I realize that this is a dangerous blog to write, as we know that while Postal employees are utterly incompetent at delivering mail in a timely, correct, and cheap manner, they are very good at mass murder. I know that writing this blog will likely open me up to having some USPS employee going postal on me, but it needs to be said.
Have you heard the post office needs a 5 billion bailout to help pay their bills? Yes, if you see a commercial on TV from the post office saying they pay all their bills with only sales of stamps you need to do two things (1) scream “Bullshit” and (2) make sure the dog in the front yard is hungry and unchained for tomorrow’s mail delivery.
The fact of the matter is that the post office offers terrible service. Service that is overpriced. Employees that over paid and have too many benefits given that it has to be one of the most menial jobs in existence. (Average salary of 52K a year, benefits you would kill for…including 26 days off a year after 15 years of service…you get a month off from doing your job which probably actually required a modicum of education and a working frontal cortex?)
And they just run it like a bunch of idiots. Ask yourself if you sent a letter to your friend down the street and a letter to your friend at the Northern most tip of Alaska which would cost more to deliver. Obviously with transport, fuel, employees, bureaucracy, etc., the letter to Alaska is going to cost a radically larger amount than the letter going down the street. How much is the difference in stamp costs? Nothing. Gee, do you think that the fact that pricing has nothing to do with cost might be a bad business model? If you said no then may I suggest you invest in a company called Solyndra a fascinating company who makes solar cells for $6 a cell and sells them at $3 a cell (oh wait, the people backing Solyndra literally are the people backing the Post Office).
I believe a national post office is a necessity. Communication is a requirement of a healthy society. But the post office in its current form needs to be scrapped.
Here is what Congress needs to do.
1. Overturn all laws that forbid private carriers (UPS, FedEx, smaller local businesses) from carrying any kind of mail. Although if they want the right to carry all forms of mail, they will have to agree to be under the Postal Inspection Service (if you’re going to carry the mail then you’re going to have to follow all the rules surrounding it, which means that someone has to have the right to investigate and if needed prosecute for violations of those laws).
2. Overturn all laws that forbid those companies from under cutting USPS prices. That’s right UPS and FedEx don’t cost more than the Post Office because they want to, they charge more because they have to.
3. Cut back delivery of all mail to 3 days a week.
4. Quadruple the price of mass mailers and catalogues (otherwise known as 2nd and 3rd class mail) This is the bulk of what we get in the mail and we just throw it away, it’s a waste of our time, of paper, of the time of postal employees. Either we need to price it out of existence or at least make it a cash cow.
5. Cut the postal force by at least 60%. If we’re going to 3 days a week and letting competition in, then 60% cut is more than called for. Yes there will be a string of disgruntled postal employees doing what postal employees do best, but as most of their victims will statistically be other postal employees, eh, I don’t see much of a downside. Further this rash of mass killings will be great promotional material for the start up businesses that will grow in the wake of this.
6. Put 60% of the USPS infrastructure up for sale. Those private businesses are going to need somewhere to operate out of and the machinery and vehicles to do those jobs. No reason we can’t cut our losses as they grow.
7. Cut postal employee salaries and benefits. I have a low opinion of most government jobs and think they should be jobs people hold while in or right out of college, something to get started in. Most government work should never be the kind of thing you can earn a career off of and certainly carrying pieces of paper back and forth should not be something that one can make a great living off of as I’m not entirely sure we couldn’t train chimps (or at least Democratic members of Congress) to do such a simplistic job.
8. Forbid all traces of net neutrality laws. One of the biggest reactions to this will be that a lot more work will be done over the internet (especially in the field of entertainment…cutting back on delivery will without question kill Netflix or Qwickster or whatever it’s called which means that a lot of us are suddenly going to be streaming our movies). To handle this sudden growth in broadband traffic the entire infrastructure for data communication is going to need to be radically improved throughout the nation. This will cost money. Net neutrality laws will only slow down and stifle the needed growth.
There will be a lot of other changes that will come from this needed change, but even the momentarily costly and painful ones (I really hate streaming movies from Netflix, I hate quality and buffering, but 3 day a week delivery is more annoying) but the fact is that long term these are all positive economic changes. The system for the delivery of mail as it stands right now is stuck in an 18th century idea of how to communicate. And for those who say that this will have negative consequences I would remind you that Great Britain, Finland, New Zealand and Sweden have competition to their government postal services and Germany has completely privatized it…yet I don’t think I’ve ever heard complaints about their postal system (I have however heard lots of complaints of the government run health care that some of these countries have.).