Thursday, February 14, 2013

Saving the post office

“If they don’t find a way to make the postal system more essential to people’s lives, there is only one direction this thing can go”: Tucker Nichols explains why he is campaigning to save the post office.


February 15: From the Washington Post: Will social media help save the Postal Service and Saturday delivery?

comments: 3

plntxt said...

If only things were so easy. I think the only real way to save the post office would be to downsize it considerably. The first step would be to make the cost of sending bulk mail prohibitively high. Less bulk mail would mean less postal employees, facilities, trucks, etc. The postal service could then focus on sending actual business mail and packages even if it moved slower. They could keep an express service for time-sensitive mail. Those services could become profit centers and if the post office were to subsidize anything, it could be personal mail.

As an added bonus there would be less paper junk mail, less tree farming, and less paper waste in landfills. Also there would be less carbon dioxide from mail trucks, tree farming equipment and garbage trucks. There would also be more trees to soak up carbon dioxide. I could go on ad nauseam.

(As an aside, paper and cardboard waste accounts for 36% of all trash in the United States, by far the most of any waste product -- according to this site anyway:

Of course this would mean many layoffs which postal workers wouldn't like, but if you took the operating cost of the post office over the next n years and made a decent compensation package the country would probably save bilions. Or perhaps a deal where postal workers with n years of service would get their full pension which will be paid to them at some point in the future anyway.

However, like I said if only things were so easy. I doubt a drastic measure like this could ever get support in Washington. Bulk advertisers and paper companies would be against this idea, and they probably have strong lobbying power. Congressmen from paper producing districts would surely oppose anything that would cost their constituencies jobs or profits. Who knows, maybe waste management companies have an intrest in keeping trash flowing? So maybe the quote from above is an inevitability - "there is only one direction this thing can go."


P.S. Sorry for blogging in your comments.

plntxt said...

Wow, I stand corrected on paragraph 4. I assumed that the post office depended on tax payer money. It seems that congress imposed a huge disadvantage on the post office with the Postal Accountability and Enforcement Act. I still feel that downsizing is a good idea, but the unemployment numbers would be difficult to reconcile.

Michael Leddy said...

Yes, the PAEA requirement about retirement benefits makes for a big problem.

Nichols knows that his art projects won’t do much. As he writes, “I don’t expect any of these projects to make a dent in the nearly $153 billion deficit the USPS is currently running.” Still, I like seeing people begin to appreciate anew the magic of the mail. And I’m writing letters and postcards.