Invitation to Express Progressive Opinion

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Invitation to Express Progressive Opinion

Postby Jnyusa » Tue Dec 23, 2014 10:32 am

I am developing the grain of a research idea and would like to map out the landscape before considering how to frame the research question. The basic idea is to look at the opinions/attitudes of people of a certain age who self-identify with progressive policy. "Progressive" does have a formal political definition but it is not important right now how narrowly you view yourselves. If you self-identify as being to the left of the far-right in the US, then I am interested in your opinion.

This is an attempt to actually gather some opinions about particular government trends/policies. Anyone can participate but I hope the thread won't descend into arguments with the far right over specific issues, and I will only be collecting the opinions of people who self-identify to the left of the far-right. It is the range of 'progressive' opinion that interests me right now. I know who is on the far right in Manwe and though you are welcome to speak I won't be gathering your opinions.

This is not for publication. When the research question is framed and real surveys are developed, the sample will be random and much, much larger than the Manwe forum is. Right now, I'm just trying to get a picture of the landscape from people whose opinions about these things I've been reading for twelve years.

There are some real specific questions that you can answer yes/no, and others that ask you to state your position and perhaps why you hold it. Essays are not required but not forbidden either. You can answer as few or as many of the questions as interest you.

Are you game?

The Questions:

1. Were you born between the years 1950-1955 inclusive? (yes/no)

2. Are you related to or acquainted with anyone who fought in Vietnam? (yes/no)

3. Some specific, controversial government policies:
(a) Do you support overturning the Citizens United decision that equates campaign donations with free speech? (yes/no)
(b) Would you favor an extension to the private sector of the 'incomes policy' currently in place for many government workers, where the top salaries within the institution would be legally pegged to a multiple of the salaries of the lowest-paid workers? (yes/no; comments welcome)
(c) Are you in agreement with the current Selective Service Registration of males? (yes/no)
(d) Would you favor a universal Selective Service Registration? (yes/no)
(e) Would you favor a male-only or universal draft? (yes/no, and which one)

4. If we decided that all people of every age in the US should have access to certain preventative health care that would be funded by the tax base, what health care services are the minimum that should be included? (Examples: vaccinations, eyeglasses .... whatever your own list would be.) If you disagree that any preventative health care should be funded by the tax base, then your answer is "none."

5. Among the social services currently provided in part or in full by the tax base, which ones do you think are absolutely necessary to maintain (or to add, if they are not already there)? Examples: starting with fire brigade, police force, public schools, up through mental health care, social security, etc. If you disagree that any social services should be provided by the tax base, then your answer is "none."

6. Government budgets - all levels of government.
(a) Do you favor legal limits on government spending, e.g. balanced annual budgets? (Not currently in existence)
(b) Do you favor legal limits on government debt? (Currently in existence)
(c) Do you favor steeper marginal tax rates? (increasing the difference between the rate paid by the rich versus the poor)

7. The environment
(a) Would you favor a cap on the rate at which non-renewable resources can be used, e.g. quotas on gasoline, natural gas, heating oil, or, e.g. a carbon tax sufficiently steep to lower use below a legal cap?
(b) Would you favor legal enforcement of township, county, and state land-use plans?

8. What issues do you think are, or should be, important to a progressive movement? You can include any of those above and add to them.
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Re: Invitation to Express Progressive Opinion

Postby Minardil » Tue Dec 23, 2014 11:56 am

1. Were you born between the years 1950-1955 inclusive? (yes/no)
No.

2. Are you related to or acquainted with anyone who fought in Vietnam? (yes/no)
Yes, related to and acquainted with several Vietnam Vets, most notably my dad, who was actually there on his first tour when I was born.

3. Some specific, controversial government policies:
(a) Do you support overturning the Citizens United decision that equates campaign donations with free speech? (yes/no)
(b) Would you favor an extension to the private sector of the 'incomes policy' currently in place for many government workers, where the top salaries within the institution would be legally pegged to a multiple of the salaries of the lowest-paid workers? (yes/no; comments welcome)
(c) Are you in agreement with the current Selective Service Registration of males? (yes/no)
(d) Would you favor a universal Selective Service Registration? (yes/no)
(e) Would you favor a male-only or universal draft? (yes/no, and which one)


Just to provide some additional context:

A) I disagree with the Citizens United decision which essentially ruled that Corporations are "People", with the same rights as individuals. The entire reason for incorporating is to create an entity which limits liabilities, how can such an entity then have the full rights as people? The ruling makes no sense at all, from a logic standpoint. And of course, I oppose the flood of money it has brought into politics. We should be reducing the amount of money going to political campaigns, not increasing it.
B) On the corporate pay thing, I don't think limiting pay through statute is the way to go, I'd prefer to see compensation committees selected through truly independent methods, and staffed with people who are loyal to the interests of the company. Nowadays, the committees are essentially selected by people chosen by the CEO, who then decide how much that CEO will get paid. It's a rigged system.
C) I favor universal registration for the draft, and I would not be OPPOSED to an actual universal draft, or even mandatory universal service, where EVERYONE has to spend at least two years giving service to the country, whether it's military service, or some other community service.


4. If we decided that all people of every age in the US should have access to certain preventative health care that would be funded by the tax base, what health care services are the minimum that should be included? (Examples: vaccinations, eyeglasses .... whatever your own list would be.) If you disagree that any preventative health care should be funded by the tax base, then your answer is "none."


I favor a single payer, universal health coverage system like they have in Canada, where medical services are provided by private doctors and hospitals, but the medical insurance is provided to every citizen through a tax funded program. All essential forms of medical care should be included, only non-essential stuff like face lifts should be excluded.

5. Among the social services currently provided in part or in full by the tax base, which ones do you think are absolutely necessary to maintain (or to add, if they are not already there)? Examples: starting with fire brigade, police force, public schools, up through mental health care, social security, etc. If you disagree that any social services should be provided by the tax base, then your answer is "none."


All of the above, and include medical care as I mentioned in the previous question. I'd also like to see some form of universal higher education available like they have in other civilized countries.

6. Government budgets - all levels of government.
(a) Do you favor legal limits on government spending, e.g. balanced annual budgets? (Not currently in existence)
(b) Do you favor legal limits on government debt? (Currently in existence)
(c) Do you favor steeper marginal tax rates? (increasing the difference between the rate paid by the rich versus the poor)


I prefer balanced budgets in general, but I don't see that it makes sense to mandate this legally, such laws make it impossible to ratchet spending up in times of emergency. We'd never have been able to fight WWII with a Balanced Budget Law in place. And I would favor a more progressive income tax structure. Trickle Down Economics has been proven to be a failure, if not an actual fraud.

7. The environment
(a) Would you favor a cap on the rate at which non-renewable resources can be used, e.g. quotas on gasoline, natural gas, heating oil, or, e.g. a carbon tax sufficiently steep to lower use below a legal cap?
(b) Would you favor legal enforcement of township, county, and state land-use plans?


I don't favor caps or limits on the usage of non-renewable resources, but I DO favor incentives towards using and developing renewable energy sources.
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Re: Invitation to Express Progressive Opinion

Postby Jnyusa » Wed Dec 24, 2014 10:05 am

Thanks, Minardil!

In that list I was trying to get at some thresholds. Obviously it's not exhaustive of progressive opinion and doesn't include any foreign policy issues. Are there other issues that you would like to see on the front burner for people who are today left of the far-right?
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Re: Invitation to Express Progressive Opinion

Postby portia » Wed Dec 24, 2014 11:21 am

Jnyusa wrote:Are you game?

The Questions:

1. Were you born between the years 1950-1955 inclusive? (yes/no) NO

2. Are you related to or acquainted with anyone who fought in Vietnam? (yes/no) Yes

3. Some specific, controversial government policies:
(a) Do you support overturning the Citizens United decision that equates campaign donations with free speech? (yes/no) YES
(b) Would you favor an extension to the private sector of the 'incomes policy' currently in place for many government workers, where the top salaries within the institution would be legally pegged to a multiple of the salaries of the lowest-paid workers? (yes/no; comments welcome) NO
(c) Are you in agreement with the current Selective Service Registration of males? (yes/no) YES, But only if Females are added.
(d) Would you favor a universal Selective Service Registration? (yes/no) YES
(e) Would you favor a male-only or universal draft? (yes/no, and which one) Universal

4. If we decided that all people of every age in the US should have access to certain preventative health care that would be funded by the tax base, what health care services are the minimum that should be included? (Examples: vaccinations, eyeglasses .... whatever your own list would be.) If you disagree that any preventative health care should be funded by the tax base, then your answer is "none."
Vaccinations; yearly exams; Reproductive health exams.

5. Among the social services currently provided in part or in full by the tax base, which ones do you think are absolutely necessary to maintain (or to add, if they are not already there)? Examples: starting with fire brigade, police force, public schools, up through mental health care, social security, etc. If you disagree that any social services should be provided by the tax base, then your answer is "none." Fire and police, public schools, unemployment insurance (but mostly funded by the emloyers and employees); Social Security (verious funding possibilities--but no opt out option)

6. Government budgets - all levels of government.
(a) Do you favor legal limits on government spending, e.g. balanced annual budgets? (Not currently in existence) Yes
(b) Do you favor legal limits on government debt? (Currently in existence)Yes, but not on a yearly basis--say on a 5 year rotating basis.
(c) Do you favor steeper marginal tax rates? (increasing the difference between the rate paid by the rich versus the poor) If the real tax rate more closely followed the written tax rate, this would not be necessary.

7. The environment
(a) Would you favor a cap on the rate at which non-renewable resources can be used, e.g. quotas on gasoline, natural gas, heating oil, or, e.g. a carbon tax sufficiently steep to lower use below a legal cap? Yes
(b) Would you favor legal enforcement of township, county, and state land-use plans? Yes, but I would also favor buy-out if a person's situations changes so that they cannot comply.

8. What issues do you think are, or should be, important to a progressive movement? You can include any of those above and add to them.
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Re: Invitation to Express Progressive Opinion

Postby Griffon64 » Sat Dec 27, 2014 7:16 pm

1. Were you born between the years 1950-1955 inclusive? (yes/no)

No.

2. Are you related to or acquainted with anyone who fought in Vietnam? (yes/no)

No.

3. Some specific, controversial government policies:
(a) Do you support overturning the Citizens United decision that equates campaign donations with free speech? (yes/no)
(b) Would you favor an extension to the private sector of the 'incomes policy' currently in place for many government workers, where the top salaries within the institution would be legally pegged to a multiple of the salaries of the lowest-paid workers? (yes/no; comments welcome)
(c) Are you in agreement with the current Selective Service Registration of males? (yes/no)
(d) Would you favor a universal Selective Service Registration? (yes/no)
(e) Would you favor a male-only or universal draft? (yes/no, and which one)

a) Yes, I support overturning it. Corporations do not have the responsibilities of a person, and therefore must not be granted the rights of a person either.
b) No. I wavered a little bit, but I don’t believe salary ceilings should be legislated. Instead, the market needs to push those salaries down.
c) No.
d) Yes.
e) Yes, a universal draft. Everybody should do their bit.

4. If we decided that all people of every age in the US should have access to certain preventative health care that would be funded by the tax base, what health care services are the minimum that should be included? (Examples: vaccinations, eyeglasses .... whatever your own list would be.) If you disagree that any preventative health care should be funded by the tax base, then your answer is "none.”

Vaccinations, screenings for cancers, screenings for mental disorders - basically, anything where early detection and treatment could save significant money and anguish down the line. An exact list is not within my expertise to give, but I did list a few examples. Also, anything that is clearly in the interest of public health, such as vaccinations.

5. Among the social services currently provided in part or in full by the tax base, which ones do you think are absolutely necessary to maintain (or to add, if they are not already there)? Examples: starting with fire brigade, police force, public schools, up through mental health care, social security, etc. If you disagree that any social services should be provided by the tax base, then your answer is "none.”

The current social services is sufficient to me. Certainly firefighters, police, and public education is a minimum. I also would consider a higher education system that subsidizes certain in demand specialties, such as STEM degrees, to a greater extent that specialties where an oversupply exists.


6. Government budgets - all levels of government.
(a) Do you favor legal limits on government spending, e.g. balanced annual budgets? (Not currently in existence)
(b) Do you favor legal limits on government debt? (Currently in existence)
(c) Do you favor steeper marginal tax rates? (increasing the difference between the rate paid by the rich versus the poor)

a) Yes - as long as it is sensible. During rare events such as the 2008 financial crisis, the government should be able to execute damage control outside the bounds of normal operation. But "business as usual" should never push you deeper into the red.
b) Yes - again with the caveat that exceptional circumstances should allow exceptions.
c) Maybe. For instance I would consider tax rates that allows higher levels of “base” income to be taxed at lower rates, and steps up steeper past those.

7. The environment
(a) Would you favor a cap on the rate at which non-renewable resources can be used, e.g. quotas on gasoline, natural gas, heating oil, or, e.g. a carbon tax sufficiently steep to lower use below a legal cap?
(b) Would you favor legal enforcement of township, county, and state land-use plans?

a) No. It would do no good. Until people understand it is in their own long-term best interest not to denude the land like locusts, such caps merely puts a band-aid on the problem. I’d rather the enormous political energy such laws would require be spent on getting people to understand the importance of this - as well as on encouraging / funding alternate energy sources.
b) Yes.

8. What issues do you think are, or should be, important to a progressive movement? You can include any of those above and add to them.

Education. With knowledge, everything else falls into place.
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Re: Invitation to Express Progressive Opinion

Postby Faramond » Sun Dec 28, 2014 11:02 am

If one isn't progressive and discussion/argument isn't wanted, then there's really no point to this thread, is there?

I think economics should be most important to the Progressive Movement. I would say the same for the conservative movement. A dose of the real world. We all want things, but how do we actually get them? For instance, you can legislate a balanced budget, but what economic effects would that have? You can be like Venezuela and just decree that things should cost certain prices, but such a system can't be sustained, especially once the oil price goes down.
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Re: Invitation to Express Progressive Opinion

Postby Jnyusa » Mon Dec 29, 2014 11:43 pm

Portia and Griffy, Thanks!

Griffy wrote: Education. With knowledge, everything else falls into place.

Thanks for answering that question, Griff. Since funding public education was one of the options in an earlier question, do you also feel that content reform, or perhaps a different means or organizing and funding education is also needed?

Faramond wrote:If one isn't progressive and discussion/argument isn't wanted, then there's really no point to this thread, is there?

The purpose of the thread is entirely self-serving on my part!

I have a small grain of an hypothesis about (a) progressive thinking in general; (b) progressive thinking among people born between 1950-1955, though I am discovering through other historical research that the cohort I'm interested in should probably be measured from 1947-1953.

Anyway ... on a public message board it feels to me that topics that are anchored to fairly large and important principles deteriorate so quickly into shooting matches over sidebars that you end up not knowing what people do think about the important stuff. I really didn't know what others would say if asked directly, 'tell me what you think and I won't argue with you - do you in fact support government funding of xyz?' If I'd had to guess in advance what people would say, I would have guessed wrong a couple times already, so the thread is valuable to me.

Can't stop anyone from entering and trying to debate the minutae but that's just not what I'm listening to right now.

The questions are a first stab at ... whatever. I've been telling myself a narrative about my own age cohort for many years, and realized finally that it is an empirical question. It's possible for me to know through research whether the story I'm telling myself about my peers is true. But psychometric research is not something I've done before, so for that aspect I figured I would start with these very loose parameters in a tiny sample of people whom I know, and let you help me refine my thinking about what's relevant.

I think economics should be most important to the Progressive Movement. I would say the same for the conservative movement. A dose of the real world.

I agree, but I'm obviously biased toward the importance of economics! If you had to tackle this as a mission, what kinds of venues do you think might be available for 'dosing' people with costs-benefit thinking, other than economics classrooms? Where/how should we be addressing a general denial of cost-benefit realities?
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Re: Invitation to Express Progressive Opinion

Postby Griffon64 » Fri Jan 02, 2015 3:18 pm

Jnyusa wrote:
Griffy wrote: Education. With knowledge, everything else falls into place.

Thanks for answering that question, Griff. Since funding public education was one of the options in an earlier question, do you also feel that content reform, or perhaps a different means or organizing and funding education is also needed?

"Content reform" sounds kind of loaded! ;)

My general feeling is that people benefit from knowing how things work. How can you make sound decisions about the environment you live in ( anything from picking where you reside, what you want to pursue as a career, to how you vote ) if you do not know what effects those decisions will have? Even worse, you can be susceptible to being misled by someone whose goals are not in your best interest. So I suppose I would prefer fact-driven education as a basis. I have a career in the sciences and therefore I have bias, too, but I see a need for supporting STEM-oriented education and I also think it would be beneficial to teach the basics of economics and personal finance. I think a bit of critical thinking and especially the ability to see the world as a connected system is helpful, too. I haven't gone through the American education system so I probably come up short on details in explaining. Basically, I am just surprised every time I notice that many people do not understand basic things such as what goes into providing tap water to their homes and sewage from their homes, or how the roads system their whole lifestyle is built on is funded, maintained and expanded, or what kind of infrastructure investments is needed to safeguard a good lifestyle in future ... or for that matter, where their tax dollars go. ( For instance: no, foreign aid is not a significant portion of the overall budget. )

As long as it isn't special-interest propaganda, I would say education is better than no education.
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Re: Invitation to Express Progressive Opinion

Postby basil » Sun Jan 04, 2015 2:19 am

1. Were you born between the years 1950-1955 inclusive?


yes

2. Are you related to or acquainted with anyone who fought in Vietnam? (yes/no)


online acquaintance, not in person

3. Some specific, controversial government policies:
(a) Do you support overturning the Citizens United decision that equates campaign donations with free speech?


yes

(b) Would you favor an extension to the private sector of the 'incomes policy' currently in place for many government workers, where the top salaries within the institution would be legally pegged to a multiple of the salaries of the lowest-paid workers?


no, though I think an oversight committee, composed of a selection of company employees, stockholders to review and confirm salaries would be a good idea.

(c) Are you in agreement with the current Selective Service Registration of males?


yes, though due to the increasing female participation in all aspects of our military, female inclusion should be considered


(d) Would you favor a universal Selective Service Registration? and (e) Would you favor a male-only or universal draft?


yes and for both male and female, with a variety of choice to serve community and country for say a couple years minimum, with adequate compensation or rewards. IOW, military service not required.

4. If we decided that all people of every age in the US should have access to certain preventative health care that would be funded by the tax base, what health care services are the minimum that should be included? (Examples: vaccinations, eyeglasses .... whatever your own list would be.) If you disagree that any preventative health care should be funded by the tax base, then your answer is "none."


The basic necessities, yearly check-ups, the usual slings and arrows of existence, and some kind of wellness/educational programs; catastrophic illness or accident care; mental health care and rehab for addictions.

5. Among the social services currently provided in part or in full by the tax base, which ones do you think are absolutely necessary to maintain (or to add, if they are not already there)? Examples: starting with fire brigade, police force, public schools, up through mental health care, social security, etc. If you disagree that any social services should be provided by the tax base, then your answer is "none."


I believe SS should not be optional, considering the rampant shady and underhanded private sector dealings with pensions. No wage cap. The social/community services you mentioned; PS maintained and a basic national funding provided.


6. Government budgets - all levels of government.
(a) Do you favor legal limits on government spending, e.g. balanced annual budgets? (Not currently in existence)
(b) Do you favor legal limits on government debt? (Currently in existence)


no to both at the national level, the state level would be up to individual states, though I believe state budgets should be under legislated legal limits.


(
c) Do you favor steeper marginal tax rates? (increasing the difference between the rate paid by the rich versus the poor)


I like Ike's top tax rates. :)

7. The environment
(a) Would you favor a cap on the rate at which non-renewable resources can be used, e.g. quotas on gasoline, natural gas, heating oil, or, e.g. a carbon tax sufficiently steep to lower use below a legal cap?


No, but a vigorous national and state determination to support and develop renewable energy sources, and a severe cut in federal and state subsidy of fossil fuels. And vigorous prosecution of malfeasance by energy companies, chemical affecting the environment and population.


(b) Would you favor legal enforcement of township, county, and state land-use plans?


Whatever local governments should decide about their lands should be enforced, within national environmental standards. So much of what localities do in their own areas does affect their neighbors livelihood.

8. What issues do you think are, or should be, important to a progressive movement? You can include any of those above and add to them.



Foreign policy issues. With the exception of nuclear ICBMs coming over the horizon, no president should have the legal authority to send our military into war or policing actions. Congress with an open debate should decide that. Once committed, however, the pres. and staff would control operations within the confines of Congressional oversight. IOW "mission creep" needs to be watched.

A more sane, sensible and non-patronage method of assigning ambassadorships to foreign nations. Senate reform, WRT filibuster, holds. A president's selection for cabinet and advisory positions should be removed from Congressional approval. If Congress refuses to decide on judicial appointments within a reasonable period of time, the pres. choice should be made legal.

There should be a strong commitment from DC with interested private concerns for R&D, here on Earth and in space science. In the past, such activity has proven to be a tremendous engine for tech. development and new industry.


b
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Re: Invitation to Express Progressive Opinion

Postby Jnyusa » Wed Jan 07, 2015 9:00 pm

Thanks, Basil. Lots of new ideas in there - thank you!
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Re: Invitation to Express Progressive Opinion

Postby Aravar » Wed Jan 14, 2015 10:08 am

As most of the questions are America specific I won't answer them.

I do think care should be taken in making local plans legally enforceable. Prior to the enactment of the Town and Country Planning Act in 1947 in the UK a landowner could largely build on their own land. Now the value of land with planning permission and without is massively different: being a few thousand per acre for land without permission and can be in the millions for the same acre with permission. I (and many others) think this contributes to the enormously expensive cost of housing in this country, which is a basic need.

It also has had the effect of favouring big developers over individual and small builders. The Uk has one of the lowest self build rates in Europe, and, again I think this is contributed to by the need for permission because a large developer will be better able to obtain it, because it has access to an can afford the expertise necessary.

(I was born post-55)
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Re: Invitation to Express Progressive Opinion

Postby Jnyusa » Wed Jan 14, 2015 12:11 pm

That's interesting, Aravar. I didn't think about that aspect of the land-use issue previously, but I can see how it would be significant if there were previously a significant amount of smallholder development going on.

Off the top of my head I don't know how the US compares to the UK in self-built housing. Our zoning ordinances are lax (and our zoning boards fairly corrupt!), so I don't think it would be much trouble to build on one's own land ... for sure it would be, well, vexing probably but not terribly expensive to get a portion of one's agricultural land titled separately and rezoned to build a house for personal use. There's a big difference in property taxes among the different zoning categories. The trend seems to be for the heirs of old farming estates to sell off to the major developers who rezone and build, and they build as intensely as they can, obviously.

The US still has huge undeveloped spaces though. The premium comes from being within commuter distance from an employment center, e.g. big city, which tends to keep a lot of agriculture land out of the running for development.
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Re: Invitation to Express Progressive Opinion

Postby Faramond » Thu Feb 05, 2015 5:03 pm

If you had to tackle this as a mission, what kinds of venues do you think might be available for 'dosing' people with costs-benefit thinking, other than economics classrooms? Where/how should we be addressing a general denial of cost-benefit realities?


I don't know. No politician is going to get traction doing this. The nightly news won't get any viewers doing it.

Typically we just pass legislation and just see if it works. Maybe that's the only way to do it anyway. It's hard to know ahead of time how things will play out in the real world sometimes.

Lots of people support addressing the national deficit, but only really on their terms -- a conservative imagines slashing social spending, cutting taxes and leaving military spending alone to cut the deficit, while a progressive imagines the exact opposite. To truly be in favor of cutting the deficit you have to be in favor of making adjustments you'd rather not make. And when it gets down to it almost no one is in favor of that.
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Re: Invitation to Express Progressive Opinion

Postby Frelga » Tue Feb 10, 2015 8:30 pm

I'm curious why people are supportive of either Selective Service or universal draft? To me, it's firmly on the Nope list, for reasons ranging from "we need an army of skilled, trained professionals in this high tech age" to "you can't have my son for your stupid wars." For the record, I grew up in a place with a universal draft for boys (two years of service for every male turning 18 with rare exemptions), my father and my husband both went through the army, and both my grandfathers and my great uncles on father's side fought (and some died) in the WWII.

I'd like to hear what people think the positives are?
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Re: Invitation to Express Progressive Opinion

Postby Faramond » Wed Feb 11, 2015 8:33 am

http://www.cnn.com/2003/ALLPOLITICS/01/07/rangel.draft/

This is the only kind of progressive logic to reinstating the draft I've ever heard of. I'm sure there are other possible reasons but I don't know what they are.
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Re: Invitation to Express Progressive Opinion

Postby Storyteller » Fri Feb 13, 2015 8:18 am

Frelga wrote:I'm curious why people are supportive of either Selective Service or universal draft? To me, it's firmly on the Nope list, for reasons ranging from "we need an army of skilled, trained professionals in this high tech age" to "you can't have my son for your stupid wars." For the record, I grew up in a place with a universal draft for boys (two years of service for every male turning 18 with rare exemptions), my father and my husband both went through the army, and both my grandfathers and my great uncles on father's side fought (and some died) in the WWII.

I think you also need to factor in a tremendous cultural prejudice against army service based in the fact that in the good old USSR, army conscription was the single worst thing that could happen to a young man, and having to serve was usually a consequence of failing to get accepted to a university or dropping out of one (most universities had a Military Chair that - aside from providing some comic relief from studies - exempted students from conscription by granting them a reserve officer rank upon graduation.

I'd like to hear what people think the positives are?

It depends on how one views the military, its purpose and its people, and how acutely one feels the need for national defense (not a particular foreign policy or military action but defense in general).

There are plenty of positives from various perspectives, whether military, social or economic, but probably none from the perspective of an American progressive except an an argument from vindictiveness linked to by Faramond (let's make THEM serve too and see how they like it!).
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: Invitation to Express Progressive Opinion

Postby Jnyusa » Sat Feb 14, 2015 9:41 am

Storyteller wrote:There are plenty of positives from various perspectives, whether military, social or economic, but probably none from the perspective of an American progressive except an an argument from vindictiveness linked to by Faramond (let's make THEM serve too and see how they like it!).


Are you saying then that the rich should be exempt because making them serve would only be vindictive and not useful?
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Re: Invitation to Express Progressive Opinion

Postby Jnyusa » Sat Feb 14, 2015 9:53 am

Faramond wrote:To truly be in favor of cutting the deficit you have to be in favor of making adjustments you'd rather not make. And when it gets down to it almost no one is in favor of that.


I can see that there is a strong sense of that in the country these days ... not wanting to compromise, I mean ... but what adjustments we'd like to make and what adjustments we'd rather not make is a matter of our perspective, isn't it? It's a matter of how we define our self-interest.

Perhaps a better question to have asked would be how we might go about assessing the variable self-interest of Americans these days, before we even bother to inflict cost-benefit analysis on them! It's true, I think, that not everyone feels themselves to hold the same stake in America's outcomes, but paradoxically I think it's also true that those least likely to benefit from a rising tide are the ones most in favor of funneling more water into the bay.

For example, thinking about the discussion about the draft, the volunteer army does draw on those people with the fewest other options, and the Army literally plans its recruiting strategies around populations that are relatively poor and relatively undereducated, so they are well aware of how volunteerism works in this situation.

To offer a serious answer to the question, the one argument in favor of a universal draft that I can see is that it is more equitable than a volunteer army, and I think it would justify mandatory civic service (which I very much support) and improve our general sense of all belonging to the same country. The downside, of course, is the one we experienced during Vietnam: it's a lot easier to go to war and to do it without declaration when you have 18 million young people already primed and waiting.The easiest option becomes the first option instead of the last.
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Re: Invitation to Express Progressive Opinion

Postby Storyteller » Sat Feb 14, 2015 11:29 am

Jnyusa wrote:
Storyteller wrote:There are plenty of positives from various perspectives, whether military, social or economic, but probably none from the perspective of an American progressive except an an argument from vindictiveness linked to by Faramond (let's make THEM serve too and see how they like it!).


Are you saying then that the rich should be exempt because making them serve would only be vindictive and not useful?

Making them serve for the sole purpose of having them serve? Especially on the grounds of - as per Rangel- "those who make the decision and those who support the United States going into war would feel more readily the pain that's involved"? Yes, it's pure vindictiveness. It's about seeking to inflict pain upon the Other.
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: Invitation to Express Progressive Opinion

Postby Jnyusa » Sat Feb 14, 2015 10:37 pm

You didn't answer my question. Do you think the rich should be exempt? Or that if the rich are not exempt there should be no draft?
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Re: Invitation to Express Progressive Opinion

Postby Frelga » Sun Feb 15, 2015 12:07 am

Jn, let me follow up on this:

To offer a serious answer to the question, the one argument in favor of a universal draft that I can see is that it is more equitable than a volunteer army, and I think it would justify mandatory civic service (which I very much support) and improve our general sense of all belonging to the same country. The downside, of course, is the one we experienced during Vietnam: it's a lot easier to go to war and to do it without declaration when you have 18 million young people already primed and waiting.The easiest option becomes the first option instead of the last.


Why do you feel that equity is more important in the military profession than in any other? Is it because of the danger involved? In other dangerous occupations (loggermen, fishermen, and airline pilots are at the top of the deadliest jobs in the US according to the Forbes article) equity does not seem to be a concern. Being well trained and well suited for the job seems more important.

Of the young men I know who have recently gone through the US military service, all were solid middle class, and their family tended to have a tradition of service. Of course, that is not a representative sample, but it does indicate that military is not necessarily a course of desperation.

Story wrote:I think you also need to factor in a tremendous cultural prejudice against army service based in the fact that in the good old USSR, army conscription was the single worst thing that could happen to a young man, and having to serve was usually a consequence of failing to get accepted to a university or dropping out of one (most universities had a Military Chair that - aside from providing some comic relief from studies - exempted students from conscription by granting them a reserve officer rank upon graduation.


Well, yes and no, at least in my time. The higher education exemption fluctuated from year to year, as excluding college students tended to leave the army with... not the best demographic, given how accessible college education was in the Soviet Union at that time. Mr. Frelga was drafted from his second year, for example, having started his studies when college students were exempt. But the draft did mess up the education for boys, especially those who either were forced to have a break in their education or were drafted before starting college. The college I went to did keep the exemption, and the boys even got to drive a tank a time or two. The girls just got to shoot rifles once a year (we had a pretty awesome range in the basement, I even hit the actual target).

Back to the US - if we are not giving an exemption to college students, then the equitable treatment cannot be achieved because it is the better off young people who go to colleges, so the draft would still overwhelmingly fall on the disadvantaged classes.
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Re: Invitation to Express Progressive Opinion

Postby Storyteller » Sun Feb 15, 2015 9:29 am

Frelga wrote:Well, yes and no, at least in my time. The higher education exemption fluctuated from year to year, as excluding college students tended to leave the army with... not the best demographic, given how accessible college education was in the Soviet Union at that time. Mr. Frelga was drafted from his second year, for example, having started his studies when college students were exempt. But the draft did mess up the education for boys, especially those who either were forced to have a break in their education or were drafted before starting college. The college I went to did keep the exemption, and the boys even got to drive a tank a time or two. The girls just got to shoot rifles once a year (we had a pretty awesome range in the basement, I even hit the actual target).]/quote]
It fluctuated, of course. One reason why I moved to Israel on my own at 18, instead of with my family after a degree, was because of persistent rumors that Belarus was about to cancel the army service exemption for students. But I was talking mainly about the cultural bias against army service that was universally pervasive among the former USSR equivalent of a middle class.

Back to the US - if we are not giving an exemption to college students, then the equitable treatment cannot be achieved because it is the better off young people who go to colleges, so the draft would still overwhelmingly fall on the disadvantaged classes.

And if you draft everybody, those with wealth and influence will arrange desk job service for their children while the rest will serve as grunts, or simply bribe a doctor to issue a fake medical exemption.
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: Invitation to Express Progressive Opinion

Postby Jnyusa » Sun Feb 15, 2015 4:35 pm

Frelga wrote:Why do you feel that equity is more important in the military profession than in any other? Is it because of the danger involved?


Well, yes. But also because the nature of the choice is different. The Forbes article relates stats from the civilian labor force, whereas the casualty rate among active servicemen and women is about double that of loggers, who have the highest civilian casualties.[1] And a logger gets paid twice as much for bearing half the risk [2]. So I think we have to take into account that things other than just market factors influence the choice to enlist, e.g. patriotism and other psychological factors. The Army is pretty transparent about their recruitment strategies - set up in malls where the unemployed kids and those not very committed to finishing high school hang out, give them violent video games to play and tell them they can be a real life hero, do this overwhelmingly in the southern states. Then, if we're in a declared war, combat fatalities rise fast, from the 0.2% that they were during the length of the Iraq/Afghanistan engagement to the 30% kill/wound rate of the Vietnam War or WWII. Catastrophic changes in consequence like that don't occur in the private sector. So, yeah, I think the civilian and military sectors are not really comparable, and equity is more important when the government has power to conscript (or coerce) as needed.

There are a lot of career military in my family but, like your friends who served, I don't think we are quite typical of the average recruit. A fair number of my students are in ROTC and a few years ago I shook some hands that were shipping out to Iraq immediately after graduation. They were all middle class with a service ethic and strong feelings of patriotism, and smart, well-educated kids, but ... they're also officers and won't face the same risk that a recruit faces or earn the same salary.

Back to the US - if we are not giving an exemption to college students, then the equitable treatment cannot be achieved because it is the better off young people who go to colleges, so the draft would still overwhelmingly fall on the disadvantaged classes.


Yes, I agree. If we re-instituted conscription I'd like to see it kick in following high school, be two years long, apply to absolutely everyone, incorporate civic service as well as military training so there would be no conscientious objector status, and be as across-the-board equitable as we could make it. And it takes about 5 seconds to think of all the special interests that will never let that happen, starting with my own employer.

[1] Forbes quotes 2.5 million having served in Iraq/Afghanistan, and icasualties.org quotes >6800 service men and women killed during the period of deployment. That's 0.2%, casualty rate for those military personnel compared to the 0.1% casualty rate for loggers quoted by Forbes.
[2] Median income for loggers is $34,780; that's about $10K below the median for all Americans. 90th percentile earns $44,000, about the same as the median for all Americans. This is not a highly paid job, in spite of its risk. But a private E1 makes $18,400, and if he/she makes Staff Sgt in six years they'll make $35,580. Also not a highly paid job.

Storyteller wrote:And if you draft everybody, those with wealth and influence will arrange desk job service for their children while the rest will serve as grunts, or simply bribe a doctor to issue a fake medical exemption.


Sure. Corruption is everywhere and for all time. We'll never get rid of it. Still, there is hardly any institution that can't be made a little more equitable than it is right now, and that's what humanism strives for, imo. Improvement at the margin.

I'm still trying to figure out whether you are opposing a draft or supporting it.
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Re: Invitation to Express Progressive Opinion

Postby Storyteller » Sun Feb 15, 2015 10:51 pm

Jnyusa wrote:I'm still trying to figure out whether you are opposing a draft or supporting it.

In general, supporting. There are many reasons why universal draft is much healthier for both the army and the civilian society, but not from any perspective that would qualify as "progressive". Certainly not from the "will it make THEM more or less likely to go start a war?" angle.

I'm not sure sure about the American society specifically though. I think the divide between the military and the civilians is too high to reintroduce a draft without a catastrophic emergency that would justify it in the short term. I also think that were it introduced, it would be done in a neutered way that would nullify most of the benefits of draft. Instead of the actual military, the majority of new manpower would be channeled into public work projects and the humanitarian relief industry, becoming essentially unpaid labor. People will be taken out of the economy for X years, only to be returned to it having mostly gained little in the way of applicable skill set.
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Re: Invitation to Express Progressive Opinion

Postby Storyteller » Sun Feb 15, 2015 10:57 pm

Jnyusa wrote:You didn't answer my question. Do you think the rich should be exempt? Or that if the rich are not exempt there should be no draft?

I love your question too much to answer it. Declarations of Bolshevik-level class hatred from well-off middle-classers are so preciously self-incriminating.

Why, in a land of selective service, would you even care about the wealth level of those who select to not serve?
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Re: Invitation to Express Progressive Opinion

Postby Jnyusa » Mon Feb 16, 2015 12:09 am

Storyteller wrote:In general, supporting.


Thank you.

Why, in a land of selective service, would you even care about the wealth level of those who select to not serve?


Ignoring your own Bolshevik hatred of us kulaks, I do care when our laws or government policies or corporate practices target an identifiable class within our society. I never liked it that only men were subject to Selective Service, for example. And I detest targeted marketing no matter who is doing it or what the product is. I don't like to see people objectivized. Not sure what's so "precious" about that or why you find it grist for mockery. Maybe that's just a self-incriminating reflection on you and has nothing to do with me or the middle class.
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Re: Invitation to Express Progressive Opinion

Postby Frelga » Mon Feb 16, 2015 10:11 am

Jn wrote:Yes, I agree. If we re-instituted conscription I'd like to see it kick in following high school, be two years long, apply to absolutely everyone, incorporate civic service as well as military training so there would be no conscientious objector status, and be as across-the-board equitable as we could make it. And it takes about 5 seconds to think of all the special interests that will never let that happen, starting with my own employer.


Even if executed in a perfectly equitable way, this would be a huge blow for anyone's educational choices. Two years, or however long the service would be, between high school and college (or interrupting college) knocks out not only most of the memories of the high school learning but the practice of learning itself. I think that's one of the reasons why girls outnumbered boys in most of the Soviet higher learning institutions. And in the Soviet days, higher education was free and students were paid a stipend, so the fact that a 20+ year old needs to make a living and build a family was less of an obstacle.

In its current form, Army is seen as a pathway to higher education for men and women who would otherwise not be able to afford it (I just did a quick read through here). With the universal draft, would the Army provide all the benefits to every single young man and woman?

And what about married couples? Would you draft parents? If not, we will see a spike in teen pregnancies to avoid the draft, especially if females are drafted as well. If yes, who is going to provide child care and at whose expense?

Culturally, I think draft works best with the defensive mindset - preventing enemies from setting foot on our soil and setting our cities on fire, again. The US just does not have that history, despite the attempts to institute the siege mentality since 9/11. Instead, it tends to send soldiers overseas, on missions that have little to do with actual national security. I just don't see any way in which this could be implemented in any way that I consider good.
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Re: Invitation to Express Progressive Opinion

Postby Jnyusa » Mon Feb 16, 2015 8:02 pm

Those are compelling points, Frelga, and I hadn't thought about any of them previously!

That's interesting about the disruption of university studies for men in Russia. I can see how sticking boot camp in the middle of a college degree would not make for good students (nor for good soldiers either).

Just thinking aloud about how my hopeless proposal might play out in the US ... Last academic year the rotation of administrative duties landed me responsibility for measuring our learning outcomes, so I've been trying to read up on the literature. And about ten years of research is showing that not much learning actually takes place in college; a whole lot less than we would hope for, anyway. This is more true of some degrees than others, of course. Anyone who has to face a licensing test does come out with measurable skills (engineers, nurses) but the business students? The English majors? Meh. It's really rather depressing to read the research. Our college students are pretty immature at age 18-19. It's not obvious to me that an intervening two years of hard work and reality check would do more harm than good, allowing that the US is not quite typical of the developed world in the number of students we try to shovel into colleges and the hand-holding they receive when they arrive.

The Army makes a big deal about conferring marketable skills on its recruits. I can't evaluate the truth of their advertising, but the other area where my school has gotten a lot of experience lately is with veterans coming in for their degrees. We're actively soliciting that market; vets get a discount on the tuition and some help from the Federal government and then pay the rest themselves. Those kids are seriously top notch students. They're maybe five to six years older on average than other incoming freshmen but light years away in maturity, which is not very surprising given the nature of their most recent experiences. But again, the ones who come to college after service are the ones who are self-motivated to begin with. Clearly not every vet takes advantage of the benefit. So ... I just don't know how learning would be affected in the long run if we had a universal draft.

It would be a whole different paradigm, obviously. The colleges would stagger in the transition. I'd probably lose my job and have to enlist, lol. But it's not obvious to me that the opportunity cost would not be compensated in the long run.

With regard to pregnancy deferments, probably Storyteller could comment with more validity than I could since the Israeli army has to deal with that eventuality. My only observation would be that pregnancy is like university - it doesn't go on forever! A deferment is a deferment and not an escape clause, and we think nothing of tearing fathers away from their children for the duration of service so I'm not sure why women should get a pass.

I do agree with you wholeheartedly that a standing army makes a whole lot more sense for countries who've experienced recent war on their territory. I think that's probably why objections in the US have tended to gravitate toward the incentive to adventurism, which is how we tend to use the soldiers that we have. The other thing that comes to mind is that the public outcry against the draft, which in fact ended the draft, took place at a time when draftees could not vote. I think it makes a difference, a huge difference, when the people affected by a policy have a say in whether or not it should be implemented.

Interesting discussion! Thank you! I never thought I would hear myself defending a universal draft but ... there you have it.
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Re: Invitation to Express Progressive Opinion

Postby Storyteller » Mon Feb 16, 2015 11:01 pm

Jnyusa wrote:The Army makes a big deal about conferring marketable skills on its recruits. I can't evaluate the truth of their advertising.

And therein lies one of the major problems with selective service. The army confers all sorts of marketable skills on its recruits, and eventually releases them into civilian society... where they are treated as if they've never had a real job because civilian employers with no military experience of their own have no idea how to read a military resume and what skill set to expect from army vets based on where and in what capacity they served. (Here's a thought, the root of the problem of army vet unemployment and readjustment in the USA might be best addressed by educating potential employers rather than just increasing benefits).

In Israel, army service is a crucial part of one's resume. If you served in the 8200 (SIGINT, surveillance and code decryption), any tech company will pretty much hire you on the spot. A large share of 8200 graduates founded successful start-ups (often cyber security-related such as Check Point), many became scientists, judges and so on. Service experience in combat engineers, air force, unit 669 and other specialist units pretty much guarantees a soft landing in civilian life. If you commanded a unit in the army, employers know that you can be trusted to manage a business unit. The "grunts" from infantry and armor can usually draw upon a huge network of "buddies" as the way to land a high-paying job; you always have a friend who knows someone who knows someone. Other things being equal, an employer who served in the Golani brigade twenty years ago will naturally favor a fresh Golani graduate over other applicants. A few months ago, I helped a friend of a friend translate her resume into English for applying to work for Google; she served in the Border Guard as the commander of a check-point in the Jerusalem area. She got the job fairly easily because "commander" was immediately understood to mean leadership and experience in quick decision-making.

The Israeli army actually runs education programs in schools encouraging 17 year olds' interest in professions such as computers, medicine and engineering - anything the army might be especially interested in once they are enlisted. Students in such disciplines are usually given a 3 year postponement of draft so that they could finish a Bachelor degree, and then serve as officers in positions where they can apply professional knowledge, thereby gaining professional experience. That helps a lot later in civilian life (and looks good on resume).

Regarding teen pregnancy as a way to dodge draft - people who don't want to serve will do that and then some. Any draft will have exemptions. Many Israeli girls who don't feel like going to the army will get married quickly and divorce just as quickly once exemption is granted (married women are generally exempt even if not pregnant); Bar Refaeli dodged draft by way of fake marriage to a friend of her parents', Many will claim to be religious when they are anything but; a famous singer Maya Buskila claimed to be religious to gain draft exemption only to immediately star in a swimwear campaign posters wearing skimpy bikinis. The main factor that counters it is the view of army service as necessary and honorable among the majority of Israelis. In a country less fond of its military, draft dodging would be extremely widespread and hard to combat.
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Re: Invitation to Express Progressive Opinion

Postby Jnyusa » Tue Feb 17, 2015 1:42 pm

Storyteller wrote:And therein lies one of the major problems with selective service. The army confers all sorts of marketable skills on its recruits, and eventually releases them into civilian society... where they are treated as if they've never had a real job because civilian employers with no military experience of their own have no idea how to read a military resume and what skill set to expect from army vets based on where and in what capacity they served. (Here's a thought, the root of the problem of army vet unemployment and readjustment in the USA might be best addressed by educating potential employers rather than just increasing benefits).


The other way to look at that is to say the Army should invest more energy in teaching its vets how to translate their experience into market-ready skills, how to create compelling resumés.

We have the same problem in the university in that a new grad has learned lots of stuff whose immediate usefulness is not obvious. Employers say to us, "Teach them how to present this." No employer is going to take upon him/herself the obligation of knowing how one job candidate's learning might translate to a particular workplace. It's the responsibility of the candidate to illuminate that; and it's the problem of us teachers to show them how to do it, to relay to them the applicability of what they are learning. We put a lot of energy into it, in fact.

In a country less fond of its military, draft dodging would be extremely widespread and hard to combat.


In principle I would agree with this. But I would note that draft dodging was not widespread in the US when the draft was in place. Those who burned their draft cards and/or fled to Canada received tons of media coverage but they numbered in the hundreds compared to the millions who actually served. I couldn't guess how large a problem this would be if the universal draft were re-introduced.

Here's a thought .... the states that contribute the most young men to our armed forces also contribute the most young women to teenage pregnancy. I wonder if the honor of serving in a draft that included women would possibly reduce the teen pregnancy rate?

For a woman, it is more radical, I think, still, today, to volunteer for the military than it is for a man to do the same thing. Whereas it would be more radical to dodge a draft if a draft were in place ... women who tend to drift with the tide might find themselves in much better circumstances at age 20 than they are right now, on average, in the regions that our military currently targets for recruits. Just a thought.
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