Government (-driven) shutdowns have human consequences

Too many government regulators burden and shut down private sector businesses and jobs

Paul Driessen

Many observers praised President Trump’s 2019 State of the Union speech. Some said it was his best ever and even as one of the best SOTU speeches in history. It celebrated the nation’s progress, extolled its opportunities and sought bipartisan unity. A CBS poll found that 30% of Democrats, 82% of Independents and 97% of Republicans gave the speech positive reviews.

As has become customary, the President invited several guests to join him in the House gallery, including two elderly Jews: Herman Zeitchik, who landed on Utah Beach on June 6, 1944, and Joshua Kaufman, whom Corporal Zeitchik helped liberate from the Dachau concentration camp in April 1945.

Members of Congress also invited guests. Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA), invited an Environmental Protection Agency scientist who had been featured in a local newspaper article about Virginia leaders and organizations that tried to help federal workers during the recent shutdown.

Families like this “are committed to public service and just want to serve their country. They shouldn’t be held hostage by the President during a government shutdown,” Mr. Connolly said. “We all recognize the importance of border security, but I’m disappointed to see the suffering of federal employees and their families being used for political gain,” the EPA employee added.

These are understandable sentiments. Government shutdowns certainly have human consequences.

However, even though Mr. Trump “took ownership” of the recent 35-day federal shutdown, to suggest that intransigent Democrats had no responsibility for it or the consequences is disingenuous to the core. So is any suggestion that Dems and fed workers weren’t using the suffering for their own political gain.

In the same vein, community efforts to help federal workers and families were certainly commendable. But federal employees quickly receive back pay for their missed paychecks. Yet I saw no stories about similar efforts to assist families of outside contractors who were also laid off – or private sector businesses and employees affected during the shutdown – none of whom will ever get any back pay.

Moreover, Team Trump took many steps to minimize fallout from the shutdown. By contrast, many Obama agencies did all they could to maximize the fallout, pain and economic dislocations during the 16-day 2013 government shutdown. To cite just one of many examples, the Obama National Park Service closed its access road to Virginia’s privately owned Claude Moore Colonial Farm Park amid the farm’s normally busiest month, costing it tens of thousands in revenues and leaving employees to suffer.

Many citizens also take issue with assertions that federal employees are committed to public service. Our military men and women and their families certainly are. They leave their families behind for months on end, repeatedly put their lives on the line, and too often die or return with life-altering injuries.

By contrast, most other federal employees have comfortable, low-stress, high-pay jobs. Nearly 92,000 of them make more than the governor in states where they work, the watchdog group OpenTheBooks.com points out. Too many of them use their positions to devise, impose, enforce and justify heavy-handed policies and regulations that burden or even shut down private sector businesses, kill jobs, and hammer families and communities – to drive Deep State agendas, often for limited or no benefits.

Those government shutdowns and human consequences receive little “mainstream media” attention. They were especially egregious and far-reaching during the Obama years, and yet generated few or no efforts by VA-MD-DC area leaders and communities to help workers and families whose jobs were impacted or eliminated and lives upended by ill-conceived, incompetent or even deliberate Deep State actions.

Winnipeg, Canada’s Frontier Centre for Public Policy regularly quotes Lao Tzu, who said: “Govern a great nation as you would cook a small fish. Do not overdo it.” Sadly, urged onward by liberal activists and politicians, today’s U.S. government is cooking the American fish into inedible leather.

Candidate Obama promised to “bankrupt” coal mining and coal-fired electricity generating companies, and thus the families, businesses and communities that depended on them. His EPA made good on that promise, by issuing a pseudo-scientific finding that the plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide we exhale somehow “endangers” human health and the future of our planet – then using that finding and equally dubious particulate (soot) rules to justify regulations that eliminated numerous jobs. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton also promised to “put a lot of coal workers and coal companies out of business.”

Tens of thousands of jobs were eliminated in Kentucky, West Virginia and other coal-reliant states, because of the Obama EPA’s war on coal and a switch to natural gas that was driven by that war, abundant and inexpensive gas produced by fracking, and attacks on utility companies financed by Michael Bloomberg and others. Retraining programs helped a few Appalachian miners find new work raising bees and making candles, lip balm and other wax products, for much lower wages.

New “renewable” energy jobs were also created, though generally not in areas where coal jobs were lost. And the number of jobs required to generate expensive, intermittent electricity from wind and solar facilities – versus cheap, reliable power from coal and gas – is simply unsustainable. In fact, producing the same amount of electricity requires one coal worker, two natural gas workers … 12 wind industry employees or 79 solar workers. Major environmental impacts from wind and solar are also ignored.

These same Obama era policies and external factors combined to threaten the demise of the Kayenta Coal Mine and Navajo Generating Station in that impoverished, high-unemployment area. Some 750 people, mostly Native Americans, work there when the facilities are operating at full tilt. The tribe also receives lease rental payments, royalties and revenues from selling the electricity. The Navajo and Hopi tribes are now trying to keep the operations going on their own, because closure is “unacceptable.”

EPA officials were also in charge of the bungled operation that unleashed a toxic flashflood from Colorado’s Gold King Mine in 2015. EPA and its media allies quickly whitewashed the disaster.

In a dress rehearsal for Bob Mueller’s jackbooted arrest of Roger Stone, 30 heavily armed SWAT team agents from Homeland Security and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stormed into the Gibson Guitars factory in 2011, held employees at gunpoint, intimidated and interrogated them, hauled off $500,000 worth of wood and guitars – and warned the company not to touch any guitars that were left behind.

All that for the “crime” of allegedly not having proper paperwork for an exotic endangered wood. Both incidents involved more armed federal agents than were sent to take out Osama Bin Laden!

And who can forget the Russia/Ukraine-instigated FISA warrants? Or the IRS targeting, harassing, stonewalling and effectively silencing conservative political groups that might have made reelection slightly more difficult for President Obama and congressional Democrats?

Not surprisingly, not an iota of accountability was ever exacted on any perpetrators of any of these or multiple other “public service” misdeeds or abuses of power.

Far too often, it seems that federal government employees and their congressional, media and activist allies don’t really care very much about people who live beyond the boundaries of that 39,000-acre plat of land along the Potomac River. That’s what sets Donald Trump apart from Washington politicians, and why he was elected. Unfortunately, many state and local officials are guilty of similar offenses.

Too many government workers across the board seek to control virtually every aspect of our lives: from our energy, lives and living standards … to the cars we can drive and straws we can use with our beverages.

It’s nice that Gerry Connolly cares deeply about Deep State workers whose votes keep him in office. But it would be better if all elected officials and unelected government employees cared more about the American workers, families, businesses and communities that their policies, laws, regulations and enforcement actions too often affect so negatively, too often for so little benefit. Lao Tzu would agree.

Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) and Some author of books and articles on energy, climate, environmental and human rights issues.

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65 thoughts on “Government (-driven) shutdowns have human consequences

    • Most Fed jobs are the modern-regressive versions of the 1930s gov-paid work-gangs that dug then filled in holes. Now it’s filling out bureaucratic forms, then shredding them.

    • Patrick W. – “… furlough them for good”

      I often share that sentiment, but perhaps we could more easily adopt some sort of term limit for every government position. If it’s deemed that experience is beneficial for certain positions, we could allow people faced with their term limit to apply for their own position.

      In times of higher unemployment, a government position is a privilege, and that privilege should be shared. Now we’re enjoying lower unemployment in the US, which means this may be a more opportune time to begin implementing term limits for all government positions.

    • I think that all Federal Agencies should have a sunset clause in the enabling legislation. The requirement for continuation should be a 75% yes vote in both the House and Senate upon reaching sunset.

  1. The Romans had it right. Decimate an under performing organization. If we fired every tenth federal worker every year for five years you may have the right size federal government. At least it would be a good start. Whenever you have so much financial wealth consolidated in a single location you bring out the worse people to control it. That is what we are facing.

    • The problem with a huge central government is, it gathers everybody you need to bribe into one, easy-to-find place. Don’t think those people fail to understand that.

  2. It’s time to drain the swamp… we need a law limiting the numbers and salaries of government employees. Of course, unions are not even remotely acceptable. Great info!

    • A fair question, I guess, to which an answer might be … “CO2 caused the government shutdown.”

      Or, on the other hand, there are greater problems than CO2.

      But what do I know — I’m just a peon participant here.

      Only the mod gods can answer this question completely.

    • Brian, if you do not understand that climate and politics are inseparable at this point then there isn’t anything left to say.

    • There is no requirement that articles on WUWT be specifically about climate.

      “About Watts Up With That? News and commentary on puzzling things in life, nature, science, weather, climate change, technology, and recent news by Anthony Watts”

    • Brian has a point – this doesn’t have much to do with climate change and causes. The government bureaucracy has grown and become a very dangerous animal as bureaucratic crimes go unpunished. The bureaucracy supports climate alarm-ism and intends to use it to establish energy taxes and more government control. This is the link everyone takes for granted.

      • Ok. Just get rid of all government workers involved with climate and with doling out the people’s money on climate research and/or Green projects.
        They are easy to spot. They are the stupid ones that do zero good.

      • Brian has a point – this doesn’t have much to do with climate change and causes

        It’s a meaningless point, as anyone who has read the about page for WUWT knows. This blog doesn’t only post about climate change and causes. It covers (and I quote the about page) “News and commentary on puzzling things in life, nature, science, weather, climate change, technology, and recent news”

  3. Trump said a wall was so vitally important that it was worth shutting down government to achieve wall funding.
    The consequences of a temporary shutdown were far less than not having a wall.

    Democrats said blocking Trump was so vitally important that is was worth shutting down government funding. Consequences of shutdown are irrelevant to our cause. Consequences of open borders are our cause.

    SR

    • UN migration pact.
      Democrats/progressives are childish globalists. They have no moral Constitution, which is why they sway with whatever direction the wind blows.

      • ‘They have no moral Constitution, which is why they sway with whatever direction the wind blows.’

        That’s not quite true – their PUBLIC POSITION sways – but they are unerringly marching towards their globalist-totalitarian goal – they slip it into every issue, every story, every narrative, sunrise to sunset. Global Warming is just one of their primary vehicles.

        See, this is their ‘higher morality.

    • Hi Steve,
      It is worth noting that the shutdown started when the Republicans controlled both houses of congress and the presidency. If the Republican party had wanted the wall then they had 2 years to get it. Instead Republicans in congress consistently refused to fund the wall. And then when their time was up they decided to make it into an issue that could motivate their base.

      • Percy, why are you so eager to demonstrate your ignorance?
        Please Google “filibuster”, then you can come back and apologize to the class.

      • Actually – Percy – that’s the swamp – the uni-party – that dragged their feet on the border-wall. The Republicans involved – the McCain-branch – are what I call the RATs – ‘Republicans Against Trump’ – who are basically forwarding the progressive agenda – and trying to profit from it – or at best trying to pay for it.

        But it’s the Dims that wanted the shut-down – and forced it, regardless of who had majorities – simply because they believed it was a political winner.

        No deeper issue than that.

      • If the Republican party had wanted the wall then they had 2 years to get it.

        even if they had 200 years, as long as they did not have 60 votes in the Senate (they only had 51, assuming they could keep the RINOs in line, which is a very big assumption) they can and were blocked by this little thing called the filibuster. When you are old enough for your first civics class in school, you’ll learn about it, so please do pay attention when your teacher covers it.

        • John,
          Can you explain why there was no money for the wall in the Republican’s budget for 2 years and Trump never bothered to veto it? The democrats never had to use a filibuster to stop a wall since it was never in the budget.

          Building a wall was never a priority of the republican party when they had control of all three branches of government. There was never any serious attempt to get it built and it is only now when they are out of power they are kicking and screaming about it. It is just a cynical attempt to mobilise support without actually wanting to do anything constructive.

          • Joel,
            Can you point to a single example where the democrats actually used the filibuster to stop a money being allocated to the border wall? They certainly claimed that they would use it but that was never put to the test because the Republicans never cared enough to bring it to a vote. Building a border wall was never a priority of the Republican party. Only Trump wants it and the Republicans are using it as a cynical tool to attack Democrats.

          • Percy partially has a point. The GOP House and Senate could have passed a bill to fund the wall on the first day. BUT … they didn’t! … WHY? .. you ask? Because there is nothing better in politics than a big polarizing issue to run on. If Trump solves the immigration issue (which building a wall would go a long ways towards doing), then the GOP looses a political position to run on. In Contrast … the democrats still get to run on their false claims of human rights violations, racism, etc.

            One can’t forget, a good portion of the GOP are beltway swamp rats as well. They hate Trump. Trump is the best thing to come along for the American PEOPLE since … since … well … I’m not sure I can answer that, but to be sure since a time before Woodrow Wilson. Trump is not a politician, and the politicians on both sides hate him. That’s why John McCain didn’t like him …. Trump was “not one of them”!

            You can bet your a$$ that the beltway bunch is rather scared at the moment with Trump commanding a 52% approval rating. Doesn’t matter what the biased CNN and NBC and NYT polls say, …. everyone knows they lie … heck, they predicted Hillary in a landslide ….. you can bet that Trump will see another 4 years come 2020. The Democrats are pinched in a corner in having to run so far left to try to distract the public from Trumps success, they are about to fall off the cliff. If they don’t come to their senses, they may find themselves in the minority again. After all, they’d be in the minority now if the GOP had not bent over backwards to hand them this opportunity by having half the GOP house seats “retire”. Don’t think for a minute that was not intentional.

          • Didn’t say ‘filibuster’, did I?

            I also said that part of the obstacle is a bunch of rats who campaign on promises that they don’t intend to deliver – and the Republicans really AREN’T using it – they’re trying to puss-out like usual. You ARE right about one thing, however, Trump’s the only one pushing for it – because he’s the one acting on an issue that has upwards of 74% support among the American people.

            But whether the Republicans were just giving lip-service is quite irrelevant, because the Democrat party quite rightly deserves to be attacked on this issue – among others – as do the rats on the Republican side of the aisle.

            Then you throw in the other agenda items that Trump has been trying to get through in the face of utterly fraudulent attempts to remove him from office and destroy anyone aligned or even associated with him.

          • This is literally the first time I’ve agreed anything Percy has said, and both Dr. Dean and Joel responded appropriately.
            Kudos Percy, you finally brought a valid point to the table. It was however, once again clarified fur you so you only get
            +3/4

          • Well, as an outside observer, I’ve gotta say you guys are scary.

            I’m with you guys on climate, coal and CO2, but Percy makes a perfectly valid and important point, which you in one way or another all agree is a true statement, then somehow you blather and accuse and confound, and somehow think you’ve won the debate?

            Remember that old adage (and it applies to the article by Paul Driessen too):

            He who contrives to jump through too many elaborately placed hoops, risks disappearing up his own a**hole.

          • Percy, they didn’t have 60 votes in the Senate. They can either attempt to push forward with legislation that had a chance of passing or they could have wasted time and energy on “show votes” that would do nothing and go nowhere. They chose the former when they controlled both chambers of congress, that’s what parties in power do – accomplish what they can while they have the power. And it’s why you’ll see lots of show votes coming from the house, because the house knows that since it’s priorities will never make it through the Senate or get signed by the president they don’t have the power to accomplish what they want but they can make a show of it. The republicans did the same thing when they controlled the house and the Dems controlled the Senate and Presidency. Show votes are what parties that don’t have enough power to accomplish anything else do.

          • Percy partially has a point. The GOP House and Senate could have passed a bill to fund the wall on the first day.

            The house could have but with out 60 votes, it would never have gotten through the Senate. Heck even if the bar was 50 votes, it would have had trouble thanks to a number of RINOs like McCain and Flake. (see the Obamacare repeal effort for an example of that in action).

          • And, BTW, the house did have a bill HR 3548 The Border Security for America Act ($10 Billion for the wall). It passed The House Homeland Security Committee (18-12 committee vote) and was placed on the Union Calendar (where all bills involving money go, awaiting their turn on the house floor).

            It took 8 months (7/17 through 3/18) to get through committee to getting placed on the calendar – so, no Dr. Deanster, a bill could not be passed on day one as they have to go through the appropriate committee(s) first. However, it never came to the floor of the house for a vote (that’s on Paul Ryan) likely because Speaker Ryan knew it would never get the 60 votes needed in the senate so he prioritized other bills that had better chances of passing.

  4. I thought Trump did an excellent job in El Paso last night. Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke’s rally looked like a joke. He had a few hundred attendees while one estimate of Trump’s crowd was 35,000 people (inside and outside).

    There’s not much I can add to Trump’s speech, he pretty much covered it all.

    The argument today is whether Trump should accept the Democrat deal to give him $1.375 billion for his wall or whether he should hold out for more.

    The most important thing to Trump’s followers is that he continue and finish the wall. They don’t care how he gets it done, just that he gets it done. And Trump guarantees he will finsh the wall and I believe him. He has many legal options open to him to continue construction of the wall, whether the Democrats help him or not.

    The Democrats are setting themselves up for defeat in 2020. They are doing everything wrong. They are making themselves appear unreasonable and unhinged with their socialist agenda. And their stance on the southern border wall makes them look like they are oblivious to danger, which is not good when it is your job to be protecting the security of Americans.

    Trump’s popularity is much higher now than it was when he was elected. Despite the Democrats throwing everything they can find at him. It must be really frustrating for Democrats. They have done their worst, legally and illegally, and Trump’s approval ratings continue to climb.

    I guess Nancy Pelosi backed off her position that she wouldn’t give Trump two dollars for a wall.

    • While I am no Trump fan, it appears to me as an outsider that he is a far harder worker than most of the 13 presidents during my lifetime. He appears to have done more to remove government obstacles to those who create real sustainable productive jobs and slim down a bloated government.

    • Tom,
      I have no idea where you get your figures from. The El Paso fire department state that 6500 people
      attended Trump’s rally while El Paso’s police estimate that between 10000 and 15000 attended Beto’s
      rally. Similarly 538’s opinion poll tracker puts Trump’s approval rating at about 40% which is up slightly after the shutdown but by any measure he is more unpopular now than when elected.

        • And a popular method in the Goebbels-press to FORM public opinion, as opposed to reflecting it.

          Just imagine what his approval would be with even a once-in-a-while honest press.

          Best president in my lifetime – certainly the only one that’s actually been working purely on behalf of the benefit of the country – and a hell of a lot harder worker than any other I could name.

          • Exactly like the so-called 97% consensus.
            Fake statisticst to support a weak theory.
            AND likewise used to convince people that it must be true!

      • Garbage – what you’re seeing is twenty-four hour a day, seven days a week political and personal assassination, accompanied by criminal abuse of power, both in the press AND all over government, that Goebbels could have only dreamed of and Trump STILL has a 52% approval at Rasmussen .

        90% negative coverage – AT LEAST – and 52% approval – and you still got come here and sling your bullshit.

        The kind of stage-games they’ve been playing to downplay Trump’s rallies rank from taking pictures hours before the event to simply lying about it.

        If you were being honest, you would acknowledge the fact that the mainstream press has openly stated (as if they needed to) that they’ve thrown ‘journalistic ethic’ out the window in favor of their own political bias.

        • Right on Joel. He actually has subdued my cynicism. I’m coming out of retirement (I said I’d never vote again after I got tricked by Obama in my early 20’s) and I’m voting straight republican. I may even talk to my wife about voting Trump. Given the nature of things…She’ll consider it.

          unfortunately we’d be the only ones in our immediate family :/

      • Percy wrote: “I have no idea where you get your figures from.”

        Well, I was listening to a reporter interviewing someone and they mentioned the 35,000 number. Trump, during his speech, said the building he was in was supposed to hold 6,500, but the Fire Department has allowed 8.500 in, and he thanked the Fire Department. Then Trump said there were thousands more outside who couldn’t get in and were watching on screens outside.

        I got the estimate of Beto’s numbers by watching him on tv. It didn’t look like much of a crowd to me. Certainly not 10,000 or 15,000. No way.

        Now the Trump rally was right across the street from Beto’s rally so some of those thousands that are being counted as part of the Beto crowd may actually be Trump supporters. During part of Beto’s speech, you can actually see a big screen tv in the background behind him showing Trump giving his speech.

        Percy wrote: “Similarly 538’s opinion poll tracker puts Trump’s approval rating at about 40% which is up slightly after the shutdown but by any measure he is more unpopular now than when elected.”

        What do you mean by any measure? Rasmusen, the most accurate poll in the last presidential election has Trump at 52 percent favorability ths week. Trump’s support in the Black Community has gone from about 15 percent on election day to 40 percent today. The Hispanics Community shows similar numbers for Trump.

        Considering the non-stop efforts to undermine Trump for the last two years by the Left, it’s a pretty amazing number.

        The Left thinks Trump is vulnerable. It’s why you see so many candidates jumping in the presidentail race. They have all bought into this Leftwing meme. It’s wishful thinking on a grand scale. The Left should get ready for another disappointment like the one in 2016.

    • IMHO, Trump should take the deal and then still declare a national emergency to get the other $4+ billion he wants. That ought to ruffle their feathers a bit.

      And speaking of Beto, how does a party take a loser and make him a “hero”?
      Just more of the “if I wish it were true maybe it is” mentality.

      • “IMHO, Trump should take the deal and then still declare a national emergency to get the other $4+ billion he wants. That ought to ruffle their feathers a bit.”

        I also think Trump should sign the bill and get his money and then give us an update every time a section of wall is built. There is no point in wallowing in the pigsty with the pigs if you can get the money for the wall from somewhere else than the Democrat House.

        Trump is practically defending the southern border all by himself. That will make a good campaign issue in 2020.

        Trump can always shut the government down in October when the next fiscal year begins if he doesn’t get more money for the wall from Congress.

        What Repubicans should do between now and October is to pass a bill allowing for federal workers to continue to work and receive their pay during any budget impasse. This way neither party can hold innocent people hostage for political purposes.

        Once the Democrats can no longer hold federal employees hostage over a budget deal, then Trump can play hardball with them. They don’t give him what he wants, then he won’t give them what they want and there’s nothing they can do to put pressure on him to move.

        We need to get federal employess out of the middle of these political disagreements.

  5. Not only federal regulators inhibit energy development and add to human misery, but state regulators can be even worse. In western Colorado, 3000 families were forced out of our happy valley when then Governor Bill Ritter put onerous environmental rules in place on the gas drilling industry. Overnight,100’s of rigs were disassembled, loaded onto trucks and shipped to Ohio and North Dakota. Our economy is just know starting to recover and that was over 10 years ago.

  6. The Wall is a metaphor for border control. Border control based on economics. As an employer of blue collar workers for many years it’s all about wages. Labor is a commodity. If it can be had at x it will be. Wages are rising in the USA after many years of stagnation. Restricted supply and a growing economy creating demand is the reason.

    Democrats have screwed the working folks for many years based on raw ideology. Many Republicans have chosen to do the same based on what business owners wanted. Trump is the first President in decades to do anything real for blue collar workers. A good sell at election time in the sates that will count.

  7. I heard rumors that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is willing to hold a vote on the Green New Deal. He said it would be good to get everyone on the record. 🙂

  8. Well until there is Voluntary Taxation, you won’t get these people to care at all. They are only interested in extending their regulatory power and increasing the Tax Pool in which the permanent bureaucracy and the political elite live off.

    A free country is not free if it’s people are compelled on the pain of imprisonment and confiscation, to provide a political elite with the very money needed to oppress them…. even political representation is becoming a farce. It’s more like a single political elite pretending that it is a “two party system” that just plays “Good cop, Bad cop” with the electorate to ensure that the corruption of a permanent bureaucracy is maintained.

    It’s all a bit sad. I’m sure the Founding father’s of the American Revolution would be saddened, though not entirely surprised by the state of modern politics…. Benjamin Franklin was asked upon the completion of the Constitution and the instillation of American politics, of what the American people had, to which he answered, “A Republic madam, but only if you can maintain it.”…. He would be saddened to know that the maintenance was deficient and the Republic had rotted from the inside out.

  9. I am not fond of opinion or persuasive writing. Much prefer argumentative pieces which must link to verifiable facts and figures from both sides of a topic, though with a slant towards the writer’s point of view. Well reasoned pieces will likely dunk a point for our side. This one does not and in my opinion was poorly done. Points made were diluted with the shear number of them and was filled with unverifiable persuasive opinion that moved me little. It’s focus was blurred from the onset and seemed to wonder through a laundry list not even separated by color. The result? Bland grey writing. Stick to the narrowly defined point, chose only the strongest supporting evidence, and fairly present both sides.

    I want my time back from reading it.

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