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Government is not the solution to our problem, it IS the problem - Page 14

post #521 of 573
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Originally Posted by tonton View Post

Yes and money spent by private enterprise is used soooo much more wisely.

 

Well, I'm sure you'd like to take it (not to mention the money spent "unwisely" (by your standards of course) by individuals) so that it can be spent more wisely (by your standards of course).

 

Your straw man aside, private enterprises can't even come close to governments, and the US government in particular.


Edited by MJ1970 - 3/28/13 at 7:54am

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post #522 of 573
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Quote:
Originally Posted by muppetry View Post

So I would argue that the question, in reality, is just an attempt to deflect attention - that those who argue this point do not really want to spend more on preventing medical errors and do not really care about the cost of gun control, but simply wish to preserve, at all costs and with no allowance to consider changing circumstances, an anachronistic unrestricted right to bear arms.

 

No, the questions was in response to tonton's attempt to deflect attention. This has been discussed in the "Massacre in Connecticut" thread. I'd rather not indulge tonton in his attempt to derail this thread. Thanks.

Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.

(I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.)

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Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.

(I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.)

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post #523 of 573
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Originally Posted by jazzguru View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by muppetry View Post

So I would argue that the question, in reality, is just an attempt to deflect attention - that those who argue this point do not really want to spend more on preventing medical errors and do not really care about the cost of gun control, but simply wish to preserve, at all costs and with no allowance to consider changing circumstances, an anachronistic unrestricted right to bear arms.

 

No, the questions was in response to tonton's attempt to deflect attention. This has been discussed in the "Massacre in Connecticut" thread. I'd rather not indulge tonton in his attempt to derail this thread. Thanks.

 

But I was replying to you, not tonton. You can't respond with your own argument and then complain when it is followed up on by others.

post #524 of 573
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Originally Posted by muppetry View Post

 

But I was replying to you, not tonton. You can't respond with your own argument and then complain when it is followed up on by others.

 

 

Do you agree with tonton that gun deaths are far more costly in money and lives than government actions?

Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.

(I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.)

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Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.

(I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.)

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post #525 of 573
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Originally Posted by jazzguru View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by muppetry View Post

 

But I was replying to you, not tonton. You can't respond with your own argument and then complain when it is followed up on by others.

 

 

Do you agree with tonton that gun deaths are far more costly in money and lives than government actions?

 

No.

 

But with the same caveat I noted earlier, that gun deaths, by and large, are intentional acts of violence against US citizens, while government spending is not (IMO) in support of actions intended to harm US citizens.

post #526 of 573
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Quote:
Originally Posted by muppetry View Post

 

No.

 

But with the same caveat I noted earlier, that gun deaths, by and large, are intentional acts of violence against US citizens, while government spending is not (IMO) in support of actions intended to harm US citizens.

 

Actually, not all gun deaths are intentional.

 

And does it really matter whether or not government spending is intended to harm people if that is the result in the end?

Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.

(I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.)

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Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.

(I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.)

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post #527 of 573
Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzguru View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by muppetry View Post

 

No.

 

But with the same caveat I noted earlier, that gun deaths, by and large, are intentional acts of violence against US citizens, while government spending is not (IMO) in support of actions intended to harm US citizens.

 

Actually, not all gun deaths are intentional.

 

That's why I wrote "by and large".

 

Quote:
And does it really matter whether or not government spending is intended to harm people if that is the result in the end?

 

I think it matters from the perspective of how to address it. If a government is intentionally harming its citizens through tyranny, or other forms of oppression, then it clearly does not represent them and needs to be replaced. If, on the other hand, it is just a matter of inefficiency, poor judgement or any of the other undesirable symptoms that often arise in managed organizations, then continual striving for improvement may be a better solution.

post #528 of 573
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Quote:
Originally Posted by muppetry View Post

 

That's why I wrote "by and large".

 

 

I think it matters from the perspective of how to address it. If a government is intentionally harming its citizens through tyranny, or other forms of oppression, then it clearly does not represent them and needs to be replaced. If, on the other hand, it is just a matter of inefficiency, poor judgement or any of the other undesirable symptoms that often arise in managed organizations, then continual striving for improvement may be a better solution.

 

But the money used to fund government's wasteful and harmful actions - whether intentional or not - is collected under threat of violence. If the people don't like what the government is doing with their money, they cannot stop it from taking their money.

 

Whereas, with a private business, if the people don't like what it is doing with the money they give to it in exchange for its products or services, they can simply stop purchasing its products or services and it will fail (unless bailed out with money the government has collected from those people under threat of violence).

 

"Striving for improvement" is all well and good, but why should any individual or group of individuals strive for improvement if there is no risk of failure no matter what they do?

Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.

(I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.)

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Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.

(I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.)

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post #529 of 573
Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzguru View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by muppetry View Post

 

That's why I wrote "by and large".

 

 

I think it matters from the perspective of how to address it. If a government is intentionally harming its citizens through tyranny, or other forms of oppression, then it clearly does not represent them and needs to be replaced. If, on the other hand, it is just a matter of inefficiency, poor judgement or any of the other undesirable symptoms that often arise in managed organizations, then continual striving for improvement may be a better solution.

 

But the money used to fund government's wasteful and harmful actions - whether intentional or not - is collected under threat of violence. If the people don't like what the government is doing with their money, they cannot stop it from taking their money.

 

Whereas, with a private business, if the people don't like what it is doing with the money they give to it in exchange for its products or services, they can simply stop purchasing its products or services and it will fail (unless bailed out with money the government has collected from those people under threat of violence).

 

"Striving for improvement" is all well and good, but why should any individual or group of individuals strive for improvement if there is no risk of failure no matter what they do?

 

So here we kind of run out of room for argument because we are back to the fundamental philosophical disagreement over whether taxation is legitimate. My view, as you probably know, is that there is no alternative to some level of non-optional taxation to pay for infrastructure (which includes security etc.), and I have pointed out that taxation, per se, is not even consistently rejected under all libertarian interpretations. But, inevitably, there will never be unanimous agreement in the populace over any tax-funded program or service, so if the metric for acceptability is that one only pays for those things one agrees with then taxation becomes impossible.

 

That, in my view, then rules out any possibility of functional government, because given the enthusiasm for tax avoidance, and even evasion, optional taxation will collapse the revenue stream. Sure, you can supply some infrastructure via the free market, providing that you don't mind permitting the choice to decline it which may lead, just as an example, to families with no healthcare, no access to road transport, no utilities etc. - i.e. the potential for widespread poverty and squalor with no means to combat it.

 

That's not a society that I wish to live in, so I accept the need to pay taxes, including taxes to fund things that I do not use or even necessarily agree with. The freedoms we enjoy that derive from living in a somewhat mutually caring society do not come without some commitment and cost. But we've argued this one ad nauseam and I don't think we are going to resolve it this time either.

post #530 of 573
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Originally Posted by muppetry View Post

So here we kind of run out of room for argument because we are back to the fundamental philosophical disagreement over whether taxation is legitimate. My view, as you probably know, is that there is no alternative to some level of non-optional taxation to pay for infrastructure (which includes security etc.), and I have pointed out that taxation, per se, is not even consistently rejected under all libertarian interpretations. But, inevitably, there will never be unanimous agreement in the populace over any tax-funded program or service, so if the metric for acceptability is that one only pays for those things one agrees with then taxation becomes impossible.

 

That, in my view, then rules out any possibility of functional government, because given the enthusiasm for tax avoidance, and even evasion, optional taxation will collapse the revenue stream. Sure, you can supply some infrastructure via the free market, providing that you don't mind permitting the choice to decline it which may lead, just as an example, to families with no healthcare, no access to road transport, no utilities etc. - i.e. the potential for widespread poverty and squalor with no means to combat it.

 

That's not a society that I wish to live in, so I accept the need to pay taxes, including taxes to fund things that I do not use or even necessarily agree with. The freedoms we enjoy that derive from living in a somewhat mutually caring society do not come without some commitment and cost. But we've argued this one ad nauseam and I don't think we are going to resolve it this time either.

 

You're right. We probably will end up agreeing to disagree, once again. But consider this:

 

In 1913 - 100 years ago - the federal income tax was instituted. It was also the year the Federal Reserve came into existence.

 

Prior to 1913, with no income tax and no central bank, did the people live in chaos and squalor? Did they sit around scratching their heads wondering who would build the roads? Were they shooting each other in the streets? No. Quite the contrary.

 

Quote:
In 1913, exactly a century ago, the United States was a flourishing, economically advanced country. Its real output per capita was the world’s highest. It produced a great abundance of agricultural products and was a leading exporter of cotton, wheat, and many other farm products. Yet it also had the world’s largest industrial sector, producing as much manufactured output as France, Germany, and the United Kingdom combined. It brought forth new technological marvels almost daily, and its cities featured well paved and lighted streets, automobiles, modern sewerage and water-supply systems, central electrical-supply systems, skyscrapers, street cars, subways, and frequent intercity train service. During the preceding fifty years, its real income per capita had grown by about 2 percent per year, on average, and its total real output by about 4 percent per year, on average. All races, classes, and regions participated in this progress. In 1913, the rate of unemployment was 4.3 percent, and the price level was roughly the same as its average during the nineteenth century.

Yet the United States in 1913 had no federal income tax, no central bank, no social security taxes, no general sales taxes, no Securities and Exchange Commission, no Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, no Department of Health and Human Services, no National Labor Relations Board, no federal this, that, and the other as far as the eye can see. Except for restrictions on Chinese and Japanese immigration, nothing but perfunctory health examinations impeded the free flow of foreigners into the country, and hundreds of thousands arrived each year, mostly from Europe. All governments combined spent an amount equal to about 7 percent of GDP; the federal government’s part amounted to only about 3 percent of GDP. Local governments were the biggest actors in terms of regulations and expenditures. The average American had no regular contact with the federal government aside from the postman and little or none with the state and local governments aside from the school teachers and the public streets. The country was on an official gold standard. Gold and silver coins circulated as normal media of exchange, and gold certificates issued by individual commercial banks, as well as their checking accounts, served the public for making larger transactions.

Never before had so much prosperity been attained by a comparably large population, and never before had so many people enjoyed such spacious freedom to live their lives and go about their business as they chose in a context where voluntary transactions dominated economic affairs and governments were relatively inconsequential factors in the economy and society.

 

So what, then, necessitated the institution of a federal income tax, central bank, and gargantuan growth of government since 1913?

Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.

(I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.)

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Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.

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post #531 of 573
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Originally Posted by jazzguru View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by muppetry View Post

So here we kind of run out of room for argument because we are back to the fundamental philosophical disagreement over whether taxation is legitimate. My view, as you probably know, is that there is no alternative to some level of non-optional taxation to pay for infrastructure (which includes security etc.), and I have pointed out that taxation, per se, is not even consistently rejected under all libertarian interpretations. But, inevitably, there will never be unanimous agreement in the populace over any tax-funded program or service, so if the metric for acceptability is that one only pays for those things one agrees with then taxation becomes impossible.

 

That, in my view, then rules out any possibility of functional government, because given the enthusiasm for tax avoidance, and even evasion, optional taxation will collapse the revenue stream. Sure, you can supply some infrastructure via the free market, providing that you don't mind permitting the choice to decline it which may lead, just as an example, to families with no healthcare, no access to road transport, no utilities etc. - i.e. the potential for widespread poverty and squalor with no means to combat it.

 

That's not a society that I wish to live in, so I accept the need to pay taxes, including taxes to fund things that I do not use or even necessarily agree with. The freedoms we enjoy that derive from living in a somewhat mutually caring society do not come without some commitment and cost. But we've argued this one ad nauseam and I don't think we are going to resolve it this time either.

 

You're right. We probably will end up agreeing to disagree, once again. But consider this:

 

In 1913 - 100 years ago - the federal income tax was instituted. It was also the year the Federal Reserve came into existence.

 

Prior to 1913, with no income tax and no central bank, did the people live in chaos and squalor? Did they sit around scratching their heads wondering who would build the roads? Were they shooting each other in the streets? No. Quite the contrary.

 

Quote:
In 1913, exactly a century ago, the United States was a flourishing, economically advanced country. Its real output per capita was the world’s highest. It produced a great abundance of agricultural products and was a leading exporter of cotton, wheat, and many other farm products. Yet it also had the world’s largest industrial sector, producing as much manufactured output as France, Germany, and the United Kingdom combined. It brought forth new technological marvels almost daily, and its cities featured well paved and lighted streets, automobiles, modern sewerage and water-supply systems, central electrical-supply systems, skyscrapers, street cars, subways, and frequent intercity train service. During the preceding fifty years, its real income per capita had grown by about 2 percent per year, on average, and its total real output by about 4 percent per year, on average. All races, classes, and regions participated in this progress. In 1913, the rate of unemployment was 4.3 percent, and the price level was roughly the same as its average during the nineteenth century.

Yet the United States in 1913 had no federal income tax, no central bank, no social security taxes, no general sales taxes, no Securities and Exchange Commission, no Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, no Department of Health and Human Services, no National Labor Relations Board, no federal this, that, and the other as far as the eye can see. Except for restrictions on Chinese and Japanese immigration, nothing but perfunctory health examinations impeded the free flow of foreigners into the country, and hundreds of thousands arrived each year, mostly from Europe. All governments combined spent an amount equal to about 7 percent of GDP; the federal government’s part amounted to only about 3 percent of GDP. Local governments were the biggest actors in terms of regulations and expenditures. The average American had no regular contact with the federal government aside from the postman and little or none with the state and local governments aside from the school teachers and the public streets. The country was on an official gold standard. Gold and silver coins circulated as normal media of exchange, and gold certificates issued by individual commercial banks, as well as their checking accounts, served the public for making larger transactions.

Never before had so much prosperity been attained by a comparably large population, and never before had so many people enjoyed such spacious freedom to live their lives and go about their business as they chose in a context where voluntary transactions dominated economic affairs and governments were relatively inconsequential factors in the economy and society.

 

So what, then, necessitated the institution of a federal income tax, central bank, and gargantuan growth of government since 1913?

 

Good question. Firstly, remember that the US was a flourishing, economically advanced country by the standards of that day - not of today. It was primitive by comparison. There was no healthcare system, the US had fought no international wars, and there had been no arms race. Traffic density was not an issue, and there was no national power supply. On the upside, the lawyers did not rule the land, and the nanny state did not yet exist. All factors tending to reduce costs.

 

It may well be that government was more efficient back then too - but I cannot judge. I completely agree that government bureaucracy has run amok - I face it personally and professionally every day and it annoys me intensely. Theoretical economies of scale have been negated by bloated government departments. But - I think that even with better efficiency, the expectations of service of most people, and thus the costs, have gone up. In fact I would argue that since the overall tax burden is still at the low end historically, that increase in expectations has a lot to do with the fiscal problems that we face.

post #532 of 573
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Originally Posted by muppetry View Post

There was no healthcare system, the US had fought no international wars, and there had been no arms race. Traffic density was not an issue, and there was no national power supply.

 

There was, of course, a medical system. But not a government-controlled one.

 

As for the international wars, arms race, traffic and power supply problems - don't these proceed directly from the expansion of government taxing powers?

 

I'm no libertarian to be sure, but I know that the government-built highway system practically created the car-dependent and energy inefficient lifestyles that we are trying now to fix. And the world would have been much better off (in terms of war) if income taxes had been restricted to a time-limited wartime measure.

 

You can't be against the "military-industrial complex" and favour large-scale government taxation. That's how it's paid for.

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post #533 of 573

+1 ^

 

As usual, Frank chimes in with brilliant and concise observations.

 

There was no healthcare system...indeed. 1rolleyes.gif lol.gif


Edited by MJ1970 - 3/29/13 at 8:25am

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post #534 of 573
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Originally Posted by MJ1970 View Post

+1 ^

 

As usual, Frank chimes in with brilliant and concise observations.

 

There was no healthcare system...indeed. 1rolleyes.gif lol.gif

 

I suggest that you remind yourself of the history of healthcare in the United States before going any further.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_health_care_reform_in_the_United_States

post #535 of 573
Quote:
Originally Posted by MJ1970 View Post

+1 ^

As usual, Frank chimes in with brilliant and concise observations.

There was no healthcare system...indeed. 1rolleyes.gif
 lol.gif

Taleb: To make big mistakes and to be wiped out; this is the island effect at work. What we have had in this country is the progressive rise of central government. Particularly, deficits are the work of central government. [Scottish philosopher David] Hume figured it out. He said: Small states and city-states, they love commerce. And large governments love war. And that’s what justifies large government—war. There is no justification for large government other than war. And they’re not good at it.

http://reason.com/archives/2013/03/24/how-debt-ruins-systems

A relevant quote and a great read.

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post #536 of 573
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Originally Posted by muppetry View Post

 

I suggest that you remind yourself of the history of healthcare in the United States before going any further.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_health_care_reform_in_the_United_States

 

I see now that by "no healthcare system" you meant no government healthcare system. In interpreted the statement "no healthcare system" more broadly than you apparently meant.

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post #537 of 573
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Originally Posted by trumptman View Post


Taleb: To make big mistakes and to be wiped out; this is the island effect at work. What we have had in this country is the progressive rise of central government. Particularly, deficits are the work of central government. [Scottish philosopher David] Hume figured it out. He said: Small states and city-states, they love commerce. And large governments love war. And that’s what justifies large government—war. There is no justification for large government other than war. And they’re not good at it.

http://reason.com/archives/2013/03/24/how-debt-ruins-systems

A relevant quote and a great read.

 

An even more relevant quote:

 

Quote:
What fragilizes an overall system? Three things: One, centralization. Decentralization spreads mistakes, makes smaller mistakes. Decentralization is where we converge with libertarians. A second one is low debt. The third is skin in the game. 

 

Interestingly large states fail on all three points (overly centralized, huge debt, very little skin in the game.)

 

Coincidentally, I just started reading "A Bubble that Broke the World" which centers on that very subject of (massive) debt and its consequences.


Edited by MJ1970 - 3/29/13 at 10:40am

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post #538 of 573
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Originally Posted by MJ1970 View Post

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Originally Posted by muppetry View Post

 

I suggest that you remind yourself of the history of healthcare in the United States before going any further.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_health_care_reform_in_the_United_States

 

I see now that by "no healthcare system" you meant no government healthcare system. In interpreted the statement "no healthcare system" more broadly than you apparently meant.

 

Yes - and I'm not sure what did exist that might be labelled as a healthcare system of any kind, but no matter. In any case, I would argue that broadening the definition doesn't change the observation: there was medicine and there were doctors, but there was little or no expensive medical technology at the turn of the century, and the pharmacological industry was in its infancy, so drug costs were also low in comparison to today. Medical care costs overall were low because the state of the art was primitive. And the point that I was making from that was just that the cost of medical care has risen enormously for reasons over and above inefficient government - although other factors, including that one, may well have contributed.

post #539 of 573
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Originally Posted by muppetry View Post

 

Yes - and I'm not sure what did exist that might be labelled as a healthcare system of any kind, but no matter. In any case, I would argue that broadening the definition doesn't change the observation: there was medicine and there were doctors, but there was little or no expensive medical technology at the turn of the century, and the pharmacological industry was in its infancy, so drug costs were also low in comparison to today. Medical care costs overall were low because the state of the art was primitive. And the point that I was making from that was just that the cost of medical care has risen enormously for reasons over and above inefficient government - although other factors, including that one, may well have contributed.

 

Technology - for the most part - isn't what's making health care expensive, no matter how bad liberals want to blame "technology" and "industry" for society's medical problems.

 

Have you even read TIME's expose on what is causing the explosion in health care costs? Have you seen what the hospital markups on even extremely cheap pills like acetaminophen are? Is there any real doubt that a combination of government and insurance bureaucracy is what is killing medical affordability?

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post #540 of 573
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Originally Posted by Frank777 View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by muppetry View Post

 

Yes - and I'm not sure what did exist that might be labelled as a healthcare system of any kind, but no matter. In any case, I would argue that broadening the definition doesn't change the observation: there was medicine and there were doctors, but there was little or no expensive medical technology at the turn of the century, and the pharmacological industry was in its infancy, so drug costs were also low in comparison to today. Medical care costs overall were low because the state of the art was primitive. And the point that I was making from that was just that the cost of medical care has risen enormously for reasons over and above inefficient government - although other factors, including that one, may well have contributed.

 

Technology - for the most part - isn't what's making health care expensive, no matter how bad liberals want to blame "technology" and "industry" for society's medical problems.

 

Have you even read TIME's expose on what is causing the explosion in health care costs? Have you seen what the hospital markups on even extremely cheap pills like acetaminophen are? Is there any real doubt that a combination of government and insurance bureaucracy is what is killing medical affordability?

 

We may be arguing at cross-purposes here. Whatever unreasonable factors may be inflating healthcare costs above what they should be, I was pointing out that medical care is substantially more expensive than the 1900s version for other, unavoidable reasons. You are addressing why healthcare now costs more than it should. Different discussions.

 

I don't disagree with some of your points on that, although I do find it a bit odd that you call out hospital markups and then blame government bureaucracy - in my view that is just pure collusion and profiteering by the insurance companies and hospitals. And what's the deal with liberals blaming technology for society's medical problems? I guess I haven't heard that one before.

post #541 of 573
Quote:
Originally Posted by muppetry View Post

Yes - and I'm not sure what did exist that might be labelled as a healthcare system of any kind, but no matter.

 

Hmmm. Well no one would dispute that the "system" that existed at that time was considerably less advanced and sophisticated than what we have today. But this is not an especially interesting claim. This is basically true about most things. Things tend to advance, improve, etc. as time goes on. This is not a given of course, it happens under the right circumstances (namely a largely free society with respect for person and property, the rule of law, etc.) With the wrong circumstances things can actually regress. But, more to the point, that things were less advanced 100 years ago than they are today doesn't seem like a particularly compelling claim.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by muppetry View Post

In any case, I would argue that broadening the definition doesn't change the observation: there was medicine and there were doctors, but there was little or no expensive medical technology at the turn of the century, and the pharmacological industry was in its infancy, so drug costs were also low in comparison to today. Medical care costs overall were low because the state of the art was primitive.

 

Yes, and? Many things were more primitive then than they are now? And many things then were more advanced than in the periods before then. This seems like a rather odd critique. But even so, we see examples in the modern era where the technology is advancing and costs are still going down (consumer electronics and computers are the classic example.) So this is not unprecedented, nor is it a given that more advanced technology results in higher costs.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by muppetry View Post

And the point that I was making from that was just that the cost of medical care has risen enormously for reasons over and above inefficient government - although other factors, including that one, may well have contributed.

 

Yes, but this has more to do with the structure of health insurance, payers, competition (or restrictions on it), etc. The healthcare and health insurance markets have become government dominated coporatist cartels. This doesn't lend itself to cost reduction.


Edited by MJ1970 - 3/29/13 at 9:39pm

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post #542 of 573
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Originally Posted by muppetry View Post

We may be arguing at cross-purposes here. Whatever unreasonable factors may be inflating healthcare costs above what they should be, I was pointing out that medical care is substantially more expensive than the 1900s version for other, unavoidable reasons.

 

But I think you'd be wrong on the unavoidable part.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by muppetry View Post

I don't disagree with some of your points on that, although I do find it a bit odd that you call out hospital markups and then blame government bureaucracy - in my view that is just pure collusion and profiteering by the insurance companies and hospitals.

 

But this is a direct result of the government restrictions on competition in these areas. We don't see these kind of problems in markets where there is zero (or considerably less government restriction of competition.)

 

The problems in the healthcare market are more about economics than about technology (per se).

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post #543 of 573
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Originally Posted by MJ1970 View Post

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Originally Posted by muppetry View Post

I don't disagree with some of your points on that, although I do find it a bit odd that you call out hospital markups and then blame government bureaucracy - in my view that is just pure collusion and profiteering by the insurance companies and hospitals.

 

But this is a direct result of the government restrictions on competition in these areas. We don't see these kind of problems in markets where there is zero (or considerably less government restriction of competition.)

 

The problems in the healthcare market are more about economics than about technology (per se).

 

Which restrictions are you referring to?

post #544 of 573
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Originally Posted by muppetry View Post

Which restrictions are you referring to?

 

Try opening a hospital, selling any kind of medical device or offering any kind of medical service, or selling medical insurance (especially across state lines) without government approval or licensing or battery of government tests, etc. Medical insurance alone is heavily restricted through these measures, not to mention regulated with various price and coverage mandates, all of which affect the price of it (upward by the way, never downward) as well as limit its availability (usually to those who need it the most.)

 

These things all operate as barriers to entry to the market. While you may argue they are all necessary (maybe some are, doubtful they all are) they are engineering, whether you believe it or not, as protective measures to incumbent market participants. Licensing is the classic example of this. It is a competition limiter dressed up as a "consumer protection" which, in effect, does primarily the first without as much of the second where market competition would certainly do the second, through greater competition.

 

The thing that goes on here is what's referred to as the "Baptist and the Bootleggers" problem. When considering something like liquor, the "Bapists" (or some similar group) lobbies for its ban or restriction because it's "bad for the people" while the "bootleggers" either actively support this restriction or at least quietly root for it, because if it happens, they benefit greatly from the reduction in (legal) competition wherein they can charge much higher prices and make much greater profits.


Edited by MJ1970 - 3/30/13 at 6:21am

The state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large.

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The state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large.

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post #545 of 573
Quote:
Originally Posted by MJ1970 View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by muppetry View Post

Which restrictions are you referring to?

 

Try opening a hospital, selling any kind of medical device or offering any kind of medical service, or selling medical insurance (especially across state lines) without government approval or licensing or battery of government tests, etc. Medical insurance alone is heavily restricted through these measures, not to mention regulated with various price and coverage mandates, all of which affect the price of it (upward by the way, never downward) as well as limit its availability (usually to those who need it the most.)

 

These things all operate as barriers to entry to the market. While you may argue they are all necessary (maybe some are, doubtful they all are) they are engineering, whether you believe it or not, as protective measures to incumbent market participants. Licensing is the classic example of this. It is a competition limiter dressed up as a "consumer protection" which, in effect, does primarily the first without as much of the second where market competition would certainly do the second, through greater competition.

 

The thing that goes on here is what's referred to as the "Baptist and the Bootleggers" problem. When considering something like liquor, the "Bapists" (or some similar group) lobbies for its ban or restriction because it's "bad for the people" while the "bootleggers" either actively support this restriction or at least quietly root for it, because if it happens, they benefit greatly from the reduction in (legal) competition wherein they can charge much higher prices and make much greater profits.

 

Those are interesting observations, not least because healthcare provision in the US is generally regarded (my understanding anyway - and I found a number of comparative studies with that conclusion) as more competitive and less restricted than almost any other developed country. So you may be correct that those restrictions exist, but it is curious that similar, or even more onerous, restrictions elsewhere have not led to such an inflation of costs.

 

That suggests to me, at least as a strong possibility, that a de facto cartel of insurers and providers is responsible, rather than collusion between government and providers. "Liberals" might go so far as to argue that more regulation of pricing and/or more competition for the commercial sector in the form of state or federal insurance and government-run hospitals might be a solution.

post #546 of 573
Quote:
Originally Posted by muppetry View Post

Those are interesting observations, not least because healthcare provision in the US is generally regarded (my understanding anyway - and I found a number of comparative studies with that conclusion) as more competitive and less restricted than almost any other developed country.

 

While there are some aspects of the market that are competitive, I would say that by and large is it not. Nonetheless, links to said studies would be interesting.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by muppetry View Post

So you may be correct that those restrictions exist, but it is curious that similar, or even more onerous, restrictions elsewhere have not led to such an inflation of costs.

 

Well it may depend on how costs are measures and accounted for. Typically people think of costs only in terms of the direct monetary costs. These are certainly not the only costs. For example, one type of cost that is infrequently counted is waiting. Another example is differing quality levels. For example lower cost and lower quality isn't the same thing as higher cost and higher quality. Still another would be available choices and options (or lack thereof.)

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by muppetry View Post

That suggests to me, at least as a strong possibility, that a de facto cartel of insurers and providers is responsible, rather than collusion between government and providers.

 

Except that such collusion and cartel-ing is much harder to maintain in a more open and competitive market. The existence of such collusion, even if not directly involving the government, is evidence that it is at least being enabled by the government (possibly as an unintended consequence of competitive limitations that result from its policies, laws, etc.) In fact, I don't think I was even implying direct government collusion (though I'm not all surprised if that happens too.) This is more about the unintended consequences of laws that (in practice) limit competition as well as create structural or unnatural barriers of entry to the market.

 

One interesting thing is that insurance is one thing that is prohibited or strongly limited (by states) to be sold across state lines. For example if I live in NY, I can buy a policy from a company in TX. The interesting thing here is that the federal government's broad interpretation of the Commerce Clause of the constitution to rationalize the regulation of everything from abortion to milk prices has not led it to eliminating this artificial barrier of insurance contracting which would quite logically fall under the purpose and intent of the Commerce Clause. Changing this alone would create a great deal more competition at least in the health insurance market. This won't solve all the problems, but it can help.

 

Another major issue for costs is related to the deep disconnect from the medical service/product consumer and "purchaser" and the actual payer. The way the system operates now there is little or no incentive for health service/product consumers to shop around for better prices and services and quality. "Insurance (or Medicare) will pay for it." This leads to extreme price insensitivity on the part of the actual consumer. The insurance companies try to protect themselves from the inherent spend-thriftness that occurs as a result of this. But their means of doing so are limited and create other kinds of problems. The issue here is that medical/health "insurance" has stopped being insurance and started to be something else in which everything gets paid for whether it was something that would reasonably be an insurable thing or not.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by muppetry View Post

"Liberals" might go so far as to argue that more regulation of pricing and/or more competition for the commercial sector in the form of state or federal insurance and government-run hospitals might be a solution.

 

I'm sure they would.

The state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large.

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The state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large.

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post #547 of 573
Quote:
Originally Posted by MJ1970 View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by muppetry View Post

Those are interesting observations, not least because healthcare provision in the US is generally regarded (my understanding anyway - and I found a number of comparative studies with that conclusion) as more competitive and less restricted than almost any other developed country.

 

While there are some aspects of the market that are competitive, I would say that by and large is it not. Nonetheless, links to said studies would be interesting.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by muppetry View Post

So you may be correct that those restrictions exist, but it is curious that similar, or even more onerous, restrictions elsewhere have not led to such an inflation of costs.

 

Well it may depend on how costs are measures and accounted for. Typically people think of costs only in terms of the direct monetary costs. These are certainly not the only costs. For example, one type of cost that is infrequently counted is waiting. Another example is differing quality levels. For example lower cost and lower quality isn't the same thing as higher cost and higher quality. Still another would be available choices and options (or lack thereof.)

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by muppetry View Post

That suggests to me, at least as a strong possibility, that a de facto cartel of insurers and providers is responsible, rather than collusion between government and providers.

 

Except that such collusion and cartel-ing is much harder to maintain in a more open and competitive market. The existence of such collusion, even if not directly involving the government, is evidence that it is at least being enabled by the government (possibly as an unintended consequence of competitive limitations that result from its policies, laws, etc.) In fact, I don't think I was even implying direct government collusion (though I'm not all surprised if that happens too.) This is more about the unintended consequences of laws that (in practice) limit competition as well as create structural or unnatural barriers of entry to the market.

 

One interesting thing is that insurance is one thing that is prohibited or strongly limited (by states) to be sold across state lines. For example if I live in NY, I can buy a policy from a company in TX. The interesting thing here is that the federal government's broad interpretation of the Commerce Clause of the constitution to rationalize the regulation of everything from abortion to milk prices has not led it to eliminating this artificial barrier of insurance contracting which would quite logically fall under the purpose and intent of the Commerce Clause. Changing this alone would create a great deal more competition at least in the health insurance market. This won't solve all the problems, but it can help.

 

Another major issue for costs is related to the deep disconnect from the medical service/product consumer and "purchaser" and the actual payer. The way the system operates now there is little or no incentive for health service/product consumers to shop around for better prices and services and quality. "Insurance (or Medicare) will pay for it." This leads to extreme price insensitivity on the part of the actual consumer. The insurance companies try to protect themselves from the inherent spend-thriftness that occurs as a result of this. But their means of doing so are limited and create other kinds of problems. The issue here is that medical/health "insurance" has stopped being insurance and started to be something else in which everything gets paid for whether it was something that would reasonably be an insurable thing or not.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by muppetry View Post

"Liberals" might go so far as to argue that more regulation of pricing and/or more competition for the commercial sector in the form of state or federal insurance and government-run hospitals might be a solution.

 

I'm sure they would.

 

Agreed that quality and waiting period should be factored in, but even so, US healthcare is generally acknowledged to be vastly overpriced compared to other developed nations. Here are a few of the sources that I looked at that also support some of your comments - especially relating to state restrictions on insurance and the disconnect between supplier and customer:

 

An obvious starting point:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/US_Healthcare

 

An overview of one perspective on how competition has failed:  http://hbr.org/web/extras/insight-center/health-care/redefining-competition-in-health-care

 

A broad review of the current cost model:  Competition In Health Care: Its Evolution Over The Past Decade

 

A very detailed study, in particular looking at the negative effects of failed anti-trust legislation (may be restricted access): http://www.nber.org/papers/w17208 

 

A recurring theme is that the competition is occurring at the wrong level to be effective and that consolidation has hurt the consumer - who in many cases is completely out of the decision loop and thus not really the consumer - more of a commodity traded by the insurers and providers.

post #548 of 573
This is a beautiful read.

So the Main Street economy is failing while Washington is piling a soaring debt burden on our descendants, unable to rein in either the warfare state or the welfare state or raise the taxes needed to pay the nation’s bills. By default, the Fed has resorted to a radical, uncharted spree of money printing. But the flood of liquidity, instead of spurring banks to lend and corporations to spend, has stayed trapped in the canyons of Wall Street, where it is inflating yet another unsustainable bubble.

When it bursts, there will be no new round of bailouts like the ones the banks got in 2008. Instead, America will descend into an era of zero-sum austerity and virulent political conflict, extinguishing even today’s feeble remnants of economic growth.

THIS dyspeptic prospect results from the fact that we are now state-wrecked. With only brief interruptions, we’ve had eight decades of increasingly frenetic fiscal and monetary policy activism intended to counter the cyclical bumps and grinds of the free market and its purported tendency to underproduce jobs and economic output. The toll has been heavy.

As the federal government and its central-bank sidekick, the Fed, have groped for one goal after another — smoothing out the business cycle, minimizing inflation and unemployment at the same time, rolling out a giant social insurance blanket, promoting homeownership, subsidizing medical care, propping up old industries (agriculture, automobiles) and fostering new ones (“clean” energy, biotechnology) and, above all, bailing out Wall Street — they have now succumbed to overload, overreach and outside capture by powerful interests. The modern Keynesian state is broke, paralyzed and mired in empty ritual incantations about stimulating “demand,” even as it fosters a mutant crony capitalism that periodically lavishes the top 1 percent with speculative windfalls.


This is deeply inciteful and those declaring they are right because they picked the right guy in the photograph called the election are going to be surprised to when they realize life is a movie, not a snapshot.

"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

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"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

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post #549 of 573

Wait WTF am I reading? NYT? Paid ad? OH! Unsolicited op-ed. For NYT readers republican == ignore at all costs.

post #550 of 573
Oh, we're Obama bashing again? It's already been proved conclusively that his main shortcoming is that he's half black. Our problems as of today? STILL those of the bush administration. Government when run properly is supposed to be the great equalizer, but not with the current senate. These people are howling about "Big Goverment Big Goverment" but what are they proposing?

-HUGE miltary
-Tax cuts for the incredibly rich, let the poor suck eggs. There IS no middle class any longer
-freedom of speech? As long as it is Jesus-sanctified. Everything else will be banned.

You people want small Goverment? Go to Mexico and you can see how that works. No sanitary water, no roads, food or JOBS.

How do you guys like our freeways? That's Goverment. Water? Goverment. Education? Goverment.

If anyone says "home schooling" then look at our senate, when Michelle Bachnonwoman has NO clue about US History, science, foreign policy- but yet she wants to be President. Eh, not on my watch.

The us is Not A Jesus country. It is however a country where you can choose religion-or NOT. Those who choose religion really need to respect those who do not, that's the problem with this country- NOT pollution, not jobs- it is infiltration of our Goverment by the US Taliban who would impose their morals and beliefs on everyone regardless of if we want it or not, and thank God, most of the population wants NOT.
post #551 of 573
Quote:
Originally Posted by XweAponX View Post

Oh, we're Obama bashing again? It's already been proved conclusively that his main shortcoming is that he's half black. Our problems as of today? STILL those of the bush administration. Government when run properly is supposed to be the great equalizer, but not with the current senate. These people are howling about "Big Goverment Big Goverment" but what are they proposing?

-HUGE miltary
-Tax cuts for the incredibly rich, let the poor suck eggs. There IS no middle class any longer
-freedom of speech? As long as it is Jesus-sanctified. Everything else will be banned.

You people want small Goverment? Go to Mexico and you can see how that works. No sanitary water, no roads, food or JOBS.

How do you guys like our freeways? That's Goverment. Water? Goverment. Education? Goverment.

If anyone says "home schooling" then look at our senate, when Michelle Bachnonwoman has NO clue about US History, science, foreign policy- but yet she wants to be President. Eh, not on my watch.

The us is Not A Jesus country. It is however a country where you can choose religion-or NOT. Those who choose religion really need to respect those who do not, that's the problem with this country- NOT pollution, not jobs- it is infiltration of our Goverment by the US Taliban who would impose their morals and beliefs on everyone regardless of if we want it or not, and thank God, most of the population wants NOT.

 

You make some good points there. Thank you for your cogent arguments.

post #552 of 573

lol.gif

The evil that we fight is but the shadow of the evil that we do.
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The evil that we fight is but the shadow of the evil that we do.
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post #553 of 573
Quote:
Originally Posted by FloorJack View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by XweAponX View Post

Oh, we're Obama bashing again? It's already been proved conclusively that his main shortcoming is that he's half black. Our problems as of today? STILL those of the bush administration. Government when run properly is supposed to be the great equalizer, but not with the current senate. These people are howling about "Big Goverment Big Goverment" but what are they proposing?

-HUGE miltary
-Tax cuts for the incredibly rich, let the poor suck eggs. There IS no middle class any longer
-freedom of speech? As long as it is Jesus-sanctified. Everything else will be banned.

You people want small Goverment? Go to Mexico and you can see how that works. No sanitary water, no roads, food or JOBS.

How do you guys like our freeways? That's Goverment. Water? Goverment. Education? Goverment.

If anyone says "home schooling" then look at our senate, when Michelle Bachnonwoman has NO clue about US History, science, foreign policy- but yet she wants to be President. Eh, not on my watch.

The us is Not A Jesus country. It is however a country where you can choose religion-or NOT. Those who choose religion really need to respect those who do not, that's the problem with this country- NOT pollution, not jobs- it is infiltration of our Goverment by the US Taliban who would impose their morals and beliefs on everyone regardless of if we want it or not, and thank God, most of the population wants NOT.

 

You make some good points there. Thank you for your cogent arguments.

And thank you for your lack thereof.1wink.gif

Without the need for difference or a need to always follow the herd breeds complacency, mediocrity, and a lack of imagination
Reply
Without the need for difference or a need to always follow the herd breeds complacency, mediocrity, and a lack of imagination
Reply
post #554 of 573
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank777 View Post

lol.gif

Yours also.1wink.gif

Without the need for difference or a need to always follow the herd breeds complacency, mediocrity, and a lack of imagination
Reply
Without the need for difference or a need to always follow the herd breeds complacency, mediocrity, and a lack of imagination
Reply
post #555 of 573
Thread Starter 

Statist propaganda: your children don't belong to you.

 

Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.

(I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.)

Reply

Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.

(I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.)

Reply
post #556 of 573
Thread Starter 

Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.

(I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.)

Reply

Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.

(I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.)

Reply
post #557 of 573
Was it handed out, or is it missing? It can't be both.
post #558 of 573
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post


Was it handed out, or is it missing? It can't be both.

 

According to the article it could be both:

 

Quote:
Reports are now in that $700 million taxpayer dollars have gone missing in Louisiana. The money, given to homeowners in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, totaled one billion dollars. Seventy percent of that money has vanished. The new report, released from the inspector general's office, claims that over 24,000 homeowners each pocketed $30,000 of taxpayer bailout money. The money was given out in hopes that homeowners would elevate their homes to prevent future catastrophes.

 

 

Quote:
Through the failure of this bailout program, the state of Louisiana recognizes that they now must become a police force of sorts, as they venture out, investigate, and track down those who have used the funds for unintended purposes. The state is currently working overtime to recover the money, pushing homeowners to restore their houses. After a year of investigation, the state has thankfully found an honest 5,000 or more people who have fixed their homes. The state is now "Working aggressively with HUD to get the remaining 19,000 homeowners in compliance."

 

So the claim here is that the money was given for a specific purpose. I don't know if the use of the words "hopes" and "intended" is a more casual way of saying that the money was required to be used for a specific purpose and investigation is suggesting a large amount of it never was used for that purpose or if the money was just handed out with good intentions (as happens so frequently) and, lo and behold, the people didn't do what was expected or intended.

The state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large.

Reply

The state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large.

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post #559 of 573

IRS Has Long History of Political Dirty Tricks

 

I think it's wonderful that anyone, let alone the President, has access to such an organization with detailed financial information about almost everyone on the country not to mention the power and ability to **** with people in some serious ways.

 

America: Land of the free.

The state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large.

Reply

The state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large.

Reply
post #560 of 573
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MJ1970 View Post

IRS Has Long History of Political Dirty Tricks

 

I think it's wonderful that anyone, let alone the President, has access to such an organization with detailed financial information about almost everyone on the country not to mention the power and ability to **** with people in some serious ways.

 

America: Land of the free.

 

Cue the cries of "if you don't like it then leave". 1rolleyes.gif

 

But seriously, who would build the roads? 1wink.gif

Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.

(I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.)

Reply

Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.

(I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.)

Reply
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