John Singleton with Bob Howard, Rip Van Australia (Stanmore: Cassell Australia, 1977), pp. 43-49, under the heading “Conservation.”

The issue of conservation arises in three different areas: natural resources (iron ore, uranium, coal, oil, timber); nature itself (“national” parks, beaches, wildlife); and man-made structures (bridges and buildings).

In the area of resources the genuine conservationists’ concern is with ensuring future supplies of natural resources while allowing current uses; whereas in the areas of nature and man-made structures the concern is to ensure the continued existence of things that could otherwise be destroyed for all time.

The main problem in conservation groups today, however, is that almost all groups have been taken over by Communist leaders like Mundey, Carmichael and Halfpenny, while the well-meaning misguided youth follow blindly. We hope they are not yet too blind to read and think about the real issues.

Natural Resources

Oil — If the free market price mechanism was allowed to operate, natural resources would be conserved automatically. To see what would happen on an open, competitive free market (there is no such thing in Australia) let’s consider a hypothetical example using oil.

There is a huge demand for oil today. The relative balance of this demand with the existing supply, on a free market, would determine the price level. Let’s assume that supply is small and, thus, the price high. People and institutions with money to invest always seek to maximise the return on their investment (the good old profit motive). After appropriately considering the relative risks involved in the various investment opportunities, they make an investment decision. Because the potential profits of oil discovery are high (because, in this example, oil prices are high) a huge amount of investment money would be channelled into Australia in a number of areas (the higher the potential profits, the larger the amounts invested). These areas would be: (1) oil exploration, (2) research in and development of better extraction and refining methods, (3) research in and development of new means of producing oil, (4) research in and development of better ways to use the oil so that existing supplies go further, and (5) research in and development of alternatives to oil, such as, solar, wind, sea, geothermal and nuclear energy supplies.

Continuous monitoring of the situation by investors would determine how much money was invested in each area. This would vary in relation to the relative advances in each. For example, if, as a result of the exploration, a big oil strike was made, activity would tend to drop off in the area of developing alternatives. On the other hand, if no strikes are made, then, as the existing supplies diminished, prices would rise. This would automatically lead to a reduction in usage and subsequent conservation of the supplies. It would also greatly increase the activity in all five areas previously mentioned.

Because this situation would develop gradually in a free market, there would not be a mad last minute dash when the supplies were almost exhausted. Chances are, in the event of supplies running out, suitable alternatives would already be available. Certainly, enormous amounts of money would have been spent to try to ensure that they were.

As always, this free market operation is structured around natural human incentives. These same incentives operate if the government interferes and doesn’t allow the market to operate, except they would in a perverted way. For example, suppose the supply of oil is running out, but the price of oil is fixed (our current Australian situation). The market would demand that the price be high. But, for political reasons, the government would “fix” the price below the market level (to prevent “profiteering”, “excess profits”, or “price gouging”). Because the price is held artificially low, there would be little incentive for consumers to reduce their consumption. Appeals to their “awareness” would, by and large, be useless. In other words, it would be just like Australia is today. No new oil and no incentives to find any, all in the name of the “public good”.

And today in Australia the situation is made even worse by the added effects of inflation, excessive taxation, indecisive and inconsistent policy making by the government, and the consistent threat of nationalisation or expropriation. In short, the automatic correcting mechanisms of the free market are short circuited and the situation goes instead from bad to worse. It becomes a political football and none of the coaches have ever played the game. The normal route for governments to follow as the crisis inevitably develops is one of increased intervention and involvement.

If this type of government interference is allowed to destroy our own chances of being self-sufficient in energy, then we are thrown to the mercy of a cartel such as O.P.E.C., thus fully compounding an already tragic situation. And you can watch it happen right here in Australia in front of your very eyes.

In summary then, the best way to conserve supplies of raw materials is to let the free market price structure operate. Government intervention has so far succeeded only in aggravating the situation and there is no reason to expect that more of the same will be of any help.

Timber — Another important aspect of the problem of conserving the existing supply of any resource is the question of who owns the resource. Let us consider timber supplies in forests. If a company owns a forest, that forest represents a capital value. If the company was to systematically move through that forest and cut it to the ground to realise the value of the timber, it would destroy its capital asset and potential future earnings. No businessman in his right mind does that to his own assets. Instead, the company would pursue a planned and balanced cutting programme, replanting as it went. In this way, it would conserve its current timber supply and use it in the most economical way, and at the same time ensure a continuous future supply.

On the other hand, if all the timber company has was a lease over government owned forest, the company does not have to worry about protecting and conserving its capital asset. So there is no direct economic incentive for it to scientifically cut or replant. Its only incentive is to cut as much as possible as quickly as possible, and then move on to a new lease. And this incentive to get as much as possible as quickly as possible is even greater when the continuation of the lease depends on the decision of a fickle bureaucrat or politician. The indecisiveness of our governments in their natural resources policies is in fact a major factor working against conservation.

The Sea — The damaging effects of all governments’ refusal to allow private property rights is seen clearly in the commercial use or non-use of the sea: aquaculture. No one can farm the ocean. As far as aquaculture is concerned, we are still in the primitive, unproductive hunting and gathering stage that characterised human existence on land prior to the agricultural revolution.

The development of electronic fencing techniques has already made aquafarming feasible, but without some system of property rights nothing will be done and the majority of the earth’s surface will remain unproductive, while this year one billion fellow humans die of starvation.

Maybe we could send their relatives a photo of an historic, eighty-year-old cockroach-ridden monster our conservationists have saved for mankind? We’re sure they’d feel much better for it.

Nature

The first thing to be noted about current attempts to use the government to ensure that certain natural areas be conserved are: (1) governments can’t be trusted, as they vary their actions with whatever pressure is brought to bear; and (2) exactly what is done and how it is done is a numbers game (whereas some people may prefer that a nature area be left alone, others may prefer it “developed” as a more viable tourist asset). So there can be no security and no abstract principles by which decisions are made. It is instead, a matter of politics.

As in the case of natural resources, the best principle that can be used to resolve issues of this kind is that of inalienable property rights. And the most efficient method of allocation of all resources is the free market.

Beaches — Currently we are told everyone owns them, which means no one does. But anyone can use them and the costs are borne by taxpayers in general and local ratepayers in particular, which is neither fair or even practical. In addition, most beaches have few, if any, facilities, and what lifeguard arrangements do exist are financed by chook raffles or similar efforts and manned by unpaid volunteers.

As an alternative, let us imagine Bondi Beach being owned and operated by a company. (There is always the remote possibility that an eccentric might buy the beach for his personal use and not allow anyone else to use it, but the chance is so remote as to be not worthy of consideration. A person would be eccentric indeed to pay millions of dollars for such a beach and keep it for personal use only — and anyway there are many more beaches than eccentric billionaires).

If a company owned Bondi Beach, it would run it as a profit making enterprise. Facilities would be provided to attract customers — changing rooms, showers, shops, carparking, bus access. The sand would be kept clean. Lifeguards would be contracted or directly employed, probably all week round, as a high safety record would be an additional attraction to customers. Because the company owned the beach, it would set the rules for the beach — only neck-to-knee swimsuits permitted, for example. It would set aside areas for board riding and provide facilities for board riders, such as board storage space. Because the company was in business to make a profit, the policy of the company with regard to rules would reflect market demand. The issue of nude beaches would present no problem — they would exist or not depending on whether the demand was or was not there.

Take a look at the ugly concrete jungle that is Bondi today under government ownership, and ask yourself if it could possibly be worse under private control.

The free market would also provide beach variety. There would be a majority of commercial, popular beaches, but there would also be select members only, club-type private beaches. There would be conservative beaches and progressive beaches. There could even be free beaches run by companies as a public service [the companies might run neighbouring businesses and figure the beach will attract customers for them]. Large beaches (such as Bondi) would probably cater to popular taste, while small ones catered for minorities.

Some of the attractions of this idea are (1) it’s moral arrangement, (2) it offers the best beaches, (3) it provides a clear-cut means of deciding policies, and (4) it is based on the user pays principle.

Parkland — Public parks should be placed on a similar commercial footing to that described for beaches. We agree it is unlikely that something like Hyde Park would continue to exist in its present state of commercially owned. However, not enough attention has been paid to what is perhaps a more feasibly possibility, which is to develop what could easily be a larger total park area in the city proper, but this area could be spread around as small pieces of park filling out the interstices that exist between buildings, on corners, etc. An enormous number of vines, trees, flowers, grasslawns, shrubs, could be planted around the city — in plazas, on shop awnings, in new building plans (as is currently happening in places), inside shops and office buildings, even on top of buildings. There is currently a great revival of interest in indoor and outdoor plants, particularly as an aid to decoration. The way that this is being incorporated into new building design offers the hope that it could yet turn our cities into garden cities.

The biggest obstacles to progress in this regard are the local councils and their contradictory, confusing and enormously restrictive building and development rules.

Similarly national parks and wildlife preserves should also be placed on a private, financial footing. If it is argued that not enough people care about them to enable them to be funded in this way, then that surely is the democratic decision of the population. On what grounds can it be asserted that they are “in the public interest”, if the people are not interested? There are, of course, always people who claim they know what’s best for the public. There’s no harm in that. But when one not only claims it, but then proceeds also to force it upon them, and make them pay for it, then one degenerates to the level of Adolph Hitler. He, too, thought he was doing the right thing. The use of force can never be justified.

If the national park is an isolated place — as many of them are — then there would be little alternative demand for the land and it would thus be relatively cheap to purchase. Just as public funds are sometimes raised to build Opera Houses or America Cup yachts, so too could funds be raised to purchase parks. But the obvious areas for them are those that have little alternative use potential, for example, mountainous areas unsuitable for grazing or farming.

One possibility that could be explored with all property that is currently public property is to convert it into public companies. Thus Hyde Park could be converted into a company and the shares offered for sale. Shares in this case could be first offered to people who work in the city area, and then to companies. Shares in national parks could be offered first to conservationists, bush-walkers, Scout groups, and so on.

Wildlife — Wildlife could be conserved in these national parks, or within more commercial parks. However, species have been disappearing for as long as life has existed, and the effects of such disappearances tend to be overemphasised. Too often ecological arguments are little more than emotional rationalisations and not enough credit is given to the tremendous adaptability of nature.

It is most certainly true, though, that nowhere near enough attention is given within our education system and business would to learning how to live in greater harmony with nature, rather than as if we were hell-bent on raping her. This is a great reflection of the dehumanising effects of our modern civilisation.

Man-Made Structures

The same general argument applies here as in our previous sections, namely, that anyone who wants to conserve structures should purchase those structures on the open market. Conservation activity today is often a straight out form of robbery. Too often it directly violates property rights — always, of course, “for the public good” to preserve “our national heritage”. The only person or organisation that has a right to determine the fate of any piece of property, be it natural or man made, is the owner of that property. That’s what ownership means. For a group of other people to use the coercive power of government to preserve property for their pleasure, but the owner’s expense and against his/her will, is an act of robbery and authoritarianism. Ends do not justify means, and the humanitarian reasons put forward by the robbers do not change this basic fact.

We agree it is a very worthwhile experience to see and enjoy historical places and buildings. But that is no justification for immoral acts. Furthermore, it is no solution to argue that the government purchase these resources and hold them “in trust” for the population, because the government must fund its activities through general taxation. Apart from the immorality of taxation itself, there exists no relationship between those who value and use the resources and those who pay. Nor are there proper avenues for those who pay to determine just what the money should be spent on.

The activity of conservation of our historic buildings could be morally and successfully carried out by a public subscription fund operated by a body such as the National Trust. Certainly the use of the coercive power of government is effective, and much easier. But it has no moral base.

Conclusion

In any conservation activity, then, the combined workings of the free market and effective protection of property rights will give a moral solution to problems, and, in the long run, a far more effective solution.

Today, what is happening is the use of popular issues (ecology/conservation) to make essential development (such as mining) unpopular, and therefore to destroy mankind by re-introducing stone-age mentality to the nuclear age. Again you don’t have to read about it. You can and will see it happen for best/worst right here in Rip Van Australia, right before your very eyes.

(in order of appearance on Economics.org.au)
  1. Governments Consume Wealth — They Don't Create It
  2. Singo and Howard Propose Privatising Bondi Beach
  3. Singo and Howard Speak Out Against the Crackpot Realism of the CIS and IPA
  4. Singo and Howard on Compromise
  5. Singo and Howard on Monopolies
  6. Singo and Howard Support Sydney Harbour Bridge Restructure
  7. Singo and Howard on Striking at the Root, and the Failure of Howard, the CIS and the IPA
  8. Singo and Howard Explain Why Australia is Not a Capitalist Country
  9. Singo and Howard Call Democracy Tyrannical
  10. Singo and Howard on Drugs!
  11. Simpleton sells his poll philosophy
  12. Singo and Howard Decry Australia Day
  13. Singo and Howard Endorse the Workers Party
  14. Singo and Howard Oppose the Liberal Party
  15. Singo and Howard Admit that Liberals Advocate and Commit Crime
  16. Up the Workers! Bob Howard's 1979 Workers Party Reflection in Playboy
  17. John Whiting's Inaugural Workers Party Presidential Address
  18. John Singleton and Bob Howard 1975 Monday Conference TV Interview on the Workers Party
  19. Singo and Howard on Aborigines
  20. Singo and Howard on Conservatism
  21. Singo and Howard on the Labor Party
  22. Singo, Howard and Hancock Want to Secede
  23. John Singleton changes his name
  24. Lang Hancock's Foreword to Rip Van Australia
  25. New party will not tolerate bludgers: Radical party against welfare state
  26. Singo and Howard introduce Rip Van Australia
  27. Singo and Howard on Knee-Jerks
  28. Singo and Howard on Tax Hunts (Lobbying)
  29. Singo and Howard on Rights
  30. Singo and Howard on Crime
  31. Singo and Howard on Justice
  32. Singo and Howard on Unemployment
  33. John Singleton on 1972's Cigarette Legislation
  34. Singo and Howard: Gambling Should Neither Be Illegal Nor Taxed
  35. Workers Party Platform
  36. Singo and Howard Join Forces to Dismantle Welfare State
  37. Singo and Howard on Business
  38. Singo and Howard on Discrimination
  39. Singo and Howard on the Greens
  40. Singo and Howard on Xenophobia
  41. Singo and Howard on Murdoch, Packer and Monopolistic Media
  42. Singo and Howard Explain that Pure Capitalism Solves Pollution
  43. Singo and Howard Defend Miners Against Government
  44. Singo and Howard on Bureaucracy
  45. Singo and Howard on Corporate Capitalism
  46. The last words of Charles Russell
  47. Ted Noffs' Preface to Rip Van Australia
  48. Right-wing anarchists revamping libertarian ideology
  49. Giving a chukka to the Workers Party
  50. Govt "villain" in eyes of new party
  51. "A beautiful time to be starting a new party": Rand fans believe in every man for himself
  52. Introducing the new Workers' Party
  53. Paul Rackemann 1980 Progress Party Election Speech
  54. Lang Hancock 1978 George Negus Interview
  55. Voices of frustration
  56. Policies of Workers Party
  57. Party Promises to Abolish Tax
  58. AAA Tow Truck Co.
  59. Singo and Howard on Context
  60. Singo and Howard Blame Roosevelt for Pearl Harbour
  61. Singo and Howard on Apathy
  62. Workers Party is "not just a funny flash in the pan"
  63. Singo and Howard on Decency
  64. John Singleton in 1971 on the 2010 Federal Election
  65. Matthew, Mark, Luke & John Pty. Ltd. Advertising Agents
  66. Viv Forbes Wins 1986 Adam Smith Award
  67. The writing of the Workers Party platform and the differences between the 1975 Australian and American libertarian movements
  68. Who's Who in the Workers Party
  69. Bob Howard interviewed by Merilyn Giesekam on the Workers Party
  70. A Farewell to Armchair Critics
  71. Sukrit Sabhlok interviews Mark Tier
  72. David Russell Leads 1975 Workers Party Queensland Senate Team
  73. David Russell Workers Party Policy Speech on Brisbane TV
  74. Bludgers need not apply
  75. New party formed "to slash controls"
  76. The Workers Party
  77. Malcolm Turnbull says "the Workers party is a force to be reckoned with"
  78. The great consumer protection trick
  79. The "Workers" speak out
  80. How the whores pretend to be nuns
  81. The Workers Party is a Political Party
  82. Shit State Subsidised Socialist Schooling Should Cease Says Singo
  83. My Journey to Anarchy:
    From political and economic agnostic to anarchocapitalist
  84. Workers Party Reunion Intro
  85. Singo and Howard on Freedom from Government and Other Criminals
  86. Singo and Howard on Young People
  87. Singo and Howard Expose how Government Healthcare Controls Legislate Doctors into Slavery
  88. Singo and Howard Engage with Homosexuality
  89. Singo and Howard Demand Repeal of Libel and Slander Laws
  90. Singo and Howard on Consumer Protection
  91. Singo and Howard on Consistency
  92. Workers Party is born as foe of government
  93. Political branch formed
  94. Government seen by new party as evil
  95. Singo and Howard on Non-Interference
  96. Singo and Howard on Women's Lib
  97. Singo and Howard on Licences
  98. Singo and Howard on Gun Control
  99. Singo and Howard on Human Nature
  100. Singo and Howard on Voting
  101. Singo and Howard on
    Inherited Wealth
  102. Singo and Howard on Education
  103. Singo and Howard on Qualifications
  104. Ron Manners on the Workers Party
  105. Singo and Howard Hate Politicians
  106. Undeserved handouts make Australia the lucky country
  107. A happy story about Aborigines
  108. John Singleton on Political Advertising
  109. Richard Hall, Mike Stanton and Judith James on the Workers Party
  110. Singo Incites Civil Disobedience
  111. How John Singleton Would Make Tony Abbott Prime Minister
  112. The Discipline of Necessity
  113. John Singleton on the first election the Workers Party contested
  114. Libertarians: Radicals on the right
  115. The Bulletin on Maxwell Newton as Workers Party national spokesman on economics and politics
  116. Singo and Howard: Australia Should Pull Out of the Olympics
  117. Singo and Howard Like Foreign Investment
  118. Mark Tier corrects Nation Review on the Workers Party
  119. The impossible dream
  120. Why can't I get away with it?
  121. The bold and boring Lib/Lab shuffle
  122. Time for progress
  123. The loonie right implodes
  124. Max Newton: Maverick in Exile
  125. John Singleton on refusing to do business with criminals and economic illiterates
  126. Censorship should be banned
  127. "Listen, mate, a socialist is a bum"
  128. John Singleton on Advertising
  129. John Singleton on why he did the Hawke re-election campaign
  130. Sinclair Hill calls for dropping a neutron bomb on Canberra
  131. Bob Howard in Reason 1974-77
  132. John Singleton defends ockerism
  133. Singo and Howard talk Civil Disobedience
  134. The Census Con
  135. Singo and Howard Oppose Australian Participation in the Vietnam War
  136. Did John Singleton oppose the mining industry and privatising healthcare in 1990?
  137. Bob Carr in 1981 on John Singleton's political bent
  138. John Singleton-Ita Buttrose interview (1977)
  139. King Leonard of Hutt River Declares Defensive Just War Against Australia the Aggressor
  140. Singo says Lang Hancock violated Australia's 11th commandment: Thou Shalt Not Succeed
  141. Singleton: the White Knight of Ockerdom
  142. John Singleton bites into Sinclair Hill's beef
  143. Save Parramatta Road
  144. 1979 news item on new TV show John Singleton With a Lot of Help From His Friends
  145. Smoking, Health and Freedom
  146. Singo and Howard on Unions
  147. Singo and Howard Smash the State
  148. Singo and Howard on the big issue of Daylight Saving
  149. Come back Bob - It was all in fun!
  150. A few "chukkas" in the Senate for polo ace?
  151. Country Rejuvenation - Towards a Better Future
  152. Singo and Howard on Profits, Super Profits and Natural Disasters
  153. John Singleton's 1977 pitch that he be on a committee of one to run the Sydney 1988 Olympics for profit
  154. Thoughts on Land Ownership
  155. 1975 Max Newton-Ash Long interview on the Workers Party
  156. The Electoral Act should allow voters to choose "none of the above"
  157. The great Labor Party platform: first or last, everybody wins a prize
  158. The politics of marketing - laugh now, pay later
  159. Singo and Howard call Australia fascist and worse
  160. The mouse will roar
  161. Viv Forbes and Jim Fryar vs Malcolm Fraser in 1979
  162. Quip, Quote, Rant and Rave: four of Viv Forbes' letters to the editor in The Australian in 1979
  163. Australia's First Official Political Party Poet Laureate: The Progress Party's Ken Hood in 1979
  164. Hancock's playing very hard to get
  165. Harry M. Miller and The Australian disgrace themselves
  166. Ocker ad genius takes punt on art
  167. John Singleton 1976 ocker Monday Conference Max Harris debate
  168. John Singleton mocks university students on civil liberties and freedom of choice in 1971
  169. Murray Rothbard championed on Australian television in 1974 (pre-Workers Party!) by Maureen Nathan
  170. John Singleton profile in 1977 Australian MEN Vogue
  171. I think that I shall never see a telegraph pole as lovely as a tree
  172. Ralph Nader vs John Singleton on Consumer Protection
  173. John Singleton's first two "Think" columns in Newspaper News, 1969
  174. Singo and Howard on Ballet
  175. Product innovation comes first
  176. Protect who from a 'mindless' wife?
  177. A party is born
  178. Tiny Workers' Party gives us a hint
  179. John Singleton on the ad industry, consumerism and innovation
  180. Workers Party Economic Policy Statement, December 1975
  181. Lang Hancock on the Workers Party, secession and States Rights
  182. John Singleton and Howard on Government Largesse
  183. Counterculture must exclude government handouts
  184. John Singleton's 1974 Federal Liberal Election Campaign Ads
  185. John Singleton believes in the Workers Party
  186. Write-up of John Singleton's 1978 speech to the Australian Liberal Students Association
  187. Singo in 1987: "Joh doesn't go far enough ... I want absolute deregulation of the economy"
  188. Maxwell Newton chapter of Clyde Packer's No Return Ticket (1984)
  189. Singo and Howard on Totalitarian Socialism and Voluntary Socialism
  190. Rip Van Australia on Ripoff Vandals Taxing Australia
  191. Singo and Howard beg for tolerance
  192. John Singleton's 1985 advertising comeback
  193. Singo and Howard Demand End to Public Transport
  194. John Singleton and Howard on Fred Nile, Festival of Light, FamilyVoice Australia and the Christian Lobby
  195. Capitalism: Survival of the Fittest
  196. Return Australia Post to Sender
  197. Singo and Howard on Public Utilities
  198. John Singleton and Howard say monarchy should be funded by monarchists alone
  199. John Singleton on cigarette advertising
  200. Singo in 1972 on newspapers' demise
  201. John Singleton farewells Bryce Courtenay
  202. John Singleton on Australian political advertising in 1972
  203. Gortlam rides again
  204. Announcement that Lang Hancock will be guest of honour at the Workers Party launch
  205. John Singleton on trading stamps, idiot housewives and government
  206. 1975 John Singleton-Sir Robert Askin Quadrant Interview
  207. Singo asks two prickly questions
  208. VIOLENCE, TV BAN, DRINK - SINGO SPEAKS HIS MIND
  209. Why John Singleton can't keep a straight face
  210. Tony Dear on Paul Krutulis, the Workers Party and murder
  211. An Ode to Busybodies
  212. Progress Party and Workers Party lead The Australian
  213. How many tits in a tangle?
  214. Viv Forbes in 1978 on loss-making government, the Berlin Wall and misdirected blasts of hot-air
  215. John Singleton wants the Post Office sold and anti-discrimination legislation scrapped
  216. A speech from the Titanic
  217. A crime must have a victim
  218. John Singleton vs Australia Post
  219. Minimum wages the killer
  220. Has Fraser got his priorities all wrong?
  221. John Singleton says "the royal family should be flogged off to the U.S."
  222. John Singleton vs Don Chipp and the Australian Democrats
  223. John Singleton vs Don Lane
  224. John Singleton. Horseracing. Why?
  225. John Singleton's 1986 reflection on the Workers Party
  226. Bob Howard in 1978 on libertarianism in Australia
  227. John Singleton on the stupidity of anti-discrimination laws
  228. Thou shalt know the facts ... before thou shoot off thou mouth
  229. Charity: An Aesop Fable
  230. Bob Howard announces the Workers Party in freeEnterprise
  231. New improved moon
  232. Announcing people ... YES, people!
  233. Creativity in advertising must be pointed dead on target
  234. John Singleton on barriers to, and opportunities for, effective communication
  235. Wayne Garland on John Singleton on Advertising
  236. John Singleton schools ad course
  237. John Singleton: advertising awards
  238. Mr Singleton Goes to Canberra for Australian Playboy
  239. John Singleton on his TV career for Australian Playboy
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