There are a number of basic necessities for a human society to exist. These are food, housing, clothing, energy, and transportation. To provide them efficiently scientific and technological progress has enabled the creation of industries and power-operated processes that vastly extend the productive power of human labour. But key to the economic process that provides the necessities, is the human being. It is the quality of human living and human development that determines the state of civilization. This quality is greatly effected by the quality of education, culture, and above all, the quality of housing.
Slum living, not to mention homelessness, destroys a society. It disables the human potential. A farmer will have a poor harvest if he puts no seeds into his fields, or just a few seeds of poor quality. Civilization sows its own 'seed,' and the quality of housing is a chief factor in the dimension of civilization. A lack of housing destroys civilization. This lack is therefore one of the greatest barrier a society can impose on its self-development and its civilizational wealth.
But how can we upgrade the current state of housing, which is in a state of crisis that is barely recognized to exist? The cost of housing has risen astronomically to the point that society has become enslaved just to meet the housing cost, and evermore people can't afford any housing at all.
On this universally enslaving basis there is no economic recovery possible, and society is increasingly doomed to decay. Desperation becomes the outcome, and crime, and hopelessness.
By tolerating poor quality housing (or none at all) society is wasting the most precious asset is has, which is itself and its human development potential.
The following text is a 'snippet' from one of my novels in which the housing question is explored in a rather unorthodox context to illustrate that we have the potential to dig ourselves out of the housing crisis that is still in the making, even though it has already begun to explode.
The excerpt below is a dialog on the subject from the novel, The Ice Age Challenge.
Tony, who had been sleeping up front, joined us. He had been looking for us. He was eager to get into the act. "We should have done this universal defense thing a long time ago," he said when he found an opening in the discussion. "We should have done this long before the SDI was even an issue. We had plenty of opportunities to do this, and still do. I hear it costs us close to 30 million to build a single F15 fighter aircraft. We plan to build 750 of them. For the cost of a single aircraft, using the same modern mass-production methods, we could have produced homes for 30,000 homeless people. For the price of ten aircraft we could have eradicated homelessness in the entire country. We would have created a whole new industry for mass-produced housing had we devoted ourselves to this task, utilizing our advanced machine tool capability. With this little bit of effort we might have helped eradicate homelessness around the world. Doing that would have been a real effort for the universal defense of mankind. Instead, we are wastin our resources on mass-producing killing machines. Of course the F15 is an amazing aircraft, but it comes at a high price. And even at this high price it is a relatively cheap aircraft in the world of military aviation. The C5-Galaxy transport aircraft costs over 170 million each. We have built 120 of them. The new B1-B intercontinental supersonic bomber costs us a whopping 280 million for each single plane. We expect to have 65 in service soon. And our latest on the wish list, the B2 stealth bomber, which is already in prototype production, will be costing us over a billion dollars each. We expect to have 20 of them. The tab for just those four aircraft runs up to 80,000 million. That's what we spent to increase our killing potential, while we don't care enough to spend a dime on protecting human life, aiding the victims of our disintegrating culture. We let them rot and die in the streets. Why then are we talking about the universal defense of mankind if don't even care to defend the most disenfranchised of our own people, the most vulnerable, for which very little would be needed? In fact the world would be better off we cared enough to help those people and built a few less killing machines instead," said Tony.
"We are talking about sophistry, Tony," said Steve, "the kind that prevents us from doing what we should be doing, instead of building killing machines. We failed to do this with the SDI, because we fell for the sophistry of the world's public opinion. We are exploring what is required for breaking the sophistry."
"Good luck!" said Tony. "That's like beating you head against a wall. It's like standing in front of Congress and suggesting that for the price of a single B1-B bomber would eradicate homelessness in America forever, and that we should do this instead of building bombers. The Congressmen would boo you and ridicule you, because Congress represents the rich, rather than the people of America. If it doesn't profit the rich that finance their campaign, they don't want to hear of it. Of course, if you were to further suggest that spending the equivalent of a single B2 bomber would eradicate all slum living in America by providing decent brand new low cost housing, the Congressmen would boo you out of the hall, because what you propose would topple the entire real estate pyramid of high priced, gold plated, tarpaper shacks. It simply wouldn't be done even we would achieve with it for once something that we can be really proud of as Americans. The Congressmen would ask you why anyone would then pay 600,000 for a house if they can get the same for 2,000? Of course I'm exaggerating, but in principle I think I'm right."
"You are not exaggerating," said Steve. "You may be closer to the mark than you think. The $2,000 house is achievable. And you are right on another count. What stands between the realization of what is necessary to liberate society and what we have today in the world of high-priced living, if it can still be called living, is nothing more than a thick layer of sophistry that is designed to enrich the rich. You are right, Tony, Congress would explode with rage if you were to suggest the structure that enriches the rich, in order to uplift society out of it poverty. Still, you ought to try it, because it can be done. And I also agree that America would the achieved something that any American would be proud of, except the rich, perhaps, that would loose their revenue from stealing." Steven began to laugh as if he was joking.
"Can this really be done?" said Ushi.
"With ease and hands down," Steve replied and became serious by saying it. "The $2,000 house is achievable."
"I was just dreaming when I made the proposal," said Tony.
"You were right on the money," said Steve and smile. "Of course I' not talking about cutting down trees and sawing them into planks to be nailed together laboriously. I am talking about high energy-intensive automated production. I am talking about highly modularized houses, constructed in completely automated assembly lines."
Tony shook his head. "What you propose sounds wonderful, but it can't be done in practice, Steve. The moment that you announce that you are going to build 50,000 new houses for the homeless of America, the building materials prices will going through the roof. It would cost you ten times for materials than what you expect to pay now. The price for every stick of wood would instantly increase ten-fold."
"Who said anything about building with wood?" said Steve. "That's archaic. I'm thinking of building with new materials, that kind that no one owns. I am thinking about utilizing a national resource that America has in abundance. I am talking about building houses of basalt and glass. Basalt has a nine times higher tensile strength than steel. I'm talking about the new houses being made up of basically six extruded modules of glass-fiber reinforced basalt. One module might be a curved extruded roof. All the modules would be fully insulated with fiberglass. Some of the insulation might even include basalt micro fibers. Did you know that basalt fibers are a three-times-better thermal insulator than asbestos is?"
"I've always thought that basalt is just stone, a volcanic stone," said Tony.
"Sure it is stone, Tony," said Steve. "But it's more than just stone. It's an extremely fine-grained stone and very dense, and hard. Its stronger and less brittle than glass, and its melting point is 500 degrees below the melting point of glass so that it can be reinforced with glass fibers when needed. It's also nicely fluid when melted. It can be extruded into fibers, even micro fibers, or any other shape you can imagine, such as wall panels or single unit roof modules. Basalt is the perfect stuff for automated fabrication and it's better in quality than anything on the market is today. What makes basalt an even more ideal building material is the fact that there is plenty of basalt right in our backyard in the USA. The Columbia River Basin contains 170,000 cubic-kilometers of this top grade building material. That's enough to cover the entire USA twelve meters deep. Nor would you need to dig into the ground to get to it. It's sitting on the surface. All you need to do is pick it up, melt it, purify it, and reshape it into whatever you want to make of it. The stuff is 100% useable. No waste results. The only input that you need is a bit of process heat. The stuff melts at 1,200 degrees Celsius. Glass melts as 1,700 degrees. We can easily get this kind of process heat from nuclear power. The leading edge High Temperature Gas Cooled Reactor would be ideal for that. It's sometimes called the pebble bed reactor. It's the safest and cleanest nuclear reactor ever designed. It doesn't even require uranium. It burns thorium rather than uranium. In fact, Tony, the HTGCR is more than safe. It would increase security in the world. Its design can tolerate small amounts of weapons grade plutonium in its fuel mixture and burn it up. It would eventually cleanse the world of this poison. It also breeds its own fuel. It breeds almost as much as it consumes. We can mass-produce these thorium rectors in a modular design, Tony, and use them for almost any application. There is plenty of thorium in the world, far more than uranium. The HTGCR would be ideal for our house-building project. It provides 500-degree process heat with a high-energy flux density. We can use it to generate electrical power and run some of it through heat-pump concentrators to get the kind of heat that lets us melt basalt, steel, glass, and a lot of other things as well. That's how we would achieve the automated mass production for the new housing units that are urgently required as a first step to jump-start the world. The new housing units would be produced with the same efficiency with which produce today egg cartons."
"Wow, I had no idea," said Tony in amazement. "I really thought that couldn't be done."
"And you are wrong about something else, Tony," said Steve. "I didn't say that we need to build 50,000 units. I was thinking more in the order of a million new houses of about 1,500 to 2,000 square feet in floor area. We don't just face a crisis in terms of homeless living, but also in slum-type living. Many of the places that people are forced to live in for the lack of anything else, aren't fit for human habitation, much less for human development. The housing scene is fast becoming a crime scene of horrendous crimes against humanity. We probably need to build several million new low-cost houses to start with, just to dig the nation out of the slum hole. With large-scale automated production, powered by nuclear power plants, that's easily accomplished. We can even make the needed furniture's in a similar fashion, including beds, possible also clothing and shoes. I can see basalt micro-fibers becoming the textile of the future."
"Now you are dreaming," Tony interrupted me. "The needed plants and equipment to build millions of houses would cost tens of billions of dollars. There isn't a bank in the world that would lend you that kind of money, much less for a project to help the poor."
"Who needs to go begging to the banks to achieve what must be achieved," said Steve and laughed. "Congress would simply nationalize the Federal Reserve system. By doing this, the nation would simply extend the needed financial credits to itself at interest rates equivalent to the administration cost. So, why do say it won't work, Tony? It would work easily. As you said yourself, our nation is spending billions each year to built more killing machines, and beyond that, tens of billion more on covert operations around the world to destabilize other governments, wreck other nations, create terrorist armies, and so forth. God only knows how many billions we have spent on the Arc of Crisis policy all by itself, to destabilize the Soviet Union with Islamic fundamentalist terrorism that didn't exist until we created it. It cost us billions to do this and we are still suffering the consequences. In fact the consequences are getting words. So, why shouldn't we shut this terror machine down and utilize the economic resources that we waste each year on destroying the world to do something constructive for a change, and uplift ourselves as a nation and humanity as a whole. So Tony, don't say that we can't afford what needs to be done that society can live. If you are saying this, you are a hypocrite, perhaps not by intent, but in effect you are."
Tony shook his head and smiled. "Maybe I am a hypocrite. But by the same token you should judge yourself insane for suggesting that any of that will ever work," said Tony.
Steve just smiled back at him. "What I'm suggesting has already worked, and it has worked well until a bunch of traitors wrecked it. It could work again, and more efficiently this time. It is referred to in American history as the Hamiltonian credit system."
Tony smiled again and didn't say anything in reply. Suddenly he laughed. "Your entire project is unworkable for another reason, Steve," said Tony. "It is unworkable for the simple reason that it is too late for that. What good would it be to build your $2,000 houses if you can't place them? It costs roughly $200,000 just to buy a building lot to put the house on."
"Who said anything about buying building lots, Tony?" said Steve and laughed again. "Why would one do that? Who needs to buy building lots? I am talking about building brand new cities, Tony, utilizing the vast empty spaces of New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and so forth. I am talking about small community oriented cities surrounded by new industries, all interconnected by high-speed trains. The building lots for the houses would be free. The only cost incurred would be for installing the services, such as roads, water, sewage, electricity, telephone, electronics, and provisions future services. Of course the required services would be laid in an industrial type fashion at very low cost. The entire finished house wouldn't cost more than $3,000 each for the actual physical construction, transportation, and installation. The big costs would all be located in the national infrastructure upgrading, in system designs, process engineering, and water and power systems. It would cost us a few billion before the first house was built, but once the new economy is up and running it would rapidly transform the country and inspire the world to duplicate the new renaissance."
"Of course, we have to enrich our own country also, from one end to the other," I said to Tony. "Free building sites for rent-free houses and entire cities would likely be offered by communities all over the place, just for the economic uplift and vitality the new places would bring. The free-city living would also become incorporated into the old cities to keep the old cultural diversity alive. I can see older cities not just offering free housing, but also offering advanced environments in competition with each other to attract people. Once it is becoming recognized that the people of society, beyond anything else, are a society's most precious resource, then cities will be in a general competition with each other to attract more people with long-term promises and long-term potentials. The resulting universal development process would most certainly transform the whole of America."
"Sure it would," said Tony and then laughed. "It would hit like a bomb in today's world. You would accused of undermining established processes. Who would pay a thousand each month on a mortgage when the same kind of quality living, or better, can be obtained free? Likewise, who would continue to commute four to six hours a day to get to work from those high mortgage places, when in the new cities the new industries can be reached within minutes and offer better pay? People would walk away in droves from the world of high-cost living. The exodus from the old cities, the slums, and from the high-mortgage houses, would wreck the entire speculative mortgage system that has become the backbone of the speculative financial system. The whole financial system would break down instantly, which relies on the steady stream of tribute money flowing in from the high mortgage payments."
"Wouldn't the end of this looting system be a good thing?" said Steve. "The whole system is presently sick. It has become a horrendous form of stealing. The financial vultures that run the show got the private Federal Reserve to create real estate credits out of nothing. Other vultures then drive up the prices by speculation. Horrendous profiteering happens at every step along the way. That's why house prices are ten times of what they should be, even now. The current high-cost mortgages turn countless families into voluntary slaves. The whole system has become a new form of money laundering. The process starts with money created out of nothing, which is then used to get society to contribute the lion's share of its labor to feed the vultures that run the process. Don't you think the time has come to end this money laundering slavery process? The basic requirements for living, like having a roof over the head, should have never been turned into a profit engine. It should be free, because that's what the welfare of society depends on, like free roads, free bridges, free universal health care and free universal education. Even basic transportation should be free. That's the fundamental element of the General Welfare Principle. That's like a farmer sowing the best seeds he can get onto his field and to sow them in rich measure and then apply enough fertilizers. If the farmer doesn't do that, he is working against himself. If society doesn't support itself with the most basic necessities for living, it is working against itself. It is literally shooting itself into the foot."
"The General Welfare Principle is dead in America," said Tony and laughed. "There's nothing left of it. Haven't you heard we are even dynamiting our public hospital system now, which are said to stand in the way of the private hospitals that operate as profit engines. We are privatizing anything now. We call the General Welfare principle, 'socialism.' We slander public electric utilities that sell their electricity to society at cost. Everything that a person needs to exist, especially the basic necessities, such as housing, transportation, health care and education have all been turned into profit engines to prevent America from becoming a 'socialist' state. America wants to be a capitalist society in which only 20% of society can live a decent life and the rest live as slaves." Tony kept on laughing.
"You shouldn't be joking about this," said Ushi.
"I am not joking," said Tony. "That is what America is committed to. If Peter were to stand before Congress and suggest that we should divert the funding for one single B2 bomber to eradicate homelessness and slum living in America and give America a brand new start, he would be branded a socialist traitor and be run out of the country. They would scream at him in a rage. The would predict that the moment that America would open the socialist gateway, the world would instantly line up at America's doorstep, wanting free housing. The country would be overrun...."
The dialog below is from a different part of the novel. The setting is an application hearing for a beach project that is opposed by the church.
I was tempted to ask the Man of The Old Cloth every one of those questions, with a demand that he answer them one by one. Of course I also knew that this could never be done. The demand would destroy him physically. Someone who was so carefully taught in emotions that the slightest touch of truth produces an outrage of the kind that we had been witnessing, would explode into a fit that could destroy him if those questions would be brought up. He would explode in a rage like shallow politicians tend to explode when the 'wrong' issues are probed and the truth is demanded.
While I pondered what to do next, the girl from New England stood up again. This time she spoke in plain English. "You are a hypocrite," she said to the Man of The Old Cloth. "The people of the beach project have challenged us all, you included, to look at the naked truth. But you call it fornication. You said you represent God that is Truth, but you call the search for truth fornication and praise the process of covering it up. We have a word for this two-faced idealism, this double standard. The word is, hypocrisy. Hypocrisy stinks. It stinks with the copses of millions of rotting bodies, and it stinks to heaven with the suffering you impose with your hypocrisy. I challenge you to take off your tinted glasses and look at the naked truth of the inhumanity that you try to hide, because you don't know what a human being is. You need to learn this. So, let me help you, and I promise not to be as gentle as the farmer was who spoke of his little holocausts that he helped create, which erased a few cities in the name of God. The farmer spoke of half a million being killed in a three-day orgy of madness, which I agree was a huge tragedy. Still, it was a small thing by today's standard. In Hamburg 50,000 were burned to death in a six-day orgy of fire, we now kill 30,000 a day across the world, day after day, with imposed poverty and with imposed diseases. We do it with greed or apathy or both, but without love. The naked truth is, we have no love. With every bomb we dropped we lost a bit of our humanity. With every house that we built so expensively that most people cannot afford to live in anymore, we spat in the face of love. Yes, that's what we do, and we continue to do this.
"I heard voices of protest," said the girl. "People were groaning when the farmer spoke of Dresden. People didn't want to be reminded of the ugly past, because then they would also have to face the ugly present. The ugly present is a world in which just as many people as had been killed in Dresden are committed to a slow death by us today, right among us, with homelessness. We treat the homeless and the poor not as human beings, but as outcasts, and so, with each man, woman, and child that dies in the back alleys of our cities a bit of our civilization dies, a bit of our humanity dies, and a bit of our love dies. Thus we become poorer as a society and the world becomes increasingly unfit to live in.
"Let me tell you what kind of world we would have if we hadn't lost our humanity and our love," the girl continued. "If our love was such that we considered homeless and slum living a crime against humanity we would have corrected this criminality instead of continuing for the sake of profit. We can still stop this crime, and reverse course. We have the materials and the technologies and the human resources to build a few million new houses for people to live in and thereby end homelessness and slum living forever. We could give those houses away for free and end up richer in the processes than we ever have dreamed possible."
"Your utopian dreaming is off the subject," a well-dressed man on the panel interrupted the girl.
"That's not true!" said Steve and stood up. "What the girl presented is not utopian dreaming. It is totally within the context of looking at the naked truth of our humanity."
He went forward to the panel and recited the long litany of his credentials, degrees, awards, and citations for public service. "We have the potential to make good on what the girl promised," he said, "if we head the love in our heart to do it. That's the truth. And the truth is the truth whether it is uttered by child or is uttered by the most honored elite. The truth is what matters, and the girl spoke the truth. We have the physical and technological capability to do what she proposed. If we would utilize basalt as the building material and mass-produce the new houses on automated production lines, powered by modern mass-produced High Temperature Gas Cooled nuclear reactors, we can create houses so inexpensively that we can give them away, certainly to them that we presently force to live homeless and in slums. The technologies exist to do this. The materials exist in great abundance, completely unitized. We have 170,000 cubic kilometers of it. The nuclear power resources also exist in great abundance. Apart from uranium there is enough thorium in the world to power five million reactor years. Only a tine portion of that will ever be used since in 50 years nuclear fusion power may come of line with resources that will likely last us twice as long as the planet itself will last. In other words, we lack nothing in resources to build the million new houses with ease. In fact, if we were to do this, and build those houses, we would create a whole New World for ourselves along the way, with a brightness such as even fiction writers have not yet imagined. The only thing that we don't have to realize this potential, is love. And that my friends is the naked truth. Because of our utter lack of love we live in a terribly poor world, a world powered by slavery and stealing, a world darkened by inhumanity, torture and genocide. We are our own victims in this dark world, because we have trashed our humanity. We have burned it. We have burned in the firestorms of Hamburg, Dresden, Tokyo, and in the fires of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And now we are burning it more massively in Africa in operations of genocide that make Hitler's war on humanity appear like a dance of children in comparison. That's why we won't build the needed houses that our humanity would require us to build. We don't build them, because we don't have any humanity left. We could build the million houses that the girl said we need, for a fraction of the economic resources that we throw away in building just a single one or our fancy weapons systems, like the B1-B bomber, or the B2 bomber that costs us billion dollars for each single aircraft. But we don't do it, even if those houses would uplift the face of America and bring it into the sunshine. We don't do it, because e can't. We have burnt our humanity. We have none left. We have no love. Thus we say nay to life and build for killing instead of living. Thus we say nay to having a bright future and embrace slavery and torture and genocide instead. Just imagine if we had enough humanity left to muster the love to build those million houses that are urgently needed. We would reap along the way a vast industry for building that would uplift all building processes, cultural and industrial, that would uplift architecture itself with new materials that afford new freedoms in design. We would also reap countless secondary industries in the wake of this single economic driver. Why then don't we do this, and instead make a hell hole out of our world that is reeking with such inhumanity that the devil would envy us for it if there was such a thing as a devil?"
Steve sat down again without exploring the subject further. Perhaps he felt that he said all what needed to be said.
The well dressed man on the panel protested. "That's totally impossible under the present economic reality," he said. "The debt service costs would be prohibitive."
The old man stood up again. He cane forward again, cane in hand. "Of course it is impossible under the present economic reality," he said and laughed, waving his cane about. "It's impossible because we are denying the nature our country, our history, and our heritage. Our republic was created as a society that extends itself the needed financial credits for its self-development. We are denying that. Our founding fathers set up a society that creates for itself whatever financial credits are needed to build itself a rich world. We are denying that heritage. America has been created as a credit society, not as a beggar society that has to go crawling on its belly to the moneybags. We are denying our identity as we deny that. We gave away our currency to the private banking financiers by whom we became strangled for it. We are denying that too. This denial upon denial of our heritage, our identity, and what we have done with them is the one single factor that makes any form of humanist economic development prohibitive."
He raised his cane. "So it is a matter of love, isn't it? If we don't have enough love left for ourselves to give ourselves the financial credits to built a world fit for human beings to live in, like human beings, then we live in a default world that is becoming increasingly a living hell. And that's the naked truth that you high and holy people don't want to look at while you kill humanity with your cross of fire that no longer represents love, that needs to be healed with love. The reason that we live in the present hell is simple, because you people stand up and preach that love is impossible, and the politicians hail you for it and repeat your song that love is impossible. They even prove their devotion to your song by instigating torture, poverty, genocide, and terror as a way of life. When the heart thus becomes empty of love, fascism reigns and greed destroys mankind. That's the naked truth, which the cross is held high by you, to cover it up. But the cross should be a cross of love.
"I pray to God that one day it will be seen as a symbol of love," said the old man and put cane back on the ground and leaned on it. "We had started this healing a long time ago," he said. "Did you know that. We had pioneered economics based on love it in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that began to develop itself as a credit society. This society had developed enough love for itself to do this. Massachusetts became a highly developed society. Of course the imperials wrecked the credit system. However, we recreated it. We put it into the Constitution when the Constitution was created. We established ourselves once again as a credit society. Hamilton pioneered it, Lincoln built on it. Henry Carry promoted it across the world, and with it America became the envy of the world. But traitors quickly assassinated Hamilton and assassinated Lincoln to, and they destroyed what Carey stood for and had promoted. They destroyed it in Congress with the Specie Resumption Act in 1875 that officially ended the credit society principle and created a gold-based monetarist stranglehold. But the destruction didn't reach deep enough to satisfy the traitors who wanted to impose imperial monetarist rule over America. So they kept on fighting until America surrendered, until we gave up all rights to our national credit system and the surrendered the nation to the imperial monetarist world order. That happened on the 23rd of December in 1913, the day before Christmas, with the passing of the Federal Reserve Act. It should be called the Federal Destruction Act. It gave the nation's currency and credit as a Christmas present into the private hands of the imperial monetarist society, the private central banks. This surrendering of America was synonymous with America loosing World War I. America lost the war against oligarchism and fascist monetarism for the whole world. The history books are wrong. World War I did not start in 1914. We started it in 1776 and lost it in 1903. And the biggest salvo against us was probably the assassination of President William McKinley at the 1901 world's fair of scientific and technological innovations and cultural optimism. McKinley represented the stilling lingering idea of the credit system that had made the technological achievements possible. He was assassinated right in the middle of the fair. We recovered from all of the previous assassinations, but not from this one. We lost the war a dozen years later at Christmas in 1913. When the shooting rampage of utter madness begun in Europe that is mistakenly called World War I, the real world war had already been lost. The shooting rampage in Europe that started six month, almost to the day after mankind loosing the war in America by our surrender, was merely the aftershock of it. That was the beginning of mankind's railroading into hell that hasn't stopped. Yes, and it was all done under the cross that should a cross of love. We can alter that history. We can create an image for the cross that represents love by rebuilding what we have lost. This means that we go back to the day before the assassination of Hamilton when the train to hell started to roll. We can do this. We can go back to what we were, to our heritage and acknowledge our identity as a Federal Credit Society. We can do more than this. We can restore what has been lost and move it forward. Our humanity is still recoverable if we give ourselves half a chance and not hide the truth, but speak it."
The man sat down....
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