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Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers..
February 6, 2013 1:20 PM   Subscribe

The United States Postal Service will stop delivering mail on Saturdays starting in August. The move is expected to save $2 billion annually, which will no doubt help fix their imaginary pension problem.

Many people may not remember mail was once delivered twice daily as late as the 1950s.
posted by entropicamericana (208 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
While I lament this move, I am still glad you will be able to receive packages and still send mail on Saturdays.
posted by Kitteh at 1:21 PM on February 6, 2013


Those sons-of-bitches that decided to break the Post Office deserve to be cockpunched.
posted by notsnot at 1:23 PM on February 6, 2013 [97 favorites]


Step one on the United States being more like Canada!

...as steps go, this was not the best choice. But yeah, packages (and I guess registered mail, but that's presumably rare) are the primary concern for Saturday - things that require signatures, and hence require someone to be home. Regular mail rarely is in such a rush.
posted by Lemurrhea at 1:24 PM on February 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wish they'd just stop delivering mail entirely. I do all my finances, bills and communications online. The only physical mail I receive is junk. Even my packages are delivered by FedEx or UPS.
posted by Afroblanco at 1:24 PM on February 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Wouldn't bother me if they shut down completely. I've lost track of how many service complaints I've had to file...
posted by blaneyphoto at 1:26 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Now I will have to wait until Monday to throw all those useless Verizon adds and Signals catalogs into the recycle bin.
posted by bondcliff at 1:26 PM on February 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


I am sad to see this, but maybe it will help preserve the USPS a little longer. If they have to choose between Saturday delivery and closing rural post offices, I'd rather lose Saturday delivery.
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:27 PM on February 6, 2013 [15 favorites]


I wish they'd just stop delivering mail entirely. I do all my finances, bills and communications online. The only physical mail I receive is junk. Even my packages are delivered by FedEx or UPS.

You've heard of the digital divide, right?
posted by pullayup at 1:28 PM on February 6, 2013 [129 favorites]


If bankers had a union we would have finance reform designed to crush them and their trade.
posted by munchingzombie at 1:28 PM on February 6, 2013 [32 favorites]


Nobody could have predicted that forcing the postal service to fund a pension for people who aren't even born yet would have financial implications...

Oh wait, that's exactly what they wanted. Gotta get rid of those federal union jobs.

There should be penalties for making a lie out of Hollywood Shuffle. There's always work at the Post Office!
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 1:29 PM on February 6, 2013 [14 favorites]


I thought they were going to stop Wednesday deliver since that's apparently the lowest mail-volume day of the week. But overall, not really the surprising.

Next the penny, then on to restructuring the US Government as a parliamentary democracy... muah HA HA HA.
posted by GuyZero at 1:29 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


95% of what I get is total shit. A good bit of the other 5% shows up late, damaged, or occasionally opened and rifled through. I understand that the USPS still has a purpose, but it's undeniable that that purpose is very limited these days. I'm fine with this.
posted by deadmessenger at 1:29 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not that broken up about Saturday delivery specifically, but I don't think the fact that I pay most of bills online makes the post office worth shutting down. There's actual value to having a way to communicate at long distance with people who don't have phones or the internet, and there's a symbolic value in having the government say that communication is important enough that it will be a public service, even if it's one you pay a bit for.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:30 PM on February 6, 2013 [27 favorites]


Blatantly reposting my retort to the USPS bashers in a previous thread:
I'm making a list of all the people here in favor of getting rid of the USPS. If we do, I'll have a drawing and the winner gets to either a) get my technophobic and set-in-her-ways elderly mother to use a computer to pay her bills (winner pays for computer and Internet access and must provide 24/7 tech support) or b) drive my mother to the nearest privatized post office to pick up their mail daily (winner pays for gas and must listen to my mother critique their driving). ENTER NOW TO WIN!
posted by entropicamericana at 1:30 PM on February 6, 2013 [119 favorites]


Wednesday or Thursday would probably have been a better idea.
posted by 2N2222 at 1:31 PM on February 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


But your mail service has always been better than ours. If anything, the changes should go the other way!

I envy you Americans for your Saturday delivery, and hope that it returns someday.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:31 PM on February 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yet another stupid fucking penny-wise-and-pound-foolish "smart business decision". Congress has willfully weighed down the Postal Service in an attempt to undermine their unionized labor base. This is another step in their slow and painful demise, no doubt. And what will we get in return? Nothing but worse value. Short-sighted and stupid, stupid, stupid.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 1:32 PM on February 6, 2013 [15 favorites]


Everyone bitching (or coming here to bitch about junk mail) go here and get yourself unregistered from any junk mailing lists. If you don't, quit complaining. Seriously. It's really freakishly simple. I did it 3 years ago, and haven't had junk mail since then. It is not hard.

As for service issues and damaged packages, etc., well, I can say that the USPS has about the same failure rate as FedEx and UPS for me. I've had brand new laptops destroyed by careless UPS delivery drivers. So it kind of goes with the territory of package delivery, it would seem.
posted by daq at 1:33 PM on February 6, 2013 [21 favorites]


I hear people complain about the Post Office, but I live in the middle of nowhere and do a lot of online shopping and much prefer it when packages are delivered USPS than FedEx or UPS. My postal worker'll even bring my Amazon or wherever packages to me at work when he misses me at home. It's great.
posted by rewil at 1:34 PM on February 6, 2013 [26 favorites]


The only physical mail I receive is junk.

They should really just boost the price for third-class mail. I mean, who would complain except for companies everyone hates?
posted by GuyZero at 1:34 PM on February 6, 2013 [44 favorites]


The USPS' cheap media mail rate is a mainstay of my existence.
posted by Zed at 1:34 PM on February 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


Even my packages are delivered by FedEx or UPS.

Well, then you're paying about triple the cost for slower delivery and drivers who are much more likely to ninja card you, going by my experiences with USPS Priority Mail vs UPS and FedEx Ground. So ... congratulations, I guess.
posted by enn at 1:35 PM on February 6, 2013 [46 favorites]


posted by entropicamericana

Yea, I'm going to go ahead and call this one Eponysterical.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:35 PM on February 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


I wish they'd just stop delivering mail entirely. I do all my finances, bills and communications online. The only physical mail I receive is junk. Even my packages are delivered by FedEx or UPS.

I THINK I HAVE FOUND A NEW PERSON TO TAKE CARE OF MY CHRISTMAS CARDS NEXT YEAR
posted by Kitteh at 1:35 PM on February 6, 2013


I will be disappointed if this happens; but since congress would have to approve the change it is not a done deal yet. Although it is used less now than in the past, the Post Office is still a pretty amazing achievement and I hate to see it screwed up by politicians who would rather spend the money on military misadventures. I also wonder how many of the anti-Post-Office conservatives who are like to go on about how various things our government does need to be stopped because they are not mentioned in the constitution realize that the Post Office is in the constitution.
posted by TedW at 1:35 PM on February 6, 2013 [13 favorites]


LobsterMittens, they've already closed and cut back hours at tons of rural post offices. Out of the 5 PO's in the county I grew up in, the hours barely make up two of them being open full time now. Same with the county I live in now, 4 post offices, and other than the main one here in my town, the others might be open a total of 6 hours a day between them.
posted by deezil at 1:36 PM on February 6, 2013


I hear people complain about the Post Office, but I live in the middle of nowhere and do a lot of online shopping and much prefer it when packages are delivered USPS than FedEx or UPS. My postal worker'll even bring my Amazon or wherever packages to me at work when he misses me at home. It's great.

This is a fact of apartment living as well. I've lived a couple places where my USPS delivery man could come inside and leave my packages in the dry, thief-free lobby of my building, but the FedEx couldn't (or didn't) and left my packages outside in the rainy, snowy, thief infested out of doors.

I think I've only had one package stolen that way, but if I had been able to have it delivered USPS instead of FedEx, it wouldn't have happened.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:37 PM on February 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


It is unseemly that the Lefties see fit to dismiss the PO because, they say, they do not need it. Alas, some of our fellow citizens do not have access to the net and computers at home etc that makes it easy to dispense with that which many have long relied upon.

Ah, I am old enough to remember mail deliveries TWICE each day, 6 days a week. Nice because if you had nothing in the morning delivery there was always the afternoon to look forward to so that perhaps someone wrote to you and you were not neglected.
ps: there are a few folks I know who distrust paying bills online and even banking online. Some people will in fact miss the 6 day a week service.
posted by Postroad at 1:38 PM on February 6, 2013 [21 favorites]


Yeah, deezil; my in-laws are in a similar position.
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:39 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, as the post office is part and parcel to the foundations of the United States, and is listed as something that the Congress is required to do in the Constitution, I hope you are all adamant anarchists living in communes and working for worker owned syndicates. Otherwise, get your myopic blinkered ideas corrected with a little functional reality.

There are so many necessary things that the USPS does, that don't always directly affect your lives, but are entirely necessary for the government to run; a) sending out taxes, b) sending out social security checks (though that is being phased out), c) certified mail (you know, something that is handled by a third party authority which marks and date and location, which is proof in court of it's existence), d) court summons and jury duty notification, e) I can go on, and I'm sure others can name more essential functions that private enterprise WILL NEVER do.

So, yeah, go ahead, wish for the USPS to go away.
posted by daq at 1:39 PM on February 6, 2013 [39 favorites]


They should really just boost the price for third-class mail. I mean, who would complain except for companies everyone hates?

The companies everyone hates have waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more money to spend on lobbying than the people who hate them. Which is the U.S. government in a nutshell, really.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:40 PM on February 6, 2013 [15 favorites]


Everyone bitching (or coming here to bitch about junk mail) go here and get yourself unregistered from any junk mailing lists. If you don't, quit complaining. Seriously. It's really freakishly simple. I did it 3 years ago, and haven't had junk mail since then. It is not hard.

I've already done that and still get a massive amount of junk mail. I had only a small amount of junk mail at the last place I lived, but here it's pretty much unbearable even though I've signed up for every sort of opt-out service I could.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:42 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, as the post office is part and parcel to the foundations of the United States, and is listed as something that the Congress is required to do in the Constitution, I hope you are all adamant anarchists living in communes and working for worker owned syndicates. Otherwise, get your myopic blinkered ideas corrected with a little functional reality.

I'm pretty sure they're a lot like this guy.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:42 PM on February 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Everyone bitching (or coming here to bitch about junk mail) go here and get yourself unregistered from any junk mailing lists.

Oh really? And will that also prevent them from sending junk mail to every goddamn person who's lived in my apartment for the last 50 years? Because that would be nice.
posted by Afroblanco at 1:42 PM on February 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


I've lost track of how many service complaints I've had to file...

Anecdotes are not data, but if we're going to have one kind in thread, I'll just say that I think I've had two instances of lost or delayed mail in my lifetime, everything else has been on time, I've generally found postal clerks competent and helpful, and I've seen instances well above and beyond the call of duty -- mail getting delivered with only a city, street name, and last name.

I've always been pretty impressed with the U.S. postal service, both as a customer and as an observer who appreciates the example it has set as a public enterprise. Even their recent troubles seem to me to be artifacts of a technological shift + an increasingly dysfunctional political process.
posted by weston at 1:43 PM on February 6, 2013 [14 favorites]


Wednesday or Thursday would probably have been a better idea.

Unless you are a business that is open during business hours.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 1:43 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Leftie here, Postroad: I fricking love the USPS and think anyone would have to be a fool to denigrate what it accomplishes on a daily basis and has accomplished throughout US history. It's part of the backbone of modern life. So naturally, some have come to take it for granted.

Oh really? And will that also prevent them from sending junk mail

The post office doesn't send junk mail. Your anger should be directed at the source of the problem. You're literally committing the "kill the messenger" fallacy.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:44 PM on February 6, 2013 [46 favorites]


UPS, FedEx, etc. already foist their less profitable delivery jobs on the USPS. And don't you think that their rates are held in check by USPS rates? What do you think will happen to rates across the board if there is no USPS to compete?
posted by Benny Andajetz at 1:44 PM on February 6, 2013 [37 favorites]


It is unseemly that the Lefties see fit to dismiss the PO because, they say, they do not need it.

Whaddyamean "the lefties"? The post-office bitching in here is HARDLY coming from "left wing" folks.

And I'm pretty left and I'm pissed that they're doing this, for precisely the reasons you point out (I don't want Fedex and UPS to be my only package options, and I'm worrying about what this will do to the length of time it takes for my rent check to get to my landlord from now on).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:44 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't pay bills online. I use the postal service regularly. I used it today. And yesterday. I won't miss Saturday delivery, I don't think the USPS has a choice. You can lament the shitbirds in Congress all you want (the shitbirds we put in there) but the fact remains that the postal service's "imaginary" pension problem is enough for these law-makers to shitcan the whole damn thing.

The cuts are necessary if the USPS is to survive at all. And it probably won't in the long run, thanks to the aforementioned shitbirds.
posted by IvoShandor at 1:45 PM on February 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


c) certified mail (you know, something that is handled by a third party authority which marks and date and location, which is proof in court of it's existence), d) court summons and jury duty notification, e) I can go on, and I'm sure others can name more essential functions that private enterprise WILL NEVER do.


I think we should just let jessamyn take care of that. Let's just add it into her job description.

Heck of a lot better than leaving it to private institutions.

/snark


Ok the joke was funnier before I realized that JoP does absentee ballots, not C or D like I originally thought. Whatevs....
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:45 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am sad to see this, but maybe it will help preserve the USPS a little longer. If they have to choose between Saturday delivery and closing rural post offices, I'd rather lose Saturday delivery.

I know you mean well, but fuck this sideways. That's not the choice. The choice is to just stop fucking with the USPS to try to break it, and to support it when and where necessary.

Republican politicians: endlessly able to break things that were working fine in an ongoing attempt to prove that government doesn't work.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:46 PM on February 6, 2013 [45 favorites]


All of this stuff is so dependent on individual carriers. At the past four addresses, I've had one amazing postal worker (in Gainesville, FL) and three terrible ones and one absolutely amazing UPS worker (here in Highland, NY) and three terrible ones. I like the mail, and I love media mail, but I don't like the fact that my postal clerks give me the third degree about whether I'm really mailing books every time I use it.

Worst postal experience: I once ordered a set of weights online. I suspected the carrier wouldn't try to deliver them, since I worked from home yet he never tried to deliver anything, anyway. But there was no way I was picking up the package because there was no parking close to the post office and I knew I couldn't carry a box that heavy myself. I asked him to redeliver them (filled out the form and all) and he tried to claim they were lost until I called and complained. The next day, I heard a huge crashing noise and went to look outside and he'd literally thrown the package at the door and there were weight plates scattered all over. Guess he wasn't happy about the heavy package. Good times.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:47 PM on February 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was re-reading "Where Wizards Stay Up Late" the other day, and ran across a few quotes that I didn't remember about the impact of email on the USPS. Although it's popular in some quarters (not so much here on Metafilter, but elsewhere) to imagine the free market just running circles around the slow behemoth of the Postal Service, which couldn't possibly keep up, there were people in the USPS who realized the value of email early on, and wanted to get into it.
Costs were heading down, and some analysts projected a “devastating” impact on the U.S. Postal Service’s first-class business. “We are being bypassed technologically,” reported an assistant U.S. postmaster general at the beginning of 1976. [...] Eventually the U.S. Justice Department, the FCC, and even the Postal Rate Commission opposed any significant government role in e-mail services
The USPS was hobbled right out of the gate.

It's interesting to imagine what would have happened in an alternate universe if the USPS had gotten into email. It might have well been a mess, full of cronyism and bad technical decisions (X.400!) and waste, but we also might have made a much cleaner paper-to-digital transition if it had been managed correctly.

There's still a lot of stuff handled on paper because it's the transmission medium of last resort; everyone can get regular mail, not everyone can get email. But a hybrid system might have allowed email to go to those with the capability to receive it, while printed versions went to those without. Or allowed for proof of delivery or electronic notary services. I could think of a dozen things that the USPS does in the physical world that are lacking, in one way or another, in the digital world, and all of them represent roles that they could have usefully filled.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:49 PM on February 6, 2013 [16 favorites]


While there's no doubt USPS is used as a political football by certain factions, folks have been getting way too hand wring-y about the death of the Post Office. Despite the cutback, being forced to shore up the pension fund may be the best guarantee if ensuring the institution's longevity.
posted by 2N2222 at 1:51 PM on February 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


IvoShandor: "the shitbirds we put in there"

I dunno. I think I'd go to the barricades for Jared Polis right now. He's good people.
posted by boo_radley at 1:52 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wednesday or Thursday would probably have been a better idea.

Unless you are a business that is open during business hours.


But it loss of Saturday service sucks worse when we get those long holiday weekends.
posted by 2N2222 at 1:53 PM on February 6, 2013


saulgoodman: You're literally committing the "kill the messenger" fallacy.

Um, no. Unless Afroblanco is way, way angrier than I think he is.
posted by AkzidenzGrotesk at 1:54 PM on February 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


I took a sociology class in the early-mid 90's, and my prof made a remark about the US being in decline. When people sputtered and objected she mentioned the above factoid about twice-daily mail delivery, and how it no longer exists. As the saying goes, Rome wasn't burned in a day.

I really don't get all the LOLgoodriddancePostOffice. Not everyone transacts all or even any of their business online.
posted by usonian at 1:54 PM on February 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


Oh really? And will that also prevent them from sending junk mail to every goddamn person who's lived in my apartment for the last 50 years? Because that would be nice.

You can kill this by filing change of address forms on their behalf (listing "Moved -- left no forwarding address"). It's worked very well for me.
posted by Zed at 1:54 PM on February 6, 2013 [14 favorites]


I think I'd go to the barricades for Jared Polis right now. He's good people.

That may be, but he's good people in a crumbling empire. Jared Polis or no, the USPS is on the way out without major, major changes.
posted by IvoShandor at 1:55 PM on February 6, 2013


The requirement that we have the USPS isn't going anywhere without a constitutional amendment.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 1:56 PM on February 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


The post office doesn't send junk mail. Your anger should be directed at the source of the problem. You're literally committing the "kill the messenger" fallacy.

GMail doesn't have anything to do with the fact that the email system lets arbitrary people send me spam, but they are smart enough to realize that if 90% of someone's inbox is spam they aren't going to be very satisfied with the user experience, so they put in place systems to reduce how much spam people get. USPS and the laws around it actively facilitate junk mail because it's a major revenue source and they don't care about the fact that it's a major annoyance for most people. The end result of their decisions is that there's literally no other information or communication system I use regularly that has a lower signal to noise ratio.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:56 PM on February 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Reason #47 why I like MetaFilter: Compared to many of you people, I'm not a curmudgeon!
posted by benito.strauss at 1:57 PM on February 6, 2013 [14 favorites]


No system, public or private, no matter how perfect, will ever change the fact that some people are incompetent/assholes.

"shore up the pensions" is not a remotely honest or fair characterization of making it a legal requirement that the USPS must advance fund its pension system for anticipated employees who haven't even been born yet 75 years into the future in only ten years.

Um, no. Unless Afroblanco is way, way angrier than I think he is.

Fair point. Half-literally anyway. He's doing whatever he's doing to the messengers.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:58 PM on February 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Simple solution: two deliveries to each residential address per week, and each deliverer has 3 zones: M-Th, T-F, W-S. A separate delivery/pickup system to service businesses, M-F.
posted by Ardiril at 2:01 PM on February 6, 2013


As someone whose side-business relies very heavily on the low price and efficient service of the USPS, while I'd like to say something really nasty to the folk here who are saying 'good riddance' to the USPS because they pay bills online and hate junk mail, let me offer this instead:

Standing neutral and/or cheering for the defunding and dismantling of a public service crippled by private interests because said public service doesn't affect you personally is the same sense of shortsightedness responsible for virtually everything we tend to hate around here.

Please, consider what you're really saying.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 2:01 PM on February 6, 2013 [63 favorites]


The requirement that we have the USPS isn't going anywhere without a constitutional amendment.

Read that again.

Congress has the power to establish a post office. It's not explicitly required.
posted by IvoShandor at 2:01 PM on February 6, 2013


Yeah, when I suggested that the USPS stop delivering mail entirely, I was being PERFECTLY SERIOUS.

(although really, now that I think about it, it'd be nice if they just let you opt out of USPS mail entirely. i'm fine to keep paying for it with my tax dollars, i just don't want any more of the 'benefit')
posted by Afroblanco at 2:01 PM on February 6, 2013


They should really just boost the price for third-class mail. I mean, who would complain except for companies everyone hates?

This comes up a lot in discussions about the mail, but it's all the junk / bulk-rate / third class mail that subsidizes your ability to send a First Class Letter to the other side of the country for 45c. Not the other way around.

The USPS sets the rate for bulk mail at what they think is going to be the revenue-maximizing point, and then uses that revenue to provide services that it is obligated to provide but are not profitable.

If the USPS were run like a business based purely on what was profitable, they'd charge far more for First Class Letter service (probably close to what FedEx/UPS charge for a 2nd Day Air document shipment) and might actually charge less for presorted junk mail. They'd literally do nothing but junk mail, because that's where the money is (although it's going away, but more slowly than the FCM volume).
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:02 PM on February 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


Congress has the power to establish a post office. It's not explicitly required.

No, but nobody else can establish a post office, so unless that's changed...
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 2:03 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


No, but nobody else can establish a post office, so unless that's changed...

I think you're missing the point. Nothing says Congress has to establish the USPS. It could be Queen Isabella delivering the mail, if Congress says Queen Isabella is the post office, then Queen Isabella is the post office.
posted by IvoShandor at 2:06 PM on February 6, 2013


I took a sociology class in the early-mid 90's, and my prof made a remark about the US being in decline. When people sputtered and objected she mentioned the above factoid about twice-daily mail delivery, and how it no longer exists. As the saying goes, Rome wasn't burned in a day.

I think the prof may have simply been off mark, if his cite was the demise of twice-a-day service, which would seem ridiculous in the age of all this electronical mail the kids are sending. In this case, Rome wan't burned in a day. It was replaced by something cheaper, easier, and faster.
posted by 2N2222 at 2:06 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm just not feeling that hot under the collar about this. I don't think I'm pro or anti USPS either. I just don't see that ending Saturday delivery will disenfranchise people badly and it seems like a reasonable cost saving measure.
posted by dgran at 2:06 PM on February 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


and by Queen Isabella I mean FedEx
posted by IvoShandor at 2:07 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


If the USPS were run like a business based purely on what was profitable, they'd charge far more for First Class Letter service (probably close to what FedEx/UPS charge for a 2nd Day Air document shipment) and might actually charge less for presorted junk mail. They'd literally do nothing but junk mail, because that's where the money is (although it's going away, but more slowly than the FCM volume).

This is about right. USPS is for a whole lot of folks, a crap delivery service, the volume of which allows reasonably cheap delivery of stuff you actually want. Even for potential competitors like Fedex.
posted by 2N2222 at 2:08 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


But my Netflix!
posted by ckape at 2:08 PM on February 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm not so bothered by Saturday delivery going away. When I moved to the US from Canada I found it really weird and still haven't quite gotten used to it. What I wish they would do is actually run real post offices (not just "lobby machines") with a real person during accessible hours - until 7 or 8 pm on weeknights and full Saturdays and Sundays. Like a real service organization! I never use them because I can rarely get to one during the day and the ones that are open for their half-day on Saturday are not that conveniently located. I think that - and maybe putting them in actual useful places with other shopping (say grocery stores or drugstores) would make people use them more.
posted by marylynn at 2:10 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


The only physical mail I receive is junk. Even my packages are delivered by FedEx or UPS

FedEx is more of a partner to USPS than a competitor. In fact, USPS flies over half of FedEx's express mail. These services work together, not apart.
posted by mochapickle at 2:11 PM on February 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


"shore up the pensions" is not a remotely honest or fair characterization of making it a legal requirement that the USPS must advance fund its pension system for anticipated employees who haven't even been born yet 75 years into the future in only ten years.

Honest or not, that's the effect.
posted by 2N2222 at 2:11 PM on February 6, 2013


"your ability to send a First Class Letter to the other side of the country for 45c"

Forty five cents!!! In my country a stamp is currently sixty-three cents, and it's $1.10 to send a letter to the States. And that's just for now. Last year they stopped printing prices on the stamps, because the amounts were expected to continuously increase. So these days you go to the post office, tell them how many stamps you want, and they tell you how much money to fork over. You just have to take their word for it.

Your USPS sounds like a wonderful organization to me. Maybe the fact that it has stayed the same for so long obscures just how bad things could be.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:11 PM on February 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


i'm fine to keep paying for it with my tax dollars, i just don't want any more of the 'benefit')

You don't pay for it with your tax dollars right now. Because it's required to be self-funding, the USPS has to provide what are basically anti-features to most people: dumping loads of junk mail on their doorsteps every morning. That's how they pay for the rest of the system.

If the mail system were tax funded, then the need for junk mail could be eliminated; we could pick and choose what services were actually useful to the majority of citizens, and just do those even if they're not profitable.

However, that's not how things currently work, and I'm not sure I'd trust Congress to pick the right services anyway (given the lobbying that would happen, we'd probably end up with nothing but Wal-Mart flyers delivered twice a day or something). Under the current funding structure, allowing recipients to opt out of bulk mail delivery, or mail delivery completely, would undermine the USPS's funding stream by making bulk mail less useful to the companies who actually pay for it, and thus pay for the mail system generally.

It sucks, but you can think of taking that junk mail and dropping it in the recycling bin as the equivalent of paying your taxes to keep the USPS running.

Hell of a way to run a country.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:12 PM on February 6, 2013 [18 favorites]


I guess I have to send all my messages via the clacks now?
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 2:12 PM on February 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


i'm fine to keep paying for it with my tax dollars,

The Post Office gets no money from taxes. (What Kadin said).

And I heard that the huge discounts the PO gives to junk mailers are mandated by Congress - at least it was that way at one time. If the PO could charge full price for junk mail, that would reduce junk mail and solve many of their financial problems.
posted by tommyD at 2:15 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Forty five cents!!!

It's actually 46c now. My bad.

posted by Kadin2048 at 2:16 PM on February 6, 2013


Postal Bank: give everyone an account, $500 interest-free credit and put all of those PO locations to good use, put the check cashing/payday loan people out of business and stimulate the economy.

but it doesn't really matter. Reagan killed this country 30 years ago and the corpse is just beginning to smell bad.
posted by ennui.bz at 2:16 PM on February 6, 2013 [15 favorites]


USPS delivered mail on the weekend?! WHAT MADNESS IS THIS?

I realize it's coming to an end now but, for once, I am envious of Americans.
posted by asnider at 2:17 PM on February 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


IF Fedex or UPS were designated by Congress as the "new USPS", they'd then be bound by the laws that govern the USPS. Then Fedex would have to have their pension fund paid off until 2085, just like the USPS does, and they would have to deliver mail to every address in every county of every state at the same rate, set forth by the Postmaster General. Sorry, kids, unless you go through and get rid of several hundred laws which govern how the post office is run, there is no private enterprise that will replace it.

In this case, Rome wan't burned in a day. It was replaced by something cheaper, easier, and faster.

So you want to watch the world burn, then?
Sorry, that was probably a cheap shot.

And honestly, if USPS had grabbed the bull by the horns as early as 1976 on the whole electronic mail thing, I imagine the amount of SPAM you get would be significantly reduced and spammers would face actual jail time for mail fraud, since, you know, there are federal laws about messing with the post office and their deliveries. I imagine it would have taken a while longer to roll out, but imagine if someone had had the foresight to build out the infrastructure so that every home have a USPS electronic mail delivery system installed in their dwellings, with the wiring done like how phone lines were paid for (you know, bonds and taxes, before the split up of Ma Bell) and it was this whole huge networked infrastructure of e-mail delivery in the 1980's, before the internet and the world wide web. This huge, vast network with protocols and methods for controlling the flow of electronic communications, run by an appointed federal agency. Most of us would have just grown up with it. It would be like any other utility connected to your house. George Orwell would have done a spit-take from his typewriter.
posted by daq at 2:19 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


For the record, I have no issue with the USPS. I've not lost packages or mail, nor had anything arrive late or even broken, even when we mail out packages at xmas time. I value their service. And, even though I do some things online, I do still rely on the mail for many things.

The USPS is mandated by Congress to be revenue neutral. They aren't allowed to make a profit. Which is, in part, why it's an ordeal to get said Congress to allow USPS to bump-up rates realistically. As it is, the postage fees don't come anywhere near covering the actual costs.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:20 PM on February 6, 2013


USPS delivered mail on the weekend?! WHAT MADNESS IS THIS?

In December, two days before Christmas, I actually got a package delivered by USPS on Sunday. It was totally mystifying until I realized that the carrier had probably not gotten through his Saturday route due to the holiday mail volume, and had finished it up on Sunday.
posted by enn at 2:20 PM on February 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


My dogs are going to be insufferably smug when they hear about this. They've been making that asshole go away 6 days a week for their entire lives, and now they've won. It's only a battle, it's not the war, but now they will know for sure that if they just claw and snap and foam at the window like the single most mortifying thing on earth for long enough, eventually there will be no mail delivery at all.

One day the streets will run brown with the shredded garments of the UPS person, too.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:23 PM on February 6, 2013 [18 favorites]


There used to be Sunday delivery (1, 2) in the US, which was phased out in 1912 under pressure from labor leaders as well as religious figures who thought that "forcing" people to work on the Sabbath was immoral.

Belgium also used to have Sunday delivery, albeit with a (very typically Belgian) compromise between the anti-clerical Liberals and the devout Catholics who were at one another's throats in Belgian politics around the turn of the 20th century. Stamps came with a little detachable part that said "Do Not Mail on Sundays," which Catholics could leave on to forbid the letter from being sent on Sundays (thereby not creating work for the Sabbath) while anti-clericals could rip it off so the godless heathens could sent and receive mail 7x/week.

Having lived in Belgium on two separate occasions, I can assure you that, today, you will be lucky if it operates 5 days a week (it often runs 3 or 4), let alone 6 or 7.
posted by dhens at 2:24 PM on February 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


Regarding other organizations doing the work of the USPS, the federal government does not care for private residential mail service.
posted by dhens at 2:25 PM on February 6, 2013


And honestly, if USPS had grabbed the bull by the horns as early as 1976 on the whole electronic mail thing, I imagine the amount of SPAM you get would be significantly reduced and spammers would face actual jail time for mail fraud, since, you know, there are federal laws about messing with the post office and their deliveries. I imagine it would have taken a while longer to roll out, but imagine if someone had had the foresight to build out the infrastructure so that every home have a USPS electronic mail delivery system installed in their dwellings, with the wiring done like how phone lines were paid for (you know, bonds and taxes, before the split up of Ma Bell) and it was this whole huge networked infrastructure of e-mail delivery in the 1980's, before the internet and the world wide web. This huge, vast network with protocols and methods for controlling the flow of electronic communications, run by an appointed federal agency. Most of us would have just grown up with it. It would be like any other utility connected to your house. George Orwell would have done a spit-take from his typewriter.

It would probably have looked like Minitel or Prestel.
posted by theodolite at 2:25 PM on February 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


The republicans would like nothing better than to slowly strangle the USPS, like they did to Amtrak. For 46 cents, you can mail a letter from anywhere in the US to places in Alaska that have to have their mail delivered by a seaplane. I'd like to see how far FedEx would carry a letter at that price.
posted by double block and bleed at 2:29 PM on February 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


I live in the middle of nowhere and do a lot of online shopping and much prefer it when packages are delivered USPS than FedEx or UPS

With you there (and I don't live quite in the middle of nowhere). I like that if I'm not home when I get a package that's sent via USPS, they put a nice slip in my mailbox, I can go to my little post office down the street, and there's the package. UPS leaves a little slip on the door and says they'll try to redeliver, but a fat lot of good that does when they only deliver on weekdays and I WORK on weekdays (and my workplace doesn't allow personal package delivery to employees). Then UPS'll inevitably send it to their facility that's 45 minutes away from me, in a direction I NEVER go.

My family and I are all embarrassingly excited about mail delivery even if it is mostly junk, and we'll miss being able to actually get it on the spot when we're home on Saturdays, but I'm glad that they preserved Saturday package delivery at least.
posted by dlugoczaj at 2:30 PM on February 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


For the people talking about only getting packages via UPS and FedEx, I hope you realize that UPS is an evil company.

UPS monitors everything their drivers do every day, from how many times they open the door to how many times they step on the brakes, and when their workers go out on Disability (as they inevitably do, since package delivery is a physically demanding job), they find a way to fire their workers for cutting corners. The thing is, it's impossible to follow all the procedures UPS requires and also make the daily delivery numbers UPS also requires.

Yeah, the drivers are paid (relatively) well, but in the same way that football players are paid well - for high performance and the bad knees they are surely developing as they step into and out of the car 200 times a day.

Anyway, UPS is evil.
posted by subdee at 2:31 PM on February 6, 2013 [14 favorites]


It's actually 46c now. My bad.

I was co-hosting a trivia night a couple of weeks ago and one of the questions was, "I bought a stamp today. How much did it cost?" The room was full of twenty/thirtysomethings of the type who get very, very competitive about bar trivia, and I don't think a single one of them got it right.
posted by Copronymus at 2:32 PM on February 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


I love the USPS - they let me send the books I publish to pretty much anywhere in the US for $2.89. Sure it takes two weeks to get there, but it also doesn't reduce my profit to zero like every other delivery method.
posted by joannemerriam at 2:32 PM on February 6, 2013


UPS leaves a little slip on the door and says they'll try to redeliver...

Sometimes.
Most of the time, at least in my neck of the woods, both UPS and FedEx will simply toss the package against the front door and leave.

The room was full of twenty/thirtysomethings of the type who get very, very competitive about bar trivia, and I don't think a single one of them got it right.

And yet, I would wager whatever offices they work at send out bushels of business mail every month. I bet the accountant and/or the mail room guy knows what postage is.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:35 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Anyways, I was being arch upthread, but junk mail is a real actual problem that degrades the usefulness of the USPS.

I get a RIDICULOUS amount of junk mail. In my mailbox, junkmail outnumbers non-junkmail by a ratio of 20:1 -- most of it addressed to previous tenants or "Occupant". I've accidentally tossed out non-junkmail on a number of occasions because it was mixed in with a load of junk mail. (the worst are those fucking Red Plum newsprint circulars, because envelopes are always getting tucked between the pages) It's at a point now where I'll do everything I can to avoid getting actual mail. If there's a paperless option, I take it. And if it's something that absolutely MUST be sent by mail, I'll try to get an idea of when it will arrive so I can make sure it doesn't get thrown out.

That's aside from the fact that real actual trees are used to print this shit. I mean, junk mail is the very definition of waste. And don't even get me started on the fucking Yellow Pages.

Perhaps people would be more sympathetic to the plight of the USPS if it wasn't such an effective means for corporations to litter in our mailboxes.
posted by Afroblanco at 2:35 PM on February 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


The strange literary world I inhabit must be about eleven degrees off from the rest of the universe, because I never have trouble with my mail, the post office, or the concept of mail. Junk mail goes into a bag and is taken to West Virginia to help light the woodstove. I could do without the sudden rush of AARP promos, which are making me feel about ten years older, but I dunno. I hear about people having horrible problems with mail, but maybe it's just different out there.

So far, I occasionally have quizzical looks from mail carriers because of all my pen pal letters from all around the world, the odd strangely shaped piece of mail art I receive, and once in a while, I'll get a hysterical screaming call from the sorting office that's two blocks down my street.

"AAAAUUUGH!"

"Pardon?"

"BEEEEES! BEEES! BEES are everywhere!"

"May I ask who's calling?"

"This is Ms. MillaaaaAAAUGH BEEES!"

"Pardon?"

"This is the post office, Mr. Wall, and your bees have arrived and AAAAUGH THEY'RE IN MY HAIR GET 'EM OFF and some appear to have escaped!"

"I'll be right down."

It's not their fault, alas. I live in a small town that went all upright and stern and banned livestock back when that sort of thing was how you'd make your town more upright and stern, so they're not used to farm town deliveries, like bees and live quail. I walked briskly to the sorting office, just behind the regular post office, where a woman in blue was darting around the loading dock in a sort of Tippi Hedren dance.

"Hi, I'm Joe Wall," I said, and she raced by, pointing.

"They're up there, on the rack!"

I stepped up and picked up the screened boxes, carefully inspected them, and sighed in relief.

"Oh, good, none of them got out. These loose ones are just local opportunists."

"Local what?"

"Local bees that pick up on the pheremones from the queens. They—"

"—Would you mind just taking them, Mr. Wall?"

"Of course. Thank you, ma'am, and have a nice day!"

Every once in a while, I'll get a new person at the counter, too, who will take issue with my particular need for traditional, rather than sticker-type, stamps. I just don't like sticker-stamps, which look cheap on an elegant envelope. Occasionally, a bit of foreign accent will add to the fun.

"What kind of stamps do you want, sir?"

"The old kind. You know—the licky ones, not the stickers."

"Why you want those? Do you like to leeeeek things?"

"Well, stamps, mostly. Umm, and—well, never mind. Do you have them?"

"I theenk so. The leeeeky kind. Yes, here are some."

Maybe it's all just me.
posted by sonascope at 2:36 PM on February 6, 2013 [36 favorites]


Dang it. This means The Economist won't be in my mailbox until Mondays.
posted by stowaway at 2:40 PM on February 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I recently sold an item on eBay to someone in Wales. I sent it by USPS First Class International, and it got there in about a week for about $14. If I had to send it UPS or FedEx, it might still have taken a week, but would have cost over $40. It did lose tracking* after it left the US, and became Royal Mail, but that was the only disadvantage (would could have been mitigated I think by sending Priority, but of course that costs as much as UPS or FedEx).

In fact, I've been sending and receiving a lot of packages lately (and I'm not the only one -- package delivery is up 14% from 2010), and I've found USPS to be way more consumer friendly than UPS or FedEx. When I sell something on eBay, I can print out a packing label on a regular piece of paper, tape it to the box, and hand it to my regular mail carrier on her normal route (and I pay less than if I took it to the PO). If I do have to go to the post office (and this is consistent over about three states), I may have a line, but it's pretty efficiently gotten through, and the PO is relatively close. If I'm not home for UPS (or they just don't feel like delivering it), I have to schlep to Industrial Road B and wait in line with the other poor schmoes for the one guy on duty to get my package. As far as sending mail, Priority Mail almost always gets there faster than UPS or FedEx Ground.

As for "shoring up" the pensions. "Shoring up" would mean forcing USPS to show that they have enough for current employees and forcing them to set aside $X for each new hire. Forcing them to pay the entire pension history of people who won't even be hired for 75 years, and forcing them to do so in 10 years, is a blatant attempt to either break the union or destroy USPS entirely. Unfortunately, this was a bipartisan move. I know why the Republicans would want to destroy USPS. I can only imagine the Democrats just hate junk mail that much. But they'll get their way. USPS will be destroyed, and we'll all be worse off for it.

*And USPS tracking is now on par with UPS or FedEx. In fact, they've recently changed the name of their Delivery Confirmation to USPS Tracking, or something like that, and made it free for Priority Mail.
posted by dirigibleman at 2:40 PM on February 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


Amusingly, I discovered something while engaged in a dispute with my credit union over their online bill-pay system: a significant majority of the bills I used to pay that way just resulted in their third-party vendor printing a paper check and putting it into the US mail.
posted by CHoldredge at 2:41 PM on February 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


This news reminded me to go look up John Ralston Saul and Voltaire's Bastards which was a wonderful book when I was 16 years old but am sure I will never pick it up again. Amazingly it is still in print. One argument I recall from that book was he wanted a lot more and faster mail delivery--at least twice a day.
posted by bukvich at 2:41 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Kadin2048: "This comes up a lot in discussions about the mail, but it's all the junk / bulk-rate / third class mail that subsidizes your ability to send a First Class Letter to the other side of the country for 45c. Not the other way around."

THIS. This gets overlooked in every one of these discussions.

The cost of sending a semi trailer to every town in the US, and a letter carrier to every doorstep is immense, and it needs to be done as long as the amount of mail being delivered is not zero. That's what your stamps are really paying for. (Emphasis on *every* doorstep, because there are some pretty remote places in the US -- it's amazing that the USPS manages to do what it does)

The marginal costs of adding some extra junk mail to fill up the extra space at the back of the truck are quite small. This is why third-class mail and other junk are so cheap to send. USPS competitively prices these services to generate the volume that will produce the greatest profit for them. Also, the businesses presumably benefit from the cheap advertising, which makes the entire operation good for the economy.

subdee: "UPS monitors everything their drivers do every day, from how many times they open the door to how many times they step on the brakes"

I worked for UPS. Yes, it is true that they track the trucks with GPS, but they did not do any of the other things that you say they do when I worked there 3 years ago (as if a company that's as cheap as UPS would pay for all those sensors!). UPS drivers are also backed by a very strong union, which further minimizes the amount of shenanigans that the management are allowed to pull. The company is run by data addicts, so you probably will get a call from your boss if you're running through more fuel or brake pads than normal, but the union would raise hell if you got fired for using too much gas. I wouldn't say that they were a great company to work for, but there are plenty of other reasons for that.
posted by schmod at 2:44 PM on February 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


One argument I recall from that book was he wanted a lot more and faster mail delivery--at least twice a day.

Some places had that, especially in big cities. People would send out mail in the morning to invite people over for dinner that evening. Also, in many European cities (I don't know if this was the case in the US), you could just write the street address and "in town" (in the local language) for deliveries in the same city.
posted by dhens at 2:44 PM on February 6, 2013


Having used postal services for mailing both letters and packages in a number of countries (US, Canada, Hong Kong, several European countries), I am more impressed with the USPS than ever. The USPS rates are cheaper than pretty much anything else going for private letters and packages; there are tracking, certified, and insured/uninsured options in all different combinations; and the USPS is fast. Seriously, it takes a couple days for a letter to get across the entire continent from coast to coast in the US, to or from rural Maine; it takes 2-3 weeks for a simple letter to get from the US/Canadian border to even the major city, Halifax, in Nova Scotia.

I really noticed the lack of Saturday delivery when I moved to Canada. It really makes a difference when you work full days every week day. The USPS still has home delivery on rural routes, too (at least in the Northeast). You can mail a letter by leaving it in your mail box with the flag up. You can't do that in Canada. In Canada, almost everywhere in the maritimes at least, you have to go inside a commercial store to a counter in the back to use any of the mail services, because the Canadian Postal Service contracts with a few for-profit companies for shared space and counter staff. For someone used to public services being public, not public-private partnerships, this is jarring. Let alone all the political arguments against public-private partnerships. The USPS is still independent, with relatively good working conditions due in large part to having a unionized workforce. Do you know what Harper did to the Canadian postal workers' union? Health care, gay marriage - these are areas in which the US should emulate Canada. Not the postal service.

But that I use and like the USPS, or that you do not make use of the USPS, these are no reason to allow what is actually a well-run, self-funding public organization to be attacked and made to provide worse service merely so that some Republicans can make a political point. There's a broader principle at stake here.
posted by eviemath at 2:46 PM on February 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


Small branch offices? Located in every community? Good inter-connected communication system? Already local centers of commerce/exchange, handling money, credit, debit, checks, etc.?

Can't have that, now can we, someone might start thinking of a Postal Savings System(PDF).

Saving the Post Office and Postal Banking : The Models of Kiwibank and Japan Post
A Timely Idea to Save the Post Office: Bring Back Postal Banking Services
Postal Banking to the Rescue of the US Postal Service
How to Save the Postal Service
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:47 PM on February 6, 2013 [12 favorites]


In my mailbox, junkmail outnumbers non-junkmail by a ratio of 20:1 -- most of it addressed to previous tenants or "Occupant".

Heh, living in apartments, I have to fill out forms that say that I live there and put them in the mailbox, so the USPS no longer delivers mail meant for previous occupants. Once, when I neglected to do this, I lost several days' worth of mail.

Yet, despite the fact that I only listed my name on the form, I get mail for "Occupant," "Postal Customer," "Smart Shopper," etc. Sigh.
posted by dhens at 2:49 PM on February 6, 2013


Everyone bitching (or coming here to bitch about junk mail) go here and get yourself unregistered from any junk mailing lists. If you don't, quit complaining. Seriously. It's really freakishly simple. I did it 3 years ago, and haven't had junk mail since then. It is not hard.

My wife and I have our mail delivered to a PO box. We have never given anyone our actual street address and have never had anything delivered here. Only our landlord even knows what our street address is. And you know what? We get just as much junk mail as anyone else. Buckets of it, wads of it, so much junk that it ends up sticking out of the little slot by our door, just packed in there. It's addressed to Occupant, to Resident, to six other people who have presumably lived in this apartment at various times throughout history, but never to us.

I would happily pay fedex or UPS rates for first class mail if that meant the USPS would drop its junk mail service.

This I will say in favor of the USPS: their delivery failure rate is just as high as any of the other carriers, but all I have to do is walk a few blocks to the neighborhood post office and wait half an hour for one of the surly, inattentive, inefficient employees to notice me, carefully read the little tag over, and go rummage around in the back for my package. But then it's done, and I have my package.

This is FAR BETTER than when UPS or Fedex fails to deliver a package. Their employees are sharp and professional, but I have to drive down to some godforsaken warehouse out in the ass end of nowhere before I can get their attention. Last time my wife had something sent via FedEx, they told her to pick it up from a distribution center TWENTY-FIVE MILES AWAY. She probably spent as much money driving there and back as the shipping cost in the first place.

If bankers had a union we would have finance reform designed to crush them and their trade.

Well, now, isn't that a brilliant idea. Somebody should start a bankers' union! Anybody know a banker? Can we start a bank with no assets for the sole purpose of unionizing its volunteer employees, who can thereby hold a protest, thereby triggering instant punitive regulations on the banker industry from the Republicans in Congress?
posted by Mars Saxman at 2:56 PM on February 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


Just to clarify since there seems to be some confusion above...

If you want to keep the post office as is you are conservative on this topic.
If you want to get rid of it you are liberal on this topic.

The later is also the more environment friendly view too.

Can someone comp the cost of 300 million iPhones vs. One year of post office operation?
Could the savings over time be used to provide free package delivery?
posted by astrobiophysican at 2:58 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh! Oh! And you can get boxes for free delivered to your home for Priority and Express Mail (including international). It does take a while, though (like 10 days).

I get a RIDICULOUS amount of junk mail. In my mailbox, junkmail outnumbers non-junkmail by a ratio of 20:1

RETURN TO SENDER: NO SUCH PERSON AT THIS ADDRESS

That always stopped mail addressed to previous tennants for me. I do, of course, still get junk, but nothing like 20:1.
posted by dirigibleman at 3:01 PM on February 6, 2013


And the Yellow Pages doesn't come via the mail.
posted by dirigibleman at 3:02 PM on February 6, 2013


RETURN TO SENDER: NO SUCH PERSON AT THIS ADDRESS

You think I haven't tried that?

I do, of course, still get junk, but nothing like 20:1.

Remember, not only do I get a ton of junkmail, I also get very little non-junk mail. Thus the 20:1. I always go for paperless option -- not only is it more convenient, it's environmentally friendly.

And the Yellow Pages doesn't come via the mail.

Point, missed.
posted by Afroblanco at 3:03 PM on February 6, 2013


wheres my horses? These auto-mobile contraptions are confusing to me and my old sensibilities!
posted by Shit Parade at 3:04 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's a shame the USPS were forbidden from pursuing so many modern opportunities. At this point, I'd far rather hire a webmail account from the post office than get one from Google by trading away endless personal information. I have no doubt that the government can get just as much data from Google as they like. I very much doubt that the opposite would have been true.

Come to think of it, your local postal clerk handles various levels of identity verification all day, too. It will never happen, but what a perfect root signer they would be for a public-key cryptosystem for email privacy. It's also hard to imagine they would have done much worse with SSL/TLS than the original root CA's.
posted by CHoldredge at 3:07 PM on February 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Forcing them to pay the entire pension history of people who won't even be hired for 75 years, and forcing them to do so in 10 years, is a blatant attempt to either break the union or destroy USPS entirely. Unfortunately, this was a bipartisan move. I know why the Republicans would want to destroy USPS. I can only imagine the Democrats just hate junk mail that much.

It wasn't a bipartisan move. The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 (PAEA) was passed by a lame duck session of Congress in December 2006 and signed into law after the recess of the 109th Congress by President George W. Bush. It was passed this way because the Republican Party held the majority in both the Senate and House of the outgoing Congress (as well as, obviously, holding the Presidency). The newly elected successor Congress would be controlled by the Democratic Party — the Republican Party knew they would never get PAEA through the 110th Congress.
posted by RichardP at 3:08 PM on February 6, 2013 [14 favorites]


I could pay most, if not all, of my bills online but I like mailing things. I like keeping other people in a job (even if my contribution probably doesn't affect the bottom line that much it's the least I can do).

Also, if it ever went private and FedEx had to step in and fill the hole I for one would hate the idea. The FedEx delivery van around here is a minivan, third party outfit. Only had two deliveries from them in the past year and both were misdelivered.

And complaining about junk mail is as old as "and what is it with airline food." You don't get anything cool in the mail? Then subscribe to something interesting. A magazine. A literary journal. Write letters to your future "first world complaining about having to handle a few pieces of mail a day" self.
posted by stltony at 3:08 PM on February 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


I wonder if you Americans get more junk mail than we do, because I've never had a problem with it.

"If you want to keep the post office as is you are conservative on this topic.
If you want to get rid of it you are liberal on this topic.
"

Isn't it more about whether a government chartered organization can or should be allowed to be the only one providing a service? (With the caveat that other organizations would not provide the service at the same price.) The pension problem appears to be part of a politically motivated campaign to cripple the USPS.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:08 PM on February 6, 2013


I wouldn't mind if the USPS raised the price of stamps. They come to your house, pick up a card or letter and deliver it anywhere in the USA for 46 cents.
That's a bargain.
posted by NoraCharles at 3:09 PM on February 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


The only physical mail I receive is junk. Even my packages are delivered by FedEx or UPS.

FedEx and UPS make extensive use of the USPS for last mile deliveries. So, getting rid of the USPS because you use private carriers is like getting rid of all the city public transportation because the airlines can already fly us everywhere we would want to go anyways.
posted by FJT at 3:25 PM on February 6, 2013 [15 favorites]


And the Yellow Pages doesn't come via the mail.

Point, missed.


Then what was your point?

At any rate, the Yellow Pages example does show that junk mail won't go away with the Post Office. It'll just turn into door hangers and other crap piled up near our doors (or FedEx / UPS will pick up the slack).
posted by dirigibleman at 3:28 PM on February 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you want to keep the post office as is you are conservative on this topic.

A functioning postal service with low prices and robust privacy protection laws is an essential public good.

It is even more important for poor, rural/less-connected, and poorly-educated people than it is for well-off, well-connected, well-educated people. The fact that high-volume Mefi users do not rely on the postal service for important information transfer needs does not tell us a lot.

Privatizing that service and introducing profit-taking and other motivations other than serving the public good is a bad thing.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:29 PM on February 6, 2013 [19 favorites]


I was co-hosting a trivia night a couple of weeks ago and one of the questions was, "I bought a stamp today. How much did it cost?" The room was full of twenty/thirtysomethings of the type who get very, very competitive about bar trivia, and I don't think a single one of them got it right.

This was a trivia question at the pub trivia I attend a few weeks ago! (And I think we got it wrong too.)
posted by naoko at 3:30 PM on February 6, 2013


Ditto for libraries, public schools, etc.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:30 PM on February 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


certified mail (you know, something that is handled by a third party authority which marks and date and location, which is proof in court of it's existence)

The only reason we know that Santa Claus exists is because of the USPS.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 3:33 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


@eviemath, I didn't say UPS fired drivers for using too much gas, I said they fired drivers for cutting corners and not following procedures - checking the "attempted return delivery" box without actually attempting return delivery, for instance. And I claimed that the drivers are cutting corners because there is no other way to make target numbers, which are already optimized but which are supposed to "improve" all the time. I also claimed that they don't fire everyone who cuts corners, but only the people who are out on disability, costing the company money.

I heard all this stuff from a union representative, including the stuff about sensors on the doors and brakes. I believed it when I was told it, but possibly I was wrong, or they were talking about GPS monitoring and I misunderstood. I'm going to stand by my assertions about unrealistic delivery goals and UPS overlooking corner-cutting until their workers are out on disability, though.
posted by subdee at 3:37 PM on February 6, 2013


high-volume Mefi users

But what about the Distinguished Gentleman From South Carolina?
posted by Afroblanco at 3:37 PM on February 6, 2013


And complaining about junk mail is as old as "and what is it with airline food." You don't get anything cool in the mail? Then subscribe to something interesting. A magazine. A literary journal. Write letters to your future "first world complaining about having to handle a few pieces of mail a day" self.

I don't want interesting mail, I don't want junk mail, I don't want fucking mail full stop. In Australia, I delivered junk mail as a kid. What you do there is put up a little sticker saying 'No Junk Mail' on your mailbox, or if you're in a hurry or cheap, you write it on in marker. Then nobody delivers you junk mail because it's a civilised country. You can even put on 'No unaddressed mail except $LocalCommunistPaper' and that's what you'll get. I was flabbergasted when the Post Office in Seattle told me there was no way I could stop getting seven copies of Crate and Fucking Barrel catalogues addressed to seven different people 'or current occupant', two copies of JJ's Gun Store catalogue, and various numbers of Stupid Bloody Store #346 etc, except by calling each damn store individually.

On the bright side, at least one of the stupid companies allowed me to change the delivery address to their own store online just by having the details on the catalogue delivery note.
posted by jacalata at 3:37 PM on February 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


I can only imagine that a private company taking over for the USPS would NEVER use unsolicited advertising like junk mail. /hamburger
posted by stltony at 3:39 PM on February 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yeah, we have a sticker on our mailbox that indicates you can take your junk mail and stuff it somewhere else. (And it works!)

Canada, I love you.
posted by Kitteh at 3:40 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Forty five cents!!! In my country a stamp is currently sixty-three cents, and it's $1.10 to send a letter to the States.

You'll get even angrier when you realize there's no sales tax on stamps in the U.S.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 3:48 PM on February 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


What you do there is put up a little sticker saying 'No Junk Mail' on your mailbox, or if you're in a hurry or cheap, you write it on in marker.

Right, but the reason you can't do that in the US is because the USPS is prohibited from funding itself like any normal public service, and has to rely on that junk mail in order to pay for itself. So just think of dealing with the junk mail as your civic duty.

I'm sure you've realized this by now, but the United States is far from a civilized country.
posted by Kadin2048 at 3:53 PM on February 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Can someone comp the cost of 300 million iPhones vs. One year of post office operation?

When iPhones can deliver literal lifelines such as medicine and supplies to where UPS and Fedex refuse to go, or have 100% control and security over a message or package that is permissible in a court of law as evidence of receipt, then maybe you'd have some sort of point.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:58 PM on February 6, 2013 [15 favorites]


@eviemath, I didn't say UPS fired drivers for using too much gas,...

wut? Are you trying to respond to someone else's comment?
posted by eviemath at 4:01 PM on February 6, 2013


It looks like you meant to direct that at schmod, subdee?
posted by eviemath at 4:07 PM on February 6, 2013


While I lament this move, I am still glad you will be able to receive packages and still send mail on Saturdays.

Jesus, how the hell can they manage that? There is seriously magic in the postal service, and without a doubt they will still be delivering mail (Thursdays only) long into the techno-dystopian future. Just one dude on a bicycle, doing cross country deliveries on the last Amtrak train.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 4:13 PM on February 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Fuck you, anti-social conservative nutbags.

"Anti-social" is certainly the key word here.

My grandmother ran the rural PO in the settlement she lives in (around 100 people). She was the sole employee. The driver from the nearest sort facility, 50 miles up the road, would come and drop off the bags of mail. Some of my earliest memories are of "helping" my grandmother sort the mail, like I "helped" my granddad build the new post office when I was 8, a few months before he died. We moved the original PO boxes over -- the ones that look like this,

Rural Post Offices were the center of their communities. My grandmother worked the Post Office every day until she was well into her 70s. Everybody -- mostly the older and the retired -- would come by most days; not just to check the mail, but to chat and pass along local news. Or gossip.

Around 2008-9 her Post Office was closed in one of the rounds of RPO closures announced after the pension requirement came into effect. The older folks have nowhere to go, now. The general store closed a long time ago. My grandmother sits in her armchair all day and watches TV, and has developed dementia.

Republicans want, at base, to destroy any kind of human social connection that isn't mediated by commerce. It's ruining the country.
posted by junco at 4:13 PM on February 6, 2013 [31 favorites]


I shouldn't have limited that to Republicans. Most of our government regardless of party holds to the same idiot neoliberal ideology. Apologies.
posted by junco at 4:15 PM on February 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Can someone comp the cost of 300 million iPhones vs. One year of post office operation?

You're going to need quite a bit more than 300 million iPhones. What happens if mine breaks and an Apple Store is 200 miles away?

Now, if only I could send it to someone for repairs using some sort of relatively low-cost delivery service with near universal service locations...
posted by FJT at 4:15 PM on February 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


I saw a UPS guy the other day literally tossing packages from the sidewalk onto people's porches. Team USPS.
posted by sonmi at 4:19 PM on February 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


["Most of our government"/"idiot neoliberal ideology"] want, at base, to destroy any kind of human social connection that isn't mediated by commerce. It's ruining the country.

Repeated for emphasis/truth.
posted by eviemath at 4:21 PM on February 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Post Office Cuts Saturday Service
Cutting Saturday service will also anger a man named Ron Bloom, who told us, "If you degrade the network and your customers leave and you get into the death spiral, you can't have [the network] back."
Bloom is from Pittsburgh. He likens what the service is doing to the steel and car industries. "Management can just decide to give up." After years at an investment banking firm, he managed contract negotiations in both fields, including as a central go-between in the Obama administration's crucial auto bailout. The letter carriers union brought him (and his old investment bank employer) in to be their hard-nosed fighter.


Do We Really Want to Live Without the Post Office?
The postal service is not a federal agency. It does not cost taxpayers a dollar. It loses money only because Congress mandates that it do so. What it is is a miracle of high technology and human touch. It's what binds us together as a country.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:22 PM on February 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


I for one refuse to send any payment to my local cable/ISP/phone service because if I were to be a little late, they'd clean me out and then I could not pay rent. No, they get a nice envelope with a money order, filled out wthe a Scripto (tm) pen. I do not trust those bastards. No I don't.
The post office in BiH offers Internet service. They handle mail, TV tax, telephones, packages and e-mail pretty reasonably and the only complaint I had was the catastrophic cost of long distance and overseas calls.
I too remember twice daily mail delivery.
I remember when big cities had more than two major news papers. I remember when cable was considered elitist unless you lived out in the country.
/sharpens up scythe/ 'Now get off my lawn!' ت
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 4:26 PM on February 6, 2013


The republicans would like nothing better than to slowly strangle the USPS, like they did to Amtrak

By the way, both the German and the Japanese post offices have been privatized. Others are looking at it seriously. (Of course, the Japanese Post Office is a little more complicated than others)
posted by BWA at 4:28 PM on February 6, 2013


If it helps, think of the junk mail as the commercials that fund commercial TV. You can fast forward through the commercials, you can toss the junk without reading. Like it or not, junk mail is one of the biggest sources of income right now for the USPS.

The weirdest story I read this week about the PO is NOT that the Post Master General thinks he can stop delivering on Saturdays (Psst: Bernie Sanders wants a word with you) but that the US Government rarely uses the USPS
A report from the agency’s inspector general said that since 2001, private companies like FedEx and United Parcel Service had consistently captured 98 percent of the revenue from long-term shipping contracts with the government because the financially troubled Postal Service did not have a sales staff or a strategy to focus on the federal sector until 2009. The report said the Postal Service lost out on about $34 million in potential revenue over the last two years
Gee, it would be nice if our own frickin government would use the service.

Side note: About the bees. According to my husband (who works for USPS) as long as the queen bee is inside the package, any escapees will faithfully swarm outside the package. Also, sometimes shipped birds get loose in the processing plant and it is quite humorous.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:33 PM on February 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


I too lament the loss of RPOs, but really with modern sorting machines it's hard to justify railcars full of people sorting pieces of mail into cubbyholes.

Oh wait, did you mean rural? Nevermind.
posted by ckape at 4:35 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have really no complaints about the USPS, and I also do a lot of bills online. Half my taxes this year are being e-filed, half are being mailed (mainly because the other half's online method sucks...). If I pick electronic transaction over mail, I feel comfortable with it mainly because it's a bit more sustainable (just a bit, but it adds up).

I think we have to remember that even though some of the services that were better run in the past are losing their power (so to speak), they often have aspects that are mortally unsustainable in an era of high prices for transport fuel that's getting progressively harder to get, physically. In this case, our mail first gets delivered by a series of vehicles to an energy intensive processing center, which then takes the mail, assigns it to some route, which involves another series of vehicles, which after being sent through them, is officially delivered to it's target destination. I don't know the details of delivery and processing, but I can only imagine it is something like this. Lots of gas, lots of electricity, and thus an incredible amount of 'leverage' to flip the USPS on its head.

It would probably be sustainable for a long time if it was the only energy intensive process around. But people [need to/want to] drive (or take a bus/train), have shelters to run, grocery stores to goto, etc. etc.

The short story of it all: this is just another baby step towards the inevitable societal reorganization that I will likely witness a good portion of in my lifetime.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 4:41 PM on February 6, 2013


And for those of you happy to get rid of the USPS because you never, never get "real mail" anymore, I ask this: Are you ready to get rid of the Fire Station because you've never had a house burn down? Are you ready to get rid of the school system because you don't have kids? The USPS is used by millions of citizens and provides a great service uniting this vast country. Just because you don't want to send your mother a Mother's Day card doesn't mean the rest of us should give up on the institution.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:42 PM on February 6, 2013 [16 favorites]


By the way, both the German and the Japanese post offices have been privatized. Others are looking at it seriously. (Of course, the Japanese Post Office is a little more complicated than others)

By one measure, we have the best postal service in the world
The USPS, by one metric, is still the very best internationally at its most crucial task: Delivering mail.

Researchers Alberto Chong, Rafael La Porta, Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes, and Andrei Shleifer sent letters to 10 fake addresses in 159 countries. The whole idea was to test government efficiency, by seeing how long it took to return the letters to the senders.

All these countries, the researchers note, subscribe to an international postal convention (the Universal Postal Union, coordinated by the United Nations), which requires them to return letters they cannot deliver.

Not all are that great at it: Only 60 percent of the letters actually came back to the researchers. Among the countries that returned all 10 letters, the USPS was far and away the fastest to do so.

How did the USPS do so well? The researchers chalk it up to two main factors: Management and technology. Mail services with more robust databases have an easier task in returning mis-addressed labels. “If postcode database includes street names, in which case the non-existence of the street name, and therefore the incorrectness of the address, would pop out immediately as soon as the envelope is machine read,” they note.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:44 PM on February 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


Right, but the reason you can't do that in the US is because the USPS is prohibited from funding itself like any normal public service, and has to rely on that junk mail in order to pay for itself. So just think of dealing with the junk mail as your civic duty.

Australia Post does not receive government funding and is even profitable, and manages this without pissing on the doorstep of every person in the country. I see this as yet another example of the US being almost incapable of admitting that other countries may have implemented a system in a way that is better than theirs, and in the case of being forced to recognise the existence of said systems, someone will come up with some great example of how it would never work here because different!
posted by jacalata at 4:45 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is totally going to mess with birthday-card mailing grandmas everywhere.
posted by Dr. Zira at 4:45 PM on February 6, 2013


As an Alaskan, I get butt-humped by shipping costs when buying online. The shipping often costs more than the item and places with UPS and FedEX contracts often won't even ship here. UPS ground doesn't exist and they send all FedEX items to Anchorage to sit for days on end. I usually shop online at places that deliver through USPS, the only reasonable option. And I do a TON of shopping online as it is often the only option.

I also can't remember the last time I received a birthday present or Christmas gift from my family in person. When you are a $900 ticket away from all your family, the sight of a USPS flat-rate box at holiday time is a beautiful thing.

I live in the state capitol. Can you imagine the lifeline the USPS is in a smaller community, like Hoonah or Naknek?
posted by Foam Pants at 4:46 PM on February 6, 2013 [12 favorites]


I see this as yet another example of the US being almost incapable of admitting that other countries may have implemented a system in a way that is better than theirs, and in the case of being forced to recognise the existence of said systems, someone will come up with some great example of how it would never work here because different!

Except, of course, evidence shows otherwise.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:47 PM on February 6, 2013


Those links are fascinating, BWA. As is so often the case, it seems that cultural factors account for many of the differences between international postal organizations, and their respective positions within each society. Privatizing Deutsche Post appears to have released the Kraken, unfettering DHL so it can massively expand and become the largest courier company in the world. Meanwhile, Japan Post was already a giant octopus that did everything for everybody before it was privatized - and was so important to the government that they changed their minds and kept all the stock.

In my country I get the impression that Canada Post is committing slow suicide, intentionally pushing the limits of value and reducing service so people will stop using mail. Or maybe they think there will always be a captive population that can be exploited at will.

In the US, you seem to have a really nice postal service that is treated like the proverbial red headed stepchild by its "parents" in the government.
posted by Kevin Street at 4:51 PM on February 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


So, the evidence for USPS having to fund itself in this particular way instead of being more similar to other (non-tax-supported) postal systems is...
posted by jacalata at 4:51 PM on February 6, 2013


deadmessenger: "95% of what I get is total shit. A good bit of the other 5% shows up late, damaged, or occasionally opened and rifled through. I understand that the USPS still has a purpose, but it's undeniable that that purpose is very limited these days. I'm fine with this."

Funny, the worst that ever happens to my mail is that my mailperson skips a day and it comes slightly late. That and it gets bits of dead trees that I still occasionally have to send across the country for less than a twentieth the price of the least expensive private carrier. And I don't have to worry about them deciding not to deliver it after all because its destination is too far out in the boonies.

jacalata: "Australia Post does not receive government funding and is even profitable, and manages this without pissing on the doorstep of every person in the country."

And is probably not required to accept business that will lose them money. Regardless, I don't really care if the USPS makes a profit or not. It is important to me that the societal benefits we have been receiving are not lost. And yes, sometimes that means the post office will carry a few bricks across the country for a buck. I'm OK with that.
posted by wierdo at 4:59 PM on February 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Remember, not only do I get a ton of junkmail, I also get very little non-junk mail. Thus the 20:1. I always go for paperless option -- not only is it more convenient, it's environmentally friendly.

Dude, I do, too. I don't think you receive more junk mail than anyone else, you're just way more bothered by it. Funnily enough, junk mail isn't ruining my postal experience because it's not that big a deal. The fact that registered mail and packages end up at a post office a mile away from my house and not in the back of beyond industrial park that is a full hour away by bus, but naturally only 10 minutes by car. Perhaps it would be more onerous if my landlord hadn't conveniently placed a garbage bin next to the mailboxes for the sole purpose of collecting junk mail. My mail complaint is that it is a garbage bin--we could be recycling our junk mail.
posted by hoyland at 5:20 PM on February 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


jacalata: At least based on the Wikipedia article, 90% of Australia Post's pre-tax profit came from "selling products and services in competitive markets", which is to say stuff other than delivering mail (over which it, like the USPS in the United States, has a monopoly). The particular lines of business are not stated, however. If you'd like to provide more information on exactly what they're doing, I'm sure it would be interesting to know.

The USPS, by contrast, engages in very little profitable business aside from its legally carved-out mail delivery operation. Aside from selling some packaging and shipping materials at Post Offices, processing Passport applications, and selling money orders, the only things I can think of that would qualify as competitive-market operations would be Express Mail and Parcel Post. Neither of them are significant profit centers. (See p.9 in this PDF; all "shipping" services contribute 9.5% of the USPS' profitability, dwarfed by both FCM and Standard Mail.)

There would be significant -- and I'm dryly understating that, just to be clear -- opposition in the US if a "government monopoly" were to decide to enter the marketplace and compete with "private enterprise." That's just not something that is going to happen.

So I suspect that the Australian funding model is a non-starter in the US for that reason alone. Unless the USPS can find a profitable niche that doesn't put them in direct competition with existing private business, or where they can achieve a win/win with existing private business to minimize the backlash, it is basically impossible for them to expand beyond what they're currently doing.
posted by Kadin2048 at 5:24 PM on February 6, 2013


This news reminded me to go look up John Ralston Saul and Voltaire's Bastards which was a wonderful book when I was 16 years old but am sure I will never pick it up again.

It is still a wonderful book.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:30 PM on February 6, 2013


I wonder if the collectable stamp market is saturated or if they could expand that niche. I got to thinking about stamps today because my local news was filled with anti-USPS comments and "helpful" ideas for the PO like "Get rid of designing new stamps. I'm sure it cost them a bunch of money and they should just have one stamp." I never bother commenting-- it is about 9-1 FOXNews watchers to sane people-- but if I did comment it would be to point out that tens of thousands of people buy stamps and never use them because they collect them.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:33 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


If bankers had a union we would have finance reform designed to crush them and their trade.

i don't think so - they DO have a union

it's called congress
posted by pyramid termite at 5:38 PM on February 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


I can and do pay all of my bills online. I do through my bank's bill pay system. I can always pay any bill to any company and even people. I have all the control, I can set most things up to get paid automatically even if amounts change. I love it so very much.

It works because when my bank can't complete the transaction electronically, they mail a check via USPS.
posted by VTX at 5:44 PM on February 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also, OP, you missed a golden opportunity with the title: "Glom Of Nit."

Don't ask about the Big Green Things With Teeth.

"BIGGER. GREENER. MORE TEETH."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:07 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I try to avoid the post office. It's a lost cause. The last time I mailed a package I had to wait 20 minutes on line while the agent hassled a harried young mom with 2 little kids because she had used a box with "advertising" on it ... A diaper box. She had to cover or cross out all the logos or rebox the shipment. She was near tears as her kids ran wild around the post office. It was so cruel. Stupid. Gratuitous. Abusive.

Then it was my turn, with the other even slower and more surly agent, who had been pointedly ignoring the long line forming while her colleague browbeat the mom. I was mailing one small package and getting a book of stamps, for a total of $20. I paid with a credit card, which earned a scowl. She made me hand her the card, then my license, then gave me the slip to sign with a pen that wouldn't write, which messed up my signature and ripped a small hole in the receipt. She was visibly angry about this and gave me another pen begrudgingly, then compared my signature on all three (license, credit card, torn receipt) for like a minute straight. In a polite tone I said "you know, I don't have to go through this when I charge 5 times as much at the grocery store." She goes, in a nasty tone, "This ain't the grocery store, SIR, it's the POST OFFICE."

I couldn't resist saying, with a smile, "I guess that's why you're going out f business."

I got the iciest stare I've seen in quite some time.

She finally let me go, throwing my package onto a teetering stack behind her which then fell all over the floor -- dozens of packages. I left, with that young mom, exchanging mutual sympathies for what we just went through.

Fuck that counter person and her colleague and the post office. They treat people like dirt, no wonder people avoid using them for anything where they don't have to. This happens a lot of the times I ever have to go into a NYC post office. Maybe they're super friendly in Fargo, but here they act like you're lucky they let you in the door and lucky they deign to take your money.

No goodwill from me.
posted by spitbull at 6:11 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


It may have already been posted in this thread, but in an example of good timing Esquire just published a long form article on the USPS and its struggle to stay alive:

Do We Really Want to Live Without the Post Office?
posted by Kevin Street at 6:24 PM on February 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


So let me get this straight:

She was working in an understaffed office (due to budget cuts), had to respond with a valid concern to someone who couldn't be bothered to do a 10-second search for the applicable rules, in a stressful office environment thanks to kids tear-assing around and adults either literally or subliminally sneering at her she was being stupid, gratuitous, and abusive?

And then on top of that, you go to the other overworked member of the was now obvious-even-to-the-blind-and/or-deaf woefully understaffed office (again, due to budget cuts way out of her control), added another level of work for her to do because--say it with me now--she's working in an under-staffed and poorly-funded office, all topped off by you sassing her not just once but twice by making fun of her situation and that of the post office in general.

Gee, I wonder why she may not have been all sunshine and sparkles.

P.S. - Anecdotes are not the plural of data. You may not rely on them, but saying it's fine if they get fucked over and by association fuck over millions more just because they don't live in NYC is pretty much the height of self-absorbed snobbery. Way to live up to the stereotype.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:25 PM on February 6, 2013 [20 favorites]


She was near tears as her kids ran wild around the post office.

Yeah, you lost me here, and oh also here

I couldn't resist saying, with a smile, "I guess that's why you're going out f business."

The postal employee was probably the least rude person in this story.
posted by lalex at 6:32 PM on February 6, 2013 [15 favorites]


That no-advertising rule is total bullshit though. I had trouble with the post office because of it-- I was returning something that was sent priority mail and it still had some of its priority mail stickers on it. I had to cover it with brown tape or something, except they didn't have any brown tape at the post office, or send it priority. I sent it FedEx instead. But that was just people doing their jobs (albeit somewhat sullenly and badly), they just had to follow stupid rules. If that rule went away there'd be less trouble like what you went through, spitbull.
posted by NoraReed at 6:42 PM on February 6, 2013


You have no idea.

The kids were running wild (I took over watching them) because what should have been a simple transaction was taking the mom 10 minutes of arguing.

I'm an old man. I've been in post offices all over America, no doubt hundreds of times. It's never been pleasant, and it's often been rude.

I don't care what the rules say. Change the rules if you need to see two forms of ID to verify a credit card for a $20 purchase, or lose business. I don't need to show two IDs and have my signature verified next door when I spend $100.

Oh yeah. They seem to have chosen the latter.

I'm sure she was having a stressful day. Doesn't excuse rude service.
posted by spitbull at 6:45 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


These last two stories further cement a theory I have: it's not the post office, it's the customers. It's not that hard to remove all non-address labels from a package. Nor is it that difficult to buy a box when shipping something. Or use the free priority mail supplies.

I guess I mail a lot more packages than most people. But it isn't that difficult. Use decent materials and it will arrive fine.

Also some post offices have automated mailing machines so one doesn't have to deal with the humans.
posted by stltony at 6:49 PM on February 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm not in favor of closing the postal service, but the "no advertising" rule is one that no sane human would bother checking for in the first place, first because it's dumb (would I check online to make sure I can send packages that are teal? Of course not.) and second because there's no reason to think such a rule could possibly exist, since so much mail arrives from corporations covered in logos and advertising.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:49 PM on February 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


There would be significant -- and I'm dryly understating that, just to be clear -- opposition in the US if a "government monopoly" were to decide to enter the marketplace and compete with "private enterprise." That's just not something that is going to happen.

Well, yea. This is exactly what I'm referring to with the prediction that someone would explain that 'it just wouldn't work here!' Australia Post runs stores that people go into, and cover postal services off the profit. It being unthinkable for USPS to do this is part of the problem, not the explanation for it.

wierdo: if you can describe some social benefit that you think USPS provides and Australia Post does not, please do.
posted by jacalata at 6:55 PM on February 6, 2013


I'm an old man. I've been in post offices all over America, no doubt hundreds of times. It's never been pleasant, and it's often been rude.

What was the common denominator between all those incidents?
posted by escabeche at 6:55 PM on February 6, 2013 [15 favorites]


Change the rules if you need to see two forms of ID to verify a credit card for a $20 purchase, or lose business.

I guess they've changed the rules, since I always pay with a credit card at the post office, and have never been asked to show even one form of ID.
posted by escabeche at 6:57 PM on February 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


I've never heard of this no-advertising rule. I have often sent things in repurposed Amazon boxes, and have never been required to cover the logos. I do rip off, Sharpie over, or cover old labels and such. That only makes sense to me. I imagine if you sent something FedEx ground that had 2-day stickers on it, they'd make you do the same thing.
posted by dirigibleman at 7:01 PM on February 6, 2013


P.S. - Anecdotes are not the plural of data.

Mea maxima culpa, oh wait, where did I say my story was "data" for anything other than my personal lack of interest in getting outraged about the PO's decline or troubles? Something is very wrong with their business model. I'm sorry a lot of civil servants will be losing their jobs, and I realize tax dollars don't pay for them. But the entire operation is a creaking industrial sized dinosaur that has been managed into the ground.

Something needs to take its place. I can't actually see how it could much worse if it was privatized on the model of a utility, requiring service to most areas, but at the real cost of delivering to those areas, not a socialized cost.
posted by spitbull at 7:01 PM on February 6, 2013


If it costs $10 to mail something to bumfuck idaho that is a way it would be worse.
posted by Mitheral at 7:08 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I guess people figured that an intelligent person wouldn't gleefully hope for the destruction of an entire institution based entirely on their own personal experience and nothing else.
posted by Green With You at 7:08 PM on February 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Something is very wrong with Republicans in Congress, who have dictated their business model.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 7:08 PM on February 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I live in the middle of nowhere and do a lot of online shopping and much prefer it when packages are delivered USPS than FedEx or UPS

North of the border, I feel the same way about Canada Post. Is there something about federal mail services that makes them inherently more customer-friendly than courier services?
posted by asnider at 7:09 PM on February 6, 2013


Today I received two packages for online purchases I made last week.

The first, delivered by the USPS, was a box of books from Amazon (Chris Ware's thing and my friend John Brantingham's new novel (Buy it!). It arrived a day early, and the postal worker waited patiently at the bottom of my porch stairs while I corralled the dog and then he handed it to me and said, "What's in there? Bricks?" "Chris Ware's thing," I said, "and a couple others. Thanks!"

The second, delivered by UPS, was a new pair of shoes. It also arrived a day early and, according to the email notification I received, it too was delivered to my "Front Door," at 11:32 am. Except it hadn't been. It had been delivered to my neighbor's front porch. He's out of town, so I just stole up there and delivered it the rest of the way myself.

If you're keeping score, that's USPS: 1, UPS: 0.
posted by notyou at 7:19 PM on February 6, 2013


Something is very wrong with their business model.

It's not a business, it's a government service that supports commerce and communication.
posted by notyou at 7:21 PM on February 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


Shoot. I left out the best part.

I paid $0.00 for the USPS delivery (Super Saver Shipping!) and $12.95 for the UPS near-delivery.
posted by notyou at 7:34 PM on February 6, 2013


I never check my physical mailbox unless I'm expecting something (one or two times a year at most). I've had my mail delivery stopped on me multiple times because my box got full with junk.
posted by empath at 8:25 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


The post office near my workplace serves a lot of low-income folks (mostly buying money orders), plus a whole college worth of kids, and tons of office drones like me. And they are closing it down in the near future.

Now, OK, I will miss chatting with Ken The Skeletal Postal Clerk and I will resent going farther to mail things, which I do at least once a week. But I really worry about the money order people: what are they going to do to pay their bills? If they can't write a check, it's damn sure certain they aren't doing a lot of online banking, and the USPS is their entree into the official economy.

It's stupid and short-sighted and also I will miss the one day a week when I have even a chance of beating my kids to the mailbox.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:51 PM on February 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


But I really worry about the money order people: what are they going to do to pay their bills?

You can buy money orders at almost any convenience or grocery store, and mail from there, too.
posted by empath at 8:59 PM on February 6, 2013


But my Netflix!

That's what I feel too (#firstworldproblems and all), but there's actually likely to be a serious hit to their business from this, and I have suspected that the USPS writing on the wall has been part of their aggressive move toward streaming from the beginning.

It's a shame, because of all the long-tail stuff that is only available on DVD still (I have a queue full to position #500 -- and based on what I can get turned around and back into the mailbox, which is probably 60 per year if I'm really on the ball, that's ten years of viewing). Lose a day of mail pickup/delivery and that probably cuts my queue munching by 10-15% right there. I mean, I am paying for the postage, am I not?
posted by dhartung at 12:52 AM on February 7, 2013


I too live in a very rural place. We do not have UPS or Fed Ex. If the USPS stops being, we don't get post. Private firms have no mandate to serve communities where they don't make money. Why would they even bother with a tiny town in Alaska? I am lucky, I am in a town that is a big tourist destination in the summer so I am sure at least during the summer months something would be devised, no doubt at huge cost, but how about the truly remote villages? Last time I checked Alaska was still part of the US no matter how many people ask me what country I am from/what country they are in during our tourist months. Ending the USPS means cutting off portions of our population that are not generating money for private delivery companies. These are also communities that do not have reliable internet access.

This is just another way we as a nation are not capable of thinking about or appreciating the public good and the reasons for public services. Roads, fire departments, the USPS, schools, regulations on industry regarding health and safety, the list goes on. This is bad public policy.
posted by Belle O'Cosity at 1:07 AM on February 7, 2013 [9 favorites]


All the different issues are just very conflated. Like first-class mail delivery to all at a reasonable price is something I don't think many people will disagree with. If that's not a reasonable economic thing, then the government should fund it, rather than have the USPS make money any way they can, and saying that spamming our mailboxes with crap is a necessary evil.
posted by smackfu at 6:25 AM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't know why it took me so long to put two and two together, but the people who are hating on USPS and/or saying "Just do everything online! I do" are being amazingly classist. USPS does a helluva job for people who live in very rural places, who are low-income, and who are elderly. Congratulations that some of us are lucky to be able to do ALL THE THINGS online so we can snub our noses at them. But once you start talking about how the system inconveniences you and striikes you as archaic/outdated, the person who does ALL THE THINGS ONLINE, and not about the people this system really helps? You've lost me. I can't hear you over all your privilege.
posted by Kitteh at 6:38 AM on February 7, 2013 [12 favorites]


Regarding the UPS tracking their employees, its true. Just talked to my driver friend and management is always trying to find new ways to "manage" their employees. Currently he has 4 cameras in his truck (front, back, in cab, in storage), gps on his scanner, as well as stupid protocol of putting orange cones out at every stop including how he should beep his horn x times while backing up. I couldnt do that job with that kind of monitoring without eventually telling someone to fuck off.
posted by handbanana at 7:16 AM on February 7, 2013


I'm an old man. I've been in post offices all over America, no doubt hundreds of times. It's never been pleasant, and it's often been rude.

My experience is the exact opposite and I've been to at least that many post offices. I always find it a minor miracle that in a country as big as ours we have a mail system that functions decently well and for such a low cost. And people are usually nice to me. But then again, I'm usually nice to them.

I had a chat with the guy at the post office yesterday. I went to collect mail from my post office box (which will continue to get mail on Saturdays under this scheme, though the office will, I think, be closed) and asked him what he thought about the proposal. He said that he understood the pressures of running a business and felt like the people in town would understand it also. That a while back the mail carriers had to deal with working six days for five days' pay and that working five days for slightly less than five days' pay would probably be okay with most of them. We have five people who work Saturday in my post office, and I think three deliver the mail and two work in the office. They'll drop delivery down to one person and the two people in the office may drop down to one.

And I'm in a town that has three post offices for about 4500 people and two are probably closing (or becoming satellite offices where they're only staffed part of the day, they're still debating what to do) as part of the general restructuring. Some towns are risking losing their only post office and that is a thing that will change the tenor of a town a lot more than not getting mail on Saturdays. Overall the guy in the PO said, his job is a great middle class job. It's professional, it's "clean" (i.e. it's not farming or other outdoor work) it pays decently and has good benefits (one of the reasons the PO is struggling is because people get good retirement benefits and also the rising cost of health care is screwing everyone who still offers health care, see also: libraries) and he loves working with the public and helping the government do its thing. He's great at his job, and I have a work at home job where some days he may be the only guy I have an extended conversation with.

I'm aware that he situation in my little town is really different from bigger post offices that are struggling under the weight of junk mail, poor management, too many "lifer" staff with bad attitudes and many other problems. But like many things in the US it's pretty difficult to generalize anything that involves human factors without trying to correct for so many other attitudes and impressions. The post office, like the public library, has an image problem. It also has 300 million people who feel that they are the customer. Not an enviable situation to be in, government and pseudo-government is hard.
posted by jessamyn at 7:27 AM on February 7, 2013 [11 favorites]


Where I live (not US), put a note on the door "No junk mail" and you won't get any. Could be worth a try.
posted by romanb at 8:17 AM on February 7, 2013


It's not a business, it's a government service that supports commerce and communication.

Is it not run as a business? I mean, Canada Post is a Crown Corporation and 2011 was the first time in 16 years that it didn't turn a profit. Sure, it's a public service, but it isn't really operated that way. Hell, most postal outlets are privately run.

I realize that USPS and Canada Post aren't necessarily direct analogues, but they seem pretty similar to me.
posted by asnider at 8:49 AM on February 7, 2013


I'm aware that he situation in my little town is really different from bigger post offices that are struggling under the weight of junk mail, poor management, too many "lifer" staff with bad attitudes and many other problems. But like many things in the US it's pretty difficult to generalize anything that involves human factors without trying to correct for so many other attitudes and impressions.

Eh. My husband was a mail carrier for several years. "Scumbags" is how he fondly characterized most of his coworkers. Since he was a sub carrier (which you have to be, when you're just starting out) he often had to take over routes which were grossly mismanaged--people who would put all the mail for an apartment complex in one box, for example. There were institutional problems that supported this: you have to finish your route in one day, and if you do, you can go home; it's difficult to fire a postal worker once they're in the system (they just get shuffled around), and that's true for postmasters, too, so there's little incentive to correct problems.

Like I said, I think all these anecdotes here are all highly dependent on the carriers in your area. I do know several UPS employees, and one of the major differences I've noticed has been that UPS gives new, parttime employees excellent benefits right off the bat (whereas with USPS, you have to work as a sub for several years and wait for someone to retire first--and getting called in to sub a postal route at 4 am is no fun). In both cases, it's shitty, back-breaking physical labor. I mean, it has to be, when they're hauling around your packages.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:01 AM on February 7, 2013


the US Government rarely uses the USPS

The weirdest thing is that after the USPS anthrax attacks, all USPS mail to US government offices has to be screened, which can take a couple of extra days. Fedex and UPS mail to the same offices is not screened. So very often government offices will send things to each other using Fedex 2-day, just to get around the time-consuming screening procedure.
posted by miyabo at 9:45 AM on February 7, 2013


"You assholes don't even know what's coming."
posted by Lemurrhea at 9:50 AM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Remember, not only do I get a ton of junkmail, I also get very little non-junk mail. Thus the 20:1. I always go for paperless option -- not only is it more convenient, it's environmentally friendly.

Dude, I have seen two people post the link to the official, for-once-and-for-all link to get off bulk mailing lists in this thread. And yet you are continuing to grumble about the existance of junk mail instead of saying something like "ah-ha! Finally! That will fix it, thank you!"

If you just don't like mail, just say that - don't blame it on a problem to which you are blatantly ignoring the solution.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:21 AM on February 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


The weirdest thing is that after the USPS anthrax attacks, all USPS mail to US government offices has to be screened, which can take a couple of extra days. Fedex and UPS mail to the same offices is not screened. So very often government offices will send things to each other using Fedex 2-day, just to get around the time-consuming screening procedure.

Somehow this sums up for me how our government works - that it avoids using its own mail service in order to bypass the screening rule that it set up.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:30 AM on February 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


You don't see the difference between intra-governmental mail being sent from already-protected and scanned Federal offices/employees and incoming mail from random sources? If anything, the problem is that the government is allegedly accepting unscanned mail from Fedex and UPS.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:42 AM on February 7, 2013


That's looney miyabo.

handbanana writes "Regarding the UPS tracking their employees, its true. "

It's like Manna.
posted by Mitheral at 10:59 AM on February 7, 2013


You don't see the difference between intra-governmental mail being sent from already-protected and scanned Federal offices/employees and incoming mail from random sources? If anything, the problem is that the government is allegedly accepting unscanned mail from Fedex and UPS.

Define "scanned." I don't work for the government but I go in and out of federal buildings on a regular basis and have never been subjected to any kind of test for biological agents. Just metal detectors and X-ray machines.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:04 AM on February 7, 2013


Where I live (not US), put a note on the door "No junk mail" and you won't get any. Could be worth a try.

No, it isn't. Reading the thread here might give you a clue as to why, but if you can't do that: it's because the USPS is only allowed to make money by delivering mail, so they charge companies to deliver junk mail and make a profit in that, and therefore, as the post office explained to me, the junk mail senders are their customers, not the people receiving junk mail. So there is nothing you can do at the recipient end to prevent the USPS from delivering junk mail.

Dude, I have seen two people post the link to the official, for-once-and-for-all link to get off bulk mailing lists in this thread.
I'm on those lists. Doesn't seem to stop my PO box literally overflowing with crap addressed to other people 'or current occupant' (and new names all the time! I've had this po box for years! Wtf assholes, use your own stupid address), and the Red Plum etc crap arriving in my apartment mailbox. Official, once and for all nothing. It's nice if it ever worked for you, but it's not the panacea you appear to believe it is.
posted by jacalata at 11:32 AM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm going to try the junk mail opt-out thing and see what happens. I feel like I did it a while back (and before that years ago a "junk mail termination kit"). Of course I've moved several times. Also I'll need to get my wife to sign up. And her dead aunt. And her ex-husband. And Current Occupant.

For those outside the US (I'm in North Carolina), to give you an idea, we probably get 6-8 pieces of junk mail per day, every day, so about 40-50 items per week. Sorting it and tossing it in the recycling is annoying, but oh well. Also since I donate to charities, other charities bombard me and I don't think that's counted as junk mail. Same for political stuff - a local Republican candidate sent us a glossy flyer EVERY DAY for about 4 weeks before last fall's election.

The ones that really piss me off are the ones that are intentionally disguised as Real Mail. I got one that copied all the fonts and form layout from federal tax forms but was really some mortgage baloney. In that case I found the home state and filed a Better Business Bureau complaint. No effect but I felt better.

Back on the topic of the USPS itself, I've always had pretty good experiences with the personnel, reliability, etc. I had a PO Box for years and loved it. Much better service than from say, my old bank (Wells Fargo).
posted by freecellwizard at 1:21 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Much better service than from say, my old bank (Wells Fargo).

A bed of narcoleptic and sociopathic sloths armed with cattleprods could provide better service than Wells Fargo.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:45 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I don't see how opt-out works for mailings that are literally addressed to "Person who lives at address X" and that the mailman just puts in every mailbox. Most of our bulkier stuff is that kind of thing, a big circular from the local "newspaper".
posted by smackfu at 3:38 PM on February 7, 2013


empath: "You can buy money orders at almost any convenience or grocery store, and mail from there, too."

Generally at a much higher fee, although Wal-Mart is cheaper.
posted by wierdo at 5:17 PM on February 7, 2013


Also some places will only take post office money orders.
posted by Mitheral at 6:18 PM on February 7, 2013


Since nobody upthread has linked to it, some relevant background information on other postal systems.

Summary: Dutch privatization is...kind of ugly, underpaid, and mostly junk mail; British Royal Mail is inefficient in terms of manpower (could use some serious investment in automation) and still pretty much works.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 9:50 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Afroblanco: "I wish they'd just stop delivering mail entirely. I do all my finances, bills and communications online. The only physical mail I receive is junk. Even my packages are delivered by FedEx or UPS."

UPS and FedEx are necessary evils. But the truth is, I have always preferred to send my packages and important letters via USPS, especially overseas. I once sent a very, very expensive letter to a friend via FedEx and the delivery man basically made no attempt to deliver it whatsoever. Sent it back with basically "Couldn't find the address." written on it which is bull because he was in a smallish suburb of Cairo and could have just asked anyone on the street and they would have known where the recipient lived. Sent it later via normal USPS mail and it got there. Ever since I've had a thing against FedEx.
posted by Deathalicious at 4:10 AM on February 12, 2013


"USPS, which rankled some lawmakers last week with its announced plans to end Saturday mail delivery in August, could have turned a $100 million profit if not for a Congressional mandate that officials have said cripples agency finances."
posted by zombieflanders at 4:32 AM on February 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


UPS and FedEx are necessary evils. But the truth is, I have always preferred to send my packages and important letters via USPS, especially overseas. I once sent a very, very expensive letter to a friend via FedEx and the delivery man basically made no attempt to deliver it whatsoever. Sent it back with basically "Couldn't find the address." written on it which is bull because he was in a smallish suburb of Cairo and could have just asked anyone on the street and they would have known where the recipient lived. Sent it later via normal USPS mail and it got there. Ever since I've had a thing against FedEx.

My wife's uncle once got a letter to a friend of his from overseas by addressing it to "Cape Cod Bob, Cape Cod, USA."

The post office is amazing sometimes.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:50 AM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


When I was living in college housing each dorm had its own campus postal code, and mail got put in the same cubby hole based on the first letter of the last name. So my Dad did an experiment, addressing a letter minimally:

S
1-55
91126

It got to me.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:16 AM on February 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


@eviemath, whoops, yeah I did mean @schmod.

@schmod, I'm back in this thread four days later because I just checked with some people currently working for UPS and they confirmed that UPS does have the vans wired to record how many times the drivers open the door and how many times they step on the brakes. It wasn't true a few years ago, but it's true now.
posted by subdee at 10:17 PM on February 15, 2013


How The Postal Service Is Being Gutted
Why would the USPS take such radical measures? The simple truth is that the postal service is a fundamentally sound business, though not without its challenges. If you look closely, you'll see a concerted campaign to drive USPS out of business, despite the fact that it operates without government subsidies and, potentially, at a profit. It's being subjected to a politically manufactured crisis in order to ram through drastic change. But without the USPS, citizens will face much higher costs without better service. Below, I outline three common misconceptions about the USPS and explain why they're misleading.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:21 PM on March 5, 2013


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