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The Totalitarian Right


An article in the LJW today about taxes on small businesses triggered this blog. I want to talk about how the totalitarian right slams all of us regularly. Mr. O'Reilly and Mr. Limbaugh (and the Republican Party Leadership) let hardly a day pass without arguing that it is a good idea to continue the discriminatory tax policies that favor the rich. The current notion is that not continuing that travesty will hurt small business. The article in the LJW puts the lie to that.

It is one thing to argue about the size of government as many of the the tea party do; it is an entirely different argument when it comes to who should pay for it. Let us look at some aspect of recent tax actions.

Our state has chosen to increase our sales tax by 20%. There were other options to include making our non-progressive tax system more progressive. Remember that the vote to do this came from the Democrats and the Moderate Republicans. I guess they are right in there with our far right pundits – hold the rich harmless.

At the local level, we have chosen to increase property taxes. That at least hits property owners but since many wealth individuals have minimized their property taxes by some slight of hand the actual burden falls on the middle class and those struggling to enter it. Again, people we would hope to be supportive of the working class seem to have fallen for the right wing argument and avoided taxes on the rich.

Why do we not ask more from our wealthy? Is it, as some of the right wing pundits proclaim, self destructive to tax the rich because they will a.) cheat or b.) cause the economy to collapse? The former is easy to deal with and would help decrease unemployment. The latter, if true, raises the question as to whether our capitalist economy needs to be reconsidered if it can only be sustained by the 5% who have it all?

The 95% of us not so blessed are a clear majority. Why can we not drive our system to a more equitable sharing of wealth and of the burden of citizenship?


devobrun 7 years, 7 months ago

Because there are only two candidates and they are Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. And it doesn't matter who the politicians are.......we live in a bureaucracy. Because we are all afraid of each other. Demon capitalism and that horrible socialism........So we forget our real troubles and worry about ...Paris Hilton?

Income tax is not wealth tax. Many wealthy do not pay tax because they don't have taxable income. The money the wealthy have that is not taxable is tied up in capital investments. Taxing the capital is dangerous because money that would be used for research, growth, and business expansion would go to the government instead. But since growth is unlikely in this highly regulated environment, it doesn't matter who is elected......the EPA, OSHA, and thousands of other governments organizations run things.

If the money that went to the government was productive, then go for it. Shift wealth and power toward the government. But, how many times and in how many ways must the inefficiency and waste associated with government be illustrated before people realize that the free market produces much more than any government ever did.

And I would love to have a benevolent dictatorship. But my benevolence and yours might be different. And what is to limit the dictator? And what is to limit the bureaucrats? And how are we to separate excellence from mediocre in a world that no longer values the entrepreneur?

Take your money and invest in Asian companies. The west has slowly become soft and uninspired. Yawn, vote for me.......I'll listen to the chamber of commerce, or vote for me, yawn......I'll listen to the poor. We will continue to take from where ever we can and dump the money into regulations and programs to support the plantation.

Yawn, wake me when it is over. This economy, and whole country is boring me to death.

Our economy has transitioned from free market to highly regulated quasi-capitalism. There are so many rules, regulations, commissions and panels that the idea of a capitalist starting a new manufacturing company in the U.S. is laughable.

llama726 7 years, 7 months ago

I reject the idea that we no longer have a capitalist economy. It is a regulated capitalist economy. I'm glad the poor have it all - they also have all the crime and are commonly enslaved to their employer because missing one paycheck might be the difference in providing food, heat and clothes to their kids. Sure, having housing and food is better than how the impoverished had it in the 1500s. Every single aspect of our lives should be better than the 1500s, though.

We shouldn't stop running the race because we have finished the first lap.

The luxuries afforded to poor and middle class individuals are encouraged by the people who sell those luxuries. They market them effectively toward those individuals. You cannot cry out for less restriction on enterprise when that enterprise is built on the poor and middle class continuing to consume, rather than to save.

Our education system should really target financial education at a young age. Discipline will get you far.

llama726 7 years, 7 months ago

Education - private alternatives Transportation - private alternatives (not as many, and transit SHOULD be regulated - sorry, I don't buy that we wouldn't need safety regulations on vehicles)

Etc Etc.

You feel all regulation is bad. To most, that's no different than unmitigated communism. Same result - power accrues too much in the hands of one party which loses touch with the rest of the people.

llama726 7 years, 7 months ago

That's not what I said, now is it? The reason, Liberty, I don't find much value in engaging you in conversation is that you are taking this all so very personally. I should have clarified that you feel that federal regulation is bad. My fault. But, because you are making this an argument about me rather than the issue, I'll be bowing out now. If you can remain calm next time, perhaps we can exchange ideas a little further.

notajayhawk 7 years, 7 months ago

"Why do we not ask more from our wealthy?"

Maybe because they're already paying one whole heck of a lot more than the rest of us, well beyond their fair share?

"The 95% of us not so blessed are a clear majority. Why can we not drive our system to a more equitable sharing of wealth and of the burden of citizenship? "

So because there are more of us, and solely because there are more of us, and we have the power to take what belongs to them, that makes it right?

llama726 7 years, 7 months ago

You won't find me agreeing with notajayhawk often, but might doesn't always make right.

With that being said, the wealthy here enjoy a standard of living they wouldn't enjoy in most other places around the world, made possible by those 95% of people. At some point, we, as a culture, stopped valuing each other and started valuing getting the maximum return for our dollar investment. If the wealthiest (and the owners of businesses) willfully employed more people, accepting slightly less, the entirety of the economy would be buoyed.

But, simply being able to take it isn't justification to force them into taking it. Our economy is in trouble because of spending. Yes, spending has increased under Obama but so too did it increase under Bush before him, and ideally, it should come back down. Our government needs to stop being aligned to businesses. Stop subsidizing profitable businesses, stop contracting things out to politicians' buddies - allow true competition for government contracts on necessary services, not a secretive two week bid. Modify bureaucratic funding in such a way that it gives incentive to bureaucrats who find ways to save money. Stop giving them blank "use it or lose it budgets" - if I identify a 20% savings in a budget at work, typically, I'd be in line for a bonus or a perk (incentive) and my company would be able to save those resources. Allow that for government agencies. Savings in agencies should carry over. There shouldn't be so much pressure to spend.

Corporations, if they get the same rights as people do to fund elections, should also get the same responsibility to pay taxes. GE shouldn't dodge taxes in the United States by offshoring profits.

Closing corporate loopholes, giving incentive to save and not spend (think about it - if you are given a budget, and you don't spend all of it, the money is gone anyway - you're going to spend it all. If you are given a budget and you save some of it, so you get to have that much additional budget next year - you might be more inclined to save it - there's the incentive to save) within government programs... These are two very simple things which could turn the tide of the deficit and are viable alternatives to taxes. Ending corporate subsidies is another good method.

devobrun 7 years, 7 months ago

So, George, watch the first video on this site from Pres. B. Clinton:


There is one thing I disagree with in his comments: Green jobs.

I am an electrical engineer. My PhD was 25 years ago. I know enough to tell you that "green" jobs are jobs that business is staying away from because of an inherent flaw.

All "green" technologies are not properly evaluated. They are popular, subsidized, and "promising". But until a viable electric energy storage system is invented.....they don't work. OK, window replacement and insulation work, sometimes well. But they, like all other things, are oversold.

Middle America is looking for something to do. "Green" isn't it. It doesn't work. So what do you think are the jobs that the former Pres is talking about? What should I tell my students in high school, or college, to seek as employment?

I have a 25 year old son who is completing a masters degree at Rutgers. His funding was running short, so he went out to find employment. He has 2 B.S. degrees and college swimming credentials. Within 2 weeks he now has a job coaching a masters swimming program (early in morning), tutoring the athletic department in math and physics, and teaching physics to MCAT folks. Now he has to figure out how much time to devote to these moneymakers and how much time to devote to his degree. His comment to me was "check it out, Dad. How is it that jobs are hard to find?"

Because the age of the activist is gone. Because we can no longer afford, as a society, artists, historians, social studies academics, systems and ecology, and on and on and on. You guys are not producing job-creating endeavors. Now, if you solved the gang problem because you know what to do......people would flock to the scene. If historians could figure out how to implement Santayana... we're in. Historical engineering.....hmmmmm. If social science coneheads could figure out why gangs are growing in America.......Oh wait, its because youth want to belong to a winning team. Imagine that, re-emergent capitalism. The bad kind.

Or if the artists would take to heart that "Physics for Poets" class they took in college or maybe really try to understand (because now they are grownups):


Go ahead, artists.....you can do it...really.... your aren't stupid....yu can do it....really....

Friggin' do something America. Show....Up....And....Do....The...Job.

pizzapete 7 years, 7 months ago

Check it out Dad, why is it that us rich kids getting a masters at Rutgers don't have any problems finding a job?

devobrun 7 years, 7 months ago

Because they can do things, pizzapete.
Or did you miss that at pizza school?

pizzapete 7 years, 7 months ago

yea, we didn't have a swimming pool or a golf course at pizza school.

devobrun 7 years, 7 months ago

Oh, after further review: The reason that middle America is sucking wind is that there are no productive jobs for them.

Because government has taken over and innovation is gone. Thomas Edison and all that he represents in the world is not part of America anymore.

Teach, know, pontificate, encourage, inspire.....all thrashing around as we descend into governmental oblivion.

All you former hippies who now run the show: You are now "the man". don't forget it.

The hope of America is the same as always.....the youth. Let them rebel.

George Lippencott 7 years, 7 months ago

Several of you have commented but your comments IMHO focus on the scope of government and not who pays. One of you observed that the rich “carry the load”. Maybe, depending on whom you consider rich. The government takes about 35% of my income. I seriously doubt it takes much more as a percentage from Mr. O’Reilly. I also doubt if it takes more than 5% from some of the younger set. It goes up by a factor of five or more in the first hundred K and then is flat for the really rich!

I am OK with a flat tax if everyone is taxed. I am OK with a progressive tax if it is in fact progressive. Our tax system is neither. The rich really do not pay a whole lot. Think of one of the CEOs of companies loosing their shirts and making 200 million. Most of that is in stock options taxed right now at 10%. Equitable?? NO. But then the last time life was equitable was on the playground when Miss Jones enforced order. Maybe that is why so many people love government intervention. Miss Jones is making it fair??

And yes, we tax income and to an extent spending. We tax wealth in the form of some real property. We do not really tax wealth in the form of ROI and we certainly do not tax wealth once accumulated. Where is Miss Jones? Oh, by the by, where are our government centered bloggers. It is OK to tax the middle to help the poor because at least then poor are helped. It is too hard to tax the rich and they do give a lot of money to our party. Too many people have been reading Mr. Machiavelli.

Flap Doodle 7 years, 7 months ago

Remember what Dear Leader told Joe,"...I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody." In this example, "you" appears to be the government doing the spreading. Give generously, citizens.

booyalab 7 years, 7 months ago

and "everybody" would be Dear Leader in 2012

jumpin_catfish 7 years, 7 months ago

Totalitarian Right? My milky white back side! It's the totalitarian government bureaucracy as devobrun has said. The slide to irrelevance on the world stage began sometime back, just the way liberals wanted it and I worry there is no way to stop it.

RoeDapple 7 years, 7 months ago

George, Let me pull some numbers out of the air, tell you my thoughts, then you pick them apart as you see fit.

Let’s assume Bob the Baker started out thirty years ago with a $12,000 investment and opened his first bakery. The first three years he barely broke even, paying himself and his three employees little more than minimum wage and investing what little over that he made into his property and equipment. Now, thirty years later, he is in his mid fifties, owns eight very profitable bakeries worth in excess of twenty million dollars, pays his 150 employees above average wages for the industry and himself $300,000 per year. Assuming his employees payroll runs around $400,000 per year, I figure he sends as much as $95,000 into the government at the federal and state level as withdrawn from said employees pay and including the half of social security he is responsible for. Under taxing the wealthy, his income would be taxed at a higher rate leaving him what? $170,000 maybe? Or he could sell his profitable bakeries, probably at a loss, pay the taxes due on that income, bank the rest and draw the interest on what’s left. A little tax paid on the interest each year, draw $150,000 per year and live a long time without the headaches, depending on how well he has invested of course. In the mean time, the buyer of his bakeries has defaulted, bakeries closed, employees laid off and the $270,000 in taxes his business once generated has dwindled to a trickle, all due to government wanting to make the rich pay more. Now Bob the Baker is Bob the Beach Bum, paying $4500 in taxes and drinking fruity drinks with umbrellas in them. Most of his former employees are still unemployed with unemployment benefits having run out months ago.

( Although ‘Bob’ isn’t actually a baker, this is very much how he sees his future developing)

Pick it apart, tell me (and Bob)where we are mistaken, have fun with it.

Thanks George

RoeDapple 7 years, 7 months ago

Sorry Jesse (and George) fumbling fingers math error. Should have read 4 million.All other numbers should be bumped up accordingly except for Bob's

Jimo 7 years, 7 months ago

It's an interesting layout but unfortunately I can't make head or tails out of some of your leaps of logic. Suddenly, there's something called "taxing the wealthy"? Suddenly, the guy wants to sell his business? "Probably at a loss"? The buyer "has defaulted"? "All due to government wanting to make the rich pay more"? Huh?

Sounds like Bob the Banker is a lot like Joe the Plumber - a smart ass living in a fantasy world where he worries about tax paid on income he never, does, or will ever have.

The core of this scenarios problem seems to be an implication that a $20M business is being run as a "small business" (possible but not particularly likely especially seeing that it is in fact coming from 8 different businesses) and that this results in personal income to Bob of $300k a year.

Under the tax plan now under consideration, the Obama tax cut will cover the first $250k of the $300k in income. The remaining $50k will be taxed at roughly 39% instead of 35%, or roughly $2k more a year in taxes.

Seems closer to rounding error on a $20M business rather than a disincentive to get up in the morning and go to work. My guess is that Bob the Baker works a tad bit harder to make up that $2k to the benefit of everyone.

Still, it's interesting how some people make up doomsday scenarios to justify the policies that want regardless of the facts.

kansanbygrace 7 years, 7 months ago

Follow your stuff here, George, but have a little trouble swallowing the notion that Bob is the only person in the whole world who can bake and sell bread. Why do the new owners of Bob's bakeries not continue to sell the same bread made by the same productive staff to the same consumers who pay for it? Is Bob that unique? And....if Bob is one of the 8% who control 89% of the wealth generated by US productivity, why would he complain in paying his 65% of the taxes paid by the very same 8%? That's still a significantly better payoff compared to those who generated the value he sold so well.

Jim Phillips 7 years, 7 months ago

Looking at all the blogs today, the Socialists are very, very scared and very, very worried. I like it!

llama726 7 years, 7 months ago

George, I'm glad you are putting up another one of these for the Right after your last little social experiment on the Hard Arrogant Left. Well done.

George Lippencott 7 years, 7 months ago

When they repaved 23rd/K10 I got evicted from under my bridge. I am looking for funding to help get my bridge back

George Lippencott 7 years, 7 months ago

Morning Roe.

Yes, the small business making many millions a year pays higher taxes. I could only begin to sort as the taxes paid include federal, state, local, unemployment, social security, Medicare. Lot of tax.

Now if we assume he remains a wholly owned business using his personal 1040 (not a good choice at this size) he gets to deduct all the expenses associated with the business on Schedule C which includes everything above, depreciation, investment, advertising, hiring, medical insurance, inventory and on and on. Assuming that the $300K he pays himself is the actual profit of the business (not clear how you have retained earnings in a wholly owned not incorporated business) that is what he pays tax on. If Mr. Obama has his way a portion of that income above $250,000 would be taxed at 39% vice 35%. That actual tax increase would be $2000. Under the existing program his marginal tax rate would have been equal to mine and we certainly do not make anything near $300,000 per year. Is raising the tax on the $300,000 by less than 1% so bad? In fact he could even pay his employees another $50K or offer them better medical care and his taxes would not go up at all.

Of course the real solution is for your friend to incorporate as his business appears to be big enough. He could then pay himself (wife and other officer) partially with stock options, put at least one of the family cars into the corporation and in a year pay only 10% tax (maybe 20% if Mr. Obama has his way.) on that portion of his income. I would not be surprised that if done properly your friend would still have the $300,000 income and yet pay no more taxes (not rate but actual tax) than we do making much less than that.

I remind everyone that taxes not only must raise the revenue the society determines it needs but it most do so in a manner that is perceived fair by most tax payers. Allowing corporate CEO with very high incomes to bury much of that income in stock options taxed as capital gains at 10-20% when salaried people at a bit above $100K get taxed on margin at 35% - currently the highest rate.

As I said before, this blog is not about the size of government. If we had smaller government we could lower taxes on everyone.

In keeping with the notion of fairness the lower end of the income spectrum should probably pay some tax. That insures they understand the cost of the services they receive and fulfills the social contract that we are all in this together – it would raise little revenue unless the rate were significant.

I will also point out the raising taxes on the 5% does not bring in a lot of Revenue but it does fulfill Mr. Obama’s campaign promise. Can somebody explain why there are Democrats opposed to that action?

RoeDapple 7 years, 7 months ago

Thanks George. I guess I (and apparently 'Bob') didn't realize that at least in his case the increase would be insignificant. Sounds like he needs to spend more time talking to his accountant and less time talking to his "just tryin' to help" friends!

Stephen Roberts 7 years, 7 months ago

George - two reasons - 1. It would raise their taxes ...... 2. It would hurt people who contribute to their campaigns and they may not give them money.

devobrun 7 years, 7 months ago

I teach high school and an International Student engaged me in a discussion of taxes in America. I showed him the size of the U.S. tax code. Then I tried to explain it. He is one of those very bright, mathematical Asian kids you hear about being so amazingly smart.

He was flummoxed by the whole affair. He looked confused and said it was crazy.

You are talking about tax code, George. Your idea of "fair" is not shared by those who build the tax code. If you reduce the complexity of the code, you reduce the power of the government. And increasing the power of government is the whole idea. All else is lost.

So, If Charles Rangel gets votes by actually giving refunds to those who pay no taxes, then it gets into the code. If Bob Dole includes tax breaks for left-handed, farmers with names derived from food companies, he does so to get votes.

The larger government gets, the more vote peddling you will see. Votes come from constituents. The trick is to find a way to give to one group without offending another in your jurisdiction. And that's it. Fair? Smart? Sorry NIH (not invented here), or if the NIH (National Institute of Health) is a dominant group in your territory, not sorry.

It is graft.

Wiki def: "the acquisition of money, gain, or advantage by dishonest, unfair, or illegal means, esp. through the abuse of one's position or influence in politics, business, etc"

Thy name is taxes.

Jimo 7 years, 7 months ago

"The trick is to find a way to give to one group without offending another in your jurisdiction."

Almost. The trick is to find a way to give to the 1% who own you without offending the 99%.

Maybe you should have separated the tax coded into the portion that applies to the average Joe and the portion that applies to the super rich.

Average Joe's tax coded is a small pamphlet. The rest of the encyclopedia applies to the super rich.

You see the super rich have better lobbyists than the Average Joes of the world and more money to bribe politicians to listen and respond to their parochial concerns - and to spill out propaganda to get people like you to carry their water for them.

kansanbygrace 7 years, 7 months ago

I just remembered an inscription on the state capital building in Hawaii, I think. It says "taxation is the cost of a civilized society." I'm not asking you to agree with it.

Jay Keffer 7 years, 7 months ago

Great commentary from Ben Stein:

"I am a fairly upper income taxpayer. Not anything even remotely close to sports stars or movie stars or financial big boys. But I am above the level Mr. Obama says makes me rich. So, in the midst of a severe recession, I am to have my taxes raised dramatically.

I am not quite sure what my sin is.

I worked for almost every dollar I have, except for a small percentage my parents left me by virtue of hard work and Spartan living, and most of that was taken by the federal estate tax. I have a hell of a lot less than I did before the stock market and real estate market crashes. I didn't get a bailout or any part of a stimulus program, except for traffic jams as the roads in Beverly Hills got worked on for the 10th time in the last 10 years (or so it seems).

I pay my income taxes, and after them and the commissions I pay my agent, I am left with about 35 cents for every dollar I earn.

I own some real estate in California and Idaho and the District of Columbia. Naturally, I pay property tax, supposedly mostly to educate local children. Not far from me, the city of Los Angeles just spent about $600 million to build the most lavish school in America for about 4,000 children. That's my money. Naturally, I had no say in it. My wife and I have no children in public schools and only did for about eighteen months long ago. I still pay my school tax ever year.

I am not asking for any tears. I live a great life, have a fabulous wife, a great son and daughter-in-law, four wonderful, furry dogs and six cats, all adopted. I have more than enough to eat.

But what I don't get is this: There is no known economic theory under which raising my taxes in the midst of a severe recession will help the economy recover. It isn't part of any well known monetarist or Keynesian theory. So if it does no good to raise our taxes, I assume we are being punished.

But for what? I don't own slaves. I employ a lot of people full- and part-time and they are all happy with their pay. When charity calls, I almost always write out a check. I don't have a yacht or ponies or a plane. My wife doesn't wear a tiara. I don't gamble.

What did I do wrong? I know I have often lost my temper with my wife and the cats, but that's not a crime, yet. I tried to be successful, which is what I thought I was supposed to do. When did it turn out that was a crime to be punished? Maybe when the economy recovers, raising my taxes makes sense, but for now, it's just punishment, and I can't figure out what for. "

Olympics 7 years, 7 months ago

ben stein part starts at 2:30 in the link.

kansanbygrace 7 years, 7 months ago

Obviously Ben is overlooking the need to pay the bill for services received. Pay taxes after someone else has mended the "Economy"? Very, very Businesslike.

George Lippencott 7 years, 7 months ago

kansanbygrace (anonymous) replies… "Follow your stuff here, George, but have a little trouble swallowing the notion that Bob is the only person in the whole world who can bake and sell bread. ..."

Huh. That was Roe. I have little sympathy for "Bob". However, I have even less sympathy for my wealthy elite leaders who have much and pay little. I would love to see the tax returns of Mr. O'Reilly and Mr. Gore.

I think it simplistic to reduce the argument to "taxes are the price for civilization." They obviously are. The issue is an equitable sharing of that load.

IMHO, nobody should pay zero or get money back they did not pay back. If we want a flat tax then everybody pays the necessary percentage to raise the revenue we agree we need. If we have a progressive tax (we supposedly do) than it should be uniformly progressive and not capped at about $200K or skewed so that salary becomes capital gains and the really rich ($1M plus) pay less than the middle class (as a percentage).

I really do not agree with the latter although I mentioned the use of that dodge to Roe. I am intrigued as to exactly who the Republicans are trying to protect. Most businesses in the range affected by the proposed Obama tax increase are incorporated and operate under a very different tax system. Just exactly who has business profits above $250K and remains unincorporated (Mr. O’Reilly (?) Mr. Limbaugh (?). I am told the number affected is less than 3% of the pool. It does not compute?!

BorderRuffian 7 years, 7 months ago

The author of the blog richly deserves a Gibbs slap. The terms "Totalitarian" and "Right" are quite self-contradictory. It seems to me it is the unwritten but well-known desire of the LEFT to turn this country into a socialist republic, leaning, even, towards communism and the complete control of the populace by the Government and Pelosi-Reid-Obama. The "Right" as it is called, actually favors a smaller government with control resting in "we the people" - not Big Government.

It is the Totalitarian LEFT, not the Right.

verity 7 years, 7 months ago

"It seems to me it is the unwritten but well-known desire of the LEFT to turn this country into a socialist republic, leaning, even, towards communism and the complete control of the populace by the Government and Pelosi-Reid-Obama."

You are wrong in your assumption. Completely wrong. I am LEFT and I certainly don't lean towards totalitarianism and don't personally know any who do.

Which side is it that insists on their people toeing the party line? Certainly not the left.

George Lippencott 7 years, 7 months ago

Well, the word Totalitarian" modifies the word "Right". IMHO not all those on the "right" support unjust tax laws. Many just want lower taxes. Some confuse thAT GOAL WITH EXTRACTING THE TAXES justly. IMHO the term can be applied to either extreme where the focus is not on what the main stream wants but on what a minority wants to the exclusion of the majority clustered somewhere around the middle - at best an imprecise construct.

Kirk Larson 7 years, 7 months ago

The truth is the rich benefit more from the services of the Federal Government than any one else. They should pay more for what they receive. Back in '93 the Clinton administration proposed raising taxes on the higher income levels. Republicans whined that it would tank the economy and not a single one voted for it. What did we get? The longest period of economic growth in American history! W comes along and cuts taxes for the wealthy claiming it will create jobs and the economy tanks and hemorrhages jobs.

George Lippencott 7 years, 7 months ago

You may be on to something here. Would be nice if we could quantify who gets what from various elements of our government.

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