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[Melas] - Chapter 64: Pirate Attack

Synopsis:
A young woman finds herself dead and is given the chance to reincarnate in another world with cheat-like magic powers. She accepts, only to find that the world treats magic users the same way ours did— by hunting them down and killing them for heresy.
My name is MELAS?! As in Salem backwards? Oh my God, and my mother is a Witch. I am SO going to be burned at the stake!
[Previous Chapter] | [Chapter 1] | [Cover Art] | [RoyalRoad Index and Synopsis] | [Patreon] |[Discord] | Tags: Isekai/Reincarnation, Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Weak-To-Strong Protagonist, Female Protagonist

“She’s using magic,” Ginah said, looking in my direction.
“I know,” the man sighed. “I just told you that.”
Their ship was now parallel to ours; they had a crew of dozens on deck, all armed and ready with weapons. And yet, I found my attention switching between the dangerous pirates getting ready to attack us, and my own two allies on board our own vessel.
Because I had used magic.
It was a silly thing to worry about, but I felt it was a valid concern. If they found my use of magic to be something so completely heinous that I had no choice but to kill them… Well, I guess learning how to work a ship will be on my to-do list.
The two pirates standing out front continued their chatter. Their conversation was barely audible due to the close proximity they were to us now. The fog did obscure some of their appearance, but I could vaguely tell by their body language that they
“Think she’s part of the Elise?”
“Probably. It’s a good thing we got here in time. Any later—”
Wait, part of the Elise? I frowned. Why’re they asking that?
I got up, opening my mouth to call out to them, when I saw the man raise his rifle once again. He’s going to shoot me again, isn’t he?
He shot me again.
I erected two Force Barriers this time; I overlaid them one over the other, and it took the powerful blast without shattering. The translucent glass-like protection cracked, with small shards scattering along the hard wooden floor, but it stayed strong. I pointed back at the pirates, releasing a Fireball in their direction.
The large sphere flew across the narrow gap between our ships, looking like it was about to land on where the two main pirates were standing. The woman called Ginah pulled out a hilt from her waist, and a crackling red whip of energy shot out of it. She struck at the Fireball out of the air, and the spell exploded before it even reached the ship.
I paused. “Mana tools can do that?” I asked, turning to Gennady.
“Yes,” he said. “They can do just about anything, lass. Didn’t I tell you?”
“Well, that’s—”
The man fired another shot, and this time I jumped out of the way; my Force barrier broke from the impact, letting the beam burrow a hole through the wall on the back side of the ship.
I had just got back to my feet when the first pirate set foot on our deck, getting off the wooden plank they attached to our ship. I drew my dagger, readying spells by my side. I quickly pre-cast the Explosive Orbs by my side, as I shot two Magic Missiles at the pirate.
The pirate rolled out of the way of the attacks, the small explosions going off behind him as he charged me. More pirates were arriving now, and they were rushing me as well. Gennady pulled out his own gun and fired a shot at the first pirate— the pirate managed to block the first with his cutlass, but the second grazed him on the shoulder, knocking him down.
I saw three pirates standing side by side as they made their way towards me. I was not about to set off a Fireball in my own ship; that would probably cause irreparable damage by the time I could put it out. Instead, I pointed at them and a snare shot out. It caught nothing however, as each pirate skillfully evaded the magical bolas.
These guys are good! I watched as Gennady frantically pulled out various mana tools from his bag as more and more pirates surrounded him as well. They were wary of me, and I too was of them.
I glanced back and forth between the pirates surrounding me, with the three glowing orbs still hovering around me. A man took a step forward—
And I sent the Explosive Orbs out in all directions. The pirates were quick, as expected. They leapt out of the way of the blasts, but the Frost Javelin had already finished forming; the layer of fog around us allowed me to cast the spell far faster than I could otherwise have.
The Frost Javelin shot out in an arc, dancing through the air as if it had a mind of its own. And it in a sense, it did. I could not control the exact movements of the projectile, but I was able to somewhat direct it where I wanted it to go.
Got you. It was about to skewer a pirate who was backing as fast as he could, but suddenly the Frost Javelin shattered into a thousand pieces. Icy shards rained down around the pirate, as the man with the rifle, still on his ship, lowered his gun.
“Watch out for the Goblin’s spells,” he shouted, gesturing at me. “Those are quite powerful.”
I clicked my tongue. He’s annoying. I glanced around the battlefield, surveying the situation. The pirates were good— they were overwhelming Gennady and I, and… Lisa and Jack are still standing there, dumbstruck.
I yelled at them. “Hey guys, a little help here?” I was not sure if they would heed my call to action; they might just let me die now that they know I was a spellcaster.
However, thankfully, Jack finally broke out of his stupor. Was he actually going to help? He took a step forward, leaning out of the ship’s deck in the direction of the pirates, and shouted.
“Oi, Ginah! What in Hell are you doing?”
I stopped. The pirates stopped. Gennady stopped. Lisa’s gaze snapped to her partner. He continued.
“You’re attacking out clients, you dumb bitch—”
“Language, Jack,” the man with the rifle said, before he lowered his weapon. “And what do you mean by that?”
“I mean that you guys will get our pay docked! I’m not going to call you nice things for that!” Jack snapped, pointing his short sword at the man then at the woman.
The woman, Ginah, paused. “These are your clients?” she asked, glancing over at myself and Gennady.
“Yes!” Jack, Gennady, and myself screamed.
“Huh.” Ginah looked at us once over. “Well, what about your dead crew?”
“They attacked us,” I explained. “I think someone paid them off— probably the Elise.”
“Oh, so I’m not mistaken about that then.” She nodded. “Then I guess you guys better come over to our ship.”
Lisa hurried down from quarterdeck, finally joining us as we stood amongst the pirates. I still stood on my guard since we were surrounded, but it seemed like the misunderstanding had been resolved for now.
“Why’s that? What’s going on Ginah?” Lisa asked. “Why are you guys here? We thought you left Luke once the Elise chased you out.”
“Well, we did. But we decided to come back because we don’t like those bastards. And we’ve been messing with them for the last few weeks, and were tailing a few of their ships just earlier, until we realized they were tailing you. So we can over here to warn you when we saw the fighting and thought we were too late.”
I wanted to comment on the sheer absurdity of this casual conversation happening across ships, but what Ginah said took precedence over that.
“...a few ships are tailing us?”
“Yes,” she said casually, gesturing vaguely in the direction we had come from. “They’re quite a ways back. But they should be catching up soon—”
And as if those words were some kind of a trigger, I saw the first shadow of a boat emerge from the thick, white fog. I recognized it immediately. It was a large ship, moving at an incredibly fast speed for its size— because it was powered by mana. It was The Lightbringer’s Vessel, and it was followed by two other ships at its rear.
I saw the nebulous figures of men standing on the deck of the large ship, with some of them pointing frantically at us. A figure fell as the man standing next to Ginah took aim and fired a shot at them.
“Let’s go!” he yelled, gesturing us over.
“What is going on?” Gennady asked, looking around confused.
“I have no idea,” I said, looking between the pirate’s and the oncoming ships. “But they better explain later.”
Because if we somehow got ourselves wrapped up in an entire ordeal, I would be so annoyed.


We boarded the pirate ship captained by the woman named Ginah, and fled from the three pursuing ships. The Lightbringer’s Vessel was fast, but it did not stray too far from its two escorts for whatever reason. Probably because unlike the other two, it had little in terms of firepower or combat potential. And with the cover of the fog and night, we managed to lose them after an hour.
It was only when I was sure we were safe, did I even sheathe my dagger. I had already healed up, and removed the bandages on my arm at that point, so I was less worried about getting into a fight. I was still cautious, of course; these pirates were skilled fighters as evident from our brief incursion against them, but with Gennady by my side and with both of us prepared, I felt like we might have been able to take them on— at least, until we could somehow escape.
“So,” I said, stopping in front of Lisa and Ginah as the two women were in the middle of a discussion. “What’s happening?”
“Aria,” Lisa started, then she paused. She looked over to Ginah for a moment, then she folded her arms. “First, you have to tell me what was that? That was… magic?”
“Yes.” I nodded curtly. “It was.” I didn’t clarify anything, and just stood there.
Ginah placed her hands on her hip as she turned to address me. She was dressed in nothing more than a pair of ripped pants and a tube top, with a blue coat hanging loosely around her shoulders. “You’re not part of the Dark Crusaders are you?”
I studied the expression of the two women, and saw they were scrutinizing me as well; I took a deep breath, remembering their reaction to my use of magic at the start of the battle, and decided to answer honestly rather than giving some indefinite response.
“I’m not,” I said.
“Good.” Ginah seemed satisfied with that. She turned to Lisa and inclined her head in my direction. “Seems like she really did save your asses, huh?”
The other woman sighed. “She did.” Then she turned to me. “Thank you, Aria.”
“So what’s going on?” I asked, ignoring their gratitude; those could be exchanged later. “What’s this about the Elise chasing after you guys?” I pointed first at Lisa, then at Jack who was grumbling off to the side by himself.
Lisa hesitated. “I… don’t know,” she finally said. “I had no idea this would happen. I didn’t think they would try to force us into submission, after having done nothing but put some light pressure on us for so long.”
“So those guys were after you?”
“Yes.” She nodded.
I tapped a finger on my mask before turning to Ginah. “And how about you guys? You’re pirates, right?”
The pirate Captain shot me a grin and jerked a thumb at herself. “We are indeed.”
“What’s this have anything to do with you guys?”
She shook her head. “You don’t know anything about the Elise, do you?”
“No,” Gennady piped up. “We just got to the city.”
I nodded my head in agreement with the Dwarf, and looked up expectantly at Ginah. “So… are you going to tell us?”
“I can tell you what’s wrong with them,” a voice came from the side. Jack strutted up to us, his hands hidden in his pockets, with a clear scowl on his face. “They’re an organization of the most villainous scum in all of Locke. They came and took the underground by storm, and would crush anyone who doesn’t join them so completely and utterly everyone quickly began to fear them.”
“What’s wrong with that?” I raised an eyebrow.
Everyone turned to stare at me, giving me a look, and I shrugged.
“What? Aren’t you all criminals here?”
“Yes,” Ginah said. “But that doesn’t make us monsters. We support those who help us, and allow those who don’t to go about their business. Only when they’re our enemies do we even consider such drastic courses of action.”
Jack voiced his agreement. “And they are ruthless. They don’t care if you’re in the business to support your family. They will force you to do jobs you wouldn’t want to do for them.”
“I see.” I listened as Ginah continued to explain.
“Their leader— a Half Elf named Bahr— is also said to be capable of magic. We think he might be from the Dark Crusaders. That’s why he was able to bring the group into prominence so quickly— he had their funding and their connections to help him get to where he is now.”
“So what?” I asked, frowning. “You don’t like that the Dark Crusaders are crossing into your territory to spread their influence or something?”
“No.” She exhaled deeply and turned to Lisa. “What’s with this girl? We just explained it to her. She daft or something?”
Lisa smiled meekly and tried to calm down the pirate. “She’s just… an odd one.”
I drew my lips into a thin line at their casual remarks about me in front of me. I’m completely normal! I wanted to argue, but then I remembered the time I tried to convince a rapist to stop what he was doing. Yeah… they’re probably right.
“Listen,” I said, speaking over everyone else. “I don’t care about this Elise, and I don’t care about what they’re doing. I just want to get to the Taw Kingdom like I paid Lisa and Jack to do.”
Ginah snorted. “Good luck with that. If you haven’t noticed, their ship is gone and their crew is dead.”
“But I paid them!” I protested.
“Tough luck. But that’s not happening anymore.”
I glanced over at Lisa and Jack and got an apologetic smile and a grunt in response. I turned to Ginah.
“You guys have a working ship— Gennady and I can pay you what we offered them to bring us to Taw. Or at least to a port outside of Locke.”
“Not happening,” she said simply.
“Why?” I asked, annoyed at this development.
“Because we came back to Luke for a reason, girl. We don’t like how the Elise is exploiting the people of the city. We tried to oppose them, but they chased us out. But we aren’t going to run anymore. We are pirates, but we aren’t evil. The way they do things— we can’t allow it.”
I felt my irritation rising, but Gennady placed a hand on my shoulder to stop me. “Let me talk for a moment,” he said, and I allowed him.
Jack glared at the Dwarf as he stepped forward, but did not say anything otherwise.
“So, you lot are trying to oppose this group… how?”
“We disrupt their business. Hit key locations to cut off their supply or drugs. Especially the enuim. That will ruin them for quite a bit and get their allies to leave them.”
“The enuim.” Gennady furrowed his brows. “They sell it?”
“Yes,” Jack answered the Dwarf almost begrudgingly. “They don’t just sell it— that’s their main product which they’ve gotten every other person in the city addicted to in less than a year.”
“That’s… terrible.”
I eyed the look on everyone’s faces, then slowly raised a hand.
“What’s this ‘enuim’?” I asked.
Ginah faced me, and cocked a brow. “You don’t even know what that is? Are you actually a little girl and not a Goblin or something?”
I ignored that comment, and looked at Gennady as he tried to explain.
“The enuim is a terrible drug that doesn’t just get you addicted to it, it also makes anyone on it more… amenable. If you get someone high on the enuim before trying to get them to sign a deal or do… something for them… they’ll be more inclined to do it.” His brows arched darkly over his forehead as his implication sank in.
“That’s… not good,” I pointed out the obvious.
“It isn’t. And the worst part is? It’s not natural,” he said. “It was developed in the Holy Xan Empire by a group of corrupt Alchemists. They prescribed it as a medicine to the Noxeus to some noble families for their own advantage— to scam them of their gold. This went on for almost a year before they were caught. They were all executed for their crimes, of course. But at that point, the recipe had already been shared with criminal groups throughout the continent. It’s a problem in Soli, and hadn’t been an issue here in Vitae… until now.”
“You know, I don’t—” Ginah started, but Gennady quickly cut her off and held my gaze.
“Melas,” he said my real name once again, and this time, Lisa and Jack heard it. “I know you think money solves everything. That gold is enough to persuade someone to help you.”
“I don’t think that. I think it just increases your chances.”
“Same difference.” He shook his head. “However, there’s something else that works even better than that, and that’s favors. Giving people a reason to trust you, so they would help you back. I have seen what you can do— what you’re capable of doing for others— and I trust you, that’s why I offered to accompany you to Taw. But these people barely know you. They have no reason to bring you to Jahar’taw, even if you pay them.”
“What are you suggesting?” I asked, although I already knew what he was going to say.
“We help them out,” he answered simply. He turned to the pirate Captain and two smugglers, and nodded. “If we help you guys out, will ya bring us to Taw?”
“You’re offering to help us?” Ginah asked.
“Well, it entirely depends on what my friend here has to say.”
All eyes turned to me and awaited my response. I answered without hesitation.
“We’ll help you.”
Ginah blinked. “That was a quick reply.”
I walked forward, and met the look of everyone standing there.
“If I had known about this enuim drug, I would’ve offered this in the first place. I didn’t, so I saw no reason to get involved. But if innocent people are getting hurt and I know about it and can do something about it— I’ll help where I can. I can’t save everyone, but I definitely can contribute something, can’t I?”
Plus, I had something to gain from this deal; it was practical as well as good for my conscience. I was not a hero, but even an average person would jump in to help if they saw another man choking in the streets.
“Huh.” Ginah studied my face for a moment. “Perhaps I misjudged you.”
“But”— I raised a finger— “we won’t do anything beyond stopping the diffusion of these drugs. If you try to make us get involved in some petty underground politics unrelated to that, we won’t participate.”
“Of course.” She grinned, throwing me a thumbs up. “And we’ll find you a way to get to… uh, where did you want to go again?”
“Jahar’taw.”
“Right.” She turned to a man in the distance and called him over. “Yo, Kai, get over here. We need you to figure out how to get these two to Jahar-thingy after they help us. Think you can do that?”
The man— the one who shot me with the rifle— came at her behest and nodded. “That won’t be too difficult,” he said, then he turned to face us. “They’re helping us deal with the Elise?”
“Yes.” Ginah nodded, a savage grin spreading across her face. “They’ll help us bring them down.”
I quickly clarified. “Only where it involves innocent people, and we won’t stick around beyond that.”
“Right, right.”
[Next Chapter]

Author's Note:
HEY! After hitting a patreon goal last friday, I upped the number of chapters ahead as a reward. So if you want to read up to six chapters (three weeks) ahead, or just two chapters (one week) ahead for $1, consider donating to my patreon by clicking here.

submitted by delta-201 to redditserials

Economic Equality and Inequality

1. Equality

a. “Surveys show low-income households tend to spend a larger share of their income than high-income households. Because of this, temporarily redistributing income from the rich to the poor could stimulate consumption and, through that, the economy as a whole.”
i. The Stimulative Effect of Redistribution (2015), Bart Hobijn and Alexander Nussbacher (The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco)
b. “Inequality has no effect on property crime but a strong and robust impact on violent crime, with an elasticity above 0.5. By contrast, poverty and police activity have significant effects on property crime, but little on violent crime.”*
i. Inequality and Crime (2006), Morgan Kelly
c. “Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.”*
i. Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens (2014), Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page
d. “In conclusion, the findings suggest that in poor countries (per capita GNP US$1000) a substantial reduction in infant mortality rate may be possible by decreasing income inequality or increasing GNP per head. In rich countries, reduction of income inequality was likely to be more effective in lowering infant mortality rates than further increases in GNP per head would be.”*
i. National infant mortality rates in relation to gross national product and distribution of income (1999), Hales S, Howden-Chapman P, Salmond C, Woodward A, and Mackenbach J.
e. “The major causal criteria of temporality, biological plausibility, consistency and lack of alternative explanations are well supported…The evidence that large income differences have damaging health and social consequences is strong and in most countries inequality is increasing. Narrowing the gap will improve the health and wellbeing of populations.”*
i. Income inequality and health: A causal review (2014), Kate E. Pickett and Richard G. Wilkinson
f. “We find that crime rates and inequality are positively correlated (within each country and, particularly, between countries), and it appears that this correlation reflects causation from inequality to crime rates, even controlling for other crime determinants.”*
i. Inequality and Violent Crime (2002), Daniel Lederman, Pablo Fajnzylber, and Norman Loayza
g. “Small permanent decreases in inequality - such as reducing inequality from the level found in Spain to that in Canada - would reduce homicides by 20% and lead to a 23% long-term reduction in robberies” Note: 2002 Gini Index (0=complete wealth equality, i.e. everyone has the same wealth, and 100=complete wealth inequality, i.e. 1 person owns all wealth) for Canada-31.5 and Spain-32.5 (World Bank)
i. About Inequality: Crime (2002) (The Equality Trust)
h. “Drawing on harmonised data covering the OECD countries over the past 30 years, the econometric analysis suggests that income inequality has a negative and statistically significant impact on subsequent growth. In particular, what matters most is the gap between low income households and the rest of the population. In contrast, no evidence is found that those with high incomes pulling away from the rest of the population harms growth…Redistribution policies via taxes and transfers are a key tool to ensure the benefits of growth are more broadly distributed and the results suggest they need not be expected to undermine growth.”*
i. OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers: Trends in Income Inequality and its Impact on Economic Growth (2014), Federico Cinganoi (Organization of Economically Developed Countries)
i. “In two different data sets covering 34 countries, economic growth was not associated with increases in happiness when it was accompanied by growing income inequality.”*
i. Income Inequality Explains Why Economic Growth Does Not Always Translate to an Increase in Happiness (2015), Shigehiro Oishi and Selin Kesebir
j. “The conventional explanation of raising income inequality is often referred to as the market forces hypothesis. Global forces have led to structural economic changes in which we now have a two-tiered economy: a highly skilled and highly paid economy at the top of the income distribution and a poorly skilled and poorly paid economy at the bottom of the income distribution… Although there is no question that the data does support the market forces hypothesis, the data also show that these forces may have been exacerbated by the deterioration of important labor market institutions.”*
i. Is Inequality Designed or Preordained? (2017), Oren M. Levin-Waldman
k. “Specifically, we posit that greater levels of income inequality could lead low-income youth to perceive a lower return to investment in their own human capital. Such an effect would offset any potential “aspirational” effect coming from higher educational wage premiums. The data are consistent with this prediction: low-income youth are more likely to drop out of school if they live in a place with a greater gap between the bottom and middle of the income distribution.”*
i. Income inequality, social mobility, and the decision to drop out of high school (2015), Melissa S. Kearney, University of Maryland and NBER Phillip B. Levine, Wellesley College and NBER
l. “The comparative evidence indicates no adverse impact of greater equality on investment or work effort, nor on growth of productivity or output, trade balances, inflation, or unemployment. On the contrary, higher levels of equality are associated with stronger productivity growth and trade performance, and possibly with higher investment and lower inflation.”*
i. Equality and efficiency: The illusory tradeoff (1995), Lane Kenworthy
m. “Tax rate cuts may encourage individuals to work, save, and invest, but if the tax cuts are not financed by immediate spending cuts, they will likely also result in an increased federal budget deficit, which in the long-term will reduce national saving and raise interest rates. The net impact on growth is uncertain, but many estimates suggest it is either small or negative.”*
i. Effects of Income Tax Changes on Economic Growth (2016), William G. Gale and Andrew A. Samwick
n. “We identified 168 analyses in 155 papers reporting research findings on the association between income distribution and population health, and classified them according to how far their findings supported the hypothesis that greater income differences are associated with lower standards of population health…Of those classified as either wholly supportive or unsupportive, a large majority (70 per cent) suggest that health is less good in societies where income differences are bigger...We suggest that the studies of income inequality are more supportive in large areas because in that context income inequality serves as a measure of the scale of social stratification, or how hierarchical a society is.”*
i. Income inequality and population health: a review and explanation of the evidence (2005), Richard G. Wilkinson and Kate E. Pickett
o. “Using relative poverty measures based on micro-level data from the Luxembourg Income Study, in conjunction with pooled time-series data for 14 advanced capitalist democracies between 1970 and 1997, the authors analyze separately the rate of pretax/transfer poverty and the reduction in poverty achieved by systems of taxes and transfers. Socioeconomic factors, including de-industrialization and unemployment, largely explain pre-tax/transfer poverty rates of the working-age population in these advanced capitalist democracies. The extent of redistribution (measured as poverty reduction via taxes and transfers) is explained directly by welfare state generosity and constitutional structure (number of veto points) and the strength of the political left, both in unions and in government.”*
i. Determinants of Relative Poverty in Advanced Capitalist Democracies (2003), Stephanie Moller, David Bradley, Evelyne Huber, Francois Nielsen, and John D. Stephens
p. Per capita income and life expectancy are related logarithmically, meaning that gains in income for low-income individuals translate to significantly higher gains in life expectancy than do increases in income for high-income individuals. Towards the upper end of the income scale, increases in life expectancy tend to become very small, essentially plateauing, although the relationship is nonetheless positive.
i. The Changing Relation between Mortality and Level of Economic Development (1975), Samuel H. Preston
ii. Note: Left-leaning policy that reduces inequality and poverty is favorable for a society since income and life expectancy are related logarithmically (see Preston Curve: The Changing Relation between Mortality and Level of Economic Development (1975), Samuel H. Preston), meaning that gains in income for low-income individuals translate to significantly higher gains in life expectancy than do increases in income for high-income individuals. Policies that promote greater net income transfer to lower-income demographics therefore increase population health more than policies which do not promote said reduction in inequality and poverty. These policies which promote more equitable growth can include greater worker control of the means of production, as well as welfare to low-income individuals and households.
q. “This paper is a critical survey of the empirical literature on the effects of inequality on economic growth. We conclude that it is most likely that the disparities found in the results are due to differences in the type of countries and time periods included in the samples, the variable used to measure inequality, the structure of the data, and the estimation techniques. These findings suggest that the mechanisms that link inequality to growth are likely to operate differently in different circumstances, an element that may offer important guidelines for both policy makers and researchers.”*
i. Inequality and Growth: Uncovering the Main Conclusions from the Empirics (2013), Pedro Cunha Neves and Sandra Maria Tavares Silva
ii. Note: These findings would imply that income distribution can be corrected without a serious threat to economic growth, and may actually prove beneficial to developing nations
r. “There has been a large rise in savings by Americans in the top 1% of the income or wealth distribution over the past 35 years, which we call the saving glut of the rich. The saving glut of the rich has been as large as the global saving glut, and it has not been associated with an increase in investment. Instead, this rise in savings has been associated with substantial dissaving by the non-rich and dissaving by the government.”*
i. The Saving Glut of the Rich (2020), Atif Mian, Ludwig Straub, and Amir Sufi
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