Y2K: Am I paranoid?

Paul Hughes (planetp@aci.net)
Wed, 10 Feb 1999 09:51:51 -0800


I know I've brought this issue up once before. At that time only two people responded. Hopefully this will generate more responses this time:

On a daily basis I do my best to maintain a practical optimism. Beyond this however, I can't help but play out what I see are likely U.S. scenarios *if* certain things happen:

Here's the scenario:

  1. Y2K problems in embedded chips cause a certain critical minimum of power stations around the US to shut down. Because it's the middle of the winter, the other stations along the grid are already taxed to the limit. These critical minimum failures start a cascade or domino effect by draining power from other stations, thereby shutting them down. This taxes the remaining operational infrastructure even further and finally shuts the entire grid down. A nationwide, if not global wide power outage occurs.
  2. What does the US government always do in these situations: Declares a State of Emergency.
  3. Meanwhile the power outage hinders the entire economic infrastructure - with the most critical being food and water. Since most people do not have stashes of food for such occasions, they will grow *very* desperate and begin roaming and perhaps robbing other people for food and water. This in turn precipitates widespread rioting, looting and general mayhem.
  4. What does the US government always do in these situations: Send in the troops! Or in this case declare Martial Law.
  5. What exactly does this mean? According the ex-military people I know, they say the first most likely action on part of the military will be to conduct door-to-door searches to confiscate everyone's firearms. They all will use airborne ground penetrating radar to locate via GPS exactly where people have *hidden* their firearms. Obviously they will not confiscate everyone's firearms, but will probably be successful in getting most of them.
  6. Shortly following arms confiscation, they will set a curfew. Martial Law curfew is typically enforced strictly, with the use of deadly force if necessary. "Anyone found out after 9pm without proper 'paperwork' or work permits will be detained or even shot on sight".
  7. Once this all sweeping Martial Law is instituted, why would they reverse it? Since they now have the control they have long sought, they will not give it up without a fight. Since the majority of the population will now be under their control, such an organized "revolution" will *not* likely materialize in any reasonable period of time - we may be stuck in a totalitarian hell for decades or longer.

Ok, this is *not* an optimistic scenario. I more than most people I know Want an optimistic scenario. Yet I can't help but feel the above scenario is a likely one.

I'm posting this on the extropian list, because you guys are the most intelligent and informed people I know, who also share my transhumanist aspirations. I look forward to your comments, critiques and dissections. I hope there is something I'm missing in this "big picture". I more than anyone want to be wrong about this. Should I be paranoid, or are optimistic times more likely?