Lessons We’re Having to Learn The Hard Way

The news just keeps getting progressively worse.

It’s pretty clear that in addition to a global pandemic, we will experience a global economic meltdown. As state governments have stepped up to compensate for the lack of federal leadership, restaurants and bars, gyms and cultural venues have been ordered to close; many will be unable to weather weeks with no income, and will never re-open.

As one of my friends recently noted in a post to Facebook, Coronavirus would have battered the U.S. to some extent no matter who was in the White House. But an even minimally-competent President “would have listened to the public health experts and taken action, realizing that this was about the country and NOT about him (or her) self.”

And most likely, no other president would have rejected the WHO’s offer of test kits, or dismantled the global health emergency task force that was set up to deal with a pandemic. And no other president would likely brazenly lie on a daily basis even as his own administration’s experts contradicted his lies and imbecilic pronouncements. In short, Trump deserves “credit” for the extent of this catastrophe, the long and outrageous delay in taking action, and the economic meltdown that will result, along with many of the (probably unnecessary) deaths that we will see.

So–lesson number one: elections matter. Competent government matters. The character and intelligence of our elected officials matters.

Lesson number two: we’re connected to the rest of the world. Discussion of a “global pandemic” and “global economy” should give “America First” xenophobes pause. (It won’t, but it should.) We really are ALL in this together. Today’s world is far too connected for the walls, travel bans and reflexive hatred of darker “others” that characterize the Trumpublicans’ approach to the rest of the world. Not only are those measures useless and stupid, especially during a pandemic, they inevitably hurt America more than they hurt those “others.” Global cooperation is absolutely essential, not just to the management of health threats, but to efforts to mitigate economic damage.

Lesson number three is another take on the fact that we truly are all in this together–and by “this” I don’t just mean this particular health crisis or this specific economic threat. We humans are– in far more than the biblical sense–our brothers (and sisters) keepers. A government that is not structured on recognition of that fact will be unable to mitigate disasters.

What does that mean? It doesn’t mean abandonment of market economics, but it does mean provision of a far more robust and less haphazard social safety net.

In a recent analysis, the Brookings Institution acknowledged that reality.

In addition to the dire risk to individual health, side effects of the coronavirus pandemic are sure to include widespread economic hardship and uncertainty. If you experience these symptoms, you’re mostly on your own—as the virus reveals a grossly inadequate safety net and willfully ineffective political system that are poised to leave our most vulnerable workers bearing the brunt of the economic and social impact.

The self-quarantines and social distancing measures taken in response to COVID-19 are critical to keeping people safe by reducing exposure to the virus and slowing its spread. But we can already see the strains in our health care system that foreshadow even greater disruptions in the weeks and months to come. Similarly, we are witnessing the unavoidable side effects of social distancing: the reduced economic activity that ensues when masses of people stay home or avoid large gatherings. In turn, this translates into reduced demand for workers….

In the United States, 53 million people must get by on low wages, with median hourly earnings of $10.22. Some of the largest occupations employing these workers are also the most susceptible to the economic slowdown accompanying the virus’ spread: 5 million food service workers, 4.5 million retail clerks, and 2.5 million custodians and housekeepers. When college campuses empty out, when stadiums don’t host games, or when conferences are cancelled, it means that food servers, cooks, clerks, and housekeepers are out of work. And many low-wage workers and those in sales and service industries lack paid sick or vacation leave, which results in no earnings coming in at all.

The plutocrats who have been enriching themselves through public subsidies and tax cuts while disregarding the precarious state of low-wage workers are going to learn a very unpleasant lesson: when millions of people lose their ability to participate in the marketplace–when they no longer have the means to buy the widgets produced by the plutocrats’ factories or to shop for the services and products in which the wealthy have invested–  stock portfolios and tax havens won’t shelter them from that storm.

Ultimately, fortunate people are only secure when everyone is secure.

30 thoughts on “Lessons We’re Having to Learn The Hard Way

  1. I wish the media would underscore that THERE IS NO TREATMENT FOR CORONAVIRUS.

    Doctors are experimenting on patients with anti-viral drugs which reportedly are NOT working on this virus. Patients are told to pray and hope their body battles the virus on its own. Prevention is our only treatment at this point. It make take a year to develop treatment drugs.

    The President said Malaria drugs had been approved by the FDA for coronavirus treatment. We later learned the President mis-spoke. The FDA has NOT approved malaria drugs for this purpose. So there is NO TREATMENT for coronavirus.

    Drug and grocery stores have arrangements for customers to pick up products curbside. There is no need to shop in a store crowded with customers. I’m not picking up a sandwich from any restaurant that doesn’t provide paid sick leave to its employees. Minimum wage employees who are sick cannot afford to stay home without paid sick leave. I don’t want them handling my food. (McDonald’s and other fast food restaurants, are you listening?)

    An ounce of prevention is the ONLY cure. So please take extra precautions to stop the virus in its tracks. Stay home, wash your hands, cover your mouth and nose for coughs and sneezes, wipe down commonly used handles, light switches, faucets, doorknobs, appliance handles, steering wheels, seatbelt buckles, and more daily. Carry disposable latex gloves with you to handle items outside the home. I take a zip lock bag of Clorox wipes with me to any establishment I visit to wipe down tables, chair rails, restroom doorhandles, faucet handles, toilet handles, and stall handles. And I’m taking extra Vitamin C and Zinc which boosts my immunity. Here’s hoping it all works.

  2. Listening to Tooter Turtle (Mitch) talk about helping small businesses, and that the large businesses who abused their windfall given to them by the GOP tax welfare law, were on their own, was laughable! He took no responsibility for adding trillions of dollars to the deficit at that point, and these companies basically started a bonfire with all of the stock buyback money which is now worthless, and what a waste it is. You can imagine that Social Security could’ve been fixed for the next century, that everyone would’ve been able to have the best healthcare in the world, but it was more important to hand it to corporations, which wasted it or allowed management to loot it for their own personal use via bonuses, options, golden parachutes, and just greedy money grabs.

    There is so much insanity going on at the same time, insanity piled on top of insanity, I thought it couldn’t get any worse before this virus outbreak, then, here we are! All of this money flying around, trillions of dollars, not billions of dollars. The temptation is going to be too great, and they are going to be those becoming even more grossly enriched because of it! The rest of us can just eat cake. Soon, they’ll start talking about slashing social programs again, because after all, someone has to pay for all of this! God forbid, corporations and the wealthy have to step up to the plate, but instead, the only thing they’re stepping up to is the trough, just feasting on the remains of this country. The debt the Republicans have run up would make Jesus Christ do a double take! It really is sinful.

    Socialism is not a dirty word when it comes to crony capitalism and their own bank accounts. These corporations are already whining about how tough it’s becoming, and Tooter Turtle will claim he is grudgingly obliging them even though they “done wrong” because the collapse would be deafening to our economy, LOL! This political theater is a political theatrical tragedy! A real life film noir (Casablanca comes to mind) that is so far lacking an antithetical criminal element! Where are you Bogey when we need you! So as Trump fiddles like Nero, and that “Chinese virus” is bringing the world to its knees, you wonder how many are going to die, because in Italy, they are literally stacked up like cordwood! And if it gets that bad, how long before the food starts to run out, how long before the medicine runs out, how long before the manufacturing of necessities stops, how long before rioting starts?

    And, make no mistake, there is a huge element of ignorance rearing its ugly head amongst the general population, an example is spring break, of course youth doesn’t know the meaning of mortality yet, that is until their sick and going to the hospital on their deathbed. And, a group that should know better, thousands upon thousands that attended the Miami Gay Festival, all of these shirtless love bugs dancing in the humid sweaty conditions are surprised a lot of them have contracted coronavirus?!?!?! And then have the nerve to complain about not being able to get tested when they feel sick. It was obvious and well known and even predicted this would happen. But hey, let’s party like it’s 1999!

    I’m going on the 2nd week, me and my family of being self quarantined! I didn’t have to be told, my wife didn’t have to be told, and I just hope she pulls through. She’s pretty sick! Mortality is front and center constantly, folks better start taking this seriously, you can party after all of this is over! Social distancing means just that, and it’s not just for you, it’s for everyone on this planet. Because if this thing mutates, it could make the Spanish flu look like a picnic.

    A sympathetic awareness of another’s suffering or adversity coupled with a desire to alleviate it. One of the Hebrew words conveying the sense of compassion is the verb cha·malʹ, which means “feel (show or have) compassion; spare.” (Exodus 2:6; Malachi 3:17; Jeremiah 50:14)

    Is there enough Cha.mal out there?

    Jesus Christ pointed out why not to be selfish, “Practice giving, and people will give to you.” (Luke 6:38) The generous person wins the affections of others; invariably he becomes the recipient of generosity himself!

    Are we our brother’s keeper, do we love our neighbor? Are we unselfish? Love “does not look for its own interests.” It follows the principle: “Let each one keep seeking, not his own advantage, but that of the other person.” (1st Corinthians 10:24) Here is where concern for the everlasting welfare of others shows itself. This sincere concern for others is one of the strongest motivating forces in love as well as one of the most effective and beneficial in its results. The possessor of love does not demand that everything be done his way. Paul said: “To the weak I became weak, that I might gain the weak. I have become all things to people of all sorts, that I might by all means save some. But I do all things for the sake of the good news, that I may become a sharer of it with others.” (1st Corinthians 9:22, 23) Neither does love demand its “rights”; it is more concerned with the welfare of the other person.​ (Romans 14:13, 15)

    Not much of that going on these days, and everyone will be poorer for it! Or worse!

  3. Learning the hard way is the ONLY way societies have ever learned anything. Ours is no exception as we all face this medical and economic crisis. The question is “how bad will it have to get for the masses and the privileged among us to learn the lesson?”
    It isn’t just Republicans who need to awaken to their part in this; it is also the Democrats and those who do not participate at all. Each played a part in making this the most greedy, corrupt and dysfunctional society the world has ever known. Ancient Rome can’t hold a candle to us.
    Personally, I would love to see the United States be forced to remodel our society… but I sure don’t want to go through what that would take.

  4. Trump named himself a “War President” then he enacted the War Production Bill; then he stopped, giving only lip service to build his ego with the National Emergency of the Covid-19 Pandemic as his campaign foundation. He is refusing to accept the responsibilities that come with being a War President and the required action of enacting the War Production Bill and told the world that the government is not a “supply clerk”. Are his ongoing lies, foolish and dangerous actions and inaction reaching the minds of his supporters yet?

    Will this Pandemic be the breaking of the Trump/Pence/McConnell administration or will it be the breaking of America?

  5. So, what are the banks going to do when its mortgage payers receive no rent from their tenants? Do they just pull up lawn chairs and admire the buildings they emptied via evictions? Where do the evicted go? How well does anyone think banks will do as operators of airplanes that aren’t flying or trucking companies filled with idle vehicles?

    But Trump and his billionaire pals just dumped their stock before the crashes. What will they do with all that money? There are only so many islands they can buy. What will THEY eat?

  6. JoAnn,
    “Will this Pandemic be the breaking of the Trump/Pence/McConnell administration or will it be the breaking of America?” Probably some of both.

  7. Despite uncertainty and uncharted territory, I have reason to believe in the resilience of most people around the world. Where there is access to socially and economically desirable roles, that resilience will exercise its voice and vote in due time.

  8. Why shouldn’t we abandon “market economics?”

    We’ve witnessed countless bailouts of industries and companies across the country and globe. That’s not an example of “market economics.” Hell, it’s not even capitalism.

    The political class is recommending another name be used instead of bailouts, and I’m sure the Murdoch family is already working on a brand new name like “Freedom Cash” or “USA Certificates.”

    The political class gifted their donors over a trillion dollars in freebies at the onset of Trump’s administration, and they’re still begging for cash handouts. Trump is even considering taking an equity position in some of these industries like the airlines. Boeing probably paid ZERO in taxes, spending billions buying back stock, and is now ready to collapse.

    Sure, pump in public money, but then turn the company over to their employees.

    The Central Bank has been under a quantitative easing program since 2008-09, pumping well over $13 trillion into the banking system. Where did all that money go? Who’s wealth increased over that period?

    Time to convert the banks into public utilities.

    Market economics says if you fail, you fail. Tough shit. That’s why over half of start-ups fail. Nobody bails them out—tough shit.

    It’s time for the global minds to get together and collaboratively approach centralized planning and begin transitioning our economies into worker-owned businesses and eliminate all this competitive bullshit.

    We gave capitalism and market economics plenty of opportunities to prove itself. It’s failed the masses and the planet.

    It’s time for what’s next…

  9. Just an FYI on the War Production Act, if you thought that was a meaningful thing to do, think again. Any company with the capability of making Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is already rolling out as much product as it can. PPE is highly specialized. You can buy face masks in a lot of places or you can cover your face with a bandana, but you can’t buy (and probably don’t need) a respirator. If you do buy a respirator, you can’t be sure it will help you if you haven’t been properly fit-tested (including testing to see that you can function) for that respirator.

    On another note, yesterday I spoke with a young lady who works at the local Target. She told me that she sees the same people coming in to buy toilet paper every time the shelves are stocked. It seems that some people are so full of s..t that they can’t get enough.

  10. Ohh, mitigating losses or profiting off of misery, WOW, who would have guessed:

    While Warning Donors But Reassuring Public, GOP Intel Chair Unloaded Personal Stocks Before Covid-19 Smashed Markets. North Carolina Republican Richard Burr:

    Burr and his wife Brooke sold between $581,000 and $1.5 million in publicly traded stocks on Feb. 13 and didn’t buy any new positions, according to a recent financial disclosure filed with the Senate.

    Around the time that Burr sold his shares of major corporations, including several hard hit hotel companies, he publicly expressed confidence about the U.S. government’s ability to fight the virus. However in late February, Burr privately warned that the virus is “much more aggressive in its transmission than anything that we have seen in recent history,” according to a recording obtained by NPR.

    https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/03/19/while-warning-donors-reassuring-public-gop-intel-chair-unloaded-personal-stocks?cd-origin=rss&utm_term=AO&utm_campaign=Daily+Newsletter&utm_content=email&utm_source=Daily+Newsletter&utm_medium=Email&fbclid=IwAR1ox93_EQDJq6mihUQmf4wBgnQXKisrLQ1kuasxDXv06NEIS7A2wyoFMus

    Here is a surprise:
    More surprisingly Tucker Carlson, a host on conservative Fox News, joined in the calls for Burr to step down. “Maybe there is an honest explanation for what he did,” Carlson told viewers. “If there is he should share it with the rest of us immediately. Otherwise he must resign from the Senate and face prosecution for insider trading.

    “There is no greater moral crime than betraying your country in a time of crisis. And that appears to be what happened.”

  11. It looks like another business day for congress and the White House. Their inaction and failure to develop a plan for the pandemic will adversely affect millions of people, but not them. They won’t feel the pain physically or financially. They have a health care system – for them. They have government funded pensions – for them. They’re going to send everyone $1000, so stop whining. It’s really time for torches and pitchforks; not a single incumbent in either house and certainly not the White House should be returned to office in upcoming elections for the next three cycles.

  12. JoAnn,

    Oh! It is reaching his followers all right! My cousins are sitting at his soda shop counter, as we speak, with a straw jammed into a great big glass of Trumpnotic Sweet la vida Loca lie juice, SMH!

    As he stands behind the counter in his white hat, white eyes, and orange jumper err makeup, wiping the table while they tell him their woes and he affably nods like he understands. So they claim he is the best, how they love him, and they will never leave him. All they do everyday is forward Russian and right-wing troll propaganda snippets and clickbait!

    They tell me how informed they are, and I tell them how stupid they are! I’ve even found some of the stuff they are forwarding on RT, and on Facebook pages that Facebook is actually shut down. I know I know I know Facebook, LOL go figure!

    They have no rebuttal, they can’t rebut it except for saying that they do their research and homework, it must be done by Braille without actually knowing what Braille is!

    They manipulate religion and scripture to justify what they are doing, but after I get done explaining their hypocrisy, they move on to other reasonings!

    So, don’t hold your breath for an epiphanetic? moment, they would rather die, and probably will, before that ever happens!

  13. ML,

    Tucker Carlson is just mad that Burr didn’t give him a heads up, SMH.

    After all, doesn’t the rising cesspool lift all prison barges? Or something to that effect!

  14. As if incumbents didn’t already have a huge advantage, “new” candidates will have a very tough time raising money, getting name recognition, putting together a “ground game”, etc. We may well see many withdraw….

  15. The Blame and Brag Party has been revealed to be incapable of governing. There will be three general public responses to this: 1) Some will say that this is not news, it is what we expected. 2) Some will say, we see that now, we learned that from this experience. 3) Some will continue to live in denial, for them the blame and brag gambit has worked.

    We are who we are. The question left is what is the relative size of groups 1 & 2 vs 3 among those who will participate in this year’s election.

  16. This administration was asleep at the wheel. Given all the international travel and global economy, they should have started preparing for this pandemic as soon as it emerged in China. They failed to move in proactive manner.

    The kind of capitalism we now have echoes Ayn Rand’s assertion that selfishness is the highest virtue. It ignores the simple truth that when a society fails to create a secure social safety net for the weak and vulnerable, everyone is harmed even, dare I say, the plutocrats who wrongly believe they are invulnerable.

    How large will the federal deficit grow in lieu of this pandemic? How long will this recession last?

    I wish this country would decide as Denmark has that people are more important than profits and the accumulation of material stuff.

    And if anyone needs a good laugh about stuff, watch George Carlin’s stand up routine on stuff on YouTube.

    Vote blue !

  17. Now we are learning that certain Congress people sold stocks and avoided millions of dollars in loses while their constituents lost millions by being kept in the dark about the oncoming shitstorm.

    It’s like the consequences of AGW but in quick time rather than slow motion.

  18. the market went close in numbers to where trump started..the gloss has worn off. though im home watching the endless window,(,er tube). seems insurance,any kind, and self help lets go to the markets and see what we can screw outta someone for my just reward for living in this state im profoundly too lazy to support democracy,all commercials on paid satalite?.. since the reagans admin,weve had communications with no end,supports your right to do more work and with less$ and less family time for your need to be employed..energy drinks because your asked to do more,while giving more,and theres the expense,be damn,it gets my day done..again,your employer wins again, politicians who tell you ill work for our interests,, bravo. whos ? we elect a wannbe thug because were too lazy to distiguish the issues,and social medias bullshit..were just too lazy to stop and think,where its gone,where its going,and where it going to be after the next election. weve driven away from fundamentals of human needs into a cosmic slashing by what were told to do,influenced by tube,media(,all kinds), and that shiny object just ahead.thats really in your rear view mirror.. wall street is laughing,after all,its your money,and they look like they have their laundry downaround their ankles in front of a blind public…as they pull your strings.. best wishes,washdapaws,,,support take out,help the locals check a neighbor,and READ some decent journalism…

  19. For 2 weeks I have listened to Morning Joe ask–“How is it 99% of our PPE’s, medicines, and medical equipment are made in China and other countries? How did we allow ourselves to become this vulnerable?” And I scream back–Capitalism, market economy–this stuff is made cheaper over there and our economy prays to the Gods on Wall Street. It would require gov’t to tell a company–hey, we will let you make a profit but at least ??% of these goods need to be made in America.

    Like I told my parents–Capitalism Economy is amorale and I am not against a capitalistic society but I see regulations as adding in a moral compass to an amorale system.

    I find it cyncially funny that our lowest paid folks are now considered essential–the food service, the housekeepers cleaning our clinics at night, etc…Now a few months ago they were not essential enough for a living wage but maybe they are now ??

    Sorry–little snarky today as I ask my mom if she could make some masks for my fellow co-workers who work in healthcare and I am trying my best to hold back the “I F@ckin told you so” comments.

    Stay safe everyone. Rachel Maddow mentioned how Iceland and a small city in Italy tested all over people and I think it was 40% of those who showed no symptoms, no fever tested positive and at this time none of our meds are able to treat this

  20. Capitalism requires:

    1) effective competition in the markets that it’s employed in.

    2) adequately and accurately informed buyers and sellers.

    3. Regulations to insure all stakeholders (consumers, workers, neighbors, supply chain partners, competitors, the government, and the environment (for present and future publics))

    4) progressive taxes to offset capitalism’s natural tendency to redistribute wealth away from the producers of goods and services.

    Otherwise it becomes a deadly virus over society.

  21. Elaine, ever since Bill Clinton opened up the flood gates to trade with China and NAFTA, the sucking sound of American jobs being outsourced has become a giant sink hole. Ross Perot was right.

    Capitalism since it has no conscience will go to where human rights, labor rights, and environmental protections are just meaningless words on paper. Steroid Capitalism demands that anything that impedes profit be eliminated. Dictatorships and corrupt countries are ideal fertile soil for Steroid Capitalism.

    So we end up with almost nothing made in America.

  22. NAFTA, which was updated recently by the Brag and Blame Party, did not create international trade but accepted current reality and created regulations that made the reality generally favorable to our economy.

  23. Is that the same Tucker Carlson I watched on Fox a couple of nights ago who said (he had an expert assistant – a lobbyist) that the most urgent response to the pandemic was to go buy more guns so people can’t take your “stuff”? A lot of gene pool cleansing is about to take place.

    We can’t solve the worst problem we’ve ever faced with the worst leader we’ve ever elected. The only thing Trump has ever led successfully is a pack of lawyers attacking a defenseless opponent. He continues to see that as his role. If Trump remains in office much longer, fifty Anthony Fauci’s won’t be enough to save us.

  24. Marv,
    Thanx Brother! You just watch out for your self. You and your knowledge are not replaceable…

  25. Did anyone see Trump during his news conference today? He kept ranting about hydroxychloroquine being a treatment for coronavirus!

    I’m here to tell you, my wife’s been taking hydroxychloroquine for many years, and for one thing, it can actually make you go blind. Another thing, she had gotten the flu and colds constantly, the flu and cold viruses are all Corona type viruses. She is sick now. So, hydroxychloroquine does not work on coronaviruses!

  26. >
    > The President in his own words: #coronavirus
    >
    > January 22: “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. It’s going to be just fine.”
    >
    > February 2: “We pretty much shut it down coming in from China.”
    >
    > February 24: “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA… Stock Market starting to look very good to me!”
    >
    > February 25: “CDC and my Administration are doing a GREAT job of handling Coronavirus.”
    >
    > February 25: “I think that’s a problem that’s going to go away… They have studied it. They know very much. In fact, we’re very close to a vaccine.”
    >
    > February 26: “The 15 (cases in the US) within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero.”
    >
    > February 26: “We’re going very substantially down, not up.”
    >
    > February 27: “One day it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”
    >
    > February 28: “THIS IS THEIR (the Democratic Party’s) NEW HOAX!!!
    >
    > February 28: “We’re ordering a lot of supplies. We’re ordering a lot of, uh, elements that frankly we wouldn’t be ordering unless it was something like this. But we’re ordering a lot of different elements of medical.”
    >
    > March 2: “You take a solid flu vaccine, you don’t think that could have an impact, or much of an impact, on corona?”
    >
    > March 2: “A lot of things are happening, a lot of very exciting things are happening and they’re happening very rapidly.”
    >
    > March 4: “If we have thousands or hundreds of thousands of people that get better just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work — some of them go to work, but they get better.”
    >
    > March 5: “I NEVER said people that are feeling sick should go to work.”
    >
    > March 5: “The United States… has, as of now, only 129 cases… and 11 deaths. We are working very hard to keep these numbers as low as possible!”
    >
    > March 6: “I think we’re doing a really good job in this country at keeping it down… a tremendous job at keeping it down.”
    >
    > March 6: “Anybody right now, and yesterday, anybody that needs a test gets a test. They’re there. And the tests are beautiful…. the tests are all perfect like the letter was perfect. The transcription was perfect. Right? This was not as perfect as that but pretty good.”
    >
    > March 6: “I like this stuff. I really get it. People are surprised that I understand it… Every one of these doctors said, ‘How do you know so much about this?’ Maybe I have a natural ability. Maybe I should have done that instead of running for president.”
    >
    > March 6: “I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn’t our fault.”
    >
    > March 8: “We have a perfectly coordinated and fine tuned plan at the White House for our attack on CoronaVirus.”
    >
    > March 9: “This blindsided the world.”
    >
    > March 13: “I take no responsibility.”
    >
    > March 16: “This is an extremely serious crisis and we are close to a recession that can go until July and maybe August”
    >
    > *copy/paste to share* and keep repeating right through Nov. 2020.

  27. Charlie,

    “Watch what they do”

    It’s called POLITICAL SUICIDE, and THEY (Trump and McConnell) are taking us All with them in the next 7 days.

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