Results 1 to 17 of 17

Thread: USPS: Burn, Baby, Burn

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Posts
    11,536

    Default USPS: Burn, Baby, Burn

    Postal Mortem

    By WALTER KIRN

    I remember walking to the post office in the little town where I grew up. Some summer days, there wasn’t much else to do. The postmaster was a remote and taciturn fellow known to me mostly as a blurry hand rifling envelopes into the boxes. This was the early 1970s, and each trip to the building with the flag outside and the “Wanted” posters in the lobby filled me with a sense of possibility. I might discover I won a sweepstakes. I might receive an issue of one of the magazines that I subscribed to chiefly so I would get mail. And even if my family’s box was empty that day, I might overhear a bit of adult gossip or bump into a pal. I might recognize on a poster the scowling face of a man I’d seen hanging around the hardware store, making me eligible for a big reward.

    It’s this sort of golden nostalgia that comes over me when I reflect on the less-than-shocking news that the United States Postal Service, facing billions of dollars in annual losses and creeping institutional obsolescence, has embarked on a budget-cutting program that could result in the closing of thousands of offices, many in small towns and rural areas. On a practical level, the move is understandable. In the last few years the total volume of mail (I refuse to call it snail mail, which I feel insults its seniority and primacy and bolsters the fiction that e-mail is mail at all and not a form of digital rain) has dropped by 20 percent, while many of the offices slated for shuttering serve only a handful of customers per day. And though the cost of operating these branches isn’t large in the systemwide scheme of things, the chilly laws of bureaucratic Darwinism dictate that when something has to give, that something is usually tiny and vulnerable.

    The painful truth, of course, is that the post offices most likely to vanish also happen to function as the centers of the communities in which they’re situated. Social-networking sites aren’t just Internet phenomena. In Livingston, Mont., my current hometown, the post office does what Facebook only purports to as far as promoting human interaction. On the wide granite steps of the neo-Classical edifice that stands as one of our few local reminders that we 7,000 people of the Great Plains belong to a civilized modern nation, my neighbors and I trade news, contract for services and generally mix and mingle in a manner that permits us to feel like neighbors rather than strangers subject to the same weather. For people who live far out in the countryside or who are too old and frail to get around much, this can be a life-sustaining service, particularly in the winter months. The chance to chat improves folks’ mental health, and the failure of an old man to fetch his power bill for several days alerts others to go check on him.

    The benefits to the public welfare afforded by a small-town post office are hard to quantify in dollar terms, but my guess is that they offer fairly good value, at least when compared with salaried social workers and prescription psychoactive drugs. We’ll probably never know; the formula created by the government to determine which offices to close doesn’t include such complex measurements. But what if it did? Consider the following: In Livingston a few weeks back, a trailer house burned down and a man was badly burned while trying to rescue the inhabitants. (One wasn’t home, and the other escaped safely.) A spaghetti dinner was quickly arranged to help the victims with housing and medical care, and I heard about the event while sending a package. Others, I’ll wager, got the news in the same way, and the dinner, held two days later, was a success, filling the basement of the downtown Elks club.

    Now pretend the post office had closed and do the chaos math.

    Thinking this over, I realize an e-mail listserv might have spread the news as, or more, efficiently; I’m straining here, I know it. Strong sentiment will do that to a person. So will the sense of disquiet stirred by losing yet more cultural common ground to the new Dust Bowl of finance. They lose money, small post offices, so they have to go.

    The post office in the town where I was raised, a town of 500 people in Minnesota, had that shoe-polish smell peculiar to government buildings. A pen was attached to the counter with a weak chain that anyone could easily have pulled and snapped. No one did, though. The pen belonged to everyone. Stealing it would have been stealing from ourselves. As a crime, such a theft might not have ranked with those committed by the unlovable hard-eyed felons whose photos had been posted by the F.B.I., but even at 9 years old I understood that it was not something a good citizen should do.

    That notion of citizenship, of civic belonging, was taught at school, but it was nothing but words. At the post office, I could feel it and I could see it, most vividly in the orderly, crisp movements of the postmaster as he filled the boxes, giving equal attention to every address. But all addresses aren’t equal, it now turns out, as the thousands of planned post-office closings may soon prove. Fiscal realism demands this step, and its consequences are unlikely to be grave or even noticeable once some time has passed. Assuming the network covers the spots in question, electronic means of linking up will fill in for the vanished analog modes. Word of spaghetti dinners will still get out (until they’re replaced by virtual spaghetti dinners), and restless 9-year-old boys won’t have to walk anywhere to fetch their copies of National Geographic, that charming old magazine about life on Earth.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/06/ma...l?ref=magazine

    a country that can't afford this



    but can afford this



    is in deep shit . . . .

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    3,720

    Default Re: USPS: Burn, Baby, Burn

    It really is disgusting to read what the USA says it can afford and what it cannot. Like how the National Parks are not maintained well and often closed due to "budget constraints". That said my experience with the post office some times makes me realize why they are losing money. Like when I catch the carrier putting a note in my mailbox that he couldn't deliver a package because I wasn't home! But that photo of the Aircraft carrier says it all. At times we have the best and at others we can't scrape up a few dollars.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    412

    Default Re: USPS: Burn, Baby, Burn

    Notice the large gas guzzlers in the picture of the Post Office? Those don't run on high plains wind power, they need black goop found mostly in the Middle East with 64% of proven reserves. We do have a choice maintain the green energy based Nuke Carriers to keep the shipping lanes open 24x7 via a policy of containment and deterrent so you can drive to the Post Office to do your social networking in person. I would be all for getting rid of the Carriers by closing the Post Offices and reducing demand on oil imports. By getting rid of the Carriers we can then have all physical paper mail converted to email. We would easily reduce imports by several billion barrels per year no? Also FedEx, and UPS have only one warehouse office per several hundred thousand people. They (private enterprise) have efficiencies needed already in-place to pick up the package deliver business that would come with the closing of the USPS. Something has to give and I suspect the gas guzzler won't go down before the USPS does.
    Last edited by seanm123; 02-06-11 at 05:54 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    528

    Default Re: USPS: Burn, Baby, Burn

    The article was just pathetic attempt at telling us why post offices shouldn't be closed for the sake of juvenile nostalgia. Comparing the post office to facebook? refusing to call mail, snail mail? okay... Bottom line is that USPS is hemorrhaging money, mail is being used less and less and I think anyone who frequents a post office might get an idea as to why they seem so inefficient. As for the pictures, the country has too many of both...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Posts
    10,290

    Default Re: USPS: Burn, Baby, Burn

    The quandary the USPS has is that it is forced to serve the entire country.

    The notion that Fedex or UPS can take over and provide equal coverage is ludicrous. These companies focus on the profitable portions and leave the rest to the quasi-governmental entity.

    On top of that, the USPS is a significant political force - between its present and retired employees, we're talking nearly 600,000 present employees and perhaps 2x that including retirees.

    The notion of switching entirely to email is equally wrong: there are huge numbers of Americans who still can't or won't convert to nothing but email: think an asymptotically sloping line as age increases.

    What the post office should do is this:

    1) Keep existing postal centers
    2) Instead of physical transportation of letters, Tele-Mail centers should be set up in each postal center
    The Tele-Mail will allow those desiring to mail to scan their own documents, add physical addresses, then pay for postage. Letters placed in post office boxes pay a higher fee (for collection and postal employee scanning). Overall fees should go down.
    The mail in question is then printed out at the destination distribution center, then delivered.
    3) Packages will operate as before
    4) Letter carriers switch to being contractors - like Fedex and UPS have done.

    The idea is to reduce the expensive transportation and sorting process.

    Junk mail in turn should be categorized ahead of time, and users who choose to opt out would pay a fixed monthly fee to do so.

    And lastly to lower the labor costs - labor is the biggest single component of USPS spending, unsurprisingly.

  6. #6
    DSpencer is offline iTulip Ambassador/Select Premium Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    1,227

    Default Re: USPS: Burn, Baby, Burn

    Quote Originally Posted by c1ue View Post
    Junk mail in turn should be categorized ahead of time, and users who choose to opt out would pay a fixed monthly fee to do so.
    Are you saying I would have to pay to not receive mail? I can't say I like that idea. I do hate junk mail, but I'm not yet so rich or lazy that I would pay to avoid just throwing it in the trash. Maybe I'm misunderstanding.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    3,720

    Default Re: USPS: Burn, Baby, Burn

    The quandary the USPS has is that it is forced to serve the entire country.
    Bingo.

    Hey I'm not advocating losing the Carriers. The point was, expecting the post office to cover every inch of America and compete while its competition can pick and choose is dumb. We need to have some sort of delivery available to all Americans. But that doesn't excuse the poor job the PO has done at times. I will say that I have a better record shipping packages with the PO than with the other major carriers. If you are not a big customer to Fedex or UPS, watch how they treat you when they destroy your package or lose it. Many Americans ship through a large account at work and never see how they treat the little guys. PO is a little better about it.

    Instead of physical transportation of letters, Tele-Mail centers should be set up in each postal center
    The Tele-Mail will allow those desiring to mail to scan their own documents, add physical addresses, then pay for postage. Letters placed in post office boxes pay a higher fee (for collection and postal employee scanning). Overall fees should go down.
    The mail in question is then printed out at the destination distribution center, then delivered.
    Similar to what the US Armed forces did during WWII with "Victory Mail". Photographed everything and put it on microfiche then shipped it on planes that way. Then blow it up at the destination.

    And lastly to lower the labor costs - labor is the biggest single component of USPS spending, unsurprisingly.
    Probably the most room for improvement with the USPS.

    One thing I'm not crazy about is the Priority mail fixed cost boxes. Good idea on paper, but unless you are shipping lead bars, the rate is often pretty high for the size of the box. You should see what they call a "large box".
    Last edited by flintlock; 02-07-11 at 10:25 AM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Posts
    10,290

    Default Re: USPS: Burn, Baby, Burn

    Quote Originally Posted by DSpencer
    Are you saying I would have to pay to not receive mail? I can't say I like that idea. I do hate junk mail, but I'm not yet so rich or lazy that I would pay to avoid just throwing it in the trash. Maybe I'm misunderstanding.
    Junk mail is probably the single largest revenue source for the Post Office. If they can replace that revenue with a fixed payment per consumer, then much less waste all around is achieved and the USPS now has an incentive to not force you to accept junk mail.

    And as you noted, you can always take care of your junk mail the old fashioned way!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Colofornia
    Posts
    476

    Default Re: USPS: Burn, Baby, Burn

    We've switched back to regular mail from email at several of our service providers, most especially the mortgage.

    Email is unreliable compared to USPS. Yes, we occasionally get a letter addressed to our neighbor - we walk it over. Email gets spammed, filtered, misdirected and lost. I spend far more time dealing with Email problems than postal problems, and when it comes time to buy something email can't move anything with substance.

    Maybe it is irony, but I do buy stamps online at the USPS website and we seldom visit the Post Office.

    Email has it's place, but so does USPS. I wouldn't mind giving up a day of delivery for cost savings.

    Postage will probably have to go up as well. USPS is kind of a canary for inflation. Postal service was never supposed to make the USG a profit that's why it's called a service.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    3,720

    Default Re: USPS: Burn, Baby, Burn

    Yes, I wouldn't miss Saturday delivery a bit. Even 4 days a week would work. Whatever it takes!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    354

    Default Re: USPS: Burn, Baby, Burn

    Quote Originally Posted by flintlock View Post
    I will say that I have a better record shipping packages with the PO than with the other major carriers. If you are not a big customer to Fedex or UPS, watch how they treat you when they destroy your package or lose it. Many Americans ship through a large account at work and never see how they treat the little guys. PO is a little better about it.
    i was an ebay powerseller for a while. note that this doesn't make me a "big guy" either still! i got my money back for items that ups and fedex had damaged during shipping; i gave up on the one item that the usps had damaged.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    northeastern illinois
    Posts
    1,741

    Default Re: USPS: Burn, Baby, Burn

    the USPS is in a death spiral. Their product costs too much, so people use it less, hence the vicious cycle.
    I don't even know what the current postal rate is. .45?? If you take all of your periodic bills,
    credit cards, utilitities, insurance, mortgage etc, taxes, doctors, school, brokerage etc. In my case you are looking at 15 or more that go out every month. At 180+ payments a year, at 50 cents each you can be looking at close to $100 a year on postage, paper checks, envelope costs. It is a nice cost savings to send all of these via e-bill pay.

    Some companies, like my long distance carrier are now charging for a paper statement. So no more paper statments
    for them.


    The only thing I use first class mail for is christmas cards, and things were I need proof of delivery, and/or cancelled check
    image.

  13. #13
    HisHighnessDog Guest

    Default Re: USPS: Burn, Baby, Burn

    Quote Originally Posted by mikedev10 View Post
    i was an ebay powerseller for a while. note that this doesn't make me a "big guy" either still! i got my money back for items that ups and fedex had damaged during shipping; i gave up on the one item that the usps had damaged.
    FedEx flat out stole a $500 package that had been shipped to me: acknowledging the package was indeed in their possession at their ironically-named 'abandoned and unclaimed' package facility, they simply declared 'nothing could be done' to return it to either me or the original shipper, if after I literally offered to pay any price to it to be sent to either!

    Say what you will about government bureaucracy, but FedEx is Kafkaesque while USPS simply works.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    3,720

    Default Re: USPS: Burn, Baby, Burn

    Yeah, the more I remember, USPS also screwed me once too! Claimed poor packaging, which was bogus. But even a "powerseller" is a "business" customer and probably gets a better response than someone like me who only ships 5 or 6 times a year with any one carrier. FedEX has a "HOME DELIVERY" division now for a reason. Different standards and they operate differently in how they handle problems. I have a friend who owns a FEDEX franchise. He told me that the "insurance" you buy is not technically insurance if you read the fine print. I followed his advice and just kept pestering them and they finally paid. The frustrating part was they didn't deny damaging my package.( a 20" chrome rim that was literally flattened out by some goon.) They just denied it, with no reason given. A lot of it goes back to the individual franchise and how they are penalized for screwing up. Especially the new ones, who try to avoid too many black marks on their record. More likely it was a lack of cooperation on their part with the investigation. Anyway, it took me about 3 months to resolve, which is unacceptable in my opinion. Luckily the buyer was great about it. But 3 out of 4 wheels are not worth as much of course.

    Another time the FEDEX driver messed up and delivered the package to the wrong address, then tried to lie her way out of it. Luckily a neighbor showed up with the package a few weeks later.( was out of town) To their credit they got rid of the driver. Fedex also put a fork lift through a collectible rifle I was shipping. FedEX can ship a rifle cross country for half the price of UPS, so now I know why!

    Years ago I had two employees who moonlighted at UPS loading trucks. They used to laugh at how they'd toss packages around. UPS, FedEX, USPS, they all suck at times.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    3,720

    Default Re: USPS: Burn, Baby, Burn

    I agree. I've only had one problem with USPS and similar problems to yours with FedEx. USPS seems a bit more gentle with packages too. For a period we were having packages stolen from the front door, which in my area is very unusual. When I complained to FEDEX corporate, the problems stopped. I suspected the driver and the problems stopped when the driver changed. Perhaps it was just incompetence, but its also very easy to steal this stuff and just claim it was dropped off. It was always electronics that were stolen, not lame stuff. My friend's drivers barely make $30k. Not much for a hustle job like that.

    I've heard horror stories of claims for insured packages of tens of thousands of dollars being denied by carriers. Expensive copiers and that type of thing. Like you said, it's just flat out stealing. Fedex can be very strict on it's contractors. They really put the screws to them at times. So a lot of pass the buck goes on in an attempt to stay on good graces with the boss.

    The Fedex overnight people are completely different truck and people than the "Home delivery" folks. Night and day difference.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    northeastern illinois
    Posts
    1,741

    Default Re: USPS: Burn, Baby, Burn

    With all the scanning and tracking of airport luggage, do you really think they lost it

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    3,720

    Default Re: USPS: Burn, Baby, Burn

    Ha, good point!

Similar Threads

  1. Slash & Burn
    By Mega in forum News
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 02-09-09, 01:15 PM
  2. We had to burn the village to save it...
    By swgprop in forum News
    Replies: 18
    Last Post: 10-21-08, 08:59 PM
  3. Slow Burn Capital Controls
    By Rajiv in forum Rumors
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 09-17-08, 03:07 PM
  4. Replies: 7
    Last Post: 03-16-08, 12:44 PM
  5. Bear Sterns.....CRASH & BURN!!!!!
    By Mega in forum News
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 07-17-07, 09:36 PM

Bookmarks

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Opinions expressed herein are those of the posters, not those of iTulip, Inc., its owners, or management. All material posted on this board becomes the intellectual property of the poster and iTulip, Inc., and may not be reposted in full on another website without the express written permission of iTulip, Inc. By exception, the original registered iTulip member who authored a post may repost his or her own material on other sites. Permission is hereby granted to repost brief excerpts of material from this forum on other websites provided that attribution and a link to the source is included with the reposted material.

Nothing on this website is intended or should be construed as investment advice. It is intended to be used for informational and entertainment purposes only. We reserve the right to make changes, including change in price, content, description, terms, etc. at any time without notice. By using this board you agree that you understand the risks of trading, and are solely responsible for your own investment and trading decisions. Read full legal disclaimer.

Journalists are not permitted to contact iTulip members through this forum's email and personal messaging services without written permission from iTulip, Inc. Requests for permission may be made via Contact Us.

Objectionable posts may be reported to the board administrators via Contact Us.

-->