Defense of Y2K Extremists
Burton S. Blumert
want to talk to the owner of Camino Coin," she said in her
soft sunbelt drawl.
is Burt Blumert. How may I help?"
North made me buy gold coins from you people. He said that if I
didn't I would be in big trouble due to Y2K. It happened under false
On the defensive, I responded, "Well, I suppose many of us
were caught-up with the Y2K scare, but you should feel relieved
that our worst fears weren't realized."
want my money back," she said. "I never opened the box
the gold came in."
The computer screen revealed her purchase in July 1999. "Mrs.
Bartlett, you bought 61 one-ounce and 100 tenth-ounce gold eagles.
You paid $277 each for the big ones and $31.50 each for the small
ones. Today I can repurchase the one-ouncers for $286 and the tenth-ouncers
for $29.50. If you sell today, you'll be ahead about $450."
That information didn't give her as much satisfaction as it did
me and she asked, "What about the silly wind-up radio and flashlight?"
those remarkable," I added hopefully. "And they are so
well made, from South Africa, you know. I use the radio every morning.
Sometimes it's the only exercise I get."
Without as much as a chuckle, she charged, "My pastor says
that Gary North is a false prophet and should be punished."
know, Mrs. Bartlett, Gary North wasn't alone in alarming the public
about Y2K. There were dozens of Congressional hearings about the
horrors of Y2K and people like US Senators Bennett and Dodd caused
me sleepless nights watching CSPAN tapes."
By this time I sensed Mrs. Bartlett was in her own zone, and she
said, "My son ridiculed me for buying the gold. I actually
bought it for him. He called this morning sarcastically asking if
the electric power was on. I was so embarrased."
As one long identified with losing causes, I commiserated. "It
wasn't only the right-wingers who issued emergency instructions
about Y2K. The American Red Cross, FEMA, and most power companies
urged hunkering down with dried food, candles, and bottled water."
I didn't seem to be making much progress and she in an accusatory
voice said: "Well, you ought to be ashamed of yourself. Imagine
profiting on such a phony thing as Y2K."
In my best Jack Webb-John Wayne impersonation, I responded, "Ma'am,
I'm just a humble old gold dealer who tries to treat the customer
fairly whether their fears are real or imagined. We sell insurance,
and as with most insurance policies, you're better off if there's
Bartlett, if you're looking for the real profiteers, seek out those
computer programmers who created the problem and later reaped the
harvest by solving the mischief they gave birth to."
The tide was turning and she stammered, "Well, Gary North and
his ilk ought to apologize for what they've done."
I was now on the offensive. "Gary North and the other Y2K extremists
were pikers. Most of their 'victims' were older folks intimidated
by revolutionary technology they did not understand. That it contained
the seeds of its own destruction seemed appropriate. Where are the
critics of corporate America who spent billions on a non-problem?
And what about our lovable government? Where is its apology for
all the taxpayer dollars it wasted on an imaginary project?"
A computer friend tells me that the Y2K scare gave corporate America
an opportunity to repair the minor problem caused by the two-digit
date, but also enabled them to upgrade hardware and revitalize software,
in short tooling-up for the revolution in progress. In a way, "the
right-wing Y2K extremists" accomplished the same for middle
The Y2K scare motivated people to improve their emergency preparedness.
If it abetted people's suspicion of basic institutions like banks,
insurance companies, and government itself, what's wrong with that?
My customer decided not to sell her gold coins and I direct the
following postscript to her and others like her:
Most of the Y2K extremists were genuine in their concerns. The establishment,
as usual, has taken this opportunity to savagely attack them. But
remember, the media have no affection nor sympathy for you. To them
you are aliens who live in "flyover country." So don't
be embarrassed. The elites, in the end, were far more gullible than
Burton S. Blumert is president of the Camino Coins and Ron Paul
Coins in Burlingame, California.