Skip to comments.Email Isn't Killing The Post Office
Posted on 12/12/2011 4:34:51 AM PST by Kaslin
IT'S GROUNDHOG DAY at the US Postal Service: time once again for the familiar laments about how the agency's financial losses are surging, how demand for its services is plummeting, and how officials have no choice but to close local facilities, raise the price of stamps, and reduce delivery standards.
Last week the Postal Service announced plans to cut $3 billion in costs by slowing down first-class mail service and eliminating about half of the country's 461 mail-processing centers. That would mean an end to next-day delivery of first-class mail. Although that might not seem like much of a threat for something already thought of as "snail mail," the Postal Service has insisted for decades that 95 percent or more of local first-class mail is successfully delivered overnight. When the new standards take effect next spring, two-day delivery will become the new overnight, even for mail that's just traveling down the street.
If all this sounds familiar, you aren't hallucinating.
"In 1990, the Postal Service launched a nationwide plan to intentionally slow down mail delivery," policy analyst James Bovard wrote in his 1994 book, Lost Rights. First-class letters were already taking 20 percent longer to reach their destination than they had in 1969, but Postmaster General Anthony Frank assured Congress that the reduction in delivery standards would "improve our ability to deliver local mail on time." In the weird logic and language of the American postal system, the key to success was to give the public less for its money.
The more things change in Postal World, the more they remain the same. In the 1960s, a stunning 83 percent of the agency's total budget went to wages and benefits. Three decades later, after billions of dollars had been spent on automation, labor costs still accounted for 82 percent of the budget. And in 2011? "Decades of contractual promises made to unionized workers, including no-layoff clauses, are increasing the post office's costs," The New York Times recently reported. "Labor represents 80 percent of the agency's expenses, compared with 53 percent at United Parcel Service and 32 percent at FedEx, its two biggest private competitors."
That things have been getting tougher for the Postal Service, nobody disputes. With the ubiquity of e-mail, text-messages, social media, and online bill-paying, the volume of mail entrusted to the post office has been sinking for years. In a study published last year, the Government Accountability Office noted that first-class mail, the Postal Service's most profitable business line, had declined 19 percent from its peak in 2001, and was expected to fall another 37 percent by 2020.
The Internet Age may be wreaking havoc with the post office and its mail-delivery business, but what industry in America isn't going through the same wrenching experience? And not many institutions enjoy the benefits that federal law confers on the Postal Service: It pays no income or property taxes, it's exempt from vehicle licensing requirements and parking fines, and it has the power of eminent domain. Most significant of all, it has a legal monopoly on the delivery of mail: The federal Private Express statutes make it a crime for any private carrier to deliver letters. The only exception is for "extremely urgent" letters, and even those may be delivered by a private company only if it's willing to charge a much higher rate than the Postal Service would have charged.
They don't have a legally binding monopoly, unlike the US Postal Service. Yet they're thriving, while the post office is struggling to stave off bankruptcy.
Yet with all its privileges, the Postal Service is struggling, while UPS and FedEx flourish. Why? Because they have something invaluable that the post office lacks: Competitors.
"We have a business model that is failing," Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said last week. It's true. But it was true long before e-mail came along. What is killing the post office is the lack of genuine, head-to-head competition that forces vendors to compete for customers by pushing quality up and holding prices down. Only in a government-sheltered monopoly like the Postal Service would labor costs remain as bloated as they have, year in and year out.
More than a decade into the 21st century, there is no reason why mail shouldn't be delivered by multiple enterprises, each one competing for market share and goodwill by providing consumers with a valued service. In nearly every other area, after all, Americans embrace competition. With competition comes accountability. And only when the Postal Service is accountable -- only when its customers are free to take their business elsewhere will the endless round of excuses and losses and service reductions finally come to an end.
No, junk-mail is.
There might be an element of truth to it.
I used to go through a book of 20 stamps every month. Now I rarely mail anything but the occasional greeting card. I stay in contact with friends through email and pay all my bills on line. The only mail I receive is junk mail.
Junk mail is what’s killing the Postal Service.That and poor management.Who in their right mind would continue raising the price of a first class stamp and then cut delivery days while not reducing the amount of junk mail in the system.
If the postal service will not do that at least raise the cost to deliver junk mail.
Remember last year when the Census Bureau mailed out a letter That said “Your Census form is coming.” Then you got the Census form. Then you got a letter saying “You better fill out your Census form”. Then you got a letter saying “Thanks for sending in your Census form.” My buddy in the government said it was part of a government program to give the PO a half billion bucks, nothing more.
In fact, many people I know are in regular contact over email or on message boards. And now that I have a new car, my car payments will be done using Bank of America's online-based payment service instead of sending payments with a real physical letter once a month.
Letters used to be cheaper than long distance calls too. Now, if I talk for a minute or an hour, I pay no extra.
I think email and social media is a RESULT of the Postal Service, not a competitor to it!
What I mean is that good old fashioned letter writing has been a lost art from decade to decade, as you see in today’s schools they are discussing ending cursive writing altogether - is it even worth teaching, as people don’t write anymore!
As service went down, costs went up and the schools stopped teaching the art of good, handwriting and the importance there of, emails and social media simply reinvented conversation - it wasn’t a competition; the other side had already lost!
I have a constitutional right to next day delivery to my tent here at OccupyWallstreet.
Just address my mail to;
Orange Tent with the Peace Sign Next to the Porta-Potties
Cut mail service to residences to twice a week. In the future, maybe once a week.
If you want it faster than that, go to the post office to send and receive.
What can’t wait a few days?
Jeff Jacoby is just plain stupid. He needs to learn the way of the world.
E mail has killed the post office (and Fed X) The transmission of most business documents is entirely electronic. Payments are made and received electronically. Inter company transmittal of documents is now conducted by many on networks that exixt for that very purpose.
Even the IRS has stopped using the mail .Tax stuff is on line for retrieval and returns are e mailed.
I have a constitutional right to next day delivery. /sarc
Lousy service is what is killing the post office. In 25 years, I have never received “overnight” mail overnight. I have told my clients to use fedex or ups, where I always get it on time. In one instance, my overnight mail was never delivered at all, and just disappeared into the system.
When I went to the postmaster to complain, he said he would send letters to me to check how it worked. Got nothing. In fact, I am convinced that knowing how to read is optional in this area.
All the cuts are being made in delivery & handling, which ain't always bad, but if you only cut the legs off, you are definitely missing the FAT. But the FAT is making the decisions. The system needs to be made over from the top down now, not the bottom up!
I'd like to see the numbers compared to non-governmental entity, such as mgt to salaried workers %.
Your mail now travels 3x what it used to. The reason for the delay. They shut down the local processors, move the employees hundreds of miles away from their homes. No layoffs, no labor savings, just crappy service.
Several years ago, during Christmas, I was in the PO. There was a line that led out the door on a miserable day, people with boxes, etc.
There were two clerks in front. (It was lunch hour).
The supervisor came to the front and started to ask people is she could help. She went to one of the empty stations and asked people who needed to, to step over.
One of the clerks at another station went ballistic. He started shouting she had no business there, that what she was doing was “against the rules” and she wasn’t allowed to help. When somebody said something he shouted back that the management should hire more folks to do the job properly if they wanted more clerks up front.
He kept yelling he was going to report her, that this was management abuse. He was really angry. Nobody said anything.
At that point I was leaving, so I never saw the end. But I looked down that line and thought, I wonder how many people here are in agreement, and how many see the system for the monster it is, but can’t admit it?
It was a highly Jewish, liberal area, and I’ve seen people spout off there before, easily. Yet not a word. I kept thinking that, these people agree philosophically, all being libs, but now they are seeing the fruit, and it was nasty. And a lot of them looked a bit sheepish.
And THAT is why the PO is having problems.
I think the real problem that is pushing the USPS over the cliff is security measures demanded by Homeland Security and perhaps put into place by the anthrax attack around 9/11. Some examples from my recent experience:
- I routinely purchase a certain flour I cannot buy locally from a store in the midwest. Every box I have ordered so far has arrived having been opened with holes poked in the flour bags even though those bags were sealed in larger plastic bags by the store. The first order I made from this company, every item in the box had been opened. Subsequent orders have had only the flour bags examined. The local Post Office claims that it is security searches done elsewhere, not by them.
- We have two slots in our local P.O. one for “in town” mail and the other “out of town.” Recently I asked a postal worker if a certain address would meet the definition of “in town.” I was told that the PO no longer allows local PO to sort its own mail but everything has to go to central stations around the county. (Which lead me to believe that the deletion of one day first class has been discontinued a long time ago.)
- For a several months this year, when I tried to mail a book someone purchased from me via Amazon, I could not seal it prior to mailing. The local PO had to examine inside my package to make sure it had a book in it. For awhile they wouldn’t even then let me seal the book myself but a postal worker had to do it. Before they even would mail anything from me I had to sign a statement that they told me they would keep on record saying why I was mailing these items. I had to also agree that the PO wasn’t liable if the item was damaged or not delivered due to it being searched at another place within the system!
If I am having such routine frustrations trying to do business with the USPS, I can only imagine the headaches a large corporation or business must be experiencing. Why wouldn’t you choose another postal method?
Labor represents 80 percent of the agency’s expenses, compared with 53 percent at United Parcel Service and 32 percent at FedEx.
Number one reason the feds need to sell the Parcel Service.
Government is notorious for spending what capital it does accumulate on wages instead of on technology that streamlines operations. Political pressure is always there to make the employees happy and maybe get a few votes in the next election.
A couple years ago, the Post Office removed stamp vending machines -- one tiny bow it had made to labor-saving -- because the things hadn't been maintained and were out-of-service more than they were working. Capital maintenance had been ignored.
There is no reason why the USPS couldn't compete with UPS and FedEx except that it's a government operation and the incentives do not exist to make it efficient.
problem : postal worker pensions
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