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A Modest Proposal To Save The Postal Service: Hyperinflation

Tyler Durden's picture





 

"The financial problems of the Postal Service are getting bigger every year," is how US Postmaster General Donahoe tried to convinced Congress not to block the bill the end Saturday delivery of mail. Raising the specter of mutually assured destructive bailouts in the future, the CEO rattle lawmakers (and other stakeholders) as NBC News reports, Representative Darrell Issa noting "It's very clear that ultimately, either the rate payer or the taxpayer will have to pay the $20 billion in debt of the Postal Service."

Indeed Mr. Issa - so by our reckoning the plan to tax emails was a non-starter and so we compare the 73.5 billion pieces of mail handled by the USPS and the $20bn budgetary gap, it would appear the answer is simple - the current 46c stamp will have to rise in value by 27c or 60% in order to meet the shortfall.

The problem of course is the legal limit on increasing stamp prices is bounded by what the BLS' official annual inflation report is, and which as the Fed is happy to reminds us, is at best 2% per year. Luckily, every problem, in this case too little inflation, has a solution: in this case hyperinflation.

The simple money creation by increasing the nominal value of the stamp is by now a well-trodden path of inflating away your problems that our central bankers have taught us - or else the 10s of billion forced into pension funds might just have to be tempered. So much for Valentine's Day at a cost of 72c per stamp.

Of course, absent hyperinflation and the needed 60% price inflator to avoid a taxpayer funded bailout, all we may need are some hedonic adjustments for the utility of  stamp to justify the cost...

 


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Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:14 | Link to Comment SeverinSlade
SeverinSlade's picture

Problem is the more USPS raises its rates, the more people and businesses will turn to alternative delivery methods, crushing their volume (and increasing the need for even higher rates).

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:21 | Link to Comment idea_hamster
idea_hamster's picture

How about printing a $1 trillion "Über-Awesome Delivery" stamp, selling it to the Fed, and pasting it on the envelope that they use to send Treasury the annual Fed surplus?

Problem solved!

</ OMG teh stupid!  It BURNS us, precious!>

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:23 | Link to Comment diogeneslaertius
diogeneslaertius's picture

Brewster's Quadrillions

 

dibs on the screenplay

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:26 | Link to Comment Say What Again
Say What Again's picture

I'm looking for the e-mail address for US Postmaster General Donahoe & Mr Issa.

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:37 | Link to Comment idea_hamster
idea_hamster's picture

Postmaster only has snail mail, dude -- no sleeping with the enemy!

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:58 | Link to Comment TheFourthStooge-ing
TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

One wonders if the Tyler responsible for the recent slew of articles about the Post Office will ever acknowledge the role of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 has had on Post Office deficits.

After all, if they didn't need to prefund retiree benefits 75 years into the future, they might actually be turning a profit.

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 17:23 | Link to Comment pashley1411
pashley1411's picture

I can understand your dismay that, while the accounting and unfunded liabilities of the other government agencies are a stinking pile of manure, the USPS is actually made to account for some (but not all) of its pension obligations.  

Might feel better about this when the other shoe drops, and former government workers are staking out grocery story disposal bins. 

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 17:34 | Link to Comment RSBriggs
RSBriggs's picture

It doesn't matter - the USPS pension money just goes into the general fund, like everything else (i.e the so-called Social Security trust fund...).  Congress doesn't want to let it go - it's one of the biggest "off the books" cash cows they have.

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 17:46 | Link to Comment SafelyGraze
SafelyGraze's picture

if everyone would kindly send some bricks, sans postage, to 

chairman
marriner eccles bldg
20th and constitution (!) nw
w dc

the postage due, when paid by your fed, would amount to billions

hope this helps,

B Franklin

 

 

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 22:50 | Link to Comment FEDbuster
FEDbuster's picture

The USPS has taken over the issuing of passports, maybe they can expand into medical marijuana?  This would help balance the books, making sure the sales taxes got kicked up to state and feds and increase traffic.  They gave the Indians casino gambling to save their asses, let's give the postal service dope dealing to save their ass.  There is already a shit load of prescription meds delivered by the USPS, so they have experience.

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 18:05 | Link to Comment LooseLee
LooseLee's picture

True, so why isn't the private secor doing the same?

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 19:50 | Link to Comment Al Gorerhythm
Al Gorerhythm's picture

Entrapment.

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 19:49 | Link to Comment Al Gorerhythm
Al Gorerhythm's picture

Government seems to bring out the best in every "enterprise" they manage. Their success rate is extra-ordinary. 3 thousand years of recorded managerial success contained in a book 1 page thick. Hope and Change. Winning!

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:37 | Link to Comment fourchan
fourchan's picture

is there a long forever stamp etf? lol

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:39 | Link to Comment camaro68ss
camaro68ss's picture

Hyperinflation fixes everything, until it fixes nothing, - Camaro68ss

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:42 | Link to Comment Stackers
Stackers's picture

Tyler hit the nail on the head. Has anyone done the hedonic adjustment for the self sticking stamp ? You know how much I used to hate licking stamps ? a lot. and sometimes even alot.

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:48 | Link to Comment Tango in the Blight
Tango in the Blight's picture

The former has the e-mail address pmgceo@usps.gov

But if you send an e-mail to that address it will probably be transcribed by an office clerk using a quill on parchment, then sealed with lacquer and finally sent to him by carrier pigeon.

As for the latter:

http://issa.house.gov/contact/contact-me

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:30 | Link to Comment Midas
Midas's picture

Tyler-

The 73.5 billion pieces you used in your calculation is first class mail only.  You need to include standard mail also, it takes the total to 160 billion and will make the figures much different.

http://about.usps.com/who-we-are/postal-facts/welcome.htm#H2

The PostMasterGeneral likes to make things look as bad as possible, so he mentions the only area of postal business that is declining.  Don't buy the hype.

 

The link also shows other insights:  The revenue is the same as 2002, but they are doing it with 200,000 fewer employees.

 

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:35 | Link to Comment OpenThePodBayDoorHAL
OpenThePodBayDoorHAL's picture

Funny how the chart zooms upwards right about 1971...

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:39 | Link to Comment zelator
zelator's picture

Well, let's see...  two words. One begins with N and the other G

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 17:01 | Link to Comment Induced Coma
Induced Coma's picture

Natural Gas?

 

IC

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 17:17 | Link to Comment edb5s
edb5s's picture

Nixon and Gold, I would think.

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:40 | Link to Comment candyman
candyman's picture

good call

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:59 | Link to Comment Ignatius
Ignatius's picture

"The PostMasterGeneral likes to make things look as bad as possible..."

Right.

This fuck was put in place to tear the USPS down.  Same old corporate trick to privatize, bury and absorb the commons.

Mail is cheaper today than the 60s when measured in gold.

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 18:01 | Link to Comment JeffB
JeffB's picture

Look at the "Total Customer Visits". It had been declining from a high of about 1.3B visits/year until 2011 when it exploded(?) to 935.7B ?

Or are they just not good with numbers and letters and things?


Wed, 02/13/2013 - 18:07 | Link to Comment LooseLee
LooseLee's picture

And how many 'Dumber than a Rock' administrators?

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:46 | Link to Comment Al Gorerhythm
Al Gorerhythm's picture

"How about printing a $1 trillion "Über-Awesome Delivery" stamp," ... or money substitute.

I like it. Then we could all just save those trillions and we'll all be rich, as long as we follow the "10 Immutable Laws of Money", save as much as we can and live a frugal existence, whiskey will flow in the creeks of Candy Mountain once again, and again and again.

http://thedailybell.com/28692/Shock-Powerful-British-Money-Man-Calls-for...

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:33 | Link to Comment Silver Bug
Silver Bug's picture

Just one more example of the government lieing about the true inflation rate. Does anyone believe their bogus numbers anymore? I hope not.

 

http://jimroger.blogspot.ca/

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 20:19 | Link to Comment CheapBastard
CheapBastard's picture

The REAL inflation rate seems to be crushing seniors savings accounts (and seniors along with it). Oddly, I never see AARP harping about that.

To bad the seniors don't have a lobby like the NAR. They'd be in better shape if they did.

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 17:32 | Link to Comment Freddie
Freddie's picture

Hope & Change.  Everything in O-Drone-O's turd world Ameri-Afrika is going full retard. 

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 20:13 | Link to Comment 847328_3527
847328_3527's picture

I personally know two small businesses that are going under due to the rate increase. May not seem like alot to some people however, many businesses (like these) work on paper thin margins of about 1 to 1.2% so this 2.5% domestic and over 6% international increase will knock them out, thus eliminating two more of the fast disappearing "Middle Class" (aka, 21st cenutry Dinosaur).

 

Seems to create moar jobs and stim-U-late the economy we might want to: 1) increase P.O. efficiency (aka cutting off dead meat); and, then 2) cut the rates to stimulate sales.

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 20:21 | Link to Comment Freewheelin Franklin
Freewheelin Franklin's picture

Problem is the more USPS raises its rates, the more people and businesses will turn to alternative delivery methods,

 

It is illegal for an individual or business to operate a mail delivery service except for "emergency" (read: overnight, 2nd day air, courier) circumstances.

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:15 | Link to Comment magpie
magpie's picture

I now feel less an idiot for pumping the forever stamp trade

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:29 | Link to Comment catacl1sm
catacl1sm's picture

Me too. Seems like a sure winner... eventually.

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:29 | Link to Comment Dr. Richard Head
Dr. Richard Head's picture

I love to see how subsidized "businesses" work....or don't for that matter.

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 18:08 | Link to Comment LooseLee
LooseLee's picture

Just have a look at Warren Buffet's portfolio...

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:17 | Link to Comment davidsmith
davidsmith's picture

No, the "problem" is that they're trying a land grab on the post offices by forcing USPS,alone among government agencies, to up front its pension liabilities.  That makes the situation LOOK bad, so that means they have to lay off people and SELL POST OFFICES.

 

Gee what's that about?  It's about the loathesome Dianne Feinstein and her thieving husband, Blum, who just happens to be CEO of Coldwell Banker, which just happens to be the agent for sale of post offices.  That's what's going on with the post offices.  Didn't you know?

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:21 | Link to Comment diogeneslaertius
diogeneslaertius's picture

good points

"land grab" is a perfect characterization

they are seizing a vast remaining territory of the papers and effects end of our reality here and by the time people realize what actually happened we will be the UK

 

meanwhile revolving door circle jerk means big fat paychecks

 

not so hard to imagine how Feinstein got so rich, conspiring to defraud people while stealing sovereignty as well

 

 

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:33 | Link to Comment WTF_247
WTF_247's picture

I don't view that as a problem.  The actual problem is the remainder of the govt ignores its unfunded liabilities.

The bottom line is we will witness in the next few years what happens when you promise things that cannot be paid.  The post office is not the only game in town on this track.  The public will only put up with it for so long (higher rates, higher taxes) before they realize that 100% of the game is just to pay off stupid bets made by prior generations of politicians.

When there is no real money at stake the sky is the limit on promises.  What the employees (and former employees) do not realize is that even the govt will reach a point where there is no money to pay for it.  You could raise stamps to .75 - the public will balk at it when they find out the only reason is to cover unfunded (and stupidly pledged) liabilities for retirement and healthcare costs.

Other public employees have the same fate coming - its just further down the road.  Why do you think almost all corporations stopped pensions 30+ years ago - they did the math and it is impossible to fund at some point.  Unlike the govt, they cannot just print money out of nothing nor raise taxes and fees to pay for it.  So they stopped.  The govt has not learned its lesson yet.

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 17:16 | Link to Comment aerojet
aerojet's picture

A lot of companies I am familiar with only killed their pensions in the last 10 years.

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 19:28 | Link to Comment Lord Koos
Lord Koos's picture

What 2006 act was about, was the front edge of a ploy to privatize the postal service.  If they can keep bitching about how the post office is "a failure" maybe the disaster capitalism plan of looting the USPS has a chance.

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:19 | Link to Comment Bunga Bunga
Bunga Bunga's picture

After the Fed is the US mail joining the printing club? Just print stamps and pay employees with that, problem solved.

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:22 | Link to Comment diogeneslaertius
diogeneslaertius's picture

shades of WW2 there sir and chillingly prescient

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:24 | Link to Comment tickhound
tickhound's picture

No kidding.  It's do or say whatever it takes to keep the lights on at this point... with EVeryfuckinthing.

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:18 | Link to Comment diogeneslaertius
diogeneslaertius's picture

they did the same to UK's mail and for the same reasons, worse for them really, the post office was a bit of a corner store and pub in many places in airstrip one

 

total surveillance and the best part will be the legal loophole, if a private multinational firm agrees to comply with a constitutional violation it will be protected under their choice and you will be stuck with no other options due to a logistical monopoly

 

bust out the fucking horses baby its pony express time

oh wait, its in your lasagna

soylent privacy is sheeple

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:19 | Link to Comment dmger14
dmger14's picture

Gee, what happened around 1970 that suddenly caused the price of stamps to soar (scratching head)?

Thu, 02/14/2013 - 02:46 | Link to Comment modest_proposal
modest_proposal's picture

dmger is either very new here, or has a devastatingly effecitve deadpan delivery.

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:21 | Link to Comment waterwitch
waterwitch's picture

Bring out your drones.

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:46 | Link to Comment optimator
optimator's picture

You're on to something.  Have those sophisicated drones deliver the mail (and bump off anyone that gets mail they don't like.

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:23 | Link to Comment Totentänzerlied
Totentänzerlied's picture

" either the rate payer or the taxpayer will have to pay the $20 billion in debt of the Postal Service."

Not if you SHUT THE STUPID FUCKING MONOPOLY DOWN - it never should have existed in the first place, goddamn morons. PS: That means totally deregulating all mail delivery ... or else FedEx and UPS essentially maintain their private GOVERNMENT ENFORCED cartel (goddamn morons).
Wed, 02/13/2013 - 17:37 | Link to Comment RSBriggs
RSBriggs's picture

So, another idiot that the US Constitution means absolutely nothing to....

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:22 | Link to Comment optimator
optimator's picture

I once would write my Representatives via legal size letter.  I would put one cents stamps neatly on the envelope.  Those envelopes don't have the room now for any more stamps.  The subject I was always writing about was inflation itself.  I'm sure they never opened one lately as I didn't have the room to even type Check Enclosed in the smallest font.

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:40 | Link to Comment machineh
machineh's picture

... and it would do no good to type 'STAMP ENCLOSED.'

Politicians have franking privileges ... so they can broadcast their ignorance free of charge.

'We don't need no stinkin' stamps.'

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 17:18 | Link to Comment aerojet
aerojet's picture

They don't read that shit, anyways.

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:25 | Link to Comment CuriousPasserby
CuriousPasserby's picture

many of those billions of pieces of mail are advertising, newspapers, etc that pay less than 46¢ so a 27¢ raise could double or more their costs and put a lot of them out of business, meaning less money.

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:31 | Link to Comment Joebloinvestor
Joebloinvestor's picture

Raise the rates on junk mail.

Quit getting the taxpayer to pay for unwanted advertising.

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:54 | Link to Comment TheFourthStooge-ing
TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

Wrong.

Junk mail subsidizes the costs of first class mail.

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 17:39 | Link to Comment Freddie
Freddie's picture

+1 They have killing junk mail with increases. The more they raise - the faster it dies. They have way to many "employees."

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 18:12 | Link to Comment LooseLee
LooseLee's picture

'Administers'; there fixed it for you..

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:33 | Link to Comment Joebloinvestor
Joebloinvestor's picture

My $million idea for the post office?

Sell/rent a machine that turns junk mail into toilet paper.

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:40 | Link to Comment machineh
machineh's picture

In other words, into dollars.

I think you're onto something there ...

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:33 | Link to Comment Jason T
Jason T's picture

price of stamps should have went down with the gains in productivity.

Monetarys system is ass backwards.  

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:37 | Link to Comment zelator
zelator's picture

This article must be out of date since it now costs 46¢ to mail a letter

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:40 | Link to Comment chancee
chancee's picture

ES futures propped up in last half hour as usual... Denying head and shoulders from playing out.  The rigged market never ends.

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:47 | Link to Comment cxl9
cxl9's picture

Peer-to-peer mail. I'll deliver a few letters from the neighborhood where I work to the neighborhood when I live in exchange for some credits which entitle me to mail stuff for free. If enough other people do the same, and we eliminate the post office entirely. Sure, some stuff will get lost or stolen, but big deal. It's mostly junk anyway.

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 20:09 | Link to Comment Westcoastliberal
Westcoastliberal's picture

Oh yeah, that'll work! /s

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:47 | Link to Comment Vashta Nerada
Vashta Nerada's picture

The post office should institute a new, premium service, where they deliver the mail to the correct box within a week, and charge $1.80 postage.  Crisis solved.

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 19:30 | Link to Comment Lord Koos
Lord Koos's picture

It's called first class mail -- what's your problem?  I haven't had but two or three wrong deliveries in 35 years.

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:47 | Link to Comment natronic
natronic's picture

Don't forget AMTRAK they aren't exactly solvent either.  Actually the government took over a whore house in Nevada and couldn't even run that profitable!!!!

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 18:27 | Link to Comment TheFourthStooge-ing
TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

natronic said:

Don't forget AMTRAK they aren't exactly solvent either.  Actually the government took over a whore house in Nevada and couldn't even run that profitable!!!!

Unlike the Post Office, there is no constitutional obligation for the federal government to run a railroad.

The only whorehouse specified by the constitution is the one for which the capitol building was constructed. Personally, I'd rather see it shut down than the Post Office.

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:48 | Link to Comment kevinearick
kevinearick's picture

rate inverse to reading level of poster?

posting unlawful without reading level above James Madison?

special tax for anyone bothering to participate in current politics?

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:50 | Link to Comment Catullus
Catullus's picture

The problem of course is the legal limit on increasing stamp prices is bounded by what the BLS' official annual inflation report is, and which as the Fed is happy to reminds us, is at best 2% per year. Luckily, every problem, in this case too little inflation, has a solution: in this case hyperinflation.

Thus the problem for everyone on fixed income. And why the pension system is ultimately going to prove to be a massive failure. They'll give you pitiful COLA adjustments every year as they run out of cash and demand "reform" to default on you.

There's like a built in crash and burn to the post office that simply dovetails so well with the bullshit inflation numbers the USG puts out

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:57 | Link to Comment sitenine
sitenine's picture

Apparently I'm in the minority, but 46 cents to send a letter anywhere in the US still seems like one hell of a bargain. The technology of sending electronic correspondence instantly and free has warped our perception of physical value.

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 22:17 | Link to Comment Midas
Midas's picture

I was on my way to work the other day and had a bill I was going to drop off rather than mail.  It was one block out of my way and over two speed bumps.  I thought about it, but rather than spend the two extra minutes and drive over the speed bumps twice I just put a stamp on it. 

They now have a global forever stamp that you can send a letter anywhere in the world for $1.10.  The above scenario would be even more true, with or without the speed bumps.

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 17:04 | Link to Comment Poor Grogman
Poor Grogman's picture

The evil princes of the fed are poisoning the whole world with this toxic crap they call money.

Let the people decide what money they would like to get paid in.

And End the Fed once and for all.

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 17:14 | Link to Comment pashley1411
pashley1411's picture

The natural progression of every government entity is from  the initial ribbon-cutting and brass band, to its own wing of the Smithsonian.

Including the legislature.

Including the White House.

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 17:29 | Link to Comment jtlien
jtlien's picture

In the 80's I worked for a supercomputer company.   We sold 250 MHz machines for $3 Million per cpu.

The Chines company Allwinner now sells a 2 cpu chip that runs 6 times as fast for $20.  My prediction is that

cost of a postage stamp and the cost of supercomputer cpu will cross.  Probably sometime in the next 5 years.

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 17:30 | Link to Comment Taint Boil
Taint Boil's picture

 

 

Gee Whiz ... it looks like it "shot up" about 1971. I wonder why.

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 17:34 | Link to Comment jtlien
jtlien's picture

In the 80's I worked for a supercomputer company.   We sold 250 MHz machines for $3 Million per cpu.

The Chines company Allwinner now sells a 2 cpu chip that runs 6 times as fast for $20.  My prediction is that

cost of a postage stamp and the cost of supercomputer cpu will cross.  Probably sometime in the next 5 years.

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 20:07 | Link to Comment Westcoastliberal
Westcoastliberal's picture

Surprised and shocked (shocked I tell you!) that the underlying reason for the P.O.'s woes was not even mentioned in this post, which is the mandate by CON-gress for the USPS to cover 75 years of pension funding in a mere 10 years.  This little nugget is apparently the reason for the cutbacks, graciously heaped upon the service by those in CON-gress who would just love for another government service to be privatized (and thus cost the taxpayers much, MUCH more.  Imagine relying only on FedX/UPS for ANY kind of postal delivery?  Makes those 60 cent stamps look cheap by comparison.

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 21:01 | Link to Comment DaveA
DaveA's picture

In the late days of the Soviet Union, before dollars became widely available, people hoarded subway tokens as a hedge against inflation. A ruble bought less every day, but a token still bought a ride on the subway.

Maybe the plan is to encourage people to hoard Forever stamps? Or maybe they could trick simpletons into buying billions of "Special Edition Commemorative Collectible Stamps That You Must Never Use Because They'll Be Really Valuable Someday". Oh wait, they already do that.

Thu, 02/14/2013 - 01:41 | Link to Comment Stockmonger
Stockmonger's picture

Please sign this related petition:

Support the USPS and the economy by mailing printed copies of Dr. Paul Krugman's NY Times column daily to each American:

http://wh.gov/pM0c

 

 

Thu, 02/14/2013 - 02:33 | Link to Comment modest_proposal
modest_proposal's picture

I'm sorry, did someone call for a modest proposal?

My modest proposal: fix the price of postage in specie. A postage stamp currently costs $0.44 / $1675.00/ozAu ~= 0.45 thousands of an ounce of gold.

conveniently(ish) that's 1/8 of one grain of gold. 

Thu, 02/14/2013 - 11:24 | Link to Comment Stockmonger
Stockmonger's picture

FACT: In 1999 the USPS functioned on $80,000 revenue per employee.  They are actually remarkably efficient, except on a labor basis.

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