"There is one thing stronger than all the armies of the world, and that is an idea whose time has come."
Victor Hugo

Welcome to
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21stCenturyCivics.com

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...and

535: number of voting members in Congress
PKQ: Philosopher King/Queen

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Two domain names...

One idea "whose time has come."

 

 

Preface

America is at a major course-of-history-changing inflection point. One our nation's political science and civics instructors will likely play a pivotal role. At least, some of them. Specifically, the ones capable of accepting that the weak link in the healthy functioning of America's democracy (constitutional republic for you sticklers) is NOT the many human flaws and shortcomings of our voters, i.e., they are uninformed, or misinformed, or unintelligent, or gullible -- but, especially, they are a greedy lot, wanting more government services and benefits than they are willing to pay for in taxes.

It is probably fair to say that this view has been the conventional wisdom among our intelligentsia for generations, if not centuries -- and explains to their satisfaction why America now exists permanently mired in a plethora of major economic, financial, fiscal and societal (EFFS) problems. Problems, it should be noted, our Congress could solve fairly easily, all things considered, if Congress weren't permanently controlled by two political factions of (with exceedingly rare exception) self-serving, politically ambitious politicians (PAPs) engaged in a never-ending, all-consuming struggle for political power, much of it purely for power's sake.

In fairness to our nation's best and brightest thinkers, it is undeniable that America has more than its share of voters with these shortcomings (as do all democracies). But those shortcomings do not explain why America's voters are incapable of governing themselves competently.

Our voters aren't the problem. The true weak link is the severe shortsightedness on the part of our past and current political scientists and political thinkers for not developing -- with a level of precision and detail demanded in other "sciences" -- the specific steps and actions America's voters need to take in order to insure that, minimally, our U.S. Congress stays permanently controlled by 535 (mostly) Democratic and Republican legislators who, relatively speaking, don't have a self-serving, politically ambitious or power hungry bone in their body.

That severe lack of vision is best illustrated by the following graphic.

 

America's "self-governance" problem in a nutshell...

 

"Power is such a dangerous thing that ideally it should be wielded
by people who don't want to use power, who would rather be doing
something else,
but who are willing to serve a certain number
of years as a one-time duty,
preferably at the end of a career
doing something else
."

Thomas Sowell [boldface and underline added]

 

THIS IMPORTANT ACRONYM BEARS REPEATING...

PAP: self-serving, Politically Ambitious/power hungry Politician

The fact that our young minion friend immediately grasps what has been impossible for America's intelligentsia, but especially our political scientists, to see these many decades easily qualifies as the greatest mystery in the fields of both political science and civics instruction. And, of course, begs the question: why?

It's safe to say that our voters haven't been electing PAPs to Congress for, literally, centuries because voters have a great deal of affection for, and trust in, PAPs. They've been electing PAPs because our best and brightest never made an effort to teach the vast mainstream of our voters the basics of competent, or effective, self-governance -- which is to say, how to proactively identify, then aggressively recruit and field (mostly) liberal and conservative candidates in our 435 congressional and 50 Senate Democratic and Republican primaries, respectively, who:

  1. aren't "politicians,"
  2. don't want to be politicians,
  3. have absolutely no desire to make a career in politics, but
  4. if elected in the General Election, will be willing (albeit begrudgingly) to serve in the national legislature for a few years as "a one-time [civic] duty" -- and only a few years because both they and the voters understand just how easily political power, especially at the national level, can corrupt even the best of us.

Had our political scientists done this as recently as a few decades back, today America would not be, by definition, a dystopian democracy.

Dystopian (or dystopic) democracy: a democracy that stays permanently mired in EFFS problems because its national legislature stays permanently controlled by self-serving PAPs.

And, it goes without saying, our voters would not have to hold their noses, come General Election Day and vote for the lessor of two evils.

Instead, America would be, by definition, a neartopian democracy.

Neartopian (or neartopic) democracy: a democracy that exists essentially free of major EFFS problems because its national legislature exists permanently controlled by legislators who are not self-serving PAPs.

But to finish up on our "why" question. Why have our political scientists never advised voters to add a "pre-primary, candidate identification and recruitment process" into the National Legislative Election Process (NLEP)?

There are probably any number of possible answers.

My theory is intellectual hubris.

What began as an academic debate between political philosophers several hundred years ago -- which governing philosophy, liberalism or conservatism, accomplishes the greatest good for the greatest number of people -- eventually deteriorated into today's "my political ideology is better than your political ideology" intellectual urinating contest among and between our liberal and conservative elite in academia, think tanks, media, etc.

That contest is presently so strong that, if it produced an odor, our universities and think tanks (and cable news networks) would reek with the stench of urine.

At some point in our history (my layman's guess, around the time of FDR's New Deal), Congress' self-serving PAPs "weaponized" these two governing philosophies. Meaning they co-opted the intellectual debate and turned it into the single most powerful (by far) demagogic weapon a PAP could possess.

Their pitch to voters became:

"Elect me and my party to Congress because policies based on my side's (morally superior) political ideology are the only way to "cure" America's EFFS ills. While policies based on the other side's political ideology aren't just incapable of solving our problems. In many cases they should be seen as the "diseases" responsible for causing our problems in the first place."

Our (Democratic and Republican) PAPs' demagogic narratives -- both of which were echoed by their respective cliques of "faithful believers" in academia, media, think tanks, Hollywood, etc. -- worked exceptionally well because, as the years progressed, the calculus/thought process for an increasing number of our nation's voters -- both unintelligent and intelligent, uninformed and well informed, greedy and non-greedy, etc. -- became: better to vote for the loathsome, self-serving politician who supports policies that will cure America's EFFS ills than vote for the likeable, NON-self-serving NON-politician who supports polices that will make America's EFFS problems, if anything, worse.

You might say that's when, for many voters, liberalism and conservatism (as governing philosophies) became full blown, zero sum, good ideology vs. "evil" ideology religions.

It's also when, in the midst of our American intelligentsia's ongoing peeing contest, BOTH sides should have discerned, then posited and acted upon, a manifestly larger and profoundly more important apolitical/non-ideological (ANI) truth:

The Fundamental ANI Truth of Competent Self-Governance
(working title)

So long as Congress' major political factions are continually dominated and controlled by self-serving politicians whose political careers and/or the acquisition of power are far more important to them than doing what is in the best interest of the nation, it will not matter which party controls the U.S. House or Senate in any given election cycle -- in the long run, America's myriad of EFFS problems will, if anything, only grow worse.

BUT, if the reins of power in Congress begin to be continually wielded by a steady supply of highly capable legislators who (relatively speaking) don't have a self-serving, politically ambitious or power hungry bone in their body, it will not matter which party controls the U.S. House or Senate in any given election cycle -- America's myriad of EFFS problems will get solved, largely via legislation that is:

    1. neither "liberal" nor "conservative," and

    2. strongly supported by large majorities of America's liberal, moderate, conservative and libertarian voters.

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Had our nation's best and brightest acted upon this (self-evident) ANI truth as recently as a few short decades ago, today:

  1. An entire sub-field of new, self-governance-based knowledge would now exist in political science,

  2. Every American would know by the fourth grade what competent self-governance meant -- and by the sixth grade, how to practice democracy competently, or effectively,

  3. Congress would not be broken, i.e., controlled by self-serving (and fiscally irresponsible, unaccountable, responsibility-phobic, demagogic, etc.) "politicians," and

  4. America would not be drowning in EFFS problems.

Key takeaway: Better late than never.

Our political science and civics educators should get to work, ASAP, exploring what they will quickly discover is an entire continent of new knowledge. And their incentive for beginning this exploration (beyond pursuing knowledge for its own sake): the certain knowledge that successfully teaching our voters a new "self-governance" skill, competent self-governance, will be infinitely easier to accomplish than trying to get our nation's self-serving PAPs to start putting the needs of their nation before their political careers and lust for power.

 

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Please note: this (90% blog) site is currently undergoing major "conceptual" overhaul and reconstruction.

It is turning out to be a time-consuming process. So, while it is taking place, unedited segments containing a great deal of redundancy (along with a lexicon of new, "21st century" terms) will be provided to readers -- political science and civics educators in particular -- who wish to begin learning about this new knowledge immediately.

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Q: Your main argument is that Congress' 435 House, and 100 Senate, members should not be "professional" or career politicians -- or ever held any elected office at the state or local level. So, how can a Congress controlled by "amateurs" possibly run a nation as large and complex as America?

A: First thing, let's start using the acronym, PKQ (for Philosopher King/Queen), to describe a Democratic or Republican (or other political party) legislator serving in either of Congress' two chambers who 1) has never served in elected office, and 2) has been elected by voters with the understanding that the PKQ will only be serving in Congress for a few years as a one-time civic duty. We could also refer to this particular kind of legislator as a PKQ-caliber legislator.

What should clear from the onset is that the PKQ-caliber legislators that America's liberal, conservative, moderate, libertarian, etc. voters will be identifying, recruiting and electing to Congress will not be "amateurs." As a group, PKQs will be among the most intelligent, most educated -- most knowledgeable -- and most accomplished members of our society. They will NOT be, as some might fear, erudite academicians who will rule from high atop Mt. Olympus, divorced from the reality of everyday life; blindly indifferent to the daily plight of the unwashed masses (the average voter -- unwashed or otherwise -- wouldn't give such people the time of day, much less recruit them to run for our nation's highest legislature).

What should also be clear is that Congress doesn't "run" America. Our nation is "run" by tens of millions of Americans distributed throughout:

  • dozens of major federal agencies

  • 50 fully functioning state governments

  • thousands of county, city and other government bodies, and

  • millions of:

    • businesses

    • community and social organizations

    • school boards, churches

    • charities, etc.

More importantly, it is precisely because PKQs are not professional, or career, politicians (i.e., self-serving and politically ambitious) that when they are in control of America's national legislature they will be able to govern our nation, collectively, with the:

      • wisdom of a Solomon,

      • intelligence of an Einstein,

      • logic of a Mr. Spock,

      • compassion of a Mother Teresa,

      • moral compass of a Martin Luther King, Jr.

      • ingenuity of a MacGyver

      • common sense of a Mark Twain

In my view, this is yet another example of a self-governance knowledge that every American of voting age -- along with everyone who will soon be of voting age -- should possess.

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The Foundational Concepts
of
Self-Governance Science
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“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking.
It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”

Albert Einstein

“Change your language and you change your thoughts.”
Karl Albrecht

 

A thought experiment (and food for thought) using new language.

If America's 140 million voters had the ability to sit down around a giant kitchen table in order to discuss among themselves -- and only among themselves -- how to "cure" their diseased Congress, diseased politics and diseased democracy:

  • The table would be approximately twice Earth's circumference.

 
  • Early on, to insure that they didn't quickly divide into their two camps, liberal vs. conservative -- with their traditional liberal vs. conservative mindsets and talking points; their same old "government vs. free market" solutions, etc. -- at least initially, the voters would have to:

    1. tape the mouths of the 5% most rabidly liberal and 5% most rabidly conservative voters,
      THEN
    2. create a small dictionary of new words/terms to describe a number of new apolitical/non-ideological (ANI) concepts, legislative solutions, etc., which would enable them to think about America's EFFS problems, and the solutions to them, entirely outside the political/ideological (PI) -- i.e., outside the Democrat vs. Republican, liberal vs. conservative -- box

  • Our voters -- including, hopefully, our most rabid liberals and conservatives -- would soon discover that these new terms opened the door to a whole new universe of exciting new voting insights and powerful new voting strategies.

In my opinion, the two most useful of these new words would be acronyms/terms to describe the (theoretically) worst possible and best possible legislators -- be they liberal, moderate, conservative, etc. -- that voters could elect to represent them in Congress.

worst possible: PAP (for politically ambitious politician)

best possible: PKQ, or PKQ-caliber, (for philosopher king/queen)

Those terms would logically lead to terms for describing the worst and best possible Congresses:

worst possible: PAP-controlled Congress

best possible: PKQ-controlled Congress

Which, in turn, would led to terms for describing the worst and best possible democracies/CRs:

PAP-governed democracy: a democracy whose national legislature stays permanently controlled by self-serving PAPs.

PKQ-governed democracy: a democracy whose national legislature stays permanently controlled by PKQ-caliber legislators.

Which, in turn, would led to two new categories or classifications of democracies/CRs:

Dystopian (or dystopic) democracy: a democracy that stays permanently mired in EFFS problems because its national legislature stays permanently controlled by self-serving PAPs.

Neartopian (or neartopic) democracy: a democracy that exists essentially free of major EFFS problems because its national legislature stays permanently controlled PKQ-caliber legislators.

At this point, our voters would have all the new-knowledge "building blocks" they needed to begin exploring and developing radically new theories (similar to this page's 18th and 21st century theories) that filled in major gaps in our understanding of the democratic/self-governance process, and answered a number of important questions.

Some examples

    • Why we are a dystopian democracy?
      • What "caused" America's major EFFS problems, i.e., where did they come from?
      • Why have our voters kept Congress filled with self-serving politicians -- even though voters loathe self-serving politicians?

    • How does Congress solve America's major EFFS problems without crafting "liberal" or "conservative" legislation?

    • Why is it impossible for a Congress filled with PAPs to craft the legislation that will solve America's EFFS problems, but laughably easy for a Congress filled with PKQ-caliber legislators -- especially legislation that "breaks" the cycle of "inner city" crime and violence?
 

 

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT
re. a dystopian vs. neartopian democracy

One of the many heartbreaking consequences of America being a dystopian democracy is that our nation's overall character is shaped considerably by America's ultimate role models:

our elected legislative class in Washington -- i.e., our self-serving PAPs.

And what most stands out about essentially all of Congress' PAPs -- even the most well-meaning of them -- isn't pretty, especially if they think their re-election bid is in jeopardy. For example:

  • PAPs resort to personal attack ads.
  • In debates, PAPs are quick to attack, demean, ridicule, etc. their opponents.
  • In debates, or when questioned by reporters, PAPs have no qualms about:
    • pointing the finger of blame at anyone and everyone except themselves,
    • not answering questions that might reflect negatively on them,
    • obfuscating, e.g., providing such mangled answers that no one knows what they said or meant.
  • PAPs not just demean and dismiss the other party's legislative policies and reforms, but question the other side's honesty, integrity, motives, agenda, etc.

Because everyone in America is born and raised in a dystopian democracy, our nation's children and students grow up watching PAPs act like PAPs -- i.e., finger pointing, quick to blame, self-serving, etc. Equally damaging, our youngest minds watch our PAPs' armies of true believers (and well-paid believers) in cable news, academia, national media, think tanks, Hollywood, etc. viscously belittling and disparaging the "other" sides' policies, motives, integrity, etc.

As a result, our children and students naturally assume that, contrary to what their parents, teachers, etc. may be preaching to them, this is "normal" behavior for people who disagree with each other on issues large and small. Which means they are learning early on that this is how one responds to, interacts with, and talks about people whose views on the issues they disagree with.

The harmful (direct and indirect) ripple effects of this are almost impossible to calculate.

Suffice to say, a good case can be made that our nation's overall social behavior, attitudes, value systems, "character," etc. are all extremely unhealthy -- or diseased -- thanks to the unconscionably unethical behavior and actions of generations of consciously unethical role models -- i.e., our national legislature's self-serving, politically ambitious, demagoguing, pandering, fiscally irresponsible, blatantly unaccountable, finger pointing, responsibility avoiding, etc., etc. "politicians."

And why, therefore -- as a society, we are profoundly more:

    rude... crude... loud... greedy... envious... dishonest... angry... resentful... judgmental... self righteous... etc.

...and profoundly less:

thoughtful... conscientious... respectful... principled... courteous... peaceful... generous... civil... altruistic... resourceful... stoic... goal oriented... civic-minded... community focused... etc.

...than we would otherwise be.

Of course, what that also means is that when America's 535 role models are selfless, PKQ-caliber legislators who AREN'T self-serving, politically ambitious, demagoguing, pandering, etc. "politicians," we will find our society -- especially our children -- quickly emulating the behavior of PKQ-caliber legislators.

Meaning they will quickly become profoundly LESS:

    rude... crude... loud... greedy... envious... dishonest... angry... resentful... judgmental... self righteous... etc.

...and profoundly MORE:

thoughtful... conscientious... respectful... principled... courteous... peaceful... generous... civil... altruistic... resourceful... stoic... goal oriented... civic-minded... community focused... etc.

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The science of self-governance is "radical" science
...but it's not rocket science.

Here are some of the other new, 21st century concepts that would almost certainly end up in our voters' treasure trove of new, "self-governance" knowledge.

important acronyms:

ANI: apolitical/non-ideological

CTG: capacity to govern (as in CTG rating)

EFFS: economic, financial, fiscal & societal

NLEP: national legislative election process

PI: political/ideological

POM: purity of motive (as in POM rating)

SSLP: self-serving legislative provision

 

additional terms/definitions:
(working definitions)

ANI-based legislative policy formulation process (see systems optimization)

Competent Self-Governance: the ability of voters to keep their national legislature filled with legislators who can keep their nation as free of major economic, financial, fiscal and societal problems as it is possible to be.

De-dysfunctionalizing legislation (see optimizing legislation)

Dysfunctionalizing legislation: any legislation that contains one or more provisions (hereafter referred to as, dysfunctionalizing provisions), or is written in its entirety, to advance the self-serving interests of the PAPs crafting/writing the legislation.

FYI: dysfunctionalizing legislation is how America's myriad of systems, e.g.,

  • free market system
  • federal tax system
  • financial system
  • healthcare system
  • public education system
  • criminal justice system
  • mental health system
  • etc.

...become infected with/diseased by political-, special interest- and vested interest cronyism.

Incompetent Self-Governance: the inability of voters to keep their national legislature filled with legislators who can keep their nation as free of major economic, financial, fiscal and societal problems as it is possible to be.

One Objective Voting Strategy: voters use the NLEP to achieve one objective: decide which political party controls the U.S. House and Senate.

Optimizing legislation: legislation whose purpose is to undo the damage done to one or more of America's major systems by past dysfunctionalizing legislation.

PKQ-caliber: capable of governing and legislating with both exceptional competence and exceptional selflessness.

POM rating: the score a potential candidate for Congress receives which rates their purity of motive based on a list of relevant, objective factors (to be determined at a later date).

Self-Governance Savvy: understands such things as what competent self-governance means -- esp. how voters in a free society keep their national legislature free of self-serving politicians, and their nation as free of major EFFS problems as possible.

Self-Serving Legislative Provisions (SSLPs): a. provisions inserted into legislation for self-serving reasons; b. dysfunctionalizing provisions.

Shared ANI Objectives: a. objectives that voters of every political and ideological stripe want to achieve via the self-governance process, e.g., a PKQ-controlled Congress; b. objectives that voters want to see Congress achieve via ANI legislation, i.e., legislation that is neither liberal nor conservative, Democratic or Republican -- e.g., optimized free market system, optimized financial system, optimized healthcare system, etc.

Systems Optimization: the primarily (ANI-based) legislative formulation process used by PKQs to insure that America's major systems operate: 1) free of all forms of government created or sanctioned cronyism, and 2) at their maximum possible health, strength, efficiency, effectiveness, etc.

Systems Optimization and Integration: the seamless integration esp. of systems whose principle responsibility is providing for the welfare, and wellbeing, of society's least able, least capable, lowest marketable skills, etc..

 

Two Objective Voting Strategy: voters use the NLEP to achieve two objectives:

1. Decide in the primary process which type of Democratic, Republican, etc. candidates will face each other in the General election: PAPs or PKQ-caliber.

2. Decide in the general election which political party will control the U.S. House and Senate.

 

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WHY THE "EFFS" ACRONYM IS IMPORTANT:

The EFFS acronym allows our society to, among things, lump together all of America's major EFFS problems, largely because they all have the same "solution" -- systems optimization via optimizing legislation.

Rather than every academician, talking head in media, political activist, etc. endlessly arguing the same liberal vs. conservative talking points about how to fix individual problems as varied and seemingly intractable as:

    • crony capitalism,
    • political cronyism,
    • income inequality,
    • chronic, structural unemployment,
    • our (prosperity draining) 70,000+ page tax code,
    • our (prohibitively expensive and maddeningly inefficient) healthcare system,
    • the myriad of societal problems and social pathologies associated with our urban and rural poor,
    • massive budget deficits and unsustainable national debt,
    • etc.

... it will be much more meaningful, and productive, to place the whole lot into a black box marked: America's EFFS problems. Then, rather than continue the endless, fruitless screamfests back and forth, our nation's best and brightest can begin strategizing on how best to "teach" a critical mass of America's voters how practice democracy competently -- i.e., elect PKQs to Congress .

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FDR's New Deal is a useful demarcation point for the beginning of today's liberal vs. conservative war, at least from the point of view of a layman like myself, because that era marks the first time in our nation's history when the big picture decision for voters at the ballot box came down to the same political/ideological issue that today's voters must ultimately grapple with. In the case of the Great Depression's voters, the decision they had to make was: which governing philosophy, liberalism or conservatism, do they want Congress to use to "solve" the myriad of major EFFS problems brought about by the Great Depression?

The liberal philosophy: rely on "government" solutions -- e.g. create government programs, which will be paid for by a combination of government borrowing and raising taxes on businesses and the "wealthy." Said programs will help the unemployed for the Depression's duration by creating temporary make work government projects as well as providing, if needed, a package of temporary government benefits and services.

The conservative philosophy: rely on "free market" solutions -- e.g., stimulate the economy by cutting everyone's taxes. With more money in everyone's pocket, spending on products, manufactured goods and services will increase, which will require businesses to hire new employees to meet the increased demand.

It is almost certainly the case that, especially back in FDR's time, the vast majority of voters weren't looking at the Depression through a political/ideological lens -- i.e., Democratic vs. Republican, liberal vs. conservative policies, solutions, legislation, etc. -- so much as they just wanted their legislators in Washington to do what legislators were expected to do (beyond defend the nation from foreign and domestic enemies and provide vital services): namely, do whatever they had to do, legislatively, to keep good paying jobs plentiful, unemployment low and the economy running on all cylinders.

Eighty years later, that has changed. Liberalism and conservativism have both undergone a major transformation (devolution, actually). They've gone from governing philosophies to full blown religions, and a sizeable majority of our nation's voters are devout adherents of one or the other. The central tenet of each group's most ardent believers is that theirs is the superior ideology while the other side's past policies, legislation, reforms, etc. are the disease responsible for causing, creating or exacerbating America's myriad of EFFS ills.

For example, dyed-in-the-wool conservatives blame 80 years of (naive) liberal/Democratic policies, legislation, reforms, etc. for most of America's economic and financial problems, and all of her societal problems.

And naturally, dyed-in-the-wool liberals blame it all -- especially the number and severity of America's societal problems -- on 80 years of (heartless) conservative/Republican policies, legislation, reforms, etc.. Policies (liberals will argue) that all work off the same "cruel" template: cut government programs for the poor in order to pay for tax cuts for the rich.

Of course, both sides are as wrong as it is possible to be. Governing philosophies/ideologies don't cause, create or exacerbate a democracy's EFFS problems. Dysfunctionalizing legislation does.

COROLLARY: Governing philosophies and political ideologies don't solve EFFS problems, optimizing legislation does.

Unfortunately, these and other 21st century "truths" aren't obvious to everyone because the terms and concepts which would make them not just obvious but unavoidably obvious haven't existed until now.

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ABOUT

Name: Montie Rainey
Profession: Retired, 21st century civics curriculum advocate
Education: BS, Mathematics and Computer Science
(University of Illinois at Chicago, 1984)
Misc:

Opinion columnist, The Jackson Sun
(2005-2010)

Contact:

 

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