Brad Aisa

Intervention is Incomprehensible

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The existential consequences of government intervention in the economy is such an abstract thing to try to understand that it is literally beyond the cognitive (their ability to think) and intellectual (their knowledge) capability of the overwhelming majority of people. It is just not possible to fight this battle in this arena. Every intervention yields some kind of benefit to some constituency in the short run. That is what is visible, both to that group and to others. Tracing the detailed deleterious consequences of interventions, most especially the *unseen* consequences, such as the spending that *doesn't* take place, the jobs that *don't* get created, etc. is hugely abstract.

Individual rights establishes an environment in which intervention does not take place. It is its own justification.

There are three pillars of modern collectivism: 1 Taxation, 2 Central Banking, 3 Public Education and support of Arts and Science. The first asserts the premise that the government owns the individual's productive capacity and property; the second asserts the premise that the government owns the economy and may engage in any manner of control of production and trade; the third asserts the premise that the government owns the individual's mind and may arbitrate the field of ideas and teaching. If you examine statists and their policies, you will always see that their most cherished fundamental beliefs are these three things, and any attempt to attack or repudiate them will result in vociferous protest. THESE are the 3 things that must be abolished. We need to eliminate taxation; eliminate government money and control of credit and banking; and eliminate public education and pubic science (and humanities, arts etc.) Many might claim these agenda items are too "extreme" and that we need to argue for more modest measures. But it is irrelevant and useless to demand the repeal of any particular item of intervention; on one hand, if you are merely arguing on a practical basis, you have no hope--see paragraph 1; on the other, if you are arguing morally, then you are, by battling an individual intervention, essentially being a hypocrite: "well why are you arguing against public medecine, since surely you believe in public school, right?".

I submit that Alan Greenspan was the greatest turncoat villain in Objectivist history. Someone who started out in passionate defense of private money basically became a real Robert Stadler and took over the institute of public money, thus providing its greatest possible moral endorsement one could imagine. Just as John Galt refused to be director of the government economic board in AS, so too should Greenspan have refused, for exactly the same reasons. The only condition under which it would be morally acceptable for an Objectivist to take such a position, would be to supervise the elimination of the agency in a responsible manner. It is either/or: if one argues that Greenspan may have somehow helped manage the money supply in a free-market-friendly manner (a contradiction in terms, imho) then one must insist Rand was wrong to not have John Galt help to manage the economy in Atlas Shrugged.

No one demanding categorical change in history ever got their way by collaborating with and "me-too'ing" with their enemies. The civil rights battles in the U.S. in the 60's were not won because black people tried to first fight for seating in the middle of the bus. Apartheid in South Africa was not defeated by those who agreed to long-term gradual integration and "eventual" cessation of the detestable policies. Communists didn't typically win their countries by trying to convince people they were right.

We, likewise, are not going to get too far until we, as a group, start adopting a revolutionary (as opposed to evolutionary) mindset. It has never been the "most rational" nor most intellectually predominant group in history who has won the battles of their day. Quite frankly, from what I can see, it was the group that was most morally fired up and most existentially active. It was the group who basically *took* control. Not asked or begged for it.

All my modest, humble little opinions...

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I submit that Alan Greenspan was the greatest turncoat villain in Objectivist history.

I fixed the above sentence.

I was just thinking recently that of all of the men who could have done something concrete to roll back one of the pillars of the welfare state, central banking, who could understand in deepest principle how wrong the Fed was to exist, he was the one, but instead chose the path of unadulterated power-lust, paving the way for complete national economic disaster.

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Agreed about Greenspan. It's been stated by others that he most resembles Robert Stadler. That resemblance is even clearer in light of recent events.

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I submit that Alan Greenspan was the greatest turncoat villain in Objectivist history.

I fixed the above sentence.

I often get the biggest laughs from the most understated humor. Thanks for that. :)

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There are three pillars of modern collectivism: 1 Taxation, 2 Central Banking, 3 Public Education and support of Arts and Science. The first asserts the premise that the government owns the individual's productive capacity and property; the second asserts the premise that the government owns the economy and may engage in any manner of control of production and trade; the third asserts the premise that the government owns the individual's mind and may arbitrate the field of ideas and teaching.

You left out environmentalism, which in seeking to control the "environment" controls everything around you, which controls you -- for the sake of sacrificing you to anything and everything that is not human.

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There are three pillars of modern collectivism: 1 Taxation, 2 Central Banking, 3 Public Education and support of Arts and Science. The first asserts the premise that the government owns the individual's productive capacity and property; the second asserts the premise that the government owns the economy and may engage in any manner of control of production and trade; the third asserts the premise that the government owns the individual's mind and may arbitrate the field of ideas and teaching.

You left out environmentalism, which in seeking to control the "environment" controls everything around you, which controls you -- for the sake of sacrificing you to anything and everything that is not human.

I promise, that if you start making serious dents in those 3 I named, no one on the Left will have any time or interest at that point to devote to environmentalism.

I mean that... I promise.

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There are three pillars of modern collectivism: 1 Taxation, 2 Central Banking, 3 Public Education and support of Arts and Science. The first asserts the premise that the government owns the individual's productive capacity and property; the second asserts the premise that the government owns the economy and may engage in any manner of control of production and trade; the third asserts the premise that the government owns the individual's mind and may arbitrate the field of ideas and teaching.

You left out environmentalism, which in seeking to control the "environment" controls everything around you, which controls you -- for the sake of sacrificing you to anything and everything that is not human.

I promise, that if you start making serious dents in those 3 I named, no one on the Left will have any time or interest at that point to devote to environmentalism.

I mean that... I promise.

The progressive left viros are not motivated by your promises.

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The progressive left viros are not motivated by your promises.

The 'viro fixation on the environment (in the U.S.) goes all the way back to Teddy Roosevelt. In the Old Days they called it Conservation. The New Eco-Phreak movement started around the time of -Silent Spring- by Rachel Carson.

All of this environmental, anti-industrial ka ka has its origins in Europe around the time when the industrial revolution began. See the poem -Jerusalem- by William Blake. Dickens got his phrase "dark Satanic mills" from this poem. This poem, set to music was the anthem of British Labor party just following the end of WW2. (It is also the choral music background for -Chariots of Fire-).

The urge to sacrifice the human race to Mother Earth goes back a long way.

ruveyn

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I submit that Alan Greenspan was the greatest turncoat villain in Objectivist history.

I fixed the above sentence.

I was just thinking recently that of all of the men who could have done something concrete to roll back one of the pillars of the welfare state, central banking, who could understand in deepest principle how wrong the Fed was to exist, he was the one, but instead chose the path of unadulterated power-lust, paving the way for complete national economic disaster.

Yes, and by not doing so, he has damaged the cause of capitalism for decades, perhaps longer. Greenspan is getting a lot blame for the current crisis, but the common perception is that it is a failure of capitalism. That's why the Right is a bigger enemy than the Left. Fortunately for her, but unfortunately for us, Ayn Rand didn't live to see one of her former associates do so much damage to her cause as did Greenspan. Had she lived to see what he has wrought, I think her views on the relative evils of Republicans vs. the Democrats might be different.

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Ayn Rand didn't live to see one of her former associates do so much damage to her cause as did Greenspan. Had she lived to see what he has wrought, I think her views on the relative evils of Republicans vs. the Democrats might be different.

Can you elaborate a little further on which of Ayn Rand's views you are referring to, i.e., what she said and where she said it? She was, for example, strongly opposed to the candidacy of Ronald Reagan, but would you have placed Alan Greenspan in that category, also, prior to his tenure as Federal Reserve chairman?

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The idea that conservatives have damaged capitalism more than leftists because conservatives portray themselves as its defenders, while leftists simultaneously attack it and grudgingly tolerate it, is nonsense. This assertion assumes that Americans would otherwise embrace capitalism and send the left packing if only the right weren't so effective at packaging their brand of statism and market manipulation as capitalism. In my view, the reason Americans are so easily fooled by conservatives' "capitalism" is that they have automatized the refusal to think, and in their concrete-bound mentality, the material "stuff" conservatives promote sounds better than the "stuff" leftists promote.

I say that when you look at the state of the world and of personal liberty, reality is staring people right in the face. Anyone who can think worth a damn could not confuse conservatives with champions of capitalism or of freedom. As disgraceful and traitorous as conservatism is, it's time for Americans to take a good look in the mirror to find out how we got here.

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I was just thinking recently that of all of the men who could have done something concrete to roll back one of the pillars of the welfare state, central banking, who could understand in deepest principle how wrong the Fed was to exist, he was the one, but instead chose the path of unadulterated power-lust, paving the way for complete national economic disaster.

Again, the assumption here seems to be that he could've done something concrete about the FedRes, a return to the Gold Standard, etc., but chose not to. It would be nice if we could see some proof of this pivotal assumption.

Clearly, Greenspan isn't an Objectivist. Also clear, clear form the lack of responses from the last time we looked into this issue, is that he never represented himself as an Objectivist and that, at the very least, in accordance with mental habits he had when he was part of the Collective, he chose Pragmatism.

So what?

What does that have to do the job he did as FedRes Chairman?

What does this have to do with the impact Objectivism is to have on the culture?

I think it's silly to think that a man like this can have a meaningful impact on Ayn Rand's legend and influence -- almost as silly as thinking that noticing that he did a good job as FedRes Chairman sanctions him and whatever immorality he may be guilty of.

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Ayn Rand didn't live to see one of her former associates do so much damage to her cause as did Greenspan. Had she lived to see what he has wrought, I think her views on the relative evils of Republicans vs. the Democrats might be different.

Can you elaborate a little further on which of Ayn Rand's views you are referring to, i.e., what she said and where she said it? She was, for example, strongly opposed to the candidacy of Ronald Reagan, but would you have placed Alan Greenspan in that category, also, prior to his tenure as Federal Reserve chairman?

If Betsy's recollection from the other thread is correct, Ayn Rand's opposition to Reagan was based more on his role in weakening Ford than it was a repudiation of her views that in general, the Republicans were the lesser of two evils.

I don't know enough about Greenspan's role in the Ford Administration to know whether or not Rand should have dissociated herself with him. However, he "saved" Social Security and ran the Fed after her death, so it's impossible to know for certain how seeing such a close associate do such things would have affected her views on the Republican party, in general. However, I think it is entirely possible she would have concluded that the American economy's regression to Socialism would be just as rapid under Republican rule as under Democratic rule. At that point, other concepts start becoming more important. Certainly atheism is more tolerated in left-leaning circles than right-leaning circles. Science, while misused, also gets a little more respect from Democrats than from the right-wing, provided it comes to the "right" conclusions. My point is not to defend Democrats, but to point out that if an Objectivist reaches a conclusion that the Republicans and Democrats are a wash on economic issues, who is the "lesser evil" is a very different question.

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Again, the assumption here seems to be that he could've done something concrete about the FedRes, a return to the Gold Standard, etc., but chose not to. It would be nice if we could see some proof of this pivotal assumption.

Give me a break. The evidence is staring everybody in the face on the headlines of every newspaper today. Greenspan was singularly responsible more than any other man for the state of the Fed and its actions, particularly vast sums in easy credit. It is nothing but wishful thinking to try to cast any positive light on his actions in 2008.

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Again, the assumption here seems to be that he could've done something concrete about the FedRes, a return to the Gold Standard, etc., but chose not to. It would be nice if we could see some proof of this pivotal assumption.

Give me a break. The evidence is staring everybody in the face on the headlines of every newspaper today. Greenspan was singularly responsible more than any other man for the state of the Fed and its actions, particularly vast sums in easy credit. It is nothing but wishful thinking to try to cast any positive light on his actions in 2008.

I don't understand all the intricacies of the position of Fed Chairman and the scope of power it carries, but the thought I keep coming back to is, "Here is a man who had the benefit of a close relationship with Ayn Rand and her ideas. He would have seen in detail and breadth the advantages of putting rational ideas into action and the catastrophe of treating them pragmatically. He was a purported free market advocate and defended the gold standard. He had all that going for him, and a supposedly keen mind, too. And yet, in office, he is known for speaking cryptically, deriding booming investment in a booming economy as "irrational exuberance", playing the same monetarist games as every other Fed Chairman, and most importanly, to me at least, failing entirely to speak out in favor of and use his limited power to push for a separation of state and economy."

What's his excuse? I've heard the argument that his hands were tied and that all he could do was stave off total monetary collapse as much as possible. And that he had to walk on eggshells with whatever he said, or risk losing his job which was so critical to our holding down inflation. That he had to smuggle the free market into the Fed so that Washington wouldn't notice. I just don't buy it. I don't see that he did any amount of good that makes him stand out among other Fed Chairmen. If he had a small amount of direct power and influence, how did he use it for good? Now that he's out of power, where is this passionate champion of laissez-faire capitalism? And if he didn't have any power, why play the game? I think a moral man would say, "This whole system is rotten and to hell with it -- I'm outta here!"

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The idea that conservatives have damaged capitalism more than leftists because conservatives portray themselves as its defenders, while leftists simultaneously attack it and grudgingly tolerate it, is nonsense. This assertion assumes that Americans would otherwise embrace capitalism and send the left packing if only the right weren't so effective at packaging their brand of statism and market manipulation as capitalism. In my view, the reason Americans are so easily fooled by conservatives' "capitalism" is that they have automatized the refusal to think, and in their concrete-bound mentality, the material "stuff" conservatives promote sounds better than the "stuff" leftists promote.

Your last sentence is exactly my point. A lot of people voted for conservatives because they wanted tax cuts not knowing the reason why they should want tax cuts (i.e. smaller, less intrusive government). They got tax cuts, all right, but at the expense of a huge debt that the Federal Reserve seems bent on inflating out of existence.

Now they are looking at their 401K statements from 9/30 (which are overstated by about 15-20% right now), seeing the Dow below 8700, and thinking that this is what "capitalism" did to them. All of this happened while a Republican was president, and during 6 years out of 8 when his party had control of Congress. They might think back to the days of Clinton and conclude that things were "better" before "we let deregulation run amok."

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Again, the assumption here seems to be that he could've done something concrete about the FedRes, a return to the Gold Standard, etc., but chose not to. It would be nice if we could see some proof of this pivotal assumption.

Give me a break. The evidence is staring everybody in the face on the headlines of every newspaper today. Greenspan was singularly responsible more than any other man for the state of the Fed and its actions, particularly vast sums in easy credit. It is nothing but wishful thinking to try to cast any positive light on his actions in 2008.

You are on to something, Phil O. My question to the Forum is why Greenspan gets the full force of your wrath, but not the politicians, Republican and Democrat, who praised Greenspan as a hero for 17 years? Don't Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II, along with the Senates (Republican-controlled and Democratic-controlled) who appointed and reconfirmed him 5 times get the blame for keeping him in such a position of power?

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Again, the assumption here seems to be that he could've done something concrete about the FedRes, a return to the Gold Standard, etc., but chose not to. It would be nice if we could see some proof of this pivotal assumption.

Give me a break. The evidence is staring everybody in the face on the headlines of every newspaper today. Greenspan was singularly responsible more than any other man for the state of the Fed and its actions, particularly vast sums in easy credit. It is nothing but wishful thinking to try to cast any positive light on his actions in 2008.

Funny, Phil, you still managed not to show that he could've done anything about the existence of the FedRes, SS, or the Gold Standard, etc.

If we're to believe what Greenspan said to Dr Peikoff, the man averted all kinds of disasters with a simple smile and "No" on the cocktail circuit. Good enough.

Given the powers of Congress and DC's general direction, you need to do a bit more than you've been willing to do in two exchanges on this issue in order to draw your Grneespan-related conclusions. Whenever you're ready.

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Funny, Phil, you still managed not to show that he could've done anything about the existence of the FedRes, SS, or the Gold Standard, etc.

He was in charge of the Fed for many years and had the knowledge necessary to make big changes and to educate on the incredible danger of the Fed's powers. Far from doing so, he basked in the power and the attention. Either he was an impotent drone, a figurehead, as you imply, or actually had enormous power to guide the Fed towards his policy preferences, the job of economic dictator that Galt turned down. What he did is well and widely known and a matter of public record, and if those facts are not sufficient for you, nothing I or anyone can say is going to convince you, nor do I have any interest in trying, other than to contradict your totally unfounded assertion that he somehow magically averted disaster, which is especially ludicrous given the events of the past week.

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.

If we're to believe what Greenspan said to Dr Peikoff, the man averted all kinds of disasters with a simple smile and "No" on the cocktail circuit. Good enough.

First, what did he say to Dr. Peikoff? Second, why should we believe what Greenspan said to Dr. Peikoff, and even if we do, why should we believe that Greenspan was right that he averted "all kinds of disasters"? I'm looking at the landscape in 2008 and it's really hard to see how he averted all kinds of disasters.

Also, lest we think the Left isn't going to try to pin Greenspan on Ayn Rand's legacy, they already have:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/09/business...nted=2&_r=1

http://www.progressive.org/node/124599

http://www.newsweek.com/id/159346

(all this is from a quick search of Google News with the words "Greenspan" and "Ayn" - try it yourself).

The sad thing is, this time, people will actually pay attention to this criticism-by-reverse-association.

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The sad thing is, this time, people will actually pay attention to this criticism-by-reverse-association.

SOME people will, but so what? Why should I waste my time with those who are that concrete-bound when I have facts and arguments that will persuade people who can THINK.

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Greenspan was not in a position to influence the elimination of the Federal Reserve, Social Security, etc., but neither did he speak out against them in principle. He did advocate Bush's plan to partially privatize Social Security investments, and he did speak out strongly against the easy money mortgage scandal controlled by the Democrats, stating emphatically that it as leading to a disaster. Overall, he revealed in interviews after his retirement that he liked what the Federal Reserve was doing and the people doing it, and was obviously caught up in the intellectual gamesmanship of the statists. He has made no claims that he was following Ayn Rand's ideas and neither has anyone else except for far leftists trying to scapegoat their own disaster onto "the free market" and "lack of regulation".

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Greenspan was not in a position to influence the elimination of the Federal Reserve, Social Security, etc., but neither did he speak out against them in principle. He did advocate Bush's plan to partially privatize Social Security investments, and he did speak out strongly against the easy money mortgage scandal controlled by the Democrats, stating emphatically that it as leading to a disaster. Overall, he revealed in interviews after his retirement that he liked what the Federal Reserve was doing and the people doing it, and was obviously caught up in the intellectual gamesmanship of the statists. He has made no claims that he was following Ayn Rand's ideas and neither has anyone else except for far leftists trying to scapegoat their own disaster onto "the free market" and "lack of regulation".

And is there any kind of philosophic conclusion to be drawn from this laundry list of disconnected and disintegrated facts? Anything about the role of ideas in human affairs? Anything about intellectual integrity? Anything about moral integrity? Anything about the relation of stature and moral sanction? Anything about proper vs. improper jobs (i.e. ones a rational person could take, vs. could never morally take?) ANYTHING?

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Greenspan was not in a position to influence the elimination of the Federal Reserve, Social Security, etc., but neither did he speak out against them in principle. He did advocate Bush's plan to partially privatize Social Security investments, and he did speak out strongly against the easy money mortgage scandal controlled by the Democrats, stating emphatically that it as leading to a disaster. Overall, he revealed in interviews after his retirement that he liked what the Federal Reserve was doing and the people doing it, and was obviously caught up in the intellectual gamesmanship of the statists. He has made no claims that he was following Ayn Rand's ideas and neither has anyone else except for far leftists trying to scapegoat their own disaster onto "the free market" and "lack of regulation".

And is there any kind of philosophic conclusion to be drawn from this laundry list of disconnected and disintegrated facts?

It is not a "laundry list" and the facts are not "disconnected". It is a description of Greenspan as neither an Objectivist nor the worst of the statists even while he is obviously attracted to the modern intellectuals of statism. Whatever "philosophic conclusions" you want to draw it has nothing to do with Objectivism and Greenspan doesn't think so either.

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[Greenspan] was in charge of the Fed for many years and had the knowledge necessary to make big changes and to educate on the incredible danger of the Fed's powers.

But this assumes their were "students" willing to learn, ie, give up power over the evil side of free men. Where do you get this? Wouldn't a FedRes Chairman be laughed out of office if he did what you insist Greenspan had the opportunity to do, leaving the power of that position in lesser hands, ie, people that weren't as pro-free markets as he was?

Either he was an impotent drone, a figurehead, as you imply

Even kings and ruthless dictators have limits on what they can do. The Chairmanship doesn't enjoy the kinf of autonomy you need to imply here.

More importantly, the culture wasn't -- isn't -- in a position to accept what you seem to think Greenspan could've implemented. We can't get from here to there in an instant, which is what you seem to be saying.

or actually had enormous power to guide the Fed towards his policy preferences,

You write as if a man holding that chairmanship wouldn't be tossed out the moment he started implementing what you think Greenspan could've and should've initiated. (We're so confused right now, that I'm not even sure that a US president could've survived an order to nuke the capitals of the nations on the Axis of Evil list after 9/11. He'd be tossed out, probably imprisoned, maybe even executed.)

the job of economic dictator that Galt turned down.

Enough with the equivocation of the job JG turned down and the chairmanship of the FedRes. The two are nowhere near compatible (not to downplay the insane amount of power inherent in a position that sets rates for an entire nation -- the world, even -- and prints currency at will.) And even if Greenspan did accept the job JG rejected, who the heck said Greenspan is the moral equivalent of JG, that he had to be, or that Greenspan accepted the philosophic system that shows JG is the pinnacle of Man?

Since you didn't do it in the first exchange we had on this man, a man I have no reason to defend, I'll ask you again: Show us where Greeenspan claimed to be an Objectivst. While you're at it, explain how you and others set aside that, although he was a member of the Collective, he never accepted Objectivism. Last, please show how it's impossible for someone to reject Objectivism honestly.

What he did is well and widely known and a matter of public record, and if those facts are not sufficient for you, nothing I or anyone can say is going to convince you, nor do I have any interest in trying,

Which, however, doesn't address the assertion that he could've done anything else. In two exchanges on this, you've yet to show that another course was possible, that he saw it, that he agreed with it, and chose to evade it anyway.

other than to contradict your totally unfounded assertion that he somehow magically averted disaster

All I've ever said is that he did a good job at a position that shouldn't exist, that there can be no betrayal when no allegiance was pledged, and that there are no meaningful damages from this alleged betrayal -- at best, the man will be a footnote in the history of Objectivism.

which is especially ludicrous given the events of the past week.

This is now the second time you've put the blame for the current economic disaster on Greenspan. I'd appreciate elaboration, if you have the time.

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