Income Inequality

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Re: Income Inequality

#101

Post by Addie » Sun Apr 15, 2018 11:43 am

The Guardian OpEd
America once fought a war against poverty – now it wages a war on the poor

After the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign declared silence was betrayal, we are coming together to stand up to the public policy violence that is ravaging our society ...

While our nation once fought a war against poverty, now we wage a war on the poor. The richest 1% in our country own more wealth than the bottom 90% combined, tightening their grip on political power to shape labor, tax, healthcare and campaign finance policies that benefit the few at the expense of the many. A full 60% more Americans now live below the official poverty line than in 1968, and 43% of all American children live below the minimum income level considered necessary to meet basic family needs.

In the last eight years alone, 23 states have passed voter suppression laws – gutting the Voting Rights Act civil rights leaders helped secure more than a half century ago. This is the true hacking of our democracy, allowing people to win office who deny healthcare, living wages, cut necessary social programs and push policies that promote mass incarceration, hurt immigrants and devastate our environment.

These racist laws hurt not just people of color, but poor whites whose lives are upended by the politicians put in office by the violent extremism that is voter suppression.

Coretta Scott King would call all of this violence. She’d say that violence isn’t just killing people with guns, but denying them living wages, allowing them to live in ghetto housing. We rightfully get in the streets and protest when the police shoot unarmed black men, but we must also stand up to the public policy violence that is ravaging our society. We must no longer allow attention to violence to keep the poor, people of color and other disenfranchised people down.

People are poor not because they are lazy, not because they are unwilling to work hard, but because politicians have blocked living wages and healthcare and undermined union rights and wage increases. Our nation’s moral narrative is shaped by Christian nationalists whose claims run contrary to calls in the Scripture, which is very clear that we need to care for the poor, immigrants and the least among us.


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Re: Income Inequality

#102

Post by TollandRCR » Sat Apr 21, 2018 10:35 pm

The Center for American Progress ha released a study that urges Democrats to run on progressive economic policies in 2018 and 2020. "The working-class push for progressive economic policies" by Alex Rowell and David Madland. This should be the party's theme.

What policies receive support from many kinds of Americans? Increasing the minimum wage. Equal pay legislation. Broadening access to paid leave. Make college more affordable. Expand access to health care and retirement benefits. Regulate banks. Institute higher taxes on the wealthy.

This kind of agenda gets support more of less across the board. It should, because what people are asking is that they want the economy to work better for them. Success would even begin to turn back our developing-world levels of income inequality.


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Re: Income Inequality

#103

Post by Addie » Thu May 17, 2018 2:53 pm

CNN
Almost half of US families can't afford basics like rent and food

The economy may be chugging along, but many Americans are still struggling to afford a basic middle class life.

Nearly 51 million households don't earn enough to afford a monthly budget that includes housing, food, child care, health care, transportation and a cell phone, according to a study released Thursday by the United Way ALICE Project. That's 43% of households in the United States.

The figure includes the 16.1 million households living in poverty, as well as the 34.7 million families that the United Way has dubbed ALICE -- Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. This group makes less than what's needed "to survive in the modern economy." ...

California, New Mexico and Hawaii have the largest share of struggling families, at 49% each. North Dakota has the lowest at 32%.

Many of these folks are the nation's child care workers, home health aides, office assistants and store clerks, who work low-paying jobs and have little savings, the study noted. Some 66% of jobs in the US pay less than $20 an hour.


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Re: Income Inequality

#104

Post by Addie » Fri Jun 01, 2018 3:29 pm

Think Progress
U.S. leading the developed world in income and wealth inequality, UN report finds

Friday's report blames the Trump administration for policies that actively increase poverty and inequality.


A scathing new United Nations report has found that the United States is leading the developed world in income and wealth inequality, laying explicit blame with the Trump administration for policies that actively increase poverty and inequality in the country.

Friday’s report, which will be presented to the U.N. Human Rights Council on June 21, is the result of U.N. special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights Philip Alston’s 10-day tour of the United States last year, when he investigated whether economic security in the country undermines human rights.

The report found that the United States “is now moving full steam ahead to make itself even more unequal,” citing the $1.5 trillion in tax cuts passed in December 2017, which “overwhelmingly benefited the wealthy and worsened inequality.”

“The consequences of neglecting poverty and promoting inequality are clear,” the report concludes. “The policies pursued over the past year seem deliberately designed to remove basic protections from the poorest, punish those who are not in employment and make even basic health care into a privilege to be earned rather than a right of citizenship.”

In December, Alston visited seven locations throughout the country — ranging from Los Angeles’ Skid Row neighborhood to rural Alabama, West Virginia, and Puerto Rico — to meet with people experiencing deep poverty, along with experts and civil society groups.
Adding:
Reuters: U.N. Expert: America's Poor Becoming More destitute Under Trump


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Re: Income Inequality

#105

Post by Addie » Wed Jul 04, 2018 2:53 pm

WaPo
Is it great to be a worker in the U.S.? Not compared with the rest of the developed world. ...

So why does a large subset of workers continue to feel left behind? We can find some clues in a new 296-page report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a club of advanced and advancing nations that has long been a top source for international economic data and research. Most of the figures are from 2016 or before, but they reflect underlying features of the economies analyzed that continue today.

In particular, the report shows the United States’s unemployed and at-risk workers are getting very little support from the government, and their employed peers are set back by a particularly weak collective-bargaining system.

Those factors have contributed to the United States having a higher level of income inequality and a larger share of low-income residents than almost any other advanced nation. Only Spain and Greece, whose economies have been ravaged by the euro-zone crisis, have more households earning less than half the nation’s median income — an indicator that unusually large numbers of people either are poor or close to being poor.



Joblessness may be low in the United States and employers may be hungry for new hires, but it’s also strikingly easy to lose a job here. An average of 1 in 5 employees lose or leave their jobs each year, and 23.3 percent of workers ages 15 to 64 had been in their job for a year or less in 2016 — higher than all but a handful of countries in the study.


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Re: Income Inequality

#106

Post by AndyinPA » Wed Jul 04, 2018 8:40 pm

And when they lose their jobs here, there's very little governmental support or much of a safety net left for them. :crying:



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Re: Income Inequality

#107

Post by Addie » Tue Jul 10, 2018 10:17 am

Slate
Goldman Sachs Warns That Rising Wages Could Cut Into Corporate Profits. The Horror!

Corporate executives and Wall Street types come up with all sorts of reasons why it’s supposedly dangerous to let the unemployment rate drop too low. They talk about how the economy might “overheat,” leading to a dreaded bout of inflation. They may talk about “worker shortages” that make it hard to find the right talent.

But in the end, most of this is just verbiage meant to skirt the real concern: Companies are worried that if unemployment falls far enough, they’ll have to pay workers more, and that will cut into their profits. With the official jobless rate at 4 percent, that’s already beginning to happen at some companies, the Wall Street Journal reports today. Ten percent of companies in the S&P 500 have claimed that higher wages hurt their earnings in the first quarter, it notes. Goldman Sachs is predicting that “every percentage-point increase in labor-cost inflation will drag down earnings of companies in the S&P 500 by 0.8%.” ...

Corporate executives and Wall Street types come up with all sorts of reasons why it’s supposedly dangerous to let the unemployment rate drop too low. They talk about how the economy might “overheat,” leading to a dreaded bout of inflation. They may talk about “worker shortages” that make it hard to find the right talent.

But in the end, most of this is just verbiage meant to skirt the real concern: Companies are worried that if unemployment falls far enough, they’ll have to pay workers more, and that will cut into their profits. With the official jobless rate at 4 percent, that’s already beginning to happen at some companies, the Wall Street Journal reports today. Ten percent of companies in the S&P 500 have claimed that higher wages hurt their earnings in the first quarter, it notes. Goldman Sachs is predicting that “every percentage-point increase in labor-cost inflation will drag down earnings of companies in the S&P 500 by 0.8%.” ...



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Re: Income Inequality

#108

Post by Addie » Thu Jul 19, 2018 1:57 pm

Economist
As inequality grows, so does the political influence of the rich

Concentrated wealth leads to concentrated power


SQUEEZING the top 1% ought to be the most natural thing in the world for politicians seeking to please the masses. Yet, with few exceptions, today’s populist insurgents are more concerned with immigration and sovereignty than with the top rate of income tax. This disconnect may be more than an oddity. It may be a sign of the corrupting influence of inequality on democracy.

You might reasonably suppose that the more democratic a country’s institutions, the less inequality it should support. Rising inequality means that resources are concentrated in the hands of a few; they should be ever more easily outvoted by the majority who are left with a shrinking share of national income. ...

One possible reason for this disconnect is that people do not care much about inequality, or want their politicians to do anything about it. The results of surveys suggest otherwise, however. When asked by pollsters, more than two-thirds of Americans and Europeans express concern about current levels of inequality. Alternatively, the creaky wheels of Western democracies might have become too jammed to make progress on any issue of substance, whether inequality or some other persistent problem.

But this answer is also unsatisfying. The rich world has seen big policy shifts over the past decade. Last year America’s government managed to make a sweeping change to taxes—one that tilts the distribution of income even more in favour of the rich. And in a recent study of European politics, Derek Epp and Enrico Borghetto find that political agendas in Europe have become less focused on redistribution even as inequality has risen. Though both inequality and public concern about it are increasing, politicians seem less interested in grappling with the problem.


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Re: Income Inequality

#109

Post by Addie » Thu Jul 19, 2018 6:41 pm

CNBC
US income inequality continues to grow

In 2015, the top 1 percent of families in the United States made more than 25 times what families in the bottom 99 percent did, according to a paper from the Economic Policy Institute.

This trend, which has picked up post Great Recession, is a reversal of what was seen during and after the Great Depression, where the gap between rich and poor narrowed.

“Rising inequality affects virtually every part of the country, not just large urban areas or financial centers,” said co-author Estelle Sommeiller.


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Re: Income Inequality

#110

Post by TollandRCR » Thu Jul 19, 2018 6:57 pm

People are being fed the lie that wealth trickles down. Democrats need to show that this is a lie.


“The truth is, we know so little about life, we don’t really know what the good news is and what the bad news is.” Kurt Vonnegut

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Re: Income Inequality

#111

Post by RVInit » Thu Jul 19, 2018 7:50 pm

TollandRCR wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 6:57 pm
People are being fed the lie that wealth trickles down. Democrats need to show that this is a lie.
We need prominent billboards all over the place, where people see the same pointed messages over and over again. Well organized and easy to digest. Repetition is the key.

I'm sure others can come up with something better, but something along the lines of...

"Huge tax cuts for the wealthy not working out for you yet? Trickle down economics...is a MYTH".

Or just

"Trickle down economics...is a MYTH".


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Re: Income Inequality

#112

Post by Addie » Mon Aug 06, 2018 10:51 am

New York Mag - Frank Rich
In 2008, America Stopped Believing in the American Dream ...

It’s not hard to pinpoint the dawn of this deep gloom: It arrived in September 2008, when the collapse of Lehman Brothers kicked off the Great Recession that proved to be a more lasting existential threat to America than the terrorist attack of seven Septembers earlier. The shadow it would cast is so dark that a decade later, even our current run of ostensible prosperity and peace does not mitigate the one conviction that still unites all Americans: Everything in the country is broken. Not just Washington, which failed to prevent the financial catastrophe and has done little to protect us from the next, but also race relations, health care, education, institutional religion, law enforcement, the physical infrastructure, the news media, the bedrock virtues of civility and community. Nearly everything has turned to crap, it seems, except Peak TV (for those who can afford it).

That loose civic concept known as the American Dream — initially popularized during the Great Depression by the historian James Truslow Adams in his Epic of America — has been shattered. No longer is lip service paid to the credo, however sentimental, that a vast country, for all its racial and sectarian divides, might somewhere in its DNA have a shared core of values that could pull it out of any mess. Dead and buried as well is the companion assumption that over the long term a rising economic tide would lift all Americans in equal measure. When that tide pulled back in 2008 to reveal the ruins underneath, the country got an indelible picture of just how much inequality had been banked by the top one percent over decades, how many false promises to the other 99 percent had been broken, and how many central American institutions, whether governmental, financial, or corporate, had betrayed the trust the public had placed in them. And when we went down, we took much of the West with us. The American Kool-Aid we’d exported since the Marshall Plan, that limitless faith in progress and profits, had been exposed as a cruel illusion. ...

Perhaps the sole upside to the 2008 crash was that it discredited the Establishment of both parties by exposing its decades-long collusion with a kleptocratic economic order. If the corporation that introduced the lightbulb was a sham ripping off its employees, shareholders, and consumers, not to mention America’s taxpayers, you had to wonder who at the top was not. The moral abdication of would-be liberal reformers, who failed to police such powerful economic actors, only added to the national disgust with elites. It’s that vacuum that created the opening for a master con man. Once in the White House, of course, Trump conducted the biggest spree of grand larceny ever carried out by the wealthiest sliver of the country in the name of “tax reform.” Everyone knows he is doing it except those among his base who dismiss all unwanted news as “fake news.” But it’s a measure of how much the country is broken that we just shrug with resignation when the wealthy Democratic Goldman Sachs alum Gary Cohn joins this administration to secure an obscene tax cut, then exits without apology to enjoy his further enrichment at the expense of the safety net for the country’s most vulnerable citizens.

Trump’s nationalistic right-wing populism, which scapegoats immigrants and minorities to deflect rage from Cohn and his fellow profiteers, is nothing new. As Churchwell tracks in Behold, America, the original America First movement of the 1920s and ’30s grew in tandem with the widening economic discrepancies of the time. She reminds us that the plutocratic villain of The Great Gatsby, Tom Buchanan, is a white supremacist prone to observations like “if we don’t look out the white race will be … utterly submerged” and “It’s up to us who are the dominant race to watch out or these other races will have control of things.” Up against such powerful one-percenters, the vision of limitless human potential implicit in Jay Gatsby’s innocent American Dream didn’t stand a chance. As Churchwell writes, “Between 1923 and 1929, 93 percent of the country experienced a drop in per capita income,” even as a rise in monopolies and mergers left “only two hundred large corporations in control of over half of American industry” and one percent of the population owning 40 percent of America’s wealth.


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Re: Income Inequality

#113

Post by Tiredretiredlawyer » Mon Aug 06, 2018 2:33 pm

https://ag.ny.gov/press-release/ag-unde ... de-records
A.G. Underwood Files Suit Against Trump Department Of Labor Over Failure To Provide Records About New Amnesty Program For Employers Who Violate Labor Laws

New York Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood filed a lawsuit today against the U.S. Department of Labor for failing to respond as required by law to records requests concerning a new program that allows employers who violate labor laws to avoid prosecution and penalties. Today’s suit asks the court to compel the Department of Labor to respond to the Attorney General’s request for information sent to the agency in April 2018 related to the Payroll Audit Independent Determination (PAID) Program.

“The PAID Program is nothing more than a get-out-of-jail-free card for predatory employers,” said Attorney General Underwood. “New York workers have a right to know why the Secretary of Labor decided to let employers off the hook when they don’t pay their workers. The Labor Department failed to provide required information — so we’re taking them to court to get the information to which we are legally entitled.”

The Attorney General’s information request, submitted to the U.S. Department of Labor on April 11, 2018 pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), sought information relating to the Attorney General’s concern that the PAID Program would erode workers’ rights by allowing employers to evade prosecution and penalties for wage theft under state labor laws that are more protective than federal law. The request additionally sought agency records concerning the development, implementation, consideration, and evaluation of the PAID Program, including communications with employers. To date, the Labor Department has failed to provide any agency records in response to the FOIA request.

Additionally, the PAID Program appears not to require employers to pay employees at any applicable higher state or local minimum wage or overtime wage rates, or to pay wages owed during longer state statute of limitations periods. For a New York City fast food worker, for example, that could mean the difference between recovering wages at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour rather than the applicable state minimum of $13.50. Finally, the PAID Program encourages employers to have employees sign separate releases to settle claims under state law – yet the Department of Labor refuses to oversee such state-law settlements to ensure their fairness.


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Re: Income Inequality

#114

Post by Addie » Sat Aug 11, 2018 9:48 am

Bloomberg
American Workers Just Got a Pay Cut in Economy Trump Calls Great

President Donald Trump has presided over an accelerating economy and the lowest unemployment in years, but American workers still aren’t seeing it in their wallets.

U.S. average hourly earnings adjusted for inflation fell 0.2 percent in July from a year earlier, data released on Friday showed, notching the lowest reading since 2012. While inflation isn’t high in historical terms, after years of being too low following the 2007-2009 recession, its recent gains are taking a bigger bite out of U.S. paychecks.

“Inflation has been climbing and wage growth, meanwhile, has been flat as a pancake,” said Laura Rosner, senior economist at MacroPolicy Perspectives LLC in New York. “In a very tight labor market you would expect that workers would negotiate their wages to at least keep up with the cost of living, and the picture tells you that they’re not.”

U.S. unemployment at 3.9 percent in July was near a 50-year low and a core measure of inflation that excludes food and energy prices has pushed to 2.4 percent, the highest reading in almost a decade. But wages are just not keeping up and part of the reason is probably a lack of bargaining power on the part of U.S. workers.


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Re: Income Inequality

#115

Post by Tiredretiredlawyer » Sun Aug 26, 2018 10:16 am

https://www.ineteconomics.org/perspecti ... of-america

John Dean recommended this on Twitter.
Meet the Economist Behind the One Percent’s Stealth Takeover of America

Ask people to name the key minds that have shaped America’s burst of radical right-wing attacks on working conditions, consumer rights and public services, and they will typically mention figures like free market-champion Milton Friedman, libertarian guru Ayn Rand, and laissez-faire economists Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises.

James McGill Buchanan is a name you will rarely hear unless you’ve taken several classes in economics. And if the Tennessee-born Nobel laureate were alive today, it would suit him just fine that most well-informed journalists, liberal politicians, and even many economics students have little understanding of his work.

The reason? Duke historian Nancy MacLean contends that his philosophy is so stark that even young libertarian acolytes are only introduced to it after they have accepted the relatively sunny perspective of Ayn Rand. (Yes, you read that correctly). If Americans really knew what Buchanan thought and promoted, and how destructively his vision is manifesting under their noses, it would dawn on them how close the country is to a transformation most would not even want to imagine, much less accept.

That is a dangerous blind spot, MacLean argues in a meticulously researched book, Democracy in Chains, a finalist for the National Book Award in Nonfiction. While Americans grapple with Donald Trump’s chaotic presidency, we may be missing the key to changes that are taking place far beyond the level of mere politics. Once these changes are locked into place, there may be no going back.


"The people must know before they can act, and there is no educator to compare with the press." - Ida B. Wells-Barnett, journalist, newspaper editor, suffragist, feminist and founder with others of NAACP.

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Re: Income Inequality

#116

Post by Addie » Tue Aug 28, 2018 12:44 pm

CBS News
Almost half of Americans can't pay for their basic needs ...

Despite the U.S. economy being near full employment, 39.4 percent of adults between 18 and 64 years old said they experienced at least one type of material hardship in 2017, according to the study, which surveyed more than 7,500 adults about whether they had trouble paying for housing, utilities, food or health care.

The findings surprised researchers at the Urban Institute, who had expected to find high levels of hardship among poor Americans but hadn't predicted so many middle-class families would also struggle to meet their basic needs. That may illustrate that a middle-class income "is no guarantee" of protection from hardship, said Michael Karpman, research associate at the Urban Institute's health Policy Center and a co-author of the report.

Against the backdrop of President Donald Trump's boasting about low unemployment and strong economic growth, the research adds nuance to the problems facing American families. Middle-class households tend to struggle with paying their health care bills rather than utilities, for instance. Health care costs have outpaced wages and inflation, pushing more Americans into high-deductible plans, which can backfire when serious health problems arise.

"A lot of people are looking at the fact that wages aren't keeping up with household costs as one reason families are having difficulty making ends meet," Karpman said. "Even for families with health insurance, they may be facing high deductibles that leave them facing high costs."

The Urban Institute designed the study last year to get a baseline measure of hardship in anticipation of proposed cutbacks in federal safety-net programs, such as proposals to add work requirements to food stamps and Medicaid. Some states have already moved forward with such plans, such as Maine's work requirement for its food stamp recipients.


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Re: Income Inequality

#117

Post by Addie » Wed Sep 12, 2018 12:02 pm

Business Insider - Richard Feloni
The United States is undergoing a second Gilded Age, and it shows the same struggle has defined America for 150 years

The cultural backlash to America's financial system in the wake of the Great Recession brought the topic of widening inequality into the mainstream. Ten years after the crisis, income and wealth inequality between the top 1% and the rest of the country are both still rising.

If you take a look at the last 40 years in the United States in the span of the country's history, it becomes clear that it can justifiably be called a "New Gilded Age," strikingly similar to the latter half of the 19th century. That period got its name from Mark Twain, whose coauthored novel of the same name portrayed a country with grand, ostentatious wealth providing a thin layer of gold, gilding, over a society in unrest.

HW Brands, a historian at the University of Texas at Austin, whose 2010 book "American Colossus: The Triumph of Capitalism, 1865-1900," explores a thesis that explains both the Gilded Age and our current period, told Business Insider: "Tension between capitalism and democracy has characterized American life for two centuries, with one and then the other claiming temporary ascendance."

In Twain's Gilded Age, he said, "The influence of capitalism and the capitalists was greater in American life than it had ever been before. And arguably, than it ever would be, until maybe today." ...

The pendulum shifted from capitalism to democracy in the early 20th century, Brands said, with the Progressive Era. America entered a period that journeyed through progressive politics bolstering the federal government and regulating business, through the New Deal in the '30s and the Great Society in the '60s. This ascendance of democracy, as Brands puts it, was strengthened by the reactions to the Great Depression and two world wars, major catastrophes that required a stronger federal government to survive.


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Re: Income Inequality

#118

Post by TollandRCR » Sat Sep 15, 2018 11:47 am

New York Times We're Measuring the Economy All Wrong by David Leonhardt
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/14/opin ... y-gdp.html

We are using economic indicators that are accurate but do not tell the needed story,. We look with pride at a remarkable unemployment rate, few acknowledging that a large portion of the adult population has stopped looking for work. (Sure, some are retired.). Our standard income statistics ignore the extraordinary and growing gaps in income and wealth. We are now among countries of the developing world.

When we start to rebuild NC, SC, and other states after Florence has done perhaps $27 billion of damage, everything that must be bought will add to our GDP. That is, Florence will make us wealthier. I understand why this happens but find it both perverse and potentially dangerous.

Back in the 1970s and 1980s there was an effort to create a "Green GDP." Some versions would have counted Florence repairs as costs, along with damage to ecosystems, the cost of treating illnesses caused by pollution, and exhaustion of resources. A trial version was created, and Republicans forbade Commerce from ever doing that again. (They were bad before Trump.)

We are measuring wrong.


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