Category Archives: Nevada legislature

One Cost Benefit Analysis the Right Doesn’t Want to See: Gun Injury and Fatality Costs

Guns Costs

As of 2013, Nevada retained its position as a state with a higher than the national average ranking in the death by firearm category. [vpc] The number was 14.16 per 100,000.  The correlations are almost straight-forward, those states with lax gun laws and high rates of gun ownership have higher levels of per capita deaths caused by firearms.  However, this dismal ranking (15th) is not sufficiently lax to give comfort to the gun proliferation movement (read: NRA) and its allies in the Nevada Legislature. [LVRJ]

Perhaps it’s about time for an application of the popular “cost-benefit” analysis to Nevada’s gun laws?  For example, we have AB 148 which would allow a person to carry a firearm in airports (non-secure areas), schools, and day care centers.  And, IF there is money available a local sheriff may offer firearm safety classes pertaining to the use of guns in an “educational environment.”   There’s SB 175, which was initially drafted to prevent domestic abusers from retaining their firearms while protection orders were in place. The bill is now laden with reciprocity provisions, and an expansion of ‘stand your ground,’ and fails to adequately address the issue of victims of domestic violence.  But, the proliferators like it.

These bills, and the handful of other measures on offer in the Nevada Legislature should take into consideration what gun deaths and injuries actually COST.

The national cost has been estimated:

“Each injury caused by a firearm sets in motion a prolonged series of events. There’s a car-ride to the emergency room…or the morgue. An officer investigates. A jury perhaps deliberates. A judge presides.

This chain adds up. To the sum of $564 per American. All told, firearm injuries cost the United States more than $174 billion in 2010, according to new data from the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation. Most of that expense came from deaths; fatalities accounted for $153.3 billion.” [Forbes]

As we consider a cost-benefit analysis for bills which seek to soften Nevada’s gun regulations there are some factors which must be included.  Opponents of common sense gun regulations attacked the study, and accused media outlets which gave space and time for it as “hyping” the anti-gun report. However, that still doesn’t mean we ought not consider both the governmental and person costs of gun violence.  For example, in the governmental category we ought to include costs associated with police activities, and  the associated costs for the criminal justice system.  In economic terms we need to consider the loss of work/productivity, medical care (both physical and mental)  and associated costs such as emergency transport, insurance claims processing, and the loss of income for the family of the victim. [see PIRE pdf]

In short, any legislation which makes the purchase of firearms easier, and seeks to proliferate the number of firearms in the state, or increases the likelihood of a gun being used in public spaces,  should be analyzed in terms of its potential costs to the taxpayers and businesses of the state.

For every gun fatality in the state there is a police call. For every police call there is “officer(s) time,” vehicle fuel, vehicle mileage depreciation, and the attendant costs of emergency medical services including their personnel time, management, vehicle fuel and use, and supply expenses.  Every time the legislature makes it more likely a gun injury or fatality may occur the tax payers are expected to pick up the tab for additional calls.

For every gun fatality there is a trip to the morgue, the autopsy, the report, and the assessment of criminality.  Which means, of course, that there are expenses involved for the transportation involved, the supplies and equipment, the production of the report, and personnel costs.  Again, every time the legislature makes it more likely there will be a fatality – the tax payer is on the hook for the costs.

For every gun fatality there are economic costs.  The most obvious is the loss of the victim’s income.  That is money the family cannot spend on housing, food, transportation, clothing, and other basics in the local economy.  What we might not think of quite so often are costs to the employer.  For example, the individual’s productivity, often associated with years of experience and training, is lost to the business owner.  The business owner is now required to shell out the costs of recruiting a replacement, and the costs of training a new employee.   In the interim, work schedules have to be adjusted, shifts expanded, over-time to cover shifts paid out, and all the other expensive inconveniences which accrue to the employee replacement process.  The cost of training alone should give some of the members of the legislature pause:

“The costs to replace an employee vary by their earning level, so training costs also vary. The Sasha Corporation averaged the results of 15 studies that determined average costs to replace an $8 per hour employee, determining an average cost of $9,444.47 per turnover. Even when the 33 percent of estimates with the highest prices were removed from calculations, replacement costs were $5,505.80 per turnover. Chartcourse estimates it costs $40,000 on average to replace a nurse, while technology companies can run up replacement costs of more than $125,000 per vacancy.” [HBC]

If the average cost to replace a nearly minimum wage employee ranges from $5,050 to $9,500 any action on the part of the legislature to make a replacement necessary because of a gun related fatality or disabling injury should be taken into consideration.  Those who consider themselves champions of small business should be especially careful about any legislation which would pass these kinds of costs on to their constituents. 

We seem to be happy to require “cost-benefit” analysis for regulations pertaining to clean air and water – why not apply the analysis to regulations which make guns more available to more people?  The numbers support this:

“People of all age groups are significantly more likely to die from unintentional firearm injuries when they live in states with more guns, relative to states with fewer guns. On average, states with the highest gun levels had nine times the rate of unintentional firearms deaths compared to states with the lowest gun levels.” [LCPGV]

If the legislature wants to make guns easier to procure and more conveniently at hand, then it behooves them to apply some thought to the costs of intentional and unintentional fatalities and disabling injuries in economic terms.  

The Proliferation Lobby asserts that more ‘concealed carry guns’ mean safer communities.  By extension, we might assume this means there will be fewer gun fatalities?  However, if we look at the numbers for the status of concealed carry individuals involved in fatal shootings the numbers aren’t supportive of the argument from 2003 to the present:

“…544 incidents in 36 states and the District of Columbia resulting in 722 deaths. In 84 percent of the incidents (455) the concealed carry killer committed suicide (218), has already been convicted (177), perpetrated a murder-suicide (44), or was killed in the incident (16). Of the 69 cases still pending, the vast majority (60) of concealed carry killers have been charged with criminal homicide, four were deemed incompetent to stand trial, and five incidents are still under investigation. An additional 20 incidents were fatal unintentional shootings involving the gun of the concealed handgun permit holder. At least 17 of the victims were law enforcement officers. Twenty-eight of the incidents were mass shootings, resulting in the deaths of 136 victims.” [vpc]

A cost benefit analysis should incorporate the expenses involved in the suicides of concealed carry permit holders, the costs of murder-suicides, and the costs associated with police involvement in both intentional and unintentional shootings.

Let’s review.  More guns equates to more fatalities.  More fatalities bring with them costs both to local and state government agencies and to the local economy.  Merely because an individual has a concealed carry permit doesn’t mean the individual won’t be involved in an intentional or unintentional tragedy – with associated expenses.   Ergo, it is incumbent on a state legislature to attend to the governmental and economic costs of gun proliferation and associated fatalities and disabling injuries.

Since the costs are significant, there’s an argument to be made that before any legislation which seeks to proliferate the acquisition or availability of firearms is considered a good old fashioned cost benefit analysis needs to be done.

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Everybody Wants to Bargain: Nevada’s SB 158

gridlock

The intent of SB 158, currently being discussed in the Nevada Assembled Wisdom, is relatively apparent – make the provisions of collective bargaining agreements between local governments and teachers, firefighters, police and law enforcement personnel, etc. publicly available 10 days prior to the meeting during which the agreement is to be voted upon.

If I’m reading the current law correctly, such agreements must be part of a public meeting agenda, duly posted, and subject to all the rigmarole associated therewith.  A copy of the “supporting material” available to the board or commission is also to be made available to the public. [NRS 288.153].  So, why SB 158?  Time.  From three working days prior to the hearing to “ten days before the date of the hearing.”

Superficially speaking this might allow for more time for public commentary and consideration of the agreement or master contract.  Realistically speaking, there are very few interest groups which are enamored of plowing  through contractual language and financials – the negotiating committees from labor and management, and the “anti-government” organizations which delight in microscopically examining supporting materials for clues to how “over-time is being abused,” or how “teachers are overpaid and underworked.”

SB 158 clearly gives the latter a few extra days to gather opponents of the collectively agreed upon contract prior to the hearing.  School Board members and County Commissioners already know the contents – they’ve been scrutinizing them throughout the bargaining process.  Members of union negotiation committees already know the contents – they, too, have been engaged in the same proposal, counter-proposal, amended proposal, process as their counterparts across the table.

The object is always that the employer (Commission or Board) will give the most they can without jeopardizing the priorities of the government entity, and the employees’ representatives will accept as little as they can without having to face a truly unpleasant mass meeting session with their membership.  The bargaining process itself can be competitive without being combative.  When things get combative there are ways out of the bind – mediation and arbitration.  And, herein lies the problem with SB 158.

Let’s assume that both sides in a bargaining agreement between, say. the Firefighters and the City have been negotiating in good faith.  The city has been forthcoming about its revenue projections, and the firefighters have been rational in their wage breakdowns.   They discussed hours and working conditions along with other related matters in a rational way.  They’ve avoided mediation and arbitration processes by agreeing to a collectively bargained contract. Now, we come to the question – why do opponents of the agreement need those extra days to round up their forces prior to the meeting?

  • Is it that the opponents of the agreement don’t trust the negotiating team from the city, district, or county?
  • Is it that the opponents of the agreement want to scuttle any deal which includes a modification of hours, adjustments in working conditions, or increases in pay?
  • If the negotiations hit a hard patch, and mediation or arbitration has adjusted the proposed agreement, then do the opponents want to scuttle the decision of the mediator or arbiter?

If the “scuttle strategy” is in place and the anti-government types want extra time for their media releases, press conferences, and the like, then what we have is an instance of obstruction at a key moment – a moment in which the intentions of both sides (both labor and management) are questioned and if the strategy is successful they’re both back at the bargaining table – and not where they want to be, which is home for a nice evening with the families.  In other, less delicate terms, Gridlock.

Public employee union representatives and members of school boards, city councils, and county commissions have donated countless hours of their own time to bargain these agreements.  They’ve authored proposals, revised them, spoken to them, adjusted them, and agreed upon compromise positions, usually on their own time and their own resources.  In this they should be praised – and should not be subjected to more organized (often professional) opposition which seeks to shoot down their efforts with shots below their Plimpsol Lines.

The burden of proof is on the proponents of SB 158 to demonstrate that the posting and publication of materials associated with the bargaining efforts of labor and management in the public arena, must allow for extra days for the processing and analysis of those materials – and NOT merely more time for the professional nay-sayers to advance their own narrow agendas.

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The NRA race to the bottom: Reciprocity

 Guns ab 175 Here’s an important point: “Nevada now has reciprocity with only 16 states that have requirements equal to or greater than those required in Nevada, including live-fire training.” [LVRJ]

Here’s another: “The proposal is contained in SB175 and Senate Bill 171, which was also heard by the Senate panel. It was also the focus of Assembly Bill 139 heard in the Assembly Judiciary Committee earlier in the day. […] All three measures would require Nevada to recognize concealed carry permits issued by all states.” [LVRJ]

Now, here’s something to consider from one of those ‘other’ states: “SB 347 (West Virginia) “this permitless carry legislation, introduced by state Senator Dave Sypolt (R-14), would recognize your right to legally carry a concealed firearm without the burdensome requirement of having to obtain a costly and time-restrictive Concealed Handgun License (CHL).” [NRA]

Under the provisions suggested by Republicans in the Nevada Legislature, if West Virginia enacts “permitless carry” legislation then Nevada would be obligated to grant reciprocity?

In Kansas, the GOP controlled State Senate has just approved SB 45, also a “permitless carry” bill. [Kan.Com]  Should this legislation be finalized does Nevada have to grant reciprocity under the terms of the revisions suggested as “reforms?”

There are reasons for those “burdensome requirements.”  One of which is that some time is necessary to determine if a person is a convicted felon before issuing a concealed carry permit.  Under Nevada Statutes a person must not be an undocumented foreigner, a convicted felon, a juvenile without parental supervision, or an adjudged mentally ill individual in order to purchase a firearm.  Wouldn’t it make sense to allow local authorities and responsible gun dealers to have some time to make the necessary checks?

Yes, it’s “inconvenient” to have to follow state and local regulations concerning firearms and how they might be concealed – but does Nevada need to stoop to the lowest common denominator in terms of reciprocity?

Another common sense reason to restrict concealed carry permits is that some states, Arizona for example, do not require live fire training.  Just buy the gun, stash it in your pocket or purse, and off you go.  Somehow, the explanation, “Well, the clerk at the hardware store showed me how to shoot it,” doesn’t leave me feeling all that safe in terms of the capacity of my fellow human beings to know how such a firearm should be handled.  The recent tragic story of the Michigan lady who killed herself while adjusting her bra holster comes to mind. [NYDN]

Nevada doesn’t need to produce any more stories like that one.  We also don’t need to add to the grim statistics which report at least 722 non-self defense gunshot fatalities in the U.S. since 2007.

“More gravely, the study found that the fatalities included 17 law enforcement officers shot by people with legal permits along with 705 slain civilians. […] In studying the 544 shootings, the center found 177 cases where people with gun licenses were ultimately convicted of crimes, including homicides, and 218 cases where the permit holder used the gun to commit suicide. There were 44 total lives taken by licensed individuals who first murdered others, then committed suicide.” [NYT]

If we are speaking of “public safety” then we ought to consider how to better protect our law enforcement officers and prevent suicides. As with any legislation, AB 171 and AB 175 should be heard – but as with suggestions that we’d all be safer if more people – no matter how ill trained – should be wandering about in public places with concealed firearms once heard should be enough.

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Pistol Packing Mama’s Baking Soda Solution

Fiore 2

The Wisdom of Michele Fiore (R-NV Assembly 4) might be amusing if (1) it stayed within the boundaries of the Silver State as an inside joke, or (2) if much of it was within the realm of reality.  Neither appears to be the case.

Think Progress has picked up the latest Fiore Story, as has MSNBC.  Thus much for keeping the story to ourselves.

However, there’s more to this adventure into an alternate reality.  First, the suggestion that campus rape might be prevented if the “hot little girls” were packing pistols in their purses ignores some valid questions.

First question, if all the girls are allowed to carry firearms on campus, would that not also apply to the men – the potential predators stalking the “hot little girls?” And, if this is the case then what we have is a formula for escalating violence not necessarily prevention.  Secondly, the incidence of rape among college women is far below that for non-college females. Ergo, while any rape isn’t acceptable the fact that college women aren’t carrying firearms doesn’t put them at necessarily greater risk.  Third, there’s the incapacitation factor.  Campus rapes tend to be associated with physical restraint, and/or voluntary or involuntary intoxication.  The gun in the purse under these circumstances probably wouldn’t be an option. [USAT]

Secondly, there’s the long debunked cancer treatment advice.  “If you have cancer, which I believe is a fungus, and we can put a pic line into your body and we’re flushing with, say, salt water, sodium cardonate through that line and flushing out the fungus. These are some procedures that are not FDA-approved in America that are very inexpensive, cost-effective.” [Ralston]

The American Cancer Society’s position is crystal clear on this matter:

“No peer-reviewed articles in medical journals were found to support the theory that cancer is caused by a fungus infection or a yeast infection. Available peer-reviewed medical journals do not support claims that sodium bicarbonate works as a cancer treatment in humans.”

So, where did the baking soda idea come from? Assuming Fiore meant “sodium bicarbonate.”

“The main proponent of sodium bicarbonate as an alternative cancer treatment is Tullio Simoncini, MD. Information on the Internet describes how Dr. Simoncini concluded that cancer is caused by Candida albicans and can be cured with baking soda. The sequence of events and timeline are not described in detail.

According to the Cancer Treatment Watch website, “[Dr. Simoncini] has been using unsubstantiated cancer treatments for 15 years… in 2003, his [Italian] license to practice medicine was withdrawn, and in 2006 he was convicted by an Italian judge for wrongful death and swindling… [ACS]

Now we have the specter of a bill introduced into our Assembled Wisdom promoting “alternative” treatments such as one practiced by a defrocked Italian doctor who’s been convicted of wrongful death and swindling.

Perhaps we can only hope (1) that Assemblywoman Fiore manages to stay out of the media spotlight long enough for us to catch our breath before the next foray into insanity, and (2) her health and welfare advice is ignored long enough to prevent escalating violence on campuses, and to prevent cancer patients from suffering the fraudulent attentions of defrocked quacks.

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Home Defects, Budget Shortfalls, and Picking Losers

Jig Saw Puzzle

Interesting items, each worthy of a post, but in the interest of keeping up to date – here are some newsworthy items deserving of a click and read.

Nevada Legislature: Take a moment to read Eli Segall’s piece in the Las Vegas Sun about the interest taken in the Assembled Wisdom about homeowner complaints in regard to construction defects.  Here’s a taste:

“Supporters say the proposal will boost construction jobs, but outside analysts say it will hammer trial lawyers, a political and business foe of builders, and, despite the bill’s name, will make it harder for homeowners to sue for shoddy workmanship.”  Why?

“As proposed, AB 125 would, among other things, strip homeowners’ ability to recover reasonable attorney fees in defect cases; require homeowners to state each problem in “specific detail” rather than in “reasonable” detail as current law allows and to give the defects’ “exact” locations in the house; and change the definition of a constructional defect, eliminating the provision that such flaws are made in violation of law and local codes and ordinances.”

Republicans in Disarray?  There is an effort to recall Assemblyman Hambrick (R-NVAD2).  Hambrick, GOP opponents say, has Strayed From the No New Taxes Pledge. [LVRJ]

School Daze: There’s this from Let’s Talk Nevada:

“8:00 AM: H/T Ralston for this. Pedro Martinez, the man Governor Brian Sandoval (R) hand-picked to run the new “Achievement School District” where he wants to transfer 10% of Nevada public schools into, is so dedicated to improving public education in Nevada… That he’s now running for School Superintendent in Boston. And yes, that’s Boston, Massachusetts.”

Meanwhile in Wisconsin under the Austerity/Trickle Down Hoax regime of Scott Walker – the governor’s solution to the $283 million budget shortfall created by his tax cuts is to skip $108 million in debt paymentsAnd in Kansas, the legislature backed down and decided to allow governor Brownback to sweep $475 million over the next two years from KDOT into the budget hole created by his tax cuts. [Kansas.comGet ready Ohio, governor Kasich is gearing up his 23% cut in the state income taxes over the next two years.

And in Congress, the Republican leadership is operating on the same theme:

“House leaders plan to schedule votes this week on seven bills recently approved by the Ways and Means Committee to make permanent an array of “tax extenders,” a set of primarily corporate tax provisions that policymakers routinely extend for a year or two at a time.  The seven measures, which will likely be packaged into a smaller number of bills for floor consideration, are the first installment in a series of bills that House leaders are expected to move to make many of the largest tax extenders permanent, while offsetting none of the cost.”

I think we’ve seen this before, and labeling it “Credit Card Capitalism,” wherein the Bush Administration turned the Clinton Administration surplus into a massive deficit – and then blamed the Democrats for “tax and spend” policies.  We might get the drift – the Republicans get into control, lower the taxes and revenues, thereby piling up a massive debt. The Democrats take back the control, enact taxes to fill the holes in the state budgets – and the GOP screams about “Tax and Spend?”

About those “economic development” and “job creating” ideas – a report (pdf) from North Carolina documents that 60% of the recipients of their incentive awards were cancelled because the firms failed to live up to their promises. H/T Angry Bear.  The story is about the same in Wisconsin:

“The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, a public-private body set up by Walker shortly after he took office in January 2011, was supposed to help the state climb out of recession by shedding bureaucratic rules and drawing on private-sector expertise.

But the WEDC has fallen short of its own goals by tens of thousands of jobs and failed to keep track of millions of dollars it has handed out. One reason for the agency’s disappointing performance: Walker’s overhaul of the state bureaucracy drove away seasoned development workers, economic development experts who work closely with the agency told Reuters.” [CapBlue]

There are other ways to create jobs and improve our economy; take a look at the CAP proposal for the Appalachian region.

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Guns and Nutters: Nevada Legislature Recoils

Guns Nevada Legis Infrastructure

The state of Nevada has 158 “high hazard” dams.  ‘High hazard’ means there could be loss of life or significant property damage if a dam failure were to occur. [ASCE]  However, the state legislature appears to have other priorities. Guns, case in point:   SB 175.  As of February 4, 2015 there were 10 bills in the Assembled Wisdom regarding guns. [RGJ]  SB 175 is particularly subservient to the National Rifle (Manufacturers) Association:

“Senate Bill 175, introduced by Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Henderson, also would loosen Nevada’s reciprocity laws with other states regarding concealed weapon permits and repeal a handgun registration requirement in Clark County, a local ordinance that has been in existence for more than six decades.

Further, it would establish “state control over the regulation of policies concerning firearms,” and allow anyone “adversely affected” by local ordinances or regulations that violate the measure to sue for damages.

The measure would make it illegal for anyone convicted of domestic violence, even a misdemeanor offense, from owning a gun. A violation would constitute a felony. It also would prohibit anyone under an extended protection order from acquiring a gun while the order is in effect.” [LVRJ]

Part One – the reciprocity would lower Nevada standards to the least common denominator among the states. Part Two – repeals the permitting requirements in Clark County. Part Three – allows anyone with a grouse to sue local governments on the grounds of “2nd Amendment Free-dumb.” Part Four – says a person under a domestic violence restraining order cannot buy a gun – and says nothing about removing guns from an abuser who already has possession of them prior to conviction.  Meanwhile, …

The state’s budget for dealing with high hazard dams is half the national average, and there are only 3 full time employees responsible for overseeing an average of  225 state regulated dams.   [ASCE]  Nevada ranks 23rd in the nation in renewable energy in a state well known for sun and wind.  [ASCE]

However, those dams and that renewable energy aren’t major topics among the Assembled Wisdom because the efforts thus far highlight how a gun hobbyist in Nevada can get a concealed carry permit as easily as he or she could in Florida – wherein the standard appears to be the capacity to slightly fog a mirror. [TP]  Witness: AB 127 which would do away with local Clark County firearms regulation and put all the authority in the hands of the State.  [LVRJ]  I must be getting very forgetful in my dotage, but I do recall a time when Republicans were all about “local control.”

The state could use more funds for its educational system, both k-12 and higher education; more funding for its public health programs; more resources for our mental health and child welfare services – and more resources allocated to improving our infrastructure.  But, the prime topic in this rendition of the Assembled Wisdom seems to be the care and nurturing of our ‘beleaguered ammosexuals.’   Because, you know… Freedumb.

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Nevada AB 121: Promote Your Gun in School

NVLeg Gun Promotion

Nevada Assembly members Wheeler, Ellison, Jones, Dickman, Moore, O’Neill, and Oscarson would like to help those kiddies who are disciplined for simulating a firearm during art or play activities, or who are wearing Pro-Gun Apparel in Assembly Bill 121.

There are a couple of levels at which this is ill advised. First, it seems to be one of those solutions in search of a problem. Someone’s kid gets disciplined in some school somewhere for simulating a lethal weapon, gets sent home, and the incident seems to instantly hit the Internet – to be endlessly forwarded and all too often enhanced by the Great E-Mail Telegraph. 

Secondly, this isn’t all about ‘free-dumb.’ It’s about marketing. It’s about the National Rifle (Manufacturers) Association promoting its products to a younger generation – since the older ones don’t seem all that interested in arming themselves to the gunwales.   There are reactive increases in gun sales, but generally speaking there are fewer US households purchasing more guns while the majority eschew such shopping.

It’s about the continuing efforts of the National Rifle (Manufacturers) Association to re-interpret the 2nd Amendment to disallow any common sense restraints and limitations, as are applied to every other portion of the Splendid Document.  

It’s also a way to launch a thousand ships of controversy. Does Johnny’s t-shirt with the scantily clad voluptuous young woman waving a 2nd Amendment banner constitute a “disruption,” or because it’s advertising the NRA agenda is it OK? After all, under the provisions of AB 121 a child can’t be disciplined for  “Wearing clothing or accessories that depict a firearm or dangerous weapon or express an opinion regarding a constitutional right to keep and bear arms. “

We might ask – are some of the people who are advocating in favor of this bill possibly be  the same folks who decried the wearing of “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” shirts worn by some professional, amateur, and school team members? Have they agreed with the Oklahoma legislator who wanted to ban hoodies?  Would an NRA hoodie, as seen above, be acceptable?

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