'Tis Only My Opinion!

January 2000 - Volume 20, Number 1

It is Circus Time!

The Y2K bug is not the same as the Millennium according to the Gregorian Calendar!

The United States Naval Observatory, the official keeper of time for this country and most of the world's nations, states unequivocally that the Millennium does not start until January 1, 2001.

When is the new Millennium?

mil*len*ni*um \ \ n, pl -nia or -niums: a period of 1000 years

The end of the second millennium and the beginning of the third will be reached on January 1, 2001. This date is based on the now globally recognized Gregorian calendar, the initial epoch of which was established by the sixth-century scholar Dionysius Exiguus, who was compiling a table of dates of Easter. Rather than starting with the year zero, years in this calendar begin with the date January 1, 1 Anno Domini (AD). Consequently, the Third Millennium does not begin until January 1, 2001 AD.

It is Party Time . . . who cares?

Of course, the hypesters and pundits could not care less about facts but just wanted to increase sales and besides the majority of the citizens of the world do not have the capacity to think rationally about any subject.

That is one of the unintended consequences of an education system where facts don't matter just as long as the student feels good about themselves. When I pointed out the difference to one marketing vice-president, his response was interesting . . . Well, I guess we can celebrate it twice! It is good for sales!

I won't bore my readers with the reasons our early computer programmers were constrained to using on the last two digits of the year to do calculations. It was a hard choice. The real problem was that beginning in 1980 when computer memory and storage no longer became a major problem we continued to write programs that still only used those last two digits.

But even so, our programmers were good enough to solve the problem!

What happens if there is not a disaster!

Can you imagine the consternation of the media when not one airplane fell from the sky because of a computer glitch at midnight last night? Or the disappointment over the lack of a wide spread panic caused by a power and/or gas failure, or an ATM machine that would not issue money. Or the anguish suffered by the tort lawyers when they discovered that they had no lawsuits to file.

ABC-TV produced a 24 hour celebration of the new Millennium, a year early, in order to have resources in place to report on the Y2K disasters that were to unfold. While the show was spectacular at times but mostly redundant, ABC is now rushing into production a 6 hour video of their coverage to make up some of the losses. I wonder if the video will have any commercials.

Any one want that extra H2O, MRE's, and/or an unused power generator?

Aren't you amused at how quickly the Red Cross and other agencies have put out an appeal for people to donate those items to them in exchange for a tax deduction? It is as if there will never be another emergency in the world. Right!

On December 31st, I went to several grocery stores and found that all the bottled water, spam, canned ham, and flashlights had disappeared from the shelves. In fact, at one store, two women were arguing over which one got the last package of candles in the store. The store manager had to mediate that dispute. At least, the law of unintended consequences did not result in one of them being killed. But the show was interesting!

So what now?

The population is not too interested in the upcoming Presidential election. First, the campaign is way too long, the candidates have almost identical programs, and not a single candidate has any charisma . . . let alone a flock of good-looking women to titillate the newshounds.

Of course, Hillary is moving to New York before she decides to divorce her philandering husband while playing the Democrat donors for chumps. But with her numbers continuing to fall, one must wonder how much longer she can keep up the pretense of running for the Senate.

The power of the established media outlets, newspapers, radio and TV, and magazines to mold public opinion is waning.

The new force is the Internet where a large percentage of the educated and younger population obtain their information. The ability to have information as soon as it appears on the internet and to do searches beyond the public library is revolutionizing the information obtained by the populace. Of course, we will need to continue to digest and evaluate but it will be done on an individual basis as opposed to the bias of the current purveyors of information.

Greenspan will try to manage the economy through the election in order to elect as many Democrats as possible. The Republicans without any new leadership will continue to back and fill and fail to aggressively advance an agenda to reduce government and taxes. This policy will probably lose them the House majority and maybe even the Presidency. Politicians will continue to spend the surplus and then discover that the rosy predictions of a surplus were in error when the economy decides to hiccup during the first half of 2000.

The United Nations will continue to be ineffective and their programs will depend upon financing and military support from the U.S. even though those programs are not in the best interests of the U.S.

The failure of the Clinton administration to pursue a policy of accommodation with Iran will cause serious problems in the oil industry. The Yeltsin resignation and Putin's rise to power coupled with the realignment of China and Russia against the U.S. and the disarmament of the U.S. will have very serious consequences for the U.S. if we don't begin to rebuild our conventional forces and install a missile defense in the very near future.

The dollar will come under fire from the Yen and the Eurodollar as those areas strive to fend off an economic downturn. A stock market where only technology issues have seen tremendous increases in value and now are at levels that remind me of the tulip market craze of yesteryear! Perhaps, the greater fool theory is at work.

When a company with quarterly sales of $14 million and a $5 million loss is valued at over $5 billion, something is crazy. And I for one, don't believe that a new paradigm is here. Unfortunately, today we have more people with assets in a highly overvalued stock market than ever before. If the market crashes by 40 or 50 percent, I hesitate to wonder about the overall mindset of our citizens.

Kosovo will become a major problem as the infrastructure damage of the NATO campaign hampers reconstruction. It could turn bloody. There is a real possibility that the justification for the campaign will be called into question and leaders of several NATO countries could be indicted as war criminals including our current President. His wag-the-dog antics just might be the straw that breaks his back.

Stay Tuned!

The last year of this century will be most interesting. A thoroughly boring election, a lame-duck President without a First Lady, an agribusiness economy in major trouble and a stock market that is based upon momentum rather than value are but some of the reasons that the Politicians will have to find something to keep the citizens at the Circus!

We can't have them worrying about whether their country is on the verge of collapse now, can we?

So watch out because as the famous line in "Hunt for Red October" goes,

"I am a politician, therefore I am a liar and a cheat, but I keep my options open!"

Truer words were never spoken and this applies to almost every politician I know here and abroad.

But then - 'Tis Only My Opinion!

Fred Richards
January 2000

This issue of 'Tis Only My Opinion was copyrighted by Adrich Corporation in January 2000.

It is intended to provoke thinking, then dialogue among its readers. Quotation with attribution is encouraged.


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