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Old 11-15-2010, 12:46 AM   #301
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However, for the millions of state and local worker who's pension are severely underfunded the options are much more limited. We can raise taxes and/or fees, reduce the pay of current workers, reduce local government services, reduce the future benefits of new employees, reduce the future benefits of current workers, and reduce existing pensions and/or future COLA increases. Right now virtually every state and city government has done the first 4 options in a desperate attempt to balance current city and state budgets. What they haven't done is either increase the employer contribution to their pension or reduce the pension of current workers or current retirees since the pension run out of money near the end of the decade or later they have continued to kick that can done the road.
and you know this how?? that is a lot of government agencies.

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I am simply suggesting rather than sticking each household with at least a $10,000 bill (and perhaps as much as $27,000) to pay for the pension shortfall that current workers and pensioners share some of the pain.
and i'll bet you want the pensioner to not only take a pension cut but also pay the tax increase. doesnt sound so fair to me as the pensioner is paying twice and all cus s/he decided on public service.
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Old 11-15-2010, 01:43 AM   #302
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and you know this how?? that is a lot of government agencies.



and i'll bet you want the pensioner to not only take a pension cut but also pay the tax increase. doesnt sound so fair to me as the pensioner is paying twice and all cus s/he decided on public service.
I did not say agencies I said state and cities. According to Stateline.org every State in the Union saw revenue decrease in 2010. I challenge you to name more than two state that haven't engage in belt-tighten acts like I outlined and 95%+ is close to virtually all.

Life isn't fair. The vast majority of American suffered a decline in income and/or wealth over the last two years. I suspect that relatively speaking government retirees and those near retirement suffered less than average, since while their houses and taxable saving accounts declined their pension income remained stable.

Yes, I am asking pensioner to get hit twice. In part because, state and local government workers elected union reps who negotiated unsustainable pensions and then didn't keep a close eye on their plans fiscal health. But primarily because stuff has to be cut, and I rather ask relatively prosperous
retirees to accept 5% or so lower pension, that lay off more cops, teachers, close more libraries, cut out medical services for poor kids, raise property taxes on seniors who've seen the rates on their CDs drop from 6% to 2% or host of other options.

You are right there are millions of current and retired government worker and they are an important voting block. However, there many times more non-government workers. For every person like myself who is willing to give some of my money to bailout city workers pension plan, there are many who are saying hell no, you ain't raising my taxes for overpaid government workers pension. Any politician who does bail out a pension plan with my money is getting voted out of office.

If both sides dig in their heels no progress will made. That is the reality.
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Old 11-15-2010, 02:08 AM   #303
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I did not say agencies I said state and cities. According to Stateline.org every State in the Union saw revenue decrease in 2010. I challenge you to name more than two state that haven't engage in belt-tighten acts like I outlined and 95%+ is close to virtually all.
soooo your answer to my question "and you know this how??" is you are assuming they did just because "every State in the Union saw revenue decrease in 2010" and instead of proving your assumption to be true you are challenging me "to name more than two state that haven't engage in belt-tighten acts like I outlined". i'll pass, your assumption you prove it!

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Life isn't fair. The vast majority of American suffered a decline in income and/or wealth over the last two years. I suspect that relatively speaking government retirees and those near retirement suffered less than average, since while their houses and taxable saving accounts declined their pension income remained stable.
another assumption, one that makes you feel better about breaking promises made to government employees.
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Old 11-15-2010, 02:15 AM   #304
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Are you seriously suggested that states and cities haven't been making cuts in the last few years? Have you not been paying attention.

It is pointless to provide any you with any type of facts, since your mind is made up and I don't want to confuse you.

Like ERD I am going to bow out of this discussion at least with people like you.
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Old 11-15-2010, 02:26 AM   #305
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!



another assumption, one that makes you feel better about breaking promises made to government employees.

Gov't pensions aren't any more of a "promise" than SS. We may be able to keep SS as-is and we may be able to keep gov't pensions as-is. Or we may not. The numbers will do the talking as we go forward.

Some states, such as Illinois, have already established new pension tiers for employees being hired after Jan 1, 2011. No telling yet whether the changes will stop there or if the economy will dictate further changes in Illinois and in other jurisdictions.
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Old 11-15-2010, 02:39 AM   #306
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"

The fundamental problems with DB pensions is that there is a severe mismatch between the timing of costs and contributions. The most valuable contributions are made at the beginning of the career since have the most time to benefit from compound interest. However the cost to pension is related to final salary. This mismatch violates standard accounting practices which requires for instance buildings to be depreciated over decades and computers over only 3 years.

Every person with a pension benefits from 'spiking', since I have yet to see a pension that uses lifetime average salary for calculating the benefit. Some pensions, and some people, are better than others in that use the final five years base salary and prohibit OT and vacation to be calculated.

So while the most egregious abuses of spiking maybe a relatively isolated event, the article is correct as portraying spiking as a real problem.

Actuaries, not accountants, determine pension contributions. Actuaries are required to take into account all pension rules and behaviors , including spiking. Financial advisers not actuaries project the returns on investment. Politicians of all parties and taxpayers of all types sucked up to one another by underfunding the pensions for years, by corrupting the actuarial process and faking the financial returns.. Now the bills are coming due and the responsible parties are trying to blame anyone absolutely anyone else.

The fault, dear Brutus is not in our stars but in ourselves


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Old 11-15-2010, 02:40 AM   #307
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Gov't pensions aren't any more of a "promise" than SS. We may be able to keep SS as-is and we may be able to keep gov't pensions as-is. Or we may not. The numbers will do the talking as we go forward.

.
Actually they are, In most states they are the same as Bonds. Mine certainly is a constitutionally protected contract.
SS is a statutory program , not a contract.
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Old 11-15-2010, 02:50 AM   #308
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Actuaries, not accountants, determine pension contributions. Actuaries are required to take into account all pension rules and behaviors , including spiking. Financial advisers not actuaries project the returns on investment. Politicians of all parties and taxpayers of all types sucked up to one another by underfunding the pensions for years, by corrupting the actuarial process and faking the financial returns.. Now the bills are coming due and the responsible parties are trying to blame anyone absolutely anyone else.

The fault, dear Brutus is not in our stars but in ourselves

Agreed. But there is also the additional complication that the pension rules established in the past may not be sustainable going forward due to diminished gov't revenue and competing needs. So even if actuarial and realistic, conservative investment return projections are followed, the necessary funding may not be possible.

It's a shame that the good times are turning out to not be as eternal as we had assumed.......
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Old 11-15-2010, 02:55 AM   #309
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Actually they are, In most states they are the same as Bonds. Mine certainly is a constitutionally protected contract.
SS is a statutory program , not a contract.
I suppose then pensions might have to be defaulted on just as bonds might be. Until the constitutions can be amended.

I'm curious, what does the constitution protect in regard to pensions in your state? That current retirees continue to receive payouts and COLA's as defined when they retired? That current employees continue to earn pensions under the rules that existed when they were hired? That future employees not yet hired have the exact pension benefits that exist today?

I'm not sure if a contract is more of a "promise" than a statutory program. I suppose we'll see as we move ahead in this mess.......
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Old 11-15-2010, 08:44 AM   #310
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"Now, you might come back and say 'my pay is a lot higher than someone who is just starting out'... which I will reply... WHY The salary should be based on the job you are doing, not how long you have been doing it... IOW, a starting teacher and a 20 year teacher both are teaching a class of our youth... why should their salary be so different Just because someone has 20 years experience does not make them a better teacher.... but we do pay them a lot more than a new one.. stupid IMO..."

So experience is worth nothing? Either for a civil servant or a worker in private industry? And a new teacher (or someone pretty much new anything) has the knowledge of what is to be done and how to do it just as well as a 20 year employee? Ever hear of learning curves? Most companies employ them as the more experience a worker has, the less time it takes them to do a job and the more money a company makes. IMHO, stupid is saying that experience has no role in the performance of a job. And you don't pay a sergeant with 3 years the same as one with 15 years - same with teachers - you do get more pay for the years you have served as well as the experience you have gained. You must have had one hell of a bad working experience.

I don't think I'm hearing anyone say new workers have a contract that shouldn't be broken. That's not even an issue. New hires can be put under whatever system is designed for them. There are states and local governments that have 3 and 4 different pension systems running simultaneously - each with a different level of benefits. Private companie are the same. My company has different PTO levels depending on when you were hired. That way new folks can make a decision based on what is available when they are hired. They eliminated profit sharing last year on the strange premise that they are not making a profit - yet, at each annual meeting they announce joyously how much "profit" they make each year.

The relevence of this to me is that states and locals have a lot more ability to cut expenses to preserve pensions for existing retirees and for near retirees than they admit. of course, those cuts will gore someone's ox, so they don't make them. The federal government is no different. Look at the USPS. Try to eliminate a local post office and all hell breaks loose. Try to eliminate a useless weapons systems and the same thing happens. I refuse to accept the logic that cutting the pensions of current or near retirees is the only solution. It just doesn't pass the giggle test when you look at the alternatives.

Youbet is right - pensions are no more of a promise than social security. So exactly when will be cutting social security for current recipients?? Not until we have a really cold day in hell. Plus the fact that two years of -0- inflation adjustments have decreased the future liability of the system by a significant amount.

BTW, until governments at every level actually lock up the money held for pensions in non-radiable funds, this problem will never be solved. Politicians have been using the money set aside for SS for every conceiveable project except the one it's intended for and hoping that inflation will solve the problem. The government has even "borrowed" money from the federal TSP plan when we run out of room on the budget ceiling. That's not even their money, and yet they do it.

The fact that the pensions are not properly funded and run has been and is the problem, not the salaries and pensions that 95% of civil servants receive.
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Old 11-15-2010, 08:52 AM   #311
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I'm curious, what does the constitution protect in regard to pensions in your state?
From article XVI of the Hawaii state constitution:
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EMPLOYEES' RETIREMENT SYSTEM
Section 2. Membership in any employees' retirement system of the State or any political subdivision thereof shall be a contractual relationship, the accrued benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired. [Ren Const Con 1978 and election Nov 7, 1978] Hawai`i State Constitution - Article 16
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Old 11-15-2010, 09:16 AM   #312
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So experience is worth nothing? Either for a civil servant or a worker in private industry? And a new teacher (or someone pretty much new anything) has the knowledge of what is to be done and how to do it just as well as a 20 year employee? Ever hear of learning curves? Most companies employ them as the more experience a worker has, the less time it takes them to do a job and the more money a company makes.
Since this isn't one of the same old brick-wall pension statements, I'll jump back in the fray for a minute

beowulf, it is clear you haven't had to manage a budget in a private company. Your understanding of how things work is impaired.

Yes, experience counts - and it can show in the employee's performance. We had annual performance reviews at MegaCorp. They were not seniority reviews (that sure would have been easier!), they were.... performance reviews.

So, if an employee could draw on their experience to perform well, they were rewarded. If that experience was not translating to improved performance, they didn't see much in the way of rewards (if any) - those went to the performers, regardless of experience. Ask anyone who has been involved in determining salary increases for a reasonably sized department at a Mega Corp.

If mega-corp rewarded people based on experience alone, we would not have been motivating people appropriately. You would have got inferior products at higher prices. So you should be glad that this process is in effect, and I wish it was in the public sector also, so that I would get more for my money, like you did.

Experience is one of the tools an employee draws upon to get their work completed. It ain't the only one, and it isn't always the most important one. Yes, I've had 'fresh outs' in their first year outperform some with 15 years experience. It isn't all that uncommon.

BTW, how can you say a teacher with 20 years experience is any better than one with fewer years? I was not aware of any measurements being used.

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Old 11-15-2010, 09:55 AM   #313
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"It isn't personal."
It isn't personal at all. Noone is looking to eliminate the pension you have worked for and are vested in. What NEEDS to change is the assumption that since most states and the country as a whole are strapped financially, govt workers should have to tighten their belts also. We cannot afford to give govt workers merit increases and 10% matches in their pensions when the economy as a whole is suffering. There is plenty of blame to go around, from politicians to union leadership, etc, etc.

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Of course it's personal. It's very personal. You are talking about people who worked for a government entity that provided better benefits, both in the form of pensions and medical, in exchange for fairly modest salaries and who planned their whole working lives for the benefits they were to receive. We are not talking about 10's of thousands of people, or hundreds of thousands - we are talking about many millions of people. Folks keep talking about all the people earning over $150K a year and the sleazeballs in CA earning obscene salaries - they are a tiny fraction of the total number of civil servants.
I think if you look at the "modest salaries" and excellent benefits of govt workers versus the "higher pay" and worse benefits of private sector folks, it is failrly equal. The big difference is that a govt worker can plan for retirement at age 55 or so and its more or less GUARANTEED, irregardless of economic conditions to a large extent, whereas the private sector worker is always wondering when the other shoe will drop. There is more uncertainty in the private sector than at any other time in history. I just saw a stat: 15 MILLION people are out of work, out of those, 450,000 are govt workers. If we want the ability to fund govt pensions and benefits, we need to get a bunch of those 15 million back to work............

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But people who have 15, 20, or more years under a promised system are unlikely to be able to recover from massive cuts to their pensions.
I guess you are starting to understand how the private sector folks that this happened to feel..........

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Just because it happened to others, doesn't mean it should be a solution forced on public employees. I emphatically reject the idea that taxpayers, of whom I am one, after years and years of receiving the benefits (and whether or not you, personally, consider it a benefit, is irrelevant), don't want to foot the bill for promised pensions.
It's not about funding pensions, per say..........it is more the expectation that many govt workers have that somehow high unemployment and economic issues don't APPLY to them, and that somehow they are "entitled" to continue to receive merit increases and pension matches at the same level they always have, irregardless of economic conditions. I se this all the time in my local school district, and the School Board keeps caving because the teachers will walk out on their kids if they don't.............
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Old 11-15-2010, 10:02 AM   #314
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I'll agree that it would have been a much better article if it put issues like spiking and abuses in perspective with data to back it up. Unfortunately, I rarely find that level of journalism anywhere (I might start a new thread on that subject, using non-controversial examples).

I still say that to the extent that abuses are a problem they should be fixed. I don't care if it is 0.0004% - it ain't right. It shouldn't take the focus away from the bigger problem, nor should it be ignored.

-ERD50
Agree on both points.

I am especially disappointed with journalists that do know better yet still engage in writing things not supported by the data.

Census data will soon be released. That will be a gold mine for those that like to write or opine without data...
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Old 11-15-2010, 10:04 AM   #315
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"It isn't personal."

Of course it's personal. It's very personal. You are talking about people who worked for a government entity that provided better benefits, both in the form of pensions and medical, in exchange for fairly modest salaries and who planned their whole working lives for the benefits they were to receive. We are not talking about 10's of thousands of people, or hundreds of thousands - we are talking about many millions of people. Folks keep talking about all the people earning over $150K a year and the sleazeballs in CA earning obscene salaries - they are a tiny fraction of the total number of civil servants.

Changing benefits for people early in their careers is fine, they have time to make adjustments. But people who have 15, 20, or more years under a promised system are unlikely to be able to recover from massive cuts to their pensions. Just because it happened to others, doesn't mean it should be a solution forced on public employees. I emphatically reject the idea that taxpayers, of whom I am one, after years and years of receiving the benefits (and whether or not you, personally, consider it a benefit, is irrelevant), don't want to foot the bill for promised pensions.

Cutting promised benefits to people late in their career or already retired should be absolutely the last option - there are many other services that can be cut first. But that's hard - cutting pensions seems to be a lot easier.

Once again - it is personal and I, personally, would not wish what you want to happen to civil servants on anyone.

I think one of the big problems is semantics... so let's get this straight..

WE CAN NOT CUT YOUR PENSION... simple.. what you have earned to this day is YOURS... laws will not allow it to change... period.. so stop with the rhetoric that we are going to take away what you have earned...


However... there is nothing that says we have to continue with the current plan after today... if we wanted... we could just say 'there will be NO MORE pension after today'... you still have what you earned, but it is frozen to whatever you calculate today... so if you have 20 years in, you have 20 X your % X salary X discount to your age etc. etc....

This is cutting future benefits that you have not yet earned... nothing about what you have earned... does it hurt... sure...

But, you now have the options of trying to get more salary.... finding a new job... or accepting that your total compensation package has now gone down... guess what... that is life.. it happens to a lot of people...
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Old 11-15-2010, 10:06 AM   #316
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"Now, you might come back and say 'my pay is a lot higher than someone who is just starting out'... which I will reply... WHY The salary should be based on the job you are doing, not how long you have been doing it... IOW, a starting teacher and a 20 year teacher both are teaching a class of our youth... why should their salary be so different Just because someone has 20 years experience does not make them a better teacher.... but we do pay them a lot more than a new one.. stupid IMO..."
If teachers had PERFORMANCE reviews, there would be a lot of teachers out of work..........

Quote:
The relevence of this to me is that states and locals have a lot more ability to cut expenses to preserve pensions for existing retirees and for near retirees than they admit. of course, those cuts will gore someone's ox, so they don't make them.
So, after they cut the fat out, the ONLY option is raising property taxes, any guess how that's going to go over??

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The federal government is no different. Look at the USPS. Try to eliminate a local post office and all hell breaks loose.
I am convinced that mail service could easily be outsourced to a private enitity with much better fiscal results. Of course, that would never happen.........but I think someone like UPS or Fedex could do a WAY better job than the govt in running a monopoly............
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Old 11-15-2010, 10:15 AM   #317
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Actually they are, In most states they are the same as Bonds. Mine certainly is a constitutionally protected contract.
SS is a statutory program , not a contract.

We can always change the constitution....
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Old 11-15-2010, 10:22 AM   #318
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I'm quite sure that at a Megacorp hand Laundry or Bordello piecework is the order of the day and performance goals are simple. But in any more complicated function it is incredibly harder to "tease out" the individual from the group performance.
At the most complex tasks, the whole concept of "performance" being measured in any real time time breaks down. Those are the tasks we tend to assign to government. Determining a flood plain map of rthe next 500 years is a non trivial task in which to weigh performance,

Governments tend to contract out the laundry and bordello tasks precisely because they are simple and easy to evaluate

As to the value of experience, that tends to vary also by tasks.
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Old 11-15-2010, 10:27 AM   #319
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However... there is nothing that says we have to continue with the current plan after today... if we wanted... we could just say 'there will be NO MORE pension after today'... you still have what you earned, but it is frozen to whatever you calculate today... so if you have 20 years in, you have 20 X your % X salary X discount to your age etc. etc....

This is cutting future benefits that you have not yet earned... nothing about what you have earned... does it hurt... sure...

But, you now have the options of trying to get more salary.... finding a new job... or accepting that your total compensation package has now gone down... guess what... that is life.. it happens to a lot of people...
So I can raise your mortgage interest rate tomorrow and you can go shop for a new one if you don't like it?

How aobut interst on a bond that isn't yet earned?

Or did you bargain for that rate for the entire time period? Its not a trivial question.

The prohibition on impairment of contracts is much more complex than you suggest.
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Old 11-15-2010, 10:27 AM   #320
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So experience is worth nothing? Either for a civil servant or a worker in private industry? And a new teacher (or someone pretty much new anything) has the knowledge of what is to be done and how to do it just as well as a 20 year employee? Ever hear of learning curves? Most companies employ them as the more experience a worker has, the less time it takes them to do a job and the more money a company makes. IMHO, stupid is saying that experience has no role in the performance of a job. And you don't pay a sergeant with 3 years the same as one with 15 years - same with teachers - you do get more pay for the years you have served as well as the experience you have gained. You must have had one hell of a bad working experience.
I think ERD gave you a good response.... so I will not say what he said again....

But, I will add... most people also get promotions... you might start as a Acct 1... then move to Acct 2 then 3 etc... then a Asst. controller, then controller, then CFO etc. etc... with raises along the way...


If you are still a Acct 1 after 20 years.... I don't think you are worth twice as much as a new Acct 1.... a teacher is a teacher is a teacher.... (or a drivers license clerk is a drivers license clerk) sure, experience matters a lot in results... but if you remember teacher argued that you can not measure their results... so using their argument against them then NO.. experience does not matter since the results can not be measured... but, if you want to get more.. then move up to asst principal... or principal or etc. etc...


Another problem with you 'learning curve' statement... you pretty much have it down pat after a few years... I think my sister and mom pretty much had their routine down pat afte 5 to 7 years... any improvement after that was very small... so the curve is steep and then flatten out a lot...
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