The Gary North is a Big Fat Idiot Page
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Gary North is a Big Fat Idiot.
His message is not fact.
His intentions are questionable.
Many of his premises are wrong or inaccurate.
Of course, Y2K is a big problem. Duh!
Gary North's interpretationof the facts is twisted.
Gary North's Y2K views are not a good foundationfor your views.
Gary North does not own the truth.
Gary North has pulled similar stunts in the past.
He was wrong on AIDS.
He was wrong on nuclear war and '80s economics.
He was wrong about banking crises.
NOTE 2: This site is replete with sarcasm and twisted humor. Many things contained herein are not factual information. For example, Gary North actually does not smoke crack.
Gary North needs to be spanked. He is an alarmist, apocalyptic goon. He is doing whatever he can to make western society collapse before January 1, 2000. He wants the US economy to shut down, the dollar to go crazy, to implode the division of labor, and riots to tear at all the cities of the United States. Why? Because the United States government—or more specifically, the Federal Reserve Bank—doesn't fit within his extremist Christian Reconstructionist religious views.
He urges everyone to move desolate places. There people need to set up Y2K survival compounds. These have generators, wells, a defense, etc. People need to buy mid-80s diesel Mercedes-Benzes. (That in itself is absurd; more later.) People must be prepared to live like this for many years. This crisis will take a while to heal.
This guy is crazy! What he says is hyperbole and exaggeration. His thesis comes from a series of arguments built on core fundamental flaws. It also comes from strong but ill-found religious views.
I have divided the site into two sections. The first section analyzes Gary North's motives. I have five possible motives.
The second section shows what I believe are fundamental flaws in his core arguments. This kook has somehow placed many square pegs in round holes. I'll show you where some of these pegs aren't fitting.
His whole argument is an ad ignorantiam logical error. That is, he wants us to accept a conclusion because the other way has not been proved. More specifically, he wants us to accept the conclusion that the world will collapse because he has not proven that the world will be OK. His arguments towards collapse are unsound, so I can not count them as relevant arguments.
Like a cult leader, Mr. North makes many ad populum logical errors. That is, he gets the readers to accept a conclusion based on emotional arguments. He appeals to your emotions first by scaring you. When you're scared, your defenses are down and you are more willing to accept bizarre or unreasonable logic. So if you're the type to weigh emotions heavily in your thought processes, you need to seriously reconsider some of the Remnant Review's blather.
Now, a disclaimer. I am not saying that Y2K poses no problems. That is false. Y2K will have ramifications. You probably will notice a change in your lifestyle. These changes can be significant. But the U.S. will not collapse. The country will move on. Life will continue. The U.S. will not become a wasteland.
Section 1: His Motives
Why does Gary North make his crazy arguments? Why does he so adamantly predict an apocalypse?
I've found five possible reasons: 1. He actually wants the United States—and in turn, western society—to collapse. 2. He has no other alternative. His whole reputation rests on his Y2K sorcery. 3. If Gary North really follows his message, he owns a lot of gold. He may be trying to rile some markets. This will drive up the cost of gold. This will make him rich. 4. Gary North's newsletter really sucks. He is trying to keep his few remaining subscribers hooked. 5. Gary North is a drug abuser.
1. Gary North actually wants the United States—and in turn, western society—to collapse.
Gary North is a member of a fringe group inside Christianity called Reconstructionists. I count myself as a member of the religious right. Reconstructionist thinking sounds scary to me.
This is North's own description of Reconstructionism:
A recently articulated philosophy which argues that it is the moral obligation of Christians to recapture every institution for Jesus Christ.It proclaims "the crown rights of King Jesus." The means by which this task might be accomplished--a few CR's are not convinced that it can be--is biblical law. This is the "tool of dominion." We have been assigned a dominion covenant--a God-given assignment to men to conquer in His name (Gen 1:23; 9:1-7). The founders of the movement have combined four basic Christian beliefs into one overarching system: 1) biblical law, 2) optimistic eschatology, 3) predestination (providence), and 4) presuppositional apologetics (philosophical defense of the faith).
Gary North, Backward Christian Soldiers? An Action Manual For Christian Reconstruction (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1984), Glossary.
Here's another summary of Reconstructionism. Frederick Clarkson wrote it in article titled "Christian Reconstruction" from The Public Eye. Note that the article is leftist. It tries to link the religious right movement to these reconstructionists. I don't agree with that. However, the following three paragraphs are objective and accurate:
Reconstructionism is a theology that arose out of conservative Presbyterianism (Reformed and Orthodox), which proposes that contemporary application of the laws of Old Testament Israel, or "Biblical Law," is the basis for reconstructing society toward the Kingdom of God on earth.
Reconstructionism argues that the Bible is to be the governing text for all areas of life--such as government, education, law, and the arts, not merely "social" or "moral" issues like pornography, homosexuality, and abortion. Reconstructionists have formulated a "Biblical world view" and "Biblical principles" by which to examine contemporary matters. Reconstructionist theologian David Chilton succinctly describes this view: "The Christian goal for the world is the universal development of Biblical theocratic republics, in which every area of life is redeemed and placed under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the rule of God's law."
More broadly, Reconstructionists believe that there are three main areas of governance: family government, church government, and civil government. Under God's covenant, the nuclear family is the basic unit. The husband is the head of the family, and wife and children are "in submission" to him. In turn, the husband "submits" to Jesus and to God's laws as detailed in the Old Testament. The church has its own ecclesiastical structure and governance. Civil government exists to implement God's laws. All three institutions are under Biblical Law, the implementation of which is called "theonomy."
Reconstructionism comes from Rousas John Rushdoony. Gary North is Rushdoony's son-in-law (verified through Mrs. North's driver's license).Gary North and his father-in-law haven't spoken to each other in years. They disagree over how to interpret article VI of the United States Constituion. North doesn't like Article VI because it led "directly to the rise of religious pluralism." He says that Rushdoony "pretends" that Article VI is not a "barrier to Christian theocracy."
Some of North's more bizarre beliefs:
That last belief is the big one. Gary North desperately wants the US to fall apart. He wants for the evil western society to collapse. If it collapses, he and his peers were right all along. Then they can set up this theocracy. His boyhood dream would come true.
Think I'm kidding? Read a quote from Mr. North himself:
I have opposed fractional reserve banking all of my adult life. I wrote a book on it in 1986 HONEST MONEY. I would like nothing better than to see the entire system replaced. I think that's what we will see -- in 33 months. Actually, it will probably begin to break up in 1999. I hope so. The sooner, the better.
I think graduated income taxes are theft. Karl Marx saw them as a way to destroy capitalism. I like capitalism. I'd like to see it survive. I think the present welfare/warfare State is a tyranny. So, of course I want to see y2k bring down the system, all over the world. I have hoped for this all of my adult life.
The y2k crisis is systemic. It cannot possibly be fixed. I think it will wipe out every national government in the West. Not just modify them -- destroy them. I honestly think the Federal government will go under. I think the U.S.A. will break up the way the U.S.S.R. did. Call me a dreamer. Call me an optimist. That's what I think.
This will decentralize the social order. That is what I have wanted all of my adult life. In my view, y2k is our deliverance.
Just don't be in a city when deliverance comes.
Gee. I think that the main purpose of North's message and the truth are two separate things. Need I say more?
2. He has no other alternative. His whole reputation rests on his Y2K sorcery.
Gary North has dug himself into a hole. A hole he cannot escape. For almost two years, his rinky-dink newsletter, The Remnant Review, has warned how Y2K is going to destroy us. He's elaborately taught us how to escape the inevitable. He's told us where to live. He's instructed us how to liquidate our assets. Etc., etc., ad nauseam, and seemingly ad infinitum.
If North changes his message, just a hair, his subscriber base will lose faith in his message. He cannot change his message without risking his entire business! It would be like the Republican party supporting the Democrat Party's socialized medicine. Or General Motors endorsing Fords. Not going to happen!
Not only would he risk his business, he would risk his inflated ego. (Go to his site, http://www.garynorth.com, and see this ego for yourself!) People with this kind of ego cannot acknowledge when they are wrong.
3. If Gary North really follows his message, he owns a lot of gold. He may be trying to rile some markets. This will drive up the cost of gold. This will make him rich.
Gary North believes in gold. If you are a Remnant Review devotee, you already own a lot of gold bullion. It makes perfect sense. Gold is dirt cheap right now! The country is experiencing its best ever sustained growth outside of a war. Nobody wants to invest in gold because other investments are much more lucrative. (Gold is cheap when the economy is good.)
But as the year 2000 nears, people will start doubting the future. The demand for gold will rise. And consequently, the price for gold will rise.
If we have a panic or bank runs, gold will absolutely skyrocket.
4. Gary North's newsletter really sucks. He is trying to keep his few remaining subscribers hooked.
Think back to 1992. We have a Democrat who just won the presidency. He's going to raise taxes, socialize medicine, allow gays in the military, hold love-ins with unions, etc. Things are going to go bankrupt. The doom and gloomers, including people like Howard Ruff (The Ruff Times), were predicting disaster.
The economy boomed! (Note: I still think that Democrats are a bunch of idiots! Clinton is very lucky that the economy stayed good from Bush's years.)
So why am I going to keep subscribing to this newsletter written by someone who is leading me in the wrong direction? If his commentaries aren't even correct, why should I follow his investment advice?
This may be "going out on a limb." I'll bet that in 1996, Gary North's newsletter has a tarnished reputation. It has always been thick on gloom and doom and light on real investment advice. As with other the conspiracist/fringe advisors, his predictions for the ‘90s did not happen. His subscribers aren't idiots. They realize that this man is a demented kook. They do not like dumping money into his newsletter when he isn't right.
They do not resubscribe.
Pardon this insult, but pretend you write the Remnant Review. Your subscriber base has been dropping for a while. Your newsletter is headed towards extinction. What do you do?
Write something that will hook your subscriber base for a few more years. Scare them into believing that they will die if they don't keep sending you money.
Wow! It worked! You'll distribute your first Y2K doom and gloom issue for free and try to hook other people. Lemmings are everywhere! Congratulations! You'll still get a few more years income from this sham!
Now you're selling newsletters, not the truth. Who cares? The income keeps rolling in! Just keep future newsletters really scary so that the lemmings will stay hooked. Give some truth, and then extrapolate it to China and back!
One of his opening remarks in the Y2K issue is that it took him "from early 1992 until late 1996 to come to grips emotionally with the Year 2000 Problem." I think that it took him "from early 1992 until late 1996 to come to grips emotionally with" the fact that his newsletter is a joke.
5. Gary North is a drug abuser.
Yeah, he's probably smoking crack.
Section 2: Fundamental Flaws
Following are statements or concepts that Gary North has said or espoused. I'll follow them with my own commentary. Many of these are statements or concepts upon which he bases some of his fundamental assumptions.
Most of the world's desktop computers will . . . start spewing out bad data.
Uncorrected PC architecture DOS and Windows-based desktop computers will revert back either to 1980 or 1984. They can be corrected briefly, but as soon as a PC is turned off, the correction dies. It will reboot to 1980 or 1984. Meanwhile, PC programs must be redesigned.
Nothing realistic backs these ideas. Desktop computers are the most dynamic species of computer around. Correcting PCs is not a big problem.
Older computers have problems understanding the year 2000. This is in both the older hardware and the older software they are running. But in almost every case, you can fix this problem by replacing the computer! New computers still run nearly all old software. Even if they can't, you can hire a DOS programmer to update your software. DOS programmers are plentiful. Or, hell, maybe you will have to upgrade the software to a newer vesion.
You can easily update current incompliant software (which is increasingly rare) with patches or upgrades. Go look at every major software vendor. (Microsoft, Corel, Symantec, et. al.) They all have prominent Y2K solutions sections, and most of them have fixes available now.
These computers may (not will) start giving bad data if you do nothing, but fixing a PC is easy enough for a bureaucrat!
Think of what happens if the following areas go down and stay down for months or even years: banks, railroads, public utilities, telephone lines, military communications, and financial markets. What about Social Security and Medicare? If Social Security and Medicare go down, it will affect millions of people. Yet both programs are at risk.
So there's no possible contingency plan for any industry? You mean to tell me that there's absolutely no way we can possibly continue to run these operations when some of the computer systems crash? Yeah, it may be harder and less efficient, but impossible? Give me a break! What kind of idiots does he take you for?
It is possible to completely fix most major and core systems of computers out there. It is possible to trick these computers into believing that other components of their networks are functional and alive. Granted, these systems can't run as well as a perfectly running system, but you can make things work to some degree. It's not perfect, but it's way different than not functional at all! Note that I say possible. Doing what I say is very hard, but it is possible.
Allow me to clarify: Say you own a Chevrolet Nova with an 8-cylinder engine. Before year 2000, it runs fine. All eight cylinders fire, it peels out, beats every car on the road, runs like a champ. You can drive as far as you want. But before the year 2000, you must do some work to the engine. You have to replace your spark plug wires. This has to be done, and you are on an absolute deadline. After Y2K, your wires will fall off or short out. Uncorrected, your car will not run and it can explode.
Here's the Gary North scenario: You're a lazy, stupid slob. You can't do anything right. You've removed all eight spark plug wires. But the year 2000 comes and goes. Your wires are off and you're now stuck. The wires absolutely had to all be on or all be off. There's no median ground. That's impossible. No way. You can't get anywhere now.
Here's a more reasonable scenario: The year 2000 comes around. You don't have enough time to replace all eight wires, but you at least have six replaced. You left alone the two hardest to reach wires (ones by the evaporator box and one under the compressor) because you wanted to get as much done as possible in the limited amount of time you have. Does the car run? Yes! Does it run as well as before? No. The engine runs rough, it doesn't get as good mileage as before, and it runs hotter. It will deteriorate faster. You may have to get a better radiator. But at least it runs while you use all your resources to fix the final two wires. And there's a huge difference between not running at all and running not as efficiently as possible. It still does most of the things it does previously. It can't quite smoke every Ford on the road, but it still gets you from point A to point B.
How about the components of the computer systems that aren't fixed? Is it impossible to find something to take these over temporarily? How did things run 20 years ago? 40 years ago? Have we forgotten how to do anything without computers? We can't manually do a portion of the computer's workload or live without part of what it does? There's absolutely no way to deal with any inaccuracies?
How about Social Security? If we truly fear a shutdown, why not isolate some of the check payment databases and just reprint the checks written in December 1999. This way, you would receive the exact same check for a few months on end. This does not require a Y2K fix at all! The systems that write the checks could all have their clocks set back a year and be isolated from all other systems. This certainly is not perfect, but Social Security can still run. Yes, I'm sugarcoating this solution. It is not easy. But it's possible! There are plenty of people smarter than me. I'm confident they will think of better plans.
You had better take Yourdon's scenario very seriously. In the Category "Programmers' Views," he warns programmers that it may soon be time to quit their big city jobs and head for safer places. See the posting: Yourdon: Should Programmers Quit and Leave Town in 1999? If they do, there will be no solution for y2k. Will they quit? I'm betting my life on it. The exodus of programmers will begin no later than 1999.
Yawn. Still waiting for that to happen. All I see now is more and more companies announcing Y2K help. If anything, the market is rapidly expanding. Go to Yahoo and find the Y2K solution providers list. See how it grows weekly.
By the way, no government tax collection agency above the county level is Year 2000-compliant today. People will know in 2000 that the government cannot trace them. Will they continue to pay, especially if the huge government welfare programs for the elderly have shut down?
Aha! Here's a typical Gary Northism.
Notice that his last statement. He is taking an unproven argument as fact. Can't do that!
The IRS is the agency under a lot of heat right now. But it can come out of the Y2K boondoggle alive and functioning. Granted, it cannot enforce our current tax code. I think any reasonable person can agree that the IRS has waited too long to fix its computers. They will not be ready in time.
I say, "So what?" Why do we have to enforce the current tax system? When Congress begins to realize that the IRS absolutely cannot collect, it will have two choices: 1. Do nothing. 2. Create a temporary (or permanent!?) flat tax.
How many computer systems does it take to administer a flat tax? Very few!
The IRS currently has three main computer systems that run its operations. One handles withholdings. This is certainly vital to the operations of the IRS. That computer definitely needs to be fixed. And there is enough time to fix it.
But what is needed to administer the flat tax itself? What information does the IRS need to keep track of?
Name, address, social security number, your earnings (already given by the withholdings computer systems), telephone number, a relation pointing to a separate database of businesses (they pay income taxes to the IRS, too). What else? Such a database is relatively easy to construct. Yes, even for 260,000,000 records.
Business taxes can be simplified in similar ways. I know. I own half of what the IRS defines as an S Corporation. Corporations and businesses are almost always identified by EINs, or employer identification numbers. So their records could actually be simpler than personal records. (Currently, corporate tax returns are hideously complex, but that's because corporations have many times more possible deductions and adjustments than individuals. The corporate tax code can be simplified almost in the same way as the personal code.)
Can this simpler IRS system be set up overnight? No. Even this system I mention will take many, many hours from thousands of technicians to make it a reality. Is it a possible and realistic? Yes.
Y2K updates will have a staggering opportunity cost.
Maybe. Mr. North wants to believe that all Y2K fixes will only enable companies to maintain the status quo. That is, the money spent on Y2K fixes won't improve anything; it will only make it work like it did before (except that it won't crash on January 1, 2000).
It depends on the intelligence of the Y2K overhaul administrators. The smart Y2K administrators will opt to update and replace as much hardware as possible. Companies are tossing old crap more than ever before.
So if you throw away old systems, what do you get? New systems. New systems that have power increases that follow a logarithmic scale. Personal computers have doubled in power every two years. This is called Moore's law. Say you spent $100,000 on equipment in 1988. Let's also say that you are replacing it with $100,000 of 1998 equipment. Following Moore's law, you are getting equipment that's 32 times more capable than what you previously had.
Gary North's belief on opportunity cost is only true for companies that opt to keep their old equipment and revamp their current code.
We don't have enough programmers to solve all Y2K problems.
ABSOLUTELY WRONG! COBOL is the language found on most systems that are not going to be Y2K compliant. COBOL is a mainframe programming language that went out of style a long time ago. A very long time ago. So his argument goes that the current pool of COBOL programmers is old and small (read his material for more info), and therefore we do not have enough programmers to fix the bazillion lines of code that is out there. According to him, if we pulled all COBOL programmers out of retirement and put them on the job today, it will take them several years past 2000 to solve all of our Y2K problems.
His argument has two major flaws.
NOTE TO MORONS: If you are inflamed by the above paragraph, read it again! Nowhere do I say that a crash-coursed COBOL programmer is qualified to administer or even work in the higher ranks of a Y2K remediation program. So quit posting messages on my forum telling me I said that! Crash-coursed COBOL programmers can work on the bottom rung of a Y2K remediation effort, under the guidance of senior programmers. It's similar to an auto shop run by a senior master mechanic and his employees. The master mechanic is trained in many areas. While he is mentally able to run all the operations of the shop, he cannot handle the workload alone. The employees have some knowledge, but not that of their boss. They cannot run the shop without their boss, but with him, the business runs smoothly and efficiently.
While COBOL is the most popular mainframe programming language of the past, other languages still exist and are being used. The same logic applies to all of them.
Everyone in authority will deny that time has run out to get this fixed, right up until December 31, 1999.
That's certainly not what I've been reading in Senate testimony lately. The FCC and FTC are both predicting dire problems, and they both acknowledge that it's impossible to fix all their computers on time.
They are paid to deny this. I'm saying that it's over. Right now. It cannot be fixed. Whatever it does, the Millennium Bug will bite us. How hard? There the debate begins.
An example of a wee bit fatalistic statement that is backed by many ideas that are untrue or exaggerated.
If every outfit that promises to be ready for testing by January 2, 1999, meets its deadline -- they all won't -- then there will be no excess mainframe capacity to run the mandatory tests.
Are you starting to realize that Gary North has a Ph.D. in History, not Computer Science? All mainframes don't work as he claims. For his statement to be true, they all run one large program which must be fixed and tested all at once.
In reality, most mainframe computers run a collection of hundreds or thousands of modules. We do have the capacity to test these modules independently and one at a time because they only consume a fraction of the entire load.
In most cases, mainframes are under less of a load at night because most work has stopped. There is a lot of free CPU time necessary to debug Y2K fixes.
Note that the above statements do not apply to all mainframes. Certain mainframes may require all elements be rewritten at once. Certain mainframes may not be able to take a modular approach to the fixes. So there is a percentage of mainframes for which North is correct. But 100%? He doesn't have a case to argue that even 50% are like this.
You should get a mid-80s diesel Mercedes Benz sedan.
Huh? You are telling us that western society is going to collapse. You are telling us that criminals will rule the US for a while. So we want Mercedes Benzes? Cars for which parts are already hard to find. Cars that attract attention. Sedans that can't negotiate severely deteriorated roads.
Wouldn't mid-80s diesel Chevrolet trucks make more sense? That body style is very common. It is known for being bulletproof (figuratively) and sturdy. It is the antithesis of flashy. It can blaze through unmaintained roads. For the price of one of these Mercedes Benzes, you can buy a truck and two spares!
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This page last updated 7-13-98.
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