The Fourteenth Banker Blog

May 8, 2010

So who cares?

Filed under: Uncategorized — thefourteenthbanker @ 1:31 PM

Please post a reply if you care about the issues we discuss on this blog.  Brown Kaufman is dead.  Read this critique.   The legislative battle stumbles on.

I call on the readers of this blog post their true feelings on the process, the power of the lobbyist, the big sell out, your concerns for the future and most importantly, for our fellow citizens.  It is concern for our fellow citizens that is most powerful.  Is the well being of the citizens not the function of government?

I can very easily assemble your comments without any identifying information, put them in a Word file, and get them to one of the most involved and principled Congressmen for distribution.  Other media may cover as well.  It is a chance for your voices to be heard without getting lost in all the general emails that hit Congressional inboxes.  99.8% of readers do not post comments. Please post this weekend.  Do not fear for your privacy.   Put a fake email address if you want.

Share this with your friends.      Let’s send a message to Washington.

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22 Comments »

  1. The TBTF banks are sucking the life out of the rest of the economy. Unemployment numbers are devastating, capital for main street is nearly impossible to find, but thousands of bank employees are earning $1MM plus while doing nothing that creates value. Congress is their lap dog. Nothing that comes out of Washington either works or benefits Main Street. NOTHING.

    Comment by Agricola — May 8, 2010 @ 4:37 PM | Reply

  2. Hell, I just lost my entire post, and will have to reconstruct it.
    How do I feel? Betrayed. Disgusted, sad, furious.
    I knew when Glass-Steagle was repealed, we were headed down a slippery slope. I live in NC, and as I recall, Nations Bank and First Union were ramping up the pissing contest between Hugh McColl and Ed Crutchfield and were both hell-bent on growing into every nook and cranny of finance they could. Living in NC, I have seen how pro-financial industry the state Dems are (while the state Republicans traditionally backed Big Tobacco and agriculture).
    When I read Kevin Phillips’ “Wealth and Democracy” I should have taken more heed. It was certainly another wake up call as to where we were headed.
    I was so outraged by the Bush administration’s shenanigans that it kept me from seeing how thoroughly the rot had eaten away our entire government. If, as Hammurabi said, the purpose of government is to protect the powerless from the powerful, then we have turned the entire system on its head. A very wise early blogger (in the 90’s) used the term “corporate feudalism” on his site. I think that sums it up, as to where we are.
    I am glad I have less of my life ahead of me than behind me. I wouldn’t want to be 30 again in this world.

    Comment by Sandi — May 8, 2010 @ 6:48 PM | Reply

    • Losing my original post got me off-track, but I’ve regathered my thoughts:

      Matt Taibbi is dead on.

      I can live without legislation that merely limits bank size. The two main issues here for me are allowing investment banks and trading firms to gamble, even with their own money, but be expected to be bailed out by me when the inevitable bad bet falls. The other non-starter for me is continuing to prevent transparency in the most “innovative” derivatives. Bottom line, I am opposed to any and all legal shenanigans that allow the too-clever-by-half bunch to wheel and deal as if it’s all just a big game (which I believe it truly is to many of them), with no real life and death consequences to people out here on Main Street.
      I am tired of the tail wagging the dog. If we want capitalism to do its job, we can’t let it run amuck just so a few gonzos can make themselves obscenely rich. We need to bring ethics back into the equation, and the only way to do that, that I can see, (since we can’t put them in the stocks in the public square anymore to shame them; and besides they have no shame), is to make them fail if they cause the rest of us pain and suffering. No more, “heads they win, tails we lose”. So, I guess the third thing I would want to see is to rein in the outrageous use of leverage.
      As long as we maintain the campaign financing system we have (and the Supremes made worse), the only constraint I can see on politicians is term limits. There are two kinds of people who run for office – the craven, power and wealth hungry kind, and the do-gooders. The do-gooders go inside the Beltline and one of two things happens: they drink the Kool-aid or they get so disgusted and disheartened they go home. Neither outcome serves the people. I have seen good men and women with real heart and good ideas get beaten back by the machine. There was a standup comic in the 1960’s, named Brother Dave Gardener, who did a riff in the early ‘60s about why a man would spend $50,000 (ah, the innocent years) of his own money to get elected to a job that paid $75,000 a year (or whatever it was then). Point being, of course, that he fully expected to have his expenditure multiplied many-fold and returned to his coffers through graft.

      Comment by Sandi — May 8, 2010 @ 10:14 PM | Reply

  3. Please do continue!

    Comment by K — May 8, 2010 @ 7:59 PM | Reply

  4. First, I just want to say it’s a shame more people don’t comment on this blog, myself included. I, for one, appreciate the time you take to write these each day.

    A while ago there was Enron, which brought forth SOX, which in turn was supposed to prevent any major financial catastrophe in the future. Yet somehow things like the liquidity crisis of 2008 and Bernie Madoff still slipped through the cracks. Since then, other changes have been implemented, such as the SAFE Act, yet we still sit here today with opaque accounting and never really move forward. Whether this bill passes or not, things really remain unchanged.

    As a wise man once told me “the system is built to be gamed.” And sadly I don’t think any financial reform changes that. What we really need is people to just smarten up and not accept things at face value. I guess real estate defaults ultimately got us into this mess. Now we are supposedly better off than we were a year ago because every schmuck that never deserved a mortgage got a modification and now mortgage is no longer in default. Yet the real problem wasn’t solved- the schmuck still has a mortgage that he/she can’t afford and will default again before the 30-40 year note matures.

    I realize it doesn’t do any good to just be negative and “do nothing.” Mr. Fourteenth Banker, I would really like to hear which issues you think MUST be addressed in reform, and if addressed would prevent most financial catastrophes from happening.

    Comment by 15th Banker — May 8, 2010 @ 8:57 PM | Reply

  5. i worry about how i will survive another 30 years on so in this country without retirement funds or health care. it does not seem possible to me. i worry more about my children and their futures. i have said for years that this democracy is fading but i did not think that i would see the fall of this country in my lifetime. now, i feel certain that it is only a few years away. i made it a point to teach my teen children to have a global perspective and understand that they should seriously consider living in another country as adults. they are well educated, at least, and bi-lingual, but this simply may not be enough to propel them into the future.

    Comment by victoriap — May 8, 2010 @ 9:42 PM | Reply

  6. I was hot for Obama. Maybe he’d get us out of Bush’s “War on Terror,” which everybody with any knowledge of history knew was a sure fiasco before he got it going. Then he talked vaguely of getting us out of Iraq in 2011, but the generals made it clear that won’t happen, and he sent more troops to Afghanistan, which is stupidity squared. Think how much better off we’d be without those albatrosses around our necks–“Trillion Dollar War” was an understatement

    He appointed Larry Summers and Geitner to take care of the financial crisis–let the foxes run the henhouse. His people love tests in the school system and charter schools, when we used to have decent public schools.

    I can’t think of anything that’s going right. I can see why the Tea Party people want to rebel, but they have no idea what’s wrong or how to fix it. Unless we get rid of the oligarchs, the country is going to hell.

    Our fellow citizens? Bernie Sanders seems to care about them. Where do I go to vote Socialist?

    Comment by Carterj98 — May 8, 2010 @ 9:57 PM | Reply

  7. The financial system is very complex and I believe that Congress has not taken adequate time to understand it or what caused the crisis.

    For example the hearings of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission this week on the “shadow banking system” are integral to understanding and reforming.

    Today Senator Robert Bennett of Utah was denied a renomination in his state at the Utah Republican convention.

    “Main Street” people have had enough of their public officials who protect “Wall Street”. And more members of Congress will suffer Bob Bennett’s fate.

    Congress must act to rein in the powerful interests of Wall Street.

    And the heart of the financial system is the Federal Reserve, a private institution.

    Reform begins by auditing the Federal Reserve.

    All of our nations wealth passes through the Federal Reserve but we have no idea if our wealth is being prudently managed.

    After AIG and Lehman we have to know more.

    Wall Street is healthy and Main Street is suffering.

    More light needed and more accountability.

    Rein in the megabanks and AUDIT THE FED.

    Comment by Cate — May 8, 2010 @ 11:47 PM | Reply

  8. My husband and I are facing the fact that our retirement funds will not be enough for us to retire on when we thought we could. I’m sure even after we close our business down, my husband will still be working part time to supplement our income. But as long as we can stay healthy, what the hell. I also keep telling our 16 year old son, that education is but one key, he has to be able to adapt to a new way. No longer guarantees that a college diploma is going to get you a job. He is learning to run heavy equipment, farm equipment, and will get his CDL driving license when old enough. He needs to be versatile in his abilities, so he can travel and be able to support himself in one way or another. We have done business with some very high end clients, and it is painfully obvious that there is a clear class distinction in this country and that the game is rigged for the top money makers.

    Comment by karen — May 9, 2010 @ 1:42 AM | Reply

  9. Just FYI – I have not posted a few of the comments that appear to have the full name or a picture. This is for your privacy. I do plan to summarize/publish all the comments and send them on to Congress no later than Monday night. This policy is for this post only since I indicated that I would protect identities and I don’t want to inadvertently put something on the internet that you intended only for an anonymous compilation.

    I hope all are having a great weekend and Happy Mother’s Day tomorrow to all mothers!

    Comment by thefourteenthbanker — May 9, 2010 @ 3:02 AM | Reply

    • Thank you, 14, for providing this forum, and for taking the initiative to collect and send our comments to congress. To be honest, I don’t expect it to change any minds. I agree with Agricola and Karen, that the game is rigged – maybe it has always been, and I just didn’t see it. It is true, however, that the degree of income disparity has grown in my lifetime, and with it, the class divide. So much for our wonderful meritocracy! As Karen said, I, too, have had occasion to work with very high income folks, then and now, and now is decidedly different. In the 60’s I worked at a very exclusive resort, and we had a few folks who threw their weight around, but many were “just plain folks” and you’d never know they could have bought and sold the place. To me, THAT’S class.
      I still blame the Reagan years – just looking back at what people watched on TV tells it all -“Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” – everyone aspiring to “get rich”. But the thing was, they weren’t looking to make it big to do any good things with their wealth – they wanted the glitz and the glamor and the status. So, just so you know, I’m not “down on rich folks” – hell, I like money, too, I just don’t think one should screw people over to get wealth.
      One final point – I am an early baby boomer, and I have truly come to believe that my generation had the “golden years” of the American experiment. We had just come out of WWII, we had no industrial competition, we had a generation of men and women who had survived the Great Depression and fought a horrific war, and were now ready to start life anew. The GI Bill, cheap energy, a strong labor movement, a “can-do” attitude (right on, Karen), all combined to release some of the highest innovation, productivity, and broadly based good wages ever. My generation (thanks, Dad and Mom) were the lucky recipients of that positive “perfect storm”. But that was then, and this is now. Now innovation has been turned against us, the labor movement is on life support, the “we’re all in this together” attitude is gone and it’s “every man for himself and God for us all!”.
      I weep for my country, for what it was, and is no longer.

      Comment by Sandi — May 9, 2010 @ 12:31 PM | Reply

    • thank you very kindly for the effort and the contribution you are making.

      you may pass this message along to whomever you may have contact with — obama is the worst president in the history of the united states, with the possible exceptions of reagan, clinton, and both bushes; he is making dramatic progress in catching up with them in an impressively short amount of time. as to the congress … they make obama, reagan, clinton and both bushes look almost useful in comparison.

      thank you very kindly.

      Comment by michael — May 9, 2010 @ 4:38 PM | Reply

  10. This is no longer a Dem/Repub issue. It’s the people vs. the corporatists, of which the Dems and Repubs are equally captive of their masters, the corporations. Great that some congressperson will see these comments. However, I believe congress knows how people feel, they just don’t care, that there’s huge unemployment and underunemployment, that wages haven’t increased in 30 years, that too many people don’t have health care and aren’t going to get any unless they pay for their mandated private insurance with high deductibles and co-pays while the medical industrial complex makes billions in profits, that the banksters have captured 40% of the economy while doing nothing for the economy — and the economy is the well-being of the populations, not the stockmarket, that the Fed’s mandate is to see to full employment but it chooses not to in order to give corporations more profit, etc. And the current President is the biggest corporatist of them all. We must have publicly funded elections and take away the incentives for congress and the executive branch to legislative for their own gain, not the well being of the population. I love this blog! Thank you for doing it.

    Comment by Kim — May 9, 2010 @ 5:35 AM | Reply

  11. Hello Fourtenth,

    I generally don’t post on blogs, but I will also make an exception.

    The root of our problems lies in our debt based monetary system, which is controlled by private banks, which by it’s very design threw the compounding and exponential growth functions was always meant to fail. This system has corrupted our political system at all levels of government not just the Federal level. Our economy is debt saturated, the same situation the Japanese found themselves in over 20 years ago.

    ‘The few who understand the system, will either be so interested from it’s profits or so dependent on it’s favors, that there will be no opposition from that class.’
    -Rothschild Brothers of London, 1863

    Most people in this country do not have a clue as to how our monetary system functions or as Henry Ford put it,

    “It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.”

    The people of this country also fail to realize they live in the greatest empire the world has ever known, this took place as a result of WW11 when the US was the only country which still had a manufacturing base and every other one was in debt due to the war. This also gave our fiat dollar the world reserve currency status and as a result of Nixon severing any ties of the dollar to gold to pay for the Vietnam war has been fiat backed only by debt since August 15th 1971.

    Our country has gone from a beacon of freedom to a military imperialist aggressor over the last 50 years, our whole way of life is dependent on our military ensuring the flow of oil and our reserve fiat dollars keeping it cost low. The global population explosion over the last 100 years has now reached peak oil per capita. Those in Washington are not naive to these facts.

    “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters ( or banks and corporations) discover that they can vote ( buy) themselves largesse (generous gifts) from the public treasury. From that moment on the majority always votes ( Buys) for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy (which is) always followed by a dictatorship.”

    “The average age of the world’s greatest civilization has been two hundred years. These nations have progressed through this sequence. From bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance, from abundance to complacency; from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, from dependence back into bondage.”

    Alexander Tyler circa 1787 re the
    fall of the Athenian Republic.

    The question is do we have the time and do our leaders have the moral fortitude and ethics to do the right thing.

    There are anwswers to our problems, many are outlined here.
    http://www.swarmusa.com/vb4/content.php/125-Welcome

    Comment by Kevin — May 9, 2010 @ 4:31 PM | Reply

  12. congress affords itself and affirms their ‘right’ to trade stocks on material, non-public information; the very same invitation that garnered martha stewart time as a guest of the federal gov’t.

    congress investigates its own members for ethics violations and repeatedly finds that the outright bribery of the friends of angelo, and others, is no big deal.

    congress exempts itself from do-not-call lists; its important to ‘protect’ us from harassing phone calls whilst we’re sitting down to dinner but not so important as to shield us from their lies and innuendo.

    congress supports and extends gerrymandering making sure that districts are drawn in such a way as to lock in their ability to continually belly-up to the trough.

    congress fights tooth and nail to prevent anything that might tip any balance from being in their favor … like real campaign finance reform or actual accountability at the federal reserve for what they are doing with their money. for, lets face it, its not ‘our’ money, its theirs; they just let us borrow it [with very easy and fair financing terms of course] every now and then to transfer more wealth to the corporatocracy and banksters.

    congress upholds and affirms retroactive immunity for telecom companies which are flagrantly violating american’s rights to privacy and against unreasonable searches at the behest of the administration; esp since, as obushma is fond of saying, we don’t need to be looking backwards.

    the AG of the USA is willing to go on national television and repeatedly state that he isn’t above suppressing the rights of american citizens. rights are those things which formerly, as conceived by the founding fathers, were things that couldn’t be taken away; they’re rights, not privileges … until the king declares otherwise.

    congressional members stand up and express their unmitigated outrage over the behavior of the banks and yet votes decisively to extend their too-bigger-to-fail business model.

    congress refuses to protect our borders or hold businesses accountable for depressing wages and abusing illegal immigrants. after all, illegals are afraid to complain TOO much for fear of [albeit unlikely] imprisonment or deportation. they don’t want their family-owned businesses to be held accountable or to suffer the loss of their pool of slave-labor. given the congresses and administrations willingness to ignore constitutional protections and the rights of american citizens, we should look to the treatment of those very same illegal immigrants as harbingers of our own collective future.

    the list goes on and on and on and we’re all painfully aware of its extent. for the last thirty years congress has been willfully and eagerly reshaping finance to the advantage of the corporations and the banks, prosecuting their class warfare and engaging in wealth extraction from the rest of us totally for the benefit of the few at the top. what is our response?

    we ask, “did you see that guy get made fun of last week on american-idolatry?”

    we ask, “did you see that gal’s tit almost pop out last night on dancing-with-the-washed-up-stars?”

    as the saying goes, people get the government that they deserve. if there is any truth to that then as people go we’re much much worse than even i give us credit for … credit on easy terms of course.

    Comment by michael — May 9, 2010 @ 4:33 PM | Reply

  13. Hello Fourtenth,

    I generally don’t post on blogs, but I will also make an exception.

    The root of our problems lies in our debt based monetary system, which is controlled by private banks, which by it’s very design threw the compounding and exponential growth functions was always meant to fail. This system has corrupted our political system at all levels of government not just the Federal level. Our economy is debt saturated, the same situation the Japanese found themselves in over 20 years ago.

    ‘The few who understand the system, will either be so interested from it’s profits or so dependent on it’s favors, that there will be no opposition from that class.’
    -Rothschild Brothers of London, 1863

    Most people in this country do not have a clue as to how our monetary system functions or as Henry Ford put it,

    “It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.”

    The people of this country also fail to realize they live in the greatest empire the world has ever known, this took place as a result of WW11 when the US was the only country which still had a manufacturing base and every other one was in debt due to the war. This also gave our now fiat dollar the world reserve currency status and as a result of Nixon severing any ties of the dollar to gold to pay for the Vietnam war has been fiat backed only by debt since August 15th 1971.

    Our country has gone from a beacon of freedom to a military imperialist aggressor over the last 50 years, our whole way of life is dependent on our military ensuring the flow of oil and our reserve fiat dollars keeping it cost low. The global population explosion over the last 100 years has now reached peak oil per capita. Those in Washington are not naive to these facts.

    “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters ( or banks and corporations) discover that they can vote ( buy) themselves largesse (generous gifts) from the public treasury. From that moment on the majority always votes ( Buys) for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy (which is) always followed by a dictatorship.”

    “The average age of the world’s greatest civilization has been two hundred years. These nations have progressed through this sequence. From bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance, from abundance to complacency; from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, from dependence back into bondage.”

    Alexander Tyler circa 1787 re the
    fall of the Athenian Republic.

    The question is do we have the time and do our leaders have the moral fortitude and ethics to do the right thing.

    There are anwswers to our problems, many are outlined here.
    http://www.swarmusa.com/vb4/content.php/125-Welcome

    Comment by Kevin — May 9, 2010 @ 4:36 PM | Reply

    • I read this site because I expected it to be a resource for anonymous insider whistleblowing. Instead it ends up being liberal views taken to an extremist level. Quotes like, “Our country has gone from a beacon of freedom to a military imperialist aggressor over the last 50 years” and “The average age of the world’s greatest civilization has been two hundred years” are why I don’t normally post. I generally consider myself pretty far to the left but many of the comments here are just plain crazy.

      Corrupt politics has endured the entire history of man yet somehow we manage to survive. Democracy is an ugly, ugly thing but is a reasonable compromise for a nation built upon compromise. Why don’t we take the current reform debate and place it in the context of American history? Moving forward too fast will just be destabilizing. Instead, we should take a slow and measured approach to reform leading to a “more perfect union”. Some reform that most can agree upon can lead us to re-examine our condition further down the road when possibly most can agree that more(or less) needs to be done.

      Comment by Eric — May 10, 2010 @ 5:07 PM | Reply

      • I accept the feedback and yes there are a variety of opinions expressed. Given the topics of the day it can seem a little one sided. I hope I have been clear that I see regulation as an important but not sufficient response to the way things are today in banking. Eventually consumers and businesses must choose whomever to trade with in a free market with a free exchange of information.

        I appreciate you coming to the blog and hope you will contribute your ideas and information to the discussion.

        Comment by thefourteenthbanker — May 10, 2010 @ 6:05 PM

      • Eric, what exactly is a resource for insider whistle blowing supposed to look like? Did you expect legal advice?

        “corrupt politics has endured the entire history of man”. True, but you see less than a hundred year ago Nazis killed every Jew, today human beings even very powerful ones wouldn’t dream of doing that. Same thing with women’s rights or slavery. The point I’m making is that there is such a thing as reaching a critical stage in human emotional evolution when people don’t just go back to old outdated models.

        The comments on this forum are not “crazy”, they are a reflection of some people who are smarter and faster than others in being able to reach that stage of emotional intelligence. In understanding that waiting could be fatal to our country and maybe even the planet’s well being.

        As for slow progress, that would not be a problem if there was any trust left in our governance. NO progress can be made when corruption becomes entrenched among the powerful. THAT is CERTAINLY a lesson from history.

        Comment by Vocalbanker — May 10, 2010 @ 11:28 PM

  14. Here’s a practical Tea Party type strategy to create a “Citizen Congress”

    A Congress of career politicians will never represent “We the People”, because their highest priority is getting reelected with the help of Big Money.

    But “We the People” have more votes than “Big Money” has, and thus can end Congress as a career for professional politicians by never reelecting incumbents.

    We can impose single terms every two years, by never reelecting Congress.

    Always vote, but only for challengers. Never reelect incumbents.

    Keep this up until Congress is mostly “one-termers”, a citizen Congress.

    Then keep it up every election, to make a citizen Congress a permanent reality.

    Every American’s only intelligent choice is to never reelect anyone in Congress!

    The only infallible, unstoppable, guaranteed way to get a truly new Congress,

    and a cleaned up new politics is

    NEVER REELECT ANY INCUMBENT! DO IT EVERY ELECTION

    In other words, don’t let anyone serve more than one term, ever again.

    NEVER REELECT ANYONE IN CONGRESS. DO IT EVERY ELECTION!

    I’m Nelson Lee Walker of tenurecorrupts.com

    Comment by Nelson — May 9, 2010 @ 6:55 PM | Reply

  15. My thoughts can be summed up in these quotes:

    “In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit.”
    – Ayn Rand

    “Unless the mass retains sufficient control over those entrusted with the powers of their government, these will be perverted to their own oppression, and to the perpetuation of wealth and power in the individuals and their families selected for the trust. Whether our Constitution has hit on the exact degree of control necessary, is yet under experiment.” -Thomas Jefferson to M. van der Kemp, 1812.

    “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
    – Declaration of Independence

    Comment by Karl — May 10, 2010 @ 1:43 AM | Reply

  16. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/yehuda-berg/what-the-is-going-on_b_561642.html

    Great article, shows how important it is for humanity to do some thing.

    I agree with everyone else, it’s pointless to expect any politician to change anything. It’s like trying to change the mind of your boss and their boss and blah blah. When things are as broken as they are, it won’t work.

    But, there is something that you suggested in your very first post – ” A MILLION BANKER MARCH” I say we expand it to a “MILLION CITIZEN MARCH” arrive in Washington in NOvember, election day with posters that clearly let our elected officials know in no uncertain terms that we are not stupid. We get their shenanigans and let’s boycott elections. Why should any American waste their vote at all. I know one comment suggested let’s change them every two years, but that would mean tolerating the intolerable for who knows how much longer.

    Monarchs didn’t give up their power willingly, nor did the colonialists and nor will Obama, Dimon or Llyod. If you want change, activism will have to come back, it’s been done before and it is the only thing that has consistently worked to change Status quo.

    Comment by Vocalbanker — May 10, 2010 @ 1:54 PM | Reply


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