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August1991

Do Leftists eventually turn Right?

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Someone (Shaw, Clemenceau, Briand?) said that if you are not a socialist in your twenties, you have no heart. But if you are still a socialist in your forties, you have no brain.

My query is different, and objective. Which way do people tend to move generally? And among movers in either direction, who is "worse" (who as a new arrival becomes more Catholic than the Pope)?

Ex-Leftists who grow up and convert to the Right? Or ex-capitalists who convert to an understanding of existence?

And why do people move? (Were you once a Leftist, or a Conservative? If so, what made you change your opinion?)

Edited by August1991

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I was probably originally quite socialist. I believe the reason is because I went to public school--and I was good in school, and I enjoyed the praise from the teachers. So eventually I became conditioned to giving the teachers answers that were pleasing to them. Anytime there was an important world issue we were discussing, I would naturally stand up for human rights and for the environment. As was popular.

Later I began to notice that for every issue that we gave to the government to solve, they received more and more power over different aspects of our lives. Then I began interested in history, of how tyrannies were formed. They almost always started innocent enough. There was a common problem that the people wanted solved, so they collectively attempted to solve it. They elected a leader, gave him power to solve the problem. And the leader later used his power to the disadvantage of many others. Hitler, for example, was very popular because he was the one who would solve all of Germany's economic problems. Soviet Russian, for another example, was created to eliminate inequalities in society.

And so, in my quest for a better solution to government, I discovered Libertarianism. It is a philosophy which allows individual freedom. People are free to choose whatever lifestyle they want, and they are free to trade goods and services without coersion or force. Government will have no power to take people's property or liberty or life.

So I guess you could say I went from left to right. Or in another sense, populist to free.

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Anytime there was an important world issue we were discussing, I would naturally stand up for human rights and for the environment. As was popular.

You think human rights and the environment are issues that interest only the left? I think people on the right must resent being labelled earth-destroying torture lovers. :lol:

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In my teens I was definitely a socialist. My father was a liberal thinker (not the political party, though he did like Trudeau), and encouraged us to read and not form an opinion until we'd learned all the facts.

Therefore, I read the 'Communist Manifesto' (obtained from the public library) and similar books before deciding that perhaps that was not the way to go.

However, I was a human rights guru, and in some respects, still am. What happened as I got older, was that I realized that nothing is an easy fix.

-I still believe that making post secondary education affordable for all who qualify, benefits all Canadians.

-I still believe that affordable and accessible childcare benfits all Canadians.

-I still believe that a public healthcare system benefits all Canadians.

-I still believe in equality for all Canadians, regardless of race, religion, sex, sexual preferences (with the exception of pediaphilia), etc.

-I still believe that homelessness is an issue that must be addressed. (And not with Flaherty's plan to simply throw them all in jail)

-I still believe that poverty is an issue that must be addressed.

-I still believe that it is our responsibilty to keep the environment fit for those we leave behind.

-I still believe that there is no such thing as a 'good war'.

I'm just more realistic now in how these can be accomplished.

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I'm sure if I could go back in time and visit myself in my 20s, the younger Hardner would say I've gone to the right but I would say I'm more pragmatic than I was when I was younger.

We all change as we get older, as do the definitions of left and right. Even the major Canadian political parties have converged towards a centre-left point on the spectrum, so the NDP is less 'left' and the Conservatives in some ways are less 'right'.

Canadians want a government that takes adequate care of the disadvantaged, while providing necessary services at a low tax rate. Politics today should centre more on which party can best manage these services.

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Guest Warwick Green

I'm a conservative. It's my business background. But I also realize that the best consuming public is one that is healthy and well educated. If business is going to function it's going to need well trained employees.

Social programs:

Do you want to deal with health care as a social issue or a labor relations one where, as we have seen, employers claw back their employees' health benefits. Pensions? Do you want the employer to have the right to cut-back pensions or do you want to give the retired employee some legal protection.

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Someone said (Shaw, Clemenceau, Briand?) that if you are not a socialist in your twenties, you have no heart. But if you are still a socialist in your forties, you have no brain.

My query is different, and objective. Which way do people tend to move generally? And among movers in either direction, who is "worse" (who as a new arrival becomes more Catholic than the Pope)?

Ex-Leftists who grow up and convert to the Right? Or ex-capitalists who convert to an understanding of existence?

And why do people move? (Were you once a Leftist, or a Conservative? If so, what made you change your opinion?)

I think you're broadening a sitution where people who once believed in individual issues change their minds due to added maturity and knowledge. Given the sweeping nature of the terms "left" and "right", if people change their minds on a few things it's easy to suggest their entire political stance has changed. I don't think that happens very often. I bet that most people hold to certain principals, even if they do change their minds about particular subjects.

For example, I used to support capital punishment. I abandoned that many years back over the accuracy of the justice system. That hasn't, to my mind, made me less conservative, though supporting capital punishment appears to be one of those benchmarks which entitle one to being called "conservative".

In my youth, I also used to believe that all unionized workers got paid far too much, especially those who worked for the government, and that the government should do something about that. I was argued out of that stance by a socialist, actually, who said, to paraphrase "Do you think the government should be setting an example by paying good wages and giving good benefits, or should it set the example of screwing its workers as much as possible to save a buck? Is Canada better off with more and more people getting less pay and fewer benefits, or the reverse?"

I changed my mind about that well before I got a job with the government, btw. :lol:

I'm not sure the whole left-right thing is always accurate in the way people use it anyway. The cliche is that the left is generous but dumb, and the right is hard-hearted and tight fisted with money. I tend to think more conservatives, who are older, actually ponder the bigger picture, while many on the left, particularly the younger ones, don't see the forest for the trees. The socialist wants to give more generous benefits to welfare people. The conservative says no way. But do conservatives really not care about the poor or do they see the bigger picture the left couldn't be bothered considering?

Ie, make welfare too generous and more people will not bother with low paying jobs. Furthermore, industry will have trouble getting employees to lower paying jobs. They'll have to raise prices to pay more and thus have trouble competing with foreign imports or selling their services and goods. And, of course, as wages are raised people start crying out that welfare recipients are falling behind, prompting another raise there, and then more raises for the working poor, and then you've got inflation, and a big mess. Conservatives tend to think of all that, while socialists just don't bother or care to bother. But thinking of all that doesn't mean I don't care about the poor, or wouldn't like to raise their standard of living just as much as the socialists do.

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I'm not sure the whole left-right thing is always accurate in the way people use it anyway. The cliche is that the left is generous but dumb, and the right is hard-hearted and tight fisted with money. I tend to think more conservatives, who are older, actually ponder the bigger picture, while many on the left, particularly the younger ones, don't see the forest for the trees. The socialist wants to give more generous benefits to welfare people. The conservative says no way. But do conservatives really not care about the poor or do they see the bigger picture the left couldn't be bothered considering?

Righteous. Young people respond to simple, emotional issues and older people see that the world is much more complex and slow-moving. Both perspectives are important, and with good dialogue they can be resolved.

Those outside of power - the critics - will point out every single failure of the system, which eventually leads to cynicism and negativity. Those in power bemoan the complexity of issues and the immovable barriers to improvement. So the political process churns forward and nothing seems to be resolved.

We've arrived at a remarkable right/left consensus in Canada. Social programs ensure that there are at least subsistence handouts for all. We also have an excellent business environment, all told. What we need now is to improve the dialogue so that we can target the biggest problems and marshall solutions in a measurable way so that the citizens can feel that something is being done - left and right aside.

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As I recall, my earliest political "education" was my grade-4 teacher answering the question "what is the difference between liberal and conservative?".

Her reply was short, sweet, and quite literal, not at all related to party lines.

It was simply this "Conservative means doing things the way they've always been done, Liberal means you're willing to try new things".

To a grade-4 level mind, this was actually quite a good answer.

By that simplistic definition, I would consider myself to be Liberal.

However, from a more realistic political standpoint, it's much more difficult to say.

Fiscally, I would consider myself to be quite Conservative.

Yes, we need to have welfare (there's the Liberal in me), but we need to crack down strongly on those who are actually fit and able to work, and simply collect welfare out of laziness (there's the Conservative side).

I consider funding for the "arts", to be going way too far. I know of several musicians who make a great living collecting government grants for their "cultural" contributions. These contributions are lyrics written in French to songs that will never see the light of day. Other such examples abound.

Yesterday I heard about a court case which may set a very dangerous precedent; two men are appealing their claims for disability benefits which were previously denied. Their "disability" is alcoholism. They claim that because they are alcoholics, they cannot get jobs. True enough, I suppose, but by my definition, a "disability" is not something which is self-inflicted via substance abuse. I was in a near rage when I heard about it.

I agree with government-funded healthcare, although the system in Canada needs to be re-built from the ground up.

I believe in reducing the size of government.

I do NOT believe in trying to solve a problem by throwing money at it until it goes away.

I could go on for quite some time in this way, but will spare you.

I guess in most ways I'm middle of the road.

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Dear August1991,

An excellent topic, the responses I have read so far seem to be both thought-provoking and incredibly honest.

My two-bits: I have also moved from the far-left, to a more central position. I echo some previous thoughts, especially from PocketRocket and Nocrap, that I believe some 'left' ideas could be done in a better fashion, but don't believe that they should be abolished.

I have gone from being an employee for both small family businesses and large corporate entities, to looking at things from an employer's view, now that my wife and I own our own small business.

Incorporating my 'leftist' viewpoint into the business, we pay our employees on a 'profit-sharing bonus system', where there is a set minimum hourly wage, plus a bonus scale where incremental increases of 'bonus money' is given monthly per our 'average monthly unit sales', as it were. The busier we are, the more everyone makes. Since it is not 'commission-based', (and because of who we are) we feel that honesty goes far further to building our reputation that a bit of dishonesty to make a quick buck, could ever go.

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Anytime there was an important world issue we were discussing, I would naturally stand up for human rights and for the environment. As was popular.

You think human rights and the environment are issues that interest only the left? I think people on the right must resent being labelled earth-destroying torture lovers. :lol:

Well think about it.

Take a homeless person--A lefty would want to create some sort of expensive social program to get this person off the streets, whereas a conservative would say "Get a job, you bum". That's how it is. Otherwise, a conservative would wish to help the man in a different way--by donating to charity for instance.

And the environment--A lefty would want it preserved at all costs, a righty would be more immediately concerned about economic impact before he stood up for environmental problems.

Righties aren't 'earth-destroying torture lovers'. In many cases righties and lefties have the same wants and needs. We're all humans. We all want clean air and peaceful societies, but they have different ways of going about it. To me the best way to go about it is as an individual.

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I was a very big socialist back in the pre-university days. Once I got into the whole business/economics idea, how could I still accept the falisies that exist in that system? Now that I understand the science of running an economy, I just tend to the right, not out of doctrine, but out of knowing what works best.

As a religious person, I've always been somewhat socially reserved in making massive changes to families and things like that. I like having a family, and I believe that is really is an essential aspect of society. Further destruction of the family will surely lead to more youth trouble.

So I've turned from a Liberal Party member in my high school days, to a current CPC member. But the CPC is far from what I call ideal, I'd vote for a realistic real right-wing government anyday. I am a member of the NCC, which I believe is the most accurate reflection of my personal political beliefs... more freedom. Small government, small government involvement in my life, and especially in my business.

I'm still young, so that "if your not a socialist in your 20's, you have no heart" must mean I have no heart. Though my political activity started way before most, I remember watching debates at 12 and 13. So maybe I have an excuse? I've also been involved in small business, through my family, in the oil and gas and banking industries, so that has skewed my beliefs economically to the right, maybe even more so than my education has.

Living and working and going to school in Calgary really leaves no choice but to be conservative. I don't know many people other than immigrants from elsewhere (which I am myself from Toronto) that support anyone other than the Conservatives. If you lived a few years here, you'd see what I mean. It's a different culture than the rest of Canada, entrepreneurship is the cornerstone of Calgary, and you can't have that culture without conservative attitudes.

There is a major distrust of government here as well, from the all the shots Ottawa has tried to take at Alberta over the years, such as the NEP. It exists with local governments as well. No one trusts government... and while you might think Toronto or Montreal has the same cynicism about government, that's not true. It's different here, the majority opinion is less government would make us all happier. Less Ottawa would be even better. These are views that rub off on you after awhile, after hearing all the stories from people that have had lives destroyed by Ottawa in the 80's and their fears of a second round of attacks from Quebec now.

So I'd say that's what happens. You adapt the views of the current around you. If your in the small-business sector, or your an executive level person, you probably will be conservative based the views that you should be able to run your business to your best judgement, without interference. If you decide you want to be an art critic, obviously you'd become as liberal over-time as the people around you, even if you started off as a conservative.

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I'm 21 and given the quote, "if your not a socialist in your 20s, you have no heart", than I must not have a heart. But I do.

Socialists will argue that we need to increase benefits for welfare recepients, help the poor (more than we already do), and a whole mess of things that cost taxpayers money.

I believe that helping the poor is not by giving them more money, but by helping them to help themselves. Same with welfare. We cannot create social-programs that would benefit individuals better than working, or no one would work for minimum wage.

My views come out of my experience. I was 19 when I had my first child, 20 when I had my second and am now 21. When I was 16 or 17, I suppose I would've been more socialist. But between 18-21, I have managed to stay off social assistance, obtain my grade XII, purchase a home and learn a trade. Granted, I am not a big fan of my trade (drywall), and anyone who likes doing drywall must be absolutely nuts, but I work to further my skills through volunteerism in hopes of changing careers in the future. Anyone who says that having children at a young age limits your options is quite right, but saying that they are destined to a poor quality of life is not.

And then there are those that I was friends in my past but not so now. Many of them had children young as well. Unfortunately they do not see the "big picture". They believe that nothing is their fault, society is unfair, nobody will hire them, and on and on they go. Many are recepients of Ontario Works. Some have obtained employment in the past but simply did not have any work-ethic to keep it.

The problem with them is that they refuse responsibility and lack the motivation to further themselves. If we create a society of opportunity (as I hope future Conservative governments will do either provincially or federally), than this is in the better interest of those that are willing to seize that opportunity. If we create more social programs, give better welfare cheques, etc. we are are giving money to those people who may not be willing to further themselves in the first place.

I live with this simple philosophy, "If certain aspects of your life aren't working for you, than change it. If you keep doing what you're doing, you'll just stay where you are."

I know that this is a very simple response to the question at hand, focusing more on life than politics, but I can assure you that I understand the policies of all the parties and have found that the CPC is closest to that of my beliefs.

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I will add my name to the chorus of people who have moved right as they get older. For me the transition really started with a course in macroeconomics in university where I learned the theoretical principles behind from interest rates and currencies to free trade and comparative advantage.

However, my belief is people's economic circumstances are the primary indicator of their political views. If people feel personally threatened by something they will oppose it whether it is taxes, immigration or the free market. For that reason, people who have money usually end up supporting parties that promise lower taxes because they have something to lose. Students with no money usually end up supporting parties that promise more spending on various feel good projects because they see the benefits but don't have to pay the price themselves.

Of course there are always exceptions - usually because people never live in a vacuum and are affected by the things that affect their family and close friends as well. However, I feel no one would ever support a political position unless they felt their would be a direct benefit to themselves or someone they care about. Altruism has its place in human society but you will never see it in a voting booth.

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I have always been a centrist and love nothing more than to sit back and clearly identify all those lefties and righties keep swinging and fighting from the extreme left or right or just being utterly ridiculous.

Makes me always reconfirm my centrist political ideologies as being reasonable, justified, thoughtful and idealistic no matter what the issue.

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I think it's natural to consider yourself a centrist no matter how far you've gone either way on the political spectrum.

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Dear Leafless,

Makes me always reconfirm my centrist political ideologies as being reasonable, justified, thoughtful and idealistic no matter what the issue
Centrist? Let's see, you have defended 'white supremacy', the USA's wars of self-servitude, and claimed you don't recognize your country's flag because it doesn't represent the ideals you have (Canada being too socialist). I would say that the only one standing to the right of you is Satan. How do you suppose this is 'centrist'? (I suppose if you don't use a bell curve, the numbers are just a little heavier on one side, like a billion to one)

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Before I went off to university, like many young people I was firmly entrenched in a left if not far left viewpoint.

Ironically, being touted as leftist institutions by many, I've actually become very moderate/centrist if not right leaning in many of my views.

Being a student of the Social Sciences, more specifically Criminology, my eyes have really been opened to the complex and long lasting issues that are faced by the governments and people of the world today.

There is not always an effective emotional response, and there is not always an effective calculated response either. I've found, alot of what goes on, is simply ineffective.

So at the moment I'd have to admit I'm not really sure where I feel that I lie on this restrictive left-right axis, but I'm sure I still have alot of maneuvering on said axis to go before I'm settled.

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In my youth I was fiscally conservative, and socially liberal. In that respect I haven' t changed much, however as I've aged I've become more flexible in my viewpoints.

I once held views in which issues were either black or white. I have moderated and can see shades of grey.

Where I once thought there was no reason ever for government intervention, I can now see that there are cases where intervention is necessary. I guess you can say I moved left, but not a whole lot.

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As a product of an apolitical household (albeit one where the Sun and Alberta Report were common fixtures) in small town Alberta, I grew up a conservative. Even after moving to Redmonton and doing the whole college thing, my p.o.v remained rightward oriented. then I hit my mid 20s and started to see that most of the conservative principles I took for granted were simply empty facades that existed only to enable the worst human impulses. That was shortly before I began posting here. Since then, I've stayed on the liberal-left side, though I've probably moderated most of my views considerably, maybe even added a touch of libertarianism here or there.

Now, if I had to pick the one factor that informs my views today, its misanthropy. See, I like people...in theory. In practice, though, I find the vast majority of people are small-minded, pig-ignorant yokels who care for nothing beyond their immediate gratification and consumed by their insatiable appetite for status. Which is why I eschew both small-c conservative economics (ie. why cut taxes to give money to people who are just going to blow it on junk food and useless baubles?) and socialist government policies (inasmuch as the people who run the government aren't any brighter). Are these positions contradictary? Sure. But the fact that I'm constatly torn between the desire to help my fellow man and the desire to punch every dink I see driving a Hummer shows that I know I don't have all the answers. Who does, really? Total idealogical clarity is for simpletons and Nazis.

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Now, if I had to pick the one factor that informs my views today, its misanthropy. See, I like people...in theory. In practice, though, I find the vast majority of people are small-minded, pig-ignorant yokels who care for nothing beyond their immediate gratification and consumed by their insatiable appetite for status. Which is why I eschew both small-c conservative economics (ie. why cut taxes to give money to people who are just going to blow it on junk food and useless baubles?) and socialist government policies (inasmuch as the people who run the government aren't any brighter). Are these positions contradictary? Sure. But the fact that I'm constatly torn between the desire to help my fellow man and the desire to punch every dink I see driving a Hummer shows that I know I don't have all the answers. Who does, really? Total idealogical clarity is for simpletons and Nazis.

Hahaha well put and very true!

Thats is where my political views run askew as well. My studies in the social sciences have not left a very favourable or optimistic view of people as a whole in my mind. The vast majority of the populace appears to be selfish hedonistic pleasure seeking individuals, who without the societal constructions of law, would run amok. SO I have a very hard time figuring out how I feel about social related policy, especially economic social policy.

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Dear Black Dog,

I find the vast majority of people are small-minded, pig-ignorant yokels who care for nothing beyond their immediate gratification and consumed by their insatiable appetite for status.
I am not quite so bitter as you, I feel only those that watch (and talk about) television (especially talk shows, sit-coms and soap operas) fit this bill.
I know I don't have all the answers. Who does, really? Total idealogical clarity is for simpletons and Nazis.
Well said. My only solution is to clearly understand them all.

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Dear Black Dog,
I find the vast majority of people are small-minded, pig-ignorant yokels who care for nothing beyond their immediate gratification and consumed by their insatiable appetite for status.
I am not quite so bitter as you, I feel only those that watch (and talk about) television (especially talk shows, sit-coms and soap operas) fit this bill.
I have been meaning to reply to this thread but I haven't found the gumption or courage or both. But I will reply to this point raised by BD.

Thelonious, I agree with you - except for the reference to television.

Perhaps because almost all the members of my mother's family were basically illiterate, I was raised to respect everyone, even the uneducated. I was living in Asia (Sri Lanka, in fact) when I understood the full sense of the term "House of Commons". Common people are, well, common and it is revolutionary to imagine common people exercising power.

Later, I came to realize that individuals, educated, common or otherwise, are usually very smart about what matters to them. But since each of us has a different idea about what matters, we are inclined to view other people as ignorant.

For example, I have found that almost everyone can provide an intelligible answer to a moral question, and almost everyone has clear ideas about family relationships.

So I think it's a supercilious pose to consider other people as "ignorant yokels", and I don't say that as a populist. I say it with the understanding that in 200 years, everyone alive today will be mere dust and any differences apparent now will hardly matter.

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August, you should write poetry, that was brilliant.

That being said, I slightly disagree. I feel I fit in right between you and BD on this one. There are ignorant people, people that just really wouldn't know if the world turned upside tomorrow. The fact that these people exist is my biggest concern with democracy and the reason I've never become a populist, no matter how 'Albertan' I've become. I don't trust 99% of people with decisions that impact my life. In this sense, I agree with BD. Most people are ignorant yokels.

What defines these ignorant yokels would obviously be different for BD and I, I have no problem with Hummer drivers, but I get the same feeling as him when I see an able bodied homeless person in Calgary. Contrary to most people, seeing homeless people choose to live in such undignifying ways makes me feel less generous, I have very little patience for those people that have all the ability in the world to be successful and chose instead to be a burden on my existance. Why support social programs that only help those that refuse to help themselves? Seeing poverty in Canada gives me little faith in welfare economics or socialist tendancies.

Everyone will not be mere dust in the future either. We all leave a legacy behind, however major or insignificant. Physically we may be gone, but we do leave our ideas behind.

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Contrary to most people, seeing homeless people choose to live in such undignifying ways makes me feel less generous, I have very little patience for those people that have all the ability in the world to be successful and chose instead to be a burden on my existance. Why support social programs that only help those that refuse to help themselves? Seeing poverty in Canada gives me little faith in welfare economics or socialist tendancies.

I'm sorry but I must reply to this. You are aware that on average, %66 of qualified homeless people have a history or can be diagnosed with mental illness. They have no other other place to go and cannot "function" in our "normal" society the same way you and I can. I certainly hope you are not basing your opinion of the "welfare state" on your own misguided ignorance. It's easier taking the road of ignorance but it certainly doesn't help anyone. I have very little patience with people who choose ignorance.

Now back you you scheduled programing....

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