Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Buggy whips, eight-track tapes, and physical mail 

You ask me, five days a week of mail delivery is five days too many. We should develop a national plan to wind down the United States Postal Service over the next ten years. Plow the savings in to broadband for poor people for all I care, but please let's get rid of all that economically useless work by, say, 2025.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Mar 03, 04:08:00 PM:

I wonder what the bailout cost would be for all those who thought they had a nice cushy deal renting a building to the Post Office?

And the bleeding from the retireee benefits would go on for decades.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Mar 03, 06:23:00 PM:

As someone who relies on the Post Office to deliver the goods I sell from my internet store, closing it would be a death-knell for me and others like me. That is unless UPS or Fedex step into the breach and take over delivery. I can only hope.  

By Blogger Jay, at Wed Mar 03, 06:27:00 PM:

Based on the relative costs of sending information through paper mail and electronically, I'd say the "wind down" is going to happen whether we plan for it or not. In addition to scaling down the post office we might do some collective thinking about the eventual replacement. The current electronic protocols and platforms fall well short of what is needed. At some point in the next decade there's going to be a big change.  

By Blogger Donna B., at Wed Mar 03, 08:49:00 PM:

It's not broadband for poor people that could replace the post office, it's broadband for rural areas and computer literacy (and comfort) for old people.

Though everything online seems so reasonable for those of us online so much, the internet has really got a long way to go before it replaces mail.

But I don't think anybody would miss Saturday delivery that much. MWF would probably suffice.  

By Blogger Charlottesvillain, at Wed Mar 03, 09:38:00 PM:

It is increadibly wasteful, considering that about 90% goes directly into the recycling bin. Are we really paying mailmen to haul big heavy bags of recycling to our house, so we can pay someone else to haul it away? That said, I still like getting Backyard Poultry Magazine in hard copy, so I can read it off grid.  

By Blogger JPMcT, at Wed Mar 03, 10:28:00 PM:

For God's sake, let the private sector show the hapless governmnet how to deliver pieces of paper to stationary dwellings at almost half a buck a clip and make a profit!!

Think of the private sector job creation, the massive increase in efficiency, the death of junk mail and the stabilization of prices.

Has the FedGov EVER truly privatized ANYTHING???  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Mar 03, 10:45:00 PM:

@JPM: FERC oversees the privatization of as much of the power grid(s) as can be competitively deregulated. There are complicated cases out there, and perhaps you should learn about them.  

By Blogger Purple Avenger, at Thu Mar 04, 12:09:00 AM:

...The agency's business model is so poor, consultants concluded, that privatizing it is untenable...

That, and the post office is one of the relatively few federal responsibilities explicitly mentioned in the US constitution.

They've allowed labor costs to get out of hand, and new post offices have been far more lavishly designed than was necessary for their functioning.

Of course thousands of existing post offices could be combined to cut physical plant costs. The small town I grew up in has two post offices literally within a half mile of each other. There is no practical reason why those two zip codes couldn't operate out of the larger of the two.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Mar 04, 12:23:00 AM:

Obama is FAIL, hope he leaves sooner than expected.  

By Blogger JPMcT, at Thu Mar 04, 07:09:00 AM:

@ Anon:

"FERC oversees the privatization of as much of the power grid(s) as can be competitively deregulated"

This sentence belies the reason why it's "complicated".

There are a bevy of private carriers out there...whom I use rather than the USPS whan I really want my package to get there....and save money at the same time!  

By Anonymous feeblemind, at Thu Mar 04, 08:48:00 AM:

I thought the creation of the Post Office was enshrined in the Constitution? Would a Constitutional Amendment be required to close it down?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Mar 04, 09:37:00 AM:

No politician would dare support such a plan. Hundreds of thousands of very well paid postal employees would be displaced and the many, many non-working union "officials" they support would have to find other scams. Never happen!  

By Blogger Charlottesvillain, at Thu Mar 04, 10:45:00 AM:

And imagine the carnage if they all went postal.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Mar 04, 12:50:00 PM:

yet another cautionary tale for fans & devotees of gov't healthcare and expansion of benefits and largesse from uncle sugar. according to the best book of all time, back in the 1880's, mail was delivered 5 (count 'em) *5* times a day, presumably 6 days a week - at least in new york city. now, a mere blink of an eye later, they want to go to 1X, 5 dpw.

social security began taking 1% (count 'em) of the first 2K you made, plus your employers match. max pay-in per year: $40. now we're up to...what...$15,000 or so max pay-in?

but i'm sure they'll be able to run simple, repetitive, easily quantified and managed systems like "healthcare", and "hospitals". what could possibly go wrong?  

By Blogger pfingst, at Thu Mar 04, 03:48:00 PM:

feeblemind - The Constitution grants Congress the power to create post offices, but is does not mandate that it must do so. There is, however, case law that holds that mail delivery is the property of the US government, so in practice an amendment is probably a good idea. It will never pass, though.

Probably the only way to get this to work would be to spin the post office off into its own private entity and give the resulting stock to the employees. It's not an ideal solution, but it might be the only way the employees would buy into the idea. Yeah, it's a losing business model, but so is GM and the unions were willing to take ownership of it, so stranger things have happened.  

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