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Two op eds relevant to health care appear in major newspapers this morning.  In The Boston Globe Derrick Jackson offers Laying down the law on health reform which begins

HEALTH CARE reform is now so bizarre that the Republicans are the ones screaming that the Democrats’ proposals are terrible because they will not insure enough Americans.

And in The Washington Post we can read the words of the widow of Ted Kennedy.  Victoria Reggie Kennedy offers us The moment Ted Kennedy would not want to lose she writes

The bill before the Senate, while imperfect, would achieve many of the goals Ted fought for during the 40 years he championed access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans.

Derrick Jackson has been a consistent liberal voice in the press.  And no one should doubt Vickie Kennedy's dedication to what was the cause of her late hsuband's life.

That does not mean we cannot question the arguments of either or both.  I'm not saying that.

But I do think we owe them the decency to hear/read what they have to offer.

Let me start with Jackson.

I think many who are unhappy with how things have played out in the Senate might, regardless of their opinion of the current shape of the Senate bill - whatever that might be - find themselves in strong agreement with Jackson's third paragraph:

When the Republicans feign care for the uninsured, the Democrats had better get a grip before the entire health care moment is lost. Liberals already have conceded they are not getting anything close to single-payer coverage. It is time for Democratic leaders to tell centrist renegades such as Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska to stop threatening to destroy reform unless it bans coverage for abortions. It is time for them to tell party turncoat and anti-public-option insurance industry hack Joe Lieberman that if you block reform, the door is barred to their side of the aisle.

Methinks the blunt language describing Lieberman will resonate with most here.  And Jackson's willingness to draw a line is something with which many have already expressed agreement, even knowing that crybaby Joe might take his marbles and leave the Democratic caucus.  Jackson is willing to have the leadership present Lieberman with an ultimatum.  And from what I can see, that would resonate strongly with Lieberman's Connecticut constituents.   That includes Connecticut rabbis, more than two dozen of whom signed a letter

which says, in part, "As rabbis and Jews, we are commanded to seek the welfare and healing of all those in our midst, especially the weak, especially the vulnerable. We are taught to care for justice - and a system that leaves millions of Americans uninsured and under-insured is far from just."

Let me offer a couple of other snips from Jackson:  

Without reform, the CBO, the actuary, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation estimate we will have between 54 million and 66 million uninsured Americans by 2019.

Our unfairness has a human toll. Of the 25 top-ranked countries in the UN’s 2009 Human Development report, the United States has the third-highest income gap and is tied for the second-lowest life expectancy.

and from Jackson's concluding paragraph:

it is important to get 30 million more people insured, even in this highly flawed system. Democrats need to grab the debate back and not completely cave in to Republicans who are making a mockery of health care reform.

In Meeting for Worship with an attention to Business, Quakers will occasionally offer a simple and plain expression of support for a previous speaker:  "This Friend speaks my mind."  For much of what I read in Derrick Jackson, I offer those words:  "He speaks my mind."

Vickie Kennedy goes through a list of things she believes the Senate bill would accomplish.  You can read them through the link.  She also offers this:  

Health care would finally be a right, and not a privilege, for the citizens of this country. While my husband believed in a robust public option as an effective way to lower costs and increase competition, he also believed in not losing sight of the forest for the trees. As long as he wasn't compromising his principles or values, he looked for a way forward.

We need to remember that what comes out of the Senate would not be the final version.  Keeping that in mind, read the final paragraph from Mrs. Kennedy:  

The bill before Congress will finally deliver on the urgent needs of all Americans. It would make their lives better and do so much good for this country. That, in the end, must be the test of reform. That was always the test for Ted Kennedy. He's not here to urge us not to let this chance slip through our fingers. So I humbly ask his colleagues to finish the work of his life, the work of generations, to allow the vote to go forward and to pass health-care reform now. As Ted always said, when it's finally done, the people will wonder what took so long.

I claim no expertise on health care policy.  I have seen first-hand the need for reform - in Wise ande Grundy, VA;  in the lives of students in Prince George's County, including Deomante Driver;  in the lives of friends and family who are medical professionals.

I may know a little about politics.  I am 63.  I remember the battles over Medicare;  Clinton's attempts in 1993;  the attempts to expand S-Chip; Medicare Part D.   The Republicans have made clear they want health care to fail, for political purposes, and - as is clear to many of us - to benefit their corporate sponsors.  

The American people want health care security.  They want to see that the recent election gave THEM some benefit, not just bailouts for banks and auto companies.   Health care remains a critical issue for many Americans.

Perhaps what comes out of the Senate will really shock many of us.  But suppose just this -  the Senate comes out without Stupak or Nelson's equivalent.  The rest of the House bill is not bad, and that might give grounds for a decent bill that moves the line, starts a process that can be continued and expanded in the future.

I claim no wisdom on this.  

But two people I am willing to respect, Derrick Jackson and Victoria Reggie Kennedy, suggest that we need to get a health care bill now.

I think that is worthy of our serious consideration.  

Don't you?


Originally posted to teacherken on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 09:55 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Now you can flame away if so inclined (64+ / 0-)

    you can offer all the reasons I should disregard what these two have to offer us.  You can attack my judgment.

    But please, even as I know we are passionate on this, remember this much:  I have not attacked you if you don't agree with these two, or with what I have written, today and recently, on the subject.

    I am willing to listen to the point of view of others.

    I want to see health care advanced.

    I think these two have something that adds to our discussion.


    do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

    by teacherken on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 09:55:27 PM PST

  •  Let me note this: (24+ / 0-)

    I am aware of the recommended diary on the Vickie Kennedy piece.  But I wanted to take a different viewpoint, and to combine her words with those of Derrick Jackson.

    My feelings will not be hurt if you think this repetitive and choose not to recommend it.  I just want to be sure that we broaden the discussion as much as we can.


    do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

    by teacherken on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 09:57:12 PM PST

  •  it is absolutely worthy (9+ / 0-)

    of our serious consideration.

    emotions are cooling a bit, and I suspect we will rally with support.

    we simply can't let this opportunity slip away.

    "When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race." ~H.G. Wells

    by ridemybike on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 10:00:13 PM PST

  •  Thought provoking piece teacherken, thanks. (9+ / 0-)

    We'll finally learn what's in the final Senate Bill in a about 7 hours apparently.

    Reid To Reveal Final Senate Bill Saturday Morning of Mid-Afternoon Says Durbin

    The Hill has the schedule for the week ending in a final vote Christmas Eve.   You can see it in the diary above.

    The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

    by HoundDog on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 10:00:26 PM PST

  •  one last preliminary comment (20+ / 0-)

    I am up late tonight.  We are looking at a major snowfall in the DC area.  I suspect when all is said and done I will confront at least 18" with which to deal.  I have a corner lot with public sidewalks on both sides, so this 63 year old slightly out of shape man is looking at a lot of snow shoveling, starting even before the snowfall ends.  

    I am thinking about health care a great deal now.  And about politics.

    And I indulged myself by watching several episodes of Criminal Minds.  The final quote from one stuck in my mind, and I think is relevant to how I am trying to approach this subject.  The words are from George Chakiris, the Dancer/Actor who won Best Supporting Actor for the film version of West Side Story:  

    No matter how dark the moment, love and hope are always possible.

    Perhaps I should simply have written on that tonight.  Perhaps someday I will.  I am trying to keep hope alive, to remain open to love and loving, and the healing that can bring.


    do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

    by teacherken on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 10:03:12 PM PST

  •  I do (15+ / 0-)

    This is the history of social insurance in America. We get what look like small wins but turn out to be transformations of our social contract.

    Social Security did not start out as a good program. The Medicare and Medicaid of the 60s was much weaker than it is today.

    I firmly believe if we get this passed it will continue to be improved on until we get a system in which every American has health security and in which healthcare costs are no longer weighing down our economy and our government. This bill establishes that goal and is a historic first step.

    And in the near term it will lessen greatly the human suffering our healthcare system causes. You have written quite eloquently on that suffering before. I think it would be a real tragedy if the history books recorded liberals as opposing a law that would bring so much relief to those who need it most.

    Ted Kennedy's greatest regret as a legislator was turning down a healthcare deal with Richard Nixon in 1971 that was quite close to what we have on the table today. Bill Clinton says we can't make the same mistake he made and reject what can happen. I think history has shown we would have been better off if Kennedy and other liberals took the deal in 1971 and if Clinton made a deal in 1994. When FDR made a deal in 1935 (No universal health insurance, racist, weak Social Security instead) it was the right choice and has lead to a great social insurance program.

    Let us, as liberals, not make the same mistake we made in 1971 and 1994. Let's get this healthcare bill passed into law. Let us lift up our brethren and strike a blow for compassion and human dignity.

    Let's get it done.

  •  I do not support the Senate bill that they (9+ / 0-)

    support. It doesn't do what they claim it does.

    I work full-time with the FDL team on health reform thanks to your donations.

    by slinkerwink on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 10:12:47 PM PST

  •  The President has called for an up or down (11+ / 0-)

    vote in his weekly address:

    Whatever their position on health insurance reform, Senators ought to allow an up or down vote. Let’s bring this long and vigorous debate to an end. Let’s deliver on the promise of health insurance reforms that will make our people healthier, our economy stronger, and our future more secure. And as this difficult year comes to a close, let’s show the American people that we are equal to the task of meeting our great challenges.

  •  This is a terrible thought: (14+ / 0-)

    Without reform, the CBO, the actuary, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation estimate we will have between 54 million and 66 million uninsured Americans by 2019.

    And of those people who are insured, I can only imagine how much they will have to pay out of pocket for their policies or for simple visits to the doctor. This really has become a moral issue for me. Thank you for the diary, Ken.

    "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." - Gandhi

    by missLotus on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 10:15:38 PM PST

  •  Great Jackson piece that I would have missed (9+ / 0-)

    Thank you. He lays it out perfectly.

    And of course, Vicki's piece. I wish Teddy could have signed it.

    "This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected." - Barack Obama (3.18.08)

    by lapis on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 10:18:41 PM PST

  •  If they vote for a bill (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    andrewj54, TheUnknown285, 0wn, Miggles

    without a Public Option to contain costs, but mandate buying crappy, expensive private insurance, it will be a death blow to the Democratic Party.

    ............................ The Public Option IS the compromise.

    by ctsteve on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 10:21:41 PM PST

  •  Oh no! More Iraq war opponents supporting HCR (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jaywillie, Populista, Sleepwalkr

    Didn't they get the memo??

    "This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected." - Barack Obama (3.18.08)

    by lapis on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 10:23:53 PM PST

  •  Thanks, teacherken. As one like you who has (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jaywillie, mamamarti, Sleepwalkr

    followed politics for ever and a day and seen how difficult it is to accomplish anything in the health care area, we cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good. I say seize the moment to lay as much of the foundation for a better system as we can this year. We will not have a better opportunity in the future - shame on those who pretend otherwise and disregard the pressing need of the millions who will benefit from the enactment of this bill even in its weakened form.

  •  Can we end the argument by authority? (4+ / 7-)

    Derrick Fucking Z. Jackson makes 60K at the Boston Globe and has as good a health care plan as a U.S. Senator. This bill means nothing to him. It does not affect him in the least.

    Ted Kennedy's widow says:

    Health care would finally be a right, and not a privilege, for the citizens of this country.

    Well guess the fuck what. Under this bill, there is no right to health care. There is only a law that says if you do not buy shitty insurance that covers nothing run by a company with a business plan to fuck you over when you actually get sick and need coverage, then you get the IRS to come down on your ass.

    And Ted Kennedy's widow literally has as good a health care plan as a U.S. Senator.

    So these two rich fucks can spare me the crocodile tears for my uninsured poor miserable ass. I appreciate their sympathy but if they really wanted to help working poor like myself they could stop telling me that the way to stand up is to bend over.

    Unless they're willing to as well. Which they're not.

    My name is Douglas Watts.

    by Pometacom on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 10:36:32 PM PST

    •  I dropped my last donut on your ad hominem (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Christin, itskevin, mamamarti

      post. Enjoy.

      Between birthers, deathers and mouth-breathers, the gop has got 'teh crazy' and 'teh stoopid' covered.

      by amk for obama on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 10:40:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  methinks you are off on several points (11+ / 0-)

      I am not arguing by authority.  I am pointing out people who are very dedicated to liberal causes in general and health care in particular, who have some thoughtful things to offer us.

      I would suspect that Jackson makes more than 60K at the Globe, but frankly I don't care.  As far as his health care, it was very much in doubt when it was not clear whether or not the NY Times would fold the Globe, as they came very close to doing.

      And those who have good health care - as I do - are often among those arguing most vociferously to ensure that more people are covered.  I have twice had what would have been major medical bills had I not had good insurance.  And my publicly funded plan probably qualifies as a 'cadillac" plan under current definitions.

      There is no reason for you to get nasty towards Jackson just because you disagree with his point of view.

      do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

      by teacherken on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 10:42:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  What?! (6+ / 0-)

    They must be sellouts too!

    /snark.  (What has this place come to lately?)

    Oba-MA bumaye! Oba-MA bumaye!

    by fou on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 10:39:44 PM PST

  •  Ahh yess .. the rich speak truth to the poor. (5+ / 0-)

    Krugman, Yglesias, Klein, Derrick Jackson, the list goes on.

    What do these people have in common?

    A. They are not poor, in fact they are quite rich, as in not making $10,000 a year, which is what I make.

    B. They have good health insurance plans and do not fear losing them.

    C. They are telling people who are not (a) and do not have (b) what to do.

    Sorry kids. I don't need rich, fully insured folks telling me why I have to take one for the team to help the "poor."

    I am the poor. If you are so concerned about "helping me" then at least listen.

    Poor people are not stupid. Getting fucked over all the time sort of educates you in that department.

    Even though, technically, at my income level, I might "benefit" from this bill, it does not matter. This bill totally sucks and it gets worse every day. It was written by the ins. cos. and for them. If it helps anyone it is only by accident, and they will plug those loopholes the next Congressional session.

    My name is Douglas Watts.

    by Pometacom on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 10:57:23 PM PST

  •  They don't have to live with it (8+ / 0-)

    No offense intended,teacherken.  I have great concerns about access to care for cancer patients WRT this plan.

    Not only will many of them face higher premiums, recission, high out of pocket costs and/or
    lack of access to care until this bill becomes effective, they'll continue to struggle with weak insurance regulations once it becomes effective.

    Most people in treatment for cancer can't afford to quit their jobs to qualify for Medicaid, nor can they afford COBRA payments if they lose their job.

    Policymakers always overlook these loopholes, intentionally or otherwise.

    Private health insurers always manage to stay one step ahead of the sheriff - Sen. Sherrod Brown

    by Betty Pinson on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 11:02:28 PM PST

  •  I'm one of the presumed 30 million (6+ / 0-)

    that the senate bill purports to cover. I'd say the number is somewhat illusory, since many of us won't be able to afford the premiums, and will opt to pay the fine. My significant other and I already have student loans, mortgage payments, car payments, and numerous other financial obligations, such as contributing to a family member's assisted living fees. We simply can't afford one more major expense. If we purchase a policy under the bill's plan, we would be taking a great risk, and jeopardizing our solvency. I've calculated that a policy, even with the provided subsidies, would cost us more than 5000 per annum. And if we actually get sick, the 30% co-pays could eat us alive. That's a lot of money, and much more than is paid in good single payer systems.

    This bill is good for those who would get the medicaid, but that's really the best provision that the bill offers.

    It seems that many of the pundits are well meaning, but when they can afford to spend $500 going out for dinner with good wine in New York City, the value of a $500 new monthly expense in small town, USA, won't be truly grasped. They are out of touch with what it is like to live within typical income levels. These pundits make far more money than most Americans. How could they possibly know the value of a dollar to an average person? They simply don't get it.

    The mandate for private junk insurance, which is essentially a bonanza for the very corporations which have caused much of our current crisis, needs to be dropped. The bill would then be acceptable.

    •  So (0+ / 0-)

      with no mandates, you would not purchase any insurance and you will be unisured as you are now?
      What about the 90k income earners and under being subsidized deal?

      •  that is the problem... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        slinkerwink, ZhenRen, thethinveil

        ...the bill is probably good without the mandates but with it it is just bad.

        We Glory in war, in the shedding of human blood. What fools we are.

        by delver rootnose on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 11:54:28 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  People who make under 400% (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        slinkerwink, antirove, thethinveil

        of the poverty level are subsidized, according to a scale. I've not seen any language about the 90K number that you mentioned.

        Even with subsidies, the rates can be too much for many of us. So with insurance under this bill, I could go bankrupt. Without the insurance, if I happen to become ill, I could go bankrupt. But I can't manifest money out of thin air, either way. Get it now?

        •  What you (0+ / 0-)

          need is free or close to free healthcare.
          So do I.
          Was that ever going to happen?

          •  No, and I find your tone insulting (0+ / 0-)

            You have erected a strawman argument. No one expects free health care. I rarely say "fuck you" but this type of comment is really wearing thin, because it is flat out false. In good health care systems, costs come down to affordable levels, which can be 2, 3, or 4 percent of individual income. There simply aren't good, effective cost control methods with the proposed plan, resulting in a big bonanza to insurance companies, and the short end of the stick for middle class America.

            And we're expected to pay high prices so as not to offend the corporate executives? This is wrong. It is shameful. It is immoral.

    •  I am currently ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      slinkerwink, antirove, ZhenRen

      ...unemployed, actually for quite a while now.  I have a cobra extention plan through illinois where I pay over $4000 a year for a $5000 per incident deductable and an annual out of pocket limit of about $14,000.  I am a 43 year old single male.

      I would welcome medicare.

      We Glory in war, in the shedding of human blood. What fools we are.

      by delver rootnose on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 11:59:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I am not presuming the Senate bill is final bill (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      but we cannot move the process forward without a Senate bill of some kind being passed.

      do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

      by teacherken on Sat Dec 19, 2009 at 04:53:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I hope you're right but... (0+ / 0-)

        the trend so far has been a gradual butchering of anything that truly threatens the monopoly of the insurance industry. What makes you think that pattern  will change?

        The house won't be able to change anything of substance in the bill, since the senate has already been through the gauntlet, and the house won't take the chance of killing the fragile agreement that now exists in the senate.

  •  A bill needs to pass (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Populista, Hawkjt

    The "kill the bill" crowd is just a bunch of left-wing purists who would rather "send a message" than do what is realistically possible.

  •  There are big questions regarding how strong (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    slinkerwink, andrewj54, TNThorpe

    the regulations really are concerning pre-existing conditions and insurance rescission. This is a very weak bill and if there is no type of strong public option that anyone can sign up for then at least there must be very strong regulations without vague language that will let the insurance companies weasel out of covering medical procedures. In reality it is insane to let the for-profit insurance companies be part of any healthcare reform since they are the main cause of this miserable non-system we are stuck with now.

  •  With Obama's message of Hope (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    my expectations were high-but I guess they were unrealistic expectations

  •  Who has watered down HCR the most (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Baucus, Lieberman and Nelson.

    All the GOP had to do was scream.

    Oh no, the dead have risen and they're voting Republican. - Lisa Simpson

    by LaFeminista on Sat Dec 19, 2009 at 03:37:10 AM PST

  •  Sen. Sanders articulates the dilemma so well (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bobs Telecaster

    On the one hand, the possibility that tens of millions will get some form of assistance to deal with life and death issues.

    On the other hand,  the bill's a massive infusion of public and private dollars into a failed system that's not being required to change all that much.

    He's clearly going to do what he can to get the best bill, but in the end he's all but certain to vote to provide assistance even if it's via this wickedly inadequate Senate bill.  How can anyone not respect his likely decision?

    His objections to this unhappily pro-corporate subvention aren't based on some "ideological purity" as critics of the Senate bill's critics so often claim.

    You'll find such language in Vicky Kennedy's op-ed:

    In the early 1970s, Ted worked with the Nixon administration to find consensus on health-care reform. Those efforts broke down in part because the compromise wasn't ideologically pure enough for some constituency groups

    This is a fundamental misunderstanding on her part and that sort of language does her no particular credit.

    It's not "purity" to object to the savaging of American public life and welfare by the amorality of big business. It's not "purity" to seek public control over industries integral to the public good.

    This struggle between the forces of corporate profit at all costs and the public good has been a central feature of American political life since the late 19th century.

    That it should arise in the health care debate is hardly a surprise.

    I think it's good for left critics of the bill to raise a ruckus now. The bill is not yet passed, still has to venture into conference where it might be improved. If it weren't for left critics of the bill, the pro-corporate bias of the Obama administration would be given much less public attention. It's good that Dr. Dean has put the spotlight on critical weaknesses in the bill.

    Ongoing class war is being fought through this bill just as it was through the Wall Street bailout. If the Obama administration doesn't see that yet, it's got a rude awakening coming.

    Debt peonage in the 21st century, a fully bipartisan accomplishment.

    by TNThorpe on Sat Dec 19, 2009 at 04:26:43 AM PST

  •  Sorry, I'm still with Kos (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    There is no bill - just a proposal that degrades by the hour with every new demand from those holding it hostage.

    Reid, the President, and his chief of staff need to fear losing their political achievement from the left, as well as from the right.

    The reason they've been doing all their bending to the right is because they're confident they have us. We need them - if we want a bill with any potency to it - to understand that they don't necessarily have us. They have to earn that.

    If apes evolved from humans, why are there still humans?

    by Bobs Telecaster on Sat Dec 19, 2009 at 05:46:13 AM PST

  •  I don't like it, but if more people can get CARE, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I'm not talking about access, or coverage, or insurance, but being taken care of when sick, then I feel obliged to support it.

    It's the fascism, stupid!

    by lastman on Sat Dec 19, 2009 at 06:33:13 AM PST

  •  We should just call it the Step One Act (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Make it well known that this is merely the beginning and not the end.  I'm curious when the President was describing change as a process why more people didn't take heed.  We've just put our nose under the tent.  We'll be going on in for the next generation now because we've finally taken a step.

    I was listening to Ronald Reagans show on Friday and they had the author of a new book Obama's Brain on the show.  The overall theme of his comments was as a touchstone the President thinks pragmatism.  Yes he had the requisite ideology, but he appeared to the author to be far more interested in progress inside that frame then the frame itself.  Thank God.  

    Full time Obamabot, Kool Aid drinking Democratic hopemonger just full of change you can believe in.

    by Adept2u on Sat Dec 19, 2009 at 08:28:06 AM PST

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