct impact on individuals' lives, because people saw their savings vanish overnight. Y2K, by contrast, is a large repair effort that, if successful (and it will be, by and large), will appear to as a specter to the normal, non-IT professional person.

First, let's correct Mr. Adams. According to the CPA Journal Online of January 1990, the total bill for the S&L Bailout at that time was $166 billion in direct costs to taxpayers. The article linked above also explains in detail how the crisis happened.

Next, I addressed this issue directly only a couple weeks back in an article, Is Y2K The Biggest Problem Ever?

11. Why has no Fortune 1000 firm yet conducted full, end-to-end testing of the Y2K compliance of their computer systems? Earlier this year, the Pentagon held a test that John Koskinen called the largest test ever conducted on Y2K. Yet this test only involved 2% of the Pentagon's total systems. If this is truly the largest test ever conducted, doesn't this mean most organizations have probably only tested 1% of their systems? And if so, isn't this fact newsworthy?

The test was of two percent of systems at one time. It would be irresponsible to conduct an end-to-end test of systems, because, if there were problems remaining, it would cause an interruption in services. The government and public companies have tested 100 percent of their systems, but a little at a time. Rational, simple.

12. Why, in early 1999, did the federal government drop over 3,200 computer systems from "mission critical" lists? And what happens if these previously-mission-critical systems are not fixed? Has your publication explained to its readers the significance of this subtle redefinition strategy and how it deceives the public by inflating "progress" statistics?

There was no deception. The process of prioritizing systems resulted in a lower number of "mission-critical" systems. For instance, here in my home state, Washington, the system used to monitor the launching of fishing boats from public docks was deemed as important as the systems for delivering assistance to poor families. Later, after the entire list of systems was reviewed and re-prioritized, the boating system was deemed non-mission-critical. Nevertheless, we covered this story:

Another Report Card, Another Round of Questions

Fed Agencies to Take Serious Y2K Steps

Y2K Passes Another (Yawn) Milestone

Critical Date Watch: How Prepared are the States for Y2K?

GovExec: Agencies' Systems Pass Y2K Test, But Programs Fail

13. Why did NERC distribute a template "Y2K Ready Letter" with suggestive phrases and claims that companies could send back to NERC as part of their "independent" claims of Y2K readiness? Isn't this like giving out the answers right before the test? Source: Y2K Newswire: http://www.y2knewswire.com/archives/power/NercTemplate.pdf

Perhaps it was because NERC wanted some standardized language for describing Y2K readiness, rather than a mish-mash. This is not like giving out the answers before the test.

14. If the IRS spent $4 billion over eleven years in a failed effort to revamp their computers, how can it possibly solve Y2K in just two years? And why hasn't the American press focused on the urgent issue of having a contingency tax system (like the national retail sales tax) in place, ready to roll, in case the IRS suffers critical problems?

This is a remarkable leap of logic. Would it be logical to conclude that because we have failed to find the cure to cancer, we will not identify the causes during the next decade? Y2K and a system overhaul are two different things - the procurement process in the Federal government is the reason a modern system cannot be constructed from scratch. Y2K is a relatively easy project compared to rebuilding a computer infrastructure for the tax system.

Nevertheless, the tax system has been prepared for Y2K errors. Agency head Charles Rossotti admits the IRS will see errors, but they have manual back-up processes in place. Furthermore, there is no reason for Y2K to interfere with revenue collection - taxpayers have to send their payments on time, regardless of Y2K. The processing of returns and refunds may be extended. See our stories:

IRS: We'll Beat The Bug

A Taxing Y2K Tab

Commissioner: IRS Over the Y2K Hump

15. Recently, NASA apparently lost yet another Mars probe due to unknown reasons. The last Mars probe was apparently lost due to a unit conversion error made by NASA personnel. If NASA scientists and programmers typically operate at ten times the accuracy of "regular" programmers, and yet they still manage to make mission-killing mistakes, why should the world believe that industry Y2K programmers won't make any such mistakes? At one point in 1998, Y2K "no big deal" commentators appeared on national television, explaining that the whole problem could be solved by recruiting welfare recipients to learn COBOL. This was reported as a genuine, credible strategy for solving the Y2K problem. Have you followed up on how many mission-critical systems have actually been remediated by welfare programmers? And if so, how likely are these systems to be error-free on January 1?

The legions of COBOL programmers was a silly response to Y2K and completely misunderstands the problem. Amazingly, we didn't waste the effort Adams endorses. COBOL is a small part of the Y2K problem. We're getting into heavy hyperbole at this point.

16. Auto manufacturers typically rely on well over ten thousand suppliers for critical parts. If 99% of these ten thousand suppliers are Y2K-compliant, doesn't that still mean one percent (one hundred suppliers), on average, may suffer failures? How will auto manufacturers build cars with only 99% of the parts? Why isn't this simple mathematical exercise being described to Americans?

Again, this is a variation on the 100 Percent Fallacy. The computer systems of companies across the globe may not be entirely prepared for Y2K while the companies will hum along on back-up processes. Here are a few articles on the supply-chain issues:

Y2K Ripple Effect

Year 2000 Supply-Chain Risks: An All-Industry Perspective

17. The power plant that serves Santa Fe, New Mexico, has now announced there is a "high probability" that electricity will be cut off to the city on January 1. The city apparently hasn't yet funded the installation of a backup generator for the sewer system, either. What will happen to Santa Fe residents if power cannot be restored for a week and the sewers don't work? Is this a scenario for which citizens should continue to not prepare? Source: http://www.abqjournal.com/news/23news12-02-99.htm

The comments about "high probability" were retracted and according to a more recent article, PNM, the state's largest utility, is prepared for Y2K and will staff for emergencies. See this links from the Albuquerque Journal:

State, Firms Prepared for Y2K

18. If Y2K is a non-event, why did our federal government spend $50,000,000 on a Y2K command bunker? Why are cities like Boulder, Colorado deploying armed SWAT teams and "prisoner transport teams" on New Years Eve? Source: Sunday Camera, November 28, 1999, www.bouldernews.com

Why wouldn't the U.S. government build a command center for Y2K? The $40 million dollar facility is several floors above street level, making it less a bunker than an ordinary office with a special purpose.

With regard to the preparations by states and cities, it is reasonable to expect a wide range of activity. Some cities are taking more pessimistic steps, others not.

19. Throughout 1998, nearly every company claimed it would be Y2K compliant by December 31, 1998, "with a full year for testing." Can you name a single Fortune 1000 firm that achieved and announced full Y2K compliance on that day? What happened to the full year for testing? Is this an important missed deadline, or were all those companies lying when they said they needed a full year for testing?

We are now repeating questions Number One, Two and Eight.

20. If Venezuela, one of our nation's chief suppliers of imported oil, was 100% non-compliant in March, how can it be 100% Y2K-compliant today? How did this small nation apparently accomplish in ten months what has taken the Social Security Administration ten years to achieve? What will happen to our economy if Venezuela cannot export oil for thirty days?

Briefly, nothing will happen if we can't get Venezuelan oil for 30 days. The US maintains a massive reserve of oil in salt caves along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico that it can tap in times of shortage. See the following:

Consumer FAQ: Oil and Gas

21. We keep reading stories of little old ladies who were robbed after they withdrew cash from their banks. Can your publication produce a single police report that details such a robbery?

A police report? Nope, I can't. Nor have I looked. I have no doubt that people's homes are robbed every day. So far, only one Y2K-specific robbery has been reported, in Florida.

22. The Y2K compliance claims of the United States sound just like the claims from other countries: Italy, China, Russia, South Africa, even Jamaica. Every country says it is fine. Ilya Klebanov, for example, Russia's deputy prime minister, says, "We will pass quietly through 2000 just like we have every other year. ...I think it's best not to scare the little children of Russia." How have you, as a journalist, determined where to draw the line between "countries that are lying" and "countries that are telling the truth?"

I am don't claim to possess a lie detector that works on national governments nor, even, individuals.

23. If the world's oil production is not at all threatened by Y2K, why has the International Energy Agency (IEA) drawn up plans for global rationing of oil reserves? Source: Reuters (London), November 30, 1999.

Once more, this is an issue of appropriate preparation at each level of society. An international group like the International Energy Agency must have these plans in place in case all the repairs have gone wrong. Families should not have cans of gasoline stacked in their garage under any circumstances.

24. What will happen to our technology industry and dot-com stocks if computer parts shipments from Asia are disrupted because of Y2K problems there?

They will probably suffer from increased costs and lowered margins. I don't think anyone has ignored this potential. We explored this issue:

Execs: Y2K Bug Will Have Little Sting

Y2K Reporting Requirements Spreading Internationally

25. The White House says that all federal systems will work just fine, but smaller, local systems will experience problems. Yet we know, from experience, that the opposite is true: larger, more complex systems usually take longer to fix and have more post-remediation problems than smaller systems. Why hasn't your publication publicly questioned the contradiction in this official explanation?

We have researched the compliance claims of various agencies, finding both extensive testing and repair, along with contingency planning. Here, Adams poses a supposed paradoxical statement by the White House, but he fails to provide the complete picture. The White House's Y2K Czar, there will be problems in all systems, but the public will not feel the impact of most of these.

There's no basis for the conclusion that larger systems are harder to fix than small ones. Both can be time consuming depending on the documentation provided by the original programmers, the amount of money and available programming talent. Here's some of what we found about federal agencies:

Consumer FAQ: Will Social Security Checks Keep Coming?

Y2K Problem Plagues Pentagon

Consumer FAQ: Will My Veterans' Benefits Checks Arrive in 2000?

Veterans Administration Readies GI Bill for Y2K

Will Uncle Sam Compute in 2000?

26. As organizations in the United States purchased new equipment for Y2K, they sold much of the older, non-Y2K- compliant equipment to after-market importers in less-wealthy nations. This includes medical and telecommunications equipment. By doing this, isn't America actually exporting a Y2K crisis to nations that can least afford one? And won't this result in widespread international blame when people die in those countries as a result of, for example, failed medical devices? Doesn't this make Y2K an important foreign policy issue that should be addressed by the national media?

Interesting question. I can honestly say that, except for providing a link to one story about the US government allegedly selling Y2K non-compliant surplus, we have not pursued this issue. It's important to point out that selling such equipment would not relieve the seller of Y2K liability.

27. The White House says any Y2K problems that occur will be due to "overreaction by the people." Isn't this really an attempt to blame the public for a problem originally caused by the federal government's establishing the two-digit year standard in the first place?

This question is more an accusation against government than a criticism of the press. It has been debated ad nauseum in columns about Y2K.

28. If prepared people are less afraid, and only non-prepared people are likely to panic during a disruption, why has the federal government generally discouraged adequate Y2K preparedness? Isn't this ultimately contributing to the potential for panic? Why does the White House tell Americans to have half a tank of gas and not a full tank?

Another accusation, not a short-coming of the press. The White House has urged a responsible level of preparedness, based on recommendations of FEMA, the Red Cross and others.

These questions have a somewhat plaintiff tone, as though the real message is that Adams is dissatisfied with his own ability to define the Y2K problem for the American public without interference from troublesome politicians and reporters.

29. The Federal Reserve promises to pump nearly $200 billion in currency into the banking system in an effort to make sure banks don't run out of cash. There is more than enough to go around, we're told, so it's fine if people want to take out a few weeks' cash. If this is true, why are banks targeting the elderly, using fear tactics (stories of muggings) to prevent them from taking out their cash? If an elderly person remembers the crash of 1929 and the subsequent bank failures, isn't she acting rationally by protecting her life savings? And isn't it true that her actions don't threaten the system anyway because the Fed has delivered all this extra cash? Shouldn't banks try to make customers feel comfortable instead of fearful?

Adams has not read history or, if he has, he hasn't understood it. Bank deposits in 1929 were uninsured. Today the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. covers deposits up to $100,000 and no one has lost a cent on their accounts since the FDIC was created. This question is aimed at the banking system Adams distrusts. Here are several articles for your consideration:

Thinking About the FDIC

Banks Don't 'Lose' Money

Assessing Banks' Y2K Risk

What Will Happen: Banking at Y2K

30. Why is it socially acceptable to buy fire insurance, car insurance and life insurance but not "food insurance" by having some extra food stored away? Through what mechanism did the Boy Scout motto, "Be prepared" become politically incorrect? Will Boy Scouts now be called extremists? Or will they be forced to change their motto to, "Be prepared, except for Y2K."

Here's a lot of hyperbole, all over again. This is the same question as Numbers Three, Six and 23. No Boy Scout planning a three-day trip into the woods would pack along two-weeks worth of supplies. Adams has no sense of scale.

31. Why are Californians urged to have a two-week stockpile of supplies for earthquake preparedness, but only a three-day stockpile for Y2K? Should Californians throw out eleven days of supplies to be politically correct for Y2K?

Californians are not urged to have two-weeks supplies for an earthquake. According to the Governor's Office of Emergency Services, "If a major earthquake struck in your area today, you might be without direct assistance for up to 72 hours." Again, here's that phrase "politically-correct." In this case, it's used to get you to stop thinking and simply accept as fact this erroneous statement about California's earthquake guidelines.

32. If stock prices are based on rational, justifiable earnings per share, why is the NASDAQ exchange planning on running year-end advertisements that urge shareholders not to sell their stocks? If a company did this, wouldn't it be in violation of SEC regulations?

Now, we're on the fringe of reason. The markets are far from perfect and subject to wild gyrations due to irrational fear or fervor. The NASDAQ, New York Stock Exchange and others are doing these advertisements out of concern that people like Mike Adams will misinform people about the safety of their investments.

Yes, it would be illegal if a company said this about its own stock, but that is not the case here.

33. Why is virtually no member of the press asking Presidential candidates for their views on the Year 2000 problem?

Because the Y2K problem is largely understood and not an issue for the term of office during which these candidates will serve.

34. If the banking industry is rock-solid, why does it seem to be terrified of radio and TV advertisements that poke fun at Y2K? Are we to believe that a humorous television advertisement can threaten our entire financial system? And if so, how strong a system is that to begin with?

When, since the creation of the FDIC, the Securities and Exchange Commission and other federal agencies dedicated to protecting the ordinary depositor and investor, has the banking system teetered on the edge? It is hyperbolic to say that the banking industry is "terrified" of radio and TV ads that portray Y2K problems. See the banking articles reference above.

35. If your publication is funded by advertisements from companies that would be financially harmed if you reported they were non-compliant, don't you have a clear-cut conflict of interest that prevents you from investigating their compliance? Have you explained this conflict of interest to your readers when you publish stories about Y2K?

No, we don't. There is a boundary between advertising and editorial in real news organizations, a so-called "Chinese wall." I could care less if one of our stories hurt our advertisers, if it is based on solid, fair research. I'm afraid that what Mr. Adams knows about journalism, regardless of his self-assigned title "Editor" at Y2KNewswire, would not fill a thimble. He is a marketer, so I understand why he believes every writer and publication is in thrall to the advertiser.

36. Most publications in the United States rely on news wires from AP and Reuters. When you publish Y2K-related stories borrowed from these wire services, what percentage of the statements from AP and Reuters do you actually verify? For what percentage of the stories do you conduct your own investigations and add additional facts?

ZDNet publishes stories based on Reuters reporting. These organizations stand by their work, based on their long-standing reputations (Reuters back into the mid-1800s), and we don't fact-check them. When an error is discovered in these stories, we print a correction. Occasionally, ZDNet combines Reuters reporting with original reporting - all added facts are verified.

37. Many Year 2000 contingency plans rely on manual operations in case computer systems fail. Isn't there a gaping contradiction in the idea that everybody has been made more efficient by technology, but then we don't really need these computers because we can do it all by hand anyway? Furthermore, how will U.S. railroads go back to manual operations if the actual hand-thrown track switches have been removed? How will the IRS hand-write checks to million of taxpayers, as they have suggested they might do, if the refund database remains lost inside the crashed computers?

First off, the rail switches have been tested and found to be compliant. This is a very nice argument to spend time on, but it ignores the relatively limited impact the Y2K problem will actually have within organizations. Resources can be reallocated to cover work once performed by a computer because computers have saved time across the entire organization.

38. CCD Online Systems, a Y2K solutions provider, has offered to donate$50,000 to schools in the name of any of fourteen organizations on their "challenge list" that can pass an independent Y2K compliance test. If everyone is already Y2K compliant, as the public has been told, why has no organization on this list answered the challenge? Aren't they acting socially irresponsible by denying tens of thousands of dollars to our nation's children? Source: http://www.ccdonline.com/en/News/t_press16_e.html

No, to be fair, $50,000 is very little money in the scheme of things, even in a small district. I think school administrators and IT professionals have better things to do than respond to marketing efforts by companies.

39. Finally, the American public has been told to expect -- and base their preparations on -- the best-case outcome; the "no big deal" outcome or "three day snowstorm" scenario. When, in your entire life, have you ever seen the federal government take on a highly-complex, multi-billion-dollar project and get it right on time, the first time?

Oh, let's see, there are mistakes everywhere, all the time, yet government does get a lot of things done the first time they try. A couple examples of big projects: World War II; the race to the Moon.

Bonus question, just added on December 7, 1999: Social Security has been widely touted as being 100% Y2K- compliant after having spent ten years on the project. Nearly a year ago, President Clinton declared Social Security to be 100% compliant. Yet last week, thousands of Social Security notices containing mixed-up numbers were apparently mailed to senior citizens who were shocked to find their Social Security numbers scrambled. If Social Security is fully Y2K-compliant, why is it still experiencing glitches in 1999? More importantly, if this is the result of ten years of Y2K remediation, what outcome is likely for federal agencies that have only spent two years, not ten, fixing Y2K bugs? Source: http://www.tri-cityherald.com

This is not a Y2K problem. It proves nothing, except that computers are not perfect. See the following article:

One Glitch Does Not Another Make.

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