Archive for the ‘Political Philosophy’ Category

A Plethora of Two Cows   Leave a comment

I have loved this explanation of Political Philosophy since the first time I read an example, which was considerably shorter than this version of the list. Which, I have tweaked where I felt it was needed.

All examples of the Two Cows Scenario of Political Philosophy begin with two cows.

FEUDALISM: You have two cows. Your lord takes some of the milk.

PURE SOCIALISM: You have two cows. The government takes them and puts them in a barn with everyone else’s cows. You have to take care of all the cows. The government gives you as much milk as you need.

BUREAUCRATIC SOCIALISM: You have two cows. The government takes them and puts them in a barn with everyone else’s cows. They are cared for by ex-chicken farmers. You have to take care of the chickens the government took from the chicken farmers. The government gives you as much milk and as many eggs as the regulations say you should need.

Image result for cows

FASCISM: You have two cows. The government takes both, hires you to take care of them, and sells you the milk. You join the underground and start a campaign of sabotage.

BUREAUCRACY:You have two cows. At first the government regulates what you can feed them and when you can milk them. Then it pays you not to milk them. After that it takes both, shoots one, milks the other and pours the milk down the drain. Then it requires you to fill out forms accounting for the missing cows.

PURE COMMUNISM: You have two cows. Your neighbors help you take care of them, and you all share the milk.

APPLIED COMMUNISM: You have two cows. You have to take care of them, but the government takes all the milk.

DICTATORSHIP: You have two cows. The government takes both and shoots you.

MILITARIANISM: You have two cows. The government takes both and drafts you.

PURE DEMOCRACY: You have two cows. Your neighbors decide who gets the milk.

REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY: You have two cows. Your neighbors pick someone to tell you who gets the milk.

AMERICAN DEMOCRACY: The government promises to give you two cows if you vote for it. After the election, the president is impeached for speculating in cow futures. The press dubs the affair “Cowgate”.

BRITISH DEMOCRACY: You have two cows. You feed them sheeps’ brains and they go mad. The government doesn’t do anything.

SINGAPOREAN DEMOCRACY: You have two cows. The government fines you for keeping two unlicensed farm animals in an apartment.

ANARCHY: You have two cows. Either you sell the milk at a fair price or your neighbors will stop buying your milk and you will be forced to sell them the cows to someone who understands how capitalism works.

CAPITALISM: You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull. You expand it to a herd, selling the milk, buy more cows, sell more milk, causing the economy to grow. You then take your dairy herd public as a Fortune 500 company. People will then complain that you are exploiting whoever is buying the milk.

HONG KONG CAPITALISM: You have two cows. You sell three of them to your publicly-listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute a debt / equity swap with associated general offer so that you get all four cows back, with a tax deduction for keeping five cows. The milk rights of six cows are transferred via a Panamanian intermediary to a Cayman Islands company secretly owned by the majority shareholder, who sells the rights to all seven cows’ milk back to the listed company. The annual report says that the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more. Meanwhile, you kill the two cows because the fung shui is bad.

ENVIRONMENTALISM: You have two cows. The government bans you from milking or killing them.

TOTALITARIANISM: You have two cows. The government takes them and denies they ever existed. Milk is banned.

THERAPYISM: You have two cows. One is a metaphor for your inner child. The other is the manifestation of anger toward a parental figure. You take one of the cows on walks through grassy fields by the gentle ocean waves. The other you beat with an anger bat.

INSURANCISM: You have two cows. The Federal regulator requires you to hold one cow in reserve because they predict a shortage of milk. The Provincial/State regulator requires you to drop the price of milk because they predict a surplus of milk. The courts deem your cows inherently dangerous and order you to provide free milk to anyone who has ever been frightened by a farm animal. The marketing people are promising chocolate milk at an enhanced commission and you discover your own actuaries have been building pricing models assuming goats instead to save on the expense line.  (©2007 Mike McLoughlin, Executive Director, Memphis Recovery Centers)

Image result for cows

CORPORATISM: You have two cows. You sell one, force the other to produce the milk of four cows and then act surprised when it drops dead. You blame the startup venture that is pressuring your profit and demand the government regulate the milking of cows and the selling of milk. You help to write the regulations which assure you will remain the largest producer of milk.

PROGRESSIVISM: You have two cows. The government taxes you to the point that you must sell them both in order to support someone else who already got a free cow from the government.

REPUBLICAN PARTY: You have two cows. Your neighbor has none. So what?

DEMOCRATIC PARTY: You have two cows. Your neighbor has none. You feel guilty for being successful. You vote people into office who tax your cows, forcing you to sell one to raise money to pay the tax. The people you voted for then take the tax money and buy a cow and give it to your neighbor. You feel righteous.

FRENCH CORPORATISM: You have two cows. You go on strike because you want three cows.

JAPANESE CORPORATISM: You have two cows. You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk.

GERMAN CORPORATISM: You have two cows. You re-engineer them so they live for 100 years, eat once a month, and milk themselves.

ITALIAN CORPORATISM:

You have two cows but you don’t know where they are. You break for lunch.

RUSSIAN OLIGARCHY:

You have two cows. You count them and learn you have five cows. You count them again and learn you have 42 cows. You count them again and learn you have 12 cows. You stop counting cows and open another bottle of vodka.

SWISS CAPITALISM: You have 5000 cows, none of which belongs to you. You charge for storing them for others.

Image result for cows

TALIBANI CORPORATION: You have two cows. You turn them loose in the Afghan “countryside” and they both die. You blame the godless American infidels and the Jews.

CHINESE STATE FASCISM: You have two cows. You have 300 people milking them. You claim that you have full employment, and high bovine productivity. You arrest the newsman who reported the real situation.

IRAQI CORPORATION: Everyone thinks you have lots of cows. You tell them that you have none. No-one believes you, so they bomb the hell out of you and invade your country. You still have no cows, but at least now you are part of a democracy.

AUSTRALIAN CAPITALISM: You have two cows. Business seems pretty good. You close the office and go for a few beers to celebrate.

Posted November 23, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Political Philosophy

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Snippets of Wisdom   Leave a comment

This thought didn’t come from me, but from a college-aged young man we know. He suggested the presidential candidates for 2020 need a “Bastiat for Beginners” course.

It started out with him asking me to remind him of my slogan for 2016 —

Crooks on my left, clowns on my right.

I’m not voting for either of you.

Toby explained he was really too young and immature to understand what I meant when I said that three years ago, but when he argued with me, I suggested he go read some intelligent discourse and come back to me before the next presidential election.

Image result for bastiat parasitic and voracious intermediary meme

He remembers being angry that I didn’t listen to him. After all, I haven’t been in a classroom for over a decade and times change and what do I know anyway? Of course, I didn’t stop learning, not when I graduated high school, not when I got my BA, and not when I got my Masters. I just gave myself permission to study books I’d never had time to study before — books that teachers find subversive because they suggest government employers are not all that good for society. Let us remember who most teachers work for.

I thought the conversation was over because I certainly don’t feel like I have more than an hour to waste on a stubborn 17-year-old, but my son (also 17 at the time) emailed Toby a pdf of Frederic Bastiat’s That Which is Seen and That Which is Unseen and Toby took it from there.

Now, at 20, he thinks Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Donald Trump and the other myriad candidates should be forced to sit down and study Frederic Bastiat’s writings before they continue forward in this race. He also suggested Lysander Spooner, Randolph Bourne, Milton Friedman and John Locke, but I doubt they’re ready for the full monty treatment. For the record, Toby found those authors all on his own because Kiernan opened a door of reason for him. The kid plans to tackle Rothbard’s Conceived in Liberty this winter. Toby’s a Political Science major so he could actually do something with this besides just chatter on the Internet.

I don’t think we’re going to get the 30-odd people who are running for US President for 2020 to get together in a classroom and study Bastiat and even if they did – well, yeah, they would refuse to absorb most of it (Elizabeth Warren, Donald Trump and Joe Biden are all about on the same intellectual level and not amenable to learning). They already know everything they need to know to force me to live the life they believe I should live and want to live because they know better than me what my life should look like. Most of them don’t want to reason out what is good for society. They’re all about the feelings and virtue signalling. They don’t really care if their programs enslave people.

But hey, that doesn’t mean I can share some of the wisdom of Bastiat with willing readers. As you read the snippets, think about how that applies to 2020 and the US Presidency. I think if you do it right, you’ll never quite see the nanny state in the same way you did before.

Snippets of Wisdom

  1. “The State is the great fiction through which everyone endeavors to live at the expense of everyone else.”
  2. Between a good and a bad economist this constitutes the whole difference: the one takes account only of the visible effect; the other takes account of both the effects which are seen and those which it is necessary to foresee. Now this difference is enormous, for it almost always happens that when the immediate consequence is favorable, the ultimate consequences are fatal, and the converse. Hence it follows that the bad economist pursues a small present good, which will be followed by a great evil to come, while the true economist pursues a great good to come, at the risk of a small present evil.”
  3. “[The socialists declare] that the State owes subsistence, well-being, and education to all its citizens; that it should be generous, charitable, involved in everything, devoted to everybody; …that it should intervene directly to relieve all suffering, satisfy and anticipate all wants, furnish capital to all enterprises, enlightenment to all minds, balm for all wounds, asylums for all the unfortunate… Who would not like to see all these benefits flow forth upon the world from the law, as from an inexhaustible source? … But is it possible? … Whence does [the State] draw those resources that it is urged to dispense by way of benefits to individuals? Is it not from the individuals themselves? How, then, can these resources be increased by passing through the hands of a parasitic and voracious intermediary?”
  4. “It is impossible to introduce into society a greater change and a greater evil than this: the conversion of the law into an instrument of plunder.”
  5. “When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.”
  6. “Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all. We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.”
  7. “If the natural tendencies of mankind are so bad that it is not safe to permit people to be free, how is it that the tendencies of these organizers are always good? Do not the legislators and their appointed agents also belong to the human race? Or do they believe that they themselves are made of a finer clay than the rest of mankind?”
  8. “It is not true that the function of law is to regulate our consciences, our ideas, our wills, our education, our opinions, our work, our trade, our talents, or our pleasures. The function of law is to protect the free exercise of these rights, and to prevent any person from interfering with the free exercise of these same rights by any other person…The existence of persons and property preceded the existence of the legislator, and his function is only to guarantee their safety.”
  9. “Leave people alone. God has given organs to this frail creature; let them develop and grow strong by exercise, use, experience, and liberty.”
  10. “Misguided public opinion honors what is despicable and despises what is honorable, punishes virtue and rewards vice, encourages what is harmful and discourages what is useful, applauds falsehood and smothers truth under indifference or insult, a nation turns its back on progress and can be restored only by the terrible lessons of catastrophe.”
  11. “The real cost of the State is the prosperity we do not see, the jobs that don’t exist, the technologies to which we do not have access, the businesses that do not come into existence, and the bright future that is stolen from us. The State has looted us just as surely as a robber who enters our home at night and steals all that we love.”
  12. “Everyone wants to live at the expense of the state. They forget that the state wants to live at the expense of everyone.”
  13. “You who think that you are so great! You who judge humanity to be so small! You who wish to reform everything! Why don’t you reform yourselves? That task would be sufficient enough.”
  14. “The mission of the law is not to oppress persons and plunder them of their property, even though the law may be acting in a philanthropic spirit. Its purpose is to protect persons and property…. If you exceed this proper limit—If you attempt to make the law religious, fraternal, equalizing, philanthropic, industrial, or artistic—you will then be lost in uncharted territory, in vagueness and uncertainty, in a forced utopia or, even worse, in a multitude of utopias, each striving to seize the law and impose it on you.”

Just read each one at a time and pause and think about the implications in our present society and the election of 2020.

The America That Was—The Bad and the Good | Richard M. Ebeling   Leave a comment

America still continues as a hope and a reality of the possibility and potential for liberty and prosperity for tens of millions who came to the United States from many other parts of the world. The spirit of individualism was to shoulder those responsibilities yourself as a free and responsible person in voluntary collaboration with your fellows in society.

Source: The America That Was—The Bad and the Good | Richard M. Ebeling

Posted July 19, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Political Philosophy

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Oscar Wilde on Why Wanting to Be Left Alone Is Not Selfish | Jon Miltimore   5 comments

Individualism involves allowing people to flourish and think as they see fit, mainly by leaving them alone.

Source: Oscar Wilde on Why Wanting to Be Left Alone Is Not Selfish | Jon Miltimore

 

Confession: Oscar Wilde is one of my favorite writers. Though he was what Dostoevsky would have described as “a dedicated sensualist,” Wilde possessed a true creative genius perhaps unmatched among his literary contemporaries.

His essay “The Soul of Man under Socialism” is not, in my opinion, his best work. Written in 1891, it’s largely a stream of consciousness detailing what Wilde thought about art, capitalism, socialism, and—most importantly—Individualism.

Individualism is Wilde’s primary concern. What is it? Here’s what he had to say:

Art is Individualism, and Individualism is a disturbing and disintegrating force. Therein lies its immense value. For what it seeks to disturb is monotony of type, slavery of custom, tyranny of habit, and the reduction of man to the level of a machine.

Wilde’s ideas on government in the essay are a strange hodgepodge. He basically rejects both capitalism (too vulgar) and socialism (too authoritarian).

Still, the endgame of his philosophy soon becomes clear. Individualism involves allowing people to flourish and think as they see fit, mainly by leaving them alone.

Is wanting to be left alone selfish? Not at all, Wilde argues:

[U]nselfishness is letting other people’s lives alone, not interfering with them. Selfishness always aims at creating around it an absolute uniformity of type. Unselfishness recognises infinite variety of type as a delightful thing, accepts it, acquiesces in it, enjoys it. It is not selfish to think for oneself.

The tyrants, Wilde says, are those who demand of others to think as they do:

It is grossly selfish to require of ones neighbour that he should think in the same way, and hold the same opinions. Why should he? If he can think, he will probably think differently. If he cannot think, it is monstrous to require thought of any kind from him. A red rose is not selfish because it wants to be a red rose. It would be horribly selfish if it wanted all the other flowers in the garden to be both red and roses.

One could easily apply Wilde’s metaphor to the desires of many Americans today. Unfortunately, there seem to be legions of red roses demanding all flowers become red roses.

Double Standard   Leave a comment

During WWII, ex-Ku Klux Klansman, now U.S. Senator, Robert Byrd vowed never to fight, “with a Negro by my side. Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds.” Just a couple of years ago, Senator Byrd lectured us on the floor of the Senate that, “There are white niggers. I’ve seen a lot of white niggers in my time.” I wonder whether he was talking about whites who act like blacks.

Walter WilliamsSan Francisco’s esteemed mayor Willie Brown once described a successful legislative battle this way, “We beat those old white boys fair and square.”

Spike Lee said in disapproval of interracial marriages, “I give interracial couples a look. Daggers. They get uncomfortable when they see me on the street.”

The National Association of Black Social Workers drafted a position paper calling white adoptions of black children “cultural genocide.” They warned against “transculturation . . . when one dominant culture overpowers and forces another culture to accept a foreign form of existence.”

Donna Brazile, Al Gore’s presidential campaign manager called Republicans “white boys” who seek to “exclude, denigrate, and leave behind.”

At a celebration for retiring Senator Strom Thurmond (R. SC), Senator Trent Lott (R. Miss) said that Mississippians were proud to have voted for Mr. Thurmond in his 1948 presidential campaign “and, if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years.”

Which among the above statements are the most racist, which have received the most media coverage and which caused the most angst? Clearly, Trent Lott’s statement received the most media coverage and created the most angst but it doesn’t begin to qualify as the most racist. You say, “Williams, that’s different. High officials shouldn’t honor and praise racists or ex-racists.” Then what about Bill Clinton’s acknowledged political mentors – former Arkansas Senator J. William Fulbright and former Arkansas Governor Orville Faubus – who were both rabid segregationists, yet former President Clinton highly praises Fulbright and bestowed upon him the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award. By the way Fulbright was one of 19 senators who issued a statement entitled ‘The Southern Manifesto’, condemning the 1954 Supreme Court decision of Brown vs. Board of Education, and defending segregation. That’s a bit more recent than Thurmond’s run for the White House. Does Bill Clinton’s praise of Fulbright, mean that he supported “The Southern Manifesto” just as the assertion that Trent Lott’s praise of Thurmond means he supports Thurmond segregationist stand in 1948? If so, why not also condemn Bill Clinton?

I have several possible theories on the responses to Senator Lott’s rather stupid remarks – stupid in the context of our politically correct world. My first theory is that conservatives are held to higher standards of decency, conduct and decorum than liberals. In other words, it’s like behavior that’s tolerated in the case of children but ostracized when adults do the same thing. That theory might also explain why racist statements made by blacks are excused. Another theory is that since 9/11 and President Bush’s public popularity, both appointed and unappointed black leaders have had no platform and been paid no attention. Senator Lott’s guffaw gives them platform, voice and mission. Finally, the Democrats, having lost all branches of national government in the recent elections, are desperate to get something on Bush and the Republicans and Trent Lott’s statement is the answer to their prayers.

Walter E. Williams

December 16, 2002

Words of Election Wisdom   1 comment

Image result for lysander spooner a man is no less a slave

The blue wave turned out to be a blue ripple. The Democrats won a healthy, but narrow majority in the House and lost seats in the Senate. More tellingly, most state governorships remain in Republican hands. Democrats got a bump, but they didn’t flip big in any state. It was all fairly narrow margins. What does that mean?

Well, people were certainly energized and many new voters turned out to the polls. Democrats hoped they were energized against President Trump, but voters don’t appear to be so upset with President Trump that they are inclined to punish Republicans to a great degree. Suburban voters turned out against Trump — which I find interesting because they have the most to gain from Trump’s economy. Polling out of Texas suggests a disconnect between Democrats and the economic reality. That might change when they file their tax returns in the coming year. For the record, Trump’s tax reform saw a 10% increase in my family’s take-home pay from 2017 to 2018. I’m not a Trump supporter, but I am grateful for that bump which has allowed me to replenish a savings account that had been badly depleted by Obamacare-drive medical insurance premiums.

The Democrats can now exert some power in the federal government, but it is limited and checked power. That means they must either opt for “bipartisanship”, which under Republican presidents generally results in huge spending increases, or in gridlock, which isn’t a bad thing from a liberty perspective. Unfortunately, there are some huge things that need to be addressed – entitlement reform (including Obamacare and Obama’s massive expansion of the welfare state) and the debt being the biggest issues — and I think either way, this election result means those extremely important issues will not be addressed for at least another two years. But, Republicans didn’t exactly work on those issues in the two years they had control of all branches of government, so ….

I prefer divided government and gridlock. More issues may devolve to the states, which I also prefer. The blue ripple is better than a blue wave because it sends a clear message to Democrats that the voters don’t love them, they just don’t like unitarian government. It also sends a message to President Trump that he needs to work across the aisle. That wouldn’t be a bad thing, if he were a fiscal conservative, but he isn’t, so — who’s ready for $30 trillion in debt?

Anyone want to lay a long-term bet on how long the government can sustain deficit spending at these levels?

 

Criminal Justice Reform Must Include Dignity   Leave a comment

PrisonI must confess I’ve always been a lukewarm supporter of the Koch brothers. I know … that makes me an enemy of trees and babies and bunnies … but meh … I don’t care! I’ve researched what they’re actually trying to accomplish and I agree with a fair amount of it. So, while you’re welcome to your half-formed opinions, you might want to gather some facts before you argue with me.

And, now I’ve found convergence on yet another issue.

The Rand Corporation reports that “more than 2 million adults are incarcerated in U.S. prisons,” with roughly 700,000 leaving federal and state prisons each year. There’s about a 40% recidivism rate among the released.

Brad and I have done a lot of jail ministry and seen the struggles behind this staggering statistic. What the heck are we doing, America?

Alaska recently reformed our sentencing laws, but before they even took effect, the legislature reinstituted most of the draconian system that has been the norm here for decades. So, my ears perked up when Koch Industries came forward with a vision of human dignity and individual liberty based on the restorative power of work. Maybe someone is finally getting the point.

How do we reform the criminal justice system to better help and support these individuals in recognizing their gifts and learning to leverage those gifts toward  meaningful work and relationships across society?

Koch Industries is not the only company reflecting on these needs, but they’re taking action and becoming a leading voice in the fight for criminal justice reform, involving an extensive lobbying toward public reforms and instituting changes in their hiring and training practices as a private business—a development that other businesses are beginning mirror.

In an interview with Barron’s, Mark Holden, Koch’s general counsel and leader of its various criminal justice efforts, explains how improving prisoner rehabilitation closely corresponds with an integrative vision of human dignity, individual liberty, and the restorative power of work.

“We’re focused on removing external barriers to opportunity for all Americans, particularly the least advantaged,” Holden explains.

We want a system that keeps communities safe, that is based on equal rights, that is redemptive and rehabilitative, and that provides for real second chances for people who break the law, are incarcerated, and return to society.

As a former jail guard himself, Holden has witnessed many of the problems firsthand, leading him to believe that America now has a “two-tiered system” that benefits the rich while the least powerful are shuffled and reshuffled through an impersonal and dehumanizing system.

Holden and Koch approach the issue through three distinct “lenses”—moral, constitutional, and then fiscal:

The moral case is basically the two-tiered system. I’m a big fan of public defenders, they are heroes, and the Sixth Amendment says that it’s a natural right that you have a lawyer. But 80%-plus of the people in the system need a lawyer and oftentimes don’t get one who can work on their case full-time, beginning to end. Then you come back out [with] a criminal record, which makes it difficult to get a job, to get housing, loans, the whole drill. The whole system, from our perspective, is immoral.

The constitutional case is based on the Bill of Rights: 40% of the Bill of Rights deals with criminal justice issues, whether that’s the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, or Eighth amendments.

Lastly is the fiscal case…States are responsible for their own budgets, and once someone starts to look at different line items in the state budget and sees how much they’re spending on incarceration, they want to peel back who’s in prison and why. That’s what’s happened in Texas, Georgia, South Carolina, Delaware, Michigan, and many other states… We say the fiscal case is the moral case, because when you stop spending so much money on incarcerating people, you have a lot more resources to pay for better education systems, roads, mental health issues.

Education is a critical part of the restorative journey, particularly as it relates to training and mentoring individuals for re-entry into the workforce. Opportunities could be created in a variety of ways, whether by granting organizations and businesses easier access to prisons or by simply shifting the thinking and hiring processes among private businesses on the “outside.”

All of this leads to greater access to work, which brings dignity and meaning to the individual, channeling creativity, and facilitating connection and relationships:

It’s good for the individual; having a good job is a big indicator that you won’t go back to prison. That’s better for society; [it saves] money, it keeps communities safer, and keeps law enforcement safer. We see it as a win/win/win, completely consistent with our philosophy about individual liberty, consistent with our view of what will make for a much more just, better society, and help people improve their lives, if it’s done right. The reforms in the states give us that road map.

Whenever you hire anybody, record or no record, it’s a risk. A criminal record is one data point. We’ve learned over time that just because someone has a criminal record doesn’t mean they’re a bad person. Now, with a tight labor market, there’s a lot more opportunity for people with criminal records, which is good.

Among the many barriers (or let’s just call them what they are — injustices) prisoners will continue to face—political, institutional, cultural, and otherwise—work is an area where real redemptive fruit is visible almost immediately.  For Koch Industries, it will require greater risk, vulnerability, and investment but God has given Holden and his employers the wisdom, relational capacity, love and grace to begin repairing the fragments of society at the ground level.

As we continue to fight for better policies and a more fair and equitable criminal justice system, let’s not forget the powerful role that work can play in facilitating personal journeys of restoration and rehabilitation in the everyday and everywhere in-between.

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