PostHeaderIcon Control-Alt-Delete

A slow-paced discussion has been going on in a comment section that deserves a wider audience. Tom recently said:

Thank you for your comments. My mind is still swimming. I have thoughtfully read your comments twice–at least–at different sittings, as well as Troy’s Secession piece along with the comments that followed. I am very impressed by the clearly written expressions of passion and conviction and the depth and quantity of thought and detail. I have some thoughts to express aloud.

As an American citizen, I share much anger and frustration. On the other hand, I do not believe there can exist a political utopia, whether the embedded economic system is capitalistic or socialistic, or a blend of both. Because human beings are imperfect creatures, all governments, institutions, and professions will have elements of corruption and incompetence: and if these pockets of corruption and incompetence are unattended, they can erode and\or destroy a government, an institution, or a profession. Along with many others, I also think that human beings are animals capable of reason and that human beings are also social animals who thrive best by forming social contracts, that is, systems of agreements with commitments, rights and responsibilities, although the social contracts (including the Constitution) may be imperfect ones. As time moves and flaws in the social contract become apparent and new problems develop, the parties involved in the social contract must make choices to correct present and potential problems. In such a process, I think that intelligent, honest, sincere, and competent men and women will sometimes make mistakes, though they act with good intentions. And I also think that all complex problems are not immediately solvable and that some problems cannot be solved at all. When “corrections or “perceived corrections” are made, there well may be some negative, unintended consequences. Consequently, adjustments will be needed. So the cycle continues and more imperfect representatatives in a constitutional repubic will attempt to solve complex problems. So it goes.

So, for me, given the imperfections of human nature and American strengths balanced against America’s weaknesses (democracy’s flaws, capitalism’s flaws), I think that living in America and accepting my rights and responsibilities (as I understand them in the context of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and its Amendments, and The Gettysburg Address (especially a government of, and by, and for the people) is the best choice for me at this time and place, my here and now. And I am thankful that I can freely discuss and write about this free choice to live in America, while at the same time honoring and respecting those who think and choose differently.

A closing note: I believe that Freedom is not an absolute and that Freedom is not free. My freedom–my ability to make important and significant political, economic, and personal choices in a personally secure and comfortable environment–is deeply rooted in the risks and the sacrifices that many Americans have made through the years in order to make and preserve the identity of the United States. I am humbled at the thought.

That was an excellent summation of your reaction to what you are encountering here, Tom. When one first becomes exposed to some of the history of what America once was, and the perversion of it that has taken place, one’s mind and worldview do indeed swim in a sea of confusion and mixed emotions.

For what it is worth, Troy and I experienced this awakening years ago, long before we met online. We spent the last year together elsewhere, almost daily kicking around proactive ideas about how to awaken the American people to what had happened; and what was coming, if we did not return to our founding principles before it was too late. In between, it is probably fair to say that we went through the stage of pragmatic compromise with the modern Robin Hoods, which you find yourself presently in.

We are now, to be sure, inflexible proponents of individual sovereignty, who will never accept the status of serf or the chains of a slave, be they attempted by a tyrant or a committee of the vox populi. We have watched with trepidation the brewing of this perfect storm. Converging forces of corrupted national politics, unsustainable debt, phony environmentalism, expanding corporatism, globalist geopolitics, Islamic jihad, illegal immigration, the monetary malfeasance of the financial world, and the abdication of their adversarial duty by the fourth estate, were there for all to see; but few bothered to connect the dots. Believing in the essential character of the American people, Troy, I, and countless others did all we knew how to warn them.

Alas, as old men from the heartland, we discounted the efficacy of the emoting academics and their sycophant media, feverishly emasculating the minds of metropolitan voters; thereby robbing them of their birthright as free, self-sufficient, and self-reliant Americans. The indomitable character of the typical countryman of our youth, has simply vanished in our lifetimes.  Now, the results of our recent election provide the final ingredient to that perfect cauldron, and with utter dismay we watch helplessly as the maelstrom comes crashing on our shores.

You appear to subscribe to the swinging pendulum theory, which would keep America essentially centered as we tack back and forth in our endeavors to make more perfect our Union. I and others had a brief moment of hope back in early ’94, when a cadre of young libertarian thinking Republicans made a “Contract With America” to win their votes. Sadly, it only took a distressingly short time for them to be utterly corrupted by the environment in DC, and the pendulum has been stuck on the Left ever since.

For all the hateful rhetoric from the Left over the past eight years, the Bush administration has basically been a Progressive one. For all the epithets from Leftists toward “neocons,” people forget that these characters were Wilsonian Progressives who got fed up with the pacifists who had hijacked the Democratic Party; so they deliberately sought to hijack the Republican Party for their New World Order agenda.

With the singular exception of his Jacksonian reaction to 9/11, Bush has allowed these Wilsonian neoconservatives to govern entirely from the Left. “No Child Left Behind,” “Medicare Drugs,” “Amnesty for Illegals,” “Mexamericanada” (SPP) et al, are not conservative ideas. Neither is massive deficit spending or corporate bailouts. He signed all the pork barrel spending bills that allowed Congress to pander to their voters, to maintain the status quo of incumbency. Bush is not a conservative ideologue or even a libertarian, he is a Pragmatist.

Even his personal choice for the Supreme Court was uninspiring, and it took a massive revolt by his own constituency to get him to appoint a couple of strict constructionists. The simple truth is, Kennedy’s administration was well to the Right of Bush’s, and to a lesser extent, so was Clinton’s. Were he a Democrat, all but the twitchy Jeffersonians among them would be singing his praises. As a Republican, almost nobody is, and to call his tenure in office a period of conservatism, is just silly.

You allude to flaws in our original social contract, and I will acknowledge a few; the pragmatic accommodation of the slave trade, chief among them. Our nation eventually paid dearly for that; but the changes enacted in 1913 were not corrections, they were perversions. If I could erase a single year in our history, that would be the year.

From my and countless others’ perspective, the pendulum never even got back to the center, much less to the Right, and it just took another hard swing Leftward. Nothing I see on the horizon is likely to correct that, and this rapidly approaching perfect storm will be unthinkably devastating and not abate anytime soon. The Progressives who are now in total control of the reins, will undoubtedly repeat FDR’s mistakes, which so unnecessarily delayed our recovery from the last depression.

Please forgive us for abandoning all hope of reason alone effecting the necessary political adjustments to weather it comfortably. Reason is in short supply in America these days; feelings, whim, and the crippling “entitlement” mindset are in ascendancy. The powers that be, even if smart enough to know better, are going to have to dance with the the folks who empower them; and to the tune they played as the piper, however discordant to a rational ear.

Thus, we reckon that nothing short of hitting the reset button, and rebooting an uncorrupted copy of our original Constitution, is going to get the system back to operating smoothly and efficiently in an atmosphere of laissez faire capitalism, with honest currency, for the true benefit of all Americans – whether they are too mind-numbed to understand it or not. If that requires abandoning the metro-academics to pillage and plunder each other in their Marxist inspired ghettos, while the producers in Flyover Country cast off their chains and start afresh, C’est la vie. â—„Daveâ–º

10 Responses to “Control-Alt-Delete”

  • Troy says:

    Tom raises some notions that also trouble me, and that I have thought a lot about recently.

    While I totally adhere to Ayn Rand’s idea that there is no limit to what free, rational people, operating in a free marketplace can accomplish, I too realize that any enterprise involving humans will inherit the imperfection that comes with being human.

    For instance, I am not at all sure what to do about those among us who simply refuse to be rational and/or refuse to contribute. As we know, you can lead a human to education but you can’t make him think. However, despite their refusal to contribute, these people still possess the natural rights of humanity.

    While I do believe natural rights include the right to suffer the consequences of bad behavior, bad decision making, and parasitic behavior, I also know that humans do not like to see fellow humans suffer. I am not sure how to handle this conflict of ideas.

    For sure though, I do have two proposed remedies to our current situation.

    The first is to extend the voting franchise only to the productive. Note that I include in this group, those whose former productivity and ability to manage wealth may leave them free to a life of leisure at some point… so long as said leisure is funded by their own former contributions. That said, I do not yet have a good method for determining who gets the franchise and who does not. Two ideas I am working on are: 1. develop a way to estimate when one’s benefits from government exceed the taxes paid in, and, 2. automatic qualification of any serving member or the armed forces or any veteran of actual combat.

    The second is to implement something like the FairTax. Despite its name, I really don’t know if this scheme is actually fairer, but I do know that it should remove many of the “indulgences” our legislature currently trades for power and contributions. I believe the current tax system to be an absolute invitation to corruption that few could resist, if placed in that situation.

  • I do appreciate your sentiments, Troy; yet I must reject some of your premises. I have frequently admitted that my libertarian philosophy falls apart when the welfare of children is at stake. Even my cold heart’s strings vibrate at the sight, sound, or even the discussion of a child in distress. It causes me no end of consternation that I am unable to resolve, even to my own satisfaction, whither comes any warrant for me to interfere in any way with how a parent chooses to raise a child on his own property.

    I am at least as equally, and probably more, distressed by the sight on TV of truly starving children in Africa, as I am to hear of occasionally underfed (yet, by no means emaciated) children in an American ghetto, because their mother blows her welfare check on crack cocaine. Yet I know that I do not have the wherewithal to save them all, and I am powerless to force adults to change their stupid behavior and become more responsible. More importantly, my reasoning faculty outvotes my compassion for the children, when it comes to the notion that I might have any right to force you living there in Texas (at the point of the tax collector’s gun), to contribute to the welfare of some reportedly hungry child in NYC, much less Rwanda. I simply do not.

    As for non-productive or mindless adults, my heart is encased in cold concrete, and totally unresponsive. The sight of a strung out junkie or an able bodied panhandler elicits my contempt, not compassion. Occasionally I do encounter an adult who could use a good meal while they are looking for a job. It pleases me to give them a hand up, but it doesn’t even take reason to tell me that I have no business coercing you to care for someone you have never met, or even seen.

    I’ll make you a deal. I’ll do my best to see to it that any truly needy in and around my bailiwick are fed, clothed, and sheltered. I’ll leave it to you to do what you can for those you encounter in your corner of Texas. Then both of us can sleep at night while folks in NYC and Rwanda sort themselves out. We can’t save them all, and when left to the politicians and bureaucrats, they will deliberately (if unconsciously) keep them down for their own job security.

    Keeping my end of the bargain will be easy. You might be surprised at the number of busybodies I personally know, who just jump at an excuse to organize a charity event. At least, unlike the government, they offer some form of entertainment, or a chance at a prize, to those who freely contribute to their causes. Besides, prideful folks won’t accept charity from a close neighbor unless they truly need it, and gladly repay the kindness in sincere gratitude and an honest effort to get back on their feet to prove themselves worthy. I reckon these to be vastly superior to a bureaucratic mechanism for doling out “entitlements,” for which no gratitude is due.

    As to your two remedies, again I sympathize; but challenge the premises. First, while I was once a strong proponent of the Fair Tax, I believe it is too late for that. That idea had merit back when we were in the paradigm of trying to save our country as it was. I’m going for the new deal to reset our social contract to a version dated prior to 1913. This means that the Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution disappears, and the Federal government no longer has the power to tax citizens directly. Without an IRS, there will be no need of a Fair Tax plan, for any operating funds the Feds need beyond user fees and import duties, will have to be begged from the State governments.

    Then, the Seventeenth Amendment also vanishes, and State legislatures will return to appointing U.S. Senators with loyalty to them, rather than the national Party who helped get them elected directly by the people. This alone, will severely curtail the number of Federal boondoggles that would cost money that needed to be coughed up by the States. I’m seeing some real tight Federal budgets in that scenario.

    Your voter qualifications suggestion somewhat surprises me. We both know that there is really no such thing as a Federal election, or even a Constitutional right to vote. The principle of federalism clearly leaves the mechanism for selecting local representatives for Federal office up to the local authorities. The only Federal voting that is done is by the Electoral College, and each State is clearly free to select their electors in whatever manner they see fit to choose. The bottom line is that you and I have no say whatever in who the folks in Tennessee choose to allow to vote.

    That said, in my own county and State, I would like to see some version of your qualifications for the voting franchise. Fortunately to facilitate that, my cutoff date would eliminate the 24th and 26th Amendments too, thus returning such matters to the States where they belong. Don’t tell Jeannine, but it would eliminate the 19th also. While I reckon that giving starry eyed and hormone laden females the franchise, has a lot to do with the modern penchant for electing young, handsome, and inexperienced presidents; I suppose if we wish to maintain a sustainable population growth rate, we would need to reenact it as # 16 – pronto. 🙂 â—„Daveâ–º

  • Daedalus says:

    As to charity for children or anyone else, I would never stop anyone from spending their own money or time to help others. We all have our own ideas about what to spend our time and money on. My favorite charity is the NRA.
    Without a free limited constitutional republic you will see a lot more starving and poorly cared for children. Capitalism is an economic system, not a form of government. A moral government would support a capitalistic system since it is inherently a moral system. A moral government would never support a welfare state, socialist or communist economy since all are based on theft or extortion, using the monopoly of state power to loot its citizens. The fountainhead of the problems we face is in our universities. Philosophy, government and economic departments that purvey the misguided precepts of Platonism to their plastic students. These students in turn propagate their concepts in the public and private high and lower level schools. The battlefield of ideas is in the universities, and since many of these are already socialist it is difficult to teach any kind of morality. One may win a battle or two on the electoral field, but unless you get at the root of the problem, like the hydra, a new head will grow. International communism knew this years ago and have patiently cultivated their Angela Davis es and such over the years. We have to win over or displace the present leftist intellectuals. The sheeple, as Dave calls them, will follow. Milton Freedman did this to a certain extent in the economic departments, but without the backing of a supporting philosophy his ideas are faltering. Communism, socialism and conservatism all have a common theme of altruism or self sacrifice. That is the first idol in the temple that must be destroyed. As I replied in another forum, if self sacrifice and altruism had an merit as being genetically determined, soldiers on the battlefield would lay down their arms rather than kill each other. As Bertrand Russel advocated, better red than dead (give up your self interest rather than die), and conservatives replied better dead than red (sacrifice yourself for others) another American patriot, Ayn Rand, said, “better see the reds dead” (make the irrational do the sacrificing).

  • Tom says:

    Hi Dave, Troy, and Daedelus,

    I have thoughtfully read and reread your comments and my head continues to spin. I have written at least three responses, and each time after I reread them they seemed totally inadequate, so each time I retreated to the delete button. I think my problem is that I am trying to connect too much: human nature, government, economics, history, and ethics (rights, responsibilities, choice) into a coherent or harmonious world view or belief system. The factual information that you embed in your commentary, along with your thinking processes, put my mind in overload.

    So, in order to help me to develop my understaning of my belief system and my understanding of your belief systems, let me express some thoughts aloud about altruism and human nature and society. I understand altruism to be an unselfish concern for the welfare of others.

    It seems to me that altruism is a part of human natureand that mothers are altruistic. Not only do mothers have an unselfish concern for the new-born infants, they are also willing to sacrifice their comfort for the survival and the well-being of the new-born and, in some instances, even to protect the new-born babies with their life. Is such a concern for another unnatural and irrational? Or is it rational and natural?

    I think that the mother’s emotional connection to the infant is related to the fact that the fetus develops within her body; and that when the infant is born, the mother sees the infant as a part of herself, as an extension of herself, and that the extended self needs food, clothing, and shelter and love. Can we call this connection of caring and emotion mother-love, a caring and a love that involves the sacrificing of one’s comfort for the well-being of another?

    I think so; and I think that all of us share the common experience of being completely dependent upon an “other”–and others–for survival as we enter into life, a life that we never petitioned for, or asked for; born to parents we did not choose and into a gender we did not pick; and given a skin pigment we did not select; and placed in a country, or a city, or an envionment that we did not choose.
    Obviously, birth without our prior consultation is unfair. So, I think we share a common bond: we have been treated unfairly!

    But some people have been treated more unfairly than others. When I am treated unfairly, I feel angry and resentful? Is this unnatural? Is it irrational? Perhaps.

    I do not think that we can rationally examine human nature without considering our feelings and emotions, and how our feelings influence our thinking and perceptions of people.

    I think also that maternal love is essential in developing a positive individual identity, and that maternal love is a form of altruism, and that altruism is an essential characteristic necessary for the permanent survival of an advanced society or civilization.

    With much good will and respect,


  • Hi Tom,

    I, of course, would argue that the mother is totally selfish. Her innate drive to nurture her child into adulthood imbues her with the totally selfish will to do everything in her power to see that it makes it through childhood. Put her in the conundrum of saving her own child and letting ten others perish, or saving the ten at the peril of her own, and see how altruistic she is. She only appears altruistic because in her mind the survival of her child is her highest value, and her own life without said child is meaningless.

    I would argue that there is no such thing as an altruistic act. When I do another a kindness, I value the good feeling I get from my charity, more than whatever I sacrificed. I submit that consciously or not, this is always the motive for every supposedly altruistic act. I have debated this assertion often, and have never encountered an example where it is untrue.

    Your description of human nature as the desire to continue receiving motherly love, care, and devotion is probably accurate. The problem is, that at some point we must grow up and care for ourselves. I reckon the ills of our society can substantially be laid at the feet of the infantile refusal to grow up and accept the responsibilities of adulthood so prevalent today. Our generation is the first in America to have failed to empower our progeny with the skills for survival in the real world, without the crutch of a nanny state to make sure they are fed, and kiss their booboos when they fall down.

    I reckon we need to allow mommies to be mommies, require men to be men, and keep government out of their affairs. â—„Daveâ–º

  • Tom says:

    Hi Dave,

    Thanks for your thoughtful reply. As you have certainly anticipated, I have difficulty accepting your primary conclusion. Perhaps our problem is at bottom a semantic one, and our minds are actually in agreement.

    Is altruism a thought? a feeling? an act? an act performed by the body, and motivated by thoughts that exist in the mind, and feelings that exist in both the mind and the body?

    Let me respond specifically to one of your paragraphs:

    Dave: I would argue there is no such thing as an altruistic act. When I do another a kindness, I value the good feeling I get from my charity, more than whatever I sacrificed. I submit that consciously or not, this is always the motive for every supposedly altruistic act.

    Tom: Here is one of my problems. I have always admired posthumous Medal of Honor winners who have saved the lives of their comrades. If acts of altruism are actually selfish acts, is my respect and admiration misplaced? Is our nation’s respect and admiration misplaced?

    Is the pleasure Medal of Honor winners experience in their minds in the closing moments of their lives greater than the pain that they suffer in their bodies when they are being exploded, burned, and\or riddled with bullets, especially for those Medal of Honor winners who have had the forethought to know that their minds would no longer exist when their bodies were destroyed, and therefore they would never again experience pleasure in either the mind or the body? I do not think so. I do not think there can be pleasure in such mental and physical pain.

    Human life and human nature at bottom are a mystery to me. I think there are some things about human beings–the good and the bad–that I can not know with empirical certitude.

    With much respect and good will,


  • Tom!

    Welcome back to the slowest chat on the internet!

    Nice try; but no cigar. That is an easy one. 🙂

    The Medal of Honor winner has the same motive as the mother. He would have to live with himself had he not acted. Perhaps you do not understand warrior culture. Back in the barracks, they might muse over duty, honor, and country; but in the heat of battle they are fighting for each other and mutual survival as a team, not the politicians who sent them there.

    An organism acts to seek pleasure or avoid pain. Warriors are trained to take physical pain. Esprit de corps elevates mental anguish over failing one’s comrades in arms, far above it, and to be avoided at all costs. In a battle hardened cohesive fighting unit, it is not an error to suggest that the one who smothered a grenade lobbed in their midst with his body, was simply the one who was closest, or assessed the impending mutual doom the quickest, and reacted the fastest to at least save his buddies.

    Any one of them would have done the same in his boots, and for the same motive – personal survival at the expense of losing a buddy who was counting on you is unthinkable. I suspect one of the primary reasons it is so difficult to get a veteran to discuss his war experiences, is latent guilt for even surviving them, when close friends did not; even when there was nothing he could have done to prevent it.

    Is altruism a thought? a feeling? an act? an act performed by the body, and motivated by thoughts that exist in the mind, and feelings that exist in both the mind and the body?

    I have already stated that I reckon there is no such thing as an altruistic act. Yes, altruism is a thought – a mental construct – and a bankrupt one. The feeling itself is not altruism, it is the reward one grants oneself for doing a kindness to another, which is the selfish motive for doing so in the first place.

    It really is that simple when one comes to regard selfishness as a virtue, rather than a vice. Is my kindness somehow depreciated, because I took so much pleasure in rendering it? Would the recipient have valued it more if I did it grudgingly? In an altruistic utopia, what right would the recipient have to consume my charity, when there would always be someone somewhere with a greater need? Is it somehow OK for the recipient to be selfish, but not for the benefactor? Can you see why I say it is a bankrupt idea?

    I posit that, given all the data and mental acuity available at the time, one’s choices always reflect one’s best estimate of which course of action will produce the greatest pleasure or the least pain, as the case may be. This is true, even if coerced into acting against one’s wishes. Giving an armed robber one’s wallet is a selfish act for survival. If one regards man as a rational animal, it could not be otherwise.

    Empirical certitude is unobtainable in human nature, if for no other reason than that we are all unique. That does not stop me from studying the subject, or observing the specimens I encounter with fascination, in order to concoct some serviceable generalizations, for my mind to use in its eternal curiosity regarding what is going on in the other fellow’s mind. 🙂

    Good to hear from you, Tom. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year… since, at this pace, I won’t expect to hear from you before these holidays. 🙂 â—„Daveâ–º

  • Tom says:

    Hi Dave,

    I hope that you and Anne had a Merry Christmas and we wish you a happy new year.

    I resolved to respond to your comments before the holidays were over, but I am having a difficult time in forming a reply. I am trying to think my way through your conclusions, but I am having a very difficult time reaching a point of assent to your views and still maintaining a coherent view of the world rooted in my experiences. I have difficulty with your conclusion that I believe to be: all heroic acts are selfish. It seems to me that this is a contradiction in terms. When I go to the dictionary to add depth to my understanding of your position on altruism and selfishness, for example, I still struggle to understand. I think that they are different ideas or concepts, with different emotional tones, that generate different kinds of acts. I think there is a cause and effect relationship between thought, emotion, choice, and act.

    Perhaps I am just an old dog trying to learn new tricks–or rethink my world view–and learning new tricks is beyond me. Nevertheless, let me turn to what I believe to be your fundamental assumption: All heroic acts are primarily, essentially, and fundamentally selfish; that sacrifical heroic acts contain no significant element of kindness, generosity. goodness, or virtue of any kind. So, I continue to wonder: Where is the empirical evidence to persuade me that your position is a correct one and that I should adopt it. What are the verifiable facts, verifiable statistics, and verifiable examples that support your position that acts of heroism are selfish acts?

    However, I think that if I accept your position, I will feel good because then I can believe that if I had all of the same experiences from birth to death of any of the posthumous Medal of Honor Winners–their genes, their environments, their choices–I too would have acted as they did, and I too would win or would have won, a Medal of Honor. I think not! But such thoughts feed my ego and make me feel good. A David Hackworth (About Face: An Odyssey of an American Warrior, Simon and Schuster, 1989) I am not, nor could be.

    So, I continue to wonder and explore mindfull possibilities.

    With much respect and good will,


  • Hi Tom,

    You just made it! I’ll pass on your regards to Ann when I see her next; probably this evening, as neither of us have any party plans for tonight.

    Don’t focus too much on the heroic acts, since my point was to denigrate the basic concept that altruism was selfless or even virtuous. David Hackworth was one of my heroes, and I do not pretend to be his equal. Nor do I pretend that my ideas on altruism are unique or original.

    I received my grounding in this unconventional wisdom from a few books I read as a young man. As I recall, the first were “Winning Through Intimidation” and “Looking Out For Number One,” both by Robert Ringer. His bibliography led me to “The Art of Selfishness,” by David Seabury and “The Virtue of Selfishness” by Nathaniel Branden. Then, I got around to reading “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead,” and eventually every book Ayn Rand wrote. I have been an Objectivist ever since; although I usually refer to myself as a libertarian, since so few people have ever heard of objectivism.

    If you wish to understand objectivism intimately, Leonard Peikoff’s, “Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand” is simply superb. As a side note, there is a nexus between Ayn Rand and the Montessori Method of education, which Rand was much enamored with. Parenthetically, our Ann was the Montessori teacher for the children of Peikoff and others at the Ayn Rand Institute.

    You might profit from exploring the Ayn Rand Lexicon. Specifically the entries on “Selfishness” and “Altruism.” They lead to further reading if so inclined.

    Happy New Year to you and Marion. â—„Daveâ–º

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