Let’s Turn Off Daylight Saving Time

The spring-forward fall-back changes cost businesses money, and the promised energy savings have never materialized. Pro or con?

Pro: A False Economy

Although Daylight Saving Time (DST) has been justified as an energy-conservation measure, it is no such thing.

Studies conducted by University of California researchers on Indiana before 2006, when the state operated under three different time regimes, and on Sydney, Australia, which extended DST to accommodate the 2000 Summer Olympic Games, show either no difference in energy consumption or a small increase in power usage during the months immediately after clocks were moved an hour ahead.

While these studies call into question the promised energy savings, there is no doubt about the costs of DST. According to my back-of-the-envelope calculation, in the U.S. we divert nearly $1.7 billion worth of valuable time to the annual spring-forward, fall-back exercise. That’s the opportunity cost—time that could be better spent on more productive things.

Economists typically value the opportunity cost at an individual’s wage rate. The Bureau of Labor Statistics preliminarily estimates that the average American’s hourly wage was $22.45 in January 2010.

Assuming it takes everyone 10 minutes to change all of his or her clocks and watches, the opportunity cost equals $3.74 per person. The one-time opportunity cost for the nation (based on total U.S. population over 18 years old, excluding residents of Arizona, which doesn’t observe DST) therefore is $836,117,536. Since clocks are changed twice yearly, the total must be doubled.

Businesses feel the costs as well. More than 1.5 billion people globally need to adjust clocks and schedules, even if their own countries haven’t officially adopted DST.

There are no real benefits and some very real costs related to DST. Congress should repeal the tyranny of government time and leave our clocks alone.

Con: Proven Benefits

Instead of turning Daylight Saving Time (DST) off, Congress should turn it on year-round.

First, despite the contrarians, DST saves energy. Why? Far more oil, electricity, and energy are used during evening darkness than morning because more Americans are awake at 5 p.m. than at 6 a.m. Hence, shifting sunlight to the evening causes a significant reduction in evening peak load, which outweighs a small increase in the early morning load caused by DST.

There are many more important advantages to DST. Numerous types of crime, including assault and theft, peak during evening darkness, while the corresponding rates are very low during early morning. Happily, DST allows society to take advantage of the fact that criminals are late to rise and late to bed.

The crime reduction associated with prolonged daylight helps individuals and businesses alike. U.S. retailers lost $42.2 billion to theft from mid-2008 to mid-2009, according to the Global Retail Theft Barometer, so a reduction in theft could mean big savings. The impact would be felt by mom-and-pop and big-box stores alike because 92% of retailers were theft victims in 2009, the National Retail Federation reports.

Most important, however, is the fact that DST saves lives. Simply put, darkness kills. Extending DST year-round would save more than 350 American lives annually in reduced traffic fatalities during the evening. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the change from daylight to twilight causes a 300% increase in fatal pedestrian crashes alone. Having this change occur one hour later saves lives because fewer motorists are on the road then.

The advantages of year-round DST—including energy conservation, crime reduction, and lives saved—clearly outweigh the disadvantages. It is past time for us to shift our thinking permanently forward on DST.

Opinions and conclusions expressed in the Bloomberg BusinessWeek Debate Room do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloomberg BusinessWeek, BusinessWeek.com, or Bloomberg LP.

Reader Comments

aj

I agree to both.

HAHA

This opportunity cost argument seems hollow. Ten minutes to change clocks at 2 am in morning? Not all work in night shifts. The claim for no reduction in energy consumption is not buttressed by facts.

will

The opportunity cost seems hollow because in this era many clocks are synchronized through the Internet or radio to automatically adjust themselves. When was the last time you changed a computer or cell phone clock for DST?

geo

The latest DST schedule in the United States put us out of synch with DST schedules in Europe and other overseas air destinations. This complicates international flight schedules during the overlap periods. If we are to have DST at all, it is better that it be during the same time periods worldwide. Better still we could just eliminate DST alltogether. As a native American once said, you cannot make a blanket any longer by cutting a piece off one end and sewing it on the other.

Bill

Geo,

I think you may have just nailed it!

imnuetral

Instead of adjusting the time, you can derive the indicated "benefits" by changing the schedule to match the daylight. This is practiced in many countries.

David Eng

I really don't get the idea of DST--why don't we just have "winter" time all year round? Perhaps someone can explain this to me. First, winter has the shortest daylight available. Sun rises at 7 am and sets at 5 pm. During summer, the sun comes out earlier (say 5 am) and sets later (say 8 pm). By keeping the "winter" time all year round, you get additional sunlight whether it is early in the morning or late in the evening for summer. Now that we have planned for the worst case scenario in winter, why do we need to adjust the time for summer, which has more daylight?

oldy moldy

I love DST and wish it would stay year round. I do not like to drive or be out and about after dark and DLT allows me a lot more freedom. I know it still stays lighter longer in the summer, but I still really, really appreciate that extra hour. The younger people just don't understand the tremendous benefits of DST for those of us who are older and don't see as well or feel as safe out there at night. Please don't try to cancel DST on us. I want it year round if that's ever possible. There wouldn't be a lost hour of sleep if they'd just keep DST year round.

Alex R

Let's stop making unnecessary changes. Summer time shift adds 1 hour of light every day, which is a great thing if you fly aircraft or ski or hike or work outside. Not a problem to change your clock twice a year, in exchange for the extra daytime hour.

You can't make all time 'DST' because then you will wake up in the darkness in the winter.

So can we stop speculations and start to think about real problems?

Patriot

I agree, with all the modern machinery in the ag sector, DST does not have the same results in what was meant for it when it first took effect.

"Trash it."

The cows don't know the differance anyhow.

LS

The problem with changing the schedule to match the daylight is that humans are creatures of habit, and we synchronize our routine activities (getting up, eating lunch, etc.) to wall clock time.

If gleaning that extra hour of early evening daylight in the summer meant that businesses had to shift their business hours forward (e.g., be open from 8-4 instead of 9-5), it would simply never happen, because all the changes required (e.g., changing time cards) would be far more invasive than just changing the clocks in the first place.

Freetruth

The problem is jerking our sleep rhythms around. It takes weeks to get back into a rhythm. But it really screws up teenagers that have to get up before light to go to school.

Good sleep is crucial to good health and this going back and forth causes health problems. Sleep deprivation is also important for brainwashing people, hmmm.

Stephen Scott

Although I lean to the "con" argument on economic costs and benefits, I am prepared to accept that neither case is made conclusively here. But I live in Montreal, Que., and in winter it is pitch black outdoors before 5 P.M. Daylight Savings Time comes each year as liberating-- a great morale boost. We can debate the pros and cons. But what is this about the "tyranny of government time"? I read Mr. Shugart's argument with interest. But is it necessary for him to employ "hype" and overstatement? Cannot public affairs be discussed with a balance and restraint? Time, as shown on clocks,even standard time, is the creature of government--of individual governmnets and of intergovernmental agreements. With the advent of the railway it became clear that no scheduling and no traffic management on a transportation system could exist withot standardization of time. Some readers might care to read the biography of Sir Sandford Fleming on Wikipedia.

Harry Tuttle

You "Con" guys are joking right? I mean, I'm sorry to be so out-of-touch, but I'm going to answer as if you are serious.

Why would you make the change all year long? You (and businesses) have the choice to simply get up an hour earlier or later. What are you, sheep? How about taking the initiative in your own life and make an intelligent decision for yourself?

One more thing. I still know many people whose electronic calendars are out of whack since the 2007 DST change. It seems a little silly to have IT departments out spending resources on this garbage.

The whole DST issue is very symbolic of how some humans seek to shift reality--in this case, the flow of time--to meet with their desires, instead of making simple behavioral changes. DST embarrasses me as a human.

joe4liberty

Sorry, but DST is foolish, and the con argument does not hold water. Fact: The days are longer during summer hours. Thus, any perceived "savings" that are argued in the con argument are a result of longer daylight hours, not playing with clocks.

People go to work and come home from work at all hours of the day, and a government plan to change clocks doesn't change that, nor does it fool the sun. So I now have to turn on the lights in the morning for an extra hour instead of at night. Only Arizona has a legislature that understands the basic tenant that only a fool can cut a foot off of the top of a blanket, sew it onto the bottom, and think that he now has a longer blanket. Well, apparently according by the con argument and several of the posts here, this "logic" extends beyond elected officials.

Strider

Ben Franklin was the 1st proponent of DST. In his day, the vast majority of Americans were farmers and there was virtually no artificial light, so sunset put an end to nearly all human activity. So DST made at least some sense then.

However, this is not the 17th century. Artificial light is plentiful (ask any astronaut) and we now live in an industrial society with shift work and many night activities. Also, we now have vast networks of servers and other computers running 24/7. So what little energy might be saved in the early evening is negated in the early morning.

Calandrillo is also lying about traffic safety. Pre-dawn and dusk are the most dangerous driving hours, and DST puts the morning commute into pre-dawn. Every year many children are killed or injured in March, October, and November walking to school or waiting for buses in DST-induced morning darkness.

As for crime, the answer is to crush the criminal element without mercy or regret, not adjust to it or appease it with clock-tinkering.

Perhaps Mr. Calandrillo's thinking is affected by living in Seattle, where sunrise in midsummer is around 5:15 PDT. Year-round DST would move Seattle sunrise at midwinter to nearly 9:00. Apparently Mr. Calandrillo is one of those wealthy elites who can get up when he feels like it; the rest of us have to rise at or before 6 a.m., when thanks to DST it's still dark even at midsummer here in "flyover country." Down south there is less summer daylight, which is another reason Hawaii, like Arizona, does not observe DST.

RHML

I can make better recreational use of an extra hour of evening light, but Strider is right, you aren't gaining any daylight in this trade and where you make the evenings safer you make the morning commute more dangerous. The entire pro arguement seemed quite poorly thought out. I do, however, still like the extra hour at night.

Maggie

I say leave one way or the other, I don't care which one. It's the changing it again and again that I hate. It may only be one hour, but it's very hard to adjust, especially for families with young kids. If DST is better, just leave it year round!

Bill

I can't wait for DST each year for better quality of life. It was a great feeling to come home from work to sunshine at 6:15 last night and go out and play catch with my son Without DST, its about another month of darkness and twilight.

Fred

As far as the clock changing, it is true that most computers can change the time on their own but many pre DST2007 devices have to be changed 4 times a year due to the old programmed DST on which they change and then again on the new DST.

If the government wants to control time, then they should invest in a far better Radio Frequency National Timeclock. I know I have several so-called atomic clocks and at my location none of the devices auto set.

Our current DST program is just a "Rob Peter to pay Paul" concept and if they really want to clean this up then split the difference in time and stop the current DST program.

Anton Shahu

I don't care about energy savings but rather of my time: My family and I have better use of daylight during summer.

My proposal: Don't keep changing it every couple of years. The confusion and lost opportunity "cost" of switching the clocks and synchronizing meetings stems from the fact that it keeps changing and it's different with Europe.

If people understand 29 days of Feb in a leap year so can they understand DST.

Strategery

After giving this issue some thought, I have a theory. DST sucks if you have to be up early, usually for a job or school. Not only is it dark in the morning, it is hard to sleep because people stay up making noise. If you are up later in the day, DST is great.

Some people claim that DST in necessary because it makes adjusting schedules easier. The fact is, many businesses have different summer and winter hours even with DST. For example, if a restaurant closes at 10:00 pm during the winter, they might need to stay open until midnight during the summer.

Paul

Strider's comments are correct.

DST was introduced primarily to assist farmers, back when fifty or sixty percent of our population lived on farms, and there were chores that had to be done before going off to school. (This is alone why schools close for ten weeks each summer; the kids were needed to help with the farm work.) Now that perhaps only two percent of our families operate farms, automation has replaced much of the manual labor, electric lights have replaced oil lamps, and almost no child walks to school any more, perhaps it is time to consider whether DST is an anachronism we can do without.

Or we could do what the military world wide is doing more and more of: schedule everything by Zulu time (Greenwich mean time). -just kidding- sort of.... -but then again....?

Steve

I want you to stop daylight saving time because my physical condition worsens.

UnderMan

Strider, you are wrong. Benjamin Franklin was not the 1st proponent of DST (as we know it). During his time as an American envoy to France, Benjamin Franklin, author of the proverb, "Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise", anonymously published a letter suggesting that Parisians economize on candles by rising earlier to use morning sunlight.

Modern DST was first proposed in 1895 by George Vernon Hudson.
Either eliminate DST or go permanently DST. I don't care. Just quit changing the clocks. It makes no sense to do that any longer.

anish singh

I terribly hate DST because I can't enjoy early nights.

Instead I prefer an extra hour of daylight in the morning and darkness in the evening.

I like nights more than days.

Bernard Ingram

As an IT consultant for over 30 years, there is hardly a week goes by where I witness some problem or other caused by computer code that fails to accommodate daylight saving shifts. If you ever wonder why computer problems occur in seemingly simple tasks, then take moment or two to think about what goes on when the clocks change. Most programmers worth their salt work with UTC times but sometimes that is not possible and local times must be employed and that's where the problems start. For instance, at any time during the hour following the end of the daylight saving period it's the same time it was an hour earlier and there is no way to discern the difference between the two times. The main problem is that any computer code has to take account of the DST no matter when it runs. It is a huge overhead that we could just do without.

Henry Hertz Hobbit

Bernard Ingram knows what he is talking about. One thing that really causes problems is if you have Linux and Microsoft installed on the same system. The battle to tame the clocks will go on for a week because Microsoft wants to set the clock to local time and Linux uses UTC with local time being an offset of that. Linux or any other sytem that does it by UTC is doing it correct. Microsoft is doing it wrong. I used to let Linux win and Microsoft lose. Now both are set to use UTC time. No more problems. DST was not created for the farmers. It was created for people who want to fool themselves into believing they are doing something different than just altering how they schedule their daylight hours. I am probing and doing discovery because to me it is obvious that we should go back to Standard Time and leave the clocks alone. If you need to reschedule things, go ahead but a loss of one hour in the spring in one chunk is too much.You need a gradual transition to doing things earlier. If you want to follow it, here is my blog on this subject:

http://NoMoreDST.BlogSpot.com

I am amenable to scheduling things earlier during summer months. But because of DST and wrong thinking, the History channel still has their online scheduling wrong for the US Mountain Time Zone. It has been wrong for at least four years now.They will have it wrong forever until they shift to expressing their two or three feeds in UTC time and calculating the local schedule as an offset off of UTC time for that feed and DST is abolished. But TV schedules isn't the only place DST is causing problems.

Be careful you get the correct 1:00 to 2:00 AM recording time on November 7th this year. You do realize there are two of them don't you?

MissNancy

This is the most assinine, ridiculous thing human beings ever perpetrated on themselves.

"Hey, let's all pretend it's an hour later so we'll see more sunshine!"

Stupid, stupid, stupid and a completely childish game with no benefit.

I am 65 years old and I have seen the horrific effects on society with the constant changes everyone has to adjust to in their sleep habits and it is making people crazy.

This has been going since I was 12 years old, and believe me, it has done nothing good for anyone.

Carol

I don't care if it is DST or ST--just leave it one way. This business of "spring ahead" or "fall behind" is nonsense. Leave it alone and do something productive with your time. I don't know why the States have such a love affair with time changes.

Samiam

Any benefit of switching between daylight saving time and standard time to the average person (not someone who benefits from the London and NY stock exchange overlap) is either negligible, offset by drawbacks, achievable through less complicated means, or simply non-existent.

The most recent and exhaustive studies show that no energy is saved and it is probably wasted. There are fewer car accident fatalities overall but only about 1% and there are more auto accidents, work related injuries, heart attacks, and suicides in the days after the switch. The evidence of crime reduction is anecdotal at best.

If you want more light hours after work then just go to work earlier. If you don't have flextime that is a problem with your employer not with time itself.

Christi Richard

In reading each of the posts on this forum, I'm struck by the hidden reasons behind Daylight Saving Time, as well as the practice's indefinite perpetuation. That is, we simply cannot agree on our reasons for being either for or against DLS. For some, there is a perceived benefit. For others there is an overwhelming reason for DLS to be abolished. Some think that, logically, we should leave the time on “winter” time, while still others want that extra hour of daylight in the summertime.

Applying this same argumentative scenario onto politicians in Congress, mixed with our human propensity for self-preservation and disagreement, it isn't difficult to understand why Congress is as uncertain as to what to do with DLS, as we are in this collection of pro-and-con postulates.

Therefore, DLS will likely be with us for a long time to come, and while it may pain those of us who hate changing our clocks with an aggressive passion, history seems to demonstrate that concepts, as these, are much easier started than ended. My guess is that our great grandchildren will be chiming the same issues toward DLS as we are, today.

We are human if nothing else, so while it may serve no logical purpose to snip a foot off the top of a blanket to place on the bottom, there nonetheless may exist a plethora of people who simply like that foot of blanket on the bottom than the top; if logic was the ultimate reason behind everything that we did in collective society, we wouldn't facilitate many of the foolish things that we do.

bilyz

The entire system is an anachronism. Though sure to excite all the conspiracy nuts on all sides, the only system that makes sense in our current world is to have only two times, that are never adjusted: global time, by whatever name such as zulu or Greenwich Mean Time, etc., and local time, determined from local noon. It would be easy to keep them clear by having global time always and only in numbers, i.e. 1200; and similarly, local time always and only in words, i.e. noon.

Way past time to get this time thing rational.

Ron

I am led to believe that the idea for DST was from Ben Franklin. He was a pretty smart dude, so there must have been pretty good reasons for it 200 years ago. I suspect those have disappeared, but it's still fun to make the sun come up earlier just by changing my clock.

Daniel Fowler

Heck, yes! Pro. Let's nip DST in the butt.

We're effectively losing an hour every year because let's face it... we all stay up an hour later when DST is falling back, but we never go to bed an hour earlier when it's springing forward.

Alvin

Set the clocks once and forget it. If you want to save energy, stop all television transmissions after 9:00 p.m. You will save enough to support another Middle Eastern war.

Bill

Choose one and then leave it alone!

gwaz

Look at all the time people took to write their thoughts--best part is that Congress does not care what you think; they only do what is profitable for the lobbyists that fund them. Now does that explain why the time change game is played for years with no action? This matter that will only change when the lobbyists that fund these people want things changed. Till then don't waste you time--agreed and oh, good night.

Ron

Stop messing with mother nature. Time is time, leave it alone. No DST.

Yancy Ponting

Ask five people why we observe daylight-saving time, and you're likely to get five different answers.

Some will tell you it's for safety. During daylight-saving time, which began the first Sunday in April and ends this weekend, brighter evenings cut down on the number of car crashes, according to some sources.

But it seems those gains are quickly lost as soon as we "fall back" to standard time, according to a study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University, which found "a 186 percent jump in the risk of being killed by a car for every mile walked" during the weeks after the fall switch.

David Stinson

Daylight savings time doesn't really save daylight? We've been robbed

Storey Institute

Having lived in Arizona I am sold on the idea of abolishing DST.

Americans stay up later than ever before. I know that now I have to turn on lights and heat an hour earlier. There are other costs not calculated. Many of us forget to change the clocks and then miss appointments or turn up early. Those costs are not calculated. Broadcasters remind people constantly, what is a 30 second commercial worth?

We also have to forgo leisure activities when the evenings are darker. Few of us do those things in the early morning, when the light is gained. So during darker evening hours we are less active. I know as a kid I hated it when we lost the light after school as it cut into play time. It still does.

I just know I can do less and my electricity bill is now higher. I also find it harder to sleep as the room get light earlier, disrupting my sleep and making me mroe tired.

LCM

More daylight in the evening here in the south means more intensive use of AC, which means more usage of electricity and higher electric bills. I think in certain parts of the country we really use more energy under DST.

Joseph

Turn it off or on, I don't care. Just stop forcing us to change our clocks twice yearly. I have to change my old VCR/DVD player that operates on the old DST schedule. Also my bedroom alarm clock, the clock in my car, the microwave clock, and my wristwatch. All of which is annoying.

Zen

@ Alex R,
Where do you live that you don't wake in darkness? We get daylight from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm in the winter and it sucks. Daylight Savings is a real waste of time here and useless. In the summer, we get daylight from 4:00 am to midnight. Joy. I would prefer not to change the clocks and deal with the week of fallout from my kids, my own internal body clock, etc.

Joe

I wish they would just have us "fall back" in November and leave it at that. The days get longer anyway as soon as we reach the "December Solstice" which is December 21st!

And by early March, it is already light until about 6 pm anyway. When we have do the stupid "Spring Forward" the 2nd week of March, we lose an hour sleep, and we take 1 hour of light away in the morning for 1 extra hour at night.


Watch when you get up after the March "spring forward"--it will still be dark at 7 am in the morning.


Besides, in the summer, do we really need it sunny until 9 pm every night?

Bob

I live in a small town, am energy self-sufficient, and prefer as much daylight as possible in the mornings, so I find DST is more of a nuisance, but I can see how others with different lifestyles might like it.

P.S. Excellent points, Christi Richard.

Bret

Personally, I think it should be turned off. The standard is the more accurate time of day. And for everyone who loves it, why not just adjust your schedules a hour? If you want to do stuff an hour earlier during the summer, go ahead and do it. It is not like businesses close at sundown anymore.

L.G. Herring

Leave it at SDT, for the children getting on the bu.es going to school, It's not healthy to keep changing it back and forth.

Matt

OMG. The sheer idiocy in some of these posts astounds me, and it seems that before some of you will actually understand the benefits of Daylight Savings, you need to understand what it actually is. We are not getting "extra" daylight! The daylight is shifted to different times. I know this is pretty basic, but some people really don't seem to get it, as seen in some of these posts.

Also in response to those arguing that less light in the morning is more dangerous with regard to traffic fatalities, etc., no, this is not true. This would be true if everyone started work at 6 or 7 in the morning, but they don't. Most people start after 8 or 9, much after sunrise. In the evening on the other hand, most people leave work around 5 or 6, when (during winter) the sun is setting. DLS fixes this issue by giving us more light in the evening. This is not only safer for traffic during peak hour, but allows for people to have more outside time after work. I can't see any issues that arise from DLS except for those living in the far western parts of each time zone, which really should be shifted to the next time zone anyhow. I know some people will not agree with me on this, but I would much rather have daylight until 8 pm in QLD then have the blistering hot QLD sun bursting in my window at 4 am every bloody summer day! How these backward QLD'rs cannot appreciate or understand that is beyond me.

Oh and one more thing: Freetruth, it does not take weeks to adjust daylight savings time. Have you ever flown between time zones? If what you say is true, then every businessman who travels internationally would take months to adjust to timezone changes, every time they fly. I flew from Brisbane, Australia to Wellington in New Zealand (two hours ahead of Brisbane) and back last week. I am not going crazy with confusion. It is estimated that it takes one day to adjust to each hour of difference experienced in jetlag (Or one could say, daylight savings time). Not wakes. Don't be so rediculous. Pfft. weeks... These are the people I am talking about in the start of my post!

Maddie

The truth is, by altering the human circadian clock by changing time and now in the US by over 7 months--you screw everyone up. This isn't about farmers or daylight; it's about putting the public into disarray. Screw the golfers. Leave work early--you probably don't work your 40 anyhow.


I'm on the far west zone of eastern time, and should be on central, by going to DST--I'm on Bermuda time. Sucks big time.

Live by the light and not the clock.

Steve

The important bit to remember is that changing the clocks does not actually move time. It just means that we get up earlier, and pretend that we haven't. For example, if you wake up at 7 normally, then moving the clocks forward by an hour means that you actually get up at 6 but your clock tells you that it is 7. We could all save a lot of hassle twice a year by just leaving the clocks where they are and stop pretending that we are still getting up at the same time.

Quote: "We change our clocks during the summer months to move an hour of daylight from the morning to the evening?!" Clearly total nonsense. All it does mean is that we can do something an hour earlier than before but pretend that it is the same time.

derek

Daylight Saving Time needs to be abolished for these reasons.
1.For 8 months a year, Michigan and Indiana are thrown into a time zone used in Bermuda, The Canadian Maritimes, and other islands well off the Atlantic Coast of the US.
2.More daylight in the summer means more it's hot later, means more air conditioners eating up more energy.
3.Springing forward in March sends sunrises further back than December 21st.
4.Changing clocks doesn't make the day longer, it just complicates our biological clocks for several weeks after the changes.
5.Increased risk for high schoolers who either walk, or wait for buses in pre-dawn darkness.
6.Spring ahead in March is way too early. Having the sun out til 8:30 or 9pm is useless when they're 2 feet of snow on the ground. (keep in mind two of the biggest blizzards in history occured after the current spring forward date, march 17, 1936, and march 13, 1993). this would also increase seasonal affective disorder and depression as later sunsets would give the impression that the weather should be warmer.

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