Third Party & Independents Archives

Consumers Can Rescue the Economy

When I was young talk about millions of dollars impressed me. When I was older talk about billions of dollars dismayed me. Now, regular talk about trillions of dollars, especially government spending, nauseates me. People never seem to learn that they control the fate of the American economy.

It is far too easy to blame in bad times or thank in good times Wall Street, the government, or super-rich and powerful financial entities. In actual fact it is always the spending of money by the general population on consumer products and services, housing, cars, or investments that drives the economy. The core problem is that the public does not act in concert to serve its own interests but, instead, takes its cues from the external world and puts its trust in the wrong people and entities.

In other words, besides all the blame that rightfully can be heaped on many others for the current recession, it is also true that the public through its dollars drove the nation and the world into the current meltdown, mostly by using far too much borrowing. They got suckered into using easy credit. True, in many cases, they acted on incorrect and intentionally misleading information and were taken advantage of. But so much of this consumer behavior was driven by greed or stupidity. Confidence was placed in government regulation, Congress, mortgage and other financial companies, banks, and more generally in the plutocracy that runs everything that matters. We had delusional prosperity because most of the population had willingly let themselves be deluded or manipulated by the power elites running the government and the economy. In essence, consumer power was usurped or pirated by the worst people in our society.

Here is the most critical fact. Consumers control over two thirds of the economic activity of the nation. Long before the current economic meltdown I kept writing about the potential political power of consumers. To get desired government actions, millions of consumers could threaten to cut their spending in order to get actions, like stopping the Iraq war or impeaching George W. Bush. But without leadership consumers just kept borrowing and spending, maintaining the delusional prosperity that they themselves propelled. Now they must act to fix things.

Now that the economic meltdown has hit us very, very hard it is critically important for people to understand that depending on the usual power groups to turn the economy around is dumb. Thinking that President Obama, Congress and various federal agencies, in particular, will save us is continuing the delusional thinking that has been like a chronic disease.

American consumers must understand that literally within days and weeks THEY themselves could turn around the economy. I was struck by data from the Federal Reserve that there is, even after the grotesque economic meltdown, presently a historic amount of cash is in bank accounts and money market accounts, an astounding $8.85 trillion. Look at that number again. Relative to all the government bailouts and likely actions to stimulate the economy, that number is remarkable. That humongous amount of cash (not the value of homes and investments) comes to about $29,000 for every man, woman and child in the nation, or roughly $88,000 per household.

Your first thought may be “I don’t have that kind of cash!” In fact, economic inequality has risen terribly in recent years, helped by various public policies, making the affluent rich and the rich super-rich (and most of the middle class poorer). This means that much of this national cash belongs to a relatively small fraction of the population, perhaps 20 to 30 million people.

No matter how much cash we have, we must put our faith in ourselves more than the government or the business and investment sectors to turn the economy around. The more cash you have, of course, the greater your potential power to push economic recovery. We often hear about consumer confidence. Whether people are in the mood to spend or whether they have become too afraid for their personal financial security, causing them to spend as little as possible.

To turn the stock market and just about every segment of the private sector around, 10 to 20 million Americans must grab their inherent consumer power and start spending and investing with gusto, from home appliances, computers, cars, clothing, furniture, new homes, travel, and so on.

The stock market would immediately start to climb up, retail stores would stop closing, the automotive sector would resume producing cars, companies would start rehiring and the news media would start pumping out good news that, in turn, would trigger still more consumer confidence and spending. Suddenly, a positive spiral of economic activity replaces the hoarding of cash that has driven the negative economic spiral.

Think of that number $8.85 trillion again. Think of it relative to the billions and trillions constantly talked about to spur economic recovery through bailouts and other government actions, all of which must somehow channel money into consumers’ pockets or make credit for them more available. A modest fraction of all that cash, say a quarter, has the economic power to do more good than anything the government does. Better than all those government actions is the absolute certainty that rapid increases in consumer spending and investment would definitely drive the economy upwards. Positive consumer confidence can feed on itself psychologically, become a viral message that shoots the economy forward, reverses unemployment, makes stocks and mutual funds and, therefore, retirement accounts more valuable, and so on.

We sure could use some national leadership that motivates and inspires use of consumer power, rather than all the blabbering about what the government should or should not do. Americans have the choice to depend on politicians or to depend on themselves. Either use YOUR cash-power or remain victims of greed and corruption, as well as the inevitable incompetence of politicians and government officials. Consumer power awaits you. The nation needs it to avoid still more massive federal deficits and borrowing and inevitable tax increases. We the people must do much than vote; we must use our dollars to save our own financial health. Unless we shift our thinking and spend, we will stay in economic hell for a long time. We are the economic stimulus solution we’ve been waiting for.

Posted by Joel S. Hirschhorn at January 6, 2009 11:05 AM
Comment #273193

That’s all well and good for those with jobs and the extra money. And of course there is the fact that consumers are not saving, for emergencies or retirement. For many reasons I suspect. Seems an oversimplification to me.

Gosh, isn’t that what Bush told us to do in the aftermath of 9/11? And I guess it worked until the crash, right?

Posted by: womanmarine at January 6, 2009 11:47 AM
Comment #273195

Whatever the root causes are, you certainly aren’t anywhere near them.

Yes, we can spend again, and more money will flow to china, and the gov’t will print more money, and we’ll be right back where we are but with a new Honda and less money in the bank.

Posted by: Schwamp at January 6, 2009 12:21 PM
Comment #273200

It’s hard to spend more money when most Americans are already deep in debt, and haven’t been saving since year 2005.
Current nationwide debt is $54-to-$67 Trillion, and has grown from 100% of GDP in 1956 to $390%-to-483% of GDP in 2007.
80% of Americans only own 17% of all wealth (and shrinking).
1% of the wealthiest own 40% of all weatlh.
40% of Americans have ZERO net worth on average.
20% of Americans have negative net worth (i.e. debt).
13+ Million Americans are unemployed.
Average savings have been negative since 2005.
The following are current debts (not future debt):

  • (1) Total Domestic Financial Sector Debt = $15.8 Trillion

  • (2) Total Household Debt = $13.88 Trillion

  • (3) Total Business Debt = $10.16 Trillion

  • (4) Total Other Private Sector Foreign Debt = $1.8 Trillion

  • (5) Total Federal Government National Debt = $10.7 Trillion

  • (6) Total State and Local Government Debt = $2.2 Trillion

  • __________________________________________________

  • Total = $54 Trillion (that’s 3.91 times the nation’s $13.86 Trillion GDP (i.e. GDP of year 2007)!)

  • Including the $12.8 Trillion borrowed and spent from Social Security, leaving it pay-as-you-go, with a 77 million baby boomer bubble approaching,
    the total is $67 Trillion! ($219,475 per person; that is 4.83 times the $13.86 Trillion GDP (of year 2007)!)

What is needed is an end to numerous abuses hammering and selling out Americans.

We also need MUCH smarter (non-deficit) spending by the severely bloated federal government.
Sustainability should be the goal.
Not more inflation and debt-bubbles that will burst.
We have a 70% consumer-driven economy.
We can’t all wash each others’ laundry.
We need:

  • (01) to stop these abuses now.

  • (02) Fix the dishonest, usurious, predatory, steep leveraging of debt-to-reserves (i.e. 9-to-1 fractional lending) by the Ponzi-sheme monetary system; banks are loan-sharking, with ridiculous 35%-to-64% (or higher) interest rates, and other predetory lending practices; 64% interest rates! ! ! banks are preying on the young, poor, minorities, and financially naive;

  • (03) Cut all the massive bloat and waste in the federal government now:

  • (04) Get out of Iraq;

  • (05) And perhaps reduce or eliminate involvement in Afghanistan too and get more help from other nations; the terrorists are now in norther Pakistan;

  • (06) Create jobs to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure;

  • (07) Create jobs to research, develop, and implement better and renewable energy resources;

  • (08) Stop throwing money, subsidies, tax breaks, and welfare at failing banks, financial corporations, the wealthy, and Wall Street; stop rewarding failure;

  • (09) Increase and enforce more transparency and accountability;

  • (10) Uphold the Constitution; reduce lawlessness; enforce existing laws; stop illegal immigration and $70-to-$327 Billion in annual net losses due to illegal immigration;

  • (11) Stop plundering Social Security surpluses; $12.8 Trillion has been borrowed and spent, leaving Social Security pay-as-you-go, with 77 Million baby-boomers approaching;

  • (12) Eliminate regressive and severely complex taxation:

  • (13) Create a non-profit national health insurance system (get rid of the millions of unnecessary middlemen); build non-profit hospitals and clinics;

  • (14) End the U.S. has a presence in 134 nations around the world, and that costs a lot. Is all of that necessary? No. Significantly reduce that.

  • (15) Congress just gave itself its 10th raise in 12 years (they’re actually automitic). Is that necessary? No. What arrogance!

  • (16) Politicians are FOR-SALE, and they’ve sold-out most Americans, but the majority of voters continue to repeatedly reward the same incumbent politicians with 86.9% re-election rates. Stop rewarding corruption!

  • (17) … More Solutions …

At any rate, the voters have the government that the voters elect (and re-elect, and re-elect, and re-elect , … , at least until that finally becomes too painful).

Posted by: d.a.n at January 6, 2009 1:34 PM
Comment #273211

You have got to be kidding me. Has it occurred to you that there is a reason we’re not spending anything, out here in the real world?

Let put things plainly: much of public economic policy, with Republicans taking the lead has been about keeping people spending, but using all kinds of economic convolutions to make that happen in a system deliberately designed to undermine people’s ability to earn more.

Telling people to spend more not only is asking the stone to squeeze more blood out of itself, it’s essentially what got us in this mess in the first place.

The whole point of predatory lending is to get people into permanent debt, to overspend, and then record their debts to them as markable profit sources. The whole point of a great deal of the secondary and derivatives market that helped this disaster spread wide was to allow more people to apply for mortgages than could actually buy them.

And the whole point of the reckless distribution of credit that’s fueled the economy as of late, yes, is to get people spending more so they may owe more.

And all this to avoid raising wages, with all the inconveniences that apply there for big business.

Good job. You’ve figured out the solution to our problem. To bad it’s failure is what turned small downturns into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 6, 2009 5:20 PM
Comment #273221

Gets my goat that that our elected officials, paid by taxpayer money, worked in secret or near secret for 30 years to overthrow the US government. About the same amount of time it took to convert Europe into the EU. No complaints, no debates, public or otherwise, absolutely no resistance that I can measure. Where people should be charged with treason there is nothing, just silence. Well, it’s pretty much done. With a few executive orders it’s legal enough for the government to enforce the new laws. And, with the passage of time the NAU tentacles will grow through congress to the point where it’s ‘not worth trying to change’. The Southern border has been effectively electronically erased with the Fast Tran set up at the border posts. Let’s those with so-called ‘prearranged travel’ wave their cards and zip right on through. I suspect the Mexican government will soon be giving the cards away or selling them for just a little baksheesh. . Folks should recognize that not much border fence got built until the Fast Tran technology was installed. Fast Tran provides a legal way for the drugs and illegals flowing north. I wish people would see the so-called recession for what it is, the latter stages of globalization per NAU guidelines. The NAU has stood up these organizations such as the SPP and NACC consisting of hundreds of bureaucrats and bussinessfolks in the three countries. Does the population think they are just setting there, drawing a paycheck but inactive? The SPP has rewritten much of US administrative law. Chapter 11 of NAFTA regs states that the tripartite much integrate and harmonize their laws. NAFTA Chapter 11 tribunals already empower foreign NAFTA investors and corporations to challenge the sovereignty of US law in the United States. The US is the only country that allows their citizens to keep guns in their possession. Will the US Bill of Rights need to be integrated and harmonized? Could a Mexican or Canadian challenge our right to bear arms?
We know that the middle class worker’s income went up by $1.60 over a six year period between 2001 and 2006. Now we will begin to hear talk of lowered expectations for the ‘foreseeable future’. The NAU bunch will use the recession as a means to lower US wages drastically over the next ten years, or so they hope. For globalization to reach maturation world wages have to be something close to parity. That’s a hard sell to American workers with CEO’s knocking off millions a year. But, when you are flat on you back like we are right now, we are in no position to argue, or even debate it seems..

Posted by: Roy Ellis at January 6, 2009 9:43 PM
Comment #273233

Joel, the flaw in your thesis is that in a democracy, the people need no leaders they can trust and count on.

This country was founded on the principles that people need good honest managers, and the Constitution was drafted to attempt to insure a process by which good and honest managers would be elected whom the people could trust, with measures for removing those who can’t be trusted from office and even impeaching politicians who violate the public law and trust.

So, while I agree with you that the people are responsible for the good or bad government they get, they are not, and were never intended to be, the managers of the economy, only participants in it. Read Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations and Theory of Moral Sentiments for detailed treatises on this subject who is responsible for economic management.

It is the responsibility of the people and government together to insure that the people receive an education which is adequate to preparing them to responsibly manage their own financial affairs and voting behavior. The people and the government have failed miserably in that responsibility. I think though, it is a chicken and egg question as to which is prime mover of our failed educational system.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 7, 2009 1:51 AM
Comment #273234

Stephen D., the declining real wage for the middle class and blue collar workers has been underway decades. That is an empirical fact. Therefore, the Democratic and Republican parties are responsible for the present condition in which the consumer class is no longer capable of rescuing the economy from recession as they did in 2002 and 2003.

That declining real wage trend under Dems and Rep’s finally reached a consumer debt saturation point that simply denies the consumers the options to spend cash which they no longer have, or extend credit which has already become excessive, closing many doors opportunity going forward.

This is self-evident by the fact that a vast number of consumers cannot take advantage of the deep discounts in consumer prices on goods, services, and credit purchases. I grant you the Republican regime of the last 8 years has pushed the consumers over the edge, but, Democratic policies have been moving consumers in that direction for decades as well.

I cannot remember a time when consumer protections against fraud, white collar crime, were adequate, and when the selling of American jobs overseas under politician’s watch, wasn’t touted as the great and wonderful panacea of future peace and world harmony.

Democrats are as guilty as Republicans when it comes to failures in questioning whether something new and improved was actually worth the long term cost of going there as a nation of consumers. Allowing our energy sources, foods, and manufactured products to increasingly be imported making us a nation of dependents upon other nations, was a truly bi-partisan shared view of a better future, whether it be Reagan, Clinton or Bush 1 or 2.

President Carter, as I recall, was the last president to consider whether this dependency we were cultivating was a positive or negative for the American people. And he was the last Democrat or Republican to decide in policy, that the abrogation of self sufficiency was a bad policy. If my memory serves me correctly, Carter was the last politician to conclude that world peace could not be obtained through global economic interdependence. Below are his opening words in his 1980 State of the Union address:

This last few months has not been an easy time for any of us. As we meet tonight, it has never been more clear that the state of our Union depends on the state of the world. And tonight, as throughout our own generation, freedom and peace in the world depend on the state of our Union.

The 1980’s have been born in turmoil, strife, and change. This is a time of challenge to our interests and our values and it’s a time that tests our wisdom and our skills.

At this time in Iran, 50 Americans are still held captive, innocent victims of terrorism and anarchy. Also at this moment, massive Soviet troops are attempting to subjugate the fiercely independent and deeply religious people of Afghanistan. These two acts—one of international terrorism and one of military aggression—present a serious challenge to the United States of America and indeed to all the nations of the world. Together, we will meet these threats to peace.

I’m determined that the United States will remain the strongest of all nations, but our power will never be used to initiate a threat to the security of any nation or to the rights of any human being. We seek to be and to remain secure—a nation at peace in a stable world. But to be secure we must face the world as it is.

Three basic developments have helped to shape our challenges: the steady growth and increased projection of Soviet military power beyond its own borders; the overwhelming dependence of the Western democracies on oil supplies from the Middle East; and the press of social and religious and economic and political change in the many nations of the developing world, exemplified by the revolution in Iran.

While Carter does not appear to have concluded entirely that economic interdependence was all bad, he clearly recognized that American dependence on foreign nations for essential goods and services in our economy was a blackmail situation waiting to happen. Clinton never seems to have even asked the question of American dependence, since Pres. Clinton came out strongly for NAFTA, and he touted the very dependencies which it would promulgate as positive for the American people and nation.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 7, 2009 2:15 AM
Comment #273254

Carter was the last We The People President and I have high regard for him. He got into politics to clean out the local rift raft. But, that’s a pretty lame statement on advocataing for self preservation. I recall he made a valiant effort to start us on the road to alternative energies. You recall that it was Robert Pastor who helped Carter give up the Panam Canal. The Panama Canal thing was the beginning of the ‘peace and harmony’ policy or as David states “great and wonderful panacea of future peace and world harmony”. Which has developed into the ‘integration and harmonization’ of our laws.
Wages in this country have declined by design. Sending manufacturing overseas was done by design. Likewise, the resultant job loss was designed as well.

Re my previous post on the US having two government systems. The visible government gives us laws that allow for farm subsidies for commodoties like cotton. While the shadow government has changed the laws to make farm subsidies illegal. Last year Brazil/WTO was sueing the US (taxpayers) for $4M for providing taxpayer funded subsidies to cotton farmers. The taxpayer gets it twice while serving two governments. The outcome appears to have been sucked into a black hole as I’ve heard nothing further. But, secrecy and black holes are legal with NAFTA Chapter 11 tribunals and the WTO legal system. The taxpayer narrowly missed one in 2005 when a Canadian firm, Methanex Corp. sued challenging Calif. laws that regulated the gasoline additive MTBE Calif. restricted the additive after it was found to contaminate drinking water. The NAFTA tribunal dismissed the case but had they ruled differently the US taxpayer would have had to pay Methanex millions in damages.
For those who have wondered why Ramos and Compian have been treated so harshly for grazing the butt of a two time drug smuggler you only need to look to the new laws of the shadow government. Under the NAU the Southern border is illegal. The secuirty border for the tripartite is established as the Southern border of Mexico. Any NAU citizen is to travel ‘unimpeded’ within the borders of the NAU. So a serious problem ensues when a Mexican citizen gets shot on the ‘illegal’ border.
Serious enough that Bush will not pardon the two border agents and neither will Obama at the end of his first term.

Otherwise, we have the NAU and Government we deserve.

Posted by: Roy Ellis at January 7, 2009 11:33 AM
Comment #273260

Roy, while I agree with you on the NAU eliminating the Southern Border for all intents and purposes, I have to disagree with you on Compian and Ramos. They attempted to hide and cover up their mishandling of the situation involving the shooting of the drug smuggler. That was illegal, and cannot be tolerated by the American people by ANY law enforcement officials.

To free Compian and Ramos would have sent a horrific message to law enforcement that it could potentially treat people in America as federal authorities treated foreigners in Iraq or Afghanistan and cover it up and hide that treatment. America already has an ongoing problem with abuse of law enforcement authority more than a hundred years old. Bush acted appropriately in refusing to intercede on their behalf.

All of this is an entirely separate issue from how the drug smuggler was handled by our justice system. Plenty of room for critique and flaming the justice department on that sequence of events as well.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 7, 2009 12:12 PM
Comment #273261

Can’t agree David, and Lou Dobb’s doesn’t either. To many extenuataing circumstances. Even the discharging of a firearm law used to charge the agents was not intended to be used for law enforcement. Under any other circumstances the agents would have been charged with failing to follow regs or some misdemeanor and not given a 11 year sentence. Find me some other instance where a police officer is given 11 years for carrying out his sworn duties. It has NAU written all over it.

Posted by: Roy Ellis at January 7, 2009 12:24 PM
Comment #273266

Roy, Lou Dobbs is a populist charlatan. He will take any side on any issue which he believes will increase his shows ratings and viewership. Sometimes he is on the right side of issues and sometimes the wrong side, depending on whether his viewing public who he encourages every day to be polled on issues are right or wrong on a given issue. So, don’t try to use Lou Dobbs as an authority on the Compian and Ramos issue. Dobbs has been wrong on their treatment from the very beginning, and for the same reasons Rush Limbaugh is wrong on so many of the issues, because it is profitable to mirror your audiences’ lack of insight and education on such topics. Makes them feel smarter than they actually are.

It wasn’t the discharging the firearm that was the main problem. It was their failure to report the shooting under legal procedures for discharge of weapons on duty, that got them the treatment they deserved by our justice department.

The facts are very plain and covered well by the media on this point.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 7, 2009 12:50 PM
Comment #273275

Dobb’s expresses the Independent’s view far better than any media outlet. I see the Rep’s are trying to get ahead of the Dem’s by throwing cold water on the revision of the Fair Speech Doctrine. Such a bill would surely crimp the style of my man Lou and the talk radio.
As I recall the border agents didn’t know the drug dealer was grazed. The drug dealer was thought to have went for a weapon, they fired, he fled and they did file a belated discharge of weapon report. I don’t think 11 years is necessary for the failure to report the discharge of a weapon. I do think that the administration was willing to impose such a sentence to keep the Mexicans from going public or perhaps sueing, on the ‘illegal’ border issue. That’s what got them the stiff sentences.
I see Governor Patterson giving an early State of the Union speech to get ahead of the depresion. The man is barely lucid, talking about job creation and building up manufacturing in NY state. Incredulous, astounding, but, he didn’t mention the types of manufacturing he was going to create. Maybe he knows something the Chinese don’t. Maybe he is going to use some new Russian built robots for the production staff. Little robots with a speed adjustment dial. You just crank up the robotic speed and outproduce the Chinese bigtime. I’m boring myself.

Posted by: Roy Ellis at January 7, 2009 2:39 PM
Comment #273293

Roy said: “Dobb’s expresses the Independent’s view far better than any media outlet. “

That is generally true because his target audience is White Middle Class Independents. Just as Rush Limbaughs target audience is non-college educated conservative caucasions.

Roy: “Such a bill would surely crimp the style of my man Lou and the talk radio.”

Perhaps, perhaps not. The devil would be in the details of the actual bill language.

Roy: “As I recall the border agents didn’t know the drug dealer was grazed.”

That was their contention. As a shooter myself, I can say that I almost always know whether I hit my target or not, give or take a few inches. As trained border patrol agents in the use of weapons and well practiced, a jury of their peers were not convinced of the Agents contention. They were privy to the testimony of both sides, while your memory of the facts appears a bit vague. I will go with the jury’s opinion as being the more relevant to this discussion.

Roy: “The drug dealer was thought to have went for a weapon, they fired, he fled and they did file a belated discharge of weapon report.”

Yes, that was their contention. But the belated discharge of a weapon which may have wounded their target was a violation and abuse of their power by its circumvention of timely review of the shooting as required by both internal policy and law. If I may have hit a pedestrian with my vehicle and I fail to report for 12 hours, I have broken the law, a law that is just and necessary for the welfare of pedestrians everywhere.

Just as the law requiring notification of discharge of a weapon by law enforcement, especially where the possibility of a wounding of human being who has not yet been judged to be guilty of anything, is a just and necessary law governing law enforcement behavior.

The jury agreed. The law applied was both just on the books and justly applied to Compean and Ramos in a court of law and by a jury of their peers. Whether the suspect was guilty of a crime or not is irrelevant to case made against Compean and Ramos.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 7, 2009 8:45 PM
Comment #273305

David, I’ll concede the debate on the border guards IF, if you can find one case where a person received an eleven year sentence for unlawfully discharging a firearm under similar circumstances. The border guard thing is not my beef. My rant is directed at having to live under two governments that have managed to bring this country and the world, at the moment, to its knees and few seem concerned as they continue to whizz away taxpayer dollars in record numbers. Some folks want to spend time fixing the recession while I am more interested in how it came about in the first place. Trying to fix things will be a short lived process and frequently repeated as we float from bubble to bubble. I care little about change. I want reform of government and a means to keep it that way once achieved. I want those who set us up for a two government system, trashed our Constitution and our sovereignty, routed out and imprisoned for about 11 years each.
I’ve no idea of the make up of Lou’s audience but it’s a safe bet that he has the majority of the Independents tuning in. I get lot’s of war fighting material from him. Like tonight. I’ve ranted long and hard in my posts about the influx of foreign students in our universities while qualified US students get shunted around. Millions of foreigners coming here to provide labor skills that American’s just don’t have. Well, tonight Lou set us straight. Noted that foreign post-doctoral grads in this country increased by 52% while US post-doctoral grads increased by 9% over the same time period. Study included several universities. The study noted that there are way more scientists being graduated than there are jobs for them. Thousands are unable to find employment in their field. Now, here is the kicker. Post-doc’s are making $35-40k/yr, or about the same or lower than the average skilled worker. The study concluded that the poor wages are directly related to corporations access to cheap foreign labor through 23 different foreign worker visa programs. Maybe that explains why I am setting here using my old win98 system to blog as my new Vista/Dell piece of crap sits taking up desk space and pretty much useless, but it does look good. They got the cosmetics right.
Lou noted there are H-E-G-I-O-P & R visa programs to bring the low wage, hi techers in. Lou as much as called Bill Gates a liar and challenged him and the COC and the rountable to come in for a chat but that ain’t likely. He put the icing on the cake with his question of the evening. If the Vatican wants the fence torn down should they not tear down the wall around their Vatican? Something over 80% responded Yes. That’s why I like Lou. Didn’t hear anything about that study other than from Lou Dobb’s.

Posted by: Roy Ellis at January 7, 2009 11:05 PM
Comment #273306

Why I do agree with on the fact that it will be the American Consumer is the key to solving the woes of the economy,I do believe that it is up to the Children of the 70’s to hold the Elders and Youth of America feet to the fire and demand Government/Society begin to look for Self-Sufficient Methods to meet the needs of the American Consumer.

For from food to fuel I do believe that it is not if America can reduce its demand on the Global Market by 25%, but what hurdles need to be jumped by “We the People” in order to address the problem of every Consumer on Earth could use the money that the Establishment of Man states is necessary to pay for such things as Health Care, Homes, etc.

So, why I can understand the argument of making every American a Millionaire has its own set of problems. I do believe that My Democratic, Independent, and Republican Peers can handle the Argument of a Trillionaire held by Their Children if done properly.

Thus, let me ask my fellow citizens if they believe the American Consumer can learn anything from the Grandparents of the Great Depression and Our Ancestors as well as the Youth of the 60’s and Silver Spoons of the 70’s?

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at January 8, 2009 12:27 AM
Comment #273307

Henry, people can learn from history. But, that requires teachers who can make history relevant for the present and future to those wishing to learn. Our educational system is crippled in that regard.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 8, 2009 3:59 AM
Comment #273308

Roy said: “David, I’ll concede the debate on the border guards IF, if you can find one case where a person received an eleven year sentence for unlawfully discharging a firearm under similar circumstances.”

I can’t afford access to Westlaw, but, I am sure there are other similar sentences. Just because our nation tends to turn away from prosecution of those in authority, is not an argument that they shouldn’t be and with stiffer sentences than some regular civilian.

Besides, if I did provide another case, you would argue that that case did not have the same fact set or circumstances. It’s a strawman challenge and fails to address the facts, a crime was committed, and in the jurisdiction in which the case was tried, the statute afforded an 11 year sentence, and either the judge or jury decided based on the entire fact set presented for their consideration, that an 11 year sentence was appropriate to the crime.

Obstruction of justice, evasion of laws regarding the reporting of weapon discharge in which a person was shot, and conspiracy to obstruct justice may all have been counts in the indictments for which they were found guilty. Each indictment carries its own sentence.

I am guessing here because I don’t know what the actual indictment charges were verbatim and itemized, nor whether a guilty verdict was found on each indictment. But, it is not uncommon for an unlawful act by a law enforcement officer to constitute multiple statute valuations.

In the military such an act would very likely receive equally or more severe punishment under the USMCJ. And for the same good reasons. Those entrusted by the law to carry weapons and exercise lawful judgment in the shooting of others, cannot be allowed to circumvent the authority of those laws, regulations, and chain of command and oversight review of discharge of weapons in the line of duty, which give that kind of power of life and death over others.

It is why the Contract Personnel in Iraq were tried and convicted of murder a half year or so ago in the shootings of innocent people at a check point. And why soldiers were found guilty of torture at Abu Ghraib. Without such convictions, the chain of command would break down, oversight of just use of weapons would become a joke, and respect for authority would be lost, creating open season on authority figures. A phenomena we already witness routinely in our society though it is nowhere near being rampant or out of control. And that is because most people still respect the authority of those charged enforcing the law and keeping the peace and order in society.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 8, 2009 4:19 AM
Comment #273315

Glad to see so much discussion, BUT I sense a whole lot of denial and self-delusion. The FACT that there is nearly $9 trillion in cash sitting out there cannot be denied. Of course, what most of you are feeling is that YOU, personally, do not have much, if any, of that enormous amount of cash. But some people really do have all that cash, and even without more debt-based government spending those cash-rich people need to start spending. Listen closely to virtually every discussion on public policies to rescue the economy and all of them come down to spurring consumer spending. There simply is no other way for the economy to turn around. The issue is HOW does consumer spending get increased in a big way. Again, think about that figure of how much cash is out there. It is real; it has resulted from economic inequality producing a large Upper Class; they benefitted from many public policies in recent years and it is THEM that must start spending. If we wait for the majority of Americans to regain financial health to start spending we will wait A VERY LONG TIME.

Posted by: Joel S. Hirschhorn at January 8, 2009 10:54 AM
Comment #273318

So what do those of us who have degrees, lost jobs, don’t have health care and can’t find any work outside food service do?

Some long for the days where you could head out and make your way, whether it be employment, being an entrepenuer, or otherwise. Now we get Shawn or Tracy from HR scripting us why we won’t be paid or an ambigious letter.

Posted by: Jon at January 8, 2009 11:25 AM
Comment #273319

Congress and the wealthy owners of corporations have been selling out Americans for several decades. And Congress just rewarded itself for it with another raise (10th in 12 years).

Yet, most voters cheer-lead for these FOR-SALE, corrupt, incompetent, sell-out, greedy incumbent politicians?

Globalism has some positive aspects at first, but transnational corporations eventually move on to the next target where labor is cheaper; like locusts spreading from field to field. In the end, it’s nothing more than a race to the bottom, and the only important thing is profits and power.

Yet, we continue to work for these greedy people, pay their multi-million dollar salaries, bonuses, stock-options, perk$, etc. (even give them trillions of tax dollars for mega parties, vacations, bonuses, etc.), as they despicably pit Americans and illegal aliens against each other, and numerous other manifestations of unchecked greed?

At any rate, the voters have the government that the voters elect (and re-elect, and re-elect, and re-elect , … , at least until that finally becomes too painful).

Posted by: d.a.n at January 8, 2009 11:50 AM
Comment #273320

Joel, there’s some merit to your argument, if you are recommending that the wealthy spend. It would be great if they would spend it to create jobs to make American energy independent, more efficient, more educated, and productive.

After all, 20% of the wealthiest spend the most.

80% of Americans have less than 17% of all wealth.

However, how do you make the wealthy spend?

What we need are fundamental changes.

We need an end to these 10 abuses, an end to unfair trade practices, more transparency, less bloat and waste, fair taxation, an honest monetary system, etc.

We need an end to abuses and greed that have been hammering most Americans for many decades, resulting in a shrinking middle-class.

Americans and voters are culpable too, since the majority of them continue to repeatedly reward irrepsonsible, FOR-SALE, incompetent, and/or corrupt incumbent politicians with 85%-to-90% re-election rates.

Otherwise, these deteriorating economic conditions things will get much worse.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to muster up much sympathy for the majority of voters when they are truly mostly the victims of their own ignorance, apathy, complacency, laziness, greed, blind loyalties, delusion, etc., etc., etc.

At any rate, the voters have the government that the voters elect (and re-elect, and re-elect, and re-elect , … , at least until that finally becomes too painful).

Posted by: d.a.n at January 8, 2009 12:08 PM
Comment #273334

Why I can understand your outrage at Americas’ Education System I am also aware that the Supporters of those Intitutions will say that it is the responsibility of the Parents to teach their Children such Knowledge and Wisdom. However, not agreeing with either side I do believe that with such technology as the Aero Graden and other environmental chambers “We the People” can insist that the Insitutions of America begin to teach the Consumer the benefits of growing their own food supply and other things.

For why I would never wish upon a Child of the 21st Century the punishment of having to spend the day weeding the garden. With the drive to get Americans to eat healthier and an individuals ability to grow almost “Idiot Proof” fruits and vegatables year round in growing chmbers I do believe that the sell of such devices and courses that teach such Graden and Framing Methods could go a lone way in helping the Establishment develop the data needed to supply long term space missions and drought areas.

Yes, Joel and others may want the rich consumer to keep on spending their money in an attempt to keep the Market moving; nonetheless, I have to wonder how many tv sets does one need before even they say enough is enough. Thus, why it can be said that the Consumer holds the key to this economic recovery. As a Simple Man of Honor, I have to ask My Democratic and Republican Peers “We the Corporation” if they see opportunity in helping “We the Consumers” become Self-Sufficient?

Why the Rich Consumer is crammed in the same boat as the Poor Consumer I do believe that Americas’ Learned and Unlearned of Society needs to take a moment and look at what we are asking of the average consumer to pay before the first dime can be spent on the Market.

For if America is to step forward Righteously in the 21st Century than I do believe that Labor and Management is going to have to come to terms that not everyone cares to become Greedy. Yet, knowing that the idea of making every American Economically Viable and Financially Independent has eluded the common Man. I do see this time of economic turmoil as an opportunity to educate the American Consumer on why the Founding Fathers of America Ideology of Being Self-Sufficient in everything that we do as Individuals, a Nation, and a Society is important.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at January 8, 2009 3:35 PM
Comment #273338

“So what do those of us who have degrees, lost jobs, don’t have health care and can’t find any work outside food service do?”

Get two or three or four of those food service jobs, and listen to Dave Ramsey on the radio.

Posted by: kctim at January 8, 2009 4:14 PM
Comment #273343

Henry, specialization of labor precludes self-sufficiency life-styles. The wealthier one gets, the more dependent on more people one becomes. The greatest amount of self-sufficiency amongst the American people occurred with the first settlers and during the Great Depression.

Self-sufficiency is a concept that runs contrary to the Jetson’s cartoon model which became our consumer market holy grail. Except that the Jetson’s model doesn’t come with instructions on how to fix your nuclear wave oven or sky car when it fails to function properly.

Self-sufficiency objectives for the nation can only be partial, food mainstays, energy, housing, and perhaps basic clothing. Each homeowner and business will be capable of producing their own energy on their own property in the future. Inner cities can grow their own food staples in high rise farms. Hobbit Housing can reduce the overall cost of homeownership, maintenance, and insurance when economies of scale are reached in producing them. And making clothes in elementary and high schools would significantly increase the math scores and capabilities of students.

But, it would take a great depression to force such enormous cultural shifts of practicality upon the American people, and the Catch-22 is, in a Great Depression, there is no money to institute such cultural and market shifts.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 8, 2009 5:05 PM
Comment #273344

Joel, all the recessions I’ve been through are greatly similar. One or more sectors of the economy goes down and frightens all or many from participating in normal business. After it gets bad enough the government rants and raves about ethics, regulation, investigations, etc. and then we wait for a while. Eventually people just get tired and frustrated with what might be called cabin fever and they start to sneak out to a restaurant or buy a pair of shoes. In other words, they’ve sat through it, haven’t been maimed or injured and assume it can get no worse, so what the heck. This one will be the same way. However, this one is different in many respects. Several sectors are in trouble. The cause is not just investment fraud creating a tech bubble. The cause this time is from massive corruption at the corporate, government, and financial (investment). Normally we have gone through these recessions during periods of growth, increasing GDP, high employment, lotsa money in the banks/financials, more or less stable oil, etc. This time we have all bad numbers stacked against us. The bigger problem yet is globalization driven by a shadow government and a unshadow? government. In the old recessions manufacturing would kick in first and start creating jobs. With manufacturing now driven by the cheap labor market US manufacturing simply has no where to go far as creating jobs here. So, the stock market may stablize or start to rise but it will take 3 to 4 years to put just a few people back to work. Sure, we can do government infrastructure which is nothing more than redistribution of taxpayer dollars and/or sticking us deeper in debt to foreign banks. And the next bubble will come quicker the next time and quicker yet the next time after that. In brief, it’s all about crapping in your own back yard. Heads should roll, prisons should full up. Yet, we hear nothing but praise for the NAU bunch and the Clintonites that helped take the middle class down. Wish us luck.
Jon, you may have seen my post re the recent study showing that Bill Gates and a host of corporations have been ling about the lack of US skills to fill vacant jobs. Last year 808,855 temporary work visas were issued to US corporations. Eight of the tops 20 applications were from corps based in India. In other words, a way for Indian corps here in the US to bring in cheap labor rather than hire US workers. 23 temp worker visa programs operating and NAFTA has an additional special one. That takes care of the high skill requirements and the 40 or so M illegals take care of the low skill labor requirements. Dan wrote “It is becoming increasingly difficult to muster up much sympathy for the majority of voters when they are truly mostly the victims of their own ignorance, apathy, complacency, laziness, greed, blind loyalties, delusion, etc., etc., etc.”
The citizens of this country have been put upon mightly. We have been globalized without a whimper or a bang. With no plans for a jobless society. Left to figure it out ourselves. I reject it. I want reform of government through a third party that can stand up against the duopoly, the klepto-plutocracy, achieve needed reform and keep it that way. Few to none feel that way now. Check back in a year.
I would suggest you take kctim’s advice and perhaps join some organization(s) who are trying to fight for the survival of our county.
Brings up another point. Obama didn’t say anything about removing the 40M illegals so it is fair to assume he expects the US taxpayer to carry these folks through the recession. That is, I assume he will make sure a fair share of taxpayer money goes to support the unemployed illegals for the ‘forseeable future’.

Otherwise, we have the NAU/Government we deserve.

Posted by: Roy Ellis at January 8, 2009 5:17 PM
Comment #273347

Politicians and employers are selling us out in numerous ways, and gvernment won’t prosecute illegal employers. Without internal enforcement too, a fence won’t stop the greedy illegal employers. For example, see this law firm (Cohen & Grigsby) that teaches corporations how to avoid hiring Americans (i.e. H-1B Visa abuse, and fake job advertisements). Also, the richest person in the U.S. (Bill Gates) wants the government to increase the limits on H-1B Visas so that he can import more cheap labor. The problem with this race-to-the-bottom model is that wages rise unless you continue to increase the inflow of cheap labor. Therefore, many Republican and Democrat incumbent politicians are despicably pitting American citizens and illegal aliens against each other for profits and votes.

At any rate, the voters have the government that the voters elect (and re-elect, and re-elect, and re-elect , … , at least until that finally becomes too painful).

Posted by: d.a.n at January 8, 2009 6:18 PM
Comment #273350

I’m didn’t know about the Indian corp outsourcing (or is it the opposite?), but I’m saying in generality, it’s so obvious that jobs are being taken by the boatload by people who aren’t citizens, nor have any particular connection or wish to perma-immigrate to the U.S.

I recently had to suspend going to med school because, and I quote from the financial department “The loan you took is not enough money to pay for this year. Request X amount.”

But I can’t request X amount because I don’t have the money coming in monthly to pay the loan back, so if I took it, I’d be setting myself up for a fall. Which is, I think, not to be self-righteous, but a piss-poor way to treat a student with a 3.8 GPA, who put himself through college. Nevermind that some students ride their parents wallets, not having to worry about this.

Getting back on topic, I’ve always been of the opinion of common sense, which I know is nonsense in Washington, but, if, correct me if I’m wrong, you do NOT like your Rep./Senator/etc. and there are many others that do NOT like him/her, he/she will not server anymore. Correct?

So are we, the ones who do use common sense and can’t fathom some, if not all, the choices the talking heads make, alone and surrouded by the ignorant, stupid and clinically insane?

Posted by: Jon at January 8, 2009 7:40 PM
Comment #273355
Jon wrote: So are we, the ones who do use common sense and can’t fathom some, if not all, the choices the talking heads make, alone and surrouded by the ignorant, stupid and clinically insane?
Based on 85%-to-90% re-election rates for Congress? Yes.

Why shouldn’t Congress be irresponsible, incompetent, unaccountable, and/or corrupt when they are repeatedly rewarded for it?

And if that weren’t enough, Congress recently gave itself its 10th raise in 12 years, while troops risk life and limb, go without armor, adequate medical care, promised benefits, and do 2, 3, 4+ tours in Iraq and/or Afghanistan.

Cha-Ching !

Perhaps some day, enough voters will be less apathetic, complacent, and blindly partisan when enough of the voters are hopelessly deep in debt , jobless , homeless , hungry , or unable to obtain emergency care because hospitals overrun by illegal aliens have closed , and/or perhaps one of the thousands of Americans who are murdered annually by illegal aliens ( VOIAC.ORG , ImmigrationsHumanCost.ORG ; not to mention 29% of all persons incarcerated in federal prisons are illegal aliens) ?

At any rate, the voters have the government that the voters elect (and re-elect, and re-elect, and re-elect , … , at least until that finally becomes too painful).

Posted by: d.a.n at January 8, 2009 9:29 PM
Comment #273376

Why I realize that 20th Century political thinking seems to stand at odds with the ability of the Children of the 21st Century to become Self-Sufficient; nevertheless, given the vast opportunities that exist in making America Economic, Energy, and Environmentally Independent over the next 20-40 years I do believe that as individuals, a nation, and a society Americans can find the Common Ground necessary to solve most of the issues not addressed by the Youth of the 60’s and Silver Spoons of the 70’s.

For example, one of the biggest problems dividing the Democratic and Republican Civil, Political, and Religious Leaders is the concept of one being wealthy. Yet as an Independent Citizen, I do not agree with anyone who says that a Human must be a Millionaire before the Establishment will consider them part of the Elite of Society or be seen as being Poor. No, Money cannot replace Class even though some of My Peers would like to believe that money can buy them everything. Nonetheless, knowing that they are Guaranteed those Civil and Constitutional Rights and the Loyal Opposition takes the stand of the Rights of the Poor to be Poor, I do believe that Logical and Reasonable Men and Women can come to terms on the Base Income an Adult Citizen must make per year to maintain a Simple Way of Life given the conditions of Government and Society at any point in time.

Thus, knowing that not every American needs or wants to be a Millionaire and having been proved by My Democratic and Republican Powers-that-Be that it does not take a million dollars a year to maintain a Simple Life in America I do hope that My Peers are willing to talk to Their Children about what it will take to use Their Guaranteed Civil and Constitutional Rights in a Peaceful Revolution to assist President Elect Obama and Congress in making the necessary steps now to ensure the road leading to the Promise Land remain open for the Children of the 22nd Century.

And why I am sure that it will put some hardship on My Community Elders and Peers to know that the Children of the 21st Century understands that Debate of Being Self-Sufficient better than their parents, knowing that even All the World Leaders and Citizens of the Human Race are limited to building a Civilized World in the 21st Century. I do believe that the Spirit of the Entrepreneur in Man can come up with a million and one ways that Society can show Their Democratic and Republican Elected Officials how as Individuals, a Nation, and a Society the American Consumer, Small Business Owner, and Taxpayer can become Economically Viable and Financially Independent as Citizens through investing and saving in a Better World.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at January 9, 2009 1:37 PM
Comment #273379

I believe that a few of our founding fathers felt that by using the democratic process, the people would become the fourth branch of government, the overseers. Perhaps they underestimated how powerful a force that self-induced ignorance on behalf of blind faith partisanship would be.

They put their faith in We The People and we couldn’t or wouldn’t live up to their expectations and as a result, we are being ruled as surely as if the King and the aristocracy had not been deposed.

Posted by: jlw at January 9, 2009 1:52 PM
Comment #273383
jlw wrote: Perhaps they underestimated how powerful a force that self-induced ignorance on behalf of blind faith partisanship would be.
Thus, we will have to rely on the built-in self-correction mechanism: That’s always a very effective source of motivation.

At any rate, the voters have the government that the voters elect (and re-elect, and re-elect, and re-elect , … , at least until that finally becomes too painful).

Posted by: d.a.n at January 9, 2009 2:06 PM
Comment #273398

Why I realize that it seems like “The Man is in Charge” and that many of the Simple Folks of America are out of touch with Reality. I am also aware that over the 40 years most Americans have been willing to follow the Status Quo of Society without questioning their Authority. So, before you start in about how people will follow their Community Leaders with blind faith let me ask you if you can show Americas’ Democratic and Republican Civil, Political, and Religious leaders how to build a Politically Unalienable Correct World?

For why generational change may be shaping the Debate of Today, what will happen when the vast majority of Americans decide to agree with Americas’ Elected Officials on what it will take to fix the problems that has created two wars and an economic meltdown.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at January 9, 2009 5:20 PM
Comment #273403

I agree with you that the Founder’s thought the people would participate in government and vote for representatives of merit and integrity. Colossal failure in that respect. But, you can see how it should work by looking at the current impeachment process in Illinois. Blagojevich would have been impeached last year or the year before for the same reasons given by the legislator’s in the impeachment effort. Only reason they are trying him today is ‘it’s in the news’, people are paying attention, it’s got the public eye. In that sense Madonna will get some quiet time but there are thousands of fraudulent operatives plying their trade that don’t rise to the level required to ‘catch the public’s attention’ therefore, they won’t be bothered by the legislators or judicial system. It is truly unfortunate, and impossible, for the public to watchdog the government every waking minute. One impediment is there is not enough transparency in government to permit much watchdogging.
A fourth branch of government! Public providing oversight of elected officials. How else might we invoke citizens oversight? How about through a new political party. A party with a different political attitude. A party that provides a countervailing force against corruption in government. A party whereby it’s members are given oversight responsibility for that Party’s members who become elected or appointed government officials. If members register a certain number of complaints against an alleged offender a mandatory vote is required. If 66%^ vote against the offending member he/she is rejected from the party. A Party that targets reform of government, and once achieved, can keep it that way.

Otherewise, we have the government we deserve.

Posted by: Roy Ellis at January 9, 2009 9:25 PM
Comment #273410

Why I agree with you that America needs a different political attitude, I would not go so far as to suggest that any third party will do. No, instead I do beieve that the Hierarchy of Society and My Peers need to realize the capability of the Children of the 21st Century to build the Better World that the Youth of the 60’s and Silver Spoons of the 70’s could only imagine.

For why it is easy to say that “We the People” get the government that we deserve, As a Child of the 70’s I do believe that the time has come for “We the People” to teach Americas’ Democratic and Republican Civil, Political, and Religious Leaders why they are limited to the Sky.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at January 9, 2009 10:49 PM
Comment #273434

Henry, 100, or even 50 years ago I would be way more inclined to agree with you. But, this ain’t your father’s or great grandfather’s political machinery. The greed factor is way up. Probably can take a college course on how to improve your greed if you look around some. Accountability is way down. White collar crime DOES pay most of the time. How many degrees are many of the financial instruments removed from outright fraud and corruption? Will Madoff be made the scapegoat for Wall Street? Where there is smoke there’s likely to be fire. We are getting an eye full of how greed and corruption play into politics with the Illinois thing. Will Blagojevich do jail time for his impeachable offenses?
We really need a political party or parties that offer something different. That difference being that the party membership serves to provide oversight of members who become elected or appointed to state or federal office. Party rules would require the elected official to push the party’s agenda in the legislative bodies. If they stray too far from the agenda and members complain they may be subjected to a mandatory vote as to whether they should remain in the party. This obviously puts the politician at odds with lobbyist and the influence of money in politics. Such a party would provide a countervailing force against corruption, pay for play and failing to represent We The People.
Additionally, this new party would offer a reform agenda. If your party politicians push the agenda, according to the rules, it is likely reform could be achieved. I doubt if many readers expect the duopoly to offer anything more than fringe changes. For example; would they repeal Corporate Personhood and Money is Free Speech law? Would they adopt a ‘fair tax’ system? Would they ever be able to represent We The People instead of corporate interest? Clean up campaign finance? Do you find it repulsive that the Federal usury law is set at twice the rate any state allows? Let’s say Obama carries out the very reforms I’ve cited and sets the usury law at 10%. Next Democratic administration that comes along may choose to unreform the reforms in the entirety. So, we ping pong along, from bad to not so bad. Let’s get it right. Let’s support some political parties providing a means to achieve reform and KEEP IT THAT WAY!

Otherwise, we have the NAU/Government we deserve.

Posted by: Roy Ellis at January 10, 2009 10:05 PM
Comment #273435

Henry, All the money we spend on education today and we can’t graduate more than 50% of kids from high school. I can’t see education saving us from ourselves

Posted by: Roy Ellis at January 10, 2009 10:14 PM
Comment #273608

Joel, consumers MAY be able to save the economy, but, they WON’T. You are forgetting Adam Smith’s most basic of principles, self-interest. In perilous times, self-interest will govern consumer behavior, and Americans are saving for a far rainier day than today. They will not save the economy by saving, and personal debt load combined with the rape of consumers by the credit card companies, insures that growing numbers of millions of consumers are not even capable of consuming at the discretionary level.

So, in all, I have to disagree with the thesis of your article. Consumers won’t save the economy, if they could.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 15, 2009 3:50 AM
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