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Public vs. Private Business

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Public vs. Private Business
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RichardMNixonUser avatarPosts: 1047Joined: Thu Jul 30, 2009 8:45 pmLocation: USA Gender: Pinecone

Post Public vs. Private Business

I'm attempting to reroute this from the UK politics thread.

To continue from where I think it mostly left off:

Can public compete with private for efficiency? Can private compete with public when the latter has taxpayer support?

I'd say maybe and certainly. I don't think Joe said public is always more efficient because of profits, I think he said it has the capacity to be because it doesn't have profits. If two business ran identically while one made profits and the other didn't, the latter could offer lower prices or better pay or something. The question then is can they run identically or are public enterprises more likely to be hampered by waste and mismanagement and why?
"When I come to my own beliefs, I find myself quite unable to discern any purpose in the universe, and still more unable to wish to discern one." ~ Bertrand Russell
"If we do not succeed, we run the risk of failure." ~ Dan Quayle
Wed Jan 12, 2011 8:53 pm
ImprobableJoeLime TordUser avatarPosts: 6195Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2009 3:24 pm

Post Re: Public vs. Private Business

RichardMNixon wrote:I'm attempting to reroute this from the UK politics thread.

To continue from where I think it mostly left off:

Can public compete with private for efficiency? Can private compete with public when the latter has taxpayer support?

I'd say maybe and certainly. I don't think Joe said public is always more efficient because of profits, I think he said it has the capacity to be because it doesn't have profits. If two business ran identically while one made profits and the other didn't, the latter could offer lower prices or better pay or something. The question then is can they run identically or are public enterprises more likely to be hampered by waste and mismanagement and why?

I think I said "all things being equal"... which they rarely are.

One of the things that's important is the ultimate goal of an enterprise, and its place in society. If I get hit by a car, I can't shop around for the best ambulance price or compare cost-benefit ratios of treatment. I need to get my ass to a hospital and get treated as quickly as possible. I sure as hell can't choose what my injuries will be, and pick the ones that will cost me and the hospital the least amount of money. And if the goal of an enterprise is to make a lot of money quickly, then cutting quality and salaries and diverting that money to profits is a popular way to do it. Maybe that's fine if what you're talking about is video game consoles or big screen TVs, but not so fine if you're talking about education, healthcare, or other things that society considered necessary for a healthy country. If you get a bad TV, you can trade it in or even do without. If you get a lousy education or can't afford healthcare, that affects your whole life in a negative way... and healthy societies work to prevent those sorts of things. Unhealthy societies don't care about its citizens or the future.

We don't live in a world where people drop their money in an investment and leave it there for 30 years. We don't live in a world where the fate of corporate executives or investment bankers are in any way tied to the long-term success of their businesses. If you want something that will be successful in the long-term, you need a stability that sometimes only government can provide.
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Wed Jan 12, 2011 9:25 pm
RichardMNixonUser avatarPosts: 1047Joined: Thu Jul 30, 2009 8:45 pmLocation: USA Gender: Pinecone

Post Re: Public vs. Private Business

ImprobableJoe wrote:If I get hit by a car, I can't shop around for the best ambulance price or compare cost-benefit ratios of treatment.


I think this is important, the benefits of capitalism shrink rapidly as your ability to choose decreases. I was always amazed during the healthcare reform debates, people would say "well if you don't like your insurance company, get a new one!" That isn't how it works if you're employed. My employer only offers one option for medical insurance. It sucks. If I want better coverage, I'm looking at paying 4x as much since my employer won't help. What we have is not a free market and to pretend that it is is ridiculous.
"When I come to my own beliefs, I find myself quite unable to discern any purpose in the universe, and still more unable to wish to discern one." ~ Bertrand Russell
"If we do not succeed, we run the risk of failure." ~ Dan Quayle
Wed Jan 12, 2011 9:35 pm
ImprobableJoeLime TordUser avatarPosts: 6195Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2009 3:24 pm

Post Re: Public vs. Private Business

RichardMNixon wrote:
ImprobableJoe wrote:If I get hit by a car, I can't shop around for the best ambulance price or compare cost-benefit ratios of treatment.


I think this is important, the benefits of capitalism shrink rapidly as your ability to choose decreases. I was always amazed during the healthcare reform debates, people would say "well if you don't like your insurance company, get a new one!" That isn't how it works if you're employed. My employer only offers one option for medical insurance. It sucks. If I want better coverage, I'm looking at paying 4x as much since my employer won't help. What we have is not a free market and to pretend that it is is ridiculous.


Just as ridiculous is the idea that we should turn over "gotta have" goods and services to the ruthless and amoral "markets". That's why we have public schools and people want a public healthcare option, and no one is talking about having a public brewery or a public DVD rental shop.

Plus, I wonder what world some people live in, that claim some sort of efficiency in private business. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I've had enough jobs to know that inefficiency in business can be blamed directly on profit motives and executive pay and bonuses. I watched an entire department at my last job fail completely because the VP in charge of it put off making necessary purchases until his bonus was secured. Those postponed purchases cost the company close to a hundred thousand dollars in overtime pay, and cost that department a big government contract because they couldn't keep up with demand. The VP made his bonus and transfered to another division, they lost the contract a month later, and the whole department was laid off six months later. Yeah, that's efficiency for you.
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Wed Jan 12, 2011 10:10 pm
ArthurWilbornPosts: 964Joined: Sat Jun 19, 2010 4:46 pm

Post Re: Public vs. Private Business

RichardMNixon wrote:
ImprobableJoe wrote:If I get hit by a car, I can't shop around for the best ambulance price or compare cost-benefit ratios of treatment.


I think this is important, the benefits of capitalism shrink rapidly as your ability to choose decreases. I was always amazed during the healthcare reform debates, people would say "well if you don't like your insurance company, get a new one!" That isn't how it works if you're employed. My employer only offers one option for medical insurance. It sucks. If I want better coverage, I'm looking at paying 4x as much since my employer won't help. What we have is not a free market and to pretend that it is is ridiculous.


This is part of the problem. Government creates incentives for employers to offer health care, which makes it incredibly expensive to get private health care. You're absolutely right; privatizing insurance would be a good thing.

Or school choice, that would be a great thing. Having a solitary government system for education is producing bad result; more steps towards choice and privatization would create improvement.
Thu Jan 13, 2011 5:31 am
Aught3ModeratorUser avatarPosts: 4290Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:36 amLocation: New Zealand Gender: Male

Post Re: Public vs. Private Business

Arthur, just curious, are you in favour of hospitals treating uninsured patients that come in to the emergency room with life-threatening injuries? If not - how would you deal with them?
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Thu Jan 13, 2011 7:29 pm
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ArthurWilbornPosts: 964Joined: Sat Jun 19, 2010 4:46 pm

Post Re: Public vs. Private Business

Aught3 wrote:Arthur, just curious, are you in favour of hospitals treating uninsured patients that come in to the emergency room with life-threatening injuries? If not - how would you deal with them?


You wanna lead me down this road, huh? Ok, first off, remove barriers to getting insurance, such as subsidies and excessive regulation, and more people would have insurance in the first place, which would help the problem. Also, there needs to be firm triage rules so that people who don't have actual emergencies are sent elsewhere, which would also help matters.

Life-threatning injuries? Generally, I say treat them; they may be able to pay and there's no time to determine that at the moment.

They can't pay right now? I guess they're stuck in debt, then. Don't try to sob story me, I don't care. There's plenty that can be done to reduce the cost of hospital visits to ameliorate this problem.

They can't ever pay? Well, that is the crux of the problem, isn't it? If costs are running too high the hospital might have to start blacklisting people and denying care.

"You don't care about human life!" you cry indignantly? I do; I'm simply a realist. Trying to do everything and failing is a worse outcome then doing nothing in some cases. Emergency rooms do shut down because of cost overruns, and then no-one gets emergency care.
Thu Jan 13, 2011 10:19 pm
Aught3ModeratorUser avatarPosts: 4290Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:36 amLocation: New Zealand Gender: Male

Post Re: Public vs. Private Business

ArthurWilborn wrote:You wanna lead me down this road, huh?
Ah, no actually. I was just interested in finding out what the fundamental disagreement was. It occurred to me that this might be it so I asked what you thought about it.

ArthurWilborn wrote:They can't ever pay? Well, that is the crux of the problem, isn't it? If costs are running too high the hospital might have to start blacklisting people and denying care.
I agree that this is the crux but obviously I disagree with your conclusion. I just don't think that in countries like mine people should be dying or suffering through injuries and diseases that are fairly straight forward to treat or cure. I realise that there are costs involved taking this stance but I think they are worth paying to avoid, what I see as, the more unpleasant outcome.

Thanks for answering honestly.
Wanderer, there is no path, the path is made by walking.
Thu Jan 13, 2011 10:44 pm
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ImprobableJoeLime TordUser avatarPosts: 6195Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2009 3:24 pm

Post Re: Public vs. Private Business

Aught3 wrote:I agree that this is the crux but obviously I disagree with your conclusion. I just don't think that in countries like mine people should be dying or suffering through injuries and diseases that are fairly straight forward to treat or cure. I realise that there are costs involved taking this stance but I think they are worth paying to avoid, what I see as, the more unpleasant outcome.


That's sort of always the question, isn't it? Where do we put our priorities? In a measure of relative harm, someone suffering or even dying is a greater harm than a rich person being slightly less rich. No one is asking doctors to take no money for their services, or for corporations to make no profits. What some of us are saying is that lives are ALWAYS more important than a rich person being marginally more rich. And, if the situation is such that lives must come at the expense of profits, then maybe that's the best reason of all to allow that service to be handled in a public, nonprofit way.
Come visit my blog! There will be punch and pie!
Thu Jan 13, 2011 11:28 pm
televatorUser avatarPosts: 1252Joined: Wed Sep 01, 2010 12:02 amLocation: In hell, rocking out with Satan! Gender: Cake

Post Re: Public vs. Private Business

I don't think an exclusively "profit comes first" system is going to pay out for major injuries and operations just because that's how things ought to work. When profit is the only MO in town that's all you get. Profit first. And without an ounce of antitrust regulations, the first company to lie, cheat, and bully their way to the top wins the monopoly game. Self regulation is a myth. The only rules are the ones set by the wealthier companies.
a·the·ism: The absence of belief in god(s)

There are no additional, claims, laws, commandments, rules, doctrines, presuppositions, stand alone ideologies, dogmas, and/or faith based beliefs required by or inevitably derived from atheism.
Thu Jan 13, 2011 11:49 pm
RichardMNixonUser avatarPosts: 1047Joined: Thu Jul 30, 2009 8:45 pmLocation: USA Gender: Pinecone

Post Re: Public vs. Private Business

I think monopoly is something I've never seen you address, Arthur. Do you think monopolies should be avoided? How?
"When I come to my own beliefs, I find myself quite unable to discern any purpose in the universe, and still more unable to wish to discern one." ~ Bertrand Russell
"If we do not succeed, we run the risk of failure." ~ Dan Quayle
Thu Jan 13, 2011 11:52 pm
ArthurWilbornPosts: 964Joined: Sat Jun 19, 2010 4:46 pm

Post Re: Public vs. Private Business

RichardMNixon wrote:I think monopoly is something I've never seen you address, Arthur. Do you think monopolies should be avoided? How?


If a company is really big enough to start dicking over its customers just because they can, a competitor will rise up soon enough to start stealing their customers and force them to play nice. If a monopoly is doing things to deliberately drive legitimate competition out of business, they should be penalized by law for doing so. Courts and laws are still an integral part of a free market system, and I am in no wise against anti-trust laws.

If they're a monopoly because they are the first to have an idea, the situation will resolve itself soon enough.

If they are a monopoly where competition is impossible due to some physical limitation (a "natural monopoly"), there should be some limited regulations. I'd say things are generally good with these kind of companies as they are right now.

That's sort of always the question, isn't it? Where do we put our priorities? In a measure of relative harm, someone suffering or even dying is a greater harm than a rich person being slightly less rich. No one is asking doctors to take no money for their services, or for corporations to make no profits. What some of us are saying is that lives are ALWAYS more important than a rich person being marginally more rich. And, if the situation is such that lives must come at the expense of profits, then maybe that's the best reason of all to allow that service to be handled in a public, nonprofit way.


You know, I get this, I really do. Some people have more then they need, some people have less; take from those with and give to those without. It's a very pat solution. I simply think that this doesn't yield optimal results for the aggregate over the long term.
Fri Jan 14, 2011 3:38 am
televatorUser avatarPosts: 1252Joined: Wed Sep 01, 2010 12:02 amLocation: In hell, rocking out with Satan! Gender: Cake

Post Re: Public vs. Private Business

ArthurWilborn wrote:
RichardMNixon wrote:I think monopoly is something I've never seen you address, Arthur. Do you think monopolies should be avoided? How?


If a company is really big enough to start dicking over its customers just because they can, a competitor will rise up soon enough to start stealing their customers and force them to play nice. If a monopoly is doing things to deliberately drive legitimate competition out of business, they should be penalized by law for doing so. Courts and laws are still an integral part of a free market system, and I am in no wise against anti-trust laws.

If they're a monopoly because they are the first to have an idea, the situation will resolve itself soon enough.

If they are a monopoly where competition is impossible due to some physical limitation (a "natural monopoly"), there should be some limited regulations. I'd say things are generally good with these kind of companies as they are right now.

That's sort of always the question, isn't it? Where do we put our priorities? In a measure of relative harm, someone suffering or even dying is a greater harm than a rich person being slightly less rich. No one is asking doctors to take no money for their services, or for corporations to make no profits. What some of us are saying is that lives are ALWAYS more important than a rich person being marginally more rich. And, if the situation is such that lives must come at the expense of profits, then maybe that's the best reason of all to allow that service to be handled in a public, nonprofit way.


You know, I get this, I really do. Some people have more then they need, some people have less; take from those with and give to those without. It's a very pat solution. I simply think that this doesn't yield optimal results for the aggregate over the long term.


Wow... I never thought I'd hear you talk about the state having a place in all this. Sounds a little less free if you ask me, but that's a good thing. Even though I don't think it addresses all problems that arise in such a scenario. Like Government employees who are implanted or approached by businesses with lucrative "consulting" possitions.

So that was one conflict between businesses. What about between people and business? What's your take on minimum wage, and worker health and safety?
a·the·ism: The absence of belief in god(s)

There are no additional, claims, laws, commandments, rules, doctrines, presuppositions, stand alone ideologies, dogmas, and/or faith based beliefs required by or inevitably derived from atheism.
Fri Jan 14, 2011 5:01 pm
ArthurWilbornPosts: 964Joined: Sat Jun 19, 2010 4:46 pm

Post Re: Public vs. Private Business

televator wrote:Wow... I never thought I'd hear you talk about the state having a place in all this. Sounds a little less free if you ask me, but that's a good thing. Even though I don't think it addresses all problems that arise in such a scenario. Like Government employees who are implanted or approached by businesses with lucrative "consulting" possitions.

So that was one conflict between businesses. What about between people and business? What's your take on minimum wage, and worker health and safety?


Sadly the process most people go through when they encounter a position is to assume it's exactly the same as a similar position they've heard before and roll out stock criticisms. Intellectual laziness, is all.

Now keep in mind, limited regulations, limited protections. Government employees shouldn't be approached because they shouldn't have the power to reward big contracts or subsidies.

There shouldn't be a minimum wage. A minimum wage is a barrier to employment, and often only acts to increase costs for everyone. This has a disproportionately negative effect on the poorest - those making minimum wage. Unfair? I'm not concerned with fairness - only with what is beneficial.

Worker health and safety is, I'll admit, a bit of a thornier issue. This ties in with many others, such as social insurance and medical care. Ideally, there should be no regulations, as a company would be unwilling to pay the costs associated with training a new worker and the loss of skill. However, we must concern ourselves with reality instead of ideals. Thus certain legal protections should be in place. For example, a company should pay for the costs of a job-related injury. Generally regulations should be based on consequence rather then try to be specific to each possible situation; these regulation quickly grow labyrinthine and unworkable.

Consumer safety? The government would have an excellent role as a data clearinghouse about the safety and risks associated with various products, and as an agent to test claims of injury.
Fri Jan 14, 2011 6:42 pm
ProlescumWebhamsterUser avatarPosts: 4998Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2009 8:41 pmLocation: Peptone-upon-Sores

Post Re: Public vs. Private Business

ArthurWilborn wrote:I'm not concerned with fairness - only with what is beneficial.


Because they're mutually exclusive, of course :roll:
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Fri Jan 14, 2011 6:46 pm
ArthurWilbornPosts: 964Joined: Sat Jun 19, 2010 4:46 pm

Post Re: Public vs. Private Business

Prolescum wrote:
ArthurWilborn wrote:I'm not concerned with fairness - only with what is beneficial.


Because they're mutually exclusive, of course :roll:


They can be. The "fair" solution is not always the solution most beneficial to all parties. Consider the "trapped on the mountaintop" scenario - better that some die and wind up as food then that no-one eats and everyone dies.
Fri Jan 14, 2011 6:52 pm
televatorUser avatarPosts: 1252Joined: Wed Sep 01, 2010 12:02 amLocation: In hell, rocking out with Satan! Gender: Cake

Post Re: Public vs. Private Business

ArthurWilborn wrote:
televator wrote:Wow... I never thought I'd hear you talk about the state having a place in all this. Sounds a little less free if you ask me, but that's a good thing. Even though I don't think it addresses all problems that arise in such a scenario. Like Government employees who are implanted or approached by businesses with lucrative "consulting" possitions.

So that was one conflict between businesses. What about between people and business? What's your take on minimum wage, and worker health and safety?


Sadly the process most people go through when they encounter a position is to assume it's exactly the same as a similar position they've heard before and roll out stock criticisms. Intellectual laziness, is all.

Now keep in mind, limited regulations, limited protections. Government employees shouldn't be approached because they shouldn't have the power to reward big contracts or subsidies.

There shouldn't be a minimum wage. A minimum wage is a barrier to employment, and often only acts to increase costs for everyone. This has a disproportionately negative effect on the poorest - those making minimum wage. Unfair? I'm not concerned with fairness - only with what is beneficial.

Worker health and safety is, I'll admit, a bit of a thornier issue. This ties in with many others, such as social insurance and medical care. Ideally, there should be no regulations, as a company would be unwilling to pay the costs associated with training a new worker and the loss of skill. However, we must concern ourselves with reality instead of ideals. Thus certain legal protections should be in place. For example, a company should pay for the costs of a job-related injury. Generally regulations should be based on consequence rather then try to be specific to each possible situation; these regulation quickly grow labyrinthine and unworkable.

Consumer safety? The government would have an excellent role as a data clearinghouse about the safety and risks associated with various products, and as an agent to test claims of injury.


Government officials don't need to really have the power to reward major contracts just be approachable. Instead they could be more lenient or apathetic in pursuing what few regulations you deem necessary. Even judges caught up in this in their corporation friendly rulings.

Also, overall, I can't imagine that what we would end up with wouldn't be same system of constant market highs swiftly followed by major crashes as seen in the early days of the industrial US. Like we see today, companies don't have to necessarily worry about whether or not their workers can afford the products they make when they can sell them in another more well off region of the world.
a·the·ism: The absence of belief in god(s)

There are no additional, claims, laws, commandments, rules, doctrines, presuppositions, stand alone ideologies, dogmas, and/or faith based beliefs required by or inevitably derived from atheism.
Last edited by televator on Mon Jan 17, 2011 12:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
Sun Jan 16, 2011 11:52 pm
Aught3ModeratorUser avatarPosts: 4290Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:36 amLocation: New Zealand Gender: Male

Post Re: Public vs. Private Business

ArthurWilborn wrote:You know, I get this, I really do. Some people have more then they need, some people have less; take from those with and give to those without. It's a very pat solution. I simply think that this doesn't yield optimal results for the aggregate over the long term.
What do you mean by optimal? If we were talking about fulfilling basic needs then a social justice system would be optimal. On the other hand if we were talking about GDP growth it probably wouldn't be optimal but this approach makes the perfect an enemy of the good.
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Mon Jan 17, 2011 12:23 am
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RichardMNixonUser avatarPosts: 1047Joined: Thu Jul 30, 2009 8:45 pmLocation: USA Gender: Pinecone

Post Re: Public vs. Private Business

ArthurWilborn wrote:Government employees shouldn't be approached because they shouldn't have the power to reward big contracts or subsidies.


I think we're all in agreement there, but how do you propose we enforce it? I feel like you're trying to get rid of everything the government does to help us, and then assuming everything they do wrong will magically stop because you'll tell them not to do it. Really the overall feel I get from your proposals is "Do everything the way we're supposed to be doing it currently." Well duh.

Will the government still need to fund the armed forces? They've got to pay a defense contractor. Will they still provide disaster relief? They'll buy equipment from engineering firms. And if they don't relieve disaster victims, who do you think will?
"When I come to my own beliefs, I find myself quite unable to discern any purpose in the universe, and still more unable to wish to discern one." ~ Bertrand Russell
"If we do not succeed, we run the risk of failure." ~ Dan Quayle
Mon Jan 17, 2011 5:50 pm
ArthurWilbornPosts: 964Joined: Sat Jun 19, 2010 4:46 pm

Post Re: Public vs. Private Business

Like we see today, companies don't have to necessarily worry about whether or not their workers can afford the products they make when they can sell them in another more well off region of the world.


Two things. First, the price of labor is a large (in some cases the largest) part of the cost of a product. So, the worker's pay isn't necessarily connected to whether or not they can afford that particular product - raising their pay would raise the price of the object in proportion.

Secondly - so what? The workers are getting paid what the market will bear for them. If they can't afford that particular product, they're still better off then if they hadn't got paid. The people who are employed at a lower wage are better off then being unemployed while fewer people are paid a higher wage.

What do you mean by optimal? If we were talking about fulfilling basic needs then a social justice system would be optimal. On the other hand if we were talking about GDP growth it probably wouldn't be optimal but this approach makes the perfect an enemy of the good.


It does tie into values, yes. Ultimately it comes down to something like opportunities and free time for me, I suppose. I'm not sure what the last part of your statement means, though.

I think we're all in agreement there, but how do you propose we enforce it? I feel like you're trying to get rid of everything the government does to help us, and then assuming everything they do wrong will magically stop because you'll tell them not to do it. Really the overall feel I get from your proposals is "Do everything the way we're supposed to be doing it currently." Well duh.

Will the government still need to fund the armed forces? They've got to pay a defense contractor.


Certainly, an army is a legitimate national function. Government shouldn't be shut down, but it should be trimmed considerably.

"Help us"? Many government programs designed to help instead cause great harm. Welfare programs, out of an altruistic desire to help people, create cycles of dependency and poverty. Subsidies intended to help poor farmers insure that their land is bought up and that money taken by larger corporations. Minimum wage, designed to help the poor, insures poverty by creating a barrier to employment and increasing the cost of basic goods and services. I could go on and on about Social Security, which even its leaders admit will either collapse or consume the economy within the lifetime of many Americans.

Government will do less wrong if they have less control and less money to do it with. Phasing out Social Security would cut their money and influence considerably; as their influenced lessened, corporations would be less interested in seducing them because they simply couldn't do as much for them. It confuses me when many anti-corporatists want to radically increase government power and, as you said, assume they will magically stop doing wrong. There will always be an interest in peculation, it's simply a question of the scale it will occur on.

Will they still provide disaster relief? They'll buy equipment from engineering firms. And if they don't relieve disaster victims, who do you think will?


They'll help themselves, and probably do a better job of it then the government would. I don't think I need to remind you about New Orleans and how well government intervention worked there.
Mon Jan 17, 2011 6:42 pm
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