valuing worker quality of life at zero

In the name of equanimity, here’s some good Conor Friedersdorf. When he’s good, he’s very good. And when he’s bad… ouch. Here he is, asking “Can Progressives Fix the US Postal Service?” I couldn’t tell you, myself. I don’t identify as a progressive; I think it’s a meaningless weasel word. But I do know that Conor’s post is a classic example of advocating other people’s sacrifice.

Conor is a bright guy who cares, so it’s extra depressing that he wrote a post that, as most conservative writing nowadays does, demonstrates total apathy towards the material well-being of broad classes of human beings, without owning up to that. The very idea that the well-being of millions of public sector employees matters— that, in fact, delivering a higher standard of living to broad classes of people is the very purpose of American society– goes unconsidered.

Conor says

An expensive but inflexible labor force is a significant drag on USPS, as on any organization. It is also another example of the public employee problem that threatens the future of the whole progressive project. A basic leftist goal is to persuade the American people that Ronald Reagan was wrong — that given the proper resources, government can bring about solutions and isn’t itself the problem. Various think tank fellows, Democratic strategists, and public employee unions are working to make that case. In the long run, however, strategic communication matters less than results. So long as public employees are highly paid, enjoy benefits more lavish than their private sector analogues, and work under contracts that hamstring the ability of their agencies to perform and adapt, Americans will eventually conclude that public sector investments are folly.

Let’s decode this, shall we? Because when Conor talks about expensive and inflexible labor force, what he’s talking about is that people in these jobs are well-paid and have job security. I know we’ve all been living through decades of plutocrat-adoring Republicans defining the political vocabulary, but you know, there was a time when workers expecting to be paid well and have some job security was considered a pretty elementary part of the social compact.  In fact, you might say, in this capitalist system of ours, that delivering higher wages and better job security to large numbers of workers was a fundamental part of the American dream, back when such a thing existed. But Conor, as is typical of his writing and conservative commentary in general, doesn’t even bother to weigh the social value of the high standards of living for these public employees. He doesn’t seem to recognize that the fact that these people have a mechanism for a better life is a good at all, nor does he bother to wrestle with the consequences of firing and cutting the wages of thousands of people. At all. It’s as if the material conditions of these people’s lives– because, you understand, they are public employees, and are therefore Bad People– simply don’t matter to him at all.

It’s fair to assume, I think, that Conor thinks his own job security and wage are important. I imagine he views the ability to secure decent compensation, and with it the kind of life that he wants– that his culture has promised him, again and again– as important in and of itself. What other purpose is there for this society of ours, after all, if it doesn’t work towards improving the lives of as many people within it as possible? So if there was some sort of coordinated, partisan, politically motivated campaign to attack Conor’s standard of living and reduce his wages, I think he’d argue that his standard of living matters. I mean, surely, the Atlantic could pay him a little bit less. Right? Would he really quit that gig if they paid him, say, $1,500 a year less than he makes now? How about $3,000? Is that below the threshold where he wouldn’t work, or be able to live, at all? I’ll tell you: that’s a cruel question. I don’t want Conor’s standard of living to decline. The people in his life who care about him certainly don’t, and would (and should) defend him if people started trying to attack his quality of life. But that’s how it is when you’re going after a person, rather than going across the nameless, faceless Enemy who you have decided to focus your wrath on.

Since we’re identifying basic goals here, let me name one for the right: degrading the standard of living for the large majority of the American people. You degrade the ability of everyone to make a decent wage by destroying unions, one of the traditional models for how to improve the standard of living of broad groups of the American people. (Including, incidentally, those of non-unionized workers, whose wages were historically inflated due to the threat of unionization.) You eliminate pensions; you replace them with things like 401ks, which don’t provide enough for retirement. You oppose health care reform; in fact, you work to degrade Medicare with a voucher program that doesn’t keep up with the cost of health care.  You eliminate social services and government programs everywhere. You do all of it in the name of the free market. Does that sound like a healthier alternative than the supposedly self-defeating leftist plan Conor describes?

Conor writes, “Let’s make an earnest effort to fairly compensate folks who deliver parcels, teach kids, and build public works – even as we do our damnedest to avoid public employee union labor.” OK, Conor, let me ask you one more time: how? If Conor can come up with a genuine alternative to the left-wing prescription of empowered workers and a generous safety net, I’m all ears. I have been asking him to describe one in all the years we’ve been arguing online. He’s never articulated such a plan. Instead, he calls for sacrifice for other people. We have embraced the conservative, free market vision of smashing unions, eroding the New Deal and Great Society, and letting the profits on top run wild for three decades. To show for it we have endlessly stagnated wages for those in the middle and at the bottom. Your way is not working, Conor.

Now, we might want to point out a simple fact here, which is that the right to unionize is a consequences of absolutely elementary democratic rights like free speech and free association. Conor self-identifies as a libertarian, after all. But this is an inconvenient line of questioning.

But, hey, Conor’s right. In the private sector, people are rewarded for results! After all, the banking industry destroyed the world economy through their incompetence and greed, and most of the people in the industry went to jail or got fired were remunerated beyond their wildest dreams. That invisible hand, huh? What a character. (He makes an appeal to the pragmatism of the markets! Pragmatism! They fucking drove us all to the brink of selling pencils while wearing a barrel and they made billions doing it, and this is pragmatism?)

Here’s an alternative theory for Conor: the post office provides a service that cannot be provided through markets and the profit motive. Sort of like defending the country, researching orphan drugs, and providing health care to the old and sick. It might be true both that a) we need a service in this country where you can say “hey, take this Land’s End catalog to the guy on the remote mountain in Wyoming for less than a dollar” and b) that service can’t be made profitable. Just like, say, providing health care for those with Barth’s syndrome can’t be made profitable. The public has some legitimate interests that cannot be served profitably. My ideology has a solution for this. Conor’s does not. (Conor mentions UPS and FedEx, which is always a sign of funny business when discussing USPS; neither provides anything remotely like the necessary daily, bulk, non-time dependent mail-carrying ability of the postal service.) This was Matt Yglesias’s point in the post Conor links to.

Don’t ask me, ask the Dutch. They– a much smaller nation with a much lower burden on their postal services– have waved the Libertarian Fairy’s Wand of Markety Goodness all over their mail carriers. How’s it going?

‘The TNT strategy was “We want to be one of the big players, like FedEx or UPS,” and it failed, of course,’ he said. ‘If you have to split up it means it didn’t work. In the end the shareholders were not benefiting and nor were the employees. So there were just a few managers who had a nice adventure and it didn’t work out.’ The winners from Holland’s liberalisation of the postal market, he said, were the big organisations who bulk mailed. ‘The losers? Almost everybody else. TNT, the new postal companies, the workers, the government. They liberalised the market and they’ve had a headache for five years and it’s not over yet.’

Sounds like utopia!

 

Conor is a bright guy, which is why I am so consistently dismayed by the most obvious attribute of his writing about unions: its utter thoughtlessness. Nothing animates his work on the subject more than the classic conservative tactic of anointing some group of undesirables responsible for all of our problems, and bitterly demonizing them. I have to laugh: we live in a country where unionism has been gradually destroyed for decades, and yet conservatives still find unions an endlessly attractive target for the politics of petty resentment. I think they need unions. I would like to see Conor experiencing an America without any unions at all, just to see puzzlement when he finds the postal service not suddenly a perfect capitalist wrecking machine, impoverished inner city children not magically turned into star pupils despite the abject degradation of their lives, and the country not one iota closer to the equitable and prosperous America of our dreams.

Instead working people would find just one more door to prosperity shut, with nothing to show for it but conservative promises about the pot of gold at the end of the free market rainbow.






208 replies
  1. 1
    Martin says:

    Well, the entire point of creating a national postal system, and establishing by congressional fiat that it cannot have a competitor, was recognition that a free-market postal system cannot work. The founders had this figured out 200 years ago. They knew that there would always be Americans too far-flung to be profitable customers, and that the inability to deliver to every American was a hazard to the nation – both economically and democratically.

    Why do Republicans hate the founders so?

  2. 2

    Conor Friedersdorf? The guy who once wrote about how much he admired Jonah Goldberg? And hasn’t yet retracted that statement?

  3. 3
    The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik says:

    Conservatives are experts at marginalizing groups while maximizing their perceived threat rhetorically. It’s pretty well a rule of thumb that the more distressed they are about certain groups, the more likely the group itself is toothless and not worth the fear.

    It’s depressing that they manage to get away with it constantly though.

    Which leads me to an OT note:
    Anyone know of some reasonably mainstream outlets that I can get some real decent climate coverage? Because it seems like the mainstream media has totally swallowed the tripe and consider climate change and climate issues to be fringe and Green Facism the only reasonable explanation for any environmental issue. The bullshit love letter to Fracking on Salon today only seems to cement the idea that somehow we totally fucking lost this issue because no one wants to fucking believe we can’t live off fossil fuels indefinitely. And heaven forbid we actually conserve just to conserve and hedge our bets.

  4. 4
    joes527 says:

    In the race to the bottom, anyone dragging their feet makes all the rest look bad.

  5. 5
    BGinCHI says:

    Nice slow wind-up to the well-deserved heel in CF’s eyesocket.

    Another example of a public good that the right has always tried to kill is public transportation. When the right complains that it “doesn’t make a profit,” or bemoans subsidies to urban rail/bus systems, they engage in either ignorant or willfully stupid thinking: they never measure the public good created by such a system.

    Libertarians: all of the benefits of society with none of the responsibilities nor any acknowledgement that without government (or collective action) capitalism would collapse in no time.

  6. 6
    mds says:

    Conor mentions UPS and FedEx

    Wait, so how does UPS do it, what with their unionized workforce and all?

  7. 7
    ppcli says:

    I imagine that with the growth of electronic communication, the USPS will face challenges. And the $15 bil. deficit is a problem, though a fixable one. But otherwise, I don’t see anything in this piece to suggest that the USPS actually has a problem. It’s an excellent service, it innovates pretty well, it’s reliable and it’s cheap.

    Ask anyone who has grown up outside of the US, as I did. They will tell you the same thing: the US postal service is miraculous. Spectacular. You guys have no idea how good you’ve got it. It took me a decade of living in this country to get used to the idea that a first-class letter would probably be delivered the next day and would almost surely not get lost.

  8. 8

    Btw, i’m tired of the damned faint praise for libertarians/”thoughtful conservatives” that because they can write thousands of words in a blog post, they’re somehow ‘bright.’ If they were actually bright, they’d have pulled a Cole.

  9. 9
    cleek says:

    A basic leftist goal is to persuade the American people that Ronald Reagan was wrong—that given the proper resources, government can bring about solutions and isn’t itself the problem.

    i’ll think about that on my drive home, down streets paved by government and controlled by stop lights installed by the government, breathing air that’s kept clean by government standards, into my subdivision that’s sturdy and stable thanks to building codes set by government, where i’ll cook some food that was grown and shipped according to standards set by government, and then i’ll watch some TV via a cable company that could really use a bit more government involvement.

    you want to see what people do without government meddling, Conor? move to fucking Somalia.

    fucking whiny-ass libertarian hipsters.

  10. 10
    res ipsa loquitur says:

    Everything you need to know about Friedersdorf is summed up by his use of the word “leftist”. The End.

  11. 11
    blondie says:

    An expensive but inflexible labor force”

    I.e., an American middle class. Clearly, in the shimmering, glittering city on a hill, the labor force will be inexpensive and flexible (sort of like the labor force in 3rd world countries). Ahhh, Capitalism’s Utopia.

  12. 12
    The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    To be fair, you do have to marvel at the ability to expound on the same bullshit in millions of different ways. Like political thesauruses that never run out.

  13. 13
    martha says:

    Ah Conor. Another media darling who’s never been out of a city on a coast. I’m just sure that FedEx and DHL would love to provide daily (heck, to be sporting, let’s say M-F) mail service to residents of, say, Wisconsin. Or Minnesota. Or Michigan. Or Colorado. Or Utah. Or Montana. You get my drift.

    Not likely, because it’s not profitable enough for shareholders to get out to the Richland Centers or Rosendales or Rice Lakes of the world every day and all the farms and valleys in between.

  14. 14

    Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller searches for journalistic bottom, finds it.

  15. 15
    S. cerevisiae says:

    @The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik: Joe Romm has great climate info: Climate Progress

  16. 16
    Violet says:

    @ppcli:

    Ask anyone who has grown up outside of the US, as I did. They will tell you the same thing: the US postal service is miraculous. Spectacular. You guys have no idea how good you’ve got it. It took me a decade of living in this country to get used to the idea that a first-class letter would probably be delivered the next day and would almost surely not get lost.

    Imho, the British Royal Mail is better. They don’t even put return addresses on their envelopes because the post just gets delivered. Don’t need that return address in case it gets lost. It doesn’t.

  17. 17
    Warren Terra says:

    A couple of points about the postal service that the doomsayers never seem to mention:
    1) Its rates are incredibly cheap. Fifty cents for a first-class stamp that will take a letter from anywhere to anywhere in days? Endless flows of junk mail because the companies can afford to spam us with dead trees at a low postal tariff?
    2) Its service is often very good. When I mail off my credit card bill, the company receives it extremely promptly. Netflix has built an empire around turnaround times that in major markets are less than twenty-four hours.
    3) People trust its honesty. Apparently in sone southern European countries noone would dream of sending their grandkid money for their birthday – but this is completely typical in the US.

    Now, there are horror stories. Some people’s experience may be less positive that my own; I’ve particularly heard of slow service in Chicago, and that carrier there who was found to be burning letters rather than deliver them. Its budget should be brought into balance. But all the sneering folks who deride it as being a bloated and ineffective organization rather manage to overlook its incredible accomplishments.

  18. 18
    Cermet says:

    A man who thinks raygun was anything but a tool for the wealthy put into power in order to rob the middle class is stupid beyond hope – the pity is that such an ass licking vermin like this gets paid by the wealthy to carry their water but the second they could farm his job out, this asswipe would then be singing a far different tune.

    Until people wake up and realize all of us in the dying middle class are all in the same boat, we are doomed – so many are just crabs (yeah, the 27%) pulling others down to feel better about their lot. Family values means fuck everyone else as you think you are safe – fools.

  19. 19
    Jude says:

    Now THAT is some fine goddamned writing, good sir.

  20. 20
    Freddie deBoer says:

    @Jude: Thanks very much.

  21. 21
    jl says:

    The US has turned into a giant ground hog day movie, and every morning we get up and have to listen to people like The Sullivan Gang say the same things over and over.

    If the economy were booming, and public employees were demanding wage and benefit increases that outstripped the private labor market then Friedersdorf would have a point. If he can wave a magic wand and get us into that possible world, I would ask him to do so, and would listen to his advice.

    But, we are not in that world. We are in a world where public employee unions had their wages and benefits, and retirement bid up to match the roaring pace in the private market before the housing bust.

    Why the hell be cop or a teacher and do something hard when you can make a bundle showing homes and throwing open houses, or glad handing your way through mortgage schemes. If people can recall that far back, the main public worker issue before the housing bust as how to hire and adequate workforce, especially in the hot real estate markets hit most hard by the housing collapse.

    Now we are in a permanent 1939 economy (read the econ news today if you doubt that), where the real pay of public workers are being dragged down, after a lag, with that of the private workforce. Public workers unions, by now, know that they will lose most local and state elections put to the vote, unless they are grossly unfair. I heard a local public union official say so. They are offering concessions that take a noticeable bite out of their living standard, like 10% or more, but that is not enough.

    So fine, let this member of the Sullivan gang spin away an analysis relevant for an alternative universe. When we come within a light year off it, I might listen to him.

    But probably not. These people have a universal analysis, slogans and mantras that relate to religious devotion to vague notions, and they just repeat the same things over and over again.

    Might as well listen to crickets chirping (no, check that, crickets are more responsive to reality and more informative since they at least tell you something about the weather outside).

    I apologize to crickets everywhere.

  22. 22
    rdldot says:

    @BGinCHI: Not to mention the fact that no form of transportation ‘pays for itself’. Not cars/roads/planes.

  23. 23

    I think many conservatives take it on faith that companies would treat their employees well and pay them well even if there were no unions and no government jobs available, simply because they believe in the myth of the rational economic actor.

    That is, that company owners and managers will seek out and reward the best people they can find to do the jobs, because these companies want to succeed and maximize profit. They will treat their employees well, because they fear losing them to a competitor, and they will pay their employees enough so that they can buy the company’s products.

    Where this breaks down is:

    One, thanks to globalization, the “best” employees can be found regardless of national origin and paid a fraction of their American counterparts, driving down wages and conditions for all workers.

    Two, decision makers are not always rational.

    Or three, the decision makers may decide that in order to maximize profitability, it is easier to reduce labor costs. If enough companies follow suit (and they will), wages and conditions will also decline.

  24. 24
    Ben Wolf says:

    @The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik

    Skeptical Science, Deep Climate and Tamino are the right places to go for real science. If you’re looking for more of a daily update, try Climate Progress.

  25. 25
    Cermet says:

    @The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik: Right in the blog section of BJ – RealClimate is outstanding for AGW information. The OilDrum is great for peak oil and energy issues

  26. 26
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    I don’t want Conor’s standard of living to decline.

    I do.

  27. 27
    Violet says:

    @Southern Beale:
    I refuse to visit Tucker’s vanity site. Can you summarize?

  28. 28
    jacy says:

    People keep saying Conor is a bright guy. Fine, if you want to believe that. Then you would have to also admit he’s a sociopath.

    On the one hand: a bright little sociopath who couldn’t give a fig about anybody who’s not him.

    On the other hand, you could just believe that Conor’s a naive dolt who can’t add 2 + 2 without getting macaroni salad as the answer, and never really thinks beyond the libertarian paradise he imagined when he was 12.

    Either way, I decided a while back that he’s not worth my time.

  29. 29
    zach says:

    I never understand why labor’s vilified for trying to get the most out of contracts that were negotiated under conditions favoring management. The scales tilt towards management with both public and private unions. Conor asks: “What am I to conclude when teachers unions in Los Angeles and New York make it almost impossible to fire even physically abusive teachers?” The answer is that LA and NYC agreed to bad contracts.

    It’s unfortunate that Conor’s argument relies on union abuses that are (1) almost always overstated and (2) account for a tiny fraction of the cost of labor to the state. Most of the cost of unions, and all of the growth in cost of unions, is because of rapid inflation in healthcare. This problem (along with handling the deficit w/out tax increases) can’t be discussed without mentioning health benefits and Conor doesn’t use the word “health” once.

    We know from many other countries’ experiences that we can implement a national healthcare system and halve our spending per capita on healthcare. This eliminates the problem of unfunded healthcare benefits and fixes almost all long-term deficit problems.

  30. 30
    Cermet says:

    @cleek: Perfect answer

  31. 31
    artem1s says:

    OFFS, are we really, and by we I mean anti-government glibertarians, going to go on another rant about the Post Office? This has been a central tenet of the whingers for decades and the magical unicorn market forces haven’t found a better solution yet so STFU and DIAF. Go off in a corner and sit in your pile of gold and wait for the apocalypse and let the rest of us PLEASE get on with the business of attending to reality.

  32. 32
    Alex S. says:

    @Southern Beale:

    Oh no.. no, no, no, no

  33. 33
    Davis X. Machina says:

    You can’t refute a theology.

    Hear ye the Good News:

    • Everything private is better than anything public is, or can ever be.
    • Nothing exists that can’t be bought or sold. If it can’t be bought or sold, it doesn’t exist.
    • So long as one of us, anywhere, is covered by a collective bargaining agreement, none of us can truly be called ‘free’.

  34. 34
    khead says:

    Conor is a bright guy

    Really? You just spent 15 paragraphs pointing out how he’s a dumbass that can’t see the end result of his own argument.

  35. 35
    jl says:

    This bugged me too.

    “A basic leftist goal is to persuade the American people that Ronald Reagan was wrong”

    This is another stupid slogan. Palin would be more nuanced.

    I would be considered a leftist were I on the TV news analysis shows. I would never say anything so dumb about Reagan. I think that in one or two big ways, Reagan was a very good president, particularly wrt to the old Soviet Union.

    Even in economics, I would say that Reagan was right maybe 20 to 30 percent of the time (that includes his tax hikes, so 20% of the time would be better estimate.

    Heck, even Bush II found a couple of policy truffles, though I would have to research what they are right now. But I do vaguely remember one or two good domestic policy initiatives I agreed with.

    Anyway, CARTER started the socalled Reagan deregulation free market movement, at least in terms of policy, if not electioneering PR.

    Was this guy on a mean drunk when he wrote the column? Or can he just not help himself from putting stupid gratuitous smears in there to signal his tribal allegiance?

  36. 36
    Mike S says:

    Here he is using one of the most powerful Tehadist dogwhistles which I think of as right-wing “Fear of Freeloaders”.

    So long as public employees are highly paid, enjoy benefits more lavish than their private sector analogues, and work under contracts that hamstring the ability of their agencies to perform and adapt…

    I am so sick of hearing this in all of the many versions we have had yelled by the right-wing noise machine this year, from “Young bucks buying T-bones” to “Lazy union thugs”. Sigh.

    I am going to go buy Pita bread now and make a nice Luleh Kebab dinner now.

  37. 37
    Karmakin says:

    The alternative is to make full employment the primary government goal. Full stop. But they have no interest in that either.

    The major problem here however, is a lack of understanding on how the modern labor market works. Here’s what’s meant by “flexibility”. Lets say in a post office, you have two people working at the front end, and 3 sorters. Everything is going good, but the amount of mail traffic picks up, so you need more sorters. What they mean by flexibility, is training the front end people to do sorting as well, so when the front end isn’t buy they can be sorting, maximizing productivity.

    Then it quiets down. Well, we don’t need 3 sorters, and the front-end people are trained, so we’ll let someone go and the front end people can do the extra work if it’s needed. BUT says the typical person..the remaining people do more work so they’re worth more, right? NO. There’s actually an unemployed experienced worker there, meaning the market value for the remaining employees actually decreases.

    People like Connor probably never spent a single hour in this type of job (most people probably never did), so they simply don’t understand modern managerial concepts at all.

  38. 38
    Citizen Alan says:

    As I’ve said many times, I’ll vote Republican before I ever vote Libertarian, and I’ll commit suicide before I ever vote Republican. Conor’s utopia is a future where his grandchildren will curse his name for his role, however large or small, in destroying any chance for them to have a decent life.

  39. 39
    MattR says:

    @Comrade Dread: I saw this attitude pop up recently in a discussion of the NFL labor situation. A commenter basically said that the courts had to rule that the NFLPA’s decertification was a sham because to do otherwise would allow unions to screw over management anytime they wanted by decertifying. Thankfully a couple other people pointed out that in the vast majority of cases management would love for a union to decertify (and also that because of this, Republicans have passed legislation making it easier for unions to decertify themselves and/or be decertified by an outside body)

  40. 40
    artem1s says:

    @Southern Beale:

    count down to someone demanding to see the ‘long’ form…3, 2, 1…

  41. 41
    Bulworth says:

    @Southern Beale: No. Journalistic bottom for Breitbart-Tucker doesn’t exist. It’s like peak wingnut. Can’t be reached. It’s bottomless.

  42. 42
    Doug Harlan J says:

    Conor has been doing a good job post-Sully, I think he’s worth reading and occasionally smacking down now.

  43. 43
    BGinCHI says:

    @rdldot: Jetpacks?

  44. 44
    Bulworth says:

    The alternative is to make full employment the primary government goal.

    OMG! Soshulizm! Look-out! Inflation!!

  45. 45
    BGinCHI says:

    @Doug Harlan J: I hope he faints from your damned praise.

  46. 46

    @Violet:

    It was a picture of the phony Breitbart “Weiner” TwitPic and a close-up of (allegedly) Weiner’s crotch in his suit pants with a poll: Do you think this photo is real?

    Of course, we have no way of knowing if the suit-pants pic is real. But really … how tacky can you get?

  47. 47
    Joel says:

    Not only do UPS and FedEx not provide basic bulk mailing services, they outsource rural delivery to the USPS.

  48. 48

    Ben Franklin is rolling over in his grave.

  49. 49
    the fenian says:

    Sorry, he sounds like a schmuck.

  50. 50
    The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik says:

    @S. cerevisiae:
    @Ben Wolf:
    @Cermet:

    Thanks for the suggestions guys, though I was aiming for more ‘mainstream’ outlets. I know there are great blogs especially Real Climate and such. But I was hoping there were more ‘mainstream’ and less ‘niche’ places, just as a hopeful assurance that the issue truly hasn’t been lost (as, let’s face it, no one with power will do anything if the WaPo, NYT, or CNN say Climate Change is a fake problem, even if Real Climate and other places run by actual people in the field say otherwise).

  51. 51
    Freddie deBoer says:

    Thanks for the feedback guys. I’m off to a minor league ballgame. (These ‘Cats rock!)

  52. 52
    aimai says:

    A) there is zero evidence that Conor Friedsdorf cares about anything, much less other people.

    B) my neighbor is a post office worker. The grueling standards for walking and delivering have literally crushed his knees–he’s in his early fifties–now he’s being told that he is “too young” to have knee surgery. He’s in agony, can’t do the elongated and brutal rounds they dictate, and doesn’t know what to do. Unionization seems to be no protection for the health and safety of the average worker. Non unionization would be worse. It should cost money to deliver mail the way it is delivered–people’s lives and health need to be protected and that is going to cost money. I’m sorry if that comes as a shock to people like Conor who think that when workers work too hard, get sick, crippled, or can’t work anymore they should just vanish and their jobs be taken over by the worker fairy.

    aimai

  53. 53
    Brachiator says:

    @Martin:
    @Warren Terra:

    Well, the entire point of creating a national postal system, and establishing by congressional fiat that it cannot have a competitor, was recognition that a free-market postal system cannot work.

    I don’t get it. The newspaper and magazine industry is dying and most people, including Balloon Juice posters, can’t wait for it to go away. Ebooks are overtaking printed books and while some people initially wailed and gnashed their teeth, most people are accommodating the change.

    The primary purpose of the postal service, delivering first class mail, has largely disappeared and yet some want to cry as though the postal service as it currently exists is essential to our national identity.

    Yeah, a first class letter is still a bargain. But how many people have written a letter and sent it by mail within the last year? The last five years? I doubt that I have mailed anything other than a bill or a business parcel since 1990.

    In California and other states, stale, obsolete regulations require that a printed phone book be delivered to consumers. I regularly see copies stacked up outside abandoned buildings. The people hired to deliver them know that no one wants them and don’t even bother trying to deliver them to some businesses and residences. On the other hand, I see mail carriers dutifully delivering junk mail, even though the majority of it immediately goes into the trash, or just sits for days in the lower mail bins of apartment buildings. And yet the junk mail often makes up the majority of the mail carrier’s daily load.

    Meanwhile, I notice that physical mail boxes have been removed from many areas, the post office has cut back its hours, and over the weekend, a note was left saying that the Post Office was re-evaluating its delivery schedule in my area. A couple of years ago, the local post office nearest me moved to a cheaper, less convenient physical location; they also eliminated weekend service, so they effectively became useless to me.

    I would gladly pay a dollar or more to make sure that some level of universal mail service be maintained. But the issue is not that the postal service is bloated and ineffective. It is that it is becoming largely irrelevant. It’s pointless to talk about maintaining it in its present form simply as an exercise in nostalgia.

  54. 54
    jacy says:

    @Doug Harlan J:

    Yeah, and people kept defending Sully over and over and over again, until he finally got moved into the monitor/mock category. Every once in a while young Conor might accidentally say something of merit, but I think it’s far outweighed by the libertarian/contrarian tut-tutting he’s far more liable to spew. Sure, he’s not McMegan, but that’s an incredibly low bar.

  55. 55
    Judas Escargot says:

    Because when Conor talks about expensive and inflexible labor force, what he’s talking about is that people in these jobs are well-paid and have job security

    This.

    “Expensive” by whose standards? Who decided that physical labor doesn’t deserve decent compensation? “Inflexible” as opposed to what, not needing 2000 calories a day and enough money to afford a place to live?

    Weasel words, all.

    Especially when they come from “pundits” with no discernible real-world expertise, paid to essentially sit on their duffs all day and lecture the rest of us on all the sacrifices we’ll have to make.

    (Awesome, awesome takedown BTW. Damned shame he won’t be engaging you directly).

  56. 56
    Corey says:

    I can’t figure out whether the postal service is inefficient or not, and have no real, strong opinion on the matter.

    But that said, the argument that we should keep an inefficient public service inefficient because of the people it employs is pretty lame. Prisons employ a lot of people, too.

  57. 57
    aimai says:

    @Comrade Dread:

    Mysteriously, conservatives also believe that companies would rather deal with each worker individually and negotiate a new contract and new work rules for each worker. That’s really not true. That doesn’t happen because we don’t live in a full employment economy in which the worker and the corporation meet on a level playing field *and* if we did the companies would be begging for something like a union to come in and organize the workers so that a single set of rules apply to them to save time negotiating every little thing.

    aimai

  58. 58
    Violet says:

    @Southern Beale:
    Oh, gawd. No….. REALLY? Just your description of it is enough to make me ill. That’s disgusting. I really hope Tucker gets caught in some kind of scandal. He’s earned it.

  59. 59
    Katie5 says:

    Just wait until all those libertarians retire from their jobs, where they were hired not as employees but brought in as consultants. They’ll have no retirement savings, no long term access to health care (because the republicans will have gutted Medicare). Then they’ll rethink their all-you-have-to-do-is-to-be-an-entrepreneur mentality.

    Oh wait, they’ll still blame the lefties.

  60. 60
    BGinCHI says:

    @Corey: Who said it should be kept inefficient?

  61. 61
    DB says:

    This.

  62. 62
    Jado says:

    “We have embraced the conservative, free market vision of smashing unions, eroding the New Deal and Great Society, and letting the profits on top run wild for three decades. To show for it we have endlessly stagnated wages for those in the middle and at the bottom. Your way is not working, Conor.”

    Sounds like it’s working perfectly. You assume these are not the intended consequences. I assure they are.

  63. 63
    HyperIon says:

    @ppcli wrote:

    Ask anyone who has grown up outside of the US, as I did. They will tell you the same thing: the US postal service is miraculous. Spectacular. You guys have no idea how good you’ve got it.

    Yep. And I didn’t grow up outside the US. I just traveled abroad and noticed how expensive it was to mail anything compared to the USPS rates. But bashing the PO is something a lot of US citizens like to do… Why?

  64. 64
    Mark says:

    I loved reading this post.

  65. 65
    brantl says:

    Conor is a bright guy who cares, so it’s extra depressing that he wrote a post that, as most conservative writing nowadays does, demonstrates total apathy towards the material well-being of broad classes of human beings, without owning up to that.

    What evidence is there that he cares about anything but the rich?

  66. 66
    Martin says:

    @Brachiator:

    The primary purpose of the postal service, delivering first class mail, has largely disappeared and yet some want to cry as though the postal service as it currently exists is essential to our national identity.

    Largely disappeared does not mean disappeared. Guaranteed postal service was established as a way to ensure that any American could be contacted. That meant being able to conduct a census that was guaranteed to reach every household. That meant being able to send tax and other critical government information, and having a mechanism whereby anyone could reliably return that information.

    There are aspects of the postal system that the private carriers don’t replicate. They don’t have the same kinds of delivery certification that the postal service offers, simply because it’s too expensive to do. They don’t deliver everywhere in the US, and they don’t provide an easy and guaranteed way for individuals to send information, nor is their business model equipped for that. Unlike the postal service, they don’t check every mailbox in the United States every day to see if there is outgoing mail, and they’re never going to. There are still a lot of things that you just can’t do electronically.

  67. 67
    schrodinger's cat says:

    Conor is a bright guy

    How did you figure that? I used to read Conor when he guest blogged for Sullivan and I found him to be insipid and neither bright nor incisive.

  68. 68
    cleek says:

    @HyperIon:

    But bashing the PO is something a lot of US citizens like to do… Why?

    people enjoy complaining.

  69. 69
    Shoemaker-Levy 9 says:

    the post office provides a service that cannot be provided through markets and the profit motive.

    This can’t be said often enough, and it also can’t be said often enough that the USPS provides a massive subsidy to private markets that our beloved free enterprise system would surely miss if it were gone. The USPS is also, propaganda to the contrary, a superbly run system. Consider:

    Conor decides to send a birthday card to his Aunt Tilly, who happens to live on Guam. So he sets down the TV remote, grabs the air duster can, blows the Cheetohs dust off his fingers, leans over to the coffee table, and signs the card, then seals it in its envelope and writes Aunt Tilly’s address on the front in a scrawl that would embarrass a second grader. He then peels the stamp from its backing — they’re all peel-off now because licking is just too damned difficult for an American — and manages to affix it to the broad side of the envelope. Now comes the hard part; Conor has to struggle off the couch and make his way to the mailbox, which is forty feet away. He could walk, but since he’s an American he stumbles instead to the garage, starts up the Chevy Suburban, and drives the remaining twenty feet to the mailbox. He places the envelope in the box and — will his travails never end? — puts the flag in the upright position. Breathing deeply, he returns to the couch.

    Total cost, excluding the external cost of Cheetohs and fuel for the SUV: 44 cents. That gets his card from his front porch, which I presume is somewhere on the east coast, to the other side of the planet.

    I wish the free marketeers would keep their fanatical religion to themselves.

  70. 70
    Corey says:

    @BGinCHI: I mean, the whole argument of this post is that an analysis of the Postal Service’s solvency is incomplete without considering the people it employs. I don’t think this is true; the postal service exists for its customers, not for its employees.

  71. 71
    Han's Solo says:

    In my youth I worked for fedex as a courier. I remember talking with a UPS courier who was stunned we didn’t have a union. He didn’t know how we did it.

    How? Well, the executives at fedex were terrified that we would unionize and made sure to pay us well enough that we did not. We didn’t unionize because we didn’t think we needed to.

    In my experience unions are like firearms: you don’t need them until you NEED them. And sometimes all you need is the fear of unions to make your company treat you like an actual human being and not just an asterisk in the latest quarterly report.

    Quantify that for me! How many millions of people are better off because the companies they work for are terrified of unions?

  72. 72
    KXB says:

    “Not only do UPS and FedEx not provide basic bulk mailing services, they outsource rural delivery to the USPS.”

    True, anytime a major corporation expands into a rural area where the land and labor are cheap, they do not have to factor in mailing costs, because the USPS cannot discriminate among customers based on location. OTOH, if you are tucked away in some corner of West Virginia, FedEx or UPS may charge you substantially more than if you live in a metro area.

    When I get an order from an overseas client, 9 times out of 10 I use the USPS to send the package, since it is a fraction of the cost of FedEx or DHL. Using either their website or software like Stamps.com, I can print out clean customs form – no more handwritten forms.

  73. 73
    Dave S. says:

    Conor is a bright guy who cares…

    I see evidence of neither.

  74. 74
    alwhite says:

    I happen to know a bit about USPS as I have worked a contract for them this year. Inflexible work force is not one of the structural problems they have.
    They are top heavy – have announced management reductions, we’ll see how that goes.
    Management is not filled with innovative thinkers – they charge less, deliver better and can be as fast as FedEX or UPS but they are unable to convey that message. They need better PR.
    They are over funding their retirement – unlike private business, Congress requires USPS to fully fund their pension system. That was a good thing when people never left the service but now many people leave & the reality is the pension fund does not require all that money. Even the Postal Union says the pension is over funded to the tune of $8 BILLION.
    Beltway Bandits – Some very large defense contractor have their hooks into USPS and, like all gov contractor, are attached like a leach sucking as much out as possible. They would be less expensive if they were USPS employees.

  75. 75
    Berial says:

    @Brachiator:

    But how many people have written a letter and sent it by mail within the last year? The last five years? I doubt that I have mailed anything other than a bill or a business parcel since 1990.

    Just want to point out, in your very own example; YOU have sent a letter within the last year. You just called it a ‘bill’ instead of what the USPS would call it, a ‘letter’.

    I would suggest that instead of thinking of how many letters you have sent in the last year, think of how many have you received? Just because you haven’t sent anything doesn’t mean you aren’t using the service.

  76. 76

    @Corey: The post office wouldn’t exist without its employees.

  77. 77
    BGinCHI says:

    @Corey: Why can’t it exist for both, while having appropriate standards for efficiency? And why isn’t the overall public good generated part of the calculation?

    Are roads worth only what it costs to pave them?

  78. 78
    Sentient Puddle says:

    @Joel:

    Not only do UPS and FedEx not provide basic bulk mailing services, they outsource rural delivery to the USPS.

    I live in a bloody suburb and FedEx outsources most of my deliveries to the USPS. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to find that sad on some level, but I do.

  79. 79
    JGabriel says:

    Freddie @ Top:

    Here [Friedersdorf] is, asking “Can Progressives Fix the US Postal Service?”

    Huh. I just came from the post office. The service was impersonal but competent — which is fine: I don’t need a personal relationship with the NYC post office.

    Whenever I need to mail something that won’t fit in a regular envelope, I use one those flat rate boxes. They’re cheap and they always get there in two to three days.

    Why do conservatives and libertarians always want to “fix” things that ain’t broken? It’s like they are personally affronted if something doesn’t generate obscene profit for some upper-class parasitic asshole.

    .

  80. 80
    Origuy says:

    Conor is a bright guyan honourable man

    So are they all, all honourable men.

  81. 81
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Dave S.:
    This is just a guess on my part, but Freddie may be angling to be a blogger at the Atlantic someday, and then it wouldn’t be nice to call your future colleague names.

  82. 82
    Suffern ACE says:

    @HyperIon: Because it was easier to tell children that their cards and birthday presents didn’t arrive because of the post office than to tell them “Aunt Tilly doesn’t like you enough to send you anything, let alone mail it on time. You just aren’t that important.”

    Also, because people have to – STAND IN LINE! OMG. YOU HAVE TO STAND IN LINE AT THE POST OFFICE and IT DOESN’T MATTER IF YOU’RE ME OR THE MAN WHO MOWS MY LAWN! (Kind of like the DMV).

  83. 83

    @JGabriel:

    It’s like they are personally affronted if something doesn’t generate obscene profit for some upper-class parasitic asshole.

    To be fair, the parisitic assholes at FedEx have a deal with the USPS now so I’m sure they’re making gobs of obscene money off the deal.

  84. 84
    dino says:

    The problem with this piece is that you use the term “free market” when in reality you are describing a corporatist economy, not a free market. The hallmark of free markets are competition. What in todays economy resembles true free market competition? Most all major industries have been consolidated into oligopolies which do the exact opposite of create competition. Just because people scream about their love for, and the omnipotence of free markets, doesn’t mean they are true free marketeers. There is a difference between paying lip service to free markets and actually having free markets. Nothing in the past three decades has reflected a true free market economy. Corporatism is not a form of free markets. And to confuse or conflate the two makes the argument that free markets cause all of our financial problems utterly ridiculous. The economic problems of the past three decades are simply a result of big business in bed with big government. What part of that represents a free market?

  85. 85
    BGinCHI says:

    @dino: There is no such thing as a free market.

  86. 86
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @dino: Also businesses don’t particularly like perfect competition since firms are price takers (i.e. they cannot set the price) whenever you have perfect competition.

  87. 87

    @schrodinger’s cat: Then he might want to reconsider posting on balloon juice.

  88. 88
    josefina says:

    @aimai:

    Mysteriously, conservatives also believe that companies would rather deal with each worker individually and negotiate a new contract and new work rules for each worker. That’s really not true.

    Exhibit A: The fact that no one ever knows what their co-workers, working the same job, are paid. Some companies make revealing one’s salary a firing offense, and we’re all socialized into a general financial Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It’s awfully hard to negotiate the best possible contract when you don’t even know where to start.

  89. 89

    @dino:

    The hallmark of free markets are competition anarchy.

    Also, what @BGinCHI said.

  90. 90
    dino says:

    Does it matter to anyone here that the USPS loses boatloads of money every year? Why should a business that perpetually operates in the red continue to pay healthy wages and give healthy benefits when the money they are doing it with comes from us the taxpayers? Would anyone here want to keep that money rather than pay it in taxes to support a business that cant turn a profit? Or is it okay because USPS is a government jobs program that keeps people working (as not to increase unemployment numbers) regardless of how much of individual personal wealth is taken from taxpayers to keep it operating?

  91. 91

    The grueling standards for walking and delivering have literally crushed his knees—he’s in his early fifties—now he’s being told that he is “too young” to have knee surgery.

    @aimai: He’s too young to have knee replacement. And frankly, from my experience with knee surgery, surgery doesn’t do shit for someone who has osteoarthritis, or torn menisci, or most of the other issues that happen when our knees wear out.

    He’s kind of fucked. They should cashier him out on permanent disability, but the Postal Service are known notorious assholes about not doing that.

  92. 92
    dino says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    as a free marketeer, I dont care what business like or dont like

  93. 93
    MikeJ says:

    @JGabriel:

    Huh. I just came from the post office. The service was impersonal but competent

    I wish I could get coffee that way. No, you don’t need to know about my day, and no, don’t use a fucking 16oz cup for two shots of espresso.

  94. 94
    Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937 says:

    “Can Progressives Fix the US Postal Service?”
    I wasn’t aware that it is broken. Next question.

  95. 95
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @dino: Since you call yourself a free marketer can you explain what that means to the rest of us and give us an example of a free market.
    ETA: If businesses don’t participate, there will be no market, free or otherwise.

  96. 96
    BGinCHI says:

    @dino: Because it has a worth that is greater than that balance sheet. Because there is a public good that comes from it.

    Are public highways profitable? Should we shut them down? Stop paving them?

    Are stop lights turning a profit?

    Argue for a better post office and think about what you are talking about or go for an electric scooter ride and shut the fuck up.

  97. 97
    Mike M says:

    The USPS is not a business; it is a public service. It is constrained by law to do certain things (e.g., deliver to all addresses in the US, carry mail free for the blind, etc.) and prohibited by law from doing other things (e.g. setting its own rates, choosing markets and customers, etc.) Nevertheless, it has run quite well on its own for decades, and until the Postal Act of 2006, even managed to accrue significant surpluses from time to time.

    A private business could certainly run the USPS profitably, but the first thing it would do would be to cut services, especially to rural areas, and hike rates. First class mail service is declining, but it is still a multibillion dollar business and far from “irrelevant” as some commentators suggest. There are many private businesses that would love to take over the delivery of mail in metropolitan areas, where it is easy to do things cheaply and profitably. Not so much for the long haul routes servicing smaller cities and rural areas.

    As far as I can tell, the USPS is a master of logistics that would put to shame many other large corporations. After all, it delivers 40% of the world’s mail quite quickly and with relatively few problems.

    We need to decide how much we are willing to pay for this public service. But let’s not blame the postal workers for the cost.

  98. 98
    dino says:

    @BGinCHI:

    then will you stop blaming free markets for all of our economic problems?

  99. 99
    BGinCHI says:

    @dino: There is no such thing as a free market.

    Please to make sense or stop the typing.

  100. 100
    BGinCHI says:

    @dino: That’s perfect.

    Everyone got that?

    OK, genius, to be clear, the only blame is to the folks like you who don’t understand how markets and economies work and therefore can frame everything in terms of a market that doesn’t exist. It’s a fantasy. We don’t share it.

    And so I’ll make this easy: we don’t “blame the free market” because there is no such thing. We blame the people who fetishize them and wreck the economy we actually have.

  101. 101
    KXB says:

    @dino:

    Not one red cent of tax money goes to support the postal service. All of its revenue is from the sale of goods and services – postage, postal insurance, passports, etc.

    OTOH – FedEx and UPS often arm-twist governments into tax waivers and subsidies when they open a new facility. FedEx’s mammoth facility in China was achieved by simply pushing out thousands of inconvenient Chinese, and not having to pay them for their land.

  102. 102
    Turgidson says:

    @Judas Escargot:

    (Awesome, awesome takedown BTW. Damned shame he won’t be engaging you directly).

    And if he does, it’ll be “a writer at Balloon Juice says…” followed by a gross mischaracterization/oversimplification of the post and a glib reply that refutes nothing except the strawmen in Conor’s head. Too bad.

  103. 103

    @dino:

    as a free marketeer, I dont care what business like or dont like

    Obvious troll is obvious. Would you like a unicorn pony too?

  104. 104
    MattR says:

    @dino:

    Why should a business that perpetually operates in the red continue to pay healthy wages and give healthy benefits when the money they are doing it with comes from us the taxpayers?

    Like public education, police and fire departments and many other things, the USPS is a public service that is required regardless of whether or not it operates in the black. While losing money should not be encouraged, neither should it be used to justify paying the employees minimum wage and providing them with no benefits. Their wages and benefits should be pegged to the work they do and the service they provide, not their ability to turn a profit.

  105. 105
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @dino: Since you call yourself a free marketer can you explain what that means to the rest of us and give us an example of a free market. If businesses don’t participate, there will be no market free or otherwise.

    Since my comment was eated I am resubmitting it.

  106. 106

    @dino:

    Does it matter to anyone here that the USPS military industrial complex loses boatloads of money every year? Why should a business that perpetually operates in the red continue to pay healthy wages and give healthy benefits when the money they are doing it with comes from us the taxpayers? Would anyone here want to keep that money rather than pay it in taxes to support a business that cant turn a profit? Or is it okay because USPS military industrial complex is a government jobs program that keeps people working (as not to increase unemployment numbers) regardless of how much of individual personal wealth is taken from taxpayers to keep it operating?

    see how that works, moron?

  107. 107

    Why should a business that perpetually operates in the red continue to pay healthy wages and give healthy benefits when the money they are doing it with comes from us the taxpayers?

    @dino (IDIOT): The USPS doesn’t get most of its money from taxpayers. It is largely self-sufficient, and if it weren’t for two working conditions mandated by Congress, they would be insanely profitable:

    1. Saturday delivery.
    2. They have to accept and ship junk mail at less than market rates. You can thank your Republican Chamber of Commerce buddies for that.

    The USPS keeps begging Congress to be released from these two burdens, and Congress consistently refuses.

    You will next cite UPS and FedEx as examples of private enterprise “doing it right”. Over 90% of FedEx and UPS parcels travel through the US Postal Service at some point; if it weren’t for the USPS, those companies – especially FedEx – would not exist.

  108. 108

    @arguingwithsignposts: Chisel THAT into the headstone of conservative idiocy. That was fucking brilliant.

  109. 109
    Gustopher says:

    As someone who lives in a city that is dense enough to make delivery pretty cost effective, I say let’s give privatization a try.

    It won’t work, but the people it will screw over are the rural people who keep voting for Republicans. Maybe they will be able to learn some kind of lesson from this, and it’s a lot less worse than trying to learn the lesson with Medicare or Social Security.

    Worst that happens for me is less junk mail. And businesses having to coordinate with a dozen regional local mail carriers.

    With all the duplication and inefficiencies, we might have an answer to some of that unemployment (at the cost of the jobs of the current postal employees)

  110. 110
    Warren Terra says:

    @Failure, Inc.:
    This. In spades, with bells on.

  111. 111
    dino says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    I do, I’m not a conservative, and I oppose 90% of military spending

  112. 112
    Montysano says:

    So it would appear that “a decent wage and some modicum of security” is the new “strapping young bucks buying t-bone steaks”?

  113. 113
    spark says:

    Outstanding. One of the best things I’ve read on here in a long while.

  114. 114
    Cermet says:

    @dino: so does GE and most corporations all post huge losses to the IRS, that is so we, the regular taxpayer foot a larger bill and they provide profits to the elite. The USPO has to provide honest returns and frankly, delivers to everyone by law – also, they have to keep rates low by order of congress so how could they not have a loss? Also, most all roads run at a loss as does NASA and the DoD and … your point is not valid and makes no sense for government departments (and USPO is not a real company) or do you just want every one to be a slave to corporations to make a profit? I bet you demand the best raise possible – why don’t you work for less to make sure your employer makes a better profit? Wait, you are special, right?

  115. 115
    trollhattan says:

    @res ipsa loquitur:

    Yup, if he were a pokarrrh {thus, avoiding moderation] playah, with a tell like that he’d be wearing libertarian wood barrel pants.

  116. 116
    trollhattan says:

    @res ipsa loquitur:

    Yup, if he were a pokarrrh {thus, avoiding moderation] playah, with a tell like that he’d be wearing libertarian wood barrel pants.

  117. 117
    Brachiator says:

    @Berial:

    Just want to point out, in your very own example; YOU have sent a letter within the last year. You just called it a ‘bill’ instead of what the USPS would call it, a ‘letter’.

    Uh, no. There is a clear difference between a bill and a letter. And the USPS own data shows the dramatically the decline in first class mail handled by the service.

    Facing unprecedented volume declines and a projected, cumulative $238 billion shortfall during the next decade, Postmaster General John E. Potter today outlined an aggressive plan of cost cutting, increased productivity, and an array of legislative and regulatory changes necessary to maintain a viable United States Postal Service.
    __
    Mail volume is projected to fall from 177 billion in 2009 to 150 billion in 2020. That represents a 37 percent decline in First-Class Mail alone. Revenue contributed by First-Class Mail will plummet from 51 percent today to about 35 percent in 2020.
    __
    If the Postal Service takes no action, it will face a cumulative shortfall of $238 billion by 2020. But Potter outlined a number of actions that could amount to as much as $123 billion in savings during that same time period. These actions build on the Postal Service’s record of saving more than $1 billion every year since 2001 and include continuing to aggressively control costs and eliminating hundreds of millions of work hours. Despite these efforts, an estimated $115 billion shortfall will remain.

    The USPS, as most people know it, is becoming as obsolete as print media. There is no point in pretending that this is not the case. As it currently is constituted, the USPS no longer serves the purpose for which it was created.

    I would suggest that instead of thinking of how many letters you have sent in the last year, think of how many have you received?

    None. Not a single personal letter. This is why God created email. And Twitter. And Facebook. And the telephone.

  118. 118
    dino says:

    I’m a classical liberal dying for a liberaltarian alliance, however, this is the problem with partisan liberal democrats. How can people who are (or at least claim to be) so skeptical of government when it comes to war, peoples sex lives, reproductive rights, political and civil liberties, etc, be so sure of governments righteousness in economic matters and the like. I’m willing to compromise some of my positions on economic matters to advance and expand civil and political liberties (the things I care most about), are you?

  119. 119
    trollhattan says:

    Also, too, an underappreciated/valued “service” is the way letter carriers provide social “glue” on their routes (likely true of some neighborhood and small town post offices). They often are the only person many people see in their daily lives. That was the case for my grandmother her last few years, and he went so far to keep in touch with my mother to update her on how my grandmother was doing.

    If we rid ourselves of daily mail delivery we’ll be relying on the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

  120. 120
    BGinCHI says:

    @dino: The day the GOP is gone along with all the people stupid enough to vote for them is the day we can have that conversation.

    I’d love it if the Dems were the only problem.

  121. 121
    worn says:

    @dino: Correct me if I am mistaken here, but the country’s military also “loses boatloads of money” each year, if the metric you are proposing is simply what is spent by the government as compared to the income extracted from the public ostensibly to “pay for” the particular portion of government under scrutiny. Without going and searching down the actual figures, I imagine the difference between the postal service and the institutions for national defense are at least an order of magnitude apart.

    So my questions to you would be along these lines: Do you believe it possible (for some portion of) the government to provide a service that is of a collective, social value outside of that which is easily quantified via standard business accounting? If the answer to the above is “No”, would you consider it reasonable to shut down the Army, Navy, Air Force & Marines and outsource these government functions to private entities that are less expensive in the strict business accounting sense?

  122. 122

    @dino, i’d sooner DIAF that partner with a libertarian or whatever your twisted def of a classical liberal is.

  123. 123

    The USPS, as most people know it, is becoming as obsolete as print media. There is no point in pretending that this is not the case. As it currently is constituted, the USPS no longer serves the purpose for which it was created.

    @Brachiator: Have to agree. For every delivery, I get about 30 pieces of junk and one relevant financial statement/personal letter.

    None. Not a single personal letter. This is why God created email. And Twitter. And Facebook. And the telephone.

    Almost there. However, there is a unique problem concerning the USPS; you can’t abolish it without a Constitutional amendment, and we know that in today’s political climate, you couldn’t get 75% of the states to sign off on getting every citizen a million dollars, a steak dinner, and a blowjob afterwards.

  124. 124
    KXB says:

    @Brachiator:

    Again, you are focusing on first-class mail, which I agree is dropping rapidly. You ignore parcels. You probably notice all the USPS commercials about Flat Rate Priority Mail. They are trying to sell themselves to compete with the ground services of UPS and FedEx. Which is fine – competition is good. But my small business has so far spent over $2,000 in postage in 2011. That covers everything from first-class mail, Media Mail for books, Parcel Post for mixed items, and overseas packages. If I diverted even 10% to FedEx or UPS, I would have blown my budget.

    eBay, Amazon, Overstock – if they did not have the USPS as an option, would they have flourished?

  125. 125
    Peggy says:

    snarxist- The Economist does global warming well. Recent issue, this week or last, has three pages on how humans have so transformed the earth that geologists are declaring a new era. Mainstream, but English, their pro-capitalist bias is impeccable.

  126. 126

    also, @dino, nope, i’m not willing to compromise on econ. matters with ppl who seem to think theres some mythical free market.

  127. 127
    dino says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    yes, my twisted idea of classical liberalism, individual freedom and liberty, peace, free enterprise…spooky

  128. 128
    worn says:

    @Brachiator: Single data point, not indicative of much, but I thought I’d offer it anyhow:

    Re: The people hired to deliver them know that no one wants them and don’t even bother trying to deliver them to some businesses and residences

    Twenty or so years ago when I moved out to the Pacific Northwest, I spent the first year in fairly destitute straights. As such I took a temporary job delivering phone books to try and put together some money to return home for Xmas. The pay was a meager as any I’ve ever secured. As such, there was a system in place to assure the personnel weren’t making a quick delivery to the nearest dumpster. When one was assigned an area, you were provided a list of all the delivery locations within it. The catch was that there were both extant addresses that weren’t on the list, as well as ones that were but didn’t actually exist. Upon finishing a route, one handed back to the dispatcher an edited list. Miss too many addresses in either category and you weren’t given another delivery route. That such a check system existed was not the cause of any surprise; rather it seemed a first order problem, that if not solved would sentence the whole enterprise to exactly the kind of abuse you imagine.

    Full disclosure: I hate home-delivered phone books, considering them almost the very definition of obsolescence.

  129. 129
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:
    Freddie is a classic glibertarian, as is Connor.
    That is the catchall term for all classic liberals, liberal-tarians, libertarians, civil libertarians, etc, etc.
    Unified Field Theory of Libertarianism- A glibertarian (aka crypto-conservative that doesnt want to be associated with teabaggers, pretribs, and mormons) is a term embracing all the weasel word variants of libertarianism; classic liberals, bleeding heart libertarians, civil libertarians, liberaltarians, paleo-libertarians, etc, etc.
    There is a reason they all have liber in their self-description. Libertarian has devolved to mean freedom for me, but not for thee.

    Shorter Freddie: the Free Market, like the Cake, is a Lie. But its all we know.

  130. 130
    Brachiator says:

    @Martin:

    Largely disappeared does not mean disappeared.

    I was being kind. Again, I find it interesting that most people don’t seem to care that hundreds of thousands of people have lost their jobs or been downsized as newspapers and magazines and bookstores and news stands go out of existence, but think that it so essential that the USPS be maintained even as it declines into obsolescence.

    Guaranteed postal service was established as a way to ensure that any American could be contacted. That meant being able to conduct a census that was guaranteed to reach every household.

    We recently finished the census. The USPS had minimal involvement. And surely you don’t mean to suggest that the USPS be maintained so that we can effectively take a census every ten years?

    Also, people’s notion of the history of the postal service is somewhat romantic, fanciful, and wrong. The beginnings, of course, antedate the nation. A few highlights.

    In Colonial times, mail was simply delivered by friends, merchants and Native Americans. Because colonists needed to send mail back to England, the first official postal service was established in 1639 when the General Court of Massachusetts designated Richard Fairbanks’ tavern in Boston as the official mail drop for overseas parcels. Using a tavern for the mail may seem odd, but it was common in England for taverns and coffeehouses to be used as mail drops.
    __
    Most local authorities began establishing their own routes between the colonies, but it was not until 1683 that William Penn established an official post office in Pennsylvania. In the South, private messengers relayed mail between plantations.
    __
    A more centralized postal organization came about in 1691 when the British Crown gave Thomas Neale a 21-year grant for a North American postal service. In 1707, the British government bought the rights to the North American postal service and appointed local deputy postmasters general. This continued until 1774, when the colonists’ dislike for British control led to the establishment of a Constitutional postal service for intercolonial mail. The people paid for this service, and all revenues went into its improvement.
    __
    The Boston riots in 1774 led to the creation of the Continental Congress and the beginnings of an independent government. In 1775, the Continental Congress appointed Benjamin Franklin as the first postmaster general, in charge of the newly created Post Office Department. Franklin had proven his abilities when he was appointed postmaster general in Philadelphia in 1737 and had brought new organization, speed, and reliability to the service.

    But you’re right on one key point:

    In 1792, the Private Express Statutes established an official monopoly to ensure that the postal service had sufficient revenue to provide consistent mail service to all areas of the nation — without having to charge rural areas more than urban areas.

    I think this is still an important principle. But the current USPS cannot fulfill this charter. And again, the USPS is largely irrelevant to urban communication.

    There are aspects of the postal system that the private carriers don’t replicate. They don’t have the same kinds of delivery certification that the postal service offers, simply because it’s too expensive to do.

    This is becoming less important, and also less expensive as alternative methods of sending information becomes established. A lot of private messenger services and even fax services have disappeared. And people have started emailing contracts and other sensitive communications. On the other hand, delivery service companies have expanded some of their services in ways that the USPS either does not do or is not allowed to do. I recently had to have something notarized and ended up going to a FedEx office to get it done.

    They don’t deliver everywhere in the US, and they don’t provide an easy and guaranteed way for individuals to send information, nor is their business model equipped for that. Unlike the postal service, they don’t check every mailbox in the United States every day to see if there is outgoing mail, and they’re never going to.

    I noted that mailboxes are starting to disappear, and mail collection times are being drastically cut back, so this is becoming less of an advantage to the postal service.

    There are still a lot of things that you just can’t do electronically.

    The bottom line is that people are using the USPS less. It’s becoming quaint and outmoded. I don’t know why people cannot face this reality.

  131. 131
    PeakVT says:

    be so sure of governments righteousness in economic matters and the like

    Nobody here is saying that. If you really want a “liberaltarian alliance” the first thing you need to do is learn how to listen to what liberals are actually saying.

  132. 132
    dino says:

    @worn:

    “Do you believe it possible (for some portion of) the government to provide a service that is of a collective, social value outside of that which is easily quantified via standard business accounting? ”

    Yes, and I oppose 90% of military spending and 99% of foreign interventionism. I never said government has no function in providing services for the collective. I favor social insurance programs for those that need it. I find it funny that here, belief in free markets means you want everyone to be a corporate slave (which is the antithesis of true free markets) and if you believe in true free markets you are a conservative. When in the last thirty years have conservatives done anything to advance free markets. Regulating industry to weed out competition for the benefit of massive oligopolies (as done under conservative administrations the last 30 years) is not a form of free markets, its a form of corporatism.

  133. 133
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    saaaaaaay….wasn’t this how EDK started out? Pandering to juicers on empathy for unions?
    And then he got the Forbes gig and did a 180 on teachers unions.
    I think Freddie IS angling for that Atlantic gig.
    Freddie is our new EDK.

  134. 134
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @dino: You still haven’t come up with one single concrete example of a free market.

  135. 135
  136. 136
    HyperIon says:

    @trollhattan wrote:

    If we rid ourselves of daily mail delivery we’ll be relying on the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    Um, I haven’t had a postal worker knock on my door for decades. And these days a lot of mail is delivered to secure mailboxes. My mailbox is not even in sight anywhere from my house.

  137. 137
    Brachiator says:

    @KXB:

    Again, you are focusing on first-class mail, which I agree is dropping rapidly. You ignore parcels.

    I didn’t ignore parcels. By the financials put out by the USPS itself, the most significant reason for its decreasing revenue is the decline in the volume of first class mail.

  138. 138
    KXB says:

    @dino:

    You do realize that the government in Singapore interferes in real estate that would be unfathomable in the U.S., right?

  139. 139
    KXB says:

    @Brachiator:

    First class mail cannot exceed 13 ounces. A “parcel” could be less than that, but most mail classified as parcels is more than one pound.

  140. 140
    Ruckus says:

    @dino:
    You only left out one thing.

    Responsibility to the greater good. That’s the thing that libertarians and conservatives fail at every time.

    Serving your country in the military. At least theoretically for the greater good, many times at maximum loss for the individual.

    Providing services that everyone needs at some time. Food safety, road safety among others. These don’t need to turn a profit but they are essential services that we all benefit from and need to pay according to our abilities.

  141. 141
    BGinCHI says:

    @dino: Where all market functions are guaranteed by the Singapore government and its laws and institutions.

    If you’d gone with Pirates of the Caribbean you’d have been closer.

  142. 142
    Ecks says:

    First class mail may indeed be declining, but all these people on the internets keep buying things on EBay and Amazon and micro sites. And those goods generally can’t be emailed to their recipients… And most of these (lets see, what do we call them in free market language… oh yes) customers don’t want to pay the hefty rates for delivery that UPS and Fed/Ex charge. The USPS does ok out of this activity.

    providing health care for those with Barth’s syndrome can’t be made profitable.

    Sure you can make it profitable… But only for really really rich patients. Or ones willing to go into enormous amounts of debt.

  143. 143
    Peggy says:

    snarxist-Also Nature or Science. They are the most prestigious scientific publications and are quite technical, but their news columns and editorials are very understandable.
    Since they reflect the scientific consensus, both strongly support global warming and frequently editorialize on that subject.
    Nature’s internet barrier allows editorials through. In my day, Science was a relatively cheap subscription. Also, try your library or any university library.

  144. 144
  145. 145
    Warren Terra says:

    @Brachiator:

    By the financials put out by the USPS itself, the most significant reason for its decreasing revenue is the decline in the volume of first class mail.

    This is in no small part because the USPS is required by Congress to subsidize non-first-class mail – so a dropping volume of first-class mail hurts the USPS. Let the USPS charge junk mail and catalog companies and magazines what they need to, and the dropping volume of first-class mail wouldn’t be such an issue.

    Mind you, the effects on magazines would bother me. I’d love to see some sort of special rate for them, perhaps limited to non-profits (which would cover The Nation and presumably The National Review but wouldn’t cover Vogue). But right now the public service of subsidizing magazines and the public disservice of subsidizing Bed Bath And Beyond coupons are born by first-class mail, as you note a shrinking market.

  146. 146
    trollhattan says:

    @HyperIon:

    I have a mail slot next to my front door, as do my neighbors. Please feel free to envy me. :-)

  147. 147
    Baron Jrod of Keeblershire says:

    I don’t identify as a progressive; I think it’s a meaningless weasel word.

    Fuck you too.

  148. 148
    MattR says:

    @dino: Business freedom is not the same as a free market

  149. 149
    Litlebritdifrnt says:

    I am late to this thread but why has no-one pointed out that the USPS is the largest employer of Military Veterans in the Country? Why do these people hate Veterans?

  150. 150
    dino says:

    @MattR:

    i was asked for a concrete example of a free market, entry into business in Denmark is the freest in the world.

  151. 151
    MattR says:

    @dino: Free entry into business is not the only characteristic of a free market. That business freedom index looks at the effort required to start a new business, to get licensing for a new business and to close a business, but it does not look at the other government regulations those business are forced to endure while they are in operation (and that is a key component to whether or not there is a free market)

  152. 152
    Judas Escargot says:

    @dino:

    What in todays economy resembles true free market competition?

    I hear that Rwanda and Somalia are quite lovely this time of year.

  153. 153
    BGinCHI says:

    @dino: Sigh.

    The definition of a market is that it exists in a web of relationships that are regulated so that such relationships can function.

    You are free to argue that markets should have more or less regulation, or that they should have a certain kind of regulation.

    But you cannot argue that they be free of the context of government, since markets are only possible when governing allows a stable context within which they can exist.

    OK?

  154. 154
    fert says:

    Post-master general on 5 USPS myths

    Also, have you heard the joke that UPS and Fedex were merging to become the company ‘Fedup’? I’ve had two mishaps within the last couple of months with UPS losing packages (the worse being when they temporarily lost some of my wedding invitations).

  155. 155
    dino says:

    @MattR:

    Yes, I agree, but in this instance I am only talking about entry into markets or the ability to start a business. I lamented the lack of free markets, not that they are everywhere. Much to my chagrin, free markets hardly exist at all. In previous comments I stated that here in the US we have a corporatist system, where oligopolies attempt to bar entry into their industry. These oligopolies are in bed with the government to prevent their exposure to any competition at all. In that respect, Denmark has a free market when it comes to entry into business.

  156. 156
    Ruckus says:

    @BGinCHI:
    I wonder how hard it is to teach a dead fish to swim?

  157. 157
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @dino: IMHO the theoretical free market has not and can never exist.
    Empirically, attempts at market-based economies only lead to increased inequality in the 20th and 21st century.

    I think, myself, that even a realized “freed” market (to use EDK-terminology) can never deliver improvement in the human condition, and only improves the human condition of the overclass.
    Can you, Dino, for example, explain how the “freed” market could EVAH ‘eat the rich’ as some claim?
    I think the “freed” market is a myth.
    Its just another lie the glibertarians scam the marks with.

  158. 158
    JR in WV says:

    I’m not familiar with this guy with the foreign name, Friedersdorf. But if he is against Unions he is against everything America stands for.

    If it wasn’t for Unions, we would have all worked 12 or 14 hours a day, every day; we would earn barely enough to afford a tiny house or apartment, and eat. There would be no health insurance. No Vacations. No sick leave!

    If you got sick or hurt, you would die. Painfully and quickly.

    Unions created the 40 hour work week. They created benefits like sick leave with pay.

    When I was a little boy, I would play with cousins in my Grandmother’s farm house attic. There were little “secret rooms” under the low parts of the roof. There were closets and old dressers with clothes from the 40s in them, and old stuff that you might see in a black and white film.

    One day we found a home-made toolbox, wooden, with hinges and a handle on top, and a hasp to keep it shut. It was orange, and the padlock wasn’t latched. In fact the key was in the lock. So we opened it.

    It was full of fired machine gun shells, gleaming brass tubes with etched letters and numbers on the base, the remains of actually firing a machine gun. When we asked about the tool box full of shells, Grandma was hesitant to talk about it.

    The box was made by my Uncle Bill, who was (coincidently) a turret machine gunner on a bomber in the South Pacific in WW II. The shells were fired by the National Guard, at United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) organizers during a strike in the 1930s. Uncle Bill gathered the shells up after things settled down.

    Coal miners worked every day at the beginning of the 20th century. The work day was 10 or 12 hours, and they worked every day. The company provided them with a tiny house, because there was no other way for the miners to have a place to live. Unmarried miners lived in dorms called, quaintly, the Clubhouse.

    Company men like foremen got houses with more than one bedroom, and the superintendent got a really nice house on a hill overlooking the company town. You can still find the ruins of these mansions in ghost towns throughout coal country.

    If you went on strike, the company hired people to put you out of your house. Even if your wife was in the middle of delivering a child, they would carry her out into the street.

    The union would often rent land nearby before calling for a strike, and erect a tent village for evicted miners’ families. They would tell everyone to dig slit trenches in the floor of their tent, and to be ready to dive into them at the first sign of trouble.

    Here in West Virginia, on Paint Creek, the union called a strike. The companies combined to form Consolidated Coal which funded the construction of an armored train in the Huntington railroad yards. It was equipped with machine guns. They named it the BullMoose Special. The RR workers who built it were told it was for moving bank monies across the country.

    At night the companies’ guards, Pinkerton men and Baldwin-Felts thugs ran the Bullmoose Special up the railroad (which was the only transportation in and out of the mining camps, there were no roads at all yet) and opened fire on the tent villages near the mines.

    Fortunately, everyone had drilled on diving into the gtrenches with their kids, so casualties were low. The newspapers of the day treated the miners as law-breakers and anarchists. Criminal elements who deserved to be shot without trial. Rabble who didn’t want good mining jobs.

    I learned about this doing oral history projects as a college student in the 1970s, during the period when UMWA miners were calling wildcat (unauthorized by the union) strikes as part of their fight against Black Lung disease.

    IF it wasn’t for unions, it would probably be illegal to quit your job, and it would certainly be illegal to call your boss a son of a bitch.

    If it wasn’t for unions, America would be like Bolivia – a few very rich people who own everything, and the huge majority who have nothing. This is what Republicans want for our country.

    They want most worker to be unable to vote, because they have to work from before the polls open until after the polls close.

    If you miss work, you would be fired, you lose your home, your income, there would be no unemployment insurance, no medical care, no vacations, no long weekends, just grinding work and poverty until you die young, from a well-known industrial disease like coal miners’ black lung, mill workers brown lung, factory and railroad workers asbestosis and cancers.

    When you get sick, the Republican health plan is get sickly, die quickly. And that isn’t a joke. It’s their plan, what they intend for you and your kids and grandkids.

    So get used to it. Or work against it.

  159. 159
    dino says:

    @BGinCHI:

    I’m not making an anarcho-capitalist argument. When government regulations seek to bar entry into business thats no free market. When governments allow and provide licenses to anybody who wishes to start a business, that is a free market in entry into enterprise.

  160. 160

    […] the “What Else Is New” category of blog posts, Freddie takes Conor Friedersdorf to the woodshed for blaming the US Post Office’s problems primarily on high labor costs and suggesting that […]

  161. 161
    Joel says:

    @Brachiator: Newspapers provided a vital economic and informational function but are largely losing readership because alternative information sources have arisen to replace them. Obviously some provide unique value and that’s why they will remain in perpetuity.

    The USPS also provides a vital economic function. You may not send first class mail very often, but many people and businesses do and rely on its availability. Morevoer, the USPS is a less expensive and widely used option for parcel mail, especially for rural areas, which is why private parcel carriers rely on it. Moreover, if the USPS were to disappear or substantially downsize, you’d see a massive inflation in parcel costs, with attendant effects.

  162. 162
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @Baron Jrod of Keeblershire: Freddie is the King of Weasel Words.

  163. 163
    Emma says:

    According to USPS financials for the last quarter, all types of first class mail are declining except for inbound international letter-post and domestic and international parcel services. In fact, all the international letter, package, and ancillary services are up. They still move so much damn stuff that is amazing they can do it as efficiently as they do it. If they were allowed to charge companies the right amount for carrying all the damn catalogs, brochures, and other pieces of bs that they shove into my mailbox every day they would be incredibly profitable.

  164. 164
    JR in WV says:

    @HyperIon:

    I’ve had postal employees drive up to my (rural) house on Sunday afternoon to deliver a Priority Mail delivery. FedEx nor UPS deliver on weekends.

    The Post Office can find my house and mail box every day, I have to call time after time to locate a UPS parcel, and drive to town to pick it up.

  165. 165
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    /yawn

    look juicers. EDK parley’d an affection for unions into enough clicks to get a Forbes gig.
    Freddie is hoping to follow in “Our” EDK’s footsteps.
    Once he gets on at the Atlantic, he will have an epiphany and throw unions under the bus just like “Our” EDK.

    Freddie….a bit of advice.
    Go pimp Friedersdorf at the LoOG where you belong, you dishonest lying little fucker.
    We have seen this scam before, right down to posting some vomitus and scampering off so you dont need to answer questions..

  166. 166
    burnspbesq says:

    @martha:

    “Not likely, because it’s not profitable enough for shareholders to get out to the Richland Centers or Rosendales or Rice Lakes of the world every day and all the farms and valleys in between.”

    Wrong. It’s plenty profitable. It’s just not profitable if all you can charge is 44 cents.

    It costs what it costs, and costs cannot be made to magically disappear. You just have to make a decision about whether you think mail delivery is a public good or not. If it is a public good, then pay for it 100 percent out of tax revenue. If it’s not a public good, why is government engaging in the activity?

  167. 167
    Lurker says:

    @Failure, Inc.:

    He’s too young to have knee replacement. And frankly, from my experience with knee surgery, surgery doesn’t do shit for someone who has osteoarthritis, or torn menisci, or most of the other issues that happen when our knees wear out.

    I’m not sure if 50 is too young to have knee replacement. When I was diagnosed with a low-grade osteosarcoma at age 22, one of the options on the table was knee replacement. Luckily, the surgeon was able to remove the osteosarcoma and salvage my knee without resorting to knee replacement.

    I agree that a knee replacement is a serious matter. If I remember correctly, the doctors told me that a knee replacement would require maintenance/replacement every 10 years.

  168. 168
    rikyrah says:

    @Mike M:

    thank you for your great comment. both my parents grew up in rural areas, so I spent years using USPS to mail things to relatives ‘ back home’ for my parents. it always got there for them. I am tired of public employees getting shyt on at every turn.

  169. 169
    Judas Escargot says:

    @Ghanima Atreides:

    EDK parley’d an affection for unions into enough clicks to get a Forbes gig.

    Let me be the first to say publicly “m_c was right.”

    But speaking of clicks.. you do seem awfully eager to direct traffic over to “LoOG”.

    Just sayin’.

  170. 170
    MattR says:

    @Judas Escargot: Really? Is there some post or article somewhere discussing how Forbes was impressed by his pro-union stance and decided to hire him? Or are you actually accepting m_c’s conjecture as fact? AFAIK, nobody has any details about when EDK was first approached by Forbes, what made them interested in him or any other details of the negotiation.

  171. 171

    […] BJ again, Freddie de Boer responds to Conor Friedersdorf criticizing the USPS.  As is seen by Conor’s argument on this […]

  172. 172
    Judas Escargot says:

    Really? Is there some post or article somewhere discussing how Forbes was impressed by his pro-union stance and decided to hire him?

    Boy, touched a nerve. Sorry there.

    Young libertarian writer comes to BJ. Swings moderate just as the wheels of respectability start coming off of Libertarianism as a movement (thanks to Rand, Ryan and others pushing the Overton window rightward until it finally hit the stops). Quickly and sagely parleys that into a gig at Forbes, where the pay is better, and the commenters (I can only assume) not nearly as annoying.

    Good, savvy career moves, all.

    So which part offends you?

  173. 173
    MattR says:

    @Judas Escargot: The part where you create facts to fill the holes in your narrative. Unless you can actually fill me in on how you know that the Forbes gig was directly the result of his time here.

  174. 174
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @MattR:

    how Forbes was impressed by his pro-union stance

    nah, Forbes just cares abut the clicks. Aimai and Kay and the bleeding heart kumbayah juicers cared about EDK’s fake union empathy.

    EDK landed the Forbes gig when he got pimped at Sully’s as a “reasonable” conservative.
    wanna see the timeline?
    and….did you even read this?
    Bend over MattR.
    Freddie is going to ream you now.
    Freddie and EDK arent reaching across the aisle, they are gunna give you a reacharound.
    ;)

  175. 175
    MattR says:

    @Ghanima Atreides:

    wanna see the timeline?

    Uh, yeah. Hence my request for links.

  176. 176
    Judas Escargot says:

    @MattR:

    Unless you can actually fill me in on how you know that the Forbes gig was directly the result of his time here.

    Christ, what an asshole.

  177. 177
    MattR says:

    @Judas Escargot: You’re the one defending m_c based on pure conjecture and I’m the asshole for asking for facts. Got it.

  178. 178
    MikeBoyScout says:

    Have not read the comment thread, so maybe somebody already brought this up…, but I think you are on to something.

    So if there was some sort of coordinated, partisan, politically motivated campaign to attack Conor’s standard of living and reduce his wages

    Given that the Village and the VSPs will not respond to reason, why not lambaste them where it hurts every time they spew their Very Serious horseshit?

    One can envision the photos of the marvelous homes they own, the fancy cars, the posting of a grocery receipt carelessly left behind with its arugula and pink Himalayan sea salt..

    The approach I’m advocating may not be fair, but let the unwashed proles look at the way these SOBs live and they may just say ‘F You!’… finally.

  179. 179
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @MattR: you limpdick freemarket moron. go goggle it, retard.
    EDK starts Labor Roundtable– goes next week to Forbes.
    you are impossibly thick.

  180. 180
    Step2 says:

    Relevant to the original post, the USPS deficit is purely a result of a Bush era rule to prefund their retirement healthcare costs and could be solved overnight by repayment of the $50 billion surplus overpaid into the Civil Service and Federal Retirement accounts. See here.

  181. 181
    MattR says:

    @Ghanima Atreides: Don’t make an offer you have no interest in fulfilling. So your theory is that it took Forbes a week, at most, to complete the entire hiring cycle and get EDK’s new blog started? Seems a whole lot more likely that they were talking before that time. Of course, I could be wrong. But I’m not the one making firm conclusions without knowing the facts. And even if you are right about the timing, correlation does not imply causation.

  182. 182
    Ija says:

    @Ghanima Atreides:

    look juicers. EDK parley’d an affection for unions into enough clicks to get a Forbes gig.

    Because Forbes is such a bastion of union lovers. Are you confusing it with Mother Jones or something?

  183. 183
    Judas Escargot says:

    @MattR:

    You’re the one defending m_c based on pure conjecture and I’m the asshole for asking for facts. Got it.

    No, you’re an asshole for diverting the discussion to Forbes in particular.

    The word “Forbes” appeared nowhere in my original comment. I have zero interest in talking about Forbes. Fuck Forbes.

    “Front Pager on BJ” is a nice thing for a young writer to have on his resumé.

    The fact that it’s Forbes that ended up hiring him had nothing to do with my point… could have been Slate, or the Atlantic, or wherever else he wanted to work.

    IMO m_c called it, in that it was all about the clicks. That’s all I said. I’m sorry if that hurts your feelings.

    Beyond that? Your issue is with someone else. Take it up with them.

  184. 184
    Older says:

    I used to deliver the US Mail. On a rural route. Out in the deeep boonies. Gravel roads. Dirt roads, no gravel. Hills you need four-wheel drive to get up and down safely.

    I know how UPS and FedEx do it. First, a lot of the time they take a piece as far as they feel like taking it (ie, not off the paved roads) and then they pull in at some little rural post office and mail it the rest of the way. No lie.

    And when they get out there near the end of the roads they are willing to drive on and can’t find a house? They wait for the mail carrier and ask him or her for directions.

    That’s how they do it, folks. So look for an immediate drop in service and customer satisfaction when they finally kill the USPS.

  185. 185
    MattR says:

    @Judas Escargot:

    The fact that it’s Forbes that ended up hiring him had nothing to do with my point… could have been Slate, or the Atlantic, or wherever else he wanted to work.

    And my reply would have been the same if it had been any of those places. There is nothing particularly special about Forbes, other than it is the place that EDK actually landed.

    IMO m_c called it, in that it was all about the clicks. That’s all I said. I’m sorry if that hurts your feelings.

    Doesn’t hurt my feelings. I just asked for any kind of proof to backup this conjecture. You responded by getting into a huff that I mentioned Forbes by name (despite the fact that it was included in the quote you initially blockquoted and agreed with).

    So now that we have established that Forbes itself is irrelevant. Do you have any actual proof the EDK got a “promotion” as a result of the increased clicks from talking about unions?

  186. 186
    Ecks says:

    Can we all shut up about Forbes and EDK, and anything else which involves attempting to mine the eeevul hidden agenda of the writers here.

    I could give a crap less WHY Freddie writes what he does here. Maybe he thinks it will land him a spot at the Atlantic, maybe he thinks it will resurrect his dead grandmother by fulfilling an ancient Dakotan prophesy that was branded into the side of a dyspeptic raccoon in 127 BCE.

    Feller is here, he’s saying smart stuff, he’s saying it well. Talk about it or don’t talk about it, but enough already with the conspiracy theories.

    And that goes triple for Ghanima – we read what you said the first time, and you are adding precisely zero to the debate by harping on and on about it. Seriously, if your deepest fear in life is that someone may say something on a blog that they don’t completely and fully mean, then you need some new hobbies. I hear grass watching is fun. If you sit there long enough, it even gets longer!

  187. 187
    Arundel says:

    Just want to say how much I appreciate reading Freddie de Boer here. This one is extra-special spot-on.

    USPS has never let me down, never “lost” anything in my life. They will carry a letter, a physical object, across the country 3,000 miles for me, and it will get there, to its precise destination. For fifty cents. How much would that cost if the USPS were fully privatized? Five dollars? The postal service was established as infrastructure, so you can have sound business communication to get rich, Victorian striver. There it is. Now, when are our highways going to earn a profit? I’m sure Conor has ideas, sitting on his fat ass, that would probably appproximate the private toll roads of post-medieval unpleasant European countries, rife with robbery and extortion. But, hey, capitilasim is the the pig-god he worships. And Freddie is too kind and diplomatic to say so, I’m sure.

  188. 188
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @MattR: hahaha
    bend over MattR
    If you are too stupid to realize the glibertarian grifter carny conversion act, well then here it comes again.
    EDK Redux– the Rise of the Glibertarians

    @Arundel: if this is a liberal/progressive blog, why does Cole have libertarians post here?
    Those assclowns nearly destroyed our country by being the third leg of the conservative stool, and you wanna give their fail-ideology a do over?

    Freddie is just EDK redux, even to the running away part.
    Ima kerbstomp those fuckers whenever they show their pointy little heads around here. Im banned at the LoOG or i’d do it there.
    Object?
    Mail Cole and get him to ban me.

  189. 189
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @Ecks: well, I’d like to know how Kay feels about EDK’s NEW take on unions.
    I think he was faking it all along.

    And Freddie is the same. deBoer and I go way back.
    To Culture 11 when he actually was a liberal.

    He is full frontal glibertarian now.
    This is the trick they do, Connor and EDK and Sully and all the glibertarians. Crit a conservative policy or a conservative elite to make friends and get clicks.

  190. 190
    taylormattd says:

    Vomit. The Naderite green party freak is back posting.

  191. 191
    Ecks says:

    @Ghanima Atreides: Maybe, who knows. I don’t care though. I really seriously don’t. If he makes a good argument for completely insincere reasons then what do I lose? Nothing. I’m not sending him money. If he can make money by drawing page views by saying smart things, then great. If he then turns around and makes more money by getting page clicks from saying stupid and asinine things then what fucking ever. The liberal cause will not be hurt if someone occasionally spouts off about it for careerist reasons. Hell, if every grifter in the country wrote a really good liberal article once a year for purely self-aggrandizing reasons, that would probably be a very small net positive in my book.

    I’m not signing on for a series of paid seminars here, I’m not mailing him money to finance his anything, and if some moron wants to hire him later because he was able to say smart things here, then power to him.

    In short: I have no idea if he’s sincere or not, and I don’t care. I just appreciate smartness when I see it.

  192. 192
    taylormattd says:

    @Ecks:

    Feller is here, he’s saying smart stuff, he’s saying it well. Talk about it or don’t talk about it, but enough already with the conspiracy theories.

    He’s also a fucking snake who pretends to make nice here, while trashing this site, including its front pagers at his own blog.

    So many great parts of that post that prove the guy is an utter moron, I don’t even know where to begin. Maybe this?

    I’m sure I’ll articulate why I can’t support Barack Obama for the presidency in 2012 at great length in the future. In the meantime, at this particular moment, I’ll just express one argument that by itself is sufficient for me to walk away from Hope and Change. I went to see Glenn Greenwald speak this past week, which was excellent. And in his discussion I had a moment of simple awe, as I remembered, and then finally really wrapped my head around, the fact that the Obama administration has asserted its right to murder American citizens with absolutely no due process or review of law at all. . . . For that reason alone– not even just civil liberties, but that one issue, the assertion of a universal and unchecked right to assassination– I would never support the Obama candidacy.

    Honestly, what kind of idiot do you have to be to believe this is true and also that declining to vote for Obama in 2012, will improve things?

    The guy is an absolute crackpot, and it’s a disgrace that he is posting here. He’d fit in better with the racist psychopaths at FDL.

  193. 193
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @Ecks: from Freddies first post here.

    Whatever you want to call it, this vision of the liberal project defines itself through the social safety net. Its orientation is towards expanding and protecting a redistributive social welfare system. Meanwhile, it is at best uninterested in (and often downright hostile towards) worker organization, unions, regulation, and other attempts to empower workers in relation to capital and poor people in relation to the rich.

    Bulshytt. Liberalism supports unions. Democrats support unions.
    I asked for cites to back up his claims (downright hostile) and got crickets.
    crap reasoning, glibertarian spin, and then he runs away.

    Freddies last post where he pretends to crit vouchers.
    I asked him why we should have private schools at all and since private schools only exclude the poor aren’t they basically unamerican?
    crap reasoning, glibertarian spin, and he runs away again without answering.

    Let him go post at the LoOG where he belongs and not waste spacetime here.
    It irritates me that the retards here are all…ooo great post freddie! when it isn’t. its a high verbal excessively wordy pile of steaming glibertarian fake-reasonable bulshytt.

    If this is a good liberal article where the fuck is deBoer?
    hiding under his bed?
    i think this is just a headfake. its the same guess and test EDK used on the juicers. pandering is another word for it.

    Friedersdorf is awful. Just as awful as McMegan.
    I’ve read these guys since culture 11 and I know where-of I speak.

  194. 194
    MattR says:

    @Ghanima Atreides:

    It irritates me that the retards here are all…ooo great post freddie! when it isn’t. its a high verbal excessively wordy pile of steaming glibertarian fake-reasonable bulshytt.

    You know what would have been wonderful? A thoughtful comment detailing your exact problems with this particular post including which parts you think are just pandering words that hide his true glibertarian leanings. But I am pretty sure that is beyond your capabilities.

  195. 195
    Will says:

    This was a terrific post. Thanks.

  196. 196
    Nancy Irving says:

    The Postal Service’s problems have nothing to do with unions or its work force. They are due to one thing only, and that is the internet, and specifically email, which has taken a big and increasing chunk out of the Postal Service’s first class and advertising (bulk) mail business.

    At a time in the not-too-distant future, a tipping-point will be reached, where volume will decrease to the point where mail-delivery routes will have to be operated at a loss, and be subsidized by the US govt, if the Postal Service is to survive as a letter-carrier at all.

    At that point we will have to decide whether we value the service enough to subsidize it with our taxes, or whether we would rather pay ten dollars to FedEx for a letter which we now pay less than 50 cents to send.

    There is no difference between the Postal Service’s present troubles, and that of many industries that have become and will become unprofitable because of changes/advances in technology.

    The Postal Service functioned well for many years, despite its supposedly high-priced work force. Nothing has changed, except technology.

  197. 197
    kay says:

    The writer of the Atlantic piece doesn’t know anything about the postal service.

    I have my own question, though.

    Can conservatives fix the fact that all of their public intellectuals write long, misleading pieces on actual, tangible organizations, entities and programs that they know absolutely nothing about?

    Because it’s a problem, and the free market doesn’t seem to be addressing it.

    I’m not going to discuss fixing the Postal Service with people (like the writer) who haven’t bothered to find out the first thing about the Postal Service, because that is a waste of time, for me, the reader.

    The price of a seat at the “fix the postal service” discussion table is some basic knowledge of the postal service.

  198. 198
    kay says:

    @Older:

    I used to deliver the US Mail. On a rural route. Out in the deeep boonies. Gravel roads. Dirt roads, no gravel. Hills you need four-wheel drive to get up and down safely.

    That, all by itself, disqualifies you from opining on the Postal Service in any commercial publication.

    I used to work for the Postal Service too, so I think you and I should write an opinion piece on the specific value of the work of public intellectuals. Obsolete or not quite yet obsolete?

    Do you think Atlantic writers have “lavish” benefit packages? I do, but I don’t know for sure. We’ll just put it out there and wait for someone who knows to do our work for us.

  199. 199
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @MattR: why should I? Has deBoer ever answered my questions?
    And we heard all this from EDK.
    Deja Vu.
    We KNOW what conservatives/libertarians believe.
    We can deconstruct assclowns like Friedersdorf without Freddie.
    Freddie whinging about Conor is the exact same thing as Conor whinging about Levin.
    Except Freddie and Conor are both glibertarians so Freddie has to say that a bad post is an abberration for Conor.

    When he’s good, he’s very good.

    Neither Freddie or Conor are “good”. If they were “good” they would not be glibertarians. They would have abandoned conservatism/libertarianism long ago. They are defending a dead ideology, an empty purse. Libertarianism and conservativism have nearly destroyed this country.
    All Freddie is doing is writing headfake apologia, just like EDK did here.

  200. 200
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @Will: this is another ass-sucking post.
    get a clue.
    Freddie vomits up a couple thousand words on why Conor is WRONG.
    We can see why Conor is wrong. ITS OBVIOUS.
    Cole gives these assclowns a FP slot to reach across the aisle for discussion.
    But as EDK just demonstrated , its really just a reacharound.

    @kay: so, kay, what do you think about it?

    Recently we had the Labor Roundtable and much interesting discussion on the nature and necessity of organized labor in America ensued. I’ve cooled on the idea of unions lately, at least in their current form, and have had a number of really good conversations in the past couple of days after writing this post, about unions and particularly teachers unions.

  201. 201
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    great
    moderation
    @kay: so, kay, what do you think about it?

    Recently we had the Labor Roundtable and much interesting discussion on the nature and necessity of organized labor in America ensued. I’ve cooled on the idea of unions lately, at least in their current form, and have had a number of really good conversations in the past couple of days after writing this post, about unions and particularly teachers unions.

  202. 202
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    All Juicers: its not reaching across the aisle, its a reacharound.

  203. 203
    chitownkid says:

    @Violet: The Royal Mail is about 1/5 the size of the USPS. Don’t be obtuse.

  204. 204
    Older says:

    @kay:

    The great benefit that public “intellectuals” have is that they are observably not subject to any requirements as to how and by what means they perform their tasks. Unlike postal workers and most other workers who actually, y’know, work.

    And to Violet and all others who like to compare the USPS to other mail systems in other (usually European) countries, you really do have to consider that most of those countries would fit inside, say, Oregon, and certainly inside California or Texas. Things are just bigger here and that does make a difference. And you might also consider that in most of those countries, a first class letter costs more than it does here, and has for the last, oh, several decades, if not longer. We do a heck of a job.

    And let me just say that the PO is not required to “keep prices low” except for those favored darlings, the mailers of “bulk business mail” (formerly called “junk” — one of my colleagues used to say “Welp, I’m off for some bulk business lunch”.)

    The actual mandate is that considering all costs and income, the USPS should neither operate at a loss nor make a profit. In order to comply, it works on a three year cycle, setting postage costs every three years so that the first year, income will exceed outgo, the second year it will break even and the third year it will operate at a loss. Then it resets on the basis of current information and expectation.

  205. 205
    MattR says:

    @Ghanima Atreides:

    why should I?

    If your goal is convince anyone else on this blog that you are correct, it would be quote useful if you were able to actually articulate why. And if you are not trying to convince people then why are you bothering to comment at all?

    @Ghanima Atreides:

    Recently we had the Labor Roundtable and much interesting discussion on the nature and necessity of organized labor in America ensued. I’ve cooled on the idea of unions lately, at least in their current form, and have had a number of really good conversations in the past couple of days after writing this post, about unions and particularly teachers unions.

    I have a quite liberal friend who is a teacher and who is glad to have a union but shares many of EDK’s worries, criticisms, etc about the current leadership of his union and whether teachers unions in general are actually helping or hurting education reform at this moment.

    @Ghanima Atreides: You do realize that a reacharound is actually an act of mutual respect and consideration, right?

  206. 206
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @MattR: if you and Cole are stupid enough to fall for the exact same scam, idc.

    You do realize that a reacharound is actually an act of mutual respect and consideration, right?

    In what universe? In the old-ppl universe? the grey universe?
    lawl. In my demographic a reacharound is getting reamed from behind while being diddled from the front. Which is exactly what Sully, Freddie, EDK, Conor, Kuznicki et al constantly do.

  207. 207
    MattR says:

    @Ghanima Atreides: Getting reamed from behind might be a bad thing (depending on what you are into). But not a reacharound. A reacharound is taking the time and effort to stimulate your partner while you are screwing them from behind.

    If you are saying that they are working in the front in an effort to hide the fact that they are pounding the back, that isn’t really the connotation. If anything, the only negative way of looking at it would be “can you at least work the front while you screw me in the back” but that implies that the person getting screwed wants the distraction which I completely disagree is the case when discussing Sully, Conor, EDK, Freddie, etc.

  208. 208

    […] »Great moments in historical omissionB Psycho has contributed 21 articles.At BJ again, Freddie de Boer responds to Conor Friedersdorf criticizing the USPS.  As is seen by Conor’s argument on this […]

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  2. […] BJ again, Freddie de Boer responds to Conor Friedersdorf criticizing the USPS.  As is seen by Conor’s argument on this […]

  3. […] the “What Else Is New” category of blog posts, Freddie takes Conor Friedersdorf to the woodshed for blaming the US Post Office’s problems primarily on high labor costs and suggesting that […]

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