Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Everybody Has Less Than Somebody, So Let's All Kill Each Other

PROBABLY USES FOOD STAMPSAfter the Times blew up with a story in part on how the youngs, who have no jobs, use the foodstamps at the Whole Foods, Salon has followed suit about the youngsters buying the organic chickens and boy are the comments insane.

Like, THIS kind of insane: "I know people need help right now, but its a slap in the face to know that I'm busting my butt working 40+ hrs a week, buying generic to feed my kids and someone collecting food stamps is eating better than us – thanks to my hard work. Do these people think this is ok? And seriously if you're just getting food stamps so you can buy organic free range chicken that is HORRIBLE!!!!"

Well at least you have the broadband so as to complain on the Internets. And I'm sure your kids are thrilled that you are such an unhappy person.

And: "Of course people are going to be pissed that they're busting their asses every day in real jobs so that some douchebag can satisfy his 'flexitarian' gourmet diet."

This "ass-busting" is a recurring theme.

Also, LOL: "Maybe a degree in post feminist analysis of Sumerian Temple Prostitutes wasn't such a wise choice after all."

And then there's this letter:

As a 27 year old single mother of three children I qualified for and received food stamps from 1979 to 1982 while completing my undergraduate degree. During that time, while shopping at the local Safeway, I presented the orange USDA coupons for my food and dug out a dollar for a Time magazine. The checker said with no small amount of distain, "I wish I could afford Time magazine." As if, because I was using food stamps, I should not be purchasing a magazine. I'll never forget that checker's attempt to shame me for my choices.

There will always be people who discount those of us who take advantage of government programs to further our welfare and that of our families. I've been employed almost continuously since I graduated from college in 1982, I've paid my taxes willingly. I might not agree with what our government does with "my" tax dollars, but I have three, high-functioning, well-educated, adult children who remember aloud what it was like to grow up without much money. They never talk about how they went to bed hungry, because they never did.

I don't begrudge anyone whatever they choose to buy and eat using government subsidized food. At least they know how to cook, which is more than I can say for myself. More power to them. Maybe someday they will have a chance to pay into a system that gave them the opportunity to eat well, with dignity, when they did not have much money.

Getting food stamps while GOING TO COLLEGE? And having children left and right? Disgusting hipster welfare queen! CRUCIFY HER.

98 Comments / Post A Comment

HiredGoons (#603)

"Of course, its entirely possible this is all some grand attempt at irony."

I want this to be wrong. I am not, however, certain.

HiredGoons (#603)

Also: people who have 4 children, please stop bitching about trying to feed your 4 children.

Peteykins (#1,916)

Totally. There's your food supply right there.

Art Yucko (#1,321)

In this $1.50 package of frozen burritos, there is a count of 6. Therefore, children #'s 6 and 7 must share by half.

HiredGoons (#603)

Also also: (I am incredibly predictable but) BOY IN PHOTO BE CUUUUUUUTE!

ProfessorBen (#1,254)

super cute, yes, but pre-pubescent in that Michael Cera way? I think the alpaca surfer is a surer bet in the sack!

HiredGoons (#603)

@ProfessorBen: BUZZKILL!

ProfessorBen (#1,254)

oh no! sorry goons! *call me* TIMES 10000!

HiredGoons (#603)

(kidding! but fuck you for bringing up Michael Cera)


But here's a solution: government-funded Time magazines for everyone!

Zack (#2,609)

I dunno about that. Reading Time is probably what put her on food stamps in the first place.

doubled277 (#2,783)

You can get The Nation on food stamps, however

Hell, In These Times is printed on food stamps.

doubled277 (#2,783)

Is that why I can never finish one of their articles?

deepomega (#1,720)

I tried to gin up some libertarian-style outrage, but it sounds like people are upset that food stamps can be used to… get healthy food? That you can cook? Which, uh, go fuck yourselves people.

(That said, roast rabbit? Cool your jets, hipsterchef)

dado (#102)

NANCY PELOSI: "Think of an economy where people could be an artist or a photographer or a writer without worrying about keeping their day job in order to have health insurance or that people could start a business and be entrepreneurial and take risk, but not job loss because of a child with asthma or someone in the family is bipolar-you name it, any condition-is job locking."

An organic chicken in every pot!

doubled277 (#2,783)

Did she really say this? If so, I have more respect for the woman. Plus, she's ruthless.. which, for some reason, the gay in me loves.

I hope my insurance covers busted ass.

"Bust ass like a muthafuckin' homo/Como estas?" (c) 4-ize

propertius (#361)

They're buying food with food stamps. And??? Whole Foods may be kind of annoying, but it seems to me they learned a while back that they need to compete with Safeway etc., and stock goods priced accordingly now.

Anyway, the gummint can feel safe about all this throat ripping. All the hatreds seem to cancel each other out, so things can keep going on as they are. Which is just dandy for someone, I'm sure.

propertius (#361)

Make that the "gummint+bizness+banking combination."

kneetoe (#1,881)

I hate it when I find myself agreeing with the assholes.

Bittersweet (#765)

Sucks, doesn't it? No shortage of 'em here either.

Bittersweet (#765)

(By 'here,' I meant everyone in the article, not everyone here on The Awl, whom I love dearly and make my day fairly regularly. Smooches!)

DoctorDisaster (#1,970)

So they're really offended that someone is splurging on good food? How many of these righteously furious ass-busters are splurging on extra cable channels or big-screen TVs or lifting their pickup trucks while feeding their children Happy Meals three nights a week? You budget according to your values, and I'll budget according to mine.

DoctorDisaster (#1,970)

I should clarify that I'm not on food stamps and I don't eat particularly well. I just think it's ridiculous that these people are screaming bloody murder about government intrusion into their private lives while also screaming bloody murder about their neighbors' eating habits.

larsbac (#4,033)

Well said.

The most ironic thing is that I'm on food stamps because…I work for the government. In which case I don't at all feel guilty about taking more government money because they pay me a stipend for chrissake.

BardCollege (#2,307)

When I was in high school one my friends lived in a four room one floor house with 3 other siblings. His dad drove a Porsche 911 Turbo. ASSHOLE.

BardCollege (#2,307)

three*? Does that need a correction?

City_Dater (#2,500)

The assumption that educated people who like to cook and eat decent food can't possibly really be poor will never cease to be hilarious.

HiredGoons (#603)

I'm thinking their *logic* lies along the rickety foundation of 'if they have to eat crap then they'll get off foodstamps as soon as possible, if we let them eat well SOCIETY WILL COLLAPSE INTO A PERPETUAL WELFARE STATE!!!' – which it is, but only for conglomerate banks and outdated manufacturing industries.

C_Webb (#855)

That assumption is the logorithm behind most graduate school financial aid calculations — in the humanities, anyway.

I think they're logic is, I work and I can't afford anything other than hormone and antibiotic infected meat, so it pisses me off that someone who doesn't work can use my tax dollars to buy the kind of meat I can only dream about.

But I'm guessing. Or maybe projecting. I get them confused.

City_Dater (#2,500)


And in the arts, too.
"Only the heavily parentally subsidized are allowed to be creative" is another hilarious assumption.

tiny dancer (#1,774)

I'd guess that many times that complaint is coming from someone who chose to have four kids, for example, or someone who has misconceptions about organic food, or less access to a store with reasonably priced decent meat.

HiredGoons (#603)

The problem isn't usually that people can't *afford* it, but that they spend as little money as possible on food so they can buy crap they don't need.

I would say 70% of my budget goes to food* but then again, I am a young single salaried gay man responsible to no one but myself and am therefore simultaneously an object of envy and scorn by a majority of the populace.

*(includes top-shelf liquor)

kneetoe (#1,881)

@td: With four kids, I doubt they had misconceptions.

balsa_wood (#465)

"The problem isn't usually that people can't *afford* it, but that they spend as little money as possible on food so they can buy crap they don't need."

Yes, those poors, always wasting money on crap they don't need. (Like top-shelf liquor.) "Crap they don't need" is a pretty broad phrase.

Sorry, but I'm calling bullshit, and I'm calling bullshit on your questioning people for having however many kids they do. A laid-off mother and father of four–like the parents in the Times article–don't need your (smug, frankly) finger-wagging. But then, you're salaried and have no dependents, so maybe we should all just live like you…? No more child-bearing? Okay.

My problem with the food stamp gourmands is–and I think I'm calculating this correctly–there's NO WAY that their entire food budget could come from stamps alone. How can $150 a month pay for a month's supply of groceries from Whole Foods, even for one person? And if this isn't covering everything, where's the other money coming from? And why did that one dude relocate to Baltimore as a "part-time blogger" with no prospects? Here's what the skeptics are suspecting: they're not LIVING on food stamps, because there's other money coming in. The stamps are just another allowance.

Also, it's extremely decadent to argue that one can not live "healthily" if one doesn't shop 100% organic at the local co-op. But that's another issue.

HiredGoons (#603)

@balsa wood:

I wasn't talking about poor people. I was talking about expenditure ratios.

And 'top shelf liquor' – have a fucking sense of humor.

sixlocal (#296)

"Here's what the skeptics are suspecting: they're not LIVING on food stamps, because there's other money coming in. The stamps are just another allowance."

You don't have to be fully unemployed to be on food stamps or public assistance.

andj (#1,074)

I think people really misunderstand how much food costs. I can feed my husband and I with one organic free-range chicken breast for the same price as a bag of Ruffles, but no one would accuse me of splurging if I bought potato chips.

My husband and I are on one income right now and have a tonne of expenses because I'm in school. Still, I can feed the two of us for less than 300 dollars a month and we usually eat good, fresh vegetables and free-range meat. It's only expensive if you beef tenderloin 5 nights a week. The meal described in that Salon article (rabbit with butter, tarragon and sweet potatoes) would be expensive in a restaurant, but if you make it at home it costs no more than shake-n-bake chicken with boiled carrots.

andj (#1,074)

I wish I could edit this post.

C_Webb (#855)

No need. I like "beef tenderloin" better as a verb.

kneetoe (#1,881)

Yes, I hear beef tenderloining five nights a week is a good way to lose weight. As for edits, I make more mistakes in my Awl posts than anywhere else. I'm convinced it has something to do with "be less stupid" and karma.

andj (#1,074)

Also, too many "my husband and I"'s. *cringe*

I had to look up beef tenderloin (v) on urban dictionary.

cherrispryte (#444)

The "be less stupid" karma has kicked my ass repeatedly here. Support group time?

Bittersweet (#765)

Yes to the support group! We can get together and beef tenderloin.

kneetoe (#1,881)

Im inn

cupcakes (#439)

Thank you for this comment! I've totally made rabbit before, and the stew I made fed my boyfriend and I for a week for under $35. Know what costs a lot of money because it never lasts or fills you up? Crappy processed foods.

NinetyNine (#98)

Since I've never been in a Whole Foods without thinking 'These are the worst people ever' I'm not sure it's the food stamps part that creates the ire.*

*granted, I think this in Fairway too. I do not go to the co-op because I believe in spontaneous combustion.

NinetyNine (#98)

Also: I keep thinking that's Pareene in the photo.

Matt (#26)

No Appletini though.

Whole Foods is such a rip off, no wonder they are unemployed only stupid lazy people shop there. They should shop at Trader Joe's.

tiny dancer (#1,774)

The poors can't win. Apparently they should be forced to eat only horrible food, which might make it more likely they'd eventually "drain" more of the assbusting taxpayers' dollars through subsequent medical services. And what's with this 'food stamps are for lazies until I'm the one that's hungry' BS? ugh. Keep fucking that (organic) chicken!

WindowSeat (#180)

Food Stamps should only be spent on products produced by government subsidized corporations like ConAgra! Coconut milk means the terrorists win!

propertius (#361)

All food should be labelled clearly with its Terrorism Content. Maybe an amendment to the Patriot Act is in order?

WindowSeat (#180)

Green-Pot from Canada
Yellow-Non-Israeli Cous-Cous
Orange-Iranian Caviar
Red- Anything seasoned with Za'atar

cupcakes (#439)

And "government cheese"

kneetoe (#1,881)

No, I'm sorry, the hipsters need to be attacked (if only for the simple reason that most are younger than me, damn their hides!). There does not need to be a distinction between eating well and spending your money on organic chicken or greens from the green market. I love both those things, but green markets tend to be much more expensive than the same greens from other places, and organic chicken . . . . Sorry, ran out of steam.

myfanwy (#1,124)

I had to chase my chicken 7 miles uphill in a snowstorm?

When I was a young judgmental asshole, I saw a woman buy multiple bags of potato chips and cheese dips, bacon, a bunch of frozen pizzas and I think maybe cookies? all on food stamps. She got angry when her tabloid couldn't be purchased with food stamps.

I remember getting as angry as these people since this woman could have actually used it to buy good healthy food and maybe help her kids trim down to a healthy weight?

Thanks to this article, I now know she was "taking one for the team" and doing it to uphold society's expectations of poor people.

cupcakes (#439)


Backslider (#819)

The argument that powers all this rage is that these kids are not truly poor. While I don't personally give a shit whether people buys ice cream or foie gras or Uncle Ben's rice with their food stamp cards, this argument is correct. These kids are not poor. Poverty is defined by an absence of means, not an absence of cash. It is a state of mind. Any one of the subjects of Bleyer's article could pull together more scratch if he or she chose to.

In the scheme of things, it's not a big deal. I'm assuming that they're complying with the literal rules of getting food stamps. They're nowhere near as parasitic as bankers, or lawyers or politicians.

But let's call a spade a spade. If they made different, easy choices they'd readily afford free range chickens without government assistance.

HiredGoons (#603)

If *my* taxes can go to bailout a bunch of irresponsible, selfish Wall Street assholes who get a collective billion or so in bonuses, I'm not going to go complain about a few young, creative, underpaid people utilizing a government service for which they must apply and demonstrate qualification for, to eat. Frankly, I would rather they eat well, WHOMEVER is on foodstamps.

So basically if, instead of choosing to be a non-productive artist, they had made the easy decision to be a banker, lawyer or politician, they could've readily afforded free range chickens without government assistance?

Backslider (#819)

They could have chosen to be school teachers, dog walkers, ditch diggers, bus drivers, SAT tutors, tele-marketers, roofers, rat catchers, land scapers, etc. There's a pretty big yawning gulf between being a broke–as opposed to poor–would-be artist, and being an investment banker, or lawyer. In addition to viable jobs that are certainly open to these kids, in all likelihood they could move back in with their parents. The point is they made choices to get to where they are and they can make choices that will get them out of their situations. If any one of these kids in the Salon article decided tomorrow that he or she wanted to make more money, he or she would have little trouble doing so. This is the opposite of poverty. Poverty is the absence of choice.

The Times article depicts several people in that boat. It's fundamentally unfair to people whose choices are cut-off to put them in the same category as a bunch of bright, resourceful, probably very likeable and decent kids who are taking advantage of a system that was not intended to benefit them.

djfreshie (#875)

There are so many assumptions in your argument though. We don't know these people. We don't know what kind of people they are, where they come from, how resourceful they are, how well to do their parents are. Not to mention the system is obviously intended to benefit them, otherwise they wouldn't have been given the stamps. They applied for them, and someone deemed them appropriate. If you think it's wrong that they are using that system, that is not their fault, it's the fault of whoever gave them passage to it.

Regardless, why is it unfair to people whose choices are cut-off (another assumption)? Life is UNFAIR for everyone. Everyone made choices to get to where they are…or only people who come from good families or good neighbourhoods have free will? It just sounds like jealousy. Nobody is doing anything wrong or immoral here, so what exactly is the issue? These kids shouldn't be getting food stamps in the first place? Why?

Backslider (#819)

The subjects of Bleyer's article shouldn't be getting food stamps because they don't really need them. They can obviously increase their means and pay for their own food, whether it's organic chicken or Litttle Debbies snack cakes. If you can't see this for yourself, you're either deep in liberal mumbo jumbo denial or you're not very bright.

City_Dater (#2,500)

Interesting that you assume all these kids can "obviously increase their means and pay for their own food."

Because I know a few very bright, well-educated, hard-working people who cannot find any goddamn jobs that pay enough to get them off public assistance, and if you know something they don't, perhaps you should share this information.

djfreshie (#875)

It must be very nice to know everyone's capabilities, Backslider. You'd make a wonderful social worker.

But anyways, thanks for making assumptions about me too. Good luck with all of that, you seem like a really smart dude too.

crookedE (#1,817)

word. I'm exponentially more pissed off that some Wall Street jackass who was so tragically incompetent that he trashed the entire economy is now getting a multi-million dollar bonus that I unwillingly contributed to, just by paying taxes like a good little citizen.

Backslider (#819)

See, this is where the Internet leads people astray.

I don't care that these kids are gaming the system. The system needs the slack that lets these kids–again, just the one's described in Bleyer's article–take advantage, in order to ensure that everyone who legitimately needs food stamps can get them.

But it's silly to read that article and argue that those kids couldn't do something more renumerative with their time. They choose not to, fine. But don't go attacking me because I'm willing to make that judgement call and cite you for your unwillingness to do the same.

djfreshie (#875)

Nobody's attacking you. I'm disagreeing with you because you make assertions that are completely subjective, like 'they should be doing something better with their time.' Why? Why should they be doing something else? My judgement call is that they have been given food stamps and are legally obtaining the food of their choice with them.

hanna (#644)

I've worked odd jobs for money off and on since I was 16, so I guess I understand where you're coming from with the whole "kids shoulda done had a better work ethic" thing. But I have a lot of friends who work in creative industries (graphic design, architecture, art publishing) and who have refused to do that. And I realize now that their arguments for going on unemployment rather than getting a temporary yet still full-time exhausting shit job made (and make) really good sense.

A lot of time has to go into producing the kinds of portfolios that those in the arts need to slowly build a career. I don't begrudge them for having the tenacity and the confidence to stick to what they do best and try to eventually get paid for it, using the kind of unemployment that the government set up for just such cases.

HiredGoons (#603)

Also switching into temporary 'service industry' jobs when pursuing a chosen career path in a lot of cases makes re-entry into ones' chosen career path MORE difficult and perpetuates a cycle of expendable/underpaid employment.

Backslider (#819)

Is a chosen career path a right?

I mean–big ole caveat that we should all be off lynching bankers, lawyers and politicians right now, not arty-farty-welfare-users–but come the fuck on. Being an artist, writer, poet, sculptor, whatever, is not a real career choice. It's a roll of the dice. Any discussion by adults about these issues should recognize that. We don't want the kids like DJFreshie to acquire the idea that society has an obligation to pay people for unwanted art. Roll away if you want. God loves you for it. But no one's obligated to pay you, and they probably won't.

djfreshie (#875)

Dude. If you want to quote me, go ahead. Don't put words in my mouth. "Society has an obligation to pay for unwanted art?" What the hell does that mean?

I spent years and a lot of hard earned money on two degrees to qualify me for a job that pays very little, but just enough to subsidize my rent and my art. I know exactly the price of my choice to pursue my creativity. I don't go out begrudging people for doing things differently. Neither I nor you get to dictate what people do with their lives. That makes you sad I think.

tiny dancer (#1,774)

@HiredGoons, yes. And that's even if someone was lucky enough(?) to get a temporary service industry job. At least where I live, there's not a whole lot of any type of job available.

It cannot be overstated that these "arty-farty" people qualified for benefits. I'm guessing it varies by state, but in my state they would have had to have "real" jobs before being made eligible for benefits. For example, as a freelancer I am ineligible for these amazingly lucrative benefits. And my work isn't even as creative as these "arty-farty-welfare-users." What's wrong with creative work anyway?

HiredGoons (#603)

I think in our society and with the expectations our parents, politicians, the media, and educators have set up for us; to a certain degree, yes a chosen career path IS a right.

I'm not saying to shouldn't have to work hard at it, but I think yes.

cupcakes (#439)

I am in the exact same boat, but with the nonprofit industry. You can barely work without a Masters degree, and the salaries don't exactly make student loans any easier. The fact is, the economy sucks. Period, end of story. And if the people who think those kids on food stamps have alternate means could find all of my unemployed friends (fresh out of law school) jobs, that would be sweet.

punkthis (#243)

Ugggh. Have been living on colcannon for six days. I hope that is some kind of newage, 21st century hipster diet (looking it up… nope) (also Irish stereotype ugh). Oh! Inbox says I have an invitation to write up an Icelandic Festival. Free Food! Jesus, what we got here… Reindeer! Cream Foam! Free Vodka! Icelandic Rockstar! I wish I could contribute a better comment, but tonight I dine in Hell! (as a responsible journalist, reporting favourably on PR events is hell. BUT!)

punkthis (#243)

It has been brought to my attention (the cat) that some people might think of the preceding as satire. Totally not. Literally delirious, (literally=*factually*) at the prospect of eating meat and drinking vodka. This is the State of Journalism Today, for me. Maybe my standards are low. Anyhow, don't pay attention, it's St. P's day.

garge (#736)

Look, is there any way we can parlay this societal rage into taking down those neo-cavemen? Because I hate them.

hockeymom (#143)

hate them so much.
really, really, really hate the christian ones who would sooner die than spend one tax dollar helping those less fortunate.

That NY Times article made me really sad when it pointed out that Nassim Taleb is one of said neo-cavemen.

Seriously, everything I'd read from/about him previously made him seem super interesting and smart, but that whole thing is cripplingly uncool and a massive intellectual dealbreaker. Like the foodie equivalent of being a Randian, or something. Bleh.

HiredGoons (#603)

I'm taking bets on how long before 'food stamp' becomes an Urban Outfitters T Shirt.

MikeBarthel (#1,884)

I generally hate those people who are like "everything is better in Europe," but on this one I just keep thinking how they seem fine with this arrangement in most other Western countries. On the other hand, our culture is superior to their cultures, so maybe we should be forcing hipsters to copyedit trade magazines for their daily bread.

cherrispryte (#444)

I bust my ass and my taxes (which I just paid yesterday, thank you) fund The Wars, salaries of many douchebag politicians, and up until recently, abstinence-only education, faith-based initiatives, and all manner of tomfoolery I do not support. However. This is the price we pay for civilization. Deal.

Also kids, your federal taxes pay my salary. So thanks!

I bust my penis every day coming to work and commenting on company time. Now these freeloaders want me to pay for their chicken cilantro. What is this, Canada?

missdelite (#625)

I suppose then, these "hipsters" shop exclusively at the Salvation Army? Don't they get their hipster card revoked if they don't patronize American Apparel at least once a month?

Um, it's cheaper to buy whole ingredients and make a wholesome meal (assuming you're not topping your meals with shaved white truffle) than it is to buy a bunch of pre-made processed crap.

My mother taught me to cook when I was growing up. Thus, when I was in my poorest days in college, I was able to feed myself very well on next to no money, while my various friends and roommates subsisted on Jumbo bags of ramen noodles and white rice with soy sauce. I shit you not, I lived on $20 a week in groceries. If there had been a farmer's market convenient to me, I would have been all over that shit.

God, I know it's late to jump on this one, but my local Organic Pesticide-Free Super Virtuous Farmers' Market does this deal where food stamps are worth double. So, you show up with $10 worth of food stamps, you can buy $20 worth of food. Considering that the market is held in one of the poorest communities in the entire state, I'm totally OK with this, especially since the ladies who show up from the bordering rich community to buy the organic stuff are basically double-subsidizing poor people's access to good, healthy food through their own purchases.

The best part is that Whole Foods has some sort of deal with the farmers' market, where Whole Foods supplies the farmer's market with certain staples like rice and dried beans at cost — basically becoming a wholesaler for food which is sold at a discount anyway.

Uh, anyway. So there's your heartwarming food-stamp / Whole Foods story.

That is actually a fucking amazing story! And makes me kinda sorta happy about humanity. So thanks for that!

BoHan (#29)

Oh lord, my mother was schizophrenic and unemployed for 30 years and we used her food stamps to buy her groceries, even though my siblings and I had plenty of money of our own. Hey, she qualified. So be it. And as a grocery checker for many years, I can also attest people like me made mostly questionable decisions about the use of food stamps. That's what people are angry about. One big exception was a few young mothers I came to know and really like. They didn't use food stamps for protein. They fucking fished. So yeah, I know you kids, because I was one of you, and you're probably scamming, and so that being said, it's fucking Baltimore, so go get a pole and fish or go catch a crab or some shit. You can sketch while you wait. Lessons learned here.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

You know what would quench the rage, right? Whole Food Stamps.

Pandemic Endemic (#3,825)

So when did all of the Salon commenters stop being preachy and unquestioning Anne Lamott fanatics and turn into preachy and unquestioning Ann Coulter fanatics?

Did Salon Premium promise to give away free subscriptions to Human Events with every membership?

ow that hurt (#3,919)

I ate only from the 99 cent store for two years, when I wasn't working or
being hip. All processed foods.
Then, got intestinal cancer. I'm sure it was a coincidence.

Hey, you can't use food stamps for Chinese takeout, can you?

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