Haiti and the U.S.- a long history of blunders

While Haiti isn’t on most American’s radar, until a disaster strikes, we’ve been screwing the country for the last hundred or so years.

In fact, our “help” has actually caused many of the conditions that made this earthquake even more deadly.

For a great synopsis of our history, read this piece from the St. Petersburg Times site- but especially pay attention to this part:

Nor was that the only time U.S. policy undercut gains made by U.S. aid.

Before 1950, Haiti produced most of its own food. But after the International Monetary Fund persuaded it to reduce import tariffs in the ’80s, U.S. rice poured into the country and put many rice farms out of business. Today, three-fourths of Haiti’s rice comes from the United States.

via Centuries of folly scar Haiti – St. Petersburg Times.

Greg pointed me to some other great articles- but, I’m going to let him sum them up in comments.

Here is our discussion on the issues- and how reactive solutions aren’t solving problems in third world nations.


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11 Responses

  1. Ice Bandit January 19, 2010 / 10:19 am
       The Haitians are in a constant state of forced anorexia, and according to Esrati and Hunter Morning Show, it is the fault of American companies. Of course, like so many theories originating from these shockmeisters, it is wrong, from the company that Dave mentioned (Nestle is headquartered in Switzerland) to the basic theory of agriculture imports. Fact is, using your theory, Dave and Greg, there should be gangs of machete wielding thugs roaming the area of Wayne and Wyoming. The US imports more agriculture than any country in the world ($1 billion from China alone) and yet, our agriculture has never been more productive (the US exports eight times more agriculture to Beijing than it brings in). Agriculture does not flourish in voodoo reinforced kleptocracies, which Haiti most assuredly is, nor do farmers prosper in areas that ignore property rights. If all 10,000 charitable agencies operating in Haiti left today, the dysfunctional Haitian culture would ensure mass starvation. Yeah, the US occupied Haiti several times in our shared history, but American troops still occupy Germany and Japan without the third world aftermath. But we all understand the inclination of leftists to want to blame the US for any international calamity. What the Haitians really need is a free market, but two centuries of a toxic culture may be impossible to undo……………..
  2. Ice Bandit January 19, 2010 / 12:39 pm
      It was still late in the disastrous Carter administration, but the Old Bandito had a smile on his face and a song in his heart. For he, in a miracle almost on par with the parting of the Red Sea, was able to go six months without being under the influence of the Demon Rum or John Barleycorn. Filled with an almost messianic fervor, the Old Bandito somehow got the idea that it was his duty to save all the drunken miscreants of Detroit. Let the history record the Old Bandito’s efforts as a failure, not only because of the sheer number of Motor City inebrianats (at the time, it was the urinating,  barfing and passing out on the sidewalk center of the universe) , but also because, by and large, drunks in Motown did not want to be saved. Not all dysfunction can be cured, and that goes for nations as well as people. Dominicans, who as Greg noted share the island with Haiti, have a hard-edged policy about their neighbor; they frankly don’t tolerate Haitians. As far as the basket case that is Africa, sub-saharian and otherwise, the Old Bandito’s guess is that babies on that continent who never come in contact with Nestle products fare far worse than those who do. The problem isn’t Nestle David, but the international left’s unending search for a corporate boogeyman. You’re probably right David, a free market would probably not turn Haitians into gentlemen farmers. But that is not the fault of markets, for they will only avail themselves to those with the freedom, the patience and the gumption to exploit them; traits Haitians seem to be historically lacking………..
  3. Ice Bandit January 19, 2010 / 1:19 pm
       Yep- free markets solve all problems- just like they have here. (David Esrati)

       Well, dear David, where did you get the idea that the US has a free market in any area from agriculture to the US toy industry whose demise you lamented last week. Remember a couple of years ago, when gasoline was around the $4 a gallon mark, that the geniuses in Washington decided that ethanol was going to be the next big thing? Farm subsidies for corn were implemented, and giant distilleries popped up all around the midwest to produce this wonderous elixir. Of course, as with just about every government plan, this turned into a bust of historic proportion. Gas prices fell, and the lack of corn for human consumption caused prices for all foodstuffs to skyrocket with the greatest impact felt in the third world. The Old Bandito sure is happy he wasn’t in Chiapas during the “tortilla riots” of last year. Meanwhile, these giant distilleries sit unused, some only partially completed. Don’t count on the media (other than bloggers) to chronicle this sorry episode, and don’t expect anyone in Washington to face a news camera and say “boy, we were wrong on this one.” And as for toys, recent government regs concerning testing for minute amounts of lead not only put the small toy producers out of business, but has caused such groups as Goodwill to get out of the used toy business. So from farm subsidies that incentivize corn that will never be eaten to the filling of landfills with teddy bears, the dark and deleterious hand of government never stops. Free markets, David? Certainly not here; we prosper in spite of government  rather than because of it……………

  4. Greg Hunter January 20, 2010 / 10:02 am
    Well Bandito at least you give a good go and as always you seem to denigrate the DC decisions much like D&G, but never offer any solutions.  My question to you is “What do you want Government to do?”
    I want Government to be a counterbalance outside forces that unduly cause the common AMERICAN harm, whether it be Corporate Propaganda or Enemies of America’s Freedom.
    For instance lets try this question.  If a person has a recurring sinus condition is it better to load them up on Claritan or tell them to use the Neti Pot first?  It has taken my 40 years of Sinus infections and Pill popping to come to the realization that a homeopathic method is much more effective.  Now do you think the makers of Claritan or Neti Pots would dominate in a Free Market Solution?  Take a look at Norway and its response to infections and you may get a clue that not all Free Market Solutions are the best ones, just the best marketed and well funded.
    I will try to offer some salient points that link the Haitian response as we compare the Food Dumping orchestrated by the Western Aid societies that is directly counter to the teach a man to fish argument.  Mexico bought into this dumping and in effect drove its own farmers out of business, as did Haiti.  But when that aid goes away, can the population support itself?  No.  Russia had enough pride and Nationalism to recognize the problem when they see it.

    This has no doubt unnerved American producers, who gained a foothold in the Russian market in the early 1990s, in part, their Russian critics say, by swamping Russian producers with cheap chicken. Since then, Russian officials have angered American producers and officials with a raft of restrictions and quotas meant to help domestic producers.

    Because we have monoculture and lazy farmers that continue to get subsidies to grow the same crop we got a STUPID response from the government as gas prices elevated – Ethanol, which is unsustainable at any price as the inputs of energy and water to create it should only be done on a local level aka MOONSHINE.

    Cheap Energy is what drives all these market solutions and I expect Government to provide education on what the decline in Cheap Energy will do to the American and world economies.
    Because America subsidizes  the Agricultural industry – America can probably starve ( as you so eloquently point out by our trade surplus with China in that area)  as well as bomb the rest of the World into submission.  God Bless America!

  5. John Ise January 20, 2010 / 11:44 am
    I lived in Haiti from 1998 – 2000 and love the country dearly.  Here’s something I sent out a couple of days ago.

    Watching too much TV re. Haiti made me depressed and sick.  This op-ed on the other hand is just what the doctor ordered and offers some hope for Haiti.  Haiti is a nation of resistance and resilience.  Were this not the case, it would not exist. Despite what Pat Robertson and other misguided zealots may say, the Haitian people did not deserve this.  They will pick up the pieces and begin the long, long, long, hard, hard, hard task of rebuilding.  

    Haiti won’t be the same, but it will recover.
    Don’t Give Up on Haiti
    By Amy Wilentz
    January 15, 2010
    Almost since its inception, outsiders have proclaimed Haiti doomed. In the wake of its 1791 slave rebellion, which led, in 1804, to independence from France and the establishment of the world’s first black republic, observers were convinced the island nation would not survive. The sin of the triumphant Haitians was not only their blackness. Even worse, while many professed Christianity, the great majority followed traditional African practices, or voodoo.
    More recently, doomsayers have focused on Haiti’s corrupt leadership, on its environmental disasters and its failure to find a good fit with globalization. And yet, the country has limped on, defiantly resilient. With Tuesday’s devastating earthquake, Haiti’s inevitable demise is again being heralded, most egregiously by fundamentalist minister Pat Robertson, who declared the earthquake evidence that Haiti was under a curse because it had made “a deal with the devil” to get out from under French rule. Well, Robertson is an unvarnished speaker, let’s put it that way. But he is not the only one who thinks like this.
    As Paul Farmer, the doctor and international humanitarian, has written, even the media, which should know better, have helped “to perpetuate a series of peculiarly potent myths about Haiti and Haitians.” Robertson, in other words, is saying out loud what many have been thinking, without knowing why. I have at least seven e-mails in my in-box from well-meaning friends using the word “cursed” in the subject line or text.
    Not surprisingly, Haitians often feel this way too, and never more than right now. It’s a kind of brainwashing: They’ve been hearing they are cursed for so long that they believe it. Also, it’s hard to feel proud of your historical legacy when your family is buried under the rubble of a slum and your presidential palace, symbol of Haiti’s patrimoine, looks more like a deflated pan of muffins than a shining beacon to the nation and to the oppressed everywhere.
    One doesn’t have to think back too far, though, to a time when things were better. It’s no wonder Haitians often long for the days before globalization, when Haiti’s farmers did not have to compete with cheaper produce from abroad, when the countryside was more or less self-sufficient, when people were not starving. I’m not saying Haiti was a tropical paradise, but when I started going there in 1986, at least there was a local economy of sorts, and poverty hadn’t pushed peasants to cut down all their trees. There was dirt to farm and a vibrant culture. There was the coumbite, a get-together in which Haitians sang and helped each other till the earth, bring in the harvest, roof a house. You can still find this kind of life in some spots in Haiti.
    In recent years, however, extreme poverty in the countryside has driven huge swaths of the population into Port-au-Prince, looking for a job, a way out, a boat to Florida or the Bahamas, anything. Haiti has traditionally been highly centralized — it modeled itself on France, where there is the metropole (Paris) and les provinces (the rest of the country). In large measure, Port-au-Prince is Haiti, which is why the headlines refer to Haiti’s devastation, though large parts of the country seem not to have been much affected by the quake.
    Today, the capital is home to at least a sixth and probably more of the population. The city has spread out like an urban ectoplasm, over hillside and ravine, scattering concrete and asphalt wherever it expands. Country people who moved to town built slanting, uncontrolled favelas to accommodate the new arrivals, slums that now have crashed down to the bottom of the ravines.Haitians will have a lot to consider when they finally can gather themselves up from this awful catastrophe and think again about more abstract things than food, water, shelter and medicine.
    When your country is a shambles, it concentrates the mind. When the symbols of state — the National Palace, the justice ministry, the Parliament, the police headquarters — have been reduced to a nonsense pile of broken construction materials, you have to re-imagine your national aspirations. (The United States did this to a degree after 9/11, and think what might have happened if those planes had hit the White House too.) The United States as well as Brazil, Canada, Cuba, Venezuela, Taiwan, France and others can provide construction and medical material, as well as expert advisors, for building a new Haiti.
    We cannot know yet how many who would have participated in constructing that Haiti lie dead beneath what, only days ago, was Port-au-Prince. Every few hours I hear further dispiriting news about who has perished, about who is presumed dead. Friends who lived in apartments near the center of town have remained ominously silent.
    There are tens of thousands of victims of this earthquake. Still, it bears remembering that there are also many survivors. Help will come and is already on the way. People are still being pulled alive from the rubble, and Haiti itself will also emerge.. As a Haitian American friend said Wednesday on Twitter: “Don’t get your hopes down.”
    The tragedy is tremendous and the threats to life ongoing in a situation in which the ground is still trembling and disease likely. But the capacity of this people for survival and, indeed, for greatness in the worst of conditions has been demonstrated for more than two centuries. These are the descendants of people who overthrew an indecent, inhuman, overpowering slave system. Many of those still alive grew up under a vicious dynasty and rose up to oust it.
    It’s entirely likely, therefore, that Haitians once again will put together a national coumbite. With a huge humanitarian effort from their friends, they will rebuild the country — for the better. The will must be there for the world to come to Haiti’s aid and work with the millions of surviving Haitians to rebuild this valuable country.
    So many Haitians, including the president, have nowhere to sleep, but they will sleep and get up again tomorrow to face the troubles.
    Amy Wilentz is the author of, among other books, “The Rainy Season: Haiti Since Duvalier.”She teaches journalism at UC Irvine.

  6. Ice Bandit January 21, 2010 / 6:29 am
      My question to you (Ice Bandit) is “What do you want Government to do?” (Greg Hunter)

      Well, dear Greg, what the Old Bandito wants government to do can be summarized in two words; not much. But since a large and centralized and runaway government can do just about anything it wants (with the Obama administration as a template) perhaps a more appropriate question would be “what do you want government to be?” And El Bandito’s answer to that question is government should be minimized, minimalized and broke. In the area of drug enforcement alone, the government has dozens of overlapping agencies, each with police powers, with each agency pursuing a criminal investigation in an area that at best should be considered a public health issue. The bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms spends its’ days complicating three legal areas, with the latter being protected by a constitutional amendment. The department of Housing and Urban Devolopment (how’s this for a successful bureau?) is but another example of an expensive and freedom trampling boondoggle we can no longer afford…..

      “but (Ice Bandit) never offer any solutions…” (Greg Hunter)

      Au contraire, mon freire. El Bandito de Helios is the solution dude. And the solution is a smaller and less intrusive government that respects and protects the citizenry, and values freedom over control. The Founders were right to fear a large goverrmental behemoth, and authored and approved a constitution to limit said state. And we do not receive our rights and freedoms from a state; they are gifts from God upon which no government may impede nor infringe. What you are really saying, dear Greg, is “Ice Bandit offers no solutions that two brainwashed by government morning commentators find palatable…….

  7. Greg Hunter January 21, 2010 / 8:04 am
    Well Bandito I would make that deal!  Believe me I would take a sword to most of the agencies and bloated bureaucracies.   I guess I wanted to pare it down with some thought and consideration but I am at the point that it probably needs to burn to the ground.  It appears the elite from NYC and DC are pouring enough fuel on the pyre and we will see if it burns soon.  I only participate in the daily bitching to get it off my chest.  Much Love!
  8. Greg Hunter June 3, 2010 / 9:36 am

    As disgusting, sickening, depraved, immoral, and unconscionable as it may sound – there should have been no aid sent to Haiti instead it should have been a virus. Having stripped Haiti of 99% of its forest, the Haitians are now crossing the border into the Dominican Republic to cut down trees to create charcoal.
    Yes, the Haitians are victims of farm subsidies in the USA, but to a far greater extent they are victims of unfettered procreation and their own ignorance. Pretty soon everyone and their dogs will be feeling like victims of something. I think I’ve transitioned from doomer to despondent.

    Free market Christianity err insanity….

  9. James R Herman July 11, 2010 / 5:37 pm
    Ok, I’ll weigh in on Haiti as one symptom of overpopulation along with exclusionary zoning in this country. Could you be happy having just one child? Over population is a world wide problem. The Chinese are finally addressing over population in their country by enforcing a one child rule as a humane way to bring down their over population. The air is so foul and the overcrowding so miserable that all I can say is that it was about time. But why do we have to wait until it gets that bad. I’ve heard that 25,000 children die every day from disease, hunger and malnutrition. In other words, they die from over population. It’s not only China, look at India, look at Saudi Arabia, look at Haiti, look at Mexico. Heck, look at any urban area in the good old United States of America. They pulled a 42 year old woman who was pregnant out of the rubble in Haiti. I can only wonder how many children she already had. We need a world wide tube tying campaign for both men and women but especially for women since they are the ones who bear children.

    Global warming is a symptom of over population. Back in the mid 1950s when they first started measuring carbon dioxide gas in the atmosphere they found that it was already increasing. Back then the population was 2 billion. So clearly 2 billion was already too high. Now the population has risen to 6.5 billion. So carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen right along with the increase in population. If you haven’t already seen the movie, “An Inconvenient Truth” in which Al Gore gives his slide show on global warming, I encourage you to do so. My recommendation is that we have a world wide law that says to a woman: Have one and then you’re done. Tie her tubes right when she delivers. When the population gets back to a sustainable level (something below 2 billion and the carbon dioxide has come back down below 300 parts per million) then we can allow a woman to have only two children.  The slogan then changes to “OK have two and then you’re through.”
    I believe having the world population at a sustainable level is one of the prerequisites for world peace. If there is enough land, food, water and other resources for everyone to have a quality of life then that lessens any reasons for going to war. That would lessen the reasons for crime in our urban areas.
    Another symptom of over population in our country is exclusionary zoning. So here’s my plan for world peace in one word. Inclusion! Everyone must be included. Everyone has value. Everyone should be treated with dignity and respect. Everyone should be given a fair shake. Everyone should have the right to choose, within limits, what kind of a life they want to live.
    I’m speaking to you as a fellow American. But I’m also addressing you as an inhabitant of the planet earth. Everyone wants to live a happy life. Given the opportunity, people will generally opt to live a happy life. People need food, shelter, clothing and healthcare. I’m 60 now so in five years I’ll opt for Medicare. Until then I’ll just take my chances with no healthcare. Canada has health care for all at half the price we pay in America. I’d like what Canada has without having to move to Canada.
    I think there should be a constitutional amendment against exclusionary zoning. After retirement I had to move from southern Michigan (Farmington Hills is just west of Detroit) because I couldn’t put my singlewide mobile home on a lot and just pay property taxes like other property owners. I was only allowed to place my singlewide mobile home in a mobile home park. This is true for all of southern Michigan. I would’ve had to move 167 miles farther north if I wanted to stay in Michigan and put my singlewide mobile home on my own lot. I was paying for the lot every two years. I ended up paying over $55,000.00 in lot rent for a lot that was worth at most $7,500.00. So after losing my job and retiring, I moved to Rocky Fork Lake (about 55 miles east of Cincinnati). I bought a quarter acre lot and placed my single wide mobile home on it. I’m now paying property taxes instead of lot rent and saving over $3,000.00 a year. It’s warmer in southern Ohio so I’m also saving a little on heating.

    The quickest way to fair housing is eliminating exclusionary zoning. If you’d like to help people everywhere, consider a campaign to end exclusionary zoning. I was put on six months probation by my former employer, Priority Health, for making this suggestion at an all staff meeting when the meeting was opened up for comments and questions near the end of the meeting. The topic for most of the meeting was about ways to help the poor. On 10-29-2008 my employment there ended. So I decided to just retire. Fortunately there is a real estate agent down in Hillsboro, Ohio, who is like George Bailey in the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”. He talked the community association board into letting me locate my single wide mobile home on a lot there. So now I’m paying property taxes instead of renting a lot and saving about $3,000.00 a year. I closed on the lot on 12-5-2008 and moved in June 2009.
    Local governments are interfering with the housing market with exclusionary zoning
    Let’s put this into perspective. That’s about $8,656.00 per acre per month. George Bush has a ranch of many acres in Crawford, Texas. Would he pay $8,656.00 per acre per month in rent each and every month just to live there? If I could’ve just bought a lot back in August of 1991, put a singlewide mobile home on it and paid property taxes like everyone else then I’m estimating I’d be about $35,000.00 better off now. This is true for renting in general. The point here is why rent if you can buy?
    It’s OK for a rich man to put his big house on a big lot but he and others like him have passed laws so a poor man can’t put his small home on any size lot. And if they had their way in Farmington Hills, Michigan, then even mobile home parks would be zoned out. You can’t put a new mobile home park in Farmington Hills Michigan and I am not advocating that. Although it’s too late for me, I’d like to see exclusionary zoning eliminated for others.
    The guy across the street paid $170,000.00 for his house and he paid one-third less in property taxes than I did in lot rent. Keep in mind his home and property was worth more than four times what my home, including the lot that it sits on, was worth. So I paid six times the rate that he was paying. I don’t mind the rich man driving his $50,000.00 Hummer on the road because I can drive my $13,000.00 Honda Civic on the same road. We both have transportation and we’re both riding. But we both also need food, shelter, clothing and the pursuit of happiness. Our cost of living is higher than it needs to be which leads to homelessness, foreclosures and the gross inequities we see right here in Michigan.
    Wouldn’t it be great if we could structure our society to maximize the probability that people could take care of themselves? Instead of giving a man a fish we should teach him how to fish. And oh yeah, let’s take down the “No Fishing” sign while we’re at it. Instead of treating the symptoms of poverty lets get right at the causes of poverty. Freedom is the key. Milton Friedman, Nobel prize winner in economics, has correctly said that freedom leads to prosperity. That’s why democracies have much more prosperity than dictatorships. But democracies are still flawed in that a majority can disadvantage a minority. That is any majority against any minority regardless of the rightness of the issue. Remember, a majority hollered “Crucify Him!“ when Pilot asked the crowd what should he do with Jesus.
    Some worry about housing values going down. The Farmington Hills housing code talks specifically about protecting property values. Aren’t people more important than property values? And why would we value property less if a singlewide mobile home was located nearby? What does exclusionary zoning say about our moral values. Buildings don’t make a community it’s the people in the community that make a community. People should only be excluded if their behavior is bad. That’s what jails are for. Let’s not exclude someone simply because he/she works for less money.
    I do not want exclusionary zoners telling me how I should spend my money or my time. That is anti-freedom, anti-American and just plain wrong. People should be able to live where they want in a home that they can afford. People would then live where the schools are good and the crime is low. People would live close to where they work to minimize the commute. Pretty soon all the schools would be good and crime would be low everywhere. Our country would only be strengthened by people having more financial security and self determination. I don’t believe government’s role is to take care of people from cradle to grave. But I do believe in a level playing field and structuring our society to maximize the probability that people can take care of themselves.
    You won’t hear exclusionary zoning talked about on the Sunday morning talk shows or see a question about exclusionary zoning come up at a town meeting. Yet we live with the housing crisis. Who ever thought it was a good idea to buy something so expensive that it takes you 25 to 30 years to pay for it? And it’s absurd to expect housing values to double every ten years as the national association of realtors touts in a radio commercial as one of the benefits of home ownership.
    One nice thing about singlewide mobile homes is that you can move them. So in California, instead of just leaving your home and hoping it doesn’t burn down, you can move it. In New Orleans instead of just leaving your home and hoping it doesn’t get destroyed by a hurricane, you can move it. Single wide mobile homes make nice starter homes, guest homes, vacation homes. If we could eliminate exclusionary zoning I believe we’d see the quality go up and the formaldehyde go out.
    John McCain says he’s concerned about veterans. So does Barack Obama. Yet 1 out of every 5 homeless persons is a Veteran. Do you think we’d have more homelessness or less homelessness if we had housing choice? I think we’d have less. Poor people would rather go to the grocery store and buy their own food. At Christmas they’d rather go to the store and buy Christmas presents for a child instead of hoping for a donation by the Salvation Army.
    Are you interested in social and economic justice for all of our citizens? Well here’s an opportunity for you to get on board the right side of an issue that addresses that justice. This is an issue everyone in America can understand. Not everyone understands the Iraq war or the Viet Nam war for that matter. Does John McCain think the Viet Nam War was a good idea? What did we accomplish or even hope to accomplish? The people there voted fairly for communism. John was dropping bombs on them. Did he think they would welcome that with open arms. The best ideas are the ideas that eventually win out. Freedom is the best idea. Capitalism and democracy are winning over dictatorships and communism simply because freedom has a better chance with capitalism and democracy than it does with communism and dictatorships. Exclusionary zoning is not fair housing. Housing choice is the key to a just society. Everyone must be included. Let freedom ring.
    Housing choice is the fastest path out of poverty. Once people can live where they want in a home that they can afford then they’ll make choices that will get them out of poverty. Wouldn’t it be great to live in a world without borders? Once population is controlled and laws are universal we’d spread out fairly evenly. Perhaps one day there will be a United States of Planet Earth. We’d all be living under the same laws and rules but still have freedom of choice. Language wouldn’t make a difference because we’d have translator apps on our cell phones.
    No one should be forced to work overtime. I have no problem with truly voluntary overtime. I was let go from my job because I didn’t ‘volunteer’ for overtime. If we make world peace then we can start exploring the universe and not just wait for someone else to find us. With world peace we can eliminate the chance of world self destruction. With world peace we’ll maximize the probability of leading happy lives.

    . This prevents us from having welcoming, affordable and competitive places to live and do business. The key is to reduce our cost of just plain living. In the southern half of the state of Michigan I could only locate my single wide mobile home in a mobile home park. That gave the mobile home park owner a monopoly so the lot rent could be raised anytime with the sky as the limit. From August of 1991 to May 2009 my lot rent was raised 85%. From August of 1991 to May 2009 I paid over $55,000.00 in lot rent for a 26 foot by 60 foot lot that’s worth about $7,500.00. So I paid for this lot more than 7 times. The mobile home park was getting about a 50% return on their investment per year. So I paid for the lot every two years.


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