From Kim Ness: Enjoyed your comment about the crazies of the late ’70s/early ’80s. [The buy a gun and run for the hills crowd.] I would have been one of them, at least when it came to buying gold, but I’d just gotten out of school and had no job and no money.

Regarding Paul Volcker, while I have no personal opinion about his mental powers, I do know of a true story (published in the Reader’s Digest I believe, or maybe in the Orlando Sentinel) back in 1983 or 1984.

It seems that at that time one of the Senators from Florida was a woman named Paula ? (can’t remember her last name). She had gotten swept into the Senate by the Republican tsunami of 1980. At some point she and Mr. Volcker were at a function where Mr. Volcker spent a good amount of time explaining macro-economics to this senator, a lady with little economic or business background. During his monologue he kept hitting his head against a lowhanging chandelier. Finally Paula, a petite woman, had had enough of Mr. Volcker’s preaching and said, “Mr. Volcker, I may not know a lot about economics, but I do know that if I kept hitting my head against a chandelier I’d have enough sense to move.”

A.T.: Paul Volcker was a great public servant and a real American hero, in my view. But can’t you just see it?

The inflationary problems Volcker had to handle in the late ’70s, early ’80s were largely psychological. There could be more than a small element of that regarding the Year 2000 problem. Not to pay any attention to it could prove foolhardy; to pay too much attention could prove almost as scary. That’s why taking some very-likely-needless precautions early is a good idea. The more people feel prepared, the less likely they are to act irrationally or anti-socially.

Tomorrow: some very practical ideas from a friend in the Heartland.



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