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YES! You can help save the US Postal Service!
May 17, 2001 6:55 AM   Subscribe

YES! You can help save the US Postal Service! With the USPS raising rates every month, it seems, and continuing to run with a $2 billion deficit, it's beginning to look like this quasi-public agency is going to lose the battle to those other overnight delivery companies. But since there are some people who can't afford the luxury of email or the high prices of FedEx, there must be something the common man can do to help keep Ben Franklin's baby afloat. There is! via Pigs & Fishes
posted by crunchland (10 comments total)

 
I routinely send mail back in their return envelopes, but first I stuff the envelopes with the ripped-up contents of the junk mail (being sure to first remove any identifying information, such as my address or tracking numbers).

But this is only a temporary solution. More and more junk mailers are requiring you to supply your own postage.
posted by fleener at 7:16 AM on May 17, 2001


Well, except for the burden to deliver all that mail back to the original junk mailers, which will offset the cost of the postage up to a point, I suppose it's a good idea. However, even if the spammers have to pay full postage on the returned empty envelopes, that cost is invariably defrayed by paying salaries to all the people who handle each piece. Until the entire city of San Francisco is returning empty junk mail envelopes, this probably won't be an economic boon for the USPS. Or better yet, a few thousand people in *each* city across the country, so the workload is spread out. Even then, those same spammers will probably negotiate a bulk returned-mail rate, since they're suddenly bringing so much new business to the USPS. But HEY! Why not try and circulate an email petition, see if enough other people like the idea and try it out? [tongue firmly planted in cheek]

I inherited a great big postage stamp collection from my uncle in 1995. Occasionally, I'll stop by the post office and drop $30 on some newly-issued stamps. And between helping with a few friends' record labels, sending letters to people constantly, and eBay bids, I'm think I'm doing my part.
posted by legibility at 7:18 AM on May 17, 2001


Why would you want to save the post office? The only thing that even keeps it in business is its legal monopoly on first class mail. I can't wait for the day when I can use private services to send my letters.

Luxury of email? What planet are you living on?
posted by ljromanoff at 7:33 AM on May 17, 2001


I just checked crunchland's profile. According to the data, they are of an unknown gender and live on the planet Alexandriavausa, which I believe is an Earth-like planet located somewhere outside the Outer Loop Belt.

On my planet, Parisfrance, e-mail is considered even more of a luxury.
posted by Dick Paris at 7:55 AM on May 17, 2001


Ha! I do this all the time, particularly with credit card offers. I used to remove all my personal info like fleener suggests, but the more I think about it, the more I want them to know who I am. Let's see them try and collect their postage! As for the Post Office's monopoly, I gotta say I'm for it. From what I understand, most of the revenue they generate is from mass-mailouts. If we had five competing postal services, wouldn't that mean even more junk mail? I can't imagine that delivering Christmas cards can be very profitable, and setting up the infrastructure has to be murder. Why would anyone be interested in competing with the USPS?
posted by Gilbert at 8:05 AM on May 17, 2001


I can't imagine that delivering Christmas cards can be very profitable, and setting up the infrastructure has to be murder. Why would anyone be interested in competing with the USPS?

The infrastructure is already there as FedEx, UPS, et al are already delivering. They are forbidden by law to accept first class mail (i.e., letters), but there's no reason they couldn't do it cheaply if the law changed, as they are already going to your houses and stores with other packages.
posted by ljromanoff at 8:27 AM on May 17, 2001


US mail is a government service. To expect it to turn a profit is like expecting the US armed forces to do the same. Turning the responsibility for delivering mail over to the private sector will result in rural and other low service volume areas to lose mail delivery entirely. Unless we would require privatized first class mail carriers to serve every address in this country (in the same way power utilities and local telcos are), this is a bad idea.
posted by cleetus at 8:50 AM on May 17, 2001


Well, on my planet, email is a luxury. As an example, neither of my grandmothers-in-law have access to a computer, and if I want to tell them about this cool new website I saw, and show them the great writing, and stylish pictures, I'm forced to print it out and mail it. Of course, I could send it overnight, via Fedex, for $12.95 or whatever. Or I could send it via the USPS for a total of 34¢.

I suppose something that's more to the point is to put some kind of surcharge on junk mail and defray costs that way (as it is, bulk mailers get a price break), but that would require legislation, and undoubtedly stir the friggin' constitutionalists into a lather over inhibiting free speech or some such nonsense.
posted by crunchland at 9:15 AM on May 17, 2001


Well, on my planet, email is a luxury. As an example, neither of my grandmothers-in-law have access to a computer, and if I want to tell them about this cool new website I saw, and show them the great writing, and stylish pictures, I'm forced to print it out and mail it. Of course, I could send it overnight, via Fedex, for $12.95 or whatever. Or I could send it via the USPS for a total of 34¢.

Crunch,

Appreciate the link, but there are all sorts of ways you could get email access for your grandmothers, including tons of cheap used computers and a free ISP and/or taking them to a library.

And comparing FedEx's $13 overnight to the post office's $0.34 is invalid because federal law prevents FedEx from providing a cheap first class letter delivery service. The USPS overnight delivery is just as expensive as FedEx, and they get our tax money.
posted by ljromanoff at 9:30 AM on May 17, 2001


Gee, you mean the USPS is still doing better than amazon.com and about 40 billion publicly traded different U.S. companies? Heck, last I heard, there was a rumor that WorldCom might sell. I'd like to see a comparison of the Postal Service's debt too, especially considering that it's forced to open a lot of new locales by law. Also it can't set a lot of its own rates. Finally, is anyone here familiar with the fact that the Post Office was doing better financially before one of the DuPonts and a number of CEOs decided it needed to modernize and become more business like? It was only when those cats called for a reform commission that the Post Office became the Postal Service. Automation, for the record, actually slowed delivery rates. Sheesh.

If it does go completely bankrupt, by the way, could Alan Greenspan bail it out the way he did Long-Term Capital Management?
posted by raysmj at 9:31 AM on May 17, 2001


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