Going postal

July 28, 2011 at 9:51 am | Posted in economy, government spending, government waste, I'm just saying, stupidity | 9 Comments
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USPS service delivery truck in a residential a...

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For years the U.S. Postal Service has had ongoing financial problems.  In the past the solution has been to raise the price of postage, which clearly hasn’t worked.  Now they are talking about closing post offices.  Please, please, please… put me in charge, I can turn this operation around.  The problem isn’t too many postal stations, or the price of postage; it’s their entire business model which, in my opinion, is ass backward.

Every time I go to the post office I am struck by the big sign hanging on the front of the building imploring people to rent a post office box.  For many years I have thought the post office box and home delivery should be reversed.  Post office boxes rent from around thirty bucks a year and up, depending upon size and location.  Having your mail delivered for only one day very likely exceeds the yearly box rental fee.

Here is my problem.  If you travel to the post office and pick up your mail, you pay.  If the Postal Service sends an employee, who receives a yearly salary plus benefits, in a vehicle, which must be purchased, maintained, and supplied with fuel to bring the mail to your home, it’s free.  Do you think the rental revenue from post office boxes and increased postage prices offsets this expense?  How long do you think any other business using this backward business model would last?  Only the government could come up with a system so inefficient as this.  I wonder how long it took and how much they paid their inefficiency experts (yes I’m sure they have them) to come up with this dumb-ass business plan.

If the Postal Service really wants to get out of the financial hole it’s been digging for years they should simply follow my plan and reverse how mail is distributed.  I don’t know what the costs for home delivery are, but I’d bet the farm it’s a hell of a lot higher than a PO box.  It’s not like the olden days when personal transportation was not readily available.  People are out driving their cars all the time, running here and there.  They have to be, how else would they find time to talk on their cell phones?  How hard would it be to include a stop at the post office a few times a week to collect their mail?  Those who can’t be bothered to pick up their mail should pay for the convenience of having it delivered to their door.

In case you’re wondering I put my money where my mouth is; I live more than twenty miles from the nearest post office, so it would certainly be much more convenient to have my mail brought to me, yet I choose to go the PO box route.

I’m just saying…


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  1. In my little North Texas town it’s already hard sometimes to find a parking space at the post office. I can only imagine what it would be like if everyone had to go there every day. We don’t know what traffic jams are here, but I’ll bet we’d find out under your plan! How do we solve that problem?

    • Bigger parking lots, perhaps a drive thru service.

      • Drive-thru might help. Bigger parking lots are out of the question. There’s no room. Maybe if the post office wasn’t so centralized. Maybe they could install clusters of P.O. boxes, similar to the kind at apartment complexes, at convenient locations around town. (supermarkets, malls, etc.) It would still take some delivery, but a very few drivers with a very few trucks could still get the job done at a fraction of the cost. Seems to me, anyway.

        I suspect the advent of email and online chatting has hurt the post office a lot.

        • I suspect you’re right. You have some good ideas, by the way.

  2. It is not often I disagree with you, honjii, so I am entering on unfamiliar territory here. The Post Office is doomed! It is as relevant today as the stage coach or democracy. The killer is a thing called progress. When Email was invented the need for physical snail-mail disappeared. The Post Office came up against a competitor it could not beat. Of course the ramifications are wider than just the laid-off postal employees. All those Government employed secret service people who vainly tried to track the bad guys by opening their mail have lost their jobs because emails are so much more convenient for the bad guys to use and so much easier for the good guys to check. So much easier, that whole new classes of crimes have been created to fully utilise the algorithms which do the mail checking. Soon it will become a crime to use snail-mail because of the difficulty of intercepting the average citizens thoughts when they are hidden inside a physical envelope. And that is where democracy has gone! Henry Ford only managed to destroy the Stage Coach. Berners-Lee has been able to destroy both the Post Office AND democracy with a single invention!

    • You disagree with me, the hell you say! ;). Actually I agree with everything you say even though I didn’t address those issues in my post. I think the postal service will go down fighting, kicking and screaming. It reminds me of a horror story I once read, where an old man was dead but didn’t realize it so he wouldn’t lie down and die until his family found a way to trick him into doing so. And let us not forget that there are those who stubbornly refuse to use technology and would be lost without the daily mail they so look forward to.

  3. Now with the new technology, postal service seems to coming to an end.

  4. The thing killing the Post Office budget is commercial mail. All those unsolicited catalogs and scams you get? Those are sent at a much cheaper rate than actual letters, even though nobody wants them and they make up the bulk of the mail both by count and by weight. If that mail had to pay the same rates as ordinary first-class mail that ordinary people send, the Postal Service would be at least breaking even and probably running a surplus.

    Just another “we refuse to make businesses pay their fair share” example from the U.S. government; nothing new.

    • One technique I’ve found for reducing the amount of junk mail is whenever I’m provided with a post paid return envelope (conveniently provided to place my order), I stuff everything that was sent, including the original outer envelope, into the post paid envelope and send it back. This works for awhile, and when the volume of junk picks up again, I repeat the process.

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