Post Brexit UK is seeing higher skilled labour entering from non-EU countries to support a range of services (public and other) – success
It's Wednesday and so before we get to the music segment we have time to…
It is Wednesday and just a collection of snippets today. I am trying to finish a major piece of work and so that is what I am mostly doing today. And learning to program Geojson formats in R, so I can overcome the decision by Google to abandon their fusion table facility, which my research centre has relied on for some years to display map layers. And I have some press interviews to deal with. But today we consider the claim by the Financial Times editorial the other day that “Radical reforms are required to forge a society that will work for all”. It was an extraordinary statement from an institution like the FT to make for a start. But it reflects the desperation that is abroad right now – across all our nations – as the virus/lockdown story continues to worsen and the uncertainty grows. But I also think we should be careful not to adopt the view that everything is going to change as a result of this crisis. The elites are a plucky bunch, not the least because they have money and can buy military capacity. Changing the essential nature of neoliberalism, even if what has been displayed by all the state intervention in the last few months exposes all the myths that have been used to hide that essential nature, is harder than we might imagine. I think hard-edged class struggle is needed rather than middle-class talkfests that outline the latest gee-whiz reform proposals. The latter has been the story of the Europhile progressives for two decades or so as the Eurozone mess has unfolded. It hasn’t got them very far.
Fear has a way of changing peoples’ minds. Ask any torturer.
On April 4, 2020, the Financial Times editorial – Virus lays bare the frailty of the social contract – seems to have struck a nerve.
Here is an essentially conservative voice and a doyen of the financial press coming out and saying:
1. “Radical reforms are required to forge a society that will work for all”.
2. The virus is shining “a glaring light on existing inequalities”.
3. That just like during the Great Depression and World War 2, which moulded the social democratic era in the post-war period, maybe the “current feelings of common purpose will shape society after the crisis”.
4. How? To repair the “brittleness of many countries’ economies” – their unprepared health systems, the lack of collective spirit that neoliberalism has fostered as a way of redistributing income to the top and depriving millions of jobs and opportunities for careers and material security.
5. That the precarious labour markets are now making it more difficult for governments “to channel financial help to workers with such insecure employment”.
6. And while central bankers are hell-bent on saving the financial system with even greater QE interventions, the FT thinks that they will only help the “asset rich” while “underfunded public services are creaking under the burden” of past austerity.
7. We have culled support mechanisms where cost-sharing (the FT call it the sharing of “sacrifices”) can be accomplished with any sense of equity. “Sacrifices are inevitable, but every society must demonstrate how it will offer restitution to those who bear the heaviest burden of national efforts.”
8. And then we start talking about:
Radical reforms – reversing the prevailing policy direction of the last four decades – will need to be put on the table. Governments will have to accept a more active role in the economy. They must see public services as investments rather than liabilities, and look for ways to make labour markets less insecure. Redistribution will again be on the agenda; the privileges of the elderly and wealthy in question. Policies until recently considered eccentric, such as basic income and wealth taxes, will have to be in the mix.
Well we can substitute “basic income” with Job Guarantee and we are closing on an agreement.
The point is that the game is up for the neoliberals. All their smokescreens about not being able to do this and that because of a lack of funds have been exposed.
All of us now know that in an emergency:
1. There is no question the government can spend big sums virtually immediately without talk of increasing taxes, now or later.
We know how they pay for it. They issue the currency. The exact mechanics might be still obscure but the general principle is not.
2. We know that central banks can swap unlimited amounts of the currency with the banks in return for government bonds held in the non-government sector. There is no limit. And no-one is talking about hyperinflation anymore (except the really crazy right-wingers).
3. So then we can contest the notion of an emergency.
Is mass unemployment an emergency?
Is climate change an emergency?
4. The ‘market’ is not going to save us. All that the market has been doing is price gouging essentials at a time when we should be cooperating. It has also allowed some characters on eBay to become ‘mask’ vendors, supplying shoddy masks or hand cleansers at exhorbitant prices.
We can see that ‘only the state can bail out the nation’ now (as one right-winger put it). That is as clear as clear can be.
The state can mobilise resources, redirect them where necessary, overrule private markets, private interests, command companies do things, stop financial markets from profiting, and on it goes.
So, Left progressives who think the nation state is powerless in the face of global capital – get with the program!
5. It has shown the overwhelming advantages of currency sovereignty. Those nations that are sovereign have been able to introduce currency quickly and in large sums without worrying about bond markets.
The Eurozone Member States, by way of contrast, are locked into one of their usual ‘processes’, pretending to be doing things at the Brussels level, while actually just leaving nations in jeopardy and at the caprice of the ECB, which tells the Member States it will do what it takes, but then mutters conditionality requirements.
The euro elites are demonstrating once again how their ‘processes’ and ‘safeguards’ and all the rest of the stuff that defines the fact they should not all be in the same room together much less a common currency, are proving too difficult to do anything that is effective.
The sooner it breaks up the better for most of the Member States and citizens within them.
6. That free trade is another one of those myths – what is free about Germany withholding essential supplies to poorer nations? And the US hijacking shipments of medical supplies intended for some disadvantaged nation but diverted to the wealthiest (US)?
7. In that vein, there is a growing realisation that nations that outsourced everything to trade – essential goods and services (health supplies, food, energy resources, etc) are highly vulnerable when the going gets tough.
Standby for a renewed period of ‘nation-building’, which requires the extensive and sustained intervention of the state using its currency-issuing capacity.
Even the conservative government in Australia are now eschewing the free trade mantra – claiming (via its Finance Minister) today that we need to reestablish manufacturing and supply capacities within our own borders.
The free trade myth is now exposed.
Taken together, the failings of the neoliberal period, so evident during the GFC, but suppressed again by the elites, are back in focus and more obvious than ever.
There was a reason that trade unions and the welfare state emerged at the turn of the C20th. Societies can only tolerate so much greed and inequality.
Eventually people fight back.
One hopes that this is the fork in the road.
But we warned by this article from my co-author Thomas Fazi (April 6, 2020) – Could Covid-19 vanquish neoliberalism?.
I have a lot of sympathy for that argument. Elites are hegemonic and powerful.
With less travel on the agenda, I found myself doing long-thought out tasks at home like … (the dreaded) clean out the garage job – years in planning but with little concrete progress until now.
I was sorting through old boxes – allegedly kept as my ‘letters and papers collection’ – you know academics keep things – and I came across this press clipping from the Australian Financial Review (November 6, 1997).
There we were (as usual) battling against the mainstream of our profession who want to freeze wages for the most disadvantaged workers, bring in a negative income tax system (à la Milton Friedman) and waxing lyrical about how difficult a problem solving mass unemployment is.
And riding in from the Left come Mitchell/Watts arguing that the solution is rather simple – just create some jobs and introduce a Job Guarantee.
As it always has been. The mainstream have their heads stuck in the mud.
You can enlarge the clip if you cannot read it. It was wide and I pieced together three separate photos of it.
There are some things that cannot be done via the Internet – for example, changing a disk in a backup computer that is 1000 kms away.
So with some trepidation I took a flight to Melbourne last week. The Newcastle-Melbourne route is an almost weekly event for me in normal times, but with flights cancelled out of Newcastle at present, I had to drive to Sydney to get the now only twice a day flights to Melbourne. An hourly schedule has been reduced to twice a day.
So on a late Friday afternoon, peak hour, when Sydney airport is usually very busy and one has to fight through crowds along the gate concourse and struggle for a carpark, this is what I found.
Main car park at domestic terminal – three cars including my blue Renault.
Main gate concourse – a handful of people only. Usually, overcrowded.
I concluded that if I was desiring to be in the safest place in the world away from the coronavirus then this is where I should be.
Melbourne mission completed safely. Happy about that.
I imagine the current crisis will put a halt on people donating to causes.
But we are making progress in developing the program that will become – MMTed.
I ran my first Masterclass in London recently and it was well attended. I received good (useful) feedback from several people which will help tune the way we run these face to face classes.
The planned further Masterclasses (May in Australia, June in Europe, September in the US) are on hold while we assess the state of the world. But I hope we will be able to offer them sometime this year.
And on-line curricula is being developed.
But we still need significant sponsors for this venture to ensure that we can run the educational program with negligible fees.
If you are able to help on an ongoing basis that would be great. But we will also be appreciate of once-off and small donations as you are able.
You can contribute in one of two ways:
1. Via PayPal – which is our preferred vehicle for receiving donations.
The PayPal donation button is available via the MMTed Home Page or via the – Donation button – on the right-hand menu of this page (below the calendar).
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This is my latest album purchase – it just came out. I think it will be one of my all-time favourites (the list is growing and already long).
It is a collaboration between the master Nigerian drummer – Tony Allen and the late South African horn player – Hugh Masekela.
Tony Allen was the founder (with Fela Kuti) of Afrobeat, a mixture of Ghanian Highlife and Nigerian Fuji rhythmic patterns and Jazz.
Hugh Masekela was a champion of the anti-apartheid movement and met Tony Allen while he lived in exile in West Africa.
Both are giants of the African jazz scene and among my favourite players.
Both believed that music was a political force and that social criticism was an essential aspect of social change.
The UK Guardian article (March 19, 2020) – Tony Allen: Afrobeat’s master on Hugh Masekela, Damon Albarn and friction with Fela Kuti – provides some insights into the album, which was recorded in 2010 but waited a decade before release.
The album was the product of improvisation sessions with the horn and drums – no material was written before they entered the studio.
After Hugh Masekela’s death in February 2018, Tony Allen added some bass lines, some keyboard parts and some vibes over the original recordings.
Drum and bass meets a very lyrical horn – that is essentially what this is about.
This song (track 2) – Agbada Bougou – combines the lyrical melody of South Africa (Masekela) with the swing-afro beat of Nigeria (Allen). I have listened to it quite often in the last few weeks.
Perfect for working to.
That is enough for today!
(c) Copyright 2020 William Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.
This Post Has 23 Comments
I think the following article tells you all you need to know about the UK as a nation past, present and future:-
This is because the majority of voters still think the country’s monetary system should be operated like Margaret Thatcher’s father’s grocery store!
Anthony Albanese this afternoon started whining about the Government debt left to future generations.
He is an idiot
In an ABC interview today former treasurer Joe Hockey today came out similarly about future taxes having to be used to pay back the debt.
“One hopes that this is the fork in the road.”
Or a crossroads – with a bluesman dispatching the devil; casting him off with “The Last Fair Deal Gone Down”.
Dear Warren Ross,
No, he is not an idiot. He is a Labor politician. Not to mistake for a Labrador. These are actually quite smart.
On the housing front: Rent and mortgage strike is being organised as housing is considered to be human right. Поехали! These guys should demand Job Guarantee next.
The buds on the bushes and trees in and around my garden on England’s south coast are swelling and straining to burst out at any moment now.
Call me an optimist, but it feels like MMT is at a similar stage.
A dark, damp winter of monetary ignorance and neo-liberal repression wants to be over, and the flowering of a fresh, hopeful and irrepressible narrative needs to burst out and brighten up a benighted world.
To quote the wonderful Primo Levi: if not now, when?
You have more confidence than me. We have a rabid, right wing Tory Government and an opposition of dyed in the wool neoliberals. Nothing is going to change for the better except for the privileged few. Get ready for more austerity and tax increases to pay for it all. The British are congenitally stupid and voting Tory is in their Genes.
EU still can’t decide !!
It is a complete and utter disgrace.
Just how out of touch where those liberals that voted to remain ?
Brexit always was an IQ test.
I have a pet theory (yes, I know – “from my armchair”) that until one thing in particular gets changed nothing else will.
I’m referring to one of the greatest swindles ever practised upon a gullible public, namely that a corporation be granted the legal status of “a person”. Just think for a second or two about how utterly preposterous that proposition is, coolly examined!
Yet it was affirmed as law by a judgment of the US Supreme Court. It has held sway in English law and in jurisprudence generally, in multiple jurisdictions, for – how long? ages anyway.
What it does (among much other harm) is to enable the employees of a corporate body – in particular its servants the most senior executives – to engage in all manner of unethical behaviour and sharp practice in the name of that “person-other-than-themselves”:- that amorphous abstraction the body corporate and its shareholders whose interests (separate and distinct from their own of course!) they are contractually committed as its servants to promoting. Thus they are enabled to perpetrate those acts (some of which would be criminally liable if committed by a flesh-and-blood person, others not but societally-viewed heinous anyway) while absolving themselves of any personal responsibility.
IMO for as long as that protection against being held personally liable for harm done by anti-social (to put it no higher) corporate policies and misdeeds is removed nothing else will change. At the same time that monstrous legal fiction of a corporation being entitled *as a corporation* to be accorded the same rights as if it were a citizen (eg to free speech, interpreted as meaning giving unlimited donations – bribes – to political parties and politicians) under the US constitution would of course also be struck down as the transparent nonsense that it is.
One of that assinine judgment’s proponents was none other than Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr. – author of the infamous Powell Memorandum, appointed to the US Supreme court by Ronald Reagan. Need I say more?
I very much like Thomas Fazi’s article, to which Bill linked in his somewhat hopeful, yet sober-minded post. One thing I do know. The revolution which has been dreamed about by those of us with the brightest minds and biggest hearts–the birth of that better, more beautiful world we know is possible–will never come until the majority of human beings believe it can. William James tells a story about a mountain climber who, in the midst of a blizzard, comes to a chasm which must be crossed to continue upward and find shelter from the storm. To remain stationary is to freeze to death, yet the chasm MAY be beyond the mountain climber’s ability to jump over. It’s what James calls “a forced option.” In such a situation, James advises, there is only one thing to do; namely, to summon all one’s optimism and courage, will oneself to believe that he or she will make the leap successfully, and go for it. This is the only possible way to meet the existential challenge, the single approach that might work. And, if the mountain climber doesn’t make it, if the chasm turns out to be too wide and he or she plummets into the abyss, isn’t this a nobler way to go out than standing there, shivering and freezing to death, immobilized on the chasm’s edge? At this extraordinary moment, facing a sudden pandemic which has shaken the foundations of what had seemed to be the impregnable foundations of the neoliberal world order, let us all do our utmost, especially the readers of this remarkable blog, to will ourselves to believe that yes, the revolution can happen, will happen, must happen, summon the best within us, and GO FOR IT. How we go for it should be the subject of appropriate and necessary dialogue, but cynicism or defeatism, in any form and however well-intentioned, should be clearly recognized and instinctively rejected as suicidal ideation.
I just want to express my appreciation of many of your comments including this one. You pulled me back from despair several days ago and this one is also inspiring. Thank you.
“At this extraordinary moment, facing a sudden pandemic which has shaken the foundations of what had seemed to be the impregnable foundations of the neoliberal world order, let us all do our utmost, especially the readers of this remarkable blog, to will ourselves to believe that yes, the revolution can happen, will happen, must happen, summon the best within us, and GO FOR IT. How we go for it should be the subject of appropriate and necessary dialogue, but cynicism or defeatism, in any form and however well-intentioned, should be clearly recognized and instinctively rejected as suicidal ideation.”
Great post! Shame Bernie didn’t read it.
Jerry, your words mean a lot. When I make these kinds of comments–sometimes with trepidation, often with second thoughts–my intention is to stand alongside others, like Bill and my friends on this blog, as we grab hold together and pull ourselves (and, I hope, our societies) onward and upward. As the ground continues to shift beneath us, my feet slip as easily as anyone’s, so sometimes I’m also talking to myself. Best to you.
Thanks for the thumb up, Mr Shigemitsu. As you indicate, Bernie had the power, as a single senator, to have held up that multi-trillion dollar bailout of the plutocrats UNTIL the bill was amended to also protect the average citizen and, as the Good Book says, the least of these. Now that leverage is gone, and the most powerful political opportunity we will ever see this side of the revolution was squandered. And this comes from one who worked for Bernie in 2016 and contributed to him and voted for him this time around.
Bernie’s great achievement was to drag the public discourse leftward — it will fall to others to take up the torch so that these ideas can be crystallized in policy.
Adam K. Bravo. Love the line. Even sheep are smarter. They at least mob around with their own rather than the supposed enemy!!
Very interesting to read old article. I already hear voices calling for minimum wage freezes and share-the-pain style public sector wage cuts in NZ as a solution to the rise in unemployment and government debt increases. To my mind this will just exacerbate the deflationary spiral robbing people of income, causing household defaults and further depressing demand. A job guarantee would be fantastic right now. For starters unemployed hospitality workers could become home delivery carers for the elderly and immuno compromised. They should be paid for this. Not required to volunteer.
First, a shout-out to Bill Mitchell and also to John Quiggin and Steve Keen. They are all thoroughly vindicated. TOTALLY CORRECT ALL ALONG, GENTLEMEN! CONGRATS! 🙂 Your neoliberal opponents look like the total fools (or mendacious villains) that they are.
I know the economic positions of Bill Mitchell, John Quiggin and Steve Keen are not identical and that they do have certain areas with different understandings and/or different emphases. But all of them have been pushing a substantially democratic socialism line to my understanding. That’s what counts in my view. My two bob’s worth today is below.
Which models should we use to craft a new economic system? Models may be mathematical or they may be metaphorical (really analogical or homomorphic) and couched in general language like English and not specialist language like mathematics).
Metaphors of the economy as (human) body and economy as machine do have their limitations. It is also discussed on some economic blogs how the neoliberal, or market fundamentalist, false mathematization of the economy too has its very grave limitations. If anything, the “understanding” derived by mathematical economics is even worse than that derived from the metaphorical modelling approach if the most apt metaphors are chosen. The mathematical models are pure theory and based on over-simplifying and un-empirical assumptions This is when they are not outright wrong like the absurd assumption of homo economicus.
In the final analysis, free market dogma and its mathematization is prescriptive and not descriptive. It tells us how to run an economy according to a given value ideology of private property, inequality differentials, ignoring real human and real environmental needs and ignoring negative externalities in general. In contrast, apt language metaphors within a democratic liberal humanist or democratic socialist tradition can easily prescribe a more appropriate, workable, humane and environmentally sustainable approach than the ideological prescriptions and false mathematization encapsulated in market fundamentalist economics. In addition, apt metaphors can function well rhetorically which is useful in debates.
If we use body metaphors correctly, we can note that all parts of the body are needed to function in cooperation and union to make the whole body and mind work effectively and efficiently as one. If the extremities are starved of oxygen and nutrients they go gangrenous and die. Slums are certainly ulcerous or gangrenous areas on the civic or national body. The people in slums clearly suffer pain and deprivation. We can use a further body metaphor. If the pains and agonies of the extremities of neglected persons are not transmitted to the government (the executive brain of society) then action is not taken to assist or preserve those parts. This is a leprosy-like condition of the civil body where the extremities cannot transmit pain to the brain and more injury and degeneration occur. It is important that the poor and dispossessed protest vigorously and transmit their message and their pain to the insulated elites and that they be assisted by the middle class who exist in that middle, mediating position.
If we also use machine metaphors, we can note that market fundamentalism is like an over-simplistic auto-pilot system which lacks the self-correction of adequate feed-backs. The feed-backs lacking include feed-backs from the poor (the governmental and rich elites ignore them), feed-backs from the environment (most of these negative externalities are ignored), feed-backs from the insights of moral philosophy (religious and humanist ethics) and feed-backs and predictions from the impact sciences. In addition, we can add the ignoring of feed-backs from internal contradictions within capitalism which internal contradictions capitalism denies even exist. These are feed-backs from increasing unemployment, inadequate capacity utilization, wage stagnation, asset inflation and the over-accumulation of financial and fictitious capital. Free market capitalism cannot even react properly in the “market as auto-pilot” sense to its own internal contradictions let alone to external contradictions (like limits to growth) and external shocks (like the black swan of COVID-19).
The free unregulated market leads to rampant inequality, regular financial bubbles, crashes in a cyclical fashion AND THEN it fails absolutely and completely to any single serious exogenous shock. This is like a car which breaks down sporadically even on trips to the local supermarket and then breaks down completely and without fail every time you try to take it on a road trip. Who would keep such a car? Well, only the poor who have no other choice. It’s time to give everyone a choice of another economic system. The current system is ready for the junkyard. The new economic system we require is democratic socialism. Spelling out the details of democratic socialism and why it is not equivalent to the Party Dictatorship State Capitalism of China would take another long post.
It actually wasn’t, you know. The Secretary of the court, when writing up the case of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, inserted in the “headnote” a sentence to that effect. This was not a part of the judgement. Indeed, it was irrelevant to the case, yet it was so convenient to the corporatists of the time that it became accepted “precedent.” I think it could be overturned by a statute, except the conservative, Catholic, Republican justices would never accept it and would declare the statute unconstitutional.
We have to completely remake our political economies and do so in the next ten years. If not, civilization will collapse and humanity will very likely be extinct by the year 2100.
If we leave aside real and supposed differences between Party Dictatorship Crony State Capitalism (China and Russia) and Corporate Crony Capitalism (USA , EU, Japan, Sth. Korea etc., UK etc.), then we can note their great similarity in creating enormous wealth and power disparities; meaning terrible inequalities. These systems are closely aligned to each other in a fundamental sense. Male, oligarchic elitists are running the systems in both cases and generating gross inequalities and massive ecological damage in the process.
Both systems have to be called out for what they are and completely rejected. Genuine Democratic Socialism stands in contradistinction to both of these systems. Genuine Democratic Socialism is the only way we can move forward and save civilization and the world. The choice really is that stark.
What is the way forward to Democratic Socialism? Obviously, it must remain democratic. Our current representative democracies are imperfect for sure, as are our Constitutions where we have them. Nevertheless they must be maintained along with freedom of the press, freedom of information and the rule of (unbiased) law. Clearly, we have a long way to go in these matters.
At the same time, we face the challenging necessity of becoming more statist. A form of dirigisme (a strong directive role, as opposed to a merely regulatory role, for the government over the economy) has, perforce, to be implemented. We can note that this crisis has already enforced a new level of statism out of sheer necessity. Unregulated capitalism does not even work correctly in good times. It leads to bubbles and crashes. It leads to secular (long run) stagnation, stalled or falling wages, over-accumulation of financial capital, high levels of inequality, inefficiency, and social, climate and environmental destruction through ignoring negative externalities. In a crisis, capitalism fails immediately completely and has to rescued not just by statist actions as bailouts but by suspension of the very rules of operation of finance and capital (rent moratoriums, mortgage moratoriums, debt moratoriums, wage subsidies, work schemes, welfare, more state planning in general and soon, very likely, nationalization of utilities, essential industries and natural monopolies.
If any empirical proof were still needed that democratic socialist statism is a vastly superior system in every respect to unregulated capitalism, the Great Recession and Global Financial Crisis of 2007-2010 and the COVID-19 crisis of 2020-20?? have provided completely adequate proof. Those who deny this fact are in complete denial of all the empirical evidence. Various tenet and wholly empirical statements, within heterodox economics are now proven correct to a very high degree of certainty, perhaps 99% certainty or better. Capitalism is wrecking society, civilization and the environment. The economy does depend entirely on the climate and biosphere continuing to function to provide a livable environment, resources and bio-services to humans. Money is entirely notional, not real except in the socially constructed sense. It can be created ex nihilo by money printing, QE, debt monetization and other methods. It is a tool (along with well regulated markets) and not an infallible auto-pilot system for running the real economy and dealing with real dangers (from zoonotic disease outbreaks to climate change).
Heterodox economics from thermoeconomics (biophysical economics) to MMT (Modern Monetary Theory) in the arenas they analyze are ENTIRELY VINDICATED and conventional economics (from classical, to neoclassical to neoliberal is ENTIRELY DEBUNKED). The theoretical victory is so comprehensive it is to all intents and purposes TOTAL. Yet, the democratic socialist struggle in praxis has scarcely begun. It is possible to be in the right morally and intellectually and still lose to cunning, treachery and violence. All of us who understand realpolitik know that and need to remember it. A true people’s revolution of minds and hearts can carry the democratic socialist revolution without significant violence if the people’s solidarity is extensive enough. The oppressive, exploitative elites are tiny in number and without their wealth, propaganda and security apparatus they are puny. It’s time to begin the democratic socialist revolution and carry it through peacefully if we can. Even people in the security apparatus systems (armies, police, security forces) are social and family people too. They too need to be shown at the social and family level where their true interests and loyalties lie. With THE PEOPLE and not with the crypto-fascist elites!
I’m not so optimistic about change. The media always supports the movements of wealth and power. After this insecurity, I look for wealth and power to get back in the same track.
Thomas Fazi is spot on both in his description and his prescription. The pandemic has provided an opening for progressive change but it’s up to us to make sure our elites don’t close it. We need to act together and organise, my friends.
Great share on the music front….If Art Blakey was still around this is where he would be at, reminds me a bit of Arts album ‘The Egyptian..’
I will get this album..thanks…
Keep up the good work…