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» Ship of Fools   » Community discussion   » Purgatory   » Is Gold a Myth? (Page 1)

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Source: (consider it) Thread: Is Gold a Myth?
lilBuddha
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# 14333

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Gold is the go to investment of the paranoid in uncertain times. It tends to rise in value as stability falls.
But is this rational? In Ye Ancient Times, it was an incorruptible medium that could be used to trade for goods. A simple exchange for simple, and relatively simple, times. In these days in which things are produced in a complex supply and labour web, and many people do not actually produce anything, could it ever be more than a representative currency, just like paper money is now.
Is the concept that gold is a tangible asset one that holds water today?

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So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

Posts: 17275 | From: the round earth's imagined corners | Registered: Dec 2008  |  IP: Logged
Gramps49
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# 16378

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Not really. Looks like Bitcoin is where the action is at now. As of 17:21 PST it is worth $16805.04 US.

I am working with a 19 year old who invests in bitcoin. I don't see how he can stomach how fast it moves even in minutes.

And, since Bitcoin is base on a complex computer math program, it is a myth.

[ 12. December 2017, 00:25: Message edited by: Gramps49 ]

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Palimpsest
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# 16772

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Money is a useful shared delusion.
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betjemaniac
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:

Is the concept that gold is a tangible asset one that holds water today?

Yes. Up to a point.

If you're buying "notional" gold which you don't then hold in your house then it's no different to a bitcoin IMO - because then it is intangible.

However, if you buy gold physically (whether rings, sovereigns, whatever) and then keep them somewhere where you can physically lay your hands on them then it's worth having.

Little known fact, but UK pilots in the various Iraq wars -certainly 1990-91 - were flying around with a strip of sovereigns on their person (one of the reasons why the Royal Mint still makes sovereigns) - if all else fails when shot down, gold is a useful last ditch attempt to bribe your way out.

All I would say, is in the event of a general economic collapse, or mass attack that knocks out electricity for good, watch as the people with physical gold to hand make their way back to the top of the tree. IMO, at the moment we've *displaced* gold, not *replaced* it.

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And is it true? For if it is....

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mr cheesy
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Yes, see Making Money by Terry Pratchett.

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arse

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Curiosity killed ...

Ship's Mug
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Is there enough solid gold in the world to honour all the gold bonds? Originally banking systems were based on enough reserves of gold to be able to hand over gold equivalents to bank notes (hence I promise to pay the bearer a sum of). The American banking system was originally built on gold reserves at Fort Knox and the Marshall Plan redistributed gold.

These days countries have drifted away from using a gold reserves to match the gold standard in recent years for there to be articles on concerns about gold reserves from Mervyn King, Dr Alan Greenspan and the head of banking in Turkey.

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Mugs - Keep the Ship afloat

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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# 76

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I have long reasoned thus:

Money these days is numbers on computers. We're economically screwed because the numbers say we are. There must be a hypothetical set of numbers in all the financial datacentres in the world that says "AOK, no-one's screwed." So reconfigure all the computers with those numbers and job done.

I've yet to hear a coherent reason why this can't work.

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Might as well ask the bloody cat.

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Eutychus
From the edge
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Because it would be resisted by the people currently enriched by the general screwed-upness.

That's probably why the biblical Jubilee was never implemented, either.

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Let's remember that we are to build the Kingdom of God, not drive people away - pastor Frank Pomeroy

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simontoad
Ship's Amphibian
# 18096

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Gold was a pretty good album by Spandau Ballet, and the title song was great to sing along to.

Remember Bitcoiners, declare the profits you take and pay your tax.

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Human

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Doc Tor
Deepest Red
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Any tradeable currency is only tradeable because someone else will accept its worth.

In a post-apocalyptic scenario, you might be able to trade gold for a jerrycan of petrol, but it's much more likely to go to the person who can provide you with a dozen eggs or a bushel of wheat. You can't eat gold, you can't use it go keep warm, and it makes a very poor weapon.

At the point when you offer gold for a trade, and they look you in the eye and say "got anything else?" is the point it becomes just a piece of not-particularly useful metal.

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Forward the New Republic

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L'organist
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# 17338

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I fear that Bitcoin is going to be the 21st century's South Sea Bubble.

Gold is useful because it is portable, and the colour changes with the purity so to a limited degree you can tell how good the gold is that you have or are offered.

But it all comes down to "worth" - as in my house is worth £XXX, when in fact your house has two values: the first (which can be quantified) is what someone else is prepared to pay for it; the second cannot be assigned a monetary value because it is shelter, security and stability for the family who live in the house.

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Rara temporum felicitate ubi sentire quae velis et quae sentias dicere licet

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Russ
Old salt
# 120

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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
I have long reasoned thus:

Money these days is numbers on computers. We're economically screwed because the numbers say we are. There must be a hypothetical set of numbers in all the financial datacentres in the world that says "AOK, no-one's screwed." So reconfigure all the computers with those numbers and job done.

I have today reasoned thus:

Long before computers, there were three ways to survive:

- self-sufficiency - scrape a living by subsistence farming on a plot of land

- trade - make things or provide services that other people value enough to trade for

- banditry - take what you want from the labour of others.

Computerised money doesn't change anything.

It is only a medium for trade. Just like banknotes, its value is entirely dependent on others' perception of its value.

Giving everyone in the world $1m of Bitcoin wouldn't solve anything.

We know from history about hyperinflation and runs on banks and know that these are not good things. Maintaining sound money is one of the primary functions of government.

As long as gold is rare and indestructible and attractive, people will value it. In the sort of sci-fi story where this ceases to be true - whether it's a rampage of gold-devouring nanotech bugs, an alchemy that works, or an infectious psychological distaste for coloured metals - gold ceases to act as a reserve currency.

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Wish everyone well; the enemy is not people, the enemy is wrong ideas

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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# 76

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But I wasn't suggesting that. I was suggesting reprogramming with the sorts of numbers that could readily occur in real life and would mean "everything's fine". The numbers politicians and economists are complaining aren't the ones showing. The ones they think should be.

Put it another way. Suppose you buy a million £1 widgets from me. As long as my computer now says I'm £1m richer, why does it matter to me that yours says you're £1m poorer?

[ 12. December 2017, 10:47: Message edited by: Karl: Liberal Backslider ]

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Might as well ask the bloody cat.

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Tortuf
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Gold is a commodity that has value because we accept that it has value. Trade used to be paid in other things that people valued like pepper, furs, silk, etc. Monetizing trade with coins made of gold and silver allowed easier forms of record keeping of value. That allowed easier collection of taxes.

Taxes allowed building and maintaining trade routes, which brought on more trade.

In a post apocalyptic world gold will still be pretty.

To us apocalypse seems to mean we lose all of our modern stuff. People, civilizations, survived and thrived for thousands of years without our modern toys. There is no reason to think that we could not also.

There would certainly be a period of loss as we have to re learn how to survive without central heat and air and supermarkets. OTOH, is worrying about it going to change anything?

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hatless

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# 3365

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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
Because it would be resisted by the people currently enriched by the general screwed-upness.

That's probably why the biblical Jubilee was never implemented, either.

Is this fairly certain? I have heard doubts about the Jubilee, but mainly, it has seemed to me, on the basis that it couldn’t work, rather than that there is evidence against it.

I wonder if an imaginary Jubilee would have power just like our imaginary money does.

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My crazy theology in novel form

Posts: 4521 | From: Stinkers | Registered: Sep 2002  |  IP: Logged
mark_in_manchester

not waving, but...
# 15978

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Children died, the days grew cold, a piece of bread could buy a bag of gold.

Oh, and this.

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"We are punished by our sins, not for them" - Elbert Hubbard
(so good, I wanted to see it after my posts and not only after those of shipmate JBohn from whom I stole it)

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Eutychus
From the edge
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quote:
Originally posted by mark_in_manchester:
Children died, the days grew cold, a piece of bread could buy a bag of gold.



Wrong thread to point this out on, I know, but that has long struck me as one of the worst ever examples of twisting a line to get a rhyme - surely it should be the other way round, gold buying bread? - besides promoting Rapture™ theology.

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Let's remember that we are to build the Kingdom of God, not drive people away - pastor Frank Pomeroy

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moonlitdoor
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# 11707

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quote:

posted by Karl Liberal Backslider
Suppose you buy a million £1 widgets from me. As long as my computer now says I'm £1m richer, why does it matter to me that yours says you're £1m poorer?

The capacity of the world to produce things is limited, so how to decide what the world's capacity should be used to produce ? There are a couple of obvious possibilities. One is by government planning, which decides relative priorities and determines how much of each product should be produced.

The other is that people signal that something would have utility for them by being prepared to pay for it. As people's income is limited, they choose to buy the things which have the highest utility for them, and the aggregation of everyone's demand determines what gest produced.

If I can get your widgets without giving up any money, there is no indication whether your widgets have a higher utility to me than anything else I could get without paying, so it's not clear whether capacity should be devoted to producing them.

Obviously this approach is based on people acting as rational agents, which isn't always the case, and also requires everyone to have some money to express their demand. But central planning also has its own difficulties.

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We've evolved to being strange monkeys, but in the next life he'll help us be something more worthwhile - Gwai

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mr cheesy
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# 3330

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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:


Wrong thread to point this out on, I know, but that has long struck me as one of the worst ever examples of twisting a line to get a rhyme - surely it should be the other way round, gold buying bread? - besides promoting Rapture™ theology.

I think Larry was imagining a situation whereby gold lost value compared to stuff that is actually useful - ie food.

As a song, I think it works. But I'm no longer persuaded by the theology.

But I have to say that a lot of things that are happening at the moment seem to make his songs have a special truth.

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arse

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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quote:
Originally posted by moonlitdoor:
quote:

posted by Karl Liberal Backslider
Suppose you buy a million £1 widgets from me. As long as my computer now says I'm £1m richer, why does it matter to me that yours says you're £1m poorer?

The capacity of the world to produce things is limited, so how to decide what the world's capacity should be used to produce ? There are a couple of obvious possibilities. One is by government planning, which decides relative priorities and determines how much of each product should be produced.

The other is that people signal that something would have utility for them by being prepared to pay for it. As people's income is limited, they choose to buy the things which have the highest utility for them, and the aggregation of everyone's demand determines what gest produced.

If I can get your widgets without giving up any money, there is no indication whether your widgets have a higher utility to me than anything else I could get without paying, so it's not clear whether capacity should be devoted to producing them.


Do I care, as long as you buy them?

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Might as well ask the bloody cat.

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Boogie

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# 13538

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I have a brass wedding ring. I can’t wear my gold one any more due to arthritis, I need an expanding ring and can’t find a gold one anywhere.

Not a soul has noticed, not even my husband [Smile]

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Garden. Room. Walk

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hatless

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# 3365

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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by mark_in_manchester:
Children died, the days grew cold, a piece of bread could buy a bag of gold.



Wrong thread to point this out on, I know, but that has long struck me as one of the worst ever examples of twisting a line to get a rhyme - surely it should be the other way round, gold buying bread? - besides promoting Rapture™ theology.

I think that’s the best bit of the song. It’s much more striking to think of bread having purchasing power. Money and commodity have changed places.

In the teaching of Jesus we hear a lot that has the smell of economic radicalism. Forgiveness that is not earned. Value, in a world that could accurately price a sparrow, as something bestowed on us by God, like a divine knighthood. The full measure that is doubly over generous. A full days pay for an hour’s work.

I wonder if we like to relate money, work and economics to something definite and finite, like gold, because of fear that what we have will become worthless. We must tie it to something, then when we spend we know what to pay back.

The Gospel suggests that the power of gift, the one directional transaction, sets us free. And maybe that is true in economics, too. When the solar flare hits and all the computers forget the numbers that belong to our accounts and mortgages, if we nonetheless choose to go to work, as most people would, we would be all right. Wealth is created, ultimately, as a gift made in confidence that society will honour it.

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My crazy theology in novel form

Posts: 4521 | From: Stinkers | Registered: Sep 2002  |  IP: Logged
Russ
Old salt
# 120

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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
I was suggesting reprogramming with the sorts of numbers that could readily occur in real life and would mean "everything's fine". The numbers politicians and economists are complaining aren't the ones showing. The ones they think should be.

Put it another way. Suppose you buy a million £1 widgets from me. As long as my computer now says I'm £1m richer, why does it matter to me that yours says you're £1m poorer?

The numbers economists want to see might show rising employment with rising production with zero inflation. So that there's more wealth produced without anyone being the poorer for it.

Not quite sure how a computerised banking system that subtly lies to people could bring that about. My intuition is that you can't fool all of the people all of the time and sooner or later some real-resource consequences are going to be felt.

Are you thinking of a St Nicholas virus that randomly creates extra money in accounts that have little, that somehow magically doesn't cause inflation thereby ?

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Wish everyone well; the enemy is not people, the enemy is wrong ideas

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Marvin the Martian

Interplanetary
# 4360

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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
Suppose you buy a million £1 widgets from me. As long as my computer now says I'm £1m richer, why does it matter to me that yours says you're £1m poorer?

It matters because without the inherent exchange of items of value the trade itself is worthless.

Your scenario essentially means the buyer doesn't actually have to spend any money - your computer says you're £1m better off, but his says he's got the same amount as before. All well and good, you might say, but the thing is that you will also be able to buy things without actually spending any money. Which means you won't actually need to earn any money in order to get the things you want. Which in turn means that you probably won't want to put the effort in to produce the widgets in the first place (unless widget production is a hobby of yours or something).

Money only has value in as much as it's an indicator of how many goods and services you are able to buy. Once that ceases to be the case then money becomes just worthless numbers in a computer - in which case if you want someone to do something for you that they don't particularly feel like doing you'll have to offer them something other than money in order for it to be worth their while. Gold, maybe?

So what if we reprogram the computers to give everyone £1m but then keep everything else as it is - buying something means you now have less money, and so forth? Well, the average salary in the UK is about £27k per year before tax (about £20,760 after tax). That extra million quid everyone just got is - on average - the equivalent of just under 50 years of work. Or to put it another way, it means that the average person maintaining their current standard of living won't have to work for another 50 years before they need to earn money again.

The problem with this scenario is obvious. To get people to work for you, you will need to offer them significantly more money than was previously the case. This means you'll have to raise the price of your widgets in order to cover your costs, which in turn means any given amount of money you pay your staff is worth less, so you have to pay them more - a vicious cycle. This is how hyperinflation happens.

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Hail Gallaxhar

Posts: 30009 | From: Adrift on a sea of surreality | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
Marvin the Martian

Interplanetary
# 4360

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quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
A full days pay for an hour’s work.

All well and good on the first day, but once people know that's what you're going to pay how many of them will bother doing more than an hour's work tomorrow?

quote:
if we nonetheless choose to go to work, as most people would
[Killing me] [Killing me] [Killing me]

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Hail Gallaxhar

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
Shipmate
# 76

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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
Suppose you buy a million £1 widgets from me. As long as my computer now says I'm £1m richer, why does it matter to me that yours says you're £1m poorer?

It matters because without the inherent exchange of items of value the trade itself is worthless.

Your scenario essentially means the buyer doesn't actually have to spend any money - your computer says you're £1m better off, but his says he's got the same amount as before. All well and good, you might say, but the thing is that you will also be able to buy things without actually spending any money. Which means you won't actually need to earn any money in order to get the things you want. Which in turn means that you probably won't want to put the effort in to produce the widgets in the first place (unless widget production is a hobby of yours or something).

Money only has value in as much as it's an indicator of how many goods and services you are able to buy. Once that ceases to be the case then money becomes just worthless numbers in a computer - in which case if you want someone to do something for you that they don't particularly feel like doing you'll have to offer them something other than money in order for it to be worth their while. Gold, maybe?

So what if we reprogram the computers to give everyone £1m but then keep everything else as it is - buying something means you now have less money, and so forth? Well, the average salary in the UK is about £27k per year before tax (about £20,760 after tax). That extra million quid everyone just got is - on average - the equivalent of just under 50 years of work. Or to put it another way, it means that the average person maintaining their current standard of living won't have to work for another 50 years before they need to earn money again.

The problem with this scenario is obvious. To get people to work for you, you will need to offer them significantly more money than was previously the case. This means you'll have to raise the price of your widgets in order to cover your costs, which in turn means any given amount of money you pay your staff is worth less, so you have to pay them more - a vicious cycle. This is how hyperinflation happens.

OK; go back to my original proposal - program the computers with the numbers they'd have if we weren't in the shit.

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Might as well ask the bloody cat.

Posts: 17821 | From: Chesterfield | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
no prophet's flag is set so...

Proceed to see sea
# 15560

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Work for some is the equivalent of going hunting for a beast to drag back to the hearth to eat, or scrabbling for some leaves or berries. Unpleasant, but necessary.

For others it contains that, and also contains enjoyment. I become rather impatient with people who complain about their work, and talk about "putting in time" before their retirement and fail to take hold of what they might. This sort of attitude I think contaminates the soul, creates bitterness. Please, if you don't like your life of work, you must change it, do something to make it different. Take on risk, and learn to tolerate it. But take on the right risks, but risks nonetheless.

Posts: 11246 | From: Treaty 6 territory in the nonexistant Province of Buffalo, Canada ↄ⃝' | Registered: Mar 2010  |  IP: Logged
Karl: Liberal Backslider
Shipmate
# 76

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And how the hell do I know what are the "right risks"? Crystal balls?

If I could find an alternative to work, I'd grab it tomorrow. But the only one I can currently find is Having No Money.

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Might as well ask the bloody cat.

Posts: 17821 | From: Chesterfield | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Marvin the Martian

Interplanetary
# 4360

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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
OK; go back to my original proposal - program the computers with the numbers they'd have if we weren't in the shit.

Most of the numbers that would mean we weren't in the shit would be about productivity rather than how much money people have. You can't just pretend to be producing value without actually doing it - that's how pyramid schemes (don't) work.

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Hail Gallaxhar

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hatless

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# 3365

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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
A full days pay for an hour’s work.

All well and good on the first day, but once people know that's what you're going to pay how many of them will bother doing more than an hour's work tomorrow?

quote:
if we nonetheless choose to go to work, as most people would
[Killing me] [Killing me] [Killing me]

If my super flare hits and the UN says world banking is irretrievably broken, no currency can be trusted, no debts or assets reliably quantified, and we’ll have to start from scratch, what then? While we scratch around, sharing whatever we have in our freezers, visiting the local shops to swap, because we can’t buy in the first week, taking as gift the fresh food that is going to spoil, will teachers go to the schools? Will nurses turn up at the hospitals, police put their uniforms on, lorry drivers deliver their goods, farmers sow seeds? Of course. A few won’t. Some can’t miss the chance of a lazy day, of getting one up on everyone else, but most people would choose to work in that situation. By the end of week two even the confirmed layabouts would be back.

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My crazy theology in novel form

Posts: 4521 | From: Stinkers | Registered: Sep 2002  |  IP: Logged
Boogie

Boogie on down!
# 13538

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I’ve always enjoyed work and worked even when I had the choice not to. Now that I’m retired I keep very busy volunteering all day, every day. Some people, like me, enjoy work for work’s sake. I was always genuinely surprised by the pay slip and said ‘wow, I even get paid for this’. Most people assumed sarcasm. I very much disliked the commute to work ‘tho and was very happy to give that up.

My brother also believes you should enjoy your work. As soon as he starts disliking his job he moves on. This means he’s never ‘climbed the ladder’ so his salary isn’t huge, but he’s happy.

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Garden. Room. Walk

Posts: 12818 | From: Boogie Wonderland | Registered: Mar 2008  |  IP: Logged
Callan
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# 525

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Originally posted by Karl: liberal backslider:

quote:
OK; go back to my original proposal - program the computers with the numbers they'd have if we weren't in the shit.
I think this assumes that the figures on the computers are entirely random. I don't think they are. I'm pretty sure, for example, that the figures on my current account are what they were when I last looked, minus, my credit card bill. I'd be quite miffed if someone could flip a switch and give me a 5K overdraft and if someone got in touch and said they could hit a switch and make me a millionaire I'd respond with the same enthusiasm as I do when someone offers to deposit £100,000 in my bank account. Multiply this across all the bank accounts in the world and you begin to see the difficulty.

And who do you give this power to, to alter any economic or monetary data on a computer system? To put this bank account in the black and that in the red? To alter the value of the house you are living in or your countries balance of trade statistics? How do you know they are honest? How do you know that they know what they are doing. If the Global economy was so simple, that by punching a few algorithms into a computer they could wipe out the negative effects of the financial crash, don't you think that the world's central banks would have done it by now? But it's not, it's big and complex, the clue being in the word global. Basically the problem with your thesis, AFAICS, is the same problem as with centrally planned economies. A handful of clever and honest people are expected to do better than billions of people of varying intelligence and integrity. But a) it's not certain that is the case and b) the mechanism for generating rulers of unyielding honesty and intelligence has not yet been discovered.

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How easy it would be to live in England, if only one did not love her. - G.K. Chesterton

Posts: 9712 | From: Citizen of the World | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Marvin the Martian

Interplanetary
# 4360

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quote:
Originally posted by no prophet's flag is set so...:
Work for some is the equivalent of going hunting for a beast to drag back to the hearth to eat, or scrabbling for some leaves or berries. Unpleasant, but necessary.

Yes. Not least because some jobs are inherently unpleasant but necessary.

quote:
I become rather impatient with people who complain about their work, and talk about "putting in time" before their retirement and fail to take hold of what they might. This sort of attitude I think contaminates the soul, creates bitterness. Please, if you don't like your life of work, you must change it, do something to make it different. Take on risk, and learn to tolerate it. But take on the right risks, but risks nonetheless.
As Karl says, change it to what? My choice is between the things I dislike but can do well enough that someone will pay me a good wage for them, and the things I enjoy but no-one else values enough to give me a brass farthing for them.

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Hail Gallaxhar

Posts: 30009 | From: Adrift on a sea of surreality | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
no prophet's flag is set so...

Proceed to see sea
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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
And how the hell do I know what are the "right risks"? Crystal balls?

If I could find an alternative to work, I'd grab it tomorrow. But the only one I can currently find is Having No Money.

Well, don't open a pizza restaurant, but maybe consider some human service qualification, particularly related to the elderly or to children. Them's current trends. Then be prepared to move to an isolated location for perhaps up to 5 years. And be prepared to work more than full time for most of that.

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Out of this nettle, danger, we pluck this flower, safety.
\_(ツ)_/

Posts: 11246 | From: Treaty 6 territory in the nonexistant Province of Buffalo, Canada ↄ⃝' | Registered: Mar 2010  |  IP: Logged
betjemaniac
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# 17618

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quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
If my super flare hits and the UN says world banking is irretrievably broken, no currency can be trusted, no debts or assets reliably quantified, and we’ll have to start from scratch, what then? While we scratch around, sharing whatever we have in our freezers, visiting the local shops to swap, because we can’t buy in the first week, taking as gift the fresh food that is going to spoil,

that's a positive view of how it would play out - my version involves the break down of civil society and a lot more looting in the initial phase, murder rates going through the roof, and the eventual settling down of what's left of humanity in feudal communities run by competing warlords...

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And is it true? For if it is....

Posts: 1451 | From: behind the dreaming spires | Registered: Mar 2013  |  IP: Logged
betjemaniac
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# 17618

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quite apart from anything else, in the event of your super flare, how's the UN (or anyone else for that matter) going to communicate to the masses about any of this? We'll basically be running a version of the UK based on what we can remember from the latter stages of Threads...

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And is it true? For if it is....

Posts: 1451 | From: behind the dreaming spires | Registered: Mar 2013  |  IP: Logged
Marvin the Martian

Interplanetary
# 4360

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quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
If my super flare hits and the UN says world banking is irretrievably broken, no currency can be trusted, no debts or assets reliably quantified, and we’ll have to start from scratch, what then?

Rioting and looting, mostly.

quote:
While we scratch around, sharing whatever we have in our freezers, visiting the local shops to swap, because we can’t buy in the first week, taking as gift the fresh food that is going to spoil,
I think this is optimistic at best. Most of the local shops would have been looted by people determined to get their hands on food (and other goods) by whatever means they can. Once those supplies started running low people would start raiding each others houses. With no monetary incentive to keep utility services operational it's likely that there'd be no electricity or gas to cook with anyway.

Those - especially farmers - who could control ongoing supplies of food and other essentials would most likely use them to hire security services to protect themselves, their families and their workers (who would, of course, be working for the food and the security).

quote:
will teachers go to the schools? Will nurses turn up at the hospitals, police put their uniforms on, lorry drivers deliver their goods, farmers sow seeds? Of course. A few won’t. Some can’t miss the chance of a lazy day, of getting one up on everyone else, but most people would choose to work in that situation. By the end of week two even the confirmed layabouts would be back.
I disagree. Not only would the situation mean your survival (and that of your family) no longer requires you to go to work, but it's likely that going to work would actually reduce the amount of time available for you to find food and protection.

Not that I think all traces of society would utterly disappear, of course. But I think the scenario where everyone just gets on with doing what they did before in peace and harmony is nowhere near as likely as the one where civilisation is reduced to small isolated pockets or the one where the government (and/or army) seizes the farms and uses its control over access to food rations to force everyone else to do its will.

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Hail Gallaxhar

Posts: 30009 | From: Adrift on a sea of surreality | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
no prophet's flag is set so...

Proceed to see sea
# 15560

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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
As Karl says, change it to what? My choice is between the things I dislike but can do well enough that someone will pay me a good wage for them, and the things I enjoy but no-one else values enough to give me a brass farthing for them.

Well we're not exactly in the career advice business, but... if your life is not enjoyable, are you prepared to do what it takes to make it so? Sell assets like a house, dip into savings, and pursue something else. Being paid a wage to do something you dislike isn't a direction that encourages mental and physical wellbeing. However if you're not willing or able to take the risks, then it is necessary to become happy doing what you're doing, learning to like it.

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Out of this nettle, danger, we pluck this flower, safety.
\_(ツ)_/

Posts: 11246 | From: Treaty 6 territory in the nonexistant Province of Buffalo, Canada ↄ⃝' | Registered: Mar 2010  |  IP: Logged
Dafyd
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# 5549

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quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
The numbers economists want to see might show rising employment with rising production with zero inflation. So that there's more wealth produced without anyone being the poorer for it.

Inflation hurts people who have lots of liquid assets - the people with money under the mattress or in heavily liquid savings accounts. For obvious people with lots of liquid assets make up a majority of people who can fund chairs or departments in economics. Unsurprisingly therefore they tend to fund those chairs for economists who sympathise with people with lots of liquid assets. You would call that biased and unprincipled. (*) 'Unprincipled' is I think too strong: there's no conscious dishonesty going on. But bias it certainly is.

On the whole, too many liquid assets in an economy jam it up. Restricting the supply of liquid asset - that is, money - doesn't actually unjam it: it merely makes it easier to concentrate the liquid assets rather than use them for facilitating transactions. Moderate inflation, by decreasing the value of money under the sofa, encourages productive investment. Too much inflation, that is, inflation at a rate that makes transactions difficult over the medium term, is for that reason problematic. But moderate inflation doesn't penalise anyone whose money or labour is economically active since the value of their economic activity factors inflation into account.

(*) Well, you wouldn't should you exempt sympathies that you share from your general condemnation.

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

Posts: 10480 | From: Edinburgh | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged
hatless

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# 3365

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quote:
Originally posted by betjemaniac:
quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
If my super flare hits and the UN says world banking is irretrievably broken, no currency can be trusted, no debts or assets reliably quantified, and we’ll have to start from scratch, what then? While we scratch around, sharing whatever we have in our freezers, visiting the local shops to swap, because we can’t buy in the first week, taking as gift the fresh food that is going to spoil,

that's a positive view of how it would play out - my version involves the break down of civil society and a lot more looting in the initial phase, murder rates going through the roof, and the eventual settling down of what's left of humanity in feudal communities run by competing warlords...
We’ve all seen the films, Hollywood films, so there are lots of guns and deaths involved as well. That’s the versions of human nature that Hollywood promotes - we are violent, selfish, and brutal, and held, barely, in check by a thin veneer of law and order which must therefore be defended with absolute rigour. I think that same thinking is involved in quite a bit of the amateur economics that flies around, too.

Rioting is a rare event. In the UK in recent years it has been police violence that has triggered it. The necessary cause seems to be a group of people who feel severely unacknowledged and unhappy with the powers - people in Brixton (goodness, it’s smart now) or Bristol (but it was only a few cars - I was in St Pauls on the so-called night of the riots and walked home at midnight and saw nothing) and more widely in 2011.

There were opportunists, I have read, during the blitz. A bombed jewellers might be hard to walk past, though a surprising number of passers by would actually prefer to stand guard.

I don’t see rioting and looting as a favoured option for many people that I know were there to be a new crisis.

A lot of financial thinking (I hesitate to call it economic thinking, because I think a lot of economists are better than this) seems to believe that money is the only motivator, and that the financial system must make people do things or they won’t. Global finance is talked about in staggering terms of trillions of dollars as if it represented an vast repository of power, and all the people, like ants, running around trying to get by on the little crumbs the mighty machine feeds them.

But wealth is largely what we make day by day. It’s interesting to reflect on how much of our wealth has a sell-by date that is either very short or instantaneous. Food, obviously, doesn’t last long. Services are short term. Education, health, security, defence, things we spend so much of our taxes on, don’t last from year to year. Hardly anything I buy existed last year. Wealth is made on the hoof.

Countries have recovered from the desolation of modern war in one or two generations.

I’m saying that the real power is in people, because we are the wealth creators. And that we are not a bunch of violent crazies just waiting to be triggered into a Hollywood apocalypse, but in crisis as in ordinary times, we are largely well meaning, considerate, cautious, helpful people. I think this is good economics and good theology.

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My crazy theology in novel form

Posts: 4521 | From: Stinkers | Registered: Sep 2002  |  IP: Logged
Eutychus
From the edge
# 3081

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The dystopianism is due less to us having got nastier than to our extremely high dependency on complex supply chains and infrastructure.

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Let's remember that we are to build the Kingdom of God, not drive people away - pastor Frank Pomeroy

Posts: 17565 | From: 528491 | Registered: Jul 2002  |  IP: Logged
Karl: Liberal Backslider
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# 76

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If I sell the house NP, I have nowhere to live. If I give up my job, I have no income to rent anywhere else. Your idea sounds like a version of the rather impractical Having No Money. Unfortunately I can't wait five years to eat. You imagine I've not considered every possibility?

And it's fine to say "learn to like what you're doing" but how the hell do you do that? You might as well say "learn to fall off cliffs without dying"

[ 12. December 2017, 17:17: Message edited by: Karl: Liberal Backslider ]

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Might as well ask the bloody cat.

Posts: 17821 | From: Chesterfield | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
no prophet's flag is set so...

Proceed to see sea
# 15560

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It does take some pretty significant lifestyle change and risk tolerance. Done it. Which does not mean everyone can I suppose.

Story: worked in civil service, gov't changed in the 1980s ideological days to "private good, public bad". Wife left her job, returned to school. I left my job, started on the self employment track. We sold the house, used the generated capital to live on and fund start-up. Figured we had about 18 months to figure out if we were right or wrong with the decision. We also had 2 preschoolers. We determined that we'd move to another province if needed as well (considered 2). I did work some 65-75 hours per week for the better part of a decade to make it go.

It probably sounds trite, but I drew on my grandparents and father's refugee history, thinking if they were able to restart twice in worse circumstances, should be able to as well.

Posts: 11246 | From: Treaty 6 territory in the nonexistant Province of Buffalo, Canada ↄ⃝' | Registered: Mar 2010  |  IP: Logged
Karl: Liberal Backslider
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# 76

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Ah, self employment. The Holy Grail. I've spent over ten years trying to think of a viable way of doing that.

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Might as well ask the bloody cat.

Posts: 17821 | From: Chesterfield | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Moo

Ship's tough old bird
# 107

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A sudden influx of money can also mess up an economy. When Spain started receiving large amounts of gold from South America, the effect on the Spanish economy was very bad. The same quantity of goods was available, but now some people could afford to pay far more than they could in the past. Prices soared.

Moo

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Kerygmania host
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See you later, alligator.

Posts: 20320 | From: Alleghany Mountains of Virginia | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
chris stiles
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# 12641

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quote:
Originally posted by hatless:

There were opportunists, I have read, during the blitz. A bombed jewellers might be hard to walk past, though a surprising number of passers by would actually prefer to stand guard.

I don’t see rioting and looting as a favoured option for many people that I know were there to be a new crisis.

I don't really think the situations are comparable, you are comparing a situation of societies under excess stress to one where suddenly (via collapse of electronic payments), most people are days away from running out of food, and the ability to pay for more. With no gradualism to ameliorate the consequences.
Posts: 3910 | From: Berkshire | Registered: May 2007  |  IP: Logged
Moo

Ship's tough old bird
# 107

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In the US in the 1930s President Roosevelt declared a bank holiday All banks were closed, and people quickly ran out of cash. Many stores extended credit to their regular customers, and in turn were extended credit by their regular suppliers.

I don't know what happened to people who were new in town.

Moo

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Kerygmania host
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See you later, alligator.

Posts: 20320 | From: Alleghany Mountains of Virginia | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
simontoad
Ship's Amphibian
# 18096

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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by mark_in_manchester:
Children died, the days grew cold, a piece of bread could buy a bag of gold.



Wrong thread to point this out on, I know, but that has long struck me as one of the worst ever examples of twisting a line to get a rhyme - surely it should be the other way round, gold buying bread? - besides promoting Rapture™ theology.

I have such a short attention span that I didn't even get past the musical intro, and that is not a criticism of the song.

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Human

Posts: 1395 | From: Romsey, Vic, AU | Registered: May 2014  |  IP: Logged
k-mann
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# 8490

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One advantage of gold is that it's finite. You can't just print more gold.

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"Being religious means asking passionately the question of the meaning of our existence and being willing to receive answers, even if the answers hurt."
— Paul Tillich

Katolikken

Posts: 1309 | From: Norway | Registered: Sep 2004  |  IP: Logged
Russ
Old salt
# 120

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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
Inflation hurts people who have lots of liquid assets - the people with money under the mattress or in heavily liquid savings accounts.

Inflation primarily hurts the elderly. Those who've paid into some form of pension fund all their working life and are now in their retirement essentially living off the capital they've accumulated.

Inflation breaks the spirit of the promise inherent in the idea of a pension while sticking to the letter.

Inflation is a stealth tax on savers. Governments are borrowers rather than lenders, so by your logic it's in their self-interest to maintain the fiction that a little inflation is a good thing...

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Wish everyone well; the enemy is not people, the enemy is wrong ideas

Posts: 3102 | From: rural Ireland | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged



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