Gimme Shelter! Douglass Carmichael's "Schools" Plan : LUSENET : Millennium Salons : One Thread

"The notes on this page were excerpted from weekly notes that are part of a dialog built around an evolving set of scenarios (see Consider this an impression from the week, sighting of early indicators, deeper theorizing..) Back issues archived at above URL." - Douglass Carmichael

Central Shelter for the Winter of the Year 2000

Notes from week 66: September 27, 1998

By Douglass Carmichael


There were a number of important meetings last week. The symbolic meeting was the Discovery Institute meeting in Washington with many key players, George Gilder, Congressman Horn, Senator Bennett, Steve Forbes, Yardeni, and others. The discussion was sober, but most sobering was that this great group and a day of impressive education was attended by about 100 rather than the 400 people the space could hold. "Preaching to the choir" and the rows upon rows empty just short of Shakespeare's "bare ruined choirs where late the sweet birds sang." People do not sense the energy and interest in the question. Most speakers in fact trivialize the y2k problem " nasty little zeros", but not the extent of damage. Yet trivializing the problem makes it intrinsically less motivating to work on or participate in. But the key impact of the meeting on me was to see how bad a job we are doing in creating awareness. Leadership in particular was judged harshly at this meeting.

We are doing a lousy job of awareness because we have no way of avoiding panic, and so responsible leadership feels stuck. At the same time anxiety mounts in the general population and among experts, and they move towards "protecting their families." But "Hoard your own" is a limited strategy with negative consequences.. The result, after serious thinking this week leads me to...

Conclusion (I am being very cautious with "conclusions", so NB).

1. We can for the first time begin to hear the water going over the falls as we drift closer. There is a real change in the reality of this. Summer is over. The perception is growing that "the scale is the thing is "wide" geographically, and it's really "deep" 'cause it touches so many systems simultaneously) so the responses hafta also focus on scale. 'seems like a key thing to do is *scale up*". (thanks to Minnesota for some of this language)

2. The trend towards family protection through storing water, generators, fuel and food is getting powerful. The problems is that there are limited supplies, and manufacturing cannot respond fully quickly (its not a very attractive investment for a one year business). The result is that prices will rise, and storing will become a middle class movement, making the total situation worse. The answer is that we need a program, sponsored and financed from the Feds and the states to support vigorously and with money and maybe national guard activity - to make sure that schools are equipped to provide water, food, cooking and a warm space through the winter.

I see no other proposal that makes both sense and is doable in the time frame that does not split the society in a very unfair and dangerous way. Using schools in emergencies (the current hurricane in the Gulf) is an fairly well accepted part of the american culture.

The Plan: we need to work on four levels:

Quick view

1. The President, VP, cabinet and Koskinen, Bennett, Horn... speak out for maximum awareness

2. We increase the rewards for smart fixing efforts..

3. Safety net using schools in every town in America.

4. Share this model overseas..

In more detail,

1. The President says "This is real trouble, we do not know what will happen but we have to be prepared for the worst, and at best its still messy. What I propose is..." The VP, Koskinen, Cabinet follow - daily. And we see on video things like Koskinen's 35 sector map. Koskinen likes spots and brought the Olympic soccer to Washington. This is he Olympics to end he century. Let's sport it up.

2. We work at getting it fixed, including sharing of information (the litigation potential seems overdrawn because we do not see emerging the companies that want to sue, only overly cautious lawyer driven costs to protect themselves), the EDS site, the site, and start offering prizes (get the Malcolm Baldridge group in Commerce on this ASAP.)(we must admit that fixing is poorly defined and the fixing introduces new and in some ways more difficult errors. This is especially true of triage and "critical systems' operations, because unknown connectivity is damaged.)

3. we start a federal - state cooperative program to make sure that every school district in the country has enough schools with generator backup and fuel, stored food, blankets, heatable space, and water (drilling wells is probably in order) for the population to feel that they will not freeze, starve nor desiccate. Use the national guard, regular armed forces to help the set up of this difficult task. federal funding will be used. (need to be aware that ethnic groups are often afraid of or skeptical of the fairness of schools. that would need to be monitored.). Time to operate, between one month and till spring.

4. We share the plan and develop the equivalent of it world wide with perhaps $100 Billion Marshal Plan (Yardeni) with local contributions to participate, being very aware of graft and corruption possibilities.

Without #3 the President can not speak out, nor will massive hoarding and class warfare be avoided. Its much cheaper to heat a school with backup energy than for every home to have backup energy. The mere storing of fuel will cause many accidents, fires,..

Without #1 people, still in denial and skepticism, will not get mobilized, as they wait for the top to tell us "It's time, now", because, till then, "How can they be serious, and if they aren't maybe the problem isn't."

#2 is to develop the basic technical discipline and functionality we will need post y2k, and #4 is because without global functionality our large continent will get swamped by a rising sea of Rwandas.

I do not see any other plan that is both doable and adequate. Time is short. Announcements need to be made at the start of y2k awareness week in October, or sooner, and projects begun in six weeks. If awareness week starts with less, the message will be "No big deal, they will handle it."

I will let you all know immediately if I think at any point there is a better plan, that this one is unnecessary, or that certain inadequacies are materializing.

The president cannot speak out strongly if what he says causes panic. Panic can only be prevented if real safety exists. The whole spectrum 1-3 in mutually necessary and interdependent.

Only if the president gets involved will people feel that the chief has said "go" and its ok to devote time to it, in a public context of seriousness, not denial.

The schools, can only be done if there is national leadership and money to help make it happen (it means storing fuel for example, and having backup generators.): its in the culture more than any other. If the schools were known to have food and water, cooking and warm space till spring people could not have to panic about basic survival. Short of that, we get individual coping and the issues raised above.

Community: the emergence of community as the core seems key this week. Its on the minds of lots of people and we are getting complex proposals. I think too complicated. With the basic plan presented here, communities can work the details - and there are many - themselves, with local flavor in response to local conditions. But the basic three level structure seems crucial. Time is of the essence. We need to be into this in six weeks. Local politics and business can handle the rest of shifting power and assets.

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-- Bill (, December 18, 1998

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