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Aug
28

Real Unemployment Figures?

I've been getting emails of this story out of more than a few of my fellow "right wingers" in the last 24 hours.

The real US unemployment rate is 16 percent if persons who have dropped out of the labor pool and those working less than they would like are counted, a Federal Reserve official said Wednesday.

"If one considers the people who would like a job but have stopped looking -- so-called discouraged workers -- and those who are working fewer hours than they want, the unemployment rate would move from the official 9.4 percent to 16 percent, said Atlanta Fed chief Dennis Lockhart.

However I think that this story does the best job of looking deeper at the numbers and the implications of the statistic.

The unemployment rate is a murky number. It seems simple enough to look at the national unemployment figures released every month by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In July, that number was 9.4 percent. At the peak of the early '80s recession--December 1982--unemployment hit 10.8 percent.

So where's the murkiness? The problem is that many of the people one would think of as "unemployed" are not included in this unemployment rate. For one, the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not count unemployed people who have been discouraged by the labor market and have given up looking for work. You are counted as a "discouraged worker" if you are available to work, want to work, and tried to look for work in the past year but gave up within four weeks for reasons including the belief that no work is available. The fact that the national unemployment rate excludes these discouraged workers has led many observers to believe it does not reflect the "real" level of unemployment. "Ask the average person if he or she is unemployed, and there is little hesitation in giving you an answer, but that may not agree with government definitions," says John Williams, an economist who examines government statistics at shadowstats.com.

Other people who aren't counted in the official number are those who have been forced by the economy to work part time. The number of workers who wanted full-time jobs but could find only part-time work was 1.8 million last month, which amounts to 1.3 percent of the labor force. Still, that's not as bad as December 1982, when forced part-time workers accounted for 3 percent of the labor force.

What happens when you start counting all these people who have been heavily battered by the labor market? The Bureau of Labor Statistics has another rate that includes "marginally affected workers" and part-time workers. That number, referred to as U-6 because of its identification in bureaureports, was 16.3 percent last month--nearly 7 percentage points higher than the official unemployment rate. What's more, the number of people who have given up on finding work has been steadily rising over the past few months, from 685,000 in May to 796,000 in July. "If you have that number of people leaving the workforce, that seems to me a serious problem," says economist John Lott.

Written by LL.

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Aug
27

Another Thought From Last Night

Something I meant to mention in my last post, but forgot.

Toward the end of the town hall last night, Representative Chaffetz went into his "two years ago I took on the Republican establishment including President Bush" spiel which delighted everyone in the room including the dour pro-single payer ladies who were standing over my left shoulder.  Rep. Chaffetz then took those same single payer advocates in the audience to task saying if you are applauding me for taking on President Bush and his shredding of the Constitution then you should be behind me when I take on the Democrats when they do the same thing.....

The silence from those single payer supporters was at once both deafening and completely unexpected.  They revealed themselves for the rank partisans that they are and that is a very large reason why they are currently losing this debate.

Written by LL.

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Aug
27

My Thoughts On Jason Chaffetz Town Hall

First off thanks to the Chaffetz campaign for having the guts to face friend and foe alike on such a hot button issue.  There were roughly 1000 people in attendance (the auditorius holds 850 people and there was a standing room only crowd) While the crowd was decidedly pro-Chaffetz, there was quite a vocal opposition.  I know many of us who were in attendance wished that the opposition showed any sort of respect toward the others in the room, but then again we have come to expect that in the debate.  Watch this video for just a taste of it.  At the 4:51 mark, a supporter of single payer (that is what her sign said) interrupts Rep. Chaffetz as he is talking about the need to remove barriers to access to health insurance.  As he was commenting on the fact (it's human nature kids) that a profit motive needs to be included in the discussion the woman standing with the orange sign starts shouting out her disapproval.  Jason askes her to please hold on and let him finish and she and several other single payer supporters all start yelling and disrupting the proceedings.  Once the crowd quiets down yet another single payer support shouts out, Jason asks him to please wait for him to finish and ANOTHER one shouts out.  He could not get 4 words out before the single payer supporters were yelling out to interrupt him.  Again - so much for respecting both sides! Things got really heated close to the end of the meeting when a supporter of single payer stood up and launched a profanity laced attack on Rep. Chaffetz and his supporters.  Rep. Chaffetz repeatedly asked the man to please wait his turn and please remember that there were young people in the crowd, but he refused.  Finally an elderly man a couple of rows in front of him swung around and swung what looked to be a cane over his head and the police responded.

Written by LL.

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Aug
26

Town Hall Notes

After minor technical difficulties (with my son's brand new digital camera) and seriously bogus directions from Yahoo maps, I arrived at Elk Ridge Middle School for Rep. Jason Chaffetz town hall.  I walked into the school expecting to see Nazi flags and swastikas – after all that is what Nancy Pelosi said was at these town hall meetings.  Instead I found a variety of polite home made signs and American flags and my fellow citizens of all ages.

Jennifer Scott (Rep. Chafftez district director) opened welcoming everyone and thanking them for being here.  She commented “3 cheers for democracy” and got a loud cheer from the crowd.  She then brought up Del Smith, who presented a couple of veterans awards. Del first presented a bronze star, 2 purple hearts and several other medals to the surviving family of a WWII soldier Albert Stransky who died in action.  He then presented a to the surviving family of Viet Nam veteran Paul House the Combat Infantry badge that he had earned in Viet Nam and then had taken away a few years later.

Jennifer then introduced Jason who took the stage to applause worthy of a rock star.

Jason started off with a few remarks.  His opening comment "It’s my job to represent Utah to Washington – not the other way around." again gained him strong applause.  He then said that he didn’t have a big long speech – "I am here to listen to you" so he was going to jump right into the Q&A but he wanted to set a few ground rules.  He said that a free flowing exchage was what he wanted, but that we needed to be respectful of <b>both sides</b> (this will come out again in my next post) and that he wanted to keep it civil.  He said thathe didn't have all of the answers but he would give the questioners his best.  He also asked that we all try to keep it to 1 minute - yeah right.....

The meeting started off lightheartedly when a questioner called Rep. Chaffetz “Senator”.  Jason laughed and said I appreciate your optimism”  he encouraged him to vote for HR676.  Jason responded that he felt that the US has best health care does that mean can’t do better.  Of course we can  we can make it even better than it is today.

Navy Gulf War I vet – talked about VA and how the average American would never want it.  Not enough drs and facilities.  The first questioner (pro-HR 676) interrupted him - a sign of things to come... Jason replied that the VA is overwhelmed and can’t keep up with the number of returning vets.  He cited a meeting that he had shortly after getting to DC with the Secretary of the VA talking about how it takes the Veterans Administration an average of 9 months to get a returning vets paperwork in order for the system and that is simply unacceptable.  Jason then commented "I am concerned that government run health care will run like Amtrack.  He stated that states are better set up to handle this (health care reform) – not the feds.

There was a question about driving down the costs…the questioners wife has cancer - questioner said that he wanted cheaper health care -not government take over.  Jason commented that it is embarrassing who LITTLE we spend on cancer research in this country.   1500 a day die from cancer.  16% - 18% of GDP spent in a one size fits all health care solution is not going to help that.  The good thing about this situation is that we are able to get 1000 people to come out and talk about health care (ed that is going to be a recurring theme for the night).  We have to align incentives in health care…if you don’t have a vested interest you will not pay attention to the cost.  We should not be rewarding people who run to the hospital for a sore throat – it is the most expensive way to do this.  We should be rewarding people who spend their health care dollars wisely

Written by LL.

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Aug
26

Light Posting Day

Blogging will likely be on the light side today.  I am going into work now (my normal blogging time) so that I can get off work early to get to Congressman Chaffetz' town hall meeting in South Jordan tonight.  To warm you all up for tonight's festivities check out this video from my friend Holly On the Hill.

You can read her reports from the Provo town hall at her site as well.  I will report back from the South Jordan town hall later tonight or tomorrow morning.

Written by LL.

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Aug
25

The Pretenders

Chrissie Hynde, the lead singer for "The Pretenders" was in Salt Lake yesterday.....

Wearing knee-high black boots and carrying "Unhappy Meals" to pass out to customers, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and noted animal-rights activist Chrissie Hynde gave a few customers at a local McDonald's a surprise Monday.

Hynde, lead singer of The Pretenders, who performed at Red Butte Gardens on Sunday, helped PETA launch an international billboard campaign targeting the fast-food chain and specifically, its Chicken McNuggets. To help kick off the effort, Hynde joined local and national PETA members outside the McDonald's near 700 East and 250 South to speak to supporters and help pass out literature to the lunchtime crowd.

What the DesNews writer forgot to mention was that Ms. Hynde was wearing black LEATHER boots and a very cute matching LEATHER belt.  Come to think of it there were quite a few pairs of leather shoes in attendance according to the DesNews pictures.

Um Chrissie - about the cows that had to die for those cute leather stilettos and matching belt.......

Written by LL.

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Aug
25

Julie & Julia

I am a cooking show addict.  I love to watch cooking shows - PBS, FoodTV, FLN it does not matter, if it is a cooking show and I have the choice - we are watching it.  I suppose a lot of that came from my very fist exposure to cooking shows via the Doyenne of French Cuisine in America...Julia Child.  So I really felt good to see this story yesterday.

Almost 48 years after it was first published, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” by Julia Child is finally topping the best-seller list, bringing with it all the butter, salt and goose fat that home chefs had largely abandoned in the age of Lipitor.


The reason for the uptick in sales has to do with the release of the new movie "Julie& Julia".  I've seen the trailers for the movie "Julie & Julia" and it does look like a very cute movie.  The premis, while a bit of a stretch, does have potential especially when you have Nora Ephron (When Harry Met Sally) writing and directing it.

As I have refined my palette over the years, French cuisine has never been high on the list of favorites (although I have borrowed and modified a French sauce in my time) it is still nice to see Julia get the popularity she so richly deserves - even if it is a few years too late for her to enjoy it.

As Julia famously said - "Bon Appitit!"

Written by LL.

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Aug
25

Oh No.....

Frst Air America, now Paul Krugman....


According to news reports, the Obama administration — which seemed, over the weekend, to be backing away from the “public option” for health insurance — is shocked and surprised at the furious reaction from progressives.

Well, I’m shocked and surprised at their shock and surprise.

A backlash in the progressive base — which pushed President Obama over the top in the Democratic primary and played a major role in his general election victory — has been building for months. The fight over the public option involves real policy substance, but it’s also a proxy for broader questions about the president’s priorities and overall approach.

President Obama is walking a very fine line right now between his very progressive base and the 53% of the country that want's nothing to do with HF 3200.  Anyone who studied President Obama's career as a state and a US Senator realizes that this is very, very normal for him.  He triangulates worse than the Clinton's ever dreamed of doing. That the left is surprised or even disappointed shows just how little they knew about the man that they helped elect to the highest office in the land.

Written by LL.

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Aug
25

Just A Reminder

Just a reminder of what happens when government bureaucrats and government budgets are in charge of your health care.

Vancouver patients needing neurosurgery, treatment for vascular diseases and other medically necessary procedures can expect to wait longer for care, NDP health critic Adrian Dix said Monday.

Dix said a Vancouver Coastal Health Authority document shows it is considering chopping more than 6,000 surgeries in an effort to make up for a dramatic budgetary shortfall that could reach $200 million.

“This hasn’t been announced by the health authority … but these cuts are coming,” Dix said, citing figures gleaned from a leaked executive summary of “proposed VCH surgical reductions.”

Now to be completely fair, these are not cuts that are certainly coming.  The document in question is a "planning" document and the plans there in have not yet been yet been put into motion. However the leak of the document has people asking some very tough questions....

Dr. Brian Brodie, president of the BC Medical Association, called the proposed surgical cuts “a nightmare.”

“Why would you begin your cost-cutting measures on medically necessary surgery? I just can’t think of a worse place,” Brodie said.

Written by LL.

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Aug
24

Fun With Numbers

For the last 8 years, my radio partner Jazz Shaw has been holding the Bush Administration's feet to the fire policy wise.  He has been a very persuasive, vocal critic of many Bush Administration policies including the Patriot Act and his execution of the Global War On Terror (specifically Iraq).  While there is much (policy wise) that we disagree on, there is also much we agree on which is why we have so much fun doing our weekly Blog Talk Radio Show. Jazz and I used to do the show with Ron Beasley from Middle Earth Journal, but Ron quit the show (and blogging) after he got turned off by the tone and tenor of the Democratic Primary last summer (Ron was a Hillary clinton supporter).  It was a lot of fun when it was the three of us because we always managed to debate all sides of the issues and NOT get disagreeable - we always ended the show with respect for one another.

Now that the Democrats are in control of Washington DC, Jazz has been doing to the Democrats, what he did to the Republicans before - holding their feet to the fire.  His target of late has been HB3200 - the controversial health care bill.  His latest offering takes the Democrats claim that 47 (or 35 or 52 depending on who is talking and on what day) million people are "without health insurance".

One of the perpetual bones of contention in the ongoing health care reform debate is the precise number of people in serious need of help in this area. All too frequently we encounter various, exaggerated estimates, including some fact challenged quotes right here at TMV, which put the number as high as 50 million. Well, that’s certainly a troubling statistic for anyone to contemplate. In fact, the New York Times had a heartfelt opinion piece this weekend which recognizes a number of serious problems with the math on these figures, but then essentially bats them away, saying we shouldn’t dwell on the numbers.

But how many Americans are we really talking about here? And what mitigating factors need to be considered? A good place to start would be the most recent edition of the U.S. Census Bureau’s report on Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States. (Follow the link, please, for the full PDF of the report.) It’s the same one cited in the Times piece. Turning to page 27 we find that the total number of people put in the category of not having health insurance during the previous year starts at 45.7 million (not fifty) which is down from 47 million in the previous reporting period. But that’s still a lot of people, isn’t it? We’ll need to do some more digging, obviously, and we will.

When proponents of HB3200 start throwing out these Census numbers, they often ignore the one caveat that Jazz points out from page 67 in Appendix C....that the Census Bureau does not have full faith in these numbers.....

Written by LL.

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Aug
24

Still Fishing

On Friday I wrote about Rep. Henry Waxman's fishing expedition (fishing for information on how to run a health care business).  Well according to Politico, the fishing expedition started back in July....

Now POLITICO has learned that Waxman’s recent investigation began almost a month earlier than previously thought — with letters to the insurance industry’s powerful trade group and its consultant regarding grassroots tactics.

A committee spokeswoman defended the probes — saying lawmakers need to know that private insurance money is being spent effectively as part of the effort to control costs. But the trade group, America’s Health Insurance Plans, is crying foul, saying Waxman is merely trying to bring it in line behind his version of the health reform bill.

“Congressional oversight is not a tool that should be used to chill dissent,” said AHIP spokesman Robert Zirkelbach. “These investigations are nothing more than politically motivated, taxpayer-financed fishing expeditions designed to intimidate and silence health plans.”

It is clear that the Democrats in DC are all about chilling dissent.  All you need to remember is the whole This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. flap to understand the depths to which the Democrats are willing to go to in order to chill dissent.  Even though when they were the ones dissenting it was the height of patriotism to dissent from "this or any administration".

Rep. Waxman's spokesperson says that the request was done in order to make sure that these private businesses are spending their money wisely, but the AHIP spokesman disagrees.....

Written by LL.

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Aug
23

Paging Emily Latila

Yet another rabid, angry, right wing wing-nut comes out against ObamaCare....

Last week, after being reported in the Los Angeles Times, the White House confirmed it has promised Big Pharma that any healthcare legislation will bar the government from using its huge purchasing power to negotiate lower drug prices. That’s basically the same deal George W. Bush struck in getting the Medicare drug benefit, and it’s proven a bonanza for the drug industry. A continuation will be an even larger bonanza, given all the Boomers who will be enrolling in Medicare over the next decade. And it will be a gold mine if the deal extends to Medicaid, which will be expanded under most versions of the healthcare bills now emerging from Congress, and to any public option that might be included. (We don’t know how far the deal extends beyond Medicare because its details haven’t been made public.)

Let me remind you: Any bonanza for the drug industry means higher health-care costs for the rest of us, which is one reason why critics of the emerging healthcare plans, including the Congressional Budget Office, are so worried about their failure to adequately stem future healthcare costs. To be sure, as part of its deal with the White House, Big Pharma apparently has promised to cut future drug costs by $80 billion. But neither the industry nor the White House nor any congressional committee has announced exactly where the $80 billion in savings will show up nor how this portion of the deal will be enforced. In any event, you can bet that the bonanza Big Pharma will reap far exceeds $80 billion. Otherwise, why would it have agreed?

In return, Big Pharma isn’t just supporting universal health care. It’s also spending a lots of money on TV and radio advertising in support. Sunday’s New York Times reports that Big Pharma has budgeted $150 million for TV ads promoting universal health insurance, starting this August (that’s more money than John McCain spent on TV advertising in last year’s presidential campaign), after having already spent a bundle through advocacy groups like Healthy Economies Now and Families USA.

Oh wait.....that was Robert B. Reich - former Secretary of the Treasury for President Bill Clinton....Never mind...

Written by LL.

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Aug
22

CPSIA Update

My friend Ed Morrissey at Hot Air has a couple of post to update us on CPSIA enforcement.  The first is something that any one you parents who have garage sales should pay close attention to.

When our founders created the federal government, I’m pretty sure they didn’t anticipate having its power reach into their carriage houses.  Thanks to a particularly asinine piece of legislation called the Consumer Protection Safety Improvement Act, though, we now have federal inspectors threatening to start investigating yard sales and church bazaars.  They say they’re just going to focus on thrift stores and Craigslist … for now:

If you’re planning a garage sale or organizing a church bazaar, you’d best beware: You could be breaking a new federal law. As part of a campaign called Resale Roundup, the federal government is cracking down on the secondhand sales of dangerous and defective products.

The initiative, which targets toys and other products for children, enforces a new provision that makes it a crime to resell anything that’s been recalled by its manufacturer. …

The crackdown affects sellers ranging from major thrift-store operators such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army to everyday Americans cleaning out their attics for yard sales, church bazaars or — increasingly — digital hawking on eBay, Craigslist and other Web sites.

Secondhand sellers now must keep abreast of recalls for thousands of products, some of them stretching back more than a decade, to stay within the bounds of the law.

 

But wait - there is more....

After I wrote my post yesterday on the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act and the not-so-subtle warning to private resellers at yard sales and church bazaars, I received an interesting e-mail from Suzi Lang, the owner of Star Bright Baby.  Suzi hand-makes toys and teething rings for babies and toddlers, but her business is now in jeopardy, thanks to the badly-written CPSIA.  Suzi explains in her e-mail:

Hi Ed-

Thanks for posting about the CPSIA.  Garage Sale police aren’t the only insane parts of this law…  I make and sell small stuffed teething giraffes for babies (or anyone else cutting a tooth).  My giraffes are made from 100% cotton fabric, stuffing made from a synthetic fiber made from corn, and thread.  That’s it.  Nothing toxic about that, right?  Well, according to the law, I have to lead test each batch of giraffes I make.  I make them in batches of 10-12 because I’m a small time producer (and I get bored easily).  That’s about $300-500 per batch.  BUT I also have to test them for a plastic additive called Phthalates because the item is intended to go in a baby’s mouth.  Never mind the fact that there is nothing plastic in any of the materials I use to make my giraffes.  That’s about $800-1200 per batch.  Now you’re talking a pretty expensive teething toy.

I testified before a subcommittee of the Small Business Committee in the house in May, and there have been some exceptions made to the law by the CPSC in how they’re going to enforce it, but the law also deputizes every single state Attorney General to go after offenders.  By law I’m still not in compliance.

The sad thing is that this hits little old ladies that make blankies and lovies to give away to kids in the ER.  And the little hats they knit for newborns in the hospital.  It hits small potatoes businesses like mine who already make safe products.  It’s sad, really.  And the law does absolutely nothing to keep kids safer than they were under the original lead laws.

Oh, and the companies like Mattel who imported all the lead-tainted toys that started this fuss? They get to police themselvesAwesome, huh?

Thanks again for highlighting this stupid law on Hotair.

–Suzi Lang
Starbright Baby Teething Giraffes
www.starbrightbabyonline.com

 

Emphasis in the original.  I suppose that the companies that started all this, the ones who get to police themselves get to do so because they are big enought special interests to be able to hire the lobbyists necessary to get the legislation written in their favor.  Meanwhile, the small business owners who started their businesses IN ANSWER to a problem that the big business started get shut down.  Way to go Democrats!  Wat to stand up "for the little guy".....

 

Written by LL.

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Aug
22

The Silly Season

A while back someone commented that President Obama was such a great communicator.  I wonder if this is an example of what he was talking about....

A long time ago, someone coined the term "Silly season" for this particular time in Washington DC.  I think the President would have been better off if he had stuck with that rather than trying to make something.

Written by LL.

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Aug
22

The Thousand Pound Gorilla In The Room

The LA Times editorial page has an opinion column that addresses the one thing that has been totally ignored in today's health care debate....personal responsibility!

In the debate over healthcare reform, one elephant in the waiting room isn't being discussed. We have been told repeatedly that our healthcare system is not only the most expensive in the world but one of the least efficient in meeting the healthcare needs of the nation. So how do we solve these two problems? From my perspective as a physician, I'd say we need to start by taking a hard look at the diseases we are doing such a bad job of controlling and at the individuals who suffer from them.

Those of us providing front-line care for Americans -- nurses, physicians' assistants, pharmacists -- have a perspective that differs from the bureaucratic physicians in the American Medical Assn. and other specialist organizations, because we literally have our fingers on the pulse of Americans. And a lot of us have come to realize that most medical problems are brought on by the failure of humans.

Human metabolism is not that far evolved from the Stone Age and is better geared toward surviving famine than to the current abundance of high-calorie food and the pervasiveness of passive activity.

Obesity and lack of exercise are the prime mover behind many common diseases. Type 2 diabetes, which leads to heart disease, vascular problems, hypertension, kidney failure and erectile dysfunction, is at epidemic proportions and is primarily a disease of the obese. And we're seeing the problem in younger and younger people.

Written by LL.

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Aug
21

Where Oh Where....

...has the anti-war movement gone?  Byron York was wondering that so he started looking. What he found at first was not too surprising.

Remember the anti-war movement? Not too long ago, the Democratic party's most loyal voters passionately opposed the war in Iraq. Democratic presidential candidates argued over who would withdraw American troops the quickest. Netroots activists regularly denounced President George W. Bush, and sometimes the U.S. military ("General Betray Us"). Cindy Sheehan, the woman whose soldier son was killed in Iraq, became a heroine when she led protests at Bush's Texas ranch.

That was then. Now, even though the United States still has roughly 130,000 troops in Iraq, and is quickly escalating the war in Afghanistan -- 68,000 troops there by the end of this year, and possibly more in 2010 -- anti-war voices on the Left have fallen silent.

It would normally be amazing that people claimed to be so opposed to war on principle one year would fall so amazingly silent now that their guy is in the White House, but after following politics for as long as I have I simply can not say I am amazed at all....

Written by LL.

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