Many of you will remember back in 1999 when the Y2K bug was all the rage. Suddenly, all these retired COBOL programmers were brought back as high-paid consultants to turn -00 into 1900. Reportedly, some programmers made more in 1999 dollars than they did their entire careers due to the paranoia.
Of course, there was very little practical danger. Sure, a banks compound interest program might have zeroed out decades of interest by going from 1999 back to 1900, but most banks had migrated off those older programs anyway. And the popular jokes about missiles launching and mid-flight aircraft shutting down and so on were all ridiculous. Fundamentally, it showed how little Americans understand the technology that governs their entire lives; in fact, few people if any would have been affected for very long by the Y2K issue because most things we do are still done by people, not machines incapable of telling the date.
But Y2K also showed that Americans could link up, tackle a seemingly insurmountable problem (how many 1970s-era date-dependent algorithms were out there anyway? No one even knew!), and solve it quickly with minimal disruption.
A largely ignored aspect of the Y2K craze was that IT departments across the globe upgraded technology at an astonishing rate, and a lot of old 1980s and 1990s-era networks were shut down for good. As a result, companies spent like crazy on technology in 1997-1999, and with all that money spent there wasnt enough left for 2000. A small but uncomfortable recession resulted that is popularly blamed on the tech bubble, but really was more linked to over-spending on Y2K issues.
The point of that comment is that while it caused a recession, the IT sector was able to reabsorb the lost jobs and by 2001, people were coming back to work.
Now imagine the same thing happening with government. The United States is at an inevitable crisis: liberal spending programs are killing the country, just as if a Y2K bug-like event occurred. There is no money left to pay even the interest on the money we already owe. Government scandals are convincing both parties that government got way too big, and this is the inevitable result.
What if all sectors quickly worked together to privatize government programs, reduce spending dramatically, and shut down big government? Well, there would be a recession for sure. A lot of people want the IRS closed down: but that would dump 100,000 apparently unskilled Americans on the streetsinstant recession. Add to that any other departments that ought or must be shut down. The economic mess would be bad.
But if we did it smartlike the Y2K piecethe private sector could assume the displaced employees in chunks at a time. The recession could be short but manageable. And instead of centrally planning it like the Republicans keep suggesting (Mitt, Newt, etc.), let the individual agencies address it themselves with an overall game plan to guide them. This is how private companies handled it: we know what needed to be done, but it was up to individual companies to work it out at their own peril.
This could radically transform government in our country with a minimum of fuss. And Americans have proved that even in the lunacy of the late 1990s that they could pull together for the common good. Government could easily duplicate this on a less insane scale (there are fewer departments than private companies…one hopes), and manage the outcome over five years instead of 18 months.
It could be done.
Божію Поспѣшествующею Милостію Мы, Дима Грозный Императоръ и Самодержецъ Всероссiйскiй, цѣсарь Московскiй. The Czar was born in the steppes of Russia in 1267, and was cheated out of total control of all Russia upon the death of Boris Mikhailovich, who replaced Alexander Yaroslav Nevsky in 1263. However, in 1283, our Czar was passed over due to a clerical error and the rule of all Russia went to his second cousin Daniil (Даниил Александрович), whom Czar still resents. As a half-hearted apology, the Czar was awarded control over Muscovy, inconveniently located 5,000 miles away just outside Chicago. He now spends his time seething about this and writing about other stuff that bothers him.