Beyond Integrity Business Ethics

Open discussions on current issues: According to the Daily Report news article published in 2008.

Companies from Detroit-based General Motors Corp. to Zurich, Switzerland-based UBS AG have fallen into the subprime sinkhole.

At GM, profit plunged 90 percent during the first three months of 2007 because of mortgage losses at its 49 percent-owned GMAC finance company.

Swiss banking giant UBS said in May that it would shut its Dillon Read Capital Management arm after the hedge fund manager lost 150 million Swiss francs ($123 million) in the first quarter, partly on subprime investments.

Subprime originations fell 10.3 percent to $722 billion in 2006 from a record $805 billion in 2005, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. Credit Suisse predicts a 40 percent to 60 percent slide this year. Based upon weakening price trends in many parts of the country and the projected number of resetting loans coming up in the first half of 2008, expect continuing increase in delinquencies and foreclosures.

I for one believe that this was a caveat emptor on the part of the banking institutions; a lock and flip strategy targeting minorities and first time buyers who could also qualify for prime loans yet, the brokers steered these buyers into a subprime loan. The scheme worked so long as interest rates continued to increase along with market value of the properties that secured the loans. So, the banks grew fat in this short sighted, quick fix, microwave strategy. If the buyers defaulted, the bank gladly foreclosed and resold the property again at an addition profit. But when the market collapsed the scheme fell apart. Should these banks be bailed out with tax payer’s dollars?

October 2nd, 2008 at 10:06 am

The doctrine of caveat emptor certainly befits application to the recent imploding of the banking institutions. Postmodernists have leaned on the crutch of “no warranty here”, trust us at your own risk!

The difficulty with ethics then, for those imbued with the worldview of postmodernism, is that secularists attempt to amalgamate morality and ethics as somewhat foreign concepts into vessels that perceive the world in a way that opposes Truth. For what is inherent and intuitive to converted Christian believers is alien to those who live and walk in relativism.

October 11th, 2008 at 9:28 am

The problem really started brewing back in the late 90’s during the rise of the dot-com era where shareholders were only interested in rising stock prices. They did not care what the businesses did as long as the stock price went up. This led to the internet based companies to focus only on short-term gains and not look at the long-term implications of their actions. What happened? The whole market came crashing down. Since then, we have seen many companies from Enron to AIG and Fannie Mae/Freddy Mac that have been caught up in similar situations. They were going after the quick and easy buck and not looking out for the long term.

The problem that has arisen now however is the sub-prime mortgage crisis is affecting not only the American stock market but the global economy as well. The recent “Wall Street Bailout” is a short-term fix. However, we are not addressing the mindset that caused this in the first place. When we emerge from this economic crisis what is to stop another company or industry to do the same thing over again? They just figure that they will get another check from the government to save them again if they screw up.

The solution is a grass roots approach to the problem where we as leaders and managers in the business environment apply Christian principles and ethics back into the workplace and not let the temptation dictate what we do. Instead, we should work in the interests of our customers, share holders, and strive towards long lasting success and not just another get rich quick scheme that sacrifices our future.

October 14th, 2008 at 7:14 pm

It is quite clear what is driving these business decisions. I Timothy 6:10 (The Message) clearly states, “But if it’s only money these leaders are after, they’ll self-destruct in no time. Lust for money brings trouble and nothing but trouble.” The Word is coming true right before us. The love of money has destroyed so many lives because they focused on the wrong thing. Greed will blind leaders, detouring them from making right and ethical decisions. If the market bottoms out, will it kill the voracious desire for money? It may go dormant, but dead, not necessarily. It is time to call it what it is so that change can happen. Things will never satisfy the hunger within. Only God can satiate that desire!

November 19th, 2008 at 8:43 pm

With the government bailing out the financial institutions it has been interesting to see who wants some of the money. There have been cities wanting some of the money and now the Big 3 automakers are asking for some of it. I feel that the government should beware of the caveat emptor mentality. The precedent that they have set will be very difficult to maintain. The question that I have about this economic crisis is where it started. I have a hard time believing that it was just financial institutions that caused this. Business leaders were out to make more money for themselves and the company in the short run and were relying on the long term to take care of itself. They believed that the economy was too strong to collapse and they are now paying the price. If the leaders would have looked beyond themselves I feel that they would have sacrificed some of the current growth for more long term growth.

December 9th, 2008 at 5:46 pm

No, I do not believe that these banks should be bailed out. They set up a market in which they would get rich, while the innocent first time buyers would fail and they had no plans on ever giving them any kind of break. But when they get hurt by their own poor business ethics and practices, they want us to bail them out. No. I say let the companies that are not in such a financial meltdown, because they used good business ethics and practices buy these other banks and business out, and let them bring a new business ethics culture to our economy. You reap what you sew.

December 11th, 2008 at 11:26 pm

Should we be bailing out the mortgage-gate or auto industry-of course not! But will we-absolutely, because if we don’t we will hurt ourselves more than any corporation. Corporations are not people, but they are created by, invested in by, and employ, many people. However, it should be done just as one would deal with a person who limited out their credit card-with many, many performance checkpoints, and short and long-term goals for turning the situation around (good old-fashioned transactional leadership!). Jesus drove the moneylenders from the temple, knowing they preyed upon the unsuspecting or poor-interesting how little things have changed, is it not?

December 13th, 2008 at 9:36 am

I agree with KG. No we should not bail these companies out but if we do not how many people will lose their jobs and further weaken our economy? The volatility still exists in the market, whether these companies are bailed out or not this is still going to continue to be the case until investors feel things have settled down. I think that we are probably about 6 months away from that happening. If this recession began in Dec. 07 and the “experts” predict that it will be 16-18 months long, then we should be on the back side of it. All is not bad however, with the market reacting to this crisis the way that it has those that can have a great opportunity to increase in their 401k contribution. Buy low and make your organizations match work for you. Also fuel prices are down, resulting in some relief to all of us especially those low income families that are struggling the most.

February 7th, 2009 at 12:25 pm

Let’s try and get to the root cause of this lack of leadership. The root really was in poor political leadership.

In 1977, Congress passed the Community Reinvestment Act, empowering regulators to punish banks that failed to “meet the credit needs” of “low-income, minority, and distressed neighborhoods.” As a result banks were told to consider unemployment checks as a source of income or face charges for discriminatory practices. This was just the beginning of the spiral that took thirty years to unravel. Since Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had to follow these regulations, other institutions followed in order to compete. Then in the rising stock market times of the 90’s, these practices spilled over into the mainstream mortgage markets in the pursuit of ever higher profits.

So, I see the catalyst as government trying to force business into poor business practices to try and resolve a social issue.

February 14th, 2009 at 8:37 pm

I do too in fact agree to some point with this banking trend, as I was a real estate broker and am very familiar with the expanse of lending markets that “all of sudden” became available. Everyone could get qualified for many products. Were these “good” products for the customer? Well, if you consider getting people what they want when they want it whether they can afford the short or long term outcome-”good”. Then yes, otherwise they created a supply of europhoric buying gratification that as we see now, let them down when the economy does not look as bright and cherry especially, when these people really need to hold on to their cash, but now their balloon payment has skyrocketed. Yet the supplier has been more than happy to become apathetic when they got fat-but oh now whinning they the bottom has dropped out of their fat buckets due to foreclosures. These companies now cry “help” “help” we aren’t doing well, when infact they were a cog in the perverbial broken market.

February 15th, 2009 at 4:58 pm

America has had a proud history of strong leaders who believed it was their responsibility to sacrifice personal gratification in support of the greater good. Individuals like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy, and of course, Jesus, gave their lives so that others might have greater opportunities for equality, freedom, and salvation. Unfortunately, over time the moral fabric of our society has eroded and those in leadership, more often than not, are in it for self gain. Rather it is a greater salary or just status, not many of them seem to be making sacrifices for the good of others. For example, at the end of the most recent Bush administration, Laura Bush purchased china that cost just under $500,000 when there are homeless people on the streets of Washington, DC who haven’t had a decent meal in months! What a demonstration of leadership for our children to follow. When the Commander in Chief and his wife are providing this type of leadership for others to aspire to, it’s no wonder we are in the state we’re in. This type of behavior invites CEO’s of private companies to beg Congress like paupers for money to bail them out while they are flying in their private jets to DC.

Someone somewhere must take a stand and say this is not an example of leadership, at least, not one we’d like to emulate.
Service leadership, however, is a response to a call to fulfill a mandate and is not taken lightly but rather as an opportunity to be of service to others. That service may take the form of guidance and direction, but the overall attitude is one of giving as opposed to taking. Service leadership is more effective, even considering personal gain. With this mentality it is easier to engage your subordinates and motivate them to work to the best of their ability. This has a trickle-down effect resulting in higher profits; attain goals, and helping others to achieve their personal goals.

February 23rd, 2009 at 8:09 pm

I do not feel that the government needs to bail out all these companies because they have not been fiscally profitable. Some of the problem has stemmed behind inflated projections for share holders sake… “Lets make our projections better to please share holders or to increase our own income by receiving incentives or bonuses” Do we as individuals get “bailed” out just because we spent more money than we made or cut a pay cut or lost our job or our children’s education cost get raised or because our car breaks down?” No, instead our credit gets ruined (we can declare bankruptcy, but personal bankruptcy is not the easy way out either-it hurts our buying abilities and causes tax obligations.

Be allow business to claim bankruptcy protection so they can get back on their feet and then what? They go and spend some more?
I understand that if some of these companies don’t have solutions it affects our whole economy. Yes I understand that, but can’t we come up with better solutions?

March 2nd, 2009 at 5:53 am

We are about 8 months or more into this mess and it isn’t getting any better. If we ran a company this way it would be belly up in no time…but wait the government would bail us out… It is time to stop spending more than we make on all levels…indvidual, business, and goverment.

March 3rd, 2009 at 7:56 pm

The beauty of a market economy is its ability to right itself. As we go through the ebbs and flows of our economic life (as a country) we will see this happen often. The problem is created as was said when the government steps in. Poor management, bad business plan unprofitability is all worked out through business failures. This allows new entrepreneurs to move in and do it right. What a shame our government cannot grasp the simple idea of market economics. We are surely doomed to repeat our mistakes over and over again.

March 4th, 2009 at 7:40 pm

We as a society must completely fall before we can get back up. I feel government is trying to get up but our legs are broken and we keep falling. I truly believe the “bail” out will create another sense of false economy globally. Sorry, these banks and business have been poorly managed and need to get out of this themselves but I hate to see so many innocent stakeholders loose so much.

March 7th, 2009 at 2:03 pm

How are these companies — banks, Auto companies etc, ever going to figure out how to run a profitable business based on good old fashioned revenue based cash flow. Bailing them out does what? Gives them more money to go make more mistakes. Companies that made bad decisions should pay the price for those bad decisions just like the rest of us. There are already plenty of options in place such as bankruptcy that provides companies with an out when the going gets rough. Why does the government need to do even more?

Let them fail, let’s learn from the mistakes and re-build stronger.

March 8th, 2009 at 1:30 pm

Business ethics is a difficult matter to have a discourse on. Being an effective leader and being a high performing leader may be different. To be a solid leader it is my belief that one would innately need to be a morally, ethical person as well. However society tells us something very different. the war model that corporate America is based on (”business is war” principle), and the damnable Darwinist “survival of the fittest” belief–that nature does not exhibit–producing by adding value and performance excellence according to business objectives are what a business leader must consider before anything else. If he/she instead is a spiritual or community leader, exhibiting ethics and morality beyond reproach would be higher on the chain of belief. You need to factor in all aspects and requirements of your situation and of your customers and stockholders before you subscribe to a particular leadership type, or an appropriate mix. Value based leadership focuses on adding value to the entire process; value in terms of the same biblical principles morally driving leaders every day actions. In some instances, this type may overlook the aspect of being the nice guy on the block and rather focus on adding value to the leadership process. It is an organization’s responsibility to add quality (value) to each service and product delivered to its customers. Corporate America rate leaders on their vision for the organization and their final performance of that vision. The general public often rate leaders on their character or principles followed.

April 22nd, 2009 at 7:38 pm

Too many, if not most, corporate leaders today, their paycheck is the only scorecard that matters. Their paycheck is often based on stock price and easily manipulated earnings per share numbers. Our CEO recently made his earnings per share target and received an approximately $1.2M stock grant by canceling bonuses and raises for the rest of the company’s workforce.

This short term thinking and willingness endanger an organization’s long term viability for a single individual’s short term gain is what got us into this mess. Maybe our leadership needs to be taught about Judas in addition to Jesus. “Then one of the twelve, named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, ‘What are you willing to give me to betray Him to you?’ And they weighed out thirty pieces of silver to him (Matthew 26:14-15).”

April 27th, 2009 at 8:28 am

I believe to truly answer the question, should our tax dollars go to bail out both Wall Street and Detroit? – You have to break them apart. When the representatives of blue collars went to Congress hat in hand, lawmakers insisted that to get loans automakers would have to present viable business plans. However congress didn’t impose similar conditions when Bernanke and Paulson went to Congress seeking grants for reckless white collar firms. I believe there is a double standard in play. So let’s change the question: Should our tax dollars go to a corporation with a viable business plan, with foresight on how they plan on paying us back? Absolutely! Should our tax dollars by handed to Wall Street without nearly a word on plans, regulations and or payback? Absolutely NOT!

June 16th, 2009 at 11:53 am

Based on the posts I know we all believe this is a mess that has gone back to government decades ago. The central theme is that integrity is lost, everyone is going for the big score and government can’t keep their hands off the mess. Corruption is one of the biggest culprits that have affected this problem. Where do we go from here?

I don’t think we’re going to stop the greed no matter how much regulation you put on business. Just like advanced computer systems designed to fend off viruses, hackers eventually get through. Government is using a top-down approach to fix what they essentially started and it’s costing the tax payers a fortune, not to mention the future of our children is in jeopardy. Bailouts are a failure and it is through these bailouts we continue to see greed by the institutions getting this money. If you were an ethical company, would you really continue to give huge bonuses to management that ultimately ran the company in the ground or is it grab what you can and move on? Obviously the government’s plan did not work.

We are a capitalist society which means companies are designed to make money for profit. If a company does poorly and is outperformed by a competitor, so be it; that company dies. Why have we gone away from this line of thought? The government needs to stop enabling people by giving them free handouts. If you fail, you fail and it becomes a learning experience on what not to do next time. Since the government is ramped up its social programs, the American society has gotten lazy. No matter what happens, the government will be there to pick you up. The government will be there even if you don’t want to get started.

Here’s what I propose. Continue to try and regulate big business (by mandated external audits) to keep citizens protected from fraud. If fraud takes place by the company and/or the auditor, the penalties need to be swift and vicious. Madoff and other ponzi schemes need to be dealt with by a life time imprisonment for all the key players, all assets taken and auctioned off for those constituents that were wronged. If a business fails, they fail; no bailouts and no free passes.
Government must stop providing free rides to people that do not deserve them. We got into the housing problem because it was discriminating if you didn’t offer a loan to every person, no matter the income. There is absolutely no common sense to that line of thinking. Society as a whole needs to stop believing they are owed something by simply breathing and living in the US. This thought process has become a burden on law-abiding taxpayers and it needs to end. I can get into a whole not line of thought on social program reform but I have rambled on long enough.

Bottom line, take government back out of business, stop giving free money to businesses and the government must stop enabling the American society. The American people need to learn to stand back on their own two feet.

June 17th, 2009 at 5:06 pm

Should be bail out the automakers and lenders with our hard-earned tax dollars? In a word, NO. It seems we are always subsidizing something. There is a news story on television right now that Denver International Airport (DIA) is collecting a “farm” subsidy for renting out their excess land to farmers. They are legally eligible for these subsidies because they receive crops from the farmers. This is ridiculous. So, here is one more business that is getting taxpayer money yet, there is the fear (and has been for years) that money is going to run out for social security. I think that the government should stay out of business and let the big ones fail just like a small one would if it made bad business decisions.

June 22nd, 2009 at 6:24 pm

Personally, I do not feel that the government should be bailing out banks and auto manufactures. Part of the beauty of free markets is its ability to weed out weak business…or in this case bad business. With the government stepping in to “correct” the situation, I feel that it will only make it worse down the road. It is not fixing the problem…which is lack of ethical leadership and ethics in business. Much like dealing with a child, if you do not let them reap the consequences of their decisions, they will not learn. America is becoming dependent on the government to step in an ease the strain anytime things become challenging. This will make for a harder fall later on down the road.

Just a Vessel
August 17th, 2009 at 8:55 am

First, even if we don’t like them or agree with them, we must pray for our government leaders and tell them that we are praying for them. There is a bad spirit over this financial crisis that must be broken.

No, I do not feel that we should bail out the banks…or the auto industries…or anyone else that created a false sense of security by implementing faulty business practices, schemes… Their years of bad decisions have created an economic nightmare, and creating billions of dollars of new debt to bail them out is not the answer. There are other ways of salvaging and rebuilding our economy. One example would be that subprime bonds and mortgages should be insured with underlying FHA-type insurance. Cancel all golden parachutes of existing and future CEO’s and executive team members as long as the company holds these government-insured bonds/mortgages. This keeps underperforming executives from being paid when they don’t do their jobs.

Paul’s charge to us in Romans 13:8 to owe nothing but love is a powerful reminder of God’s distaste for all forms of debt that are not being paid in a timely manner. At the same time, the Bible does not explicitly command against all forms of debt. The Bible warns against debt, and extols the virtue of not going into debt, but does not forbid debt. The Bible has harsh words of condemnation for lenders who abuse those who are bound to them in debt, but it does not condemn the debtor.
Some people question the charging of any interest on loans, but several times in the Bible we see that a fair interest rate is expected to be received on borrowed money. In ancient Israel the Law did prohibit charging interest on one category of loans—those made to the poor. This law had many social, financial, and spiritual implications, but two are especially worth mentioning. First, the law genuinely helped the poor by not making their situation worse. It was bad enough to have fallen into poverty, and it could be humiliating to have to seek assistance. But if, in addition to repaying the loan, a poor person had to make crushing interest payments, the obligation would be more hurtful than helpful.

Second, the law taught an important spiritual lesson. For a lender to forego interest on a loan to a poor person would be an act of mercy. He would be losing the use of that money while it was loaned out. Yet that would be a tangible way of expressing gratitude to God for His mercy in not charging His people “interest” for the grace He has extended to them. Just as God had mercifully brought the Israelites out of Egypt when they were nothing but penniless slaves and had given them a land of their own, so He expected them to express similar kindness to their own poor citizens.

September 19th, 2009 at 8:30 pm
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April 19th, 2010 at 12:46 pm

I would like to refer back to the original entry and the author’s theory of “caveat emptor” (or buyer beware) on behalf of the banking institution. Rightly so, this original post (by John) states that the banking industry got fat over the profits made from scheme passed on to investors. In asking the question, “Should these banks be bailed out with tax payer’s dollars?” followed by the June 16th, 2009 post from Ray, that simply states we need to take government back out of business, stop bailing them out, and get the American people to stand on their own two feet. I believe these two authors in their post strike a chord that ultimately divides our nation in political and theological difference.

I am not a historian, but if I recall certain portions of my 9th grade Civics class, in 1933, this country experienced a similar situation during the first term of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) and his “New Deal.”

FDR stated in his inaugural address, “Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men. . . . The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization.”

FDR’s New Deal included legislation passed to assist in recovering from the Great Depression and to assist in reforming the nation’s financial systems. It drew a line between Democrats and Republicans of the day.

So, here in lies the difficulty. Our capitalistic society was built on the idea of the American dream, the land of opportunity… At what point do we stop the bailout? How do we teach American’s to stand on their own two feet?

It was our founding fathers that stated in the Declaration of Independence, that we have certain unalienable rights, those being “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Knowing that the originators of this document were God fearing men, they must have had some thought around this idea of “pursuit of Happiness.” However, they probably never dreamed that the country would see government intervention and control, such as it did in the 1930’s and the 2000’s. Why, they may never have left the land across the pond if they had foreseen it. I too agree that American needs to pull itself up by its boot straps, and stop looking for the government hand-out. We are a proud and strong nation that has grown soft. “Buyer Beware” actually falls on both sides of the line. The banks new that eventually the supply of food would run out and the public new that at some point the bill would come due.

One last thought to consider… (Luke 6:34) “And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ’sinners’ lend to ’sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. 35But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.”

April 21st, 2010 at 7:23 pm

Should big business be bailed out? NO NO NEVER NO! It is unfortunate that our society depends so much on our government that people cannot see how devastating it is to everyone when these corporate giants get bailed out. The whole idea of a free market is that weak businesses go under and strong businesses survive. When the government steps in it just makes the entire system weaker and less stable. However, the idea of government jumping in where it shouldn’t is not a new idea. Our own government jumped in first during the Great Depression and hasn’t backed down since.

It is time that government understood that their place is not business or charity, it is to protect us from enemies from within and without.

Cookie Monster
April 21st, 2010 at 8:11 pm

I do not believe the banks should have been bailed out. However, I think there is more to the story than greedy banks. That is a part of it, for sure, but the government played a huge role in both allowing and pushing subprime mortgages and subprime mortgage backed securities.

The government bureaucrats and politicians and associated government run “private” companies (e.g., Fannie Mae) determined it was in the national interest to increase home ownership. Clinton began actively employing a little used regulation to start forcing banks to loan money to people who could not afford it. Bush continued this practice, and recent news shows Obama is STILL continuing it!

The banks greed played a part when they used accounting and securities tricks to try and turn a profit while still complying with new regulations.
It’s still simplified, but I don’t think anyone other than a very few people who were lied to about the risk of subprimes were innocent. Most people who got subprimes were aware of the risk, and took it, but then wanted out of the consequences later on. Same for banks AND for the government.

October 1st, 2010 at 7:16 pm

John W. Aldridge, aboutChange Solutions wrote it best in his concluding remarks, “It is people and not technology that is changing the way organizations share, transfer, and leverage knowledge presenting socio-technical concepts toa wider field of possibilities. Businesses and individuals struggle within themselves on God-given values, ethics and morals. This unfortunately enters the work place and causes issues when they become or are leaders and their subordinates are Christians. Our views must change from top to bottom and we must become servant leaders, regardless of our positions. Yet, when we have the blessing to lead people, it is more of our responsibility to lead in a way that people know you are Godly, will treat them Godly and serve them constantly. Fairness, at the end of the day, is what people admire. And that can only come from God leading us every step of the way.


Leave a Comment

  1. Craig says:

    We have seen a sufficient number of unethical business practices in the last century. As the corporate sector grows, corruption grows. The days of “giving-my-word” as a gesture of promise or “doing business on a handshake” are over. Big corporations allow money to do the talking.

    Banks are in business to make money just like other businesses. If they want to gamble, they need to take the responsibility for losses. They are in business of “risk”. “C” level businesses need to stop the government requests for a bailout. It is clear that the government is not modeling a healthy bottom-line, look at the debt crisis. The government asks for bailouts from other countries. Japan and China being collectively hold more than $2 trillion (Wilson, 2012). Businesses at every level need to be responsible.

    The banks knew subprime loans were risky when they started shelling out money. It was a risk that the business took, no one else. It is time to accept the failure. Their decisions impacted the masses from all different angles. Caveat emptor it may be, but maybe we as business owners and we as consumers need to evaluate how we are being fiscally responsible. We should start by looking at the Bible.

    Wilson, G. (2012). US debt tops $16 trillion: So who do we owe most of that money to? Retrieved from

  2. RL says:

    Lack of moral truth starts at the top…our government lacks moral truth, the president, senators, representatives. Why should we expect business leaders to set a good example when our governmental leaders are so lacking in fundamental moral principles? I don’t think we can…but, we can’t give up either. As Christians, WE must choose to live with a moral compass and strive to pattern our lives after Jesus Christ AND fight to clean up our government and our businesses. All of us should be active in government/politics so that we can effect positive changes. Our civil society depends on it.

  3. carlymooresird says:

    I do not think the government should have or should bail out the people who provided sub prime loans and ended up being hurt when the market crashed. Most of those companies openly preyed on those of us who had had a rough time in the housing market but were in need of housing. A criminal has to pay for their actions and in my opinion many of those companies are no better then robbers who openly rob banks. I pray that this country has learned from that issue and the same mistakes are not repeated.

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