I am writing from Sweden where we are semi-socialistic. We have a much higher quality of life than you Americans. Actually most of the EU has a much higher quality of life than America on average. For example longer life, better rudimentary education, and the legal right to 4 week vacations every year. Why are Americans so afraid of socialism? Is it the poor health? We still live longer than you Americans. I digress.
There are plenty of free-market economies ( I think that is the term for the US economy?) as well as socialistic ones that have failed. It seems to me that it is not socialism or market freedom that correlate with economic success but the morals and values of the underlying culture and its leaders. Particularly I think political and economic restraint are severally lacking in America. The sole problem America and other debtor nations face is simply because people lived outside their means. It really is that simple. And that is something that is just as much a factor of cultural ideaologies as it is legal/ governmental ones.
My simple Swedish solution is to live within your means and help other people when you can.
I am writing from the Czech Republic, which is even more socialistic than Sweden. For example, the current government is extremely unpopular because they introduced 30 CZK (~ 1,1 EUR) fee when you visit a doctor. Our public debt is 27 % GDP, which IMHO bad, although still much better than Swededen's 42 % (so much for the "living within our means"). But I can only laugh when people promote (semi-)socialism over the free market. I also laugh when they pride themselves on their country statistics.
Life expectancy, for instance, has very little to do with the health care system, once you live in reasonably civilized country. We have very socialistic healthcare system, nobody has to pay for anything (not counting the recent desperate 30 CZK attempts to bring at least some market in healthcare to stop people from squandering), we have skilled doctors and hi-quality medical apparatus - quite comparable to the western europe. However, we have the life expectancy only 73.3 (male), whereas Sweden has 78.5 and the US has 75.3. The main reason why we fall behind both US and Sweden is high consumption of alcohol and cigarettes (double the Swedish). The highest life expectancy can be found in Macau (81.3) - therefore we all should adopt their system?
I agree that capitalism is not everything and that semi-socialist society can prosper as well, however it requires some specific attributes on the society, like strong tradition, morale and man-nature, which suppress abusing trends. Such society is also more fragile when undergoing various internal changes and movements. BTW: How do you manage the immigrants in Sweden? I heard that you are facing some really challenging issues in the welfare system...
Capitalism is an economic democracy where the CONSUMER decides which products he/she wants to buy and the entrepreneur will then provide those demanded products, in sufficient quantity, to meet the consumer's needs. It is the ownership of private property and capital/savings that the investor / entrepreneur will put at risk in order to earn a future profit - from the consumer. When consumers demand a certain product, say televisions, the price will rise and multiple entrepreneur's or producers will compete to deliver the best tv's, at the lowest price, to meet consumer demand. As sufficient quantity and selection comes to market the prices will compete and begin to fall. The inefficient companies that cannot compete or deliver products that consumers want will either go out of business or will be forced to make some different product in demand that isn't being sufficiently provided. The result is that surviving companies run efficiently and produce the best products for the multitudes at the lowest price. All this without spending taxpayers money to do so. A similar company owned/ran by gov't has a primary goal of providing employment and secondary goal to serve the consumer (where doesn one typically get the best friendly customer service? At a gov't entity like the unemployment office or at a private company like say a rental car business or hotel? If the hotel was gov't owned do you think you will still get the same level of customer service?). The gov't entity will produce the products it wants/chooses and will sell them at the price it wants, almost like a monopoly. If the company does not make sufficient profit then it does not care because the loss will be subsidized by taxpayer money. The company will provide products, not necessarily in demand, at higher overall prices because of inefficiency and taxpayer subsidization and lack of competition.
Go into any American living room and look at all the products that have been created for them by entrepreneurs. Microwave Ovens, Televisions, Stereo Equipment, Computers... etc... these are all products that exist today that did not say 100 years ago because of technology invented outside of gov't in order to serve the consumer.
The same arguement can be applied to things such as the post office, public schools and so on. Anything that is ran via a free market, not subsidized by taxpayers dollars, will be ran more efficiently. The services in low demand will be reduced to bring more favored services to market at the lowest cost. The improvements due to increased efficiency will bring a more prosperous economy because the capital/money saved from the efficiency improvements will be but to productive use elsewhere.
There are many arguments against Capitalism due to unfairness of wealth in society. Such as 20% of the population owns 90% of the nations wealth. This is true. Another example is highly educated individuals (say a Phd University professor) that don't earn a salary as high as an uneducated assembly line worker (say GM employee) or uneducated oil-field worker or crab fisherman. Which workers job provides the most added value (or at the most risk) to bring a product to market for consumption? Much of the time the wealthy entrepreneurs got their wealth by risking their savings / capital to satisfy the consumer in some way. They employed someone at a low paying job. What if they raised the pay for that employee. That would likely make the company run less efficiently and would result in less employment. If his sale prices were to rise then someone elses cost would go up and that could make some other entity have to lay people off. For the other wealthy members of society (in the pocket of gov't) , much of it is due to lobbying to gov't for the gift of money. This should not be permitted in a free economy, but politics does seem to do it.
The boom/bust cycles of our economy are not a result of capitalism. It is a result of gov't intervention in the economy to artificially lower interest rates below the natural level supported by saving/investing time preference of the citizens. This creates bubbles and malinvestment that has to be later corrected by a recession. This is not capitalism but gov't policy that interferes in the markets in order to gain political favoritism particularly around an election (for re-election). Another result of gov't intervention and low interest rates is expansion in the money supply that creates inflation. This occurs when gov't prints money to give to special interest groups as a bailout or due to lobbying. This too impacts the economy in a negative way by reducing the value of the dollar (which destroys capital) and creates boom/bust cycles.
Capitalism is a great system that brings prosperity to the masses. However, for it to work properly without business cycles you need the least amount of government intervention. This requires politicians to surrender their powers to the citizens and give them back their liberties. Politicians obviously don't want this and do want to be the knight in shining armour that rides in on the white horse to save the day. THe problem is that gov't can't create wealth. All they can do is raise taxes (which steals wealth) and redistribute their collection to the special interest group. Printing money is also not wealth creation. It also taxes the population by decreasing the value of their money and reducing their amount of capital that can be put towards investment.
One other point. In a Socialist setting where there is no real ownership of property, or desire to work to earn property, or struggling to perform your best does not advance you any further in society, what is the incentive to work hard? The result is an inefficient economy. If you don't do your work then someone else will do it for you. You will still get paid and will eat and drink for another day. One joke often in America is that Gov't workers have the easy jobs, the cushiony jobs. They don't have to work as hard as those in private companies (I'm sure there are gov't workers that do in fact work hard). They are therefore regarded as less efficient. Having said that, do you believe that society would be better on the whole if everyone worked for government enterprises?
As for the increased vacation days in Europe... so some countries may get the whole month of August off. This doesn't sound benificial to the consumer. Someone has to work to produce during that time so others can consume. Is this 4-weeks manditory? Or can you choose to work and get paid for it? If you can choose to work instead then that would be good because some would prefer the money to forced vacation. I get 4 weeks vacation per year but my 4th week I earned with seniority at my company. If I had to choose 4 weeks per year with lower salary or 2 weeks with higher salary I may choose the 2 weeks. Of course, I can always take the time off without pay if I choose. If I'm forced to take 4 weeks then there is no choice. Another thing, at my company if I choose not to take my vacation I can instead take pay for those holidays in addition to my full 26 pay cheques per year.
The second sentance is as true as anything I've ever heard. The interventionist mentality has corrupted our capitalism.
I will say that Capitalism in "raw" form needs organizations such as labor unions to 'reign in' it's propensity to abuse workers; however, in an over-regulted society, this leads to a chain reaction of:
work dereliction>pay raises>job exportation.
A great example is Boeing. The workers there are considered to be some of the most ineffectual derelicts in any industry. It takes them three weeks to paint a fire hydrant because they know the labor unions will not allow them to be fired or demoted without a hell of a process.
So, should Boeing pay an American worker $27 per hour to do menial tasks, because they have the full benefit of labor contracts? Or does it make more sense to have comparable work done in Mexico for $6 per hour?
All these problems are related to government intervention, and socialist concepts like "minimum wage" - which has created a pandemic loss of industry in rural areas - especially combined with global economy.
Capitalism is a fiscal philosophy. Socialism is a transitory system of management and wealth re-distribution.
When Socialism invades, Capitalism dies. When our Capitalism dies, the eventuality is that we will end up with a Fiscal Philosophy like Communism or Fascism, which are "end states" of the socialist ideal.
I don't know if you looked at the Freedomforce website but there are good explanations of the difference between collectivism and individualism, I am an individualist because I have no interest in trying to force my idea of the good on other people.
Creed of Freedom
I'm lookin' now! Thanks - dude, I've got to ask - How do you find all these great links? haha.
I couldn't agree with you more RE: Individualism v. Collectivism.
The borg might be more efficient, but I love natures imperfections. ;)
Labor Unions are something created/permitted by gov't to give power to the worker's union at the mercy of the employer. The union forces wages higher at the expense of the consumer who must pay more for the goods or service. Overpaid? Often in a union strike a "scab" will cross the picket line to work/replace the union worker at the same skill level but are willing to accept a lower wage. This proves that the unionized workers are overpaid compared to the wage demanded by the free market. Also, because the wage is higher it means less workers can be employed and therefore productivity is less and there are more unemployment. Unions are another example of interference in free markets. All this came about during the socialistic policies of Roosevelt during the great depression
Unions also demotivate the employees to work hard above & beyond their peers for financial gain or advancement. When you're in a union you don't move up the food chain until those senior to you move up. There is a pecking order. The system clearly does not promote productivity.
Minimum wage is another example. How many teenagers or unskilled workers are unemployeed because their labor is not productive enough to justify the minimum wage? If they could start at a lower wage they could gain the experience to justify a pay raise later. Forced to work part-time from a full-time position is the same - meaning the rate production no longer support the wage rate. The employee is not productive enough to support his/her wage. This may not be his/her fault if the economy is in a recession. Minimum wage creates unemployment and unemployment Insurance pay also demotivates the unemployed from finding work until either their checks run out or they find a job equivalent to what they had. If the economy plummits then they will wait for the cheques to stop coming and then reluctantly accept some inferior job at less pay because they are forced to. Minimum wage and Unemployment Insurance both were introduced by Roosevelt during the GD.
I couldn't agree more. But there was a time in our nations history where the Labor Unions did a lot of good for the workers.
Now, they're really no different than the damn mafia. Protection for pay.
Also, minimum wage has the added effect of putting small town local mills and textiles out of business.
A mill that used to be able to employ 200 guys at $4 bucks an hour now has to pay them around $8 in Washington state.
So what happens? Now the mill has 100 guys who are better paid, 100 guys who are unemployed, and 50% productivity, which means it has to cut another 50 guys to make their production match their workforce.
On top of that, now it's costing them more to produce the same amount of goods, so they end up selling it overseas, while we import wood from Japan. Ironically, a lot of the wood we buy, is wood we produced.
So, we lose workers, we lose GDP, then we overpay when we buy back what they didn't use.
No. Epic failure.
It is because of the unregulated derivatives market that we are currently in this mess, and human greed and just plain stupid risk management. Perhaps slightly more regulation would have allowed this cycle to be less severe.
Regulations just mean there is an assumption that someone is following the rules and/or someone is watching to make sure rules are being followed. Look at the Madoff billion dollar Ponzi scheme. The SEC had inspected his organization the year before and gave it the green light okay.
Forget regulations. We need organizations and banks to be liable for their business decisions. We need a free banking industry and no Federal Reserve (the banking cartel - lender of last resort) to bail banks out when they get into trouble by over-lending their maximum fractional reserves or by making risky loans. They can reinvest their capital but if they decide to take risk then if the investment goes bad they will be forced to go bankrupt. Rich bankers will be then unemployed. It is the creation of things like the FDIC and Freddie Mac that passed the risk from the banks on to the American tax payer. The profits are privatized but the losses are nationalized. All those billions that the Tarp gave these banks as bailout money. Where do you think it went? It went back into similar risky investments to earn more profits. Look at the millions currently being paid to overpaid stock traders in order to retain them in these failed Wall-Street companie. If other banks with big bailouts didn't have cash to pull the traders away from the other banks then there would be no need for stock trader bonuses. What about the banks that didn't get baliouts. I guess they have no hope to retain their traders with big bonuses.
How is it that things ran just fine until the government started regulating things then?
Study the Crash Course, until World War I, things were remarkably steady here, and until Black Monday, there was a stable, unregulated economy.
I'm interested in hearing how you're tying UNDER-regulation to the problems were having now, considering we were unregulated in times of prosperity, and we've fallen on two meltdowns in 80 years under a heavily regulated system.
Something else that you rarely hear about is jury nullification, some of the founders wanted juror's to judge both the crime and the law to prevent unjust laws.
In my opinion jury DUTY is unconstitutional, ammendent 13 clearly states that, Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to it's jurisdiction. This also makes the draft unconstitutional as well.
I think that the link you made is so good I'm reproducing it here!! I've been working on an idea that 'Blind Joe' made in a thread on the 11th of January. I've since added to it and would appreciate your opinion.
Introduction by G. Edward Griffin
There is nothing more common in history than for oppressed people to rise up against their masters and, at great cost in treasure and blood, throw off the old regime, only to discover that they have replaced it with one that is just as bad or worse. That is because it is easy to know what we dislike about a political system but not so easy to agree on what would be better. For most of history, it has been the habit of men to focus on personalities rather than principles. They have thought that the problem was with the man who rules, not with the system that sustains him. So, they merely replace one despot for another, thinking that, somehow, the new one will be more wise and benevolent. Even if the new ruler has good intentions, he may be corrupted by the temptations of power; and, in those rare cases where he is not, he eventually is replaced by another who is not as self-restrained. As long as the system allows it, it is just a matter of time before a new despot will rise to power. To prevent that from happening, it is necessary to focus on the system itself, not on personalities. To do that, it is just as important to know what we are for as it is to know what we are against.
Even today, with so much talk about fighting to defend freedom, who can stand up and define what that means? For some, freedom means merely not being in jail. Who can define the essence of personal liberty? Who can look you in the eye and say: "This I believe, and I believe it for this reason and this reason and this reason also." The world is dying for something to believe in, a statement of principles that leaves no room for misunderstanding; a creed that everyone of good faith toward their fellow human beings can accept with clarity of mind and strength of resolve. There is an old saying that if you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything. The Creed of Freedom that you are about to read is the rock-solid ground that will allow us to stand firm against all the political nostrums of our day, and those in the future as well.
The Creed of Freedom expresses the core ideology that binds all members together. This is not like the platform of a political party that typically is a position statement on a long list of specific issues and which changes from year to year to accommodate the shifting winds of popular opinion. Instead, it is stated in terms of broad principles that do not change over time and that are not focused on specific issues at all. If these principles are followed, then most of the vexing political and social issues of the day can be quickly resolved in confidence that the resulting action will be consistent with justice and freedom.
Although I have authored the Creed, I cannot claim credit for it. Anyone familiar with the classical treatises on freedom will recognize that most of its concepts have been taken from the great thinkers and writers of the past. My role has been merely to read the literature, identify the concepts, organize them into logical sequence, and condense them into a single page.
When you read the Creed, please be aware that it is a summary of a much longer dissertation. It cannot be fully appreciated until after reading the explanations, definitions, and arguments to support it. Although the Creed appears here first, it is recommended that, after reading it, you follow the link at the bottom of this section that takes you to the more complete explanation.
THE CREED OF FREEDOM
INTRINSIC NATURE OF RIGHTS
I believe that only individuals have rights, not the collective group; that these rights are intrinsic to each individual, not granted by the state; for if the state has the power to grant them, it also has the power to deny them, and that is incompatible with personal liberty.
I believe that a just government derives its power solely from the governed. Therefore, the state must never presume to do anything beyond what individual citizens also have the right to do. Otherwise, the state is a power unto itself and becomes the master instead of the servant of society.
SUPREMACY OF THE INDIVIDUAL
I believe that one of the greatest threats to freedom is to allow any group, no matter its numeric superiority, to deny the rights of the minority; and that one of the primary functions of just government is to protect each individual from the greed and passion of the majority.
FREEDOM OF CHOICE
I believe that desirable social and economic objectives are better achieved by voluntary action than by coercion of law. I believe that social tranquility and brotherhood are better achieved by tolerance, persuasion, and the power of good example than by coercion of law. I believe that those in need are better served by charity, which is the giving of one's own money, than by welfare, which is the giving of other people's money through coercion of law.
EQUALITY UNDER LAW
I believe that all citizens should be equal under law, regardless of their national origin, race, religion, gender, education, economic status, life style, or political opinion. Likewise, no class should be given preferential treatment, regardless of the merit or popularity of its cause. To favor one class over another is not equality under law.
PROPER ROLE OF GOVERNMENT
I believe that the proper role of government is negative, not positive; defensive, not aggressive. It is to protect, not to provide; for if the state is granted the power to provide for some, it must also be able to take from others, and once that power is granted, there are those who will seek it for their advantage. It always leads to legalized plunder and loss of freedom. If government is powerful enough to give us everything we want, it is also powerful enough to take from us everything we have. Therefore, the proper function of government is to protect the lives, liberty, and property of its citizens; nothing more. That government is best which governs least.
THE THREE COMMANDMENTS OF FREEDOM
The Creed of Freedom is based on five principles. However, in day-to-day application, they can be reduced to just three codes of conduct. I consider them to be The Three Commandments of Freedom:
Do not sacrifice the rights of any individual or minority for the assumed rights of the group.
EQUALITY UNDER LAW
Do not endorse any law that does not apply to all citizens equally.
FREEDOM OF CHOICE
Do not use coercion for any purpose except to protect human life, liberty, or property.
THE THREE PILLARS OF FREEDOM
Another way of viewing these principles is to consider them as the three pillars of freedom. They are concepts that underlie the ideology of individualism, and individualism is the indispensable foundation of freedom.
Peter Schiff vs Steven Leeb,
Steven Leeb is a Neo-Keynesian. He doesn't have a clue.
This site wastes an awful lot of time discussing this.... I've now seen these arguments on more threads than I care to remember. In reality, most of it is 19th Century thinking, 20th C at best.
We need a totally new world order, 21st Century civilisation saving ideas...... THAT is what we should be disussing in my opinion.... like this: http://www.peakprosperity.com/comment/12751#comment-12751
All the past can tell us is that we screwed up!
We need a totally new world order, 21st Century civilisation saving ideas...... THAT is what we should be disussing in my opinion.... like this: http://www.peakprosperity.com/forum/tran...
All the past can tell us is that we screwed up!
Who controls the present, controls the past. Who controls the past, controls the future."
"Those who do cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it."
We certainly don't need a "world order". We need self governing autocracies built and predicated on constitutionally enumerated individual liberties. I believe that our perfect world lies with examining the past, and integrating it with the future.
If we can't manage to do that, we will have no progress.
Do we really want to return to the age before unions? Unions were the people that brought us the weekend and the 8 hour work day. I think it is easy to forget how early capitalism treated working people (children working in dusty mills 12-14 hours a day, 6 and a half days a week, for example). It would be one thing if workers had a choice about whether to work for one employer or another, but if the choice is starvation or inhuman working conditions it doesn't quite seem like freedom. I can't think of a time in human history when there was no regulation of the economy, either by taxes or forced labor or laws of somekind about requirements to practice certain professions. What kind of society do we want to have? If it is a society where freedom and dignity is only available for people with money then I don't expect it to be a democracy for long.
Except that the future has in store nothing like the past. Period.
Never in human history have we overpopulated the planet.
Never in history have we faced a future powered by lower quality energy
Never in history have we had to face the fact that we have nowhere else to go.... we've depleted the entire planet.
This time, history will repeat itself only inasfar as previous civilisations have collapsed. Never before has it happened on a global scale.
So you tell me what we can learn from the past to fix this mess?
Actually, it was factory jobs (maybe long/hard work) that employed the impoverished and kept them from starving.
Before capitalism & the industrial revolution began (in 1776) mainkind lived pretty much in poverty. Few people lived to see adulthood and many children grew up with different parents as a result. Many believed that capitalism and/or factories resulted in worker exploitation and child labor.
"The factories did not have the power to compel anyone to take a factory job. They could only hire people who were willing to work for wages offered to them. Low as these wages were, they were none the less more than these poppers could earn in any other field open to them. It is the distortion of the facts to say that the factories carried off the house wives from the nurseries and the kitchens, and the children from their play. These wemen had nothing to cook with and feed their children. These children were destitute and starving. The only refuge was the factory. It saved them in the strictest sense of the term, from death by starvation" - Ludwig Von Mises
Mises' response to worker exploitation was - "Capitalism is simply not mass production, but mass production to satisfy the needs of the masses. The arts & crafts of the good-ole days had catered almost exclusively to the wants of the well to do. But the factories produced cheap goods for the many. All that the early factories turned out was designed to serve the masses. The same group that worked in the factories. The workers were the main consumers of the products of industry. Infant mortality dropped, the average length of life was prolonged, the population multiplied and the average common man enjoyed amenities which even the well-to-do of earlier ages did not dream of."
Take say factories over in Vietnam or China. You may buy products from Walmart and feel sorry for those workers that get paid $1/hour to make your blue jeans. Maybe want to boycott Walmart. Do you think that worker in Asia would be better off starving with no job or to be employed making your jeans, enabling them to feed themself?
I work more than 8 hours a day but only get paid for 8. I am not in a union and would choose not to work in one. I know many business owners that work 7 days a week. It's a choice. It's not forced upon you as say slavery.
You have a seriously myopic perspective my man.
I don't say this to sound rude, but you have failed to consider a number of things.
Humans before couldn't travel as fast or as far; we couldn't cover as much ground.
When speaking of overpopulation, we need to consider density - and when we take population density into account, we can clearly see evidence of both population saturation and the corresponding bottlenecks in population.
Mesopotamia's constant warring throughout the ages was largely over contended resources - a key element of overpopulation.
Europe's Dark Ages came on the tail end of the Fall of Rome, which was had high density, and historically had almost the exact same social dynamics displayed by contemporary America.
To elaborate on Europe, it's Black Plague came at a time when the population had boomed. Was it as large as what we have now?
Absolutely not. However considering humans limited ability to travel back then, per populated acre, their density was probably very similar.
I agree that what you're talking about is "larger" in that it is on a Global scale, but I believe the "net effect" won't be more "severe", it will only appear so because it involves more people.
But I don't think that matters, as if we'd learned from these historic failures, perhaps we'd have exhibited better stewardship.
Perhaps we're once again missing one anothers' points.
Stabilizing the Economy by Understanding "Enough"
January 12, 2009 11:15 AM
Urban poverty is common in developing countrie...
The immense gap between the world's rich and poor has finally become a topic of
serious discussion throughout the developed world, reaching even into G-8
meetings (although not the U.S. presidential campaign). And we can be sure that
in poor countries it has always been talked about -- a lot.
But this new conversation about global poverty misses some key points. The
narrow monetary focus of economists, political leaders, the media, business, and
philanthropists overlooks an essential nature of the problem. Yes, it's a
tragedy -- and truly a sin according to the moral or religious beliefs of most
people around the globe -- that half the world's population lives on less than
$2 a day while most Europeans and North Americans make exponentially more than
It's also a tragedy to reduce the meaning of life to an economic index.
As my friend Satish Kumar, a former Jain monk and Gandhian activist in India who
now edits the UK green magazine Resurgence, once told me: "It's commonly assumed
that the opposite of poor is rich, but actually it's sufficiency -- a sense that
there is enough."
When you think about it that way, the most impoverished people in the world may
be the high-rolling speculators on Wall Street and their colleagues in
Frankfurt, London, Tokyo and elsewhere whose insatiable drive for money nearly
tanked the world economic system last week. For them, there was never enough.
The overwhelming topic under discussion right now is how to repair our tattered
global economy, a crisis that threatens to shove aside concerns about global
Yet these two crises are inextricably linked. We live on a bountiful planet, not
a poverty-stricken one. There is enough for everyone if we follow the simple but
sharp wisdom that money isn't everything. Poor people have always realized this
-- otherwise they would have no reason to get up each morning. Let's hope elite
bankers, investors and economic policymakers have now understand it.
The great financial upheaval we're experiencing is no momentary bout of bad
luck, it's the direct consequence of looking at the world as an economic engine
that runs on money rather than a living organism nourished by natural and human
resources. By learning that lesson, we'll know everything we need to create a
sound global economy that sustains everyone.
/This piece originally appeared on the Ode Editor's Blog./
Thanks bearing01, saved me from having to make those same points.
We're a minority here, but thankfully some of us understand Austrian Theory. The environmentalists don't get it.
Cornwall Personal Action Group - information sharing, personal preparations, community transition.
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