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Old 10-24-2007, 02:49 AM   #46
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Re: Canadian Healthcare from a Canadian...

Healthcare is a mess--not just in this country, whatever the truth of that email was.

Is it a right? I'm always worried about putting things this way (there's been a real proliferation of so-called rights), but it does seem to me that we as a society do not want people dying on the streets, old people (and young ones) choosing between food and vital medicines, etc. That just strikes me as something you don't want, if you can find a way to avoid it. The Herbert column linked above is an example of this sort of thing.

So, accepting that there's a responsibility of some sort for us as a nation, what do we do? Here, I think it's in part an economic question: how do you most efficiently bring care to those who need it, to avoid the stuff we want to avoid? And there, things get tricky. Healthcare, as I understand it, does not work in the same way other industries do. If you add a shoemaker to a town with a few shoemakers, the cost of shoes will drop. If you add a doctor, the cost of service goes up--one becomes a specialist. Plus, there is the very difficult conflict between what doctors want to do (and what patients need) and limitations on budgets and resources. Doctors may say of a patient "this guy needs a transplant" but it may cost too much if everyone who needs one gets one. What do you do then? Answer: Rationing. Canada does it. But so do we: we ration out services to those who can pay. (For what it's worth, we pay on the back-end, as people as a last resort go to public emergency rooms, after a preventable condition becomes serious.) Somethings gotta give.

It's a very tough situation--there's no obvious answer. Most economists would say you need a single-payer system, in some fashion, to pool the money, spread the costs, and subsidize those who need it. But why would the rich opt in? So it's got to be "socialized" in some sense. One factor that is moving things in this direction (MAYBE) is the need for American business to avoid the massive health-care costs of their pensions. but maybe they'll just dump everyone--go bankrupt and drop the retired workers. That, of course, might cause a rebellion of sorts, and push the single-payer approach through.

Two big interests are opposed to change: one, obviously, the insurance companies, who right now are raking it in--so much of those costs are "administrative" as well--nothing to do with care. The other is doctors: do they really want to be paid like the schlubs in England and Canada on National Health? No way--they need those big bucks to flow to pay for the life-style they've come to expect (and to cover liability insurance--another issue). The insurance and doctor's lobbies are very powerful in Congress--you don't get re-elected without their money, often. See how they smacked down Hilary last time! (They had some help from the republicans, no doubt!)

Hilary is out front on this issue--she has a plan of some sort, and that's better than most who just talk the talk. But that makes her a target--you'll hear lots of "socialized medicine" talk this election, aimed at her. Check who paid for the add--probably someone called "Americans for Health" or something,which is a PAC for the insurers and lawyers. (Maybe they wrote that Canada email? )

I hope that some decent debate does come of it, but Hillary is such a lightning rod that it may get lost in the mudslinging. One way or another, somethings gotta give.
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Old 10-24-2007, 02:51 AM   #47
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Re: Canadian Healthcare from a Canadian...

Wow--that was long. Sorry! Procrastinating again from work.
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Old 10-24-2007, 08:44 AM   #48
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Wow--that was long. Sorry! Procrastinating again from work.
Don't apologize, JDub, nice post. Pretty solid analysis.

I do disagree with one point. Health insurers aren't really raking it in. Their margins are not big when compared to companies in other industries. Their administrative expenses are necessary to handle all the red tape that comes with the healthcare industry. Medical charts, billing, deciphering medical coding, managing reimbursement rates, case management; these jobs are all absolutely necessary just to work through the system.

Medicine's complicated. It does take a lot of brains to work through it all.
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Old 10-24-2007, 02:25 PM   #49
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Re: Canadian Healthcare from a Canadian...

I agree with you both, Schneed and Firstdown--these are serious problems that moving to single-payer system would create. On the administrative issues, however, there is some savings to be made by somehow streamlining billing and such into a single, standard format, as opposed to many competing formats. But you then often lose information--like in the English system, at least as it's sometimes represented.

As for Docs wanting lots of money--given the enormous amount of schooling, the incredible need for their services, and the importance of what they do, they should be well-compensated, no doubt. And in places where they are not, you get doctor shortages--a real worry. So it's gonna cost to keep our quality up. We need to find a balance, and (this is part of the problem), we are going to need to RAISE TAXES to pay for this sort of thing. No free lunch. I'm for taxing the top-teir and cutting things like corporate tax breaks and subsidies (especially on farming--that's just a payout to ADM and other HUGE argi-businesses, not mom and pop farmers, if there are any left!). But that is political trouble.

I agree: Medicine is complicated, and not just for doctors!
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Old 10-24-2007, 03:09 PM   #50
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Re: Canadian Healthcare from a Canadian...

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We need to find a balance, and (this is part of the problem), we are going to need to RAISE TAXES to pay for this sort of thing. No free lunch. I'm for taxing the top-teir and cutting things like corporate tax breaks and subsidies (especially on farming--that's just a payout to ADM and other HUGE argi-businesses, not mom and pop farmers, if there are any left!). But that is political trouble.
I agree with much of your analysis. Where I take issue is with raising taxes.

For sure I believe that something like this should be paid with taxes but our government already takes a ridiculous amount of our money for so many things that they run very poorly. I'd love to see the taxes I ALREADY pay be used for this.

The answer is not always raising taxes. When are we going to straighten up as a country and tell our politicians to spend our money more wisely rather than just taking more to pay for things that need to be paid for?
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Old 10-24-2007, 03:19 PM   #51
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Re: Canadian Healthcare from a Canadian...

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I agree with much of your analysis. Where I take issue is with raising taxes.

For sure I believe that something like this should be paid with taxes but our government already takes a ridiculous amount of our money for so many things that they run very poorly. I'd love to see the taxes I ALREADY pay be used for this.

The answer is not always raising taxes. When are we going to straighten up as a country and tell our politicians to spend our money more wisely rather than just taking more to pay for things that need to be paid for?

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Old 10-24-2007, 08:20 PM   #52
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Re: Canadian Healthcare from a Canadian...

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That doesn't answer the fundamental question. Why is healthcare a right?

I've never heard someone come up with a logical answer. The only response is emotional in nature; something along the lines of because in this day in age, we just should. It's just wrong not to.

If that's the way people feel, let me ask you this: is it fair for us Americans to provide universal healthcare, in which some of you may be the recipient of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of chemotherapy or surgical care, while people in Africa are starving to death? Isn't food a more immediate need than healthcare? Without food, you die in weeks. Why are we more deserving of healthcare than they're deserving of food? Because we're Americans??

No. None of it is a right. It's all a privelege. It's a privelege to live in the United States of America, where you have ample opportunity to earn enough money to put a roof over your head, give you clean drinking water, pay for your food, and pay for your healthcare. Do it your damn self, and stop whining about having it tough.

Amen to that.

My line of work (street cop) obviously dictates that I interact with a number of poor people, ranging from the homeless, people in government subsidized housing (projects) to just your run-of-the-mill poor people living in trailers or run down houses.

The interesting thing that I've noticed, to an almost overwhelming degree, is that alot of this poverty is quite honestly a choice. How do I know it's a choice? The sheer number of big screen TVs, satellite dishes and other expensive toys that you find in the projects, in low-income neigborhoods, etc. Some of the shittiest houses I've been in have huge flat screen TVs, and the number of DirecTV and DISH Network dishes hanging on the side of tax-payer subsidized housing it's just apalling.

I don't make much money as a cop, and consequently I rent an apartment and I don't even have cable TV. I made the choice to pay my bills, pay my taxes and support my wife and daughter rather than let some other hard working tax payer pick up the slack or go into debt so I can afford a luxury item.

Now I'm not arguing that 100% of the poor choose to be that way, absolutely not. I'm certain that there are people who because of circumstance simply can't get on their feet. I will say that in my experience those people are VERY few and far between.

In my interaction with the homeless I always ask them two questions: 1) Do you have a job? 2) Why not? The answer to the first is, obviously, always "no." The answer to the second is quite often "I don't want to work." They'll flat out tell you most of the time that they just don't want to work. The others will claim it's a disability of some sort.

Bringing this back to healthcare, I personally have a really hard time coughing up more of my hard earned dollars to fund healthcare for people who choose to sit on their ass and watch TV all day long while someone else pays for their needs.

I'm all for helping those who are willing to do a bit for themselves. I think a lot of people, with probably very good intentions, want universal, tax-payer funded healthcare because they're out of touch with the world. I have personally walked the projects, walked the shithole neighborhoods, talked to these people on a daily basis. I suppose all of this can be dismissed as purely anecdotal, but I put a lot more stock in my personal experiences than pure conjecture from an ivory tower. I honestly think sometimes that the people proposing half this stuff must hop in their nice car every day, drive to the office and probably don't have a clue as to what actually goes on out on the street. I don't begrudge that comfortable lifestyle one bit, but let's not pretend that they have any real feel for how most poor people really are. It's not bad intentions, just ignorance.
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Old 10-24-2007, 08:20 PM   #53
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Re: Canadian Healthcare from a Canadian...

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Originally Posted by FRPLG View Post
I agree with much of your analysis. Where I take issue is with raising taxes.

For sure I believe that something like this should be paid with taxes but our government already takes a ridiculous amount of our money for so many things that they run very poorly. I'd love to see the taxes I ALREADY pay be used for this.

The answer is not always raising taxes. When are we going to straighten up as a country and tell our politicians to spend our money more wisely rather than just taking more to pay for things that need to be paid for?
Yeah--no doubt there's tons of pork in the budget already--it's frightening to think about. I'm all for using that, but it would require congress to do something they do not usually do--take money from their pet re-election projects and use it for something for everyone.
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Old 10-24-2007, 08:25 PM   #54
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Amen to that.

My line of work (street cop) obviously dictates that I interact with a number of poor people, ranging from the homeless, people in government subsidized housing (projects) to just your run-of-the-mill poor people living in trailers or run down houses.

The interesting thing that I've noticed, to an almost overwhelming degree, is that alot of this poverty is quite honestly a choice. How do I know it's a choice? The sheer number of big screen TVs, satellite dishes and other expensive toys that you find in the projects, in low-income neigborhoods, etc. Some of the shittiest houses I've been in have huge flat screen TVs, and the number of DirecTV and DISH Network dishes hanging on the side of tax-payer subsidized housing it's just apalling.

I don't make much money as a cop, and consequently I rent an apartment and I don't even have cable TV. I made the choice to pay my bills, pay my taxes and support my wife and daughter rather than let some other hard working tax payer pick up the slack or go into debt so I can afford a luxury item.

Now I'm not arguing that 100% of the poor choose to be that way, absolutely not. I'm certain that there are people who because of circumstance simply can't get on their feet. I will say that in my experience those people are VERY few and far between.

In my interaction with the homeless I always ask them two questions: 1) Do you have a job? 2) Why not? The answer to the first is, obviously, always "no." The answer to the second is quite often "I don't want to work." They'll flat out tell you most of the time that they just don't want to work. The others will claim it's a disability of some sort.

Bringing this back to healthcare, I personally have a really hard time coughing up more of my hard earned dollars to fund healthcare for people who choose to sit on their ass and watch TV all day long while someone else pays for their needs.

I'm all for helping those who are willing to do a bit for themselves. I think a lot of people, with probably very good intentions, want universal, tax-payer funded healthcare because they're out of touch with the world. I have personally walked the projects, walked the shithole neighborhoods, talked to these people on a daily basis. I suppose all of this can be dismissed as purely anecdotal, but I put a lot more stock in my personal experiences than pure conjecture from an ivory tower. I honestly think sometimes that the people proposing half this stuff must hop in their nice car every day, drive to the office and probably don't have a clue as to what actually goes on out on the street. I don't begrudge that comfortable lifestyle one bit, but let's not pretend that they have any real feel for how most poor people really are. It's not bad intentions, just ignorance.
It's true for some, no doubt--I lived in NYC for 20 years, so I've seen lots of crap there too. But not everyone is like this, and it's not their kids' fault that their parents are doing this--so I think we need to find a way to insure them.

Also, don't think you don't pay for this stuff already--when those people you speak of do get sick, they go the emergency rooms of big, public hospitals. You know who pays for that? We do. One thing to do is find a way to get some preventative medicine going, so people don't wind up in the system when they're already sick and it costs a ton more. Because, as I said, we're already paying for it.
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Old 10-24-2007, 08:30 PM   #55
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Re: Canadian Healthcare from a Canadian...

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It's true for some, no doubt--I lived in NYC for 20 years, so I've seen lots of crap there too. But not everyone is like this, and it's not their kids' fault that their parents are doing this--so I think we need to find a way to insure them.

Also, don't think you don't pay for this stuff already--when those people you speak of do get sick, they go the emergency rooms of big, public hospitals. You know who pays for that? We do. One thing to do is find a way to get some preventative medicine going, so people don't wind up in the system when they're already sick and it costs a ton more. Because, as I said, we're already paying for it.
Oh, I know we already pay for it bigtime. We pay for every lousy drunk I put in jail too. I guess it's the price of "law and order."

The kids are a really sad aspect of this entire thing - breaks my heart some days when I have to see them. It seems like by the age of about 12-14 most of them already don't give a crap and are just fine following in their parent's footsteps. They also are almost beyond intervention or help at that age - not without exception, but I'd argue as a general rule.

The worst part of all of this is watching so many of these screwed up druggies, homeless, poor, whatever the class may be - and they're all having kids. Watching some uneducated, illiterate, strunk out crackhead carrying around a baby is about the worst sight you'll see.
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Old 10-24-2007, 10:57 PM   #56
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Re: Canadian Healthcare from a Canadian...

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Originally Posted by mheisig View Post
Amen to that.

My line of work (street cop) obviously dictates that I interact with a number of poor people, ranging from the homeless, people in government subsidized housing (projects) to just your run-of-the-mill poor people living in trailers or run down houses.

The interesting thing that I've noticed, to an almost overwhelming degree, is that alot of this poverty is quite honestly a choice. How do I know it's a choice? The sheer number of big screen TVs, satellite dishes and other expensive toys that you find in the projects, in low-income neigborhoods, etc. Some of the shittiest houses I've been in have huge flat screen TVs, and the number of DirecTV and DISH Network dishes hanging on the side of tax-payer subsidized housing it's just apalling.

I don't make much money as a cop, and consequently I rent an apartment and I don't even have cable TV. I made the choice to pay my bills, pay my taxes and support my wife and daughter rather than let some other hard working tax payer pick up the slack or go into debt so I can afford a luxury item.

Now I'm not arguing that 100% of the poor choose to be that way, absolutely not. I'm certain that there are people who because of circumstance simply can't get on their feet. I will say that in my experience those people are VERY few and far between.

In my interaction with the homeless I always ask them two questions: 1) Do you have a job? 2) Why not? The answer to the first is, obviously, always "no." The answer to the second is quite often "I don't want to work." They'll flat out tell you most of the time that they just don't want to work. The others will claim it's a disability of some sort.

Bringing this back to healthcare, I personally have a really hard time coughing up more of my hard earned dollars to fund healthcare for people who choose to sit on their ass and watch TV all day long while someone else pays for their needs.

I'm all for helping those who are willing to do a bit for themselves. I think a lot of people, with probably very good intentions, want universal, tax-payer funded healthcare because they're out of touch with the world. I have personally walked the projects, walked the shithole neighborhoods, talked to these people on a daily basis. I suppose all of this can be dismissed as purely anecdotal, but I put a lot more stock in my personal experiences than pure conjecture from an ivory tower. I honestly think sometimes that the people proposing half this stuff must hop in their nice car every day, drive to the office and probably don't have a clue as to what actually goes on out on the street. I don't begrudge that comfortable lifestyle one bit, but let's not pretend that they have any real feel for how most poor people really are. It's not bad intentions, just ignorance.
You are conflating the destitute with the uninsured which is a big mistake. The fact that some irresponsible poor people waste money on luxury items has nothing to do with the failures of health care in this country.
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Old 10-24-2007, 11:13 PM   #57
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You are conflating the destitute with the uninsured which is a big mistake. The fact that some irresponsible poor people waste money on luxury items has nothing to do with the failures of health care in this country.
I'm not mixing the two - a substantial number of the uninsured ARE destitute. I simply said that in my experience, MANY of the poor people waste money on luxury items.

If you're too poor to afford health insurance but you can manage to get a $2500 TV and $100/month for satellite TV, something seems awry. It's not the cause of the "failed" health insurance, but it's one hell of an argument against socialized medicine for the poor, funded by the tax payers.
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Old 10-25-2007, 01:44 AM   #58
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Re: Canadian Healthcare from a Canadian...

A couple of relevant points:

1.)

One of my teachers once told me, "everything any person does is their first choice." This means that people do what they want to do, and they never settle for less.

Take for example the homeless: they are homeless because they are jobless, and they are jobless because they want to be (assuming there are jobs to be had). So, if there are jobs to be had, and somebody is jobless, it's because they'd rather deal with the consequences of being jobless, than deal with the consequences of having a job. They prefer the stress of not having a job over the stress of having one. Therefore, being jobless is their first choice. I think this applies to almost every decision anybody makes.

2.)

I took an Ethics class in college, and I had to give a presentation about Human Rights. I had prepared well, and I was ready to talk about rights which all humans are entitled to. During my presentation I became aware that many people disagreed about what rights are universal and inalienable. So, I threw my presentation out the window and decided to just make a list with the class of universal inalienable rights. Sadly, nobody could agree on a SINGLE one! The class decided there are no Human Rights. They couldn't even agree that the right to live should be universal and inalienable! They kept saying that a murderer doesn't deserve to live, so therefore life itself is not inalienable. It was a sad day for me, because I realized how little people respect other humans. I seriously wanted to cry. I was so disappointed.
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Old 10-25-2007, 02:07 AM   #59
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Re: Canadian Healthcare from a Canadian...

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A couple of relevant points:

2.)

I took an Ethics class in college, and I had to give a presentation about Human Rights. I had prepared well, and I was ready to talk about rights which all humans are entitled to. During my presentation I became aware that many people disagreed about what rights are universal and inalienable. So, I threw my presentation out the window and decided to just make a list with the class of universal inalienable rights. Sadly, nobody could agree on a SINGLE one! The class decided there are no Human Rights. They couldn't even agree that the right to live should be universal and inalienable! They kept saying that a murderer doesn't deserve to live, so therefore life itself is not inalienable. It was a sad day for me, because I realized how little people respect other humans. I seriously wanted to cry. I was so disappointed.
I agree that it's hard to agree on the rights people have, and how to justify those rights. But even if there are rights, you can forfeit your rights in some situations. A murderer, by their choice, forfeits their rights. That may not entail the death penalty--that's a question of appropriate punishment--but it might. With rights come responsibilities. If you don't fulfill those responsibilities, you can lose your rights.

About which rights are basic--as the Declaration of Independence says, "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness." That works for me. From there it's a matter of debate, though I'm partial to much of the Bill of Rights. But there's no easy answers in these things--don't get discouraged!
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Old 10-25-2007, 02:45 AM   #60
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Re: Canadian Healthcare from a Canadian...

A billionaire is a person who has more than one billion US dollars. But in order to be on the American business and financial magazine Forbes' annual list of the world's billionaires, a billionaire not only has to make a billion dollars but also maintain it.

Over time, the number of billionaires in the world has been steadily increasing. In the United States, this number had increased from a couple to a couple hundred in just twenty years or so. Worldwide, this number had increased by a couple hundred in just a few years. There are billionaires from approximately 47 countries in the world. Now, the United States has the most number of billionaires, followed by Asia, Europe, and Latin America. These billionaires are usually people, or tycoons, from big businesses and industries such as technology, steel, gas, retail, and finance like Microsoft's William Gates who has held 1st place in Forbes' annual list of the world's billionaires 11 years in a row. Some people inherit a large fortune from their family like the Waltons from the death of Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart.

In 2005, the 691 billionaires in the world is approximately 0.00001% of the world population. The total net worth of these 691 billionaires is $2.2 trillion, which increased from last year's $300 billion, and is approximately 21% of the United States' GDP. In the future, this trend of increasing numbers of billionaires and increasing wealth of these billionaires will continue through advanced technology and communications.

Michelle Lee -- 2005

Number of Billionaires


Fucked up when you think about it. less than 1 percent of the population has most of the money. More than they will ever need in 10 life times.

It is cool to make something of yourself and be rich, don't get me wrong. But damn, how much is enough? When do you reach out to your fellow man and pitch in when he is struggling? Starvation and Health care issues could be entirely eliminated if the less than 1% would part ways with a portion of their Kingdom for the greater good. It was the way of the Aristocrat to believe that he was entitled to his wealth, but he had a responsibility to man kind as a rich man (Great power=Great responsibility). That responsibility flew out the window a century ago. They cannot take it with them, but they can sure as hell change the world and live on forever.

I once observed a rations drop in a 3rd world country where all of the able bodied men rushed in and gathered more of the food than they needed. Meanwhile, they prevented the women and children from getting anywhere near the food until they (the men) had grabbed more than they can use. Once the women and children were able to gather their own rations there was not nearly enough left, but there would have been if it wasn't for the greed of the men. This was the behavior of animals, I thought that our superior intelligence was supposed to separate us from them, but apparently it does not when overwhelmed with greed.

Once again this is not a shot at all of the rich, nor do I think that it is a bad thing to be rich. I also do not think that we should adopt socialism. I am saying that to have an abundance is good, but to have too much deprives the majority.
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