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Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Posts Tagged ‘Individual freedom’

TGIF: What Really Protects Liberty?

Posted by M. C. on May 2, 2022

by Sheldon Richman

The upshot is that if people’s values are not consistently pro-liberty, it won’t matter in the long run much what the Constitution “says,” and if they are pro-liberty, then it won’t matter whether there is a written constitution — or a state for that matter.

But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain—that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist” – Lysander Spooner

https://libertarianinstitute.org/articles/tgif-what-really-protects-liberty/

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated, as if we needed another demonstration, that little stands between the government and our liberty. Champions of individual freedom have been properly disturbed by how much power governments at all levels have seized since the pandemic hit in 2020.

To make matters worse, officeholders and public-health officials object when the judicial branch occasionally overturns their power grabs because judges are said to be unqualified to rule on “medical” matters. So, if judges furnish constitutional and other legal grounds against power grabs, we’re supposed to ignore them because they in fact are issuing medical opinions for which they are not qualified. That’s pretty inventive reasoning, but unfortunately it is in the service of tyranny and serfdom.

Some judges have made good, that is, power-limiting, decisions during the pandemic, though they might well have gone the other way. (See John Hasnas’s “The Myth of the Rule of Law.”) It’s only a slight exaggeration to say the judicial process is a coin toss.

When judges get it right, the devout constitutionalists among us cheer: “The system works!” But what about all the times the rulings went the other way? Where does that leave the constitutionalists? They will say that the problem isn’t with the Constitution; it’s with the judges. But considering that the Constitution doesn’t interpret itself, who were they expecting to interpret it? Robots that have been correctly programmed? Who would do the programming? Even people within the competing schools of constitutional interpretation don’t agree on everything.

Since it’s people all the way down and the process is internal, not external to society, don’t the constitutionalists have a wee problem?

James Madison called the Bill of Rights, which he wrote, a “parchment barrier.” But he couldn’t have really meant that because parchment is a poor material for making the heavy-duty, barrier liberty requires due to the predatory nature of politicians. The only real barriers in this regard are the people themselves — people, that is, who refuse to give, carry out, or obey unjust orders. Paraxodically, orders require consent, and that can be withheld. (Think of the scene in Monty Python’s Life of Brian in which Brian tells a prison guard that he doesn’t have to follow orders and the guard replies, “I like orders.”)

Strictly speaking, constitutions and statutes cannot compel unjust conduct or compliance. They are merely words. When governors ordered “non-essential” businesses and schools to shut down and people to stay home in 2020, those politicians didn’t point guns at anyone. People obeyed, but I suspect that only a few did so lest they be punished. If someone had disobeyed, armed agents of the state might have been dispatched, but why did they obey orders? No gun was held to their heads. They might have been fired and others put in their place places, but no one would have been subjected to force.

See the rest here

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The GOP Is Not Your Savior | The Libertarian Institute

Posted by M. C. on June 17, 2021

Unfortunately, the answer is that the Republicans would not have saved us, and for two reasons, one historical and the other philosophical: (1) Republicans have never saved us from the bad policies and programs of Democrats, regardless of whether they had partial or total control of the government and could have done something, and (2) Republicans are philosophically not much different from Democrats, regardless of how often and how loud they recite their conservative mantra about the Constitution, the free market, limited government, federalism, traditional values, free enterprise, a balanced budget, individual freedom, free trade, and property rights.

https://libertarianinstitute.org/articles/the-gop-is-not-your-savior/

by Laurence Vance

If Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) had not gotten sick and resigned his Senate seat, then the title of this article would have been “Will the Republicans Save Us?”

After serving in the Georgia state house and senate, Isakson served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004. He was re-elected in 2010 and 2016. Although his Senate term did not expire until January 2023, in August 2019 he announced that because of his Parkinson’s disease and other health challenges, he was resigning his Senate seat effective at the end of 2019. Under Georgia law, the governor—Brian Kemp, a Republican—was allowed to make an appointment to fill the unexpired term until the next regularly scheduled statewide election (November 3, 2020). He selected Republican Kelly Loeffler, the co-owner of the Atlanta Dream of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), who had never held political office. She assumed office in January 2020.

Under Georgia election law, all candidates for a special election, regardless of their political party, compete in a “jungle primary” where every name is on the November general election ballot. If no candidate in what is usually a crowded field receives more than 50 percent of the vote, then a runoff election is conducted in January. All told, there were twenty-one candidates—including a write-in candidate who received seven votes—most of whom received less than 1 percent of the vote. Loeffler finished second in the special election with 25.9 percent of the vote. That is why she was in the January 5 runoff election for the Senate seat she held at the time. But although Loeffler claimed to be the most conservative Republican in the Senate, and was considered to be the richest member of the Senate, she lost in the runoff election to the Democrat Raphael Warnock by the slim margin of 50.8 to 49.2 percent.

It is because of this special election that Georgia was the only state to hold two Senate elections in 2020. In the Senate, the 100 senators are divided into three classes with staggered terms. Thus, only one-third of the Senate seats are contested at any election, and never more than one Senate seat in a state. In the regular Senate race in Georgia, the incumbent Republican David Perdue—the cousin of former Georgia governor and Trump administration Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue—was seeking a second term. But as he received only 49.7 percent of the vote (47.9 percent went for Democrat Jon Ossoff and 2.3 percent went for Libertarian Shane Hazel), Georgia law required a runoff election between the top two candidates. But in the January 5 runoff election, Ossoff defeated Perdue by a margin of 50.4 to 49.6 percent.

Winning these two Georgia Senate seats is how the Democrats wrested control of the Senate from the Republicans, who had controlled the Senate since January 2015. Prior to the Georgia runoff election, there were 50 Republicans in the Senate and 48 Democrats (including the two independent members of the Senate, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine, who caucus with the Democrats). So now that the Senate is tied 50-50, the Democratic vice president, the former senator Kamala Harris, gets to cast the tie-breaking vote, effectively giving Democrats control of the Senate.

The Democrats

One-party control of the government is dangerous. Gridlock in the Congress helps prevent one party — whether Democrats or Republicans — from exercising unbridled power. Thus, even if one Georgia Senate seat had been won by a Republican, it could have stopped bad legislation proposed by Democrats from passing (assuming that all of the Senate Republicans voted together). But the reality is that life under Democratic rule will be especially dangerous to privacy, liberty, and property.

Now, we know that the Democratic Party for many years has been the party of liberalism, progressivism, collectivism, socialism, paternalism, statism, environmentalism, “social justice,” economic egalitarianism, organized labor, taxpayer-funded abortion, public education, climate change, affirmative action, welfare, higher taxes on the “rich,” universal single-payer health care, increased government regulation of the economy and society, increased government spending, larger and more-intrusive government, and assorted income-transfer programs and wealth-redistribution schemes. The Democratic solution to every problem, injustice, or crisis — real, imaginary, or contrived—is invariably more government, more government intervention, or more government money.

The Democratic Party is not just going to pick up where it left off at the end of the Obama administration. Democrats in Congress will stop at nothing to achieve their agenda. The Democratic Party of today is even more radical than it was twelve years ago during the first two years of Obama’s first term, which was the last time that Democrats had total control of the federal government (House, Senate, presidency).

What’s On the Table

In an episode of “The Libertarian Angle” recorded just two days after the Electoral College vote was certified, Future of Freedom Foundation president Jacob Hornberger and Citadel professor Richard Ebeling examined the question of life under Democratic control and it was not a pretty picture they painted. According to Hornberger and Ebeling, we are going to see massive increases in federal spending, and the debt ceiling rendered totally irrelevant; massive foreign intervention, since Biden is essentially owned by the national-security state; increased focus on official enemies, expansion of the role of the military in American life, expansion of the welfare state, the revitalization of Obamacare, the attempt to implement a full-fledged government health-care system, and the expansion of the war on drugs (a war that Biden supported when he was vice president and Harris supported as a prosecutor); increased federal regulations, massive welfare-state socialism, a more centrally planned economy, massive debauchery of the currency, tax increases, increased anti-trust enforcement, a national increase in the minimum wage, elements of the “green new deal,” and emphasis on equality of outcomes and proportional representation of minorities in all groups; and more money creation by the Fed, increased inflation, wage and price controls to combat inflation, and a more interventionist foreign policy. They concluded that under a Biden administration, everything is on the table that could be a danger to our liberty, privacy, income, wealth, property, and freedom in the marketplace.

To this we can certainly add increased deficit spending, further increases in the national debt, unrestricted funding for Planned Parenthood, loosened restrictions on taxpayer-funded abortions, increased enforcement of anti-discrimination laws, expanded gun-control laws, a federal family-leave policy, government-funded child care, increased resources devoted to fighting climate change, increased violation of privacy and civil liberties in response to the coronavirus, fewer welfare-work requirements, and increased promotion of the transgender movement.

On the basis of statements in the 2020 Democratic Party platform, the recommendations in the “Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force Recommendations,” and statements from Biden himself, we can also look forward to extended unemployment benefits, a $15 per hour minimum wage, and more-generous refundable tax credits that give even more Americans tax refunds of money that they never paid in; increased funding for food stamps, WIC, and school-meal programs; greater “investment” in mass transit and transportation public-works projects, “fair” trade policies and deals, expanded farm and housing subsidies, a national goal of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions for all new buildings and vehicles, and “environmental justice”; increases in corporate tax rates, aggressive attempts to increase the supply of “affordable” housing, increased government efforts to close the racial wealth gap, increased spending on K-12 education, tuition-free college, increased federal education grants, extended student-loan payment suspension, and student-debt relief; and making Washington, D.C., the 51st state, an increased push for a reduction in the use of fossil fuels, the ending of cash bail, the passing of an Equal Rights Amendment, increased condemnation of “hate speech,” the reauthorization and expansion of the Violence Against Women Act, the securing of equal pay for women, and increased funding for arts and culture.

The Republicans

Read the rest here

This article was originally featured at the Future of Freedom Foundation

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The New Resistance Is Rising

Posted by M. C. on December 2, 2020

Another example: my daughter shared a post from Pennsylvania State Representative David Rowe, who was seated in a bar holding a drink in one hand and a phone showing the time—5:01 p.m.—in the other, with the post’s message reading “Happy Thanksgiving, Governor Wolf!” Wolf had ordered all bars and stores to quit selling alcoholic beverages at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Eve.

Whether Trump is reelected is immaterial to this cause. Indeed, given his penchant for spending us ever deeper into debt, we should hold Trump’s feet to the fire as well. We must rise above politics and start advocating for what’s best for the country and for individual freedom.

It’s the American Way, and we need to get back on this path as soon as possible.

https://www.chroniclesmagazine.org/blog/the-new-resistance-is-rising/

By Jeff Minick

In the 1976 film Network, a newscaster driven to the brink of insanity by his rage exhorts his viewers to throw open the windows of their apartments and homes, and shout “I’m mad as h—, and I’m not going to take it anymore.” Within minutes, thousands of people are roaring these words into the night.

In the wake of a decades-long culture war, four years of bile and lies from the left and the mainstream media, nine months of coronavirus lockdowns, and now an election possibly rife with fraud, more and more Americans are opening their eyes to the debased state of their political system and the abusive machinations of their governments.

More and more of them are spitting mad and are not going to take it anymore.

The COVID-19 lockdowns are seeing greater pushback from angry citizens who fear the loss of their jobs and their way of life. In “Civil Disobedience Over Lockdowns Spreads Across America,” Foundation for Economic Education’s Jon Miltimore cites several examples of these protests in the streets, by private citizens and even by sheriffs and country officials who refuse to carry out the extreme orders of their governors, particularly the dictates and regulations issued just before the holiday season.

In “Cops Refuse to be the Thanksgiving Police,” Daniel Greenfield reports in even greater detail the refusal of many police departments to investigate citizens in their homes for possibly violating such orders. From coast to coast, the police are bravely and righteously ignoring dictates demanding they knock on doors and disperse families and friends eating supper together.

Here in Warren County, Virginia, for example, the sheriff’s department issued a statement just before Thanksgiving instructing residents not to call 911 or the sheriff’s department to report neighbors hosting large numbers of visitors. Instead, the department politely asked those with such concerns to contact public health officials, as such matters fell under their jurisdiction.

In other words, the sheriff was saying that they were not going to be knocking at the doors of those enjoying their Thanksgiving meal.

Another example: my daughter shared a post from Pennsylvania State Representative David Rowe, who was seated in a bar holding a drink in one hand and a phone showing the time—5:01 p.m.—in the other, with the post’s message reading “Happy Thanksgiving, Governor Wolf!” Wolf had ordered all bars and stores to quit selling alcoholic beverages at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Eve.

Many Americans are also incensed over the 2020 presidential election results. President Trump’s lawyers are attempting to find evidence of possible frauds—mail-in ballots, tens of thousands of dead voters who miraculously cast ballots, massive computer irregularities and malfeasance—that if nothing else reveal the sorry state of our election system. Thousands of Americans have come forward to swear under oath that they observed such irregularities, again a sign of protest.

Social media provides more evidence of American fury with the system. With social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter censoring different outlets, including Intellectual Takeout, droves of people are abandoning those platforms for less suppressive outfits like Parler, Rumble, and MeWe.

Meanwhile, millions of Americans are expressing their anger with the system in more personal ways. Many families this past summer, for example, abandoned the public school system, switching to private schools or taking matters into their own hands and teaching their kids at home.

Others are supporting one another through social media and informal networking. For example, my friend John was at the laundromat this week, where he has befriended one of the employees. When the man asked how he was doing, John gave a disheartened answer, referencing the state of the country, at which point his friend gave him such an impassioned speech—“It’s not time to quit, it’s time to get fired up!”—that John left with his spirits renewed.

For four years, we have heard about the Resistance, a conglomeration of radicals, leftists, officials in various government bureaucracies, wealthy donors, and others, all of them determined to damage Donald Trump’s presidency or remove him from office altogether.

Now the time has come for a New Resistance. Into this merry band we should welcome everyone—Democrats, Republicans, conservatives, liberals, libertarians, men and women, straight and gay, black, brown, and white—who cherishes liberty and despises tyranny. We can make our voices heard in myriad ways, we can protest every time a “servant of the people” puts on a tin-pot hat and starts issuing edicts as if he were an emperor, and we can stick together and stand fast in the face of oppression.

Whether Trump is reelected is immaterial to this cause. Indeed, given his penchant for spending us ever deeper into debt, we should hold Trump’s feet to the fire as well. We must rise above politics and start advocating for what’s best for the country and for individual freedom.

It’s the American Way, and we need to get back on this path as soon as possible.

Jeff Minick

Jeff Minick lives in Front Royal, Virginia, and may be found online at jeffminick.com. He is the author of two novels, Amanda Bell and Dust on Their Wings, and two works of non-fiction, Learning as I Go and Movies Make the Man.

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COVID-19: The “Experts” Have No Crystal Ball | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on March 27, 2020

To believe in the utility of central planning you must be able to fall for the idea that someone somewhere has a crystal ball. Individual freedom is not only moral, it provides utility and risk mitigation in moments of crisis, precisely like the one we now face.

American federalism provides for fifty experiments. Individual freedom in America provides for 330 million experiments. Some win, some lose. That’s life. Authoritarianism that drags everyone down a common path merely ensures that all will eventually lose.

https://mises.org/wire/covid-19-experts-have-no-crystal-ball?utm_source=Mises+Institute+Subscriptions&utm_campaign=9b99efe5d7-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_9_21_2018_9_59_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8b52b2e1c0-9b99efe5d7-228343965

On the night of Tuesday, November 8, 2016, and in the wee hours of Wednesday, November 9, 2016, Donald Trump became US president-elect. I am not aware of a single media source that predicted that. Many predicted Hillary Clinton would win. Some stayed out of the fortune-telling game.

The most striking thing was the lack of admission running up to election night that the experts were all making guesses. “Of course they were making guesses, no one has a crystal ball,” the rational observer might say, but petabytes have been dedicated to making the social sciences and all of their guesswork appear like, well, “science.” That means that it’s all very measurable and clear, when it actually isn’t.

Science, on the other hand, is science. Observable details can be used to solidify hypotheses into theory. Sometimes facts are even arrived at, though theory is usually the best a scientist can hope for.

And then there is the murky area between the two, where scientists use models to predict the future.

This starts to look a lot like when psephologist (election scientist), sabermetrician, and prognosticator Nate Silver in the weeks and months before the 2016 election replaced the term “algorithm” with the suggestion of fact, or referenced a peer-reviewed, proprietary model that one is supposed to believe tells the future. There is no question that the vast portion of social scientists who make predictions want their model to be seen as a crystal ball. “Algorithm” is a fancy word for “guess.” “Model” is a fancy word for “guess.”

The work is built on presumptions that are not philosophically or logically solid, but then a lot of math is used to cover up the illogical and unsteady foundations.

Hundreds of academic authors that I encounter over the course of a year cannot have a logically sound conversation or write logically sound arguments. They fail at the foundation of their arguments, yet proceed to built atop that unsteady foundation, knowing that few will notice. This is intellectual dishonesty, also known as lying. So rooted they are in the social scientist’s belief that their field is a science and that modeling can plausibly predict the future that some may not even be aware of the fundamental shortcomings of such a professional outlook. Yes, perhaps they themselves do not even notice the lie that they profess.

There are economists that put lots of math on top of bad presumptions. Metrics can be incredibly valuable in understanding a discipline or theory. When the logical foundation is faulty, though, the metrics may simply be window-dressing that adds legitimacy where none belongs. Complicated terminology can have the same purpose. Laymen have long understood that con-artist politicians, con-artist salesmen, and con-artist academics alike have opaque jargon, the use of which seems to demonstrate an unwillingness to be understood.

Warwick McKibbin and Roshen Fernando of Australian National University, the authors of a paper about the tens of millions who will die from coronavirus that has been widely cited in the media (“The Global Macroeconomic Impacts of COVID-19: Seven Scenarios“) show off their crystal ball.

To their credit, the corona prognosticators did a good job of stating pretty clearly: “We don’t really know what we are talking about; we are really just guessing” (actual quote: “These results are very sensitive to the assumptions in the model, to the shocks we feed in and to the assumed macroeconomic policy responses in each countries [sic]”), and “Our scary death counts are not reliable and are not even the focus of our work or this paper, we are doing this to provide some sort of economic estimate for people to start working with” (actual quote: “The goal is not to be definitive about the virus outbreak but to provide important information about a range of possible economic costs of the disease. At the time of writing this paper, the probability of any of these scenarios and the range of plausible alternatives are highly uncertain. In the case where COVID-19 develops into a global pandemic, our results suggest that the cost can escalate quickly”).

They also openly admit, “Our intent is to profess political support for global bureaucratic structures in health and medicine and to call for shifts toward better funded and socialized medical systems” (Actual quote: “Many governments have been reluctant to invest sufficiently in their health care systems, let alone public health systems in less developed countries….This study indicates the possible costs that can be avoided through global cooperative investment in public health in all countries”).

The most important takeaway from the paper is not a prognostication, but an observation from the past, the notion that social contagion is the great ill that results from an outbreak, not the contagion itself: “From studying many outbreaks, the real risk is not the disease but public and governmental reaction to the fear of the disease,” (Actual quote: “The fear of an unknown deadly virus is similar in its psychological effects to the reaction to biological and other terrorism threats and causes a high level of stress, often with longer-term consequences (Hyams et al., 2002). A large number of people would feel at risk at the onset of a pandemic, even if their actual risk of dying from the disease is low.”)

If you read the 44-page paper, uncertainty around the data and biases are disclosed by the authors.

But the media took it and ran with it for a salacious headline. The Chicken Littles of the world ran with it. The politicians, emergency services, military, and public health bureaucrats, seeking greater control for themselves, ran with it.

This is all predictable. What is far from predictable is whether you or I will believe any of this salacious nonsense. We don’t need to fall for it. We can look at the prognostication of 15 million deaths by corona, along with anyone who cites it as if it were fact, and challenge them quietly or openly as a heretofore discredited and unreliable person using an unreliable source in a moment where reliable journalism and sources are so badly needed.

Generations, centuries, millennia of humans around the globe have known what November 2016 reminded an entire country of: no one has a crystal ball.

Let us not forget this valuable lesson so quickly.

Will you be a willing megaphone to Chicken Little? Will you laugh at the nonsense, or will you be among those who chase Chicken Little into the henhouse where he belongs?

Whatever you choose, any person lying to you—economist, social scientist, prognosticator—deserves the same skeptical treatment across disciplines, because charlatans find their way into every discipline.

No matter how much modeling they do, the underlying truth is that no one has a crystal ball. Everyone is guessing. The experts didn’t know in 2016 how the election would shape up. The experts don’t know now how corona will shape up. Don’t sacrifice basic liberties to an expert claiming to have a crystal ball. Don’t sacrifice your basic sense of self to an expert claiming to have a crystal ball. Don’t offer the power of your fear, the power of your belief, and certainly not the power of your trust to an expert claiming to have a crystal ball.

Skepticism is the proper tool to use with any holder of any crystal ball. That is true, regardless of the complexity of the algorithm that they claim shows irrefutable proof of what the future will bring one day from now, one year from now, or one century from now.

The future is unknown to us and investing all of a society’s options in one path is detrimental to a successful outcome. One way that free societies have long prospered is by allowing individuals to produce many varying paths, some of which work, some of which fail. That is the risk mitigation method of freedom and individual choice. A single, unified path that no one may oppose removes a great deal of risk mitigation and forces many to make a single bet on a single path. That is a truly foolish idea given the fact that no one has a crystal ball.

To believe in the utility of central planning you must be able to fall for the idea that someone somewhere has a crystal ball. Individual freedom is not only moral, it provides utility and risk mitigation in moments of crisis, precisely like the one we now face.

American federalism provides for fifty experiments. Individual freedom in America provides for 330 million experiments. Some win, some lose. That’s life. Authoritarianism that drags everyone down a common path merely ensures that all will eventually lose.

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The Tyranny of Conservatism – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on March 19, 2019

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2019/03/laurence-m-vance/the-tyranny-of-conservatism/

By

Conservatives say they believe in the Constitution, limited government, federalism, free enterprise, individual freedom, private property, and the free market. But, of course, this means absolutely nothing since they say they believe in these things even when their actions show that they don’t believe in any of them.

Consider the drug war.

Does the Constitution authorize the federal government to have a war on drugs? Of course not. But that doesn’t stop conservatives from supporting the DEA and the federal drug war.

Is a government limited to reasonable defense, judicial, and policing activities compatible with government interest in the eating, drinking, smoking, medical, and recreational habits of Americans? Of course not. The only limited government that conservatives seek is one limited to control by conservatives.

Do conservatives believe that all drug polices should be instituted on the state level and that the federal government should have nothing to do with prohibiting or regulating drugs? Of course not. Conservatives only believe in federalism when the federal government does something they don’t like.

Do conservatives believe that free enterprise includes the freedom to buy and sell drugs? Of course not. They want the government to prohibit people from peacefully buying and selling drugs. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Real Reason the Media Pushes “Sexual Liberation” | The Daily Bell

Posted by M. C. on November 21, 2017

If the media’s thinking really is this sophisticated, who or what prompted the program?

http://www.thedailybell.com/news-analysis/why-the-media-pushes-sexual-liberation/

Individual freedom terrifies those in power. But it is an innate desire that cannot be suppressed. Therefore the media attempts to replace the drive for personal liberation with sexual liberation.

It is a carnal animalistic type of “freedom” that those in power want you to focus on. They promote a temporary feeling, a fleeting pleasure. Individual freedom is about building your future. Sexual freedom is about living in the moment. Read the rest of this entry »

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