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Pat Hughes

Springfield's Bipartisan Void Of Ethics

More and more of Springfield's culture of harassment and indecency are being exposed, most recently with a scandal surrounding a now-former Republican state rep. What steps should be done to clean up the culture? Can they be done? On this edition of Illinois Rising, Dan Proft and Pat Hughes talk about the issue with state Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, who has led on the issue of changing the culture in Springfield. They also talk to state rep candidate Dwight Kay on how he plans to provide property tax relief to homeowners in his district and statewide if elected. Proft and Hughes also discuss the very same property tax issue in Kane County, where homeowners are saddled with paying for exorbitant and unsustainable pension promises.

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Happy Taxiversary!

The Fourth of July week marked the one-year anniversary of the day politicians ended the budget impasse with a permanent 32 percent income tax increase. And we’re no better off than we were last year. In fact, our economy is worse, the job market is weaker, and our credit rating hasn’t improved at all.  Pat Hughes says we shouldn't be celebrating in this week's Two Minute Warning.

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Banner Day For Worker Freedom

Are public sector unions worried becuase they now have to earn their members? Since government workers are no longer forced to pay union dues, what does this mean politically for the Democratic party, especially in Chicago and Illinois? Is this the death of public sector unions in the country? Pat Hughes, President of the Liberty Justice Center, joins Dan and Amy to discuss the implications of the Janus decision.

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Throw Money At It

In another shocking example of the lack of accountability in government, a Chicago Tribune investigation found Chicago Public Schools employees sexually abused hundreds of students over the last ten years. In this week's Two Minute Warning, Pat Hughes warns that just like they do with every problem, politicians will throw money at Chicago Public Schools, but they won’t do anything to fix the real problems.

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Ruling Class Retaliation

Democrat Representative Kelly Cassidy claims she was bullied and intimidated by Speaker Madigan's allies. It's another example of the despicable culture in Springfield, where the political elites believe the rules don’t apply to them, victims of harassment are ignored, and any dissenting voices are shut down. In the face of multiple scandals, most House and Senate Democrats have remained silent, protecting their leader and the status quo.

In this week's Two Minute Warning Pat Hughes warns that we must end the cycle of threats and intimidation. We must dismantle the Madigan machine politicians and elect new, independent legislators to represent us.

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Exclusive Report From The SCOTUS

Is it unconstitutional to require public sector workers to pay union dues for a union they are not a part of and do not want to support? If unions are political in nature, why are government workers forced to subsidize their political speech? In Illinois especially, how is it that union leaders can negotiate salaries and benefits with the very people they made sure got into office? President of the Liberty Justice Center, Pat Hughes joins Dan and Amy from Washington D.C. to discuss the oral arguments beginning today in Janus v. AFSCME.

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Proft: Good morning, Dan and Amy, and there is a seminal labor case for which oral arguments will be heard before the Supreme Court today, that is Janus v. AFSCME. This case has the chance to change the political landscape in this country, to give public sector workers freedom with respect to their union dues, and to really cripple public sector unions, and the money they extract out of their employees. Mark Janus, who has become a bit of a celebrity because this is a case of such national import, is actually a staffer...he works for Illinois Department of Human Services, and this was the case that was to be decided in 2016 before Justice Scalia's death... Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, the Court split 4-4, thus the lower court's decision stood, and that was to keep "Fair Share" in place. With Gorsuch now replacing Scalia, the prospects are pretty rosy for advocates for worker freedom, like the Liberty Justice Center, like National Right to Work, there are the insit...the organizations that are representing Mark Janus and who will be presenting oral arguments before the High Court today. And one of the individuals who's been spearheading this is the co-founder of the Liberty Justice Center. He is Pat Hughes, who joins us now. Pat, thanks for being with us, appreciate it. Hughes: Good morning, Dan, good morning, Amy, how are you? Proft: Good morning. So, just lay out the arguments of both sides and the implications were Mark Janus successful and the court rules in his favor. Hughes: So, no one is required to join a public sector union, but if you're a state employee in Illinois and you don't belong to the Union, you still have to pay agency fees, or what people call "Fair Share Dues". And our client, Mark Janus, doesn't want to pay those dues, because he doesn't want to affiliate with the Union or support the Union's speech or activity. And everything, Dan and Amy, that a public sector union does is political in nature, whether it's direct political activity, or collective bargaining. Because ostensibly through collective bargaining, what they're doing is lobbying the government to spend taxpayers dollars on their benefits, on their salaries, on other things, and so the nature of that Union is political, and being forced to support it financially is a violation of your First Amendment right to free speech, because you're making political speech that you don't want to make, in the case of Mark Janus, or rights of freedom of association. You should not be forcing them, as an American citizen, to associate with a group that you don't want to associate with them. So that's what's at issue today, and the oral arguments are at 10AM before the United States Supreme Court. Jacobson: So the High Court's going to determine whether these agency fees are unconstitutional. How do you think the Supreme Court Justices are going to vote on this, what's your prediction? Hughes: So, Dan set it up pretty well, and I don't want to make a PREDICTION, but before Justice Scalia died, it looked like there was going to be a 5-4 decision in favor of the principles of our case. And then when he died, Justice Gorsuch came in. So we're hopeful that the four Justices, and we expect the four Justices that ruled in our favor previously in the Friedrichs case will rule that way again and then it's hard to read the tea leaves, but Gorsuch seems to be the type of jurist who would see things the way that we do. And we're going to make strong arguments today, hope he sees it our way in the oral arguments and the briefs, and we're hopeful that they'll decide in our favor before the Summer's up. Proft: Just to put a fine point on it, to make this tangible for people, you know, kind of at bar it's...I think it was nicely encapsulated by this Wall Street Journal piece, "Mark Janus was with Hillary, whether or not he wanted to be." And it was the idea that the public sector unions went all in with Hillary Clinton, and people like Mark Janus, who maybe wanted to stay out of the race, maybe wanted to support Bernie Sanders, maybe wanted to support a Republican, they were forced to be with Hillary whether they wanted to or not, and that's of course the same thing that goes on for rank-and-file members of AFSCME or SEIU, or the teachers' unions here in Illinois, with respect to the, you know, 98% of money that's spent by those powerful public sector unions here, on Democrats. Hughes: Yeah, our position is a real easy one, Dan and Amy. Look, if you want to be a member of a public sector union, and you like the things the public sector union is offering, God bless you. Join the union, pay the dues, be part of that. We're not opposed to the rights of people to collectively bargain. But, if you don't want to be part of the union, if you don't want to be, for example, for Hillary as you just laid out, then you should not be forced to be part of that. And what's happened in this case, and with public employees who are non-union members all across the country, is that they're subsidizing the political activity and political speech of messaging and organizations that they don't want to be associated with. Proft: Well, why don't the Unions want to put themselves to that market test? I mean, if they're offering such a good product, and good representation, people would voluntarily choose to join. Hughes: It's a great question, and hopefully it's a result of what happens long term if we're able to be successful. I think the reason is, Dan, that if you can get someone to pay you something for nothing, it's a lot easier than getting them to do something for something, and I think the result of this case could be beneficial for everybody. It's beneficial for workers because they have more freedom, and they have the right to choose whether or not they want to associate with the Union, and how to spend their...that amount of money. But, it will also force the Unions to take a look at the people they want to have as members, be better and more service-oriented, and ultimately it could help strengthen their message, and internally sort of make them more competitive for those members, and that's a win-win for the worker, and ultimately, for the Union. Jacobson: So you really think Unions could survive if the Supreme Court rules in your favor? Hughes: I definitely think they'll survive, because people participate voluntarily in the unions as it is. Mark Janus, our client, is a public sector employee who's non-union, but there are plenty who join the union and want to be part of the union, and so they'll continue to go on. It'll just give everyone the right to choose whether they want to be a part of it. So unions will continue to exist, but in a different context and under a circumstance where they're going to have to be more attractive to potential membership. Proft: Yeah, they're going to lose members and they're going to lose money, and we had a little bit of a...little bit of foreshadowing on this if the decision were to go Janus' way, with the Budget Repair Bill in Wisconsin, where Governor Walker and Republicans up there pushed that...essentially eliminated Fair Share up there, and the Wisconsin Education Association, the teachers' union up there, saw their membership drop by like 40% virtually overnight. Hughes: Yeah, and you can say that...that's because you're giving people the right to choose. And that's the circumstance if people have a right to choose, that's how they chose in that instance. That is, perhaps, how people will choose across the country if the case goes our way. But then it becomes incumbent upon the unions to provide a product or a service that's beneficial, just like everywhere else. And if people think that product, or service, benefits them, and they think it's worth the money to pay for it, then they will. If they don't, they won't. And that will be what the Union will have to face, years off the face if that's the case. Jacobson: That's amazing...and I was in a union, and it was AFTRA/SAG, and I tried Pat, I said "I don't wanna be...I don't see what the benefit is", because they would give money to Democratic politicians. And I've given them THOUSANDS of dollars, you know they take it automatically out of your paycheck, whatever. And they said it wasn't an option for me to opt out. Proft: Yeah, it was a closed shop. Same thing for me when I was at WLS. Jacobson: A closed shop, yeah. But I mean, you wouldn't even have an option. If you guys win with this case, do you think that will help us with other unions? Proft: Free...free the SAG/AFTRA members, Pat! Hughes: Yeah...unfortunately, we will not be able to do that, Amy. look, this is...it's a different argument in a different circumstance, because it's a public sector union. Everything a public sector union does is associating with a governmental entity, so it's all political in nature. Collective bargaining for public sector unions is lobbying for taxpayer dollars, in any other context it would be called lobbying. So, there is a unique public nature of that activity when it's public sector vs. private sector, so this will be, if we are able to win this case, this will make it Right to Work for public sector union employees all over the country. And of course, the unions make the argument that the non-union members, if they aren't forced to pay, are "free riding" off their good work of collective bargaining. The reality of it is the unions have set up these laws this way so they're forced to bargain on behalf of all public sector employees so that they can go ahead and collect the dues, and have access to those employees. So, so, their counter-argument that these folks are "Free Riders" is a little bit specious in my opinion, and I'm hopeful that the justices will see through that today. Proft: Well, and it highlights the distinction that isn't made often enough between public sector and private sector unions, where you have an adversarial collective bargaining process in the private sector, and often times you have public sector unions that have captured management in the public sector and it's sort of a sham negotiation. Hughes: Yeah, because they're negotiating with the very people that they're... Proft: ...that they financed into office! Hughes: ...that they're in charge of putting in place. Proft: Right! Hughes: And if it doesn't go their way, there's the potential that they'll go find someone out there who's going to do their bidding. In Illinois, and I've had a lot of conversations with national media, so it's great to be talking to folks in Illinois, and in the Chicago area...in Illinois, everybody knows how powerful the public sector unions are in terms of representing people in the city of Chicago, or state representatives or state senators or even governors, and so there's an opportunity for the unions to put the politicians in that their ultimately going to negotiate with. Proft: Now, Governor Rauner has made his way out to DC to hear oral arguments today. You issued a letter last week rebuking the Governor though, slapping his hands for his pronouncements before the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board and elsewhere about the Janus case, about his involvement. You note in your letter that he doesn't play any role in this case, in fact that he had an opportunity to submit an amicus brief on behalf of Mark Janus, and he didn't do it. And so, why the chastisement of the Governor? Hughes: So, the Governor initiated the case, Dan, back in 2015, but then he was bounced out of it because he didn't have standing. He's had no role in it since that time, but in his primary election against Representative Ives, he is using this case, and another case of ours, as sort of main positions of his re-election campaign, and he's misrepresenting his role in the case, and he's making predictions about the case. He thinks...he's made a prediction that there's a 90% chance we'll win. Well, he shouldn't be doing that, because it's a mistake, and it's not responsible. And he shouldn't be misrepresenting his role. The reality of it is he didn't file an amicus brief in support of the case, he's had NO ROLE with respect to the case, and frankly he's trying to take credit for work that he didn't do in a political context, and in my opinion that's bad form. Secondarily, this case should not be politicized. This isn't about Republican workers or Democrat workers or independent workers, this is about workers all across the country, regardless of their ideological stripe, having the constitutional right to choose for themselves under the First Amendment, and it's not about any particular politician and it's certainly not about Governor Rauner's re-election. Proft: Boy, Governor Rauner misrepresenting himself or someone else...knock me over with a feather! He is Pat Hughes, President of the Liberty Justice Center, and he'll be there in DC today when oral arguments are presented before the Supreme Court, Janus v. AFSCME, you're going to want to follow the outcome of that case, which will be decided this term, meaning by the end of June. Pat, thanks so much for joining us, appreciate it. Hughes: Thank you for having me.

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Cook County's Property Tax Scam

Cook County property taxpayers have been getting ripped off by Mike Madigan and Joe Berrios for decades, and it's starting to come to light more. On this edition of Illinois Rising, Dan Proft and Pat Hughes break down new investigative reports showing how the political class is scamming taxpayers. They also discuss the departure of Forrest Claypool from Chicago Public Schools, and a new Wall Street Journal editorial slamming Illinois for its financial recklessness.

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Suburban Democrats Sell Out To Chicago Machine

If you live in the suburbs of Chicago, you are already paying the highest property taxes in the nation. And yet, State Representatives like Deb Conroy, Carol Sente, Mike Halpin, Marty Moylan, Natalie Manley and Stephanie Kifowit voted to send your schools’ state funding to bailout schools in Chicago. State Senators like Melinda Bush, Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, Laura Murphy, Tom Cullerton, Linda Holmes and Julie Morrison opted to defend Chicago’s Political Machine instead of your community.  In their view, it is a greater threat to their power to cross their party leaders than to cross you.  Pat Hughes explains in this edition of Two Minute Warning.

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Another Tax Hike

In the last days of Legislative Session, Illinois Senate Democrats ended all budget negotiations. They just went ahead and passed a five billion-dollar tax increase on Illinois’ families and businesses with marginal reforms and no spending cuts. Pat Hughes breaks down their bad math and bad policies in this week's Two Minute Warning.

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IL Democrats' $5.4 Billion Tax Hike

Illinois Senate Democrats passed a massive $5.4 billion tax hike with no economic reforms attached. On this edition of Illinois Rising, Dan Proft and Pat Hughes talk about what this would mean for struggling Illinois taxpayers, who are already dealing with among the highest property taxes in the nation. Illinois Policy's Ted Dabrowski and Tax Foundation's Jared Walczak join the discussion.

They also discuss Chicago Public Schools' broken finances and an education funding bill Senate Democrats passed – without knowing what it does.

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For Democrats, Money Grows On Trees

For Illinois Democrats, money really does grow on trees. Your trees, Suburbia. Toi Hutchinson and her Democrat friends are counting on you and your love of home-grown, bug-free tomatoes and well-manicured hedges to keep the grimy wheels of government greased. Pat Hughes explains in this week's Two Minute Warning.

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Solving The State's Higher Ed Crisis

Illinois' public universities are in a financial crunch, while primary and secondary schools in Chicago, too, face challenges of their own. On this edition of Illinois Rising, Dan Proft and Pat Hughes breakdown Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's new, misguided "fix" to Chicago Public Schools' failures with The Federalist's Bethany Mandel. They also analyze the broken finances of the state's public universities with Ted Dabrowski, vice president of policy at the Illinois Policy Institute.

And what did Democrats in Springfield spend their time on before heading out on a two-week spring break? Their legislative priorities are startling, and underscore how unserious many lawmakers are about improving the state. 

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Defending Bacon

State Reps, like Michelle Mussman and Barb Wheeler, are voting to defend and recognize bacon as a breakfast meat. Deb Conroy, Scott Drury, Carol Sente and Marty Moylan are resolving hot-button issues like making cycling the official state exercise. And over in the Senate, Julie Morrison and Sam McCann worked to ban elephants from being part of traveling circuses. With all the problems Illinois faces, Pat Hughes dissects their misplaced priorities in this edition of "Two Minute Warning."

I’m Pat Hughes with this week’s Upstream Ideas ‘Two Minute Warning.’

Talk to anyone about Illinois – anyone. Democrat or Republican. They understand how serious the state’s problems are. So, you would think that most of our legislators have a sense of urgency about solving those problems… but, you would be wrong. There is a reason Illinois is… well, Illinois.

In Springfield, State Reps, like Michelle Mussman and Barb Wheeler, are voting to defend and recognize bacon as a breakfast meat. Deb Conroy, Scott Drury, Carol Sente and Marty Moylan are resolving hot-button issues… like making cycling the official state exercise. And over in the Senate, Julie Morrison and Sam McCann worked to ban elephants from being part of traveling circuses.

Bacon, bikers and Dumbo. Sounds like my seventeen year old daughter’s legislative agenda…when she was nine.

Are these people serious? We haven’t had a balanced budget in two years!

Taken all together, it is tempting to characterize the Illinois General Assembly as a “Do-Nothing” legislature, but that’s not the real story.

In reality, Illinois government is working exactly as intended.  Winning elections isn’t a chance to advance a set of principles. Winning elections is a way to distribute favors to friends and political allies.

Legislators are protecting a political machine that was carefully constructed by politicians and powerful special interests. The machine doesn’t reform itself. The machine grows itself by distracting voters with idiotic bills in public, so it can continue handing out favors in private.  

State legislators don’t care that you are being taxed out of your homes, or are struggling with unemployment. They have spent 2 years ignoring these problems, passing wildly unbalanced budgets,and refusing to address the need for reform. Oh yeah…and defending bacon.

Change is not going to come from Springfield. It has to come from you: the people who play by the rules and are getting screwed. You – collectively – have the numbers, the resources, and the principles to end this nonsense. Whether or not you do will determine the fate of our once great state.

You’ve been warned.

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Illinoisans Take Their Frustrations To The Voting Booth

If you hold public office and want to continue to do so---work in favor of your constituents---not yourself. Otherwise you’ll be next to go. Pat Hughes explains in this "Two Minute Warning."

This is Pat Hughes with this week’s Upstream Ideas ‘Two Minute Warning.’

So, as it turns out, Illinois families are tired of funding the lavish lifestyles of politicians.

And in this year’s Municipal Elections, they took their frustrations to the voting booth.

In Algonquin Township, Highway Commissioner Bob Miller is out – ending a fifty- two-year family dynasty, passed down from Miller’s grandfather. The Miller family was pulling in over four hundred thousand dollars a year. Apparently, voters in Algonquin Township take issue with a small township office – paid for by their tax dollars – being used as a family business.

Likewise, voters in Orland Park threw out twenty-four-year incumbent Mayor Dan McLaughlin. Seems to have had something to do with the one-hundred and ten-thousand dollar pay increase he got the Village Board to give him. Voters also took issue with being on the hook for the pension he spiked by eighty-thousand dollars per year. Imagine that.

Miller and McLaughlin aren’t the only two public officials in the state who have abused their positions for personal gain. They aren’t the only ones who have funded their life-styles on the backs of families and businesses and acted with total disregard for the trust placed in them by their constituents. There are other politicians who abuse the moral obligation to act responsibly with other people’s money.  But, Miller and McLaughlin’s political demise demonstrates that voters are not static.

They have seen the quality of their lives worsen as government grows more costly and inefficient. They’ve seen their home values and school quality decline while their property taxes go up. And, when armed with information about how their public officials have used and abused their trust and their money, they will rebel.  They just did.

So if you hold public office and want to continue to do so---work in favor of your constituents---not yourself. Otherwise you’ll be next to go.

You’ve been warned.

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Why Are Old-Guard Journalists Resistant To New Models?

Shortly after a Cook County judge ruled that they will get their paychecks, lawmakers in Springfield headed back to negotiating multibillion dollar tax hikes as part of their "grand bargain" proposal. On this edition of Illinois Rising, Dan Proft and Pat Hughes talk to state Sen. Dan McConchie, R-Hawthorn Woods, who tells them why the current proposal is unacceptable, and why lawmakers haven't earned their paychecks.

They also analyze the familiar cries from legacy journalists over "fake news," and the false idea that journalists don't have points of view. And with municipal elections right around the corner, Proft and Hughes explain why these races can be crucial for taxpayers.

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Dollars And Sense: School Bd. Demands A Yes Vote

If you are a Glen Ellyn resident, you know your school board is demanding a ‘Yes’ Vote on a $24 million referendum. You may not know that since the last major referendum in Glen Ellyn, enrollment growth has slowed and even fallen. Yet, local property tax spending has increased by 253%. Pat Hughes explains in this edition of "Dollars And Sense."

This is Pat Hughes with this week’s Upstream Ideas ‘Dollars and Sense.’

If you are a Glen Ellyn resident, you know your school board is demanding a ‘Yes’ Vote on a twenty-four million dollar referendum.  

You may not know that since the last major referendum in Glen Ellyn, enrollment growth has slowed and even fallen. Yet, local property tax spending has increased by two-hundred and fifty-three percent.

As your property taxes are pressured higher and higher, your property values drop lower and lower.

In fact, over the past decade, property values in Glen Ellyn have dropped nineteen percent.

If this continues, by twenty-twenty-three, you will pay fifty percent of your home’s value in property taxes.  

The school board’s demands and manipulative “Forward for Kids” campaign are shameless.  If anything, a twenty-four million dollar tax increase leads us “Backward” and “Downward.” Big-spending Illinois politicians like those on the District Forty-One School Board have made it hard enough for families in DuPage.

They continue to raise your taxes with no regard for you or the life you are trying to build. Their campaign and their demands are outrageous and out of touch. Vote against them.

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The Fight Against Predatory School Boards

Across the state from DuPage County to the Metro East Region, local school boards are after more and more of your hard-earned money. And they think their con is bulletproof: “It’s for the children.” Who can argue with that? Pat Hughes does in this "Two Minute Warning."

This is Pat Hughes with this week’s Upstream Ideas ‘Two Minute Warning.’

Look, I get it standing up to a school board is tough. After all, they claim they’re doing everything “for the children.” Opposing school funding increases means you’re not going to be too popular. You lose friends. Miss out on parties. You get looks of distain in the car line. Standing up to a school board takes guts.

But that’s exactly what we need right now.

Across the state from DuPage to Metro East, local boards are after more and more of your hard-earned money. And they think their con is bulletproof: “It’s for the children.”

Who can argue with that?

I can. And so should you.

School boards who want to increase your taxes are not brave. They are not magnanimous. They are not doing this for children. They are raising your taxes. They are decimating your home’s value. They are wiping out your greatest investment. All so they can continue their spending.

Just look at Edwardsville. Local property tax spending grew thirty-five percent in ten years, while district enrollment grew just seven percent.

The district is ranked among the most debt-ridden school districts in Illinois.

That debt has taken a toll on home values.

But will they stop? No.

The district is asking taxpayers for another six point nine million dollars and threaten to cut sports, band, and more if voters don’t agree to hike taxes.

But is it really “for the children” when – despite constant and generous spending increases – two-thirds of fourth graders in the state don’t read or perform math at grade level? The truth is K-twelve systems have become third-party administrators to bestow salaries and benefits on adults in the system … namely teachers and administrators. 

In the fight against predatory school boards, you are your community’s greatest asset. You are a change agent.

Be relentless. And be prepared. Those who benefit from this failed system are just waiting for us to get tired and get out of their way. You’ve been warned.

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