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Y2K Political Action Project, page 2

Here's some earlier correspondence on Y2K political action, etc:

To: Harlan Smith (carbon copied to about a dozen others) June 28, 1998

Thank you for your effort to get people to focus on ensuring the minimal infrastructure needed for society to function in the post-Y2K era. I see you are trying to use the public to spread this perspective to politicians. I have come to believe that what you call "austere infrastructure mitigation" is a key strategy -- one that could channel the political process re Y2K into creative directions rather than down the partisan blame-drain where Forbes and Gingrich are sending it.

I don't hear much Y2K commentary on the fact that the November 1998 elections will choose the Congress (and many state and local politicians) who will be in power during 1999-2000. How benign and successful Y2K-related handlings will be will depend largely on who gets elected then. TechWeek 6/15 says "Virtually every Washington pol -- Republican or Democrat, player or potential candidate -- is scrambling for a Y2K position." (p. 6) That makes this a particularly good time to shift the focus from Federal Y2K compliance to national (or global) Y2K readiness. So:
(a) Have you received any indication that any US Rep or Senator or candidate for national office or governor has adopted your advice in whole or part (or the advice of anyone else thinking big on this, like Leon Kappelman, Douglass Carmichael or Larry Victor)? Have you heard of any significant politician even leaning in this direction? As Larry Victor has noted, politics often manifests as a snowball effect, with people jumping on (or away from) the bandwagon of whomever has the courage to take an early stand on an issue. Anyone coming out strongly along your lines could catalyze a useful dialogue and shakeout of positions.

(b) Do you know of anyone who is actually trying to inject this into political (as opposed to governmental) dialogue? Who and how? (I imagine everything from full page ads in the New York Times signed by thousands of big names, to massive letter-writing projects like you're trying to stimulate, to op ed pieces, to press conferences by significant organizations, to demonstrations at federal buildings, to back room political deals by a few big magnates [Ted Turner?], whatever...]

(c) Do know anyone with the political savvy to guide such an effort on behalf of America's communities? (Perhaps the effort should begin with the National Conference of Mayors...?)

It seems that a political effort is definitely needed to complement local preparedness efforts. Top-down actions can either help or hinder the bottom-up activity that's begun. You seem to be one of the few people thinking along these lines, so I was wondering how far you'd gone with it and if you'd stumbled into any support or signs of hope.
Tom Atlee

Note: Harlan Smith is a retired electronics engineer with some 36 years experience of working on complex radar systems in the military, General Electric and Texas Instruments. Harlan has a systems engineering background and has written several articles on the year 2000 problem including an introduction to the embedded systems problem and a plan for achieving global Y2K readiness called "Synergistic Mitigation and Contingency Preparation" which describes getting an "Austere Infrastructure" Y2K-ready. See the following web sites: (for printout of article) (for citizen-action project)

Larry Victor replied on 29 June 1998:

Tom, Harlan and others:

I agree fully with the need for an austere infrastructure (but NOT controlled by the transnational corporations) and the need to elect as many to office in the fall of 1998 with competent Y2K knowledge. This is a very sensitive initial condition in our unfolding chaos.
"That this is done for the 1998 fall elections is very critical. Imagine the difference if many Y2K concerned persons were in the congress today; and imagine the existing congress attempting to discuss these issues (with their limited competencies) and the gridlocks they may impose on necessary federal action. It is not that we are depending on governments to do our work for us, but they can make decisions that will make significant differences.
"A balanced, honest Y2K position will be clearly superior to the simplistic other positions and those who are linked to organizational denial may have difficulty being re-elected after 2000.
"If possible, viable candidates for the presidency should be selected and convinced to break tradition and begin their campaign for 2000 immediately, using Y2K as the rationale. I suggest that we explore finding suitable women candidates and have them announce early. Persons, renowned and popular - may be encouraged to run in support of Y2K (even if they don't plan to be final candidates). We may wish to explore "running" a whole presidential team, including VP and cabinet. This is the time to break tradition in politics."

In my May 29 long doc posting, I also called for massive effort to influence the fall 1998 elections
and recommended some tactics

In my Feb 15 posting of my EARTH_2002 scenario I called the "austere infrastructure" a safetynet:
"The safety net involved installing a decoupled infrastructure that was Y2K stable."
It will take a person about an hour to read all the pages in this scenario, I hope that some can find the time.

In my May 29 long doc I proposed a Backbone Infrastructure (for the USA) and discussed in detail some of its components. In the time period from Feb to May, I realized that it would be unlikely that we could establish such a system globally -- but I would like to be proven wrong.


Laurence J. Victor / Larry / et

Date: Thu, 2 Jul 1998 19:09:45 -600 (CST6CDT)
From: "Leon A. Kappelman" <>
Robert Mangus <>
Cc: "'Sen. Mat Dunaskiss (R) Dist 16'" <>,
"'Rep. Tom Middleton (R) Dist 046'" <>
Subject: A sense of priorities

Every possible effort should be made by everyone at every level of
government, industry, and society at large to ensure that our
critical infrastructure (e.g., energy, communications,
transportation, health care, banking) does not fail us because of
y2k. Business as usual will likely lead us to the worst possible
outcomes. Cooperation and information sharing are critically needed.
Enough of the personal agendas. Enough of the blame games. Active
leadership is critically needed. I have probably been working on
y2k longer than almost all of you reading this so let me be the one
to say WE ALL MISSED THIS (save perhaps the handful of people who
called for action prior to 1986 or so and even that late date is
only relevant thing to do is work to minimize the damages and
expedite the recovery. All else is folly.

Such behavior is reminiscent of Neville Chamberlain when he returned
from making the Munich Pact with Hitler in 1938, hoping that
appeasement would end the risk of war he said "I believe it is peace
for our time.... I recommend you to go home and sleep quietly in your
beds." A few days later, during the debates in Parliament to decide
whether or not to ratify the Munich Pact, Churchill said, "There has
been gross neglect and deficiency in our defenses.... We have
sustained a defeat without a war, the consequences of which will
travel far with us.... This is only the beginning of the reckoning."
As we know, the Munich Pact was ratified, Churchill was right, and
millions died correcting this error. Do you wish to follow in the
footsteps of Chamberlain or a Churchill?

Where we are 18 months form now is up to us. Are you part of the
solution or part of the problem?

Leon A. Kappelman, Ph.D., University of North Texas
Co-chair, SIM Year 2000 Working Group (
Program Chair, SPG YEAR 2000 Conferences (
Voice: 940-565-3110 Fax: 940-565-4935 Email:
"Y2K Strategies/Solutions of Fortune 100"

From: "Irene J. Hurd" <>
Subject: supporting legislators

Robert Theobald writes: "how can we help legislators to see what will
be helpful in place of what their instincts will drive them toward."
The part I would underline is "how can we help," and I would
extend that helping to all those who are expected to make decisions as to
public policy, expenditures, and what to say to mass media.

Decision-makers are indeed flak-catchers and there must be thousands of them
on the brink of collapse - emotional, spiritual and neural. It would
behoove us all to help, to find things we can support.