Privatize Snail Mail…

2017-10-18_20-10-31.pngOur current president seems determined to completely erase any evidence of his predecessor. There are a myriad of opinions why he fixates on this task. But that is not the subject of this post.  If he really wants to do something productive that won’t harm his personal businesses, which is a top priority for him, he needs to privatize Snail Mail.

For anyone who has been living in a cave for the last decade Snail Mail is the USPS or United States Postal Service.  I kind of agree with the Republicans, the real ones I mean, when they say the government should not be in an area where private businesses can do the job as good or better.  This has become particularly true of the USPS.  They have been dying a slow death for the last couple decades. Their main thing was business correspondence and that has dwindled to almost a crawl now.  Today almost everything is handled over the Internet and that is progress as far as I am concerned.

Due to being a government business controlled pretty much by congressional committees the USPS have not had the opportunities to modernize along with the competitors. It’s time to change that scenario.  Let them go out on their own to survive or die. So, Mr. President if you want to leave a legacy in place of your path of destruction privatize the USPS and let them live up to their potential or to die trying.  That is the American way…

8 thoughts on “Privatize Snail Mail…

  • I disagree strongly with this idea. Unless it is done with some sort of “regulation” to keep it usable and still a “public service”. Here is why:

    Like fire and police the PO must be considered a public service IMO.

    1. I can mail a 20 lb. box to my son in Japan for about $120 and it really only works because the Japanese postal system is honest. Many countries PO system are not and boxes get “lost” or pilfered on the way so private shipping is required. UPS and FedEx are over $200 or even more.(mainly because they keep possession of the box all the way and do not hand it off to a local company). So these private companies are not a good option. Will the current cost be the same if the PO was privatized? Maybe not if making a profit vs having a public service was the goal. Ok this is my personal reason.

    2. Right now there are regulations that keep small rural post offices and rural delivery available. Go for profit – they close, people laid off, services not easily available. You live in a rural area. Do you want to drive an hour to a PO?

    3. For profit I’d make home delivery a paid option. Mail is available for pick up for free but if you want it delivered it is a monthly service like trash pick up. Another hit on the retired, aging population.

    4. We can put a letter to be mailed into the mail box and the carrier will take it. Not any more or not free – part of the paid service.

    5. Passports cost extra for handling

    6. Lots of other changes… I’m sure you can think of more.

    I’m all for finding ways to keep the public service of the current PO and make it less dependent on government subsidies but totally against privatization.

    In this case I do not agree the private sector can do it cheaper AND better.

    As a “side note”- a couple of years ago, when stopping Saturday delivery was being discussed, I overheard a conversation in a small rural post office between a PO employee and customer. The customers was all for eliminating Saturday delivery but when the employee explained that it would lead to lay-offs the customer said “Oh no I don’t want that”. WTF – how do you think the PO is going to reduce costs – by automating and getting rid of people, reducing services or making them extra cost services. Which is what private industry has been doing for 30 years in this country. We will end up having a private business with a monopoly unless you let UPS, FedEx, etc. handle mail too but then let’s just let these companies deliver the mail and deregulate the PO to compete.

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    • Thanks for your well nuanced thoughts here Bob. I guess this is one issue we will have to disagree on.

      I don’t mind paying taxes for our government to do the people’s business but I want my money to be spent efficiently. Many of your points are to just keep people employed but I go through so many small towns in this country were the only still occupied building is the post office. That is not a way to run a business or a government agency. If grocery stores can’t survive then neither should post offices.

      Keeping jobs should not be the top priority for business or government. Foremost is must provide a needed service at a reasonable cost. On a personal level I get almost nothing of any importance from snail mail now so to me it has simply outlived its usefulness.

      Let’s make sure that people are trained for jobs of the 21st century instead of keeping antiquated jobs no longer needed. Free education beyond high school would be money much better spent. Our government does not, nor should it, have an unlimited budget. They need to spend their money where they get the most benefit from it and that is simply not the USPS as I see it.

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      • Oh I was not intending to say they should be open just for jobs. Loss of jobs in just an outcome we need to accept if we privatize. I was more concerned with loss of affordable services for people who still need them. I guess over time as our generation dies out (literally) and everybody [who matters] will be connected via the internet and drones deliver packages to rural areas [if people still live “out there”] then the PO either dies or morphs into one of the companies like UPS or Amazon who provides whatever services is needed.
        So rather than just privatize let’s remove the regulations and let them still provide the public service and use this transition time to allow them to morph into the paid services provider. I guess it is more about how fast and how to do it vs if we should or not. Personally I still do get and like getting letters and cards.

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  • I think we agree on the point that the USPS needs to be unbridled from all their regulations and such that are keeping them from being competitive. Privatizing them does not mean shutting them down, it means let them make their own rules and business practices instead of being mandated my congressional committees. It means their fate is up to them. I spent half of my corporate life in a totally regulated business. When my company was turned loose our business practices changed dramatically for the better. Before deregulation our most important products were reports and memorandums, after it was providing a service to our customers. USPS needs to face those same challenges…

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    • Agreed. It may be a question of semantics. When I hear “privatization” I hear run as a “private business” which is then allowed to ignore servicing people where there is no profit. I think in the current [maybe not future] situation this is not an acceptable solution. Just like REMC in the 30’s where electric companies were required to provide electricity to rural areas I suggest we are not ready [yet] to just ignore the ability to have affordable mail/package delivery in most, if not all, of the country. I consider mail delivery a public service and needs to be managed as such.

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  • This is exactly why I think privatization is a bad idea…Sorry for the long post but thought I save you the trouble of going to the site to read it.

    Rooting Out Democracy
    Posted: 30 Oct 2017 12:41 AM PDT
    The Sheffield tree massacre is one result of the monstrous, impenetrable officialdom that neoliberalism creates
    By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 25th October 2017

    One of neoliberalism’s promises was that it would free us from bureaucracy. By rolling back the state, it would vanquish the stifling power of officialdom, granting us unprecedented freedom and opportunity. This promise runs through the works of Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman, and Ludwig von Mises’s book Bureaucracy.
    But in place of the old bureaucracy, it has created a state-corporate system more oppressive and intrusive than anything governments produced in the social democratic era. The hybrid nature of this system, protected from challenge by commercial confidentiality, property rights and civil law, places it beyond the reach of democracy.
    The intermingling of state and corporate power allows corporations to harness the resources and protection of the state, and the state to hide behind its corporate partners. A classic example is the private finance initiative (PFI): a programme developed in the UK by the Conservatives but greatly expanded by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Under PFI, private companies finance and deliver public goods that governments would otherwise have provided.
    We were told it would produce better services at lower cost, but the contracts have repeatedly put corporate demands ahead of public need. The crippling debts afflicting hospitals and other parts of the public sector, as they are forced to keep paying for services they neither want nor need, were both foreseeable and foreseen.
    Labour has now promised, if it takes office, to review all PFI contracts, and buy them out if necessary. But the message has yet to filter through, even to some Labour councils. A few days ago, I visited Sheffield, where, with local campaigners, I toured the battlelines between people and profit.
    Sheffield is often described as Europe’s greenest city, but the city council seems determined to change this, through the massacre of many of its famous avenues of trees. In 2012, it signed a contract for what it called “the largest highways PFI programme in the UK” with Amey, a subsidiary of the vast Spanish company Ferrovial.
    As part of this programme, Amey earmarked 6000 trees for felling. Among them were magnificent and stunning specimens, treasured by local people, including famous landmarks such as the Vernon Oak, the Chelsea Road Elm, the Western Road memorial trees and the cherry avenues of Abbeydale Park Rise.
    The reasons given for destroying them seemed incomprehensible: the lifting of a kerbstone or two, the cracking of a pavement, roots intruding a couple of inches into the road. These are routine issues in any city, which can be easily and cheaply addressed without any need to attack the tree. In the case of the Chelsea Road Elm – a rare survivor of Dutch elm disease, harbouring a colony of even rarer white letter hairstreak butterflies – the residents commissioned an engineer to provide an estimate for addressing the cracked paving, and discovered it could be done, at minimal cost, without felling the tree.
    But, the council tells me, ”alternative engineering solutions … are not funded within the contract”. So they cannot be applied, regardless of any cost savings, and regardless of common sense. The terms of the contract were locked in for 25 years in 2012, and cannot be changed. It specifies that the trees must be felled, so down they must come.
    Nor can there be meaningful engagement with local people – that too would stand outside the terms of the contract. The council has claimed that the issue is too big and too contentious for a public consultation to handle. In a democratic system, big and contentious are generally considered to be reasons for consultation.
    Because a PFI contract must guarantee financial certainty for the corporate partner, it forbids government agencies to learn, adapt and respond. As a result, the landscape architect Steve Frazer points out, Sheffield’s streets, with their rich communities, complex forms and multiple functions, are being reduced to nothing but “conduits for conveying cars and people”. Sterilised, featureless streets are the physical embodiment of a rigid and intolerant mindset, which itself arises from a rigid and unassailable contract. The flexibility that capital demands of the workforce cannot be applied to capital.
    If the contract were changed, the council insists, there would be “catastrophic financial consequences”. Exactly what these are is impossible to know, because the relevant sections of the contract have been blacked out. This, the council tells me, is because such details are “commercially confidential or commercially sensitive to either Amey or the Council.”
    It is hard to see why. It seems to me that the information is more likely to be politically embarrassing than commercially compromising. In a twist that comes straight out of a Franz Kafka novel, the schedule to the contract (#30) that explains why parts of it have been deemed “commercially sensitive” has been withheld from public view. The hybrid nature of PFI provides a never-ending excuse for denying information to the public.
    As soon as a PFI contract is signed, the public sector must become the guardian of private sector interests. On Friday, two local people, Calvin Payne and the Green councillor Alison Teal, will be tried under another hybrid instrument: a civil case with potential criminal penalties. Sheffield City Council has accused them of contempt of court, by breaking the injunction it served to prevent them from obstructing the felling of the trees they love. It has asked for custodial sentences. They might also, if found guilty, be charged with the costs of delaying the contract, which could amount to hundreds of thousands of pounds and result in the seizure of their assets.
    Throughout the neoliberal era, governments and companies have devised new criminal and civil procedures to defend capital from protest. This is the force behind market forces. The enabling state, with its strong public services and robust social safety nets, might have been rolled back, but the security state has expanded, to protect corporate profits from democracy.
    Those who defend the neoliberal model insist that such arrangements are a distortion of the programme, caused by government meddling, thwarting their purely commercial utopia. But the truth is that this hybrid, Kafkaesque system is an inevitable result of a model that cannot meet our needs, while providing endless opportunities for clientelism and capture. PFI exemplifies the practice of neoliberalism. It exposes the doctrine for what it is: a gigantic self-serving con.
    http://www.monbiot.com

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    • An interesting read here Bob but I am getting confused with the constant reference to “the neoliberal era”. That must mean something different in England than is does here. Here, all of the corporate protections come from the RadCons which is at the opposite end of the spectrum. It sounds like much of what is described here would fall under the “Regulated Monopolies” in the US. I know a thing or two about that as I worked in one for 13 years known as AT&T. We were guaranteed a certain profit no matter what we did to deserve it. If we didn’t make that profit we could raise consumer prices to do so. After the breakup of AT&T in 1983 things changed drastically. We were once a very conservative company who wasted much resources on needless things but then we had to compete with numerous rivals and that quickly changed, for the better on the whole as far as I am concerned.

      Can a social/corporate contract be flawed? Of course it can but regulations where necessary can ameliorate much of that potential problem. That is what the FCC and other regulatory agencies are charged with. Competition is not a bad thing even for the public sector businesses such at USPS.

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      • I too had to look up Neo-liberalism. It is not at all related to being socially liberal. It is an economic liberalism- see the info below. It sounds more conservative politically to me so it should not be confused with being political liberal.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoliberalism

        Neoliberalism or neo-liberalism[1] refers primarily to the 20th-century resurgence of 19th-century ideas associated with laissez-faire economic liberalism.[2]:7 Such ideas include economic liberalization policies such as privatization, austerity, deregulation, free trade,[3] and reductions in government spending in order to increase the role of the private sector in the economy and society.[11] These market-based ideas and the policies they inspired constitute a paradigm shift away from the post-war Keynesian consensus which lasted from 1945 to 1980.

        I think the biggest problem with privatization is the emphasis on profit vs providing the necessary public services at a reasonable cost. I’m not saying it can’t be done but that it has to be done with sufficient regulations to ensure this. Once you do that it might be better to just reduce the USPS regulations to allow them to be less dependent on government help. I’m still not crazy about privatization as the best solution at this point in time.

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