T Nation

Post Office


#1

http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/2011-07-19-postmaster--mail-delivery_n.htm

What are your thoughts on this? Sometimes I agree with this but the post office was started as a service not as a profit making machine. I agree that some things must be cut, especially pensions and health care.
By the way I am a part-time mail or a rural route carrier and like many am extremely frustrated at the bureaucracy in the Post Office. Putting it here as seeing it can be something that can and in some areas should be cut as part of the issues going on in congress.
Also as a part-timer I work well over 80hrs a week. That should tell you the shape it is in.


#2

This is a tough one, jre67t.

You are right...it was started as a service, especially when a huge portion of America was rural. And it still provides a valuable service for rural areas.

But like everything else (it seems) that became unionized; the Postal Service became bloated, bureaucratic and inefficient...with pensions and retirements far beyond what is seen in the private sector.

This is a tough one without an easy, "PWI" answer.

Mufasa


#3

Trust me it is to me too. We have people who have been fired more than twice who are still here.
The post office does provide very cheap service compared to others the only reason customer service sucks is due to the lack of the ability for supervisors to enforce it.
If we do go too a supposedly 5 day service UPS and FEDEX will bump there prices. If you read the link I posted then I can only imagine they will bump there prices even more due to lack of competition.
Yes Mufasa the union makes it way worse, the pensions and retirements are so out of whack. To let you know I am not eligible for them.
If people only knew that we have some many great deals, its just that folks already have bad taste in their mouth due to prior service.


#4

One of the reasons the post office was created was to help facilitate the dissemination of knowledge in the young republic. Early American republicans were convinced (rightly) that the voting public needed to be an educated public, and the mail service would be a means to that end.

But, like so many government functions, it go co-opted by bureaucracy and public sector unions. And it also suffered from the advance of technology.

I'd like to see it remain around - but clearly in its current form, it can't. I don't know the stats, but I suspect the outsized costs are lavish pensions and health care. I bet the post office is more accurately described as a retirement fund that happens to also deliver mail.


#5

Great for that reminder thunderbolt, the post office has to pre-fund its retired healthcare to the tune of 5 Billion. Thats the reason its in the ink. In my opinion it will remain around due to the falling membership in union overall. Oh and a full family has to pay only about 300 for full coverage of health, eye and dental at this current moment. Give or take a few dollars.


#6

Wow.

That is just crazy, jre67t.

In the Private Sector...the "average family of four" is either 1) priced out of most coverage OR 2) paying something in the range of 1,200 to 2,000/month...with no dental and all types of restrictions.

300 dollars barely covers the capping of a tooth or two.

Mufasa


#7

To a point TB made; Technology plays a HUGE factor in all this.

By not capturing the market in packages/fast delivery...the USPS was left with first class mail; flyers; and business marketing. (This is simplistic; but not too far off). And those entities have contracted significantly.

I'll use myself and JCPenny/Sears as an example.

I regularly pay about 20 bills per/month...almost all on-line. Just a few years ago, all those Bills would have been mailed first-class. Multiply that by millions of people, and you get the point.

Also; large retailers no longer mail their seasonal catalogs and smaller "deal" catalogs. This was HUGE business for the USPS. Most have gone to Cable/Satellite and On-line advertising.

This all amounts to a significant paradigm shift that the USPS was too large and bureaucratic to respond to.

Mufasa


#8

Mufasa, good points and good post. In addition, think about basic correspondence anymore - if you want to "send a letter" to someone, you send an email. Gone are the days when you put a stamp on 30 letters to 30 friends catching up on each others' lives, and multiply that by thousands when considering business correspondence.

That is an enormous, systemic loss of revenue, as mundane as it may seem.


#9

Great point Mufasa but did you know the post office had complete control over the majority of packages back up until the 1950's or around there. Then a congressman with a friend who created fedex passed a bill to allow privatization of package delivery which I believe is fine. Im not being exact but that is the bullet point.
Up until this last year has the PO finally realized your point exactly. The post office should capture on how having a personal letter sent to you can be emotional. As any military man can tell you a letter from your lady and family can make a whole lot of difference in a day. Show some commercials of this, it can make a person eyes water if you ever been around this.
Its just like yall both two gentlemen said it can be a great service but for some reason the post office is failing to capitalize on the system it has in place. Best way I can think of it is having the US Military with the best equipment in the world being led by fools and bureaucrats, which they are not. Its such a waste of resources.


#10

I was shocked a couple months ago when I went to the PO to find out you can't get an instant money transfer! Why the heck not? I can buy a money order and send it, but not money transfer? They've already got the perfect infrastructure for that kind of thing. They could put Western Union out of business.

I think the PO is just to big, archaic, and stuck in their ways to adapt. There's so many things they can do. They're widespread, big, and they have the backing of the US Government. How about document management services? Bill payment centralization services -- imagine a place where you can pay all your bills either online or at the PO, no more worrying about autopay, lack of online payment, expiring credit cards on account, changing bank accounts, etc; just one place where physical and electronic bills get sent.


#11

You only touched the tip of the iceberg. The post office was created at a time when nobody had seen the West Coast. Now you can see it in person for less than a week's salary and send messages there for free. It also functioned as a means of secure communication, which is even more ridiculous in comparison to today's free technology.

IMO, I think the Post Office gave Americans the impression that private citizens have an formal ownership or right to all of the information even loosely associated with them and that the Gov't is exists to protect and uphold that right or responsibility. As opposed to an understanding that information generation and transfer is more of a natural phenomenon to be, at best, harnessed and guided. It's odd that an organization created to establish information security between citizens and against the Gov't is now a service that ensures information security between citizens but not the Gov't.


#12

I'm astounded Western Union stays in business. Virtually everyone can have/has that kind of infrastructure. I'm really surprised that you went to your PO for a money transfer, I'm pretty surprised your bank didn't have an ATM within 100 ft. of your PO, I'm kinda surprised you don't just own an smartphone.


#13

Exactly my reasoning Johnnytang, the infrastructure and there it is being mismanaged. It has tentacles that reach all of America including our Puerto Rico and our other sovereigns. The price is the same on first class mail and flat rate shipping to include military bases all over the world.


#14

WTF does a smartphone or ATM have to do with doing a money transfer? Suppose you need to get $5000 to someone in another state as soon as possible. How would a bank help? What's a smartphone going to do? The only options I can think of are Western Union/Moneygram, or what I did -- buy money orders and ship them overnight.


#15

Western Union stays alive due to wire transfers. Its a way to avoid the system as long as its a few thousand here and there and you can always change your name with a different ID. Also it used by immigrants to send money back, case in point that is one of Mexico's top income. Top 3 I believe.
Any who look for major changes in the PO within the next 3 months.


#16

You've got a computer (your phone), communications, mobility, authentication, and a tie to a financial clearing entity (the telco provider).

Mobile payments is a huge and growing area. Especially outside the US, where banking/financial infrastructure is limited but mobile phones have skyrocketed due to bypassing the last-mile problem (throw up a tower and you've got coverage in a village or small town).

Even within the US there's a lot of work toward enabling mobile payments (and related financial services). Some of it tied to increasing spending propensity (people spend more when they don't deal in cash), some with social networking, some with data mining/tracking (your cell phone emits a wealth of data on you).


#17

So how do you send $5000 with your phone?


#18

How do you send $5000 by check, credit card, or wire transfer?

Authenticated debit and credit.

http://www.google.com/search?q=mobile+payment+system&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:unofficial&client=iceweasel-a

Mind: it's not the sort of thing I care for (I'm credit-card averse myself). But it's doable or will be soon.


#19

It's a simple question. Why are you answering with another question? How does person A send person B money? It's impossible with a credit card, it takes days to send and clear a check, paypal takes about a week to clear. The ONLY way I can think of is wire transfer. I'm saying the PO could offer other solutions.

You claim one could use mobile payments. Why can't you give a straightforward description on how this is done with mobile payments? A link to google says nothing.