Beyond the Cusp

February 8, 2017

The Coming Destructions of the $15 Minimum Wage

 

There are a number of Democrat run and owned cities which feel they have found the solution to poverty caused by those working merely for the paltry $7.25 per hour; the new dawning of the $15 per hour minimum wage. These cities see no problem with doubling their minimum wage and believe that the businesses, such as burger and other fast food restaurants and retail shops will have no choice as they will be unable to move from the city. They have missed another alternative that those unable to move beyond the city limits will face, total disappearance as they find it impossible to sell their merchandise at the inflated price required to pay their remaining help the overly inflated salaries. Where the minimum acceptable wage is already around $10 per hour the increase will still cause hardships for the retailers and manufacturers. Their higher priced goods will cause financial distress for those residing within the city limits without the means to get to the suburbs where the prices will actually be lower. Even the real estate will lose value as it becomes more difficult to rent their retail and manufacturing spaces and the cities slowly fall into disrepair as the people find they have little if any choice but to leave the city. With what jobs currently exist being initially cut just to remain viable, the economic base for these cities will be cut from under them. The loss of jobs will lead to decreased business which will again lead to more job loss in a slow death spiral. These cities will slowly turn into husks collapsing under their bureaucratic foolishness. They are signing their death warrant in their misguided attempt to right a nonexistent wrong.

 

When I first entered the job market the minimum wage was all of $1.25 per hour; yet nowhere in the entire area around the city where I resided could one find a job at that wage. The minimum wage by 1975 had risen to the unbelievable heights of $2.00 per hour and even that was not high enough to affect work in my home city. The reason was simple, nobody would accept such a wage nor could any employer find workers even for digging ditches at such a wage. My first job was washing dishes at a diner which paid more than $1.50 and was among the lowest paying of jobs. As it turned out I was a poor dishwasher and was fired within the first few weeks. From there I found work stocking shelves at a chain shoe store which paid even more and eventually became a commissioned sales person where minimum wage never became a consideration. Still, even friends who took construction work actually digging ditches or, as I did one summer, building railroad tie walls in a new community development were paid well above minimum wage. I know that across the nation there were many places where the minimum wage was the guideline for minimum wages of employment but that was always a starting salary. Anybody working at a minimum wage who was still making the minimum wage within six months or a year was usually soon to be seeking a different line of work as they were not up to par. Minimum wage was a test salary which was offered largely as one learned how to work at their chosen job and once they proved proficiency their salary would rise above that minimum rate. This fact was one of the truths I found wherever I moved was that any employee worth their salt made minimum wage only for the shortest of periods and once they proved their worth they received a more decent wage. Are there those who make minimum wage to start and will continue making that level no matter how hard they work? Yes, but these are a very small minority and few of them are raising a family on their salary. Those who only make minimum wage for extended periods of time will not benefit from a $15 per hour minimum wage as those will be the first people who will be let go. Often those making minimum wage for prolonged periods of time often are kept on the payroll not because they are price efficient but because their employers realize they are doing the best they are able and they remain employed more for spiritual or social reasons than economic ones.

 

History of the National Federal Wage Rate

 

The reality is the world is a hard and cruel place with little sentiment, though fortunately there is more sentiment just not in the workplace. In the workplace every salaried individual must fulfill a simple parameter; they must make more money for their employer than their employer pays them. Businesses are not for generosity or charity, even those in the business of charity as even they must show a profit for every employee. Their secret is the majority of their employees are largely volunteers and thus can easily take in more than they cost. Businesses need to make a profit or they serve no purpose and would soon go out of business without a profit margin. Let us take an example of a business which makes exactly the money as it pays out in salaries. How long would the owner and his family survive if this was the case? Owners only receive a salary from profits after all expenses are paid and thus employees must make more than they cost or the owner has no reason to remain open. Further, what is the owner to do when the rent for the store space comes due, the water and electric bills, the gas bill, taxes on the property and on sales, and how do they pay for the insurances for their employees such as medical (Obamacare does not come cheaply to the average business) and unemployment and payroll taxes etc. And then there are the other incidentals an employer has such as the Christmas party and cupcakes for employee birthdays and of course meals for their own family. If it is a large company then there may be stockholders who also demand profits otherwise they will take their investment capital elsewhere.

 

These are the most basic of reasons that the $15 per hour minimum wage is going to bust many of the cities employing it. There are probably a select few cities such as San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Chicago and a maybe others where the minimum employable wage, not the minimum wage but for that location it acts as the minimum wage, is already over $15 per hour. These cities could make the empty statement that they are raising their minimum wage to $15 per hour knowing that virtually every employer, especially their main employers, already are paying $16, $17, $18 or even more just to find worthy candidates to fill their positions. The problem with their taking their minimum wage above the national average is it places an upward pressure on smaller and less affluent cities to follow suit when their economic situations cannot support such a wage scale. It is all well a good for the major cities where there are no shortages of employable people compared to the job base to make offers to raise their minimum wage to less than the going rate as they and their employers will not suffer. But as this is not about their minimum wage, it is about making a case to raise the Federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, which the Democrat Party has been pushing, which would have disastrous results especially for rural neighborhoods and farm laborers. Small towns would find the higher prices near impossible for families to meet and employers would run their businesses as lean as humanly possible possibly leaving numerous former employees unemployed. These communities would soon be faced with taking their economies off the grid, so to speak. They would most likely turn to a barter system which is untaxable and makes things relative and neutralizes the minimum wage as what is the worth of bushels of wheat in exchange for a new roof on the barn? Soon these communities would drive out any competitors who could not accept bartered goods such as the chain stores which run only on dollars and cents. No, the $15 per hour minimum wage argument is mostly being pushed in Democrat controlled major cities such as Seattle, where their Federal Court Judge heard a case and has attempted to nullify President Trump’s immigration vetting delay from terror ridden nations. These cities already have virtual minimum wages well above that $15 per hour and thus are only going to hurt small Mom and Pop stores and other smaller enterprises or workplaces with low profit margins such as miniature golf courses, etc. The whole reason behind the minimum wage argument is to give false hope to young employees who see such a higher minimum wage as their salvations not realizing that it will only bring about a bout of inflation until the new minimum wage will be equal in buying power to the present minimum wage and will only result in the American worker becoming more expensive and thus chase more jobs overseas. This is a bad argument and can only harm America, but what do the politicians care if they can garner a few extra votes in November?

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

May 1, 2016

Trump and Policies Simply a Train Wreck

 

Donald Trump gave his version of a foreign policy speech and we did not need even the transcript to be able to predict how it went. Before the Trump supporters start screaming and sending less than happy e-mails, Trump is still slightly preferable than either Democrat choice but only by the slimmest of margins and would be almost as amusing to cover than would Bernie Sanders. That out of the way, perhaps now we can discuss why Trump’s many and conflicting policy positions might be a good thing. First and foremost they show flexibility. Not many candidates can be so far afield so as to be on both sides of so many crucial issues. This allows the Donald to place a finger in the wind and change with the breezes. It also allows him to take advice from those who actually have a clue and read the teleprompter while still sounding bombastic to the frustrations and joys of the media. Donald’s problem is he is the best news possible to those that hate him and the worst possible candidate to those who actually support him. The real difficulty for both is to cobble together a core set of beliefs and mold a coherent set of policies to call them Trump. Instead, they should just revel in whatever one wishes to believe. Trump trumps the competition because somewhere in his policy statements, as varied as such may be, are those magic lines which each supporter can cling to like a life vest on the Titanic as his next sentence will be throwing you overboard as he crashes headlong into the iceberg everyone else saw coming.

 

So, if of the choices left of Trump, Hillary and a complete unknown have one leaning towards the Donald, what is it they can say and support about his policies? That actually may be easier than most think and still remain completely truthful. Donald Trump does not sound like he has any policies other than slogans and his unbounded love of self is actually a complete coverage of his current policy positions. Trump supports Trump as a policy and that may be the best of all possible positions as that is one he can really get behind. With Trump as Trump’s policy he can with certainty claim he supports such a policy wholeheartedly. Trump is the perfect answer to any and every question concerning policies and positions as Trump is the position nobody can argue against. What about immigration, he support’s Trump. Foreign policy, Trumps the game. The Economy, he’s wealthy, did you know that? And on taxes, he avoids them because that is Trump. Where does he stand on the Middle East, right here where he is standing at any moment, be it New York, Los Angeles or somewhere in between, let’s call it Kansas City. Hey, Trump’s the man and we all should realize that by now as he has told us so a thousand times just last week, or was that just yesterday, it is hard to keep track of the number of times Trump has touted the Donald as the answer to any question. That is what is so appealing about the man; he is his own best answer.

 

There is always a Steppenwolf song which describes most any situation and Hippo Stomp describes Trump. The particular refrain goes something like,

“If I should go astray and say “I lost my way”
Nobody would know me
But if I don’t believe I can and still say “Hear my plan”
Somebody would follow just because it’s free!

That is Donald as is the remainder of the song,

 

“If I should go astray and say “I lost my way”
Nobody would know me
But if I don’t believe I can and still say “Hear my plan”
Somebody would follow just because it’s free!

We’re all Hippos, rollin’ down the river
Sometimes we can’t touch the ground
Like Hippos slidin’ in the water
Somehow we’re stompin’ around

Now you can see me lyin’ down in my swamp
Any time I feel disgusted
You’ll see me do the hippo stomp
Hey, hey, you can try it when you’re feelin’ blue

If you should go astray and say “I lost my way”
Nobody will know you
But if you don’t believe you can and still say “I’m your man”
Somebody will follow just because it’s free

We’re all Hippos rollin’ down the river
Sometimes we can’t touch the ground
Like Hippos slidin’ in the water
Somehow we’re stompin’ around

You stop and watch me
While you’re out on your midnite romp
And I can feel the silent question
What the heck is the Hippo Stomp?

Let me answer you and let me tell ya true
Just how I feel when I’m down
Sometimes I wonder you’ll see me stumblin’ around
But you just point and stare

Come on, let me hear you
Somewhere there’s a voice down inside
And when you find it let it teach you
How to ask the question ‘Why’

Just because we live together, we don’t have to like each other
So please don’t fall asleep on me again
Nobody, nobody, nobody knows for sure
You just might never wake up from the dream

Hey, speak up, let me hear you, yeah
Let me show you ’round the reservation
I know my way around these parts, I’ve lived here long enough
Now you can have a taste, an indication of things and times to come

If you should go astray and say “I lost my way”
Nobody will know you
But if you don’t believe you can and still say “I’m your man”
Somebody will follow just because it’s free

Early in the morning, late at night
Somebody seems to know just how this thing work’s right
‘Cause every time I come around the corner
Somebody’s looking out my door
He’s been snoopin’ like a hound
I’ll grab his neck and shake him on down

We’re all Hippos rollin’ down the river
Sometimes we can’t touch the ground
Like Hippos, slidin’ in the water
Somehow we’re stompin’ around

We’re all Hippos rollin’ down the river
Sometimes we can’t touch the ground
Like Hippos, slidin’ in the water
Somehow we’re stompin’ around

We’re all Hippos rollin’ down the river
Sometimes we can’t touch the ground
Like Hippos, slidin’ in the water
Somehow we’re stompin’ around

I guess what we’re saying is when anybody asks you what you think Donald Trump’s answer or position is on any subject, you can simply answer, “His position is trumps (Trump’s) and as far as that goes, it’s the Hippo Stomp, man, the Hippo Stomp.” That will leave them scratching their heads and they’ll likely never ask you to explain a Trump position ever again and you can wear your Trump is trump button in peace. Granted, you will need to repeat this a lot, but only once per questioner, we promise. It explains Trump perfectly and is almost as straight forward, honest, forthright and as easy to understand as it is to discern actual policies from what Donald Trump states from one time to the next, which often comes as the next sentence, when queried on any subject. The only thing that we have found as a consistent theme from Donald is that Donald Trump is the answer we have been seeking. If that sounds eerily familiar, it should. There will be two main differences between a Trump Presidency and the Obama Presidency, advisors. President Obama honestly does believe he is always the smartest person-hood in the room and no other person matters quite as much. That is not to say he does not listen to those advisors closest to him, it is to say that his advisors share his wide visions just as ardently as does he and they are in complete agreement. Donald Trump, on the other hand, knows he knows little but also knows admitting such is poison to politicians and that he must tout himself as the smartest person in the room and hopefully he is finished goring other people’s hogs and will simply push Trump is trumps as the answer. The difference is Trump will be depending on those he places in positions around him for honest assessments and expertise and they will be setting the policy providing one thing, that they can explain it such that Trump understands the who, what, where, why and how of the position as then he can adopt it as his.

 

Odd as it will sound to many a Reagan enthusiast, that was mostly Ronald Reagan’s key to his success and had been the key to every successful President with very few exceptions. Nobody, outside a few egos around here, knows sufficient about almost everything to be able to be President and make it work. A good leader knows how to delegate, to whom to delegate and how to get the best possible people for every position. This does not mean you choose people with whom you know you will have difficulty agreeing, you choose at least three or four and no more than a half dozen people who care and are capable of taking the opposite side and playing devil’s advocate, or actually are the devil in the details, and then be capable of preparing you to take a position and defend it against all challenges. The secret is the team as a whole being more than just its individual parts. That is what one desires to keep them informed and on an even keel, or at least not capsizing constantly. Donald Trump has been all over the place on policies because he is avoiding being pinned to a particular position with a few core exceptions which are really as he believes. If Trump has been consistent on his position and not taken opposing views, and there have been a few more than those we have noted, then those are his core and his advisors will have a ‘huge’ (pronounced ‘Yuuchge’) job changing his position as they will need to both prove him wrong and then prove themselves right before he will budge.

 

Now these positions do not mean he knows how he will actually make actual policy out of his position and that is where his advisors will have their work cut out for them as he will insist that those items be executed faithfully. The Donald will also have a standing order that nobody correct him publically and instead allow him to disagree and correct himself as only he can and otherwise back him and make him look ‘Good,’ very good. The real Donald will become known by the people he chooses for his Cabinet and other advisors. Probably the most important advisors he will choose will be his foreign policy chief, his defense advisor and once he gets to it, the General he appoints as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Generals who will serve under that person as these will be the tactical advisors responsible for executing and advising on all things military as well as providing additional information on which foreign policies will rest. These Generals will likely be chosen in close concert with the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State, two people who will be indispensable for the success of Trump as President. Until these people are in place and the new civilians have been briefed on the realities in the world, the threats, promises, promises of threats, threatening promises, adversaries and whether each is sane, rational, irrational, insane, predictable, or a loose cannon, then all intended policies can be adjusted to fit the reality and everything can proceed forward from there. Examples, Russia’s Putin is sane, cold, calculating and fairly conservative and very risk adverse and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un is irrational, irreverent, dangerously unstable, unpredictable and possibly the greatest threat to pop up at the worst possible moment and finally the leadership of Iran is a group of religious fanatics led by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei (سید علی خامنه‌ای) who are calculating, unpredictable, self-serving, fanatical, supremacist and believe themselves directly guided by Allah and as such infallible.

 

Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un, Sayyed Ali Khamenei

Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un, Sayyed Ali Khamenei

 

Of the three, Putin is the least dangerous and should be kept in regular communication such that he feels confident he will not be double crossed or ignored in those things he has a vested interest. The next least dangerous is probably Kim Jong Un as his resources are limited and he has desperate problems at home as his people are literally starving which does not bode well for extravagance, which is unfortunately how Kim Jong Un lives and this could eventually lead to a revolt especially as he has proven to be capable of turning even against his own family at the drop of a hat. The Iranians are likely the largest threat as they very likely already have nuclear weapons and are adding to their numbers as quickly as they can assemble additional and more powerful warheads. Their nuclear arsenal will likely soon outstrip those of the United States European allies and soon surpass Israel’s undeclared weapons and Iran is very likely to use their nuclear weapons as a first strike option and not as a deterrence and nuclear security weapon allowing their freedom of action unencumbered allowing them complete hegemony in the Middle East.

 

Iran has a discernible intent to want to supplant Saudi Arabia as leader of the Arab world despite they’re not being Arabs themselves and to then move to lead the entirety of the Muslim world converting all under their thumb to Shia Islam placing the Shiites over and above the Sunni who have held the predominant position in Islam since the split between the two main sects between the years 630AD and 650AD. After unifying all of Islam the Iranians will then proceed to unifying the world under the rule of Islam and eventually forcing all to convert or face the sword of Allah. Their war to convert and conquer the world may not wait until all of Islam has been mastered and converted to the Shiite banner, though the lion’s share of that will be required to facilitate the final conflict. This conflict can be initiated in the most violent and broad a front as imaginable and very easily could have the general use of nuclear weapons to decapitate the leadership of the strongest of forces which would stand in opposition. In the time leading up to such and in parallel to the conquest of all Islam, there will be measures taken to subjugate and take steps to assume power throughout as much of the world as possible using infiltration, much as Europe is currently facing.

 

Iran will be one of the main, if not the main, challenges for the foreseeable future and the most dangerous. They will also offer the greatest of opportunities to ally forces which currently appear to be in conflict even if mostly through economics (China) or through spreading influence (Russia and Iran). Whoever the Americans choose to be their next President, once again the biggest and most crucial threats and challenges will be in foreign policy. This was true during President Obama’s terms and he fell dreadfully short as many, ourselves included, feared he was destined to do. The world is that much more dire a situation as President Obama strengthened the most dangerous of regimes directly and did little if anything to discourage the rest of the threats allowing all threats to the Western World and culture to fester and grow more threatening. It may come to pass that history will lay the subjugation of Europe to Islam as directly attributable to President Obama and his petty policies executed apparently to spite the United States for perceived sins, some real and others imaginary. The reestablishing of the United States a predominantly a forced for good and an empowering ally more than a domineering imposition will be the greatest challenge going forward. It will be in this theater by which Presidents will be rated by history going forward as it has been since President Truman first chose to actually save the lives of countless Japanese military and civilians as well as probably approaching a million or two American and allied servicemen which would have been lost if Japan would have needed to be invaded on her home islands not to mention the strong likelihood that the Russians would have helped themselves to the Japanese northern most island. There has been temptations by revisionist historians to paint the use of the atom bombs by Truman as the greatest war crime ever perpetrated, but in reality it saved millions of lives as the Japanese would have fought to the last individual had the Emperor and military commanders not been shown the impossibility of their position.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

March 16, 2016

Should the Haredi be an Israeli Priesthood?

 

There are a number of schools of thought on whether or not the Haredi should be permitted to study Torah and allow that to be their contribution generally to Israeli society. Some are demanding that the Haredi face mandatory enlistment into the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) exactly the same as the rest of Jewish youths. Some are in favor of just young men while permitting the women not need to be enlisted with some claiming they be encouraged or made to serve in alternate public service. Then there are those who desire to allow the entirety of Haredi population simply lead pious lives dedicated to learning Torah with the referencing the numerous Haredi who spend as much as twelve hours every day except Sabbath either in services or learning Torah. Some less observant Israelis have pointed out the appearance of Haredi young men apparently strolling parks or in other non-study activities as proof that such a deferment for Torah study has been abused by some Haredi with which they broad brush the entirety of Haredi. There are few who desire to force the true and studious Torah scholars to not be permitted their honest scholarly pursuits as thus too is an important service whether all understand or even believe such dedication actually serve the State. Any serious answer to this situation, this challenge to the leadership of both the State of Israel and the Haredi society must find a reasonable and sensible solution which also takes into account some obvious demographic realities of the situation.

 

The one problem is that the Haredi community is a growing sector which would eventually reach a critical percentage where they would exceed the ability of the nation to support their complete absence from the societal productive engines. Simply stated, at some point in the not far distant future the Haredi community will be required to become productive if only to offset any costs their entire segment of society places on the State. The claim that the Haredi cover their own costs may be accurate to a point but at some point just producing sufficient food and clothing would exceed the potential of the state to produce and/or import even if the Haredi pay for their consumption as should they become over half, if not merely a lesser percentage, the production of the remainder of the population could not produce sufficient without employing the entirety of the remainder at a pace to support twice their population. At some point the Haredi will be made to make a judgement of which of their population show a particular promise or special talent lending them capable of receiving support to dedicate themselves to Torah study and such deferment should also be provided for any Israeli judged and desiring such dedication. There should be similar requirements as exist for professors at universities and colleges or teaching at Yeshivas. Also the Yeshivas should also be teaching at the least a basic education in addition to Torah study and perhaps a Torah curriculum for the public schools could be taught by religious scholars not just at Yeshivas. Such dispensations could and should be pursued with a plan to utilize those best suited in Torah scholarship to pursue such ends while it will soon be imperative for parts of the Haredi community to join the workforce and also serve in the IDF in special units which would allow for their observant lifestyle and restrictions not be challenged either intentionally, as has been the appearance in some instances, or through misunderstanding. These units will also likely require that a percentage, if not majority, of the officers and command chain be Haredi such that the sensitivities of these units will be better accommodated and understood by their commanders. If Israel is going to be serious about incorporating the Haredi into the society as a whole and especially into the IDF then some accommodations will be required and some give and take will be necessary on both sides. This will even include some arrangements with employers which will benefit all religious Jews and give some additional freedom to secular Jews and Israelis who are not particularly or even slightly Jewish. These accommodations will necessarily include scheduling such that the Sabbath is a say free of work with the obvious exception should rotation require a Haredi combat or mission necessary unit be scheduled for a rotation which counters Sabbath as defense of the nation is an exception recognized under Torah and universally.

 

 

Haredi Soldiers Taking Time for Morning Prayers in the Field During Training

Haredi Soldiers Taking Time
for Morning Prayers in the
Field During Training

 

The accommodations in the workplace would be no different than the accommodations granted Islamic religious members of the workplace who require prayer five times each day with the times set fairly rigidly. There should also be a liberalized attire universally applied for any group which had certain requirements for their appearance and attire. As stated, such accommodations should be universal and inclusive such that every group is comfortable and not unnecessarily required to break with traditional attire whenever possible. Needless to point out, should the required attire of a workplace stand counter to one’s religious requirements they should not seek employ in such locations such as nightclubs, clothing stores with secular progressive clothing requirements, and any place equally obvious which would be stated up front such that those who objected to the requirements would know not to seek employment in such places. There has to be certain rights both respecting the employer as well as the employees. An upscale and modern liberal clothing store would not be a place where Haredi or Islamic attire would be an accepted uniform, of sorts, attire which would necessarily show off such attire as part of being a salesperson. Some things should be obvious even to the most casual of observers, and the law should recognize the right of an employer to have appropriate attire and acceptance of the cliental and activities. A disco might not be an acceptable place for a strictly religious person of many faiths to choose work and such a place could have expectations which would exclude such employees in the first place. Such things should be obvious, period.

 

Military uniforms and other specific requirements for position are also understandable. An elite force which is designed to deploy places where the requirement might include wearing of a gas mask that people with full beards would have difficulties with such a mask and thus might not desire such an assignment or must be willing to remove their facial hair. As far as working in close proximity with women offending some stridently observant individuals, there should be accommodations and allowances whenever and wherever imaginable with a very liberal interpretation if such is possible. The scheduling women singing before a Haredi unit should never even cross the minds of commanders and if such were to be scheduled, then those wishing to excuse themselves should be granted alternate assignments and not just necessarily set free of any work related requirements. They might perhaps be assigned other duties such as cleaning communal areas or guard duty or other duty as seen fit in place of the setting they find objectionable. There is always something that requires doing in a military setting or they could be assigned policing the area of the performance after its completion. Such assignments would be at the discretion of the commanders of each unit.

 

The Haredi community should be granted generous liberties to define who amongst their community show and should be granted liberal special rights classifying them as a Torah sage or an astute and capable educator capable of inspiring students in the ways of Torah and the Written and Oral Laws. Whether or not a quota or percentile of the Haredi population will be permitted special observance privileges to spend their lives studying Torah or teaching Torah and the commandments and traditions in an inspiring fashion will largely depend on the responsible response and classification of their population between dedicated Torah scholars and teachers and those who will serve in the IDF or social services will, in the best possible of worlds, be left to the Haredi for as long as they perform these functions responsibly. Such a compromise needs to be reached such that both the Haredi and the general population are served through a mutual agreement and not through actual legislation, laws, court cases and general animosity. The reality is both the general Israeli public and especially the Haredi are majority Jewish populations and it would be nice to believe they could reach some accord which satisfies both communities. One can only hope that such an agreement is possible and can be attained with minimal if any acrimony as we are both majority Jewish, right?

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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