January 1999

Remembering 1998 will be a hot topic for late-night television programs and prime-time news shows run by people who are very much out of touch with reality. Why should New York spinmeisters with seven-figure salaries tell us what were the important events in any particular year? Instead, let us examine the overall theme of 1998 and how it applies to the real world. That theme is, of course, "The Year of Spin."

1998 will be remembered as the year when the two Bills who dominate the intellectual wasteland of America, Mr. Clinton and Mr. Gates, fought a bitter duel to determine who was the bigger spinmeister. One of them wagged his finger at the American people and declared his innocence, boldly lying in a vain attempt to cover up an act of personal sin. The other Bill wagged his finger at the entire legal system, boldly declaring judges to be inept fools who ought to decide only "mundane" issues such as abortion, pornography, and church-state relations. This Bill attempted to slyly imply that technology is just too holy, too sacred, too lofty for mere judges to tinker with.

1998 will be remembered as a year in which bitter partisanship was blamed for all sorts of economic and social instability. One of the Bills promoted the idea that party politics was the only reason that perjury charges were being pursued. Meanwhile, the other Bill attempted to paint the court and the judge as mere pawns under the guidance of a sinister and manipulative cabal of software rivals intent on promoting freedom of choice against the will of the public. Horror of horrors!

1998 will be remembered as a year in which two very complacent men experienced some very surprising results. One of the Bills presided over a government intent on standardizing on wimpy, brain-dead Microsoft products, leading to a nearly scuttled nuclear submarine, a permanently destroyed federal labor immigration database, and numerous other failures that were carefully hidden from an ill-informed taxpayer base. The other Bill was similarly asleep at the wheel as the open-source movement headed by the excellent Linux operating system began encroaching on his masterfully-crafted PC software monopoly.

1998 will be remembered as a year in which two very powerful, intelligent men both attempted to pass themselves off as illiterate amnesiacs. One of the Bills exclaimed, "That depends on what the meaning of the word *is* is." The other Bill complained, "I don't understand what the word *ask* means."

1998 will also be remembered for a lot of other things, some sweet and some bitter. OS/2 Warpstock proved to be an unsinkable juggernaut destined to grow and prosper. The computer industry media continued their self-imposed exile from common sense by refusing to recommend or even explain OS/2 Warp to the public.

However, I believe that in just a few years 1998 will be remembered most of all as the beginning of the end for economic security in America. With the looming Year2000 problem, a sputtering stock market, and a global financial crisis, the foundation is laid for a signficant upheaval in the world economy that will likely disrupt the sedate slumber that most Americans have drifted into. A little-known rider to the recent budget bill spells doom for one hundred thousand American high-tech workers, because it greatly expands the revolving-door immigration policy that lets companies fire people over age thirty and hire cheap foreign replacements as permatemps. This sudden downshift in the economic lives of many white-collar workers comes on top of nearly one million high-tech layoffs in 1998.

The situation is so unstable that the U.S. government is expecting nearly EIGHT MILLION terminations, layoffs, and other career-ending hazards to occur in just the year 1999 alone. This little-known fact was carefully sequestered underneath a picture of Jesse "The Body" Ventura on page 9A of the December 23, 1998, USA Today, in an article claiming that this preparation was a sign of an imminent "Year2000 victory." A victory over whom???

It is possible that all of these trends and preparations are meaningless. But I wouldn't count on it. The two Bills may very well reform and become honest, reliable citizens. But I wouldn't count on that, either.

One thing we CAN count on, though, is this: 1998 will definitely be remembered. It has been an unforgettable year.

Most recent revision: January 29, 1999
Copyright © 1998, Tom Nadeau
All Rights Reserved.