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A Question to Obama Democrats...

Original post made by !, Another Pleasanton neighborhood, on Oct 27, 2009

To "Stay Cool", "Stacey" , "Poster Boy", "Janna" and other Obama Democrats...

I would be very interested to know what you believe are the top three to five most efficient and effective, government-run, social programs. (Yes, you need to explain your reasoning.)

Also, if you can show me that these programs cannot be operated more efficiently and effectively by the private sector, you will get some bonus points from me.

Comments (31)

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Posted by poster boy
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 27, 2009 at 8:47 am

Web Link


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 27, 2009 at 8:54 am

Stacey is a registered user.

The question is unanswerable because underneath it lies the assumption that private business will provide services to everyone, including those who live in "out of the way" places, without some sort of government intervention. Like what, out of the goodness of their heart? How does an insurance company turn down health insurance for a healthy four month old baby?


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 27, 2009 at 8:55 am

Stacey is a registered user.

P.S. I'm not a Democrat.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 27, 2009 at 8:59 am

Stacey is a registered user.

!,

Name three US large corporations that do not receive any form of government subsidies.


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Posted by T.H.
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Oct 27, 2009 at 9:30 am

As a republican I assume you are against welfare of all kind. Does this aply to corporate welfare? Does this mean you are laissez faire? Hoover was and it took FDR to pull us out of the Great Depression. When times are good it's easy to say, "Let the machine run, it's working well." When times are tough it takes a mechanic to fix the machinery, and that costs money. Hands off government in times like this will do what it did when Hoover was president, nothing. I feel bad for any president in these times, you will likely be a scapegoat or possibly a hero. I hope, for all of our sake, B.O. becomes a hero. I wish him, and us, the best.


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Posted by !
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 27, 2009 at 9:38 am

Stacey:
Your non-response to my question of "what government programs are efficient and effective" is very revealing.

Let me make the question easier for you...

Name ONE government program that is efficient and effective.

(Exclude those of the Dept. Defense...which is effective (when given the support it needs) but I know this department could operate more efficiently.


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Posted by OPB 2.0
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 27, 2009 at 10:00 am

Punctuation mark,

Let's see off the top of my head:
* the big kahuna - Social Security. The fact that your parents, if they're still alive, are not living at home with you is proof enough. But I'll tell you a story closer to my home. I come from a large family, in the 70s 4 of my siblings were in college at the same time. My grandparents both took ill at the same time. If not for social security and medicare my siblings would've been forced to drop out of college to care for my grandparents needs financially. Instead, my grandparents lived out their remaining days without fear of poverty or being a burden on their family and my siblings were able to each receive their college degrees. So now I'm sure you'll claim that social security will go bankrupt soon and quote some doom and gloom numbers from right wing think tanks, but all it takes to make SS solvent for another 100 years without any cuts in benefits is by increasing the maximum withdrawl level from 92k - 108k up to 200k+. But that would be a tax on the rich...yikes!

* Medicare - see above. As for Medicare's longterm solvency, most of that is tied to spiraling healthcare costs which, if reined in by HCR will add years of solvency to medicare. Ditto on story above from my own life and the fact that even right wingers loves their medicare..."Keep the government out of medicare!"

* the interstate highway system. No other force has driven economic development in this country more than this government-run and maintained highway system. Financed by gas taxes and other levies.

* The GI Bill - If I have to explain what a contribution this has made to our system, then obviously you didn't take advantage of the opportunity.

* The FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) - Did you feel the need last fall to run off and withdraw all your money from the bank in fear that it might be gone? Why is that? Oh yeah, the first 250k is insured by the federal government. Another inefficient wasteful program.

* Subsidized phone to rural areas. Ever wonder why as early as the 30s you were able to phone grandma moses in the sticks out in central nebraska when it was economically unfeasable for phone companies to run lines out there and maintain them? Oh yeah, it was the government subsidies that made it possible.

* and do i hesitate to bring this up? No, i can't...the INTERNET! Yes, the result of a government program. Scary and inefficient.


Here's a more complete list i just found of both social and non-social government programs that are successful.

So when you get in your car, whose safety devices are mandated by the federal government, and drive down the streets that are maintained by government funds and head to the store which has building codes mandated by the government to buy a sandwich whose ingredients safety must meet government standards, go home in and eat it while watching tv that is broadcast over airways that are regulated by the government and then digest the food safely for the reasons stated above and then head to the crapper to release it all into a sewer system built and paid for by government money, remember what a complete failure the government can be.

Web Link

will this be the ONE government program you're looking for that is efficient and effective?


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Posted by T.H.
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Oct 27, 2009 at 10:09 am

My first post explains my position better but with out the OP answering my questio I will answer his Some ideas for programs that have been effective.
The judicial system
Police, firefighters
Social Security
Anti discrimination (Civil Rights)
Civilian Concervation Corp
GI Bill
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
CDC
OSHA
Cash for Clunkers
Infrastructure programs of many kinds...
You can say almost anything can be improved, and anything has problems and shortfalls. Efficiency of any large organization, governmental or business, is always debatable. What company is effective and efficient? I gaurante what ever company you name there is someone working there that knows that improvements can be made.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 27, 2009 at 10:49 am

Stacey is a registered user.

!,

Your question is a waste of my time. Why should I provide an answer when all you're doing is fishing? You provided no arguments or insightful comments, just bait.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 27, 2009 at 10:52 am

Stacey is a registered user.

!,

If you're trying to make some sort of point, just spit it out. Why the game?


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 27, 2009 at 10:57 am

Stacey is a registered user.

"* the interstate highway system. No other force has driven economic development in this country more than this government-run and maintained highway system. Financed by gas taxes and other levies."

Can you imagine how high the Bay Bridge toll would be if run by a private company? What private company would take on the liability of a bridge collapse collapse? That'd be some rather costly insurance. Have you seen how much earthquake insurance (which companies are forced to offer as required by the government) is going for these days on a small single-family dwelling? Oh, like this hypothetical private bridge company would take on the cost to retrofit it?


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 27, 2009 at 11:00 am

Stacey is a registered user.

T.H. wrote: "Efficiency of any large organization, governmental or business, is always debatable. What company is effective and efficient?"

See? The problem is one of organization, not of who is running it. Isn't this what this year's winner of the Nobel prize in economics talks about?


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Posted by Stay Cool
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 27, 2009 at 11:29 am

Stay Cool is a registered user.

More later, but did anyone mention the Federal Student Loan program?


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 27, 2009 at 11:50 am

!:

You have not answered Stacey's question, so here it is again in a different format:

Are you aware that corporations - many of them - receive some form of government help?

Are you aware that if you own a property by the beach you get government insurance? Yes, and most of those properties belong to the wealthiest of Americans.

Are you aware that even rich people (including Bush Sr) benefit from social security, a government run program?

Are you aware that Alaska (where right wing Palin used to be governor) has the permanent fund which gives each resident close to 2000 dollars per year AND that Palin added another 1K to that before resigning? Is that right wing hypocrisy?

I am not a democrat, but I can tell you the right wing republicans sound quite extreme.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 27, 2009 at 11:55 am

"Are you aware that if you own a property by the beach you get government insurance? Yes, and most of those properties belong to the wealthiest of Americans."

To clarify: in some areas/some beach properties. This also goes for some cabins in certain areas. People lease the land from the government for very little, have great cabins/houses, and get to pass them on to their children. It is thanks to the government, yet I never see any republican complain about this "welfare for the rich" and how this "government run program" is unfair.


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Posted by Tom Kelly
a resident of Stoneridge Park
on Oct 27, 2009 at 11:55 am

I spent most of my engineering career working in aerospace. I worked for Hughes, Rockwell (Rocketdyne), Northrop and other smaller contractors to the Department of Defense and NASA. I remember working on the Space Shuttle for Marquadt in Van Nuys in the early through late 1970's. This was my first (and last) experience with a "cost plus" program. The contract read that the program would pay for the contractor's costs plus 4% as a profit. On the surface it sounded reasonable - the company would be guaranteed a small profit and the government would not be saddled with cost overruns.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out what happened. We worked 56 hours a week doing nothing and being paid over-time pay (salaried employees included). I worked for Marquardt and Rocketdyne on the Space Shuttle engines and both companies milked the government for everything they could get.

In the late seventies I went to Hughes and worked on projects for the Department of Defense. We were instructed to literally design things wrong so we would get the contract to fix them. Regardless of the type of contract, the large aerospace companies were quite adept at milking the government for everything they could get.

My experiences like these went on throughout my career until it ended in 2005. My point is that I have no confidence in business to be altruistic in any way where it comes to my health. I thank the Democrats of 1965 for passing Medicare - a true God-send.


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Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 27, 2009 at 12:10 pm

The United States Mint has done fairly well.

Web Link


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 27, 2009 at 12:36 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Resident,

Forget that question. I don't expect an answer. This question though is much more interesting: "How does an insurance company turn down health insurance for a healthy four month old baby?"

The company reversed their decision, but only after public pressure on their reputation.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 27, 2009 at 12:40 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Said health insurance company is so efficient and effective as to turn down a well-fed baby! Bravo!


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Posted by T.H.
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Oct 27, 2009 at 1:02 pm

United Postal Service. It's a joke to many but actually pretty impressive. I do think the OP was a complete fishing attempt, like the one way back stating 'Pleasanton is teaching Evolution to kids' but it's good to see so many that appreciate what their government has done for them and continues to do. This post ended up being more like Thanksgiving then a New Years hangover. Too bad for the OP. Oh and the tag of being done better by the private sector...the point is more that they wouldn't do it. Don't know of many contractors looking to fix roads for free. No government equalls anarchy, meaning the weak would become pets to the mighty.


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Posted by Tricia
a resident of Danbury Park
on Oct 27, 2009 at 2:05 pm

I AGREE WITH THE POST OFFICE!! They wrongly get a bad rap, but deliver anywhere in the country in 2-3 days for a 44 pennies.

I think the point to keep in mind is that The "Private Sector" has proven itself endlessly susceptible to GREED, bribery, kickbacks, collusion and EXPLOITATION the instant they get an ounce of power. It has NOT policed itself, and has NOT taken the best interest of their customers as their own best interest (as the old republican deregulation scam tried to convince us it would.) Banks, telecomm companies, big pharma, Now... POLITICIANS are ALSO susceptible, but... WITH THOROUGH REGULATION and POLICING, (repeat) THOROUGH REGULATION AND POLICING... I believe it is MUCH easier to TAKE DOWN a corrupt politician than it is to endlessly maneuver legally through multi-leveled private, non-accessible corporations who can afford ANY dollar amount to endlessly stave off legal actions against them. (just look at the oil industry!) At least in Government, the buck stops somewhere. But YES, properly policing government REQUIRES RED TAPE... I personally am willing to pay for it.


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Posted by !
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 27, 2009 at 3:39 pm

Dear OPB2:
Let's take your first three examples...

- Social Security
- Medicare
- Interstate System

- Social Security is bankrupt.
- Medicare is bankrupt.
- The Interstate System, built by the Fed, is left up to the States to maintain. All I know is when I took a Transportation Engineering Class in grad school in the '80s, my professor was very quick to say that this system is bankrupting States because many could not afford to maintain them.

Another poster indicated that the Post Office works well. While I agree that there are many dedicated and hard working employees there, and that our mail does get thru, this system is billions in the red. If it were a private sector business, it would be bankrupt, along with most every other government program.

My point is that all too often, democrats do not consider the negative impacts of all their "wonderful" government programs. I submit to you that nearly all have negative impacts and most all cannot pay for themselves. Their inefficiencies only result in larger and larger government...more govt employees at the expense of the private sector.

This govt growth is not sustainable.

If we continue to support Obama and his Admin's policies, this country is doomed to fail.


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Posted by Original PMS
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 27, 2009 at 4:02 pm

Exclamation point,

About the federal highway system. WRONG! The states only cover 10% of the maintenance costs, the rest are covered by the Highway Trust Fund, managed by the federal government. When other things like extension bridges, rural highways, etc, aren't covered by the fund, tolls are administered. (Hello bay bridge, golden gate, etc.)

Web Link

Your Engineering professor should stick to teaching engineering instead of public policy. I guess it explains why he was teaching engineering instead of being one...

I already answered the myth that social security is bankrupt. All that needs to be done is increase the max limit on deductions from people's paychecks from 92k to 150k or 200k+...this will be enough to make SS solvent until well into the 22nd century. Even if nothing is done, the worst that will happen is that only 80% of promised benefits will be paid to people in 38 years. This is hardly a bankrupt system.

Medicare is bankrupt. Not true, but keep on spreading that myth...it is true that expenditures will outway receipts in the coming years, but that's based on continued cost increases in healthcare costs if nothing is done to stem that tide. The program itself has run well for over 40 years, nonetheless and continues to be one of the more government run programs. Just ask any reagan republican over the age of 65 how much they loves their medicare ....

Due to the overwhelming number of examples of government successes presented in this thread and the fact that all you can do is say "social security is bankrupt" or "medicare is bankrupt" without presenting any supporting evidence just shows that you have nothing in your bag of tricks but dust...


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 27, 2009 at 4:13 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

! wrote: "My point is that all too often, democrats do not consider the negative impacts of all their "wonderful" government programs. I submit to you that nearly all have negative impacts and most all cannot pay for themselves. Their inefficiencies only result in larger and larger government...more govt employees at the expense of the private sector."

That's it! Finally there's a point! Why didn't you just write that at the beginning?


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 27, 2009 at 4:27 pm

To add to Stacey's comment about an insurance company denying coverage to an infant: I have a friend who switched jobs and then found out she was pregnant.

The new insurance company (obtained through work) refused to pay for pregnancy-related costs, calling the baby a "pre-existing condition" - luckily, my friend's company pretty much forced the insurance company to cover the "pre-existing condition" but what about others in similar situations that do not have choices and end up having to pay out of pocket?

I may not agree with everything in the health care reform going on, but there is definitely a need for reform.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 27, 2009 at 4:39 pm

! wrote "If we continue to support Obama and his Admin's policies, this country is doomed to fail. "

What is the alternative? Support the extreme folks from the GOP? I am not too happy with Obama's policies but I do not see the GOP coming up with good solutions, they only complain and make noise.

If Palin were the VP, now that is a scary thought, and the fact that McCain thinks highly of this lady is even more frightening - I am glad he did not get elected. Even worse is how the right-wing folks continue to support candidates like that, and how they continue to talk nonsense (tea party express, questioning birth certificates, etc).

Have you read how former VP Cheney criticized Obama for how he is handling (or not) the war? That is ironic, considering that he and Bush went after the wrong country and made a mess of things.










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Posted by Stay Cool
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 27, 2009 at 4:44 pm

Stay Cool is a registered user.

It doesn't seem like you have framed your question in a way that it can be answered successfully, but even so, your rebuttal is extremely weak. Right off the bat, social security does not have a "negative impact." We have a growing elderly population and the social security program is being strained. I kind of think that's a good thing (people are living longer), and we just need to make the necessary adjustments to preserve a vital and successful program.
I read this today and thought it offered a good perspective:
"When Government is the Issue" - Jeff Gillenkirk
"At least since Ronald Reagan's 1980 presidential campaign, America's neoconservative movement has tarred government as the major problem in Americans' lives and called for it to be defunded. A major strategy of defunding, of course, is cutting taxes. "I think it is the people's money," George W. Bush said during his 2000 presidential campaign.
Well, it's also your government, and to appreciate what that means all you have to do is go outside and stand in front of where you live or work. Chances are it won't be as busy as where I'm standing - the corner of Stanyan and Waller streets in San Francisco - but the exercise is the same. Look around and note the number of sites and services that depend upon the institution. But neoconservatives dare not speak its name.
First, the sidewalk I'm standing on was poured and paved by city government. So were Stanyan and Waller streets and all the streets running parallel and perpendicular to them. The sewers below are the work of government, as are the Municipal Railway power lines running above, the buses attached to the lines and the traffic lights, crosswalks, lanes (both auto and bicycle) and signs directing the traffic flow.
Drivers and the cars they operate are licensed by government. Automobile safety regulations, highway safety and emissions standards are all set by government.
Across Stanyan stands a McDonald's, its meat, dairy and other food products subject to government inspection. Its food preparation is examined by city health inspectors, its workers protected by government health and safety regulations, minimum-wage laws, anti-discriminations laws and the long-term benefits provided by Social Security and Medicare.
Next to the restaurant is a row of apartment buildings, all kept livable in adherence to government building codes, zoning regulations and landlord-tenant laws. Pipes bringing water in and sewage out of the apartments are financed and maintained by government. So are the streetlights.
Next to the apartment building is Kezar Pub, its distribution of liquor subject to age limits and hours of operation enforced by government. The billboard looming behind the street-side trees (planted and maintained by government) brings to mind the size, location and content limitations set by public referendum. Visible down Waller Street is the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center, a nonprofit organization funded in part by federal, state and local government to provide a refuge from domestic violence, and family counseling to heal wounds that can hurt our community.
Behind me is Golden Gate Park, a thousand acres of city-owned, city-maintained parklands, set aside for the enjoyment of San Francisco's 750,000 residents and visitors from around the world. The park contains gardens, hiking trails, bike paths, a children's play area, a world-class art museum, an arboretum, a new Academy of Sciences, soccer fields, baseball diamonds, racquetball courts, tennis courts, horseshoe pits, lawn bowling and picnic areas, equestrian trails and public restrooms. At the northern edge of the park is government-run Kezar Stadium, used for high school track meets and football games (and used by thousands of freelance joggers in between), and Kezar Pavilion, a huge gymnasium used for high school basketball games, summer basketball leagues and other events.
Behind Kezar is the San Francisco Police Department's Park precinct, providing public safety for citizens of the Haight and denizens of Golden Gate Park. Next to me is a call box for the San Francisco Fire Department. On the hillside up Parnassus Street looms UCSF, where government-financed medical research, training for doctors, nurses and paraprofessionals, and subsidized health care for thousands of students and San Franciscans takes place.
A homeless man weaves by, perhaps destined for a city-run hospital or county jail before the evening is out, or a drug and alcohol rehab program. Overhead a commercial jetliner flies westward from government-owned SFO, conforming to safety regulations of the Federal Aviation Administration, the guidance of federal air traffic controllers and the protection of federal air marshals and Homeland Security contractors.
You get the picture. We live in a civilized society with an array of sophisticated public services (this account didn't even include the military). Those who claim they don't need government should try living one day without it. Then, it is hoped, they'll stop advocating its starvation and pay their share."
Web Link


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 27, 2009 at 4:57 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Living without government... Hrm... Somalia? Parts of Afghanistan? Government there is how many guns you have and how much power (money) you wield over your soldiers. Those are also great examples of a completely free market.

Marx theorized that when the revolution is complete, government would naturally disappear.


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Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 27, 2009 at 5:10 pm

Resident,

I agree. What's worse is that Bush/McCain/Palin did believe in socialist programs, like TARP, but their socialism was mainly for the wealthy.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 27, 2009 at 11:05 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Eerily coincidental that I mentioned the Bay Bridge and today news comes out that the bridge is now closed indefinitely as the Labor Day emergency repair has snapped.


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Posted by Bill
a resident of Danville
on Oct 28, 2009 at 6:57 am



Nothing is perfect about any system, government, business and not for profit. Even when the employees are saints. But I got experience about what happens when you allow profit to be the bottom line in the health care industry -- people die because of a claim of "preexisting conditions" and ethics that serve only the investors bottom line.

Give me a system of health care (preferably one that take the best features of Kaiser) that has a level playing field any day and I will pay taxes for that. I am willing to pay for pure research, living salaries with benefits, and a little extra for equal access (sick people sometimes cannot pay.) Just like I am willing to pay for government services that keep everyone reasonably safe from the "seven deadly sins."

And just so you know, I refuse to debate conservatives anymore. I state my position, listen politely to theirs (one never knows where a good idea will come from) and leave the debate to the ballot box.


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