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Clinton Carries Economic Doers; Trump Appeals to GDP Slackers, Red-State Moochers

Last week an eager commenter submitted this Washington Post article to support the contention that Donald Trump won the Presidency on economics and change.

First, look at the regular map, which shows Hillary Clinton winning 493 counties and Trump winning 2,650:

2016 Presidential vote by county: blue for Clinton, red for Trump.
2016 Presidential vote by county: blue for Clinton, red for Trump.

By landmass alone, America looks very red.

WaPo then presents a Brookings Institution remapping of the election results based on economic output. Represent each county with a rectangle proportional to that county’s real GDP in 2015, and we get a map showing America’s doers are bluer:

2016 Presidential vote by 2015 real county GDP: blue for Clinton, red for Trump. Source: Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program.
2016 Presidential vote by 2015 real county GDP: blue for Clinton, red for Trump. Source: Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program.

The 16% of American counties that voted for Clinton generated 64% of American economic activity in 2015. Trump’s third of the map includes far more tiny boxes; I can slide 49 counties over from Clinton’s side and completely cover all 2,650 of Trump’s counties.

I wrote on first viewing that this split between high-output and low-output counties appears to align with the split between new-economy counties and old-economy counties. Donald Trump doesn’t even understand that divide; his business is wheeling-dealing for land and buildings, not providing goods or services. He doesn’t even know what “the cyber” is, let alone how it has fundamentally reshaped economic activity. He doesn’t grasp the global economy; he wants to throttle it and have us retreat back into some fantasy shell of isolationism that will tank the entire U.S. economy and leave other nations free to trade and innovate and grow, leaving us to become the next Portugal. Trump isn’t promising anything to put his lower-GDP counties in a better situation; he’s just promising to drag the bigger-GDP counties down.

Sharing my concern, the Brookings Institution’s Mark Muro and Sifan Liu write that a Presidential focus on boosting the GDP of those low-output counties is fine, if the Administration can look forward and accept change:

Given the election map we revealed, the Trump administration will likely feel pressure to respond most to the desires and frustrations of the nation’s struggling hinterland, and discount the priorities and needs of the nation’s high-output economic base.

On one hand, more attention to the economic and health challenges of rural and small-city Rustbelt America could be welcome, especially if it focuses on the right things: realism about current economic trends, adjustment to change, improving rural education and skills training, and enhancing linkages to nearby metropolitan centers. However, Trump’s promises to “bring back” the coal economy and “bring back” millions of manufacturing jobs (that now don’t exist thanks to automation) don’t speak wisely to real-world trends in low-output America. They look backwards and speak instead to local frustrations [Mark Muro and Sifan Liu, “Another Clinton-Trump Divide: High-Output America vs Low-Output America,” Brookings Institution, 2016.11.29].

Muro and Liu worry that focusing on economic development in lagging rural areas could leave high-output urban areas on their own in sustaining and building the education, research, and infrastructure that makes them successful. I’ve advocated a similar focus in South Dakota economic development: let our big, rich towns take care of themselves while focusing government intervention in places where the free market isn’t meeting economic needs, like the reservations.

But in a way, we already do that. Last March, WalletHub measured state dependency on the federal government, based on federal funding as a percentage of state revenue, the ratio of federal funding to IRS collections in each state, and the share of federal jobs in each state.

State dependency on federal government, John S. Kiernan, WalletHub, 2016.03.29
State dependency on federal government, John S. Kiernan, WalletHub, 2016.03.29

Of the ten states most dependent on federal funding and jobs, only New Mexico went for Clinton, by a margin of eight percentage points. The other nine most Uncle Sam-dependent states all went for Trump by double digits (19 points in Missouri to 42 points in West Virginia). Of the ten states least dependent on federal funding and jobs, nine went for Clinton (though it was close in New Hampshire, Minnesota, and Nevada). Only one of those more self-sufficient states, Kansas, went for Trump, by 21 points.

The correlation is clear: Donald Trump won the red-state-moocher vote, while Hillary Clinton won the blue-state-doer vote.

Real Republicans and Libertarians could read these maps and conclude is not that we need to understand the emotions and fears of the Trump voters but that we need to get them off their couches and off the dole and get them contributing to the new economy instead of dreaming that the Trumpist government will give them the things they used to work for.

Related Reading: Loren Collingwood of the Washington Post tests county data and finds a distinct correlation between Trump votes and loss of manufacturing jobs from 2000 to 2014. However, Collingwood finds a slightly stronger correlation between Trump’s vote share and change in Hispanic population over the same period:

I also found evidence consistent with the “racial threat” hypothesis. As shown by the orange dotted line in the graph, Trump’s vote was higher in counties where the number of Latinos has increased significantly since 2000. This suggests that some voters may have supported Trump as a way of expressing white identity in an increasingly diverse nation [Loren Collingwood, “The County-by-County Data on Trump Voters Shows Why He Won,” Washington Post, 2016.11.19].

Collingwood finds even stronger negative predictors of Trump turnout in percentage of blacks, percentage of Hispanics, and, the strongest, percentage of residents with college degrees.

Trump may have played to economic anxiety, but he played more to uneducated white fright.


  1. Rorschach 2016-12-01 08:16

    “The correlation is clear: Donald Trump won the red-state-moocher vote, while Hillary Clinton won the blue-state-doer vote.

    Real Republicans and Libertarians could read these maps and conclude is not that we need to understand the emotions and fears of the Trump voters but that we need to get them off their couches and off the dole and get them contributing to the new economy instead of dreaming that the Trumpist government will give them the things they used to work for.”

    This didn’t used to be the Democratic message to the working class, the union members. No wonder they are leaving the Democratic Party if it is now only for the young and college educated know-it-alls. “It’s the economy, stupid!” worked for Bill Clinton, and it worked for Donald Trump. He may not be the answer, but he sure did recognize a problem. And I don’t believe that the hard-working folks in Indiana, or Michigan, or Wisconsin who have devoted their lives to manufacturing American products and now find themselves out of work ought to be told to get up off their couches and off the dole. Some of those hard-working folks in Wisconsin who have struggled since having their manufacturing jobs sent to Chine are my relatives. They could be any of our relatives. Think about that when you get on your Trek bike or get into your Mexican-built Silverado.

  2. Rorschach 2016-12-01 08:25

    Cory is ready to write off and cut ties with the people who built American industry. Give them up to the Republican Party. Apparently the Democratic Party agrees. Hillary was pretty cozy with management on Wall Street. Re-electing wealthy 76 year old San Francisco liberal Nancy Pelosi as minority leader and keeping younger people with new ideas out of leadership is exactly what the Republicans want us to do. They are publicly celebrating right now.

  3. PNR 2016-12-01 08:34

    Another way of looking at that statistic is: Clinton carried the areas that benefited from the Obama economy, while Trump carried the areas that were hurt by the Obama economy.

    In which case it is a thoroughly unremarkable statistic and not at all indicative of who the doers or the moochers are.

  4. Donald Pay 2016-12-01 08:42

    I’m for giving the rural areas a stiff dose of the Republicanism they vote for. No government-funded soup for you. Get by on your own.

    My advice for red rural areas: get a goddam job that pays, not something that gets you by, while you get government subsidies paid for with my taxes. Don’t expect the taxes I pay should buy you roads. If you want your GMO-laced “commodities” (what we used to call food before Monsanto got involved) to get to market, pay for them yourselves. Sorry, I’m tired of paying for your Interstates and overbuilt infrastructure, too. Shut them all down, and then see what modern Republicanism gets you. And why the hell do we have a military base protecting weeds out in West River. Shut it down, or pay for it yourself.

    When it comes to modern things like, oh, electricity, Republicans fought efforts to bring that out to rural areas. If it wasn’t for Democrats, and the urban centers who paid the cost, you would be walking around in the dark after sunset.

    But, yeah, let’s go back to those days when America was great, and you got to stumble around after dark. And, if we ever can bring today’s modernity (broadband) to the rural areas, it will be paid for by the urban areas. And who doesn’t want that to happen? Why Republicans, of course. See, they harvest their political contributions from the wealthy in urban areas, and they could really a damn about you, except when they can fool you into voting for them.

    I make an exception for areas rural areas that vote Democratic. These folks deserve all the help they can get. They, after all, live in states that, for the most part, have never paid their way. Not only that, they steal children from one race to give to another race to harvest more federal dollars. The leaders in these states are kidnappers, shirkers, dead-beats, and corrupt. And the people know it. And they put up with it, and vote for it. And when they actually vote to end some corruption, these kidnappers, shirkers, deadbeats and crooks, file suit to stop the law the people voted for. These are the same folks who refuse to tax the wealthy in their states to pay for the basic needs of their poorer citizens. They make sure they funnel more and more money to the wealthy folks, while the federal taxpayers in other states subsidize their greed.

    Yeah, no more soup for the corrupt.

  5. mike from iowa 2016-12-01 08:50

    PNR-OT Have you got a single piece of evidence to back your claims that you think HRC is a criminal? Every wingnut in America is positive she is crooked and yet, 30 plus years of intensive witch hunts have failed to indict or convict this heinous person of a single crime. How do you backers of war criminals Bush and Raygun explain that?

  6. Porter Lansing 2016-12-01 09:16

    … “improving rural education and skills training” ? “It is now only for the young and college educated know-it-alls.” Rorshack, you self-consumed slacker. Are we supposed to feel sorry and bend over backwards for your ” hard-working folks in Indiana, or Michigan, or Wisconsin who have devoted their lives to manufacturing American products and now find themselves out of work” for choosing beer and pain pills instead of night school to learn to write computer code or another job with a future? Things change. Jobs moved to cheaper labor areas and you who believe Trump can bring them back need to follow the advice you’ve dished to the poor for decades. “Quit whining and do something to improve yourselves.” Trump Don’t Care!! * This is where you call me elitist and tell me that’s why Dem’s lost the election. Not babying you who won’t help yourselves isn’t why Dems lost. Hillary was unlikeable to most of the voters. That’s it, plain and simple. Go back to school or S.T.F.U.

  7. jerry 2016-12-01 09:23

    Trump promised these counties jobs. That is all they want, an economy that looks at them without seeing their hand out. Trump said he would renegotiate the NAFTA that Bill Clinton put into place (never mind that it was driven by Republican congress critters, he signed the damned thing), and get a better deal. Clinton said little, because hubby and all. Trump said he was going to do something about coal, Clinton told them to look at her website, those folks in Appalachia do not have computers because they have been pawned to survive. Clinton was to busy to talk to these so called moochers, because to her, there was no profit in it. Clinton was right in how she would approach it, but that all depended on government action. Trump just said he would do it, period. Trump understood that people were pissed off at the economy, even as it has slowly risen, it did not rise fast enough for those folks. When you move to a place where there are jobs that pay minimum wages, you have to leave the home you and your kinfolk have been in for decades. How are you going to save a couple of thousand dollars to pay for that move while waiting for your first income? Trump said he would bring jobs. Clinton said she would put miners and their companies out of business

    So there ya go, Wilbur Ross says he will make the renegotiation of NAFTA a top priority. They say they will kill the TPP and they should consider to do just that. They should renegotiate both to see of a better deal or a new deal altogether. Clinton and her advisers did not understand marketing and would not listen to reports that were coming in from across the “moocher territory” that she was getting her arse kicked. She carried the urban area, “educated voter”, but failed miserably on those that feel they are forgotten. Clinton’s followers even got to the point that they embraced the fracking, she always supported, the Keystone XL as well. This should be a lesson in following your platform in politics or why even bother to have one. The wrong horse was in the race, but that is that, so now we must do what we can to fight the good fight of not allowing our basic achievements to get undone.

  8. Darin Larson 2016-12-01 09:25

    PNR–in order to blame the Obama economy for the lagging red areas wouldn’t you have to compare the change in areas since Obama took office in 2009? Just because some areas are less prosperous in 2015 doesn’t mean that Obama’s economy made them that way. It is most likely that these areas lagged in prosperity a long time before Obama entered the White House.

    I think Cory’s article here is informative to combat the Republican narrative that all Democrats are lazy welfare enablers, while Republicans are all hard working business builders. The map with all the red areas gives the impression that the country is really a Republican dominated country with just a few Democratic cities holding back the red tide. Showing the economic output of the blue areas is a powerful visual.

    With that said, Ror is correct that Cory’s language goes over the top. “GDP slackers” is an indictment of folks who are mostly a victim of circumstance. They are in areas of the country where the “old economy” is prevalent and will probably always will be. We need to reach out to these folks as Ror suggests because the Democratic party is the party of the middle class and for those without a place in the new world economy.

    Trump has hijacked this message, but his policies will soon reveal that he is a Trojan Horse. He was supposed to be a gift to the forgotten middle class, but his appointments of billionaires and Wall Street insiders along with his support for tearing down middle class institutions like Medicare and Social Security along with public education will accelerate the demise of the middle class.

    I heard a comparison the other day that I had been thinking of for a while: Trump may become the 21st century’s Hoover. Bush couldn’t quite get us into a depression, but given Trump’s recklessness and trust of his gut over reason, knowledge and intelligence, coupled with his thin skin, and we have a recipe for economic calamity.

    We need to work to try to avoid the coming Trump calamity by hammering on the issues important to the middle class. That is what will get Democrats back in the game. Hopefully we can do that before it’s game over for the country.

  9. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-12-01 09:30

    Wrong, Ror: I’m ready to call the election results what they are: a manifestation of uneducated white resentment and inability to accept the changes wrought by the new economy.

    David Roberts writes that the whole argument that Democrats’ purported obsession with “identity politics” and failure to connect with the working class “writes huge swaths of the working class out of the picture”:

    Members of today’s working class are just as likely to be urban minorities in service jobs — who vote Democrat, despite being, by most objective measures, worse off than the WWC [white working class].

    So Trump did not appeal to “the working class.” Even among the white working class, he only really dominated in the South. His appeal was to low-education whites, not to any particular economic class. [David Roberts, “Everything Mattered: Lessons from 2016’s Bizarre Presidential Election,” Vox, 2016.11.30].

    I’m not writing anyone off. But I will say that picking a President because you’re white and straight and feel like Democrats spend too much time talking about equal liberty, justice, and opportunity is poor reasoning that needs to change… and electing a narcissistic billionaire to defend working-class interests is rooted in nothing but fantasy.

  10. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-12-01 09:36

    Roberts’s next lines:

    If you acknowledge urban minorities as part of the working class, you have to acknowledge that they face unique barriers to prosperity. Being harassed and shot by police is not some boutique issue — it’s a huge drag on workforce participation among minorities. For a transgender employee, being able to use the restroom in peace is very much an economic issue. For a Latino immigrant, the threat of deportation is an economic issue. For gay and lesbian voters, the ability to marry and have children is an economic issue.

    These are economic issues facing the working class. They are about giving every American full and equal participation in American cultural and economic life.

    When we Democrats fight for social justice, we are fighting for economic justice… for everyone. The places that voted for Clinton have figured out that urban diversity and inclusiveness coincide with GDP growth. They can draw all sorts of talent. Trumpist lands that want to put up “Whites/Straights/Christians Only” signs will suffer a net loss of talent up for which no Trumpist corporate welfare à la Carrier will make.

  11. Porter Lansing 2016-12-01 09:37

    Trump didn’t save jobs at Carrier. He coerced Indiana to give Carrier money not to leave. While Carrier is biding it’s time, waiting for Trump to bleed out, they’ll continue planning their move to Mexico and spending Indiana tax money on the planned move.

  12. Darin Larson 2016-12-01 09:52

    Not only that Porter, Trump is going to reduce the corporate tax rate from 35% to 15%. That will save Carrier the $65 million that it planned on saving in labor costs by moving to Mexico.

    A lot of us could agree that 35% was too high to compete in the world economy especially with large corporate profits subject to double taxation. But why would we move it all the way down to 15%? That is a huge amount of tax revenue to give up. That means the rest of us are going to have to take on more of the tax burden.

    A corporate rate of 25% would have been a good compromise. Couple it with a tax credit and lower marginal rates for the working poor and middle class and you would have a tax proposal that is good for business, good for the economy, and good for the middle class.

  13. jerry 2016-12-01 09:52

    Porter, this Carrier deal will not cost Indiana, it will cost South Dakota and the other 49 states including Indiana, much. It is clear that military spending is so full of bloat and graft that you can switch millions to shore up something like this and just add the cost to the taxpayer. Deficit spending, that was so yesterday.

    I know one thing though, those workers will have a great Christmas season as a gift from us all. Trump has won and no matter what is thought, he will use that over and over until it grows as stale as any other infomercial.

  14. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-12-01 09:54

    PNR substitutes “Obama economy” for “the modern economy, the way things work now.” Trump offers an economy that used to be but isn’t now and isn’t coming back—in other words, “the nostalgia economy,” or, more aptly, “the fantasy that isn’t going to happen.”

    Eastern Kentucky lost more coal jobs under Bush II than under Obama. Coal country is suffering as surely as any other region that relies on economic monoculture and then sees the market shift away from its one big product.

    Don’t blame Marxist Obama; blame those capitalist jerks who developed natural gas:

    But environmentalists aren’t coal’s biggest enemy. Natural gas is. Coal production’s decline started well before Obama released his Clean Power Plan, designed to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions. Environmental Protection Agency regulations curbing mercury and other toxic emissions didn’t kick in until this past June. It was under the old rules that coal hit the skids. According to a recent study from Case Western Reserve University, as coal use plummeted between 2008 and 2015, shale gas production increased by a factor of more than 10, while its price dropped in half. The drop in demand for coal, from overseas customers as well as domestic ones, was devastating. And the price and technological advantages enjoyed by natural gas are only accelerating. “If you’re a power plant operator and you see gas supply is continuing to increase and natural gas can do the job cheaper — by a lot — the decision to switch from coal is pretty easy,” says Walter Culver, who co-authored the study. “As we look toward the future, we see no natural mechanisms that will permit coal to recover” [Mike Maciag, “In Life After Coal, Appalachia Attempts to Reinvent Itself,” Governing, December 2016].

    Life after coal—i.e., the economy is changing. Your President, your Congress, your Governor, and your Legislature won’t stop that change. They can only offer intelligent, practical policies that will help your community adapt to that change… or they can feed you hogwash the way Donald Trump does.

  15. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-12-01 09:59

    A lot of those working-class people who built American industry are in those GDP-fat blue counties. A lot of those working-class people who live in Trump’s GDP-thin red counties are seeing their working-class kids up and move to those GDP-fat blue counties. The working class is everywhere… so let’s not write off the working class that backed Hillary in those blue counties.

    Besides, the Democratic nominee offered a much more solid plan for the working class than the GOP’s nominee did:

    She wanted to raise the minimum wage, offer paid family and medical leave, create universal pre-K and subsidized day care, expand Social Security, accelerate state Medicaid expansion, offer tuition-free college, and create an infrastructure bank, all paid for by raising taxes on the wealthy. All those things would help working-class Americans, including the white ones. She even had a $30 billion plan specifically targeted at hard-hit Appalachian communities [Roberts, 2016.11.30]

    If we’re going to talk policy, Democrats win. But if we have to pander to uneducated white resentment, then we’re toast.

  16. jerry 2016-12-01 10:08

    Of course she did, she wanted a lot of things, but she did not get to convey those messages to where it was needed the most. Like right now, Democrats in Washington and in South Dakota think that they can just simply say the Republicans will wait to undo Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Hey, that train has left the station. Who do you think is gonna get blamed for the fallout? In South Dakota, who is in the wings for the governor to be able to make the case for saving Medicaid and why? In the meantime, Republicans can just sit back and watch the clock until it is to late to do much or anything. You cannot have a message when you are to busy looking down calling voters deplorable. When you are married or have a significant other, sometimes you may get called that, so we all fit the category. How will the next governor protect Medicaid?

  17. PNR 2016-12-01 10:19

    Darin & Cory – I didn’t say the Obama economy CAUSED the lag in the middle. I said the middle did not benefit from the Obama economy. That’s all.

    I didn’t say I think they will benefit from a Trump economy, either.

    Cory is trying to score some emotional points by calling the beneficiaries “doers” and the non-beneficiaries “slackers” – throwing language at the GOP he feels they have unfairly used to their benefit. While understandable, if the object is to persuade, it is not helpful. It is alienating language, not building language and he knows it. I don’t think his object is to persuade, though, and that’s fine.

    To a certain extent, Cory is right in that this is the effect of a “modern” economy – an economy that continues the trend of increasing concentration in urban areas that began way back in the antebellum years of the industrial revolution. In the US, those urban areas are largely on the coasts.

    Trump is not my favorite demagogue, but he is hitting emotional chords with those who have been left out by the coastal elites. It’s not his fault the Democrat party abandoned working class voters in the old union strongholds of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania in favor of big-money interests on the coasts, but he took advantage of it. Whether he will actually benefit those voters is a very different question. Even so, I don’t think it’s uneducated white resentment. I think it’s just plain old resentment. They see a way of life they love continuing to erode and here comes a man promising to protect it. I’ve always thought Trump was a liar and a shill, so I think they will ultimately be disappointed by Trump, but it’s not unreasonable for them to conclude that, “since all these other people are promising me more of what I don’t like, maybe I’ll try this guy who is promising me what I do like.”

    Mike in Iowa – stick to the point. If you want to have a discussion of Hillary’s alleged crimes, we can do that, but that’s not what this thread or blog post is about.

  18. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-12-01 10:28

    Donald Pay mentions taxes: hmm… South Dakota may justify low wages by promising low taxes, but that still leaves workers just “getting by” instead of contributing more to the economy and chasing the trends of the new economy to improve their lot.

    Emotional points, PNR? I don’t think so. Clinton’s 16% of the counties did 64% of the work in our economy. If we believe in personal responsibility, we don’t dismiss the economic success of those counties as luck or government dependence fostered by Democrats to solidify their power (the WalletHub federal-dependency info seems to solidly disprove the latter). That GDP had to come from doers, and those doers tended to vote for Clinton. That’s not meant to be alienating; that’s just a fact made evident by the data.

    Again, I’m not trying to alienate anybody. I want everyone involved in democracy and the new economy. But a lot of those voters in the GDP-underperforming Trump counties need to stop alienating themselves from reality.

  19. W R Old Guy 2016-12-01 10:28

    Let us not forget that automation has led to the loss of manufacturing jobs along with reducing the number of workers needed in some service industries.

    This has not happened overnight. I was on a pre-built conference in 1996 for a special service vehicle. We toured the manufacturer’s plant in Wisconsin. We saw that work performed by craftsmen was being done by computer controlled automated machines. A plasma cutting table would take a 4′ X 8′ metal panel and cut all the required holes and pieces with minimal waste. There were automated drill presses that could drill all the holes in a sheet including changing bits without human intervention. These machines required an operator that could “load” the proper template into the computer.

    Today manufacturers use robots for a number of tasks. The automotive industry does most of the body welds with robots. Robots are being used in warehouses to rack and retrieve products.

    It becomes difficult for the worker who has been replaced by automation to retrain into tech support jobs. Older workers within a few years of retirement may not have a working knowledge of tech (see having 5 yr old grandson show you how to use a smart phone).

    Our fast food industry is moving toward kiosks for ordering and payment. You can order and pay using your smart phone at some places. They are working to develop automated kitchens that can prepare your order and deliver it to the counter without human intervention.

    I have faith that we will manage to reinvent ourselves as a nation. Progress historically produces upheavals in the workforce. The railroads went from having brakemen riding on the cars to manually apply the brakes on each car until Westinghouse invented the air brake. Today there are no brakeman positions on a train as the engineer controls the brakes. The caboose went away as the only requirement for a crew on today’s trains is for two people in the cab of the lead locomotive, normally an engineer and a conductor. The railroads would like to reduce the requirement to just the engineer as automated systems have reduced the workload.

  20. Dicta 2016-12-01 10:35

    “Darin & Cory – I didn’t say the Obama economy CAUSED the lag in the middle. I said the middle did not benefit from the Obama economy. That’s all.”

    Which isn’t really true. People talk about the shrinking middle class, but the middle class shrinking isn’t bad all by itself. What matters is where those departing the middle class are heading: upper or lower income brackets. In at least one sense, the shift represents economic progress: A Pew Research study showed that while the share of U.S. adults living in both upper- and lower-income households rose alongside the declining share in the middle from 1971 to 2015, the share in the upper-income tier grew more. More people got wealthier.

  21. mike from iowa 2016-12-01 10:48

    Which political party saved the auto industry? Which Socialist Potus was responsible for that job saving plan?

    Saying Dems abandoned workers is flat out bs and a flagrant lie on top of it.

  22. David Newquist 2016-12-01 10:54

    A missing factor in these discussions, as well as in an election campaign dominated by puerile name-calling, insult, and abuse, is the actual history that has produced the distribution pattern of economic resources. Those manufacturing jobs were addressed by Reagan in 1983: “Thanks to the Task Force, private sector initiatives are now underway in all 50 States of the Union, and thousands of working people have been helped in making the shift from dead-end jobs and low-demand skills to the growth areas of high technology and the service economy.” But this decline in industrial jobs has been attributed to the “Obama economy.”

    And there is no mention that Obama’s recovery efforts were blocked and frustrated at every step by McConnell and cohorts who were dedicated to making sure Obama was a one-term president, the people be damned. Remember all the disparaging outcry about “Obama Motors”?

    There is a well-documented and provable matter of cause-and-effect in what has created the economic inequality that seems to be a driving factor in desperate people seeing Trump as a potential savior. In all the turmoil raised by the term “identity politics,” which we used to call civil rights, the shilling of Trump and the GOP successfully evaded taking responsibility for an economic circumstance for which the GOP deserves full credit.

  23. mike from iowa 2016-12-01 10:54

    Mike in Iowa – stick to the point. If you want to have a discussion of Hillary’s alleged crimes, we can do that, but that’s not what this thread or blog post is about.

    What a cop out.

  24. Leo 2016-12-01 10:55

    Very provocative post Cory. Initial reaction seems like you are pulling a Romney with all the attendant shame and blame of the 47% comment, but I am going to let that go for now as I thought you were interested in attracting voters to the Democrat Party in South Dakota and not alienating them. We can’t all move to Silicon Valley, especially because they don’t have any of those old things like water and massive ranch and agricultural lands. Your post creates a lot of questions to research like: Why is South Dakota so dependent on federal funding? At this first reading, I can only begin to hypothesize how the statistics are judged and evaluated because I am not an economist. Is it because of all the federal subsidies to agriculture, and the roads needed to sustain it? Is it because of Ellsworth Air Force Base (Our national budget is mostly military for foreign wars, and I think South Dakota has a high percentage of veterans who have served)? Is it because we have no state income tax? Is it because too big to fail banks like Citigroup get federal subsidies as well? I also wonder how wealth inequality plays into this. It would be interesting to see a wealth inequality by state chart. Off to do some research!

  25. mike from iowa 2016-12-01 10:58

    The Carrier deal was worked out by Pence as Guv. It involved nearly 2500 jobs and appears to keep only 1100. The rest get a vacation in sunny old Mexico.

  26. Darin Larson 2016-12-01 11:13

    PNR first said “Clinton carried the areas that benefited from the Obama economy, while Trump carried the areas that were hurt by the Obama economy.”

    Then PNR said “I didn’t say the Obama economy CAUSED the lag in the middle. I said the middle did not benefit from the Obama economy. That’s all.”

    PNR–When you said that certain “areas that were hurt by the Obama economy” that sure seemed to indicate you were assigning blame to the Obama economy. However, the point that I tried to make that you are missing is that Cory’s map was a snapshot in time of GDP in 2015. It does not show improvement or deterioration in GDP during Obama’s tenure. For all we know, the red areas could have improved their GDP under Obama. To properly judge Obama’s economy, you need to analyze the change in GDP which is not shown by Cory’s information.

  27. Porter Lansing 2016-12-01 11:25

    Old Guy … You are right on about automation. We were told about the uncertainty in manufacturing 50 years ago when graduating High School. We were also told not to expect a one job career at any company. Some of us listened and lived our lives with continued education and some of us went to work at places with unstable job futures. You note, “It becomes difficult for the worker who has been replaced by automation to retrain into tech support jobs. Older workers within a few years of retirement may not have a working knowledge of tech (see having 5 yr old grandson show you how to use a smart phone).” Just because it’s hard that means you give up? I learned tech while over 50 and I’m no genius and anyone that wants to, can also. It’s no harder than mechanics. High tech wasn’t invented so it was so hard that the common person couldn’t understand it. It appears it’s just easier to sit on a bar stool and complain that your job went to China instead of going to night school and staying relevant in the work force. It ain’t our problem that workers have given up.

  28. Porter Lansing 2016-12-01 11:27

    On the Carrier coercion: The back story is that the parent company of Carrier does 25% of their business with the Defense Department and was told that crossing The Trump would result in non-renewal of their contracts. That’s coercion not deal making. Putin would be proud. USA should not be.

  29. Don Coyote 2016-12-01 12:41

    The classic definition of GDP “includes all private and public consumption, government outlays, investments and exports minus imports that occur within a defined territory.” Given that, why wouldn’t these heavily metropolitan blue counties have a greater GDP than the less populous rural red counties? After all there is no conceivable way that 10,000 people will produce/consume more goods than say 1,000,000 people can. Also consider that GDP includes government spending in the way of more highways and streets being built, more public schools, more government jobs, etc. so of course GDP’s will be boosted by the higher levels of government spending (Fed, state and local). The Brookings Institute’s premise is turned into a joke by it’s own logical fallacies. Good job boys.

  30. jerry 2016-12-01 12:45

    Okay then, as we go into 2017, what about the overtime pay that Obama enacted? That increased the take home pay of many of those workers that may now see gone, how will they react? From shoe making, to robotic surgery, to software to do para legal work, it is a brave new world. So what are we gonna be doing? Maybe the Civil Conservation Camps would be a way of employment for the masses. Lets get out there and build something with our shovels and picks. Can you imagine working side by side with an under qualified surgeon or great legal mind that were also eliminated by robots, so you could all work on draining a swamp? The robots get the cushy jobs while the rest do the digging. Farmers, you too are being replaced by tractors that are run by software. Soon the coffee shops on main street will be serving doughnuts and coffee via Annie, the robotic queen.

  31. jerry 2016-12-01 12:55

    Corporate America has this message now, if we are not making dividends for investors, then we tell the workers we are going to move to ___________________. We then give ourselves a bonus and wait for the administration to make a deal with the Department of Defense to find the money to keep the jobs here. It is one helluva business plan that they just saw work very well. Who knew it could be so easy?

  32. W R Old Guy 2016-12-01 15:36

    Porter, I agree somewhat with your point about learning. The problem is that individuals may or may not have the desire to learn new technology. I am probably a decade older than you and while many of my associates and friends have adapted to using technology some have not for various reasons.

    I was a training NCO for many years during my military career. The military courses at that time required a reading comprehension at the 8th grade level. About 50% of my students had to enroll in remedial reading to advance in their field. We are still dealing with people who are 2nd and third generation workers in factories , mines, etc. Many went to work right out of high school and never went on to advanced education. The factory, mine, etc will always be there. It is all they have ever known and was a source of pride. I grew up in a rust belt state. My Grandfather, Stepfather and Mother all worked for the same factory. I would have probably been employed there but a place called Vietnam interfered. The factory site is now a concrete slab. They feel lost and technology is totally foreign. Some open a small business others find work where they can. They are doing the best they can but it’s hard to learn something new when you are worried about providing for your family.

  33. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-12-01 15:50

    Nice try at distracting abstraction, Don Coyote, but my additional data and analysis on government dependency indicates your rebuttal fails.

  34. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-12-01 15:55

    WR, you raise a good question about adaptation to technology. My dad is like the folks you describe. His manual intelligence is off the charts. If he can see it and touch it, he can do it: build a house, fix an old engine, wire and plumb. But if the job is on a computer, abstractions happening inside a black box, he doesn’t get into it. He’s not a knowledge worker.

    Machines may free mankind to do other work… but will there always be work left for manual workers? If we can program robots to do every manual task, can we turn all humans into knowledge workers? What are people for?

  35. Porter Lansing 2016-12-01 16:03

    As you say, Cory he doesn’t get into it. Not because he couldn’t but because he’s not into it. Which is fine. But, I’ll wager his and his wife’s and his kids home and food don’t rely on it. If they did, he’d no doubt force himself to get into it. Mine did and I did.
    No, there will NOT always be work for manual workers … unless they can out work and underbid the New Americans and my restaurant experience says you’ll not outwork New Americans.

  36. Leo 2016-12-01 16:19

    What are people for? It’s a secret, and only people know.

  37. Porter Lansing 2016-12-01 17:48

    MINI-SCREED ::: This is not directed at seniors and those near retirement whose job has been outsourced by big business (and we all know what the political party of big business is). This is for those jobless or underemployed 30-50 year olds. You’ve mocked and obstructed the poor, seniors and disabled mercilessly for claiming “entitlement” and now you want us to feel sorry for what’s happened to your job? You elected Don Trump because he’s going to bring your jobs home and you believe you deserve to have the job you’ve had for decades? How does it feel to be on the other end of the poop-stick for once?
    ~USA is about 75 years behind the rest of the world on this. People of your age, in Europe, had this happen to them after WWII. The European conservative class set up a socialism system that protects jobs. A system that protects their National Healthcare system. A system that stops runaway greed from owners and demands good pay for a good days work and a guarantee of stability.
    ~Are you jobless or underemployed, white, middle-class workers going continue to denounce the social system that’s your only hope? Probably. Out of stubbornness and spite, is the only explanation. Trump got what he wanted from you. It’s too late for your jobs to return but think about what you want for your kids. Your kids who’re not that good in school but highly skilled at mechanical things, with a solid work ethic and high morals. Promote European socialism, while you still can. Don’t believe that it leads to economic ruin or that the taxes are too high. It doesn’t and they aren’t. That’s as big a lie as when they told us Social Security would never be around after the year 1980. It’s here, it pays every month and expanding it is the only true improvement for the white, working class. European workers pay more in payroll taxes but have more spending money left at the end of the month than USA workers. Buying things as a group is far cheaper. Think COSTCO. The super wealthy are the enemy. They want the money you’ve paid into Social Security and Medicare your whole life to be at their disposal for selfish capital investment. They want nothing good for you. Being mad at the government instead of making the government work for your benefit is wrong. It’s not to late to improve. We’re all on your side.

  38. John 2016-12-01 22:37

    WR & Porter: spot on. Technology, aka automation is guesstimated as the reason for the “loss” of of up 85% of the manufacturing jobs.

    Trade policies may have, in cases, often amplified the transition.
    Bottom line the old jobs are not coming back any more than are jobs at the whale oil, stage coach, or buggy whip factories.
    Yes, the government should have, could have, – going back to at least Reagan and all since, had more aggressive job retraining and education programs. Yes, it’s also personal responsibility that people should have seen the writing on the wall, sought their own job training, education, and – like their forebearers – moved to where the jobs were. Too many of these folks act as if the government owes them a job in Buggtussle. This nation, and state, are full of ghost towns where the economic dreams went bust or otherwise changed and people moved on. Trump tapped on to the “hangers-on” – and they will soon be sorely disappointed, as are the 1,300 job-losing Carrier workers and the Indiana tax payers turning there heads and coughing up $7 million in tax breaks for corporate welfare.

  39. Robert McTaggart 2016-12-01 22:53

    All the computers and all the machines will still need energy, whether for home use or for industrial use. Producing more energy and supporting the intellectual and physical infrastructure for said energy production is one route to employing more people with higher wages.

  40. Wayne B. 2016-12-02 10:31


    I’d like you to re-examine your assumptions, prejudices, and the way you characterize states & counties.

    1) Examining states & counties by GDP and federal spending as a % of that GDP is one way to slice data, but lends itself to some ethical issues:

    1a) Chiefly the challenge comes from you calling certain states/counties “moochers”. You advocate for a progressive personal income tax and claim it’s only right for high earners to “pay their fair share.” Why then shouldn’t high GDP states contribute “their fair share” to the nation and help out the states which also are part of this nation? A rural state is no more a moocher than a person who has a net-negative income tax due to subsidies.

    1b) Using GDP devalues individuals as intrinsically worthwhile, and instead values their ability to generate “stuff.” By using GDP as the sole source of measure & comparison, you inherently devalue the people I hear you so often defend. When you take Gov. Daugaard to task for recommending people not go into philosophy or art, you defend the right of individuals to choose their life’s path, even if it might not lead to the fortunes of an MBA. Some – especially in rural settings – don’t even get the choice.

    By valuing only GDP, you give disproportionate value to the top quintile of earners in America.

    2) Rural America actually receives less per capita in federal funding than their urban counterparts. The only reason it’s halfway close is because rural Americans tend to be older & poorer. The gap is widening.

  41. o 2016-12-02 13:24

    The “new economy,” which includes the globalization of trade and workforces, dismantling of unions and union values, and the focus on investment/banking/finance as a driver of growth, transformed many of those new (productively) smaller red counties from their former incarnation as larger blue ones. People were hurt in that transformation and NEITHER party really addressed it – both exacerbated it. The change in this election was those former blue/productive regions sat this election out, they withdrew their support for the Democrats (they did not as much shift support to the GOP) who had in the past championed their economic cause, but now allow their demise.

    The erosion of the middle class mirrors the erosion of Democratic support. I dare even call it a cause-effect relationship.

  42. John 2016-12-03 10:46

    Wayne: wrong metric. Rural America receives MORE than it contributes. You imply that rural America should be even a bigger moocher – to ‘level’ the per capita receipts. Rural America is NOT self-sufficient; it survives on federal welfare provided by the Blue islands.
    40% of South Dakota’s budget comes from the federal government (Blue island taxpayers) – one of the highest rates in the US.

    Yet these rural voters continue voting against their interest – voting for politicians supporting “right to work” laws that bust unions, voting for repeal of the Affordable Care Act & cuts to Medicare, etc.

    How anyone in their right mind could vote for a guy living in New York who rides a gold elevator and sits on gold commode baffles common sense. Populism is bunk:

    This will not end well. That’s the historical record when the US and western nations had earlier bouts of the populism mental disease.

  43. Porter Lansing 2016-12-03 11:59

    Wayne … Bill Bishop from Daily Yonder’s argument is flawed and a classic false equivalence. To compare the amount of federal money sent to rural Republican states to federal money sent to Blue states has nothing to do with urban settings. Red Republican states have cities, too. Recalculate the chart and remove all the cities in red states from the urban category and a proper comparison will be possible. The argument has little to do with urban or rural. It is about Republican states like South Dakota that sit on a surplus of money but refuse to raise taxes to meet the levels we blue states send to Washington thus requiring more aid, which we blue states provide.

  44. Wayne B. 2016-12-03 14:44

    Porter, the data is based on counties and whether they’re coded as urban or rural at the federal level. This isn’t a Red State / Blue State comparison – it’s a rural county / urban county comparison. There’s no false equivalence issue.

    And that comparison is definitive: rural counties get fewer dollars per capita than urban counties do. The data comes from the USDA and is straight forward for analysis.

    So for all the praises of urban centers being loci of innovation, efficiency, and economies of scale, they still get more per person from the federal coffers than do their rural counterparts. Why is that? If, on the average, a county gets $700 – $1,000 more per person, it can do quite a lot of economic development, infrastructure maintenance, security, education, etc. Imagine what Oglala Lakota county could do with an extra $9.8 million (14,118 pop x $700).

    John, this is the absolutely right metric to be looking at. If everyone is part of this fine nation, and everyone should receive equal protection under its laws, why is it those of us in rural counties should receive less from the federal coffers than our urban counterparts?

    But John, since you seem to want to stick to state budgets and whether or not they’re takers or makers, are you willing to denounce the 45.3% of Americans who don’t pay income tax? They’re in the same boat, right?

  45. Darin Larson 2016-12-03 15:11

    Wayne B.–It appears that you are citing measurements of how much is spent per capita on rural and urban areas, but you are not considering the amount paid in to the feds by those same areas.

    I’m sure if you look it up, you will find that the amount paid in taxes per capita in urban areas will far outpace the amount paid in rural areas. This is where the notion of a subsidy arises. Relatively more wealthy urban areas are subsidizing less wealthy rural areas through taxation and government spending. Even though the per capita spending is greater in urban areas by a relatively small amount, the amount of tax revenue collected per capita in those urban areas will far outpace the per capita tax revenue collected in rural areas.

  46. Wayne B. 2016-12-03 17:28

    Darin, you may be right. I haven’t checked.

    The above article indicates rural Nebraskans pay more in taxes than do their urban counterparts. I don’t know how it washes out elsewhere.

    But here’s the thrust of what I’m getting at guys.

    You cannot simultaneously hold fast to the principle of a progressive income tax and wealth distribution and also call rural Americans “moochers” or use subsidy like a dirty word. Nor is it right to deny distributions to rural Americans in a more equitable manner – we’re poorer and older, and have fewer services available. Then it’s compounded by Uncle Sam throwing a disproportionately smaller amount at us than our urban counterparts, irrespective of whether our states as a whole are net contributors or takers of federal funds.

    This is true for rural Oregon. It’s true for upstate New York.

    Rural people get less. And it costs us more. More in trying to get to healthcare. More in trying to get to services. And I’m sick & tired of folks deriding people for where they live.

    Even granting that some states subsidize their budgets with federal funds, it’s not as though that money is wasted – it’s used to upkeep the interstate infrastructure that allows the “blue islands” to do business, and to educate the people who move to those blue islands (or stay put to make a go at things). And often it’s used to maintain national monuments, grasslands, forests, etc.

    So either get off the high horse or give up on the idea of taxing some people progressively more than others because they make more.

  47. John 2016-12-04 09:29

    But the “cost of living” is sooo much lower in rural states & counties – Wayne, just ask the office of economic development, etc., et al. “No state tax here for this, that, or the other-thing.” No Wayne, this is, in large-part self-imposed willful blindness, frugality-turned-to-near-poverty, in a part because folks refuse education / job-retraining, and to otherwise invest in better futures.

    The real Tea Party states are the Blue states: over taxed and under represented.

  48. jerry 2016-12-04 10:28

    Rural areas do make it possible for large urban areas to exist, that is for sure. That is not only true of South Dakota, it is also true of New Jersey as an example. Costs a lot to farm there but the land is better for it than here and does not need so much chemical applications. But, that is where the people are.

    Wayne B makes a point of healthcare and its lack here. This is so very true and was addressed by Obamacare. This was never really sold as part of healthcare and people here in South Dakota are clueless on what that means or meant. It actually means that trained healthcare professionals are given relief of their costs of education by coming to the state to work. By having something like Medicaid Expansion, it would lead to more doctors and more healthcare of all of the people, not just the poor, but all. The cost of living here is to die to soon.

  49. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-12-04 11:10

    I agree with Wayne that valuing people solely in terms of GDP does not value people. That gets back to my question—What are people for?—and the half-answer, “A lot more than just making money!” GDP does measure something, and when I use it, I’m trying to address issues in terms Republicans understand. I’m playing on Donald Trump’s turf, because he seems to value people only in terms of dollar signs… and maybe Nielsen Ratings… which to him are about building his brand and drawing more dollars.

  50. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-12-04 11:23

    I do not agree with Wayne’s response on per-capita federal spending. As Porter and Darin indicate, that per-capita figure is a rawer number that ignores the context of GDP, tax payments, and federal employment.

    On moocherism and progressive taxes: again, I tangle myself in my own snare, where I step away from my arguments against GOP principles and try to argue with Republicans in their own terms. My point is not that the federal government should withdraw all assistance to all states and counties or that federal assistance should be fee-for-service, going more to those high-GDP areas that can afford it. My specific point here is that the Trumpists who say they don’t like government appear to be greater beneficiaries of it than Clinton voters. Trumpists are voting to blow up the system that benefits them. I’m arguing to blow up the inconsistent mindset that blocks us Democrats from winning elections and protecting and improving those benefits with robust public institutions supported by progressive taxes.

  51. Darin Larson 2016-12-04 11:25

    Wayne B- I generally agree with you that it is not appropriate to value people in terms of GDP. But it was illustrative of a point. I hope you will then also agree that it is equally wrong to denigrate poor folks for being on welfare or public assistance like many Republicans tend to do.

  52. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-12-04 11:26

    In other words, I’m getting off my high horse for a moment, tying him to a safe hitching post, pointing out the sticky mud these other folks in which Trump voters are self-destructively tromping about, and then returning to my horse, wiping that mud off my boots, and saying, “Follow me to better policy and an America that’s already great!”

  53. Wayne B. 2016-12-04 18:25

    Darin Wrote:

    I generally agree with you that it is not appropriate to value people in terms of GDP. But it was illustrative of a point. I hope you will then also agree that it is equally wrong to denigrate poor folks for being on welfare or public assistance like many Republicans tend to do.

    I absolutely agree. I believe the vast majority of people on public assistance are not lazy, shiftless and irresponsible. I do believe there’s an economic disincentive to get away from public assistance, but that’s a fixable policy issue (take away the financial cliffs in assistance and we take away the disincentives to work).

    I contend the “raw” federal spending per capita in urban vs rural counties is something to which we shouldn’t turn a blind eye. It speaks volumes that we value rural lives less than we do urban lives.

  54. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-12-05 06:41

    …or it speaks a page or two to the notion that the cost of living is less in rural areas, or that there are public investments (e.g., mass transit) that make financial sense in urban areas but not in rural areas?

  55. Darin Larson 2016-12-05 07:00

    I agree Cory. The cost of living would make up much of that gap that Wayne B. cites.

  56. Wayne B. 2016-12-05 09:35

    I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree about this, gentlemen.

    Can I at least get an acknowledgement that the idea of “subsidy” is not a dirty word, just as the idea of public assistance for the needy (“welfare”) isn’t a heinous concept in and of itself?

    Perhaps I could even reach further and ask for acknowledgement that the individual circumstances of some states (especially western rural states with a high percentage of federal lands) shouldn’t be denigrated for having a higher-than-average reliance on federal funds to make their budgetary obligations whole.

  57. Porter Lansing 2016-12-05 09:47

    You’ll get no such acknowledgement from me. Every state has individual circumstances and the fact remains. My state sends in more money to Washington than it gets back and your state doesn’t but sits on a pile of surplus cash and laughs that you’re getting away with something, scorns Washington (no doubt because you owe them a debt) and won’t “acknowledge” these mentioned improprieties.

  58. Porter Lansing 2016-12-05 09:51

    PS … It’s not Western states it’s redneck southern states that don’t pay their share.
    As it turns out, it is red states that are overwhelmingly the Welfare Queen States. Yes, that’s right. Red States — the ones governed by folks who think government is too big and spending needs to be cut — are a net drain on the economy, taking in more federal spending than they pay out in federal taxes. They talk a good game, but stick Blue States with the bill.

  59. Porter Lansing 2016-12-05 10:42

    Thanks, Dana. In fact, I read a NYTimes op-ed this morning commenting on how state’s rights has now become the only weapon liberals have left. It’s starting with sanctuary cities vowing to disregard any Trump edicts to turn over New Americans to ICE. When federal funds are cut as punishment, the court battle will be about states rights. Same with legal marijuana. Politics really IS fluid.

  60. Wayne B. 2016-12-05 11:55

    OK… if we can’t focus on anything but states, let’s do it.

    Porter, don’t you live in Colorado?

    According to Pew, Colorado gets $1.19 back per $1.00 it sends in.

    South Dakota gets $1.47 back. But 21 states & the District of Columbia ($2.03) get more back than South Dakota does.

    The conservative bastion of Hawaii gets $4.25 back for every dollar it sends. The right wing haven of California gets $1.18 back. (okay, taking tongue out of cheek now)

    So only 11 states pay in more than they get back. 4.25 of those states even voted for Trump.

    You’re oversimplifying a narrative to fit the view you want to hold, rather than letting the data tell you the truth. For instance, only 3 of the top 10 “moochers” are in the South.

  61. Porter Lansing 2016-12-05 13:54

    We’ve come to this statistical impasse before. My data show CO as one of the ten states that pays in more than receives. South Dakota is number seven highest recipient. The argument isn’t worth rehashing, on my end. Last word is yours.
    States that give more to the federal government in taxes than they get in return. From 1 to 10, they are:
    New Jersey, Nevada, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Illinois, Delaware, California, New York, Colorado.

  62. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-12-06 10:01

    “Public assistance” is not a dirty word. We use government to do things that market forces, charity, and blind luck will not.

    Feeding hungry people, insuring sick people, making schools and roads and police and firetrucks available to all people—not dirty.

    Subsidizing Kristi Noem’s family’s inability to make a buck on their own: dirty.

    Subsidizing Carrier to send 1,300 jobs to Mexico: dirty.

    Voting for Donald Trump in rural America on the pretense of being rugged individualists and portraying as evil Marxists those of us who advocate the public assistance that benefits rural America to a greater degree than the taxes rural America pays: very dirty.

  63. Phillips 2017-04-27 07:37

    America is far better off than any other country. The absolute standard of the “Good Old Days” is meaningless in a world where the population has tripled since 1950.

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