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Conventional wisdom seems to be that the financial difficulties of the Post Office are due to the rise of email. The Postmaster General noted this himself as he announced the end of Saturday delivery. But to only look at competition from email is to miss the larger ideological picture -- namely, that privatizing USPS has been a goal of market absolutists for decades. The real "crisis" faced by the PO is the absurd requirement, set by Republicans in Congress, that the agency fund retiree benefits for the next 75 years -- paying for future employees who haven't even been born yet! This article on Alternet provides an overview of how the service is under attack. Never mind that the Postal Service isn't taxpayer-funded; privatizing it is still part of the Cato Institute's agenda. It seems obvious to me that replacing USPS with a patchwork of private mail delivery companies would be an unmitigated clusterf#ck. Believe it or not, the private sector is not always the most efficient (see: health insurance).

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Originally posted to Daily Kos on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 07:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Comics.

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Comment Preferences

  •  It's Funny ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    whaddaya

    ... because it'll some day be true.

  •  Shutting down the USPS (18+ / 0-)

    I've heard comments from people I consider "liberal, progressive" say they don't use the services of the USPS and don't think it would be that big a deal if it goes away because they do their banking and bill paying on line and don't write letters.  That is nice for them I suppose, however, there are a lot of older, rural people like me that still pay their bills by mail and send cards and letters to friends and relatives.  Not everyone has reliable internet service.  Also, not everyone can afford to use private mail services.  No company is going to find it cost effective to deliver mail to isolated areas nor to just one or two urban customers in a specific area.  

    Sometimes the magic works, sometimes it doesn't.... (then it's on to Plan B or more duct tape).

    by Aunt Pat on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 07:20:17 AM PST

  •  You know... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    whaddaya

    Canada doesn't have Saturday mail delivery.  Never has, as far as I know.  And I'm not sure I would want it to.  I really don't feel a burning need to get mail (i.e. bills and junk mail) on a weekend.

    Is this more about losing an acquired service Americans have grown used to, or do Americans really think that Saturday mail is essential?  Been pondering that one for a while...

    Good comic, though, thanks!

    When the rich wage war, it's the poor who die. - Linkin Park

    by mystery2me on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 07:22:15 AM PST

  •  Oh, yes. Let's privitize. Because UPS and FEDEX (18+ / 0-)

    will give us cheaper, more efficient mail service. Absolutely.

    Got to the PO late one time with a letter that had to reach the receipient within two days. The FEDEX guy was opening his box outside. "Hey, how much will you charge for this letter?" "About $10."

    Yikes. But I needed to get it there. So...here you go, FEDEX.

    The credit card hit was for $30. The USPS would have charged me $5.50.

    Three day ago, I bought a scanner online. Best Buy said it would get to me in four or five days.  The next day, they emailed me a tracking number.  I was busy, I didn't check it until the next day.

    My package, according to UPS, had been delivered. An hour earlier. The "proof of delivery" form, online said that it had been delivered to "other."

    My gate is 100 feet from the house. Not locked. No package. I went on "chat" with UPS. Where the hell is my package? Did he leave it where anyone driving by could take it? How long to find out what happened? How the hell am I supposed to know who "other" is if he left it with someone else?

    Five to eight businessness days for an "investigation."  

    Screw that. I called Best Buy. They said they'd send me another scanner and deal with UPS.

    I'd called my neighbor to see if the original package had been left with her. No. But she has a cottage out back that she rents out. I went there...the tenant said no one had delivered a package to him.

    As I was heading back across my pasture, I saw a UPS truck down at the bottom of my neighbor's driveway, picking up something.

    It was my scanner. He'd delivered it to 1611 Old Reno Rd. Instead of 1601. Down at the bottom of a hill, right by their mailbox, where anyone could steal it. Couldn't be bothered to drive up the road 100 feet. Not in the least apologetic about it being the wrong address. "Oh, yeah. Wrong house. It happens."

    I had to call Best Buy back to cancel the second scanner shipment.

    Sure, let's privitize.  Because they're so good at what they do and we'll save so much money.

    Freedom has two enemies: Those who want to control everyone around them...and those who feel no need to control themselves.

    by Sirenus on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 07:22:49 AM PST

  •  In an ordinary non-ambushed business, what (6+ / 0-)

    is the standard for properly funded pensions?

    It does seem just a bit whackadoodle to fully fund pensions beyond the life span of all but a tiny handful of current workers.

    OTOH, you wouldn't want to underfund it and leave workers without the pensions they were promised.  We are facing that dilemma here in Illinois, and that's not a pretty sight.  Not a pretty sight at all.

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 07:22:54 AM PST

  •  UPS is just awful,I have been getting packages (14+ / 0-)

    regularly for years but often they have trouble finding my house, so they just leave it outside another address and say they delivered it.  It takes days to figure it all out and I have filed many a complaint.  

    The USPS is reliable and a bargain too.  I was reading some articles where the price of a first class stamp to send a greeting card or letter could be considerably more expensive than the current cost of a stamp.  It could be up to 100 times higher.  

    If USPS is privatized, the cost of mailing a letter, a card, even a package or a padded envelope ..could be quite costly,.

    And I am highly biased as my dad was a USPS carrier for 30 years and it was because of his job and union that I grew up in a middle class home and we had good insurance and Dad was able to make a decent wage. Then after he retired, both of my parents were diagnosed with cancer and because of his insurance plus medicare, he paid very little out of pocket for care.

    It is because of the USPS, that I grew up how I did and that my dad was able to help us get through college and grad school and help us out during tough times.

    Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

    by wishingwell on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 07:23:07 AM PST

  •  It is not the job of the postal service to be the (13+ / 0-)

    most efficient carrier of mail.

    We want it to be as efficient as it can be while pursuing it's mission, but the postal service carries a burden that UPS does not:  it delivers everywhere and to everyone.  It is the official means of notification for many things, including service of legal documents.

    If anything, companies like Fedex and UPS could reasonably be subjected to a tax to compensate for taking revenue previously used to help the postal service fulfil its Constitutionally defined mission.

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 07:26:16 AM PST

  •  You don't know what you got 'til it's gone... (9+ / 0-)

    USPO does a great job and is an essential service at an extremely reasonable rate.   But it has enemies in Congress and the private sector which hates all unionized organizations and sees an opportunity to make obscene profits by gouging postal customers.
    I hope we can stop this giveaway to the corporations...we are all going to pay for this in the end and we will think of the days when mail was delivered regularly as the good old days

  •  Rural whites have the most to lose (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greengemini, whaddaya

    Rural Free Delivery is an expensive gimmick that was foisted on the Post Office in 1902 for political reasons. Privatizing the post office will leave all those yeoman farmers having to drive into town for their mail, or pay extra. LOL.

    •  That's the thing I don't get (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marina

      I tried over and over again to tell people in my rural area that the Republicans want to take away their mail service. Some get it, but a lot just keep voting for the Republicans, and then wonder what happened.

      Women create the entire labor force. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

      by splashy on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 02:19:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  the rise of e-commerce (10+ / 0-)

    I don't buy the "emails are killing the post office" line.  The USPS should be able to cash in on the rapidly growing e-commerce.  All those purchases have to be shipped by someone.  I sell on eBay and use USPS almost exclusively.  I can pay and print the shipping labels online and the postman even picks up the packages.  I don't have to step foot in a post office if I didn't want to (but I frequently do).  I can even order shipping boxes for Priority Mail online for free!  In the past two months I have spent over $200 in postage.  Not tons, but certainly more than if I were just buying stamps.

    I think the loss of Saturday service is going to royally suck.  Sometimes the highlight of my day is checking the mail!

    "When a nation goes down, or a society perishes, one condition may always be found; they forgot where they came from. They lost sight of what had brought them along." --Carl Sandburg

    by Mote Dai on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 08:03:00 AM PST

  •  Faulty premist (4+ / 0-)
    Believe it or not, the private sector is not always the most efficient...
    The private sector doesn't have to be the most efficient, it only has to be private.

    Efficiency is a second-order consideration.

    Remember always the Letter of St. Margaret to the Tories:

    All that is, can be bought and sold.
    All that cannot be bought or sold, is not.
    All that can be bought and sold, must be bought and sold.
    For everything that is private is better than anything that is public; better than it is, better than it ever can be.

    And so long as one of us, somewhere, is covered by a collective bargaining agreement, none of us, anywhere, is truly free.

    The Market giveth; the Market taketh away, blessed be the Market, the righteous judge.

    Here endeth the lesson

    "Politics is not the art of the possible.
    It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable" J.K. Galbraith

    by Davis X Machina on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 08:15:19 AM PST

  •  RE Faulty premise (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rwyckoff46, whaddaya, splashy

    "Believe it or not, the private sector is not always the most efficient (see: health insurance)."  

    I remember when there were competitive bus lines in America and you could also have package delivery with them (yup, Greyhound and Trailways competed with the post office back then).  As a result of "efficiencies" of scale, the combined bus company that resulted from Greyhound consuming Trailways leaves us with no service in Florida worth mentioning.

  •  Oh for Chrissakes (0+ / 0-)

    But to only look at competition from email is to miss the larger ideological picture -- namely, that privatizing USPS has been a goal of market absolutists for decades.

    Stop it. Just stop it.  Yes, it's  very annoying to hear the government haters cackle, but it's worse to take a page from their book and let ideology trump the facts. If you really think that communicating via physical delivery of paper messages transported by petroleum-fueled vehicles has anything significant to do with the world we live in, then you are living in la-la land.

    UPS will be next, what with 3D artifact transmission on the way. Then they will run to Mitch and Cantor and ask for price supports, ha ha, the end.

  •  Obvious, but Irrelevant (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    whaddaya, PSzymeczek, marina
    Never mind that the Postal Service isn't taxpayer-funded; privatizing it is still part of the Cato Institute's agenda. It seems obvious to me that replacing USPS with a patchwork of private mail delivery companies would be an unmitigated clusterf#ck.
    If there is a Governmenf function that can be used to make money if it is privatized, those members of Congress who have been bought-and-paid-for will push for the privatization.

    It doesn't matter if the privatized function is effective or not, someone will be able to make money. That is the sole justification. This is also true of charter schools, for example.

    "Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything even remotely true." -- H. Simpson

    by midnight lurker on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 09:24:58 AM PST

    •  Part of this is about busting unions (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      oceanview, marina, Brown Thrasher

      The Postal Workers union is very large. The right wingers want to bust all unions, so we can all become slaves to the wealthy.

      Women create the entire labor force. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

      by splashy on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 02:22:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Democrats complicit? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    whaddaya, marina

    It's nice to blame the GOP for this, but are Democratic politicians coming to the support of the USPS? I read that The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 (which established the pension requirement) was passed by voice vote (late at night during the lame duck session, mind) and supported by the postal unions.   I'm sincerely wondering how many Dem legislators actually supported it, and where they stand now?

  •  If only we could GET our mail (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    whaddaya, marina

    Our local supermarkets send out their weekly discount flyers via the USPS. They used to be delivered with the newspaper, but that changed several years ago.

    We got the flyers once a week from the mailman. Until we stopped getting them. A call to the stores' managements revealed that we should indeed be getting their discount circulars in the mail every week. Nope.

    Two months went by and we decided to escalate. I called the USPS complaint line every week for a month. Finally, our local Postmaster called and invited me down for a chat. He assured me that he would speak to the letter carrier and see to it that we got our supermarket flyers again.

    And we did. For a month. Then they stopped coming. Then the rest of our mail started getting delayed or mis-delivered a little too often. It was payback because we had the nerve to complain. This clear retaliation went on for about 6 months until our delievery got back to somewhat normal.

    Except for the weekly supermarket sales circulars. We still don't get those.

  •  usps (5+ / 0-)

    is the envy of every other industrialized country.  Switzerland is roughly the size of Connecticut. Price of a first class letter?  $1.50.  CONNECTICUT!!!  The post office has been succesfully crippled by a Republican congress, and if this isn't fixed, they will be gone. Half a million fewer middle class taxpayers, and 300 million Americans paying more for a confusing array of inconsistent service providers.

    the best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity

    by mailman27 on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 01:22:35 PM PST

    •  USPS is also (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      splashy, marina, TacoPie

      literally a lifeline in some areas.  Postal carriers will often do a health and welfare check if they notice a build-up of uncollected mail in a box.  They have, in many cases, saved lives.

      You can't keep a mighty tree alive (much less expect it to thrive) by only spritzing the fine leaves at its tippy-top. The fate of the whole tree depends on nurturing the grassroots. - Jim Hightower

      by PSzymeczek on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 01:33:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  well--at least the dog (0+ / 0-)

    appears happy.

    please mr. postman look and see, if there's a letter in your bag for me...Georgia Dobbins, Brian Holland, Robert Bateman, Freddie Gorman, William Garrett
  •  Mail is Such an Essential Service (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brown Thrasher

    We don't worry about whether the Police or Fire Depts. turn a profit because the services they offer are much more valuable than can be adequately measured by accounting.

    It is a service that every American has used, or will use, or in some way benefits from.

    Why treat it as anything less?

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