RIP, USPS

The Post Office didn’t die, it was murdered:

Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night will keep your postman from delivering that Mad Men DVD you’ve been waiting for. But legacy labor costs and the disruptive force of the Internet? Yeah, that’ll do it.

Today, the Postal Service announced roughly $3 billion in service cuts that will slow down the delivery of first-class mail for the first time in 40 years. Starting in April, it plans to shutter more than half of its 461 mail processing centers, stretching out the time it will take to ship everything from Netflix DVDs to magazines. One-day delivery of stamped envelopes will all but certainly become a thing of the past.

The announcement is just the latest sign of a sad and increasingly dire fact: the Postal Service is in shambles. This past fiscal year, it lost a mere $5.1 billion. In 2012, it’s facing a record $14.1 billion shortfall and possible bankruptcy. In order to turn a profit, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe says the agency needs to cut $20 billion from its annual budget by 2015. That’s almost a third of its yearly costs.

How did it come to this? The culprits include the Internet, labor expenses, and, as with pretty much every problem our country faces now, Congress.

This was a planned homicide:

At the very end of that year, Congress passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 (PAEA). Under PAEA, USPS was forced to “prefund its future health care benefit payments to retirees for the next 75 years in an astonishing ten-year time span” — meaning that it had to put aside billions of dollars to pay for the health benefits of employees it hasn’t even hired yet, something “that no other government or private corporation is required to do.”

So when rural Americans start screaming because the mail isn’t coming, they can go blame their “fiscally conservative” Congresscritter.






117 replies
  1. 1
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    So when rural Americans start screaming because the mail isn’t coming, they can go blame their “fiscally conservative” Congresscritter.

    Oh, I wish. Poor, stupid rural conservatives will continue to get played by the culture wars, and dig their own graves. They are why this country is so fucked.

    Meh, you can tell I’m slightly depressed and bitter this morning.

  2. 2
    slag says:

    RIP, USPS

    Darn! There goes my “Resident” alias. Now where am I going to go for my Valpak?

  3. 3
    Teacherboy says:

    More than anything, I just find this depressing. We really are, as a country, unable to do even the most basic of functions anymore. I wish this made me angry, but it’s just sad.

  4. 4

    Another step toward Third World Nation status courtesy conservatives. Now if they can just keep that pesky gummint out of Medicare!

  5. 5
    schrodinger's cat says:

    The Republicans may shout from the from roof tops about American Exceptionalism but they are hell bent on destroying the institutions that make this country great. The GOP is no different than an abusive husband telling his wife that he loves after he has beaten her black and blue. The electorate that votes for the GOP like the battered wife who keeps going back to the abusive husband.

  6. 6
    Waldo says:

    So when rural Americans start screaming because the mail isn’t coming, they can go blame their “fiscally conservative” Congresscritter.

    Well, yeah, that’s what they should do. What they will do is view the poor service as another example of what the GOPers have been telling them all along: government can’t do anything right.

    But you knew that.

  7. 7
    Dave says:

    So when rural Americans start screaming because the mail isn’t coming, they can go blame their “fiscally conservative” Congresscritter.

    Ha ha ha!! Best laugh all day.

  8. 8
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay:

    Oh, I wish.

    Yeah, it’s a nice notion, but I think we all know that those heartland ‘Murircans will take this as further proof that government never works and elect more “fiscally conservative” dipshits to take things from bad to worse to much worse to much, much worse to….

  9. 9
    kindness says:

    You are right John but those rural conservatives won’t blame their own. They will blame unions and liberals and Democrats.

    Such is life that the brainless are allowed to vote, even vote against their own self interests.

  10. 10
    Bullsmith says:

    This is an ugly but brutally effective example of the right wing’s deliberate policy of sabotage. Break the ability of government to function properly, then go to the voters saying see, government doesn’t work.

    Liberals will widely be blamed for believing in the silly Post Office in the first place, also with killing it.

  11. 11
    deep cap says:

    @Waldo:

    government can’t do anything right.

    No, they’ll blame the libruls and the sochullists!

  12. 12
    Mary Jane says:

    I won’t express how much this pisses me off.

    Seniors will be disproportionately affected. My father-in-law and many of his peers don’t use email and they don’t go out to send a $4.00 fax unless absolutely necessary.

  13. 13
    Martin says:

    This is especially going to hurt businesses like Netflix. Adding likely 2 days to a DVD turnaround, on top of all the damage they’ve already self-inflicted is going to further kill their customer base.

    I wonder if the USPS could simply stop delivery of mail to DOD and defense contractors? They’ve got $700B per year burning a hole in their pocket, after all.

  14. 14
    Basilisc says:

    I mentioned this on the previous USPS thread a few days ago, but it was towards the bottom so I’ll repeat it.

    Here in Switzerland, mail is delivered the next day (if you pay “priority”) or within 2-3 days (if you pay ” economy”). Post offices are clean and well run, sell books, stationery and mobile phone prepay cards, and postal workers are polite and efficient. The post office provides a low-cost, widely used retail banking service and a bus service that covers every town and village in the country. And the whole system runs a profit.

    How do they do this? Well, respect for public service and public servants is part of it. But mainly it’s because they price to cost: that one-day-delivery letter will cost you about $1.10 at today’s exchange rates, and the economy mail is about 90 cents.

    Will Congress, while railing against the horrible socialist inefficiency of America’s (actually quite good) post office, allow it to survive by actually setting realistic prices? Fuggedaboudit.

  15. 15
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    @Martin:

    Hence why they want to spin off the DVD service.

  16. 16
    EvolutionaryDesign says:

    So when rural Americans start screaming because the mail isn’t coming, they can go blame their “fiscally conservative” Congresscritter.

    They can, but they wont.

  17. 17
    schrodinger's cat says:

    Also has anyone noticed the recent spate of articles critical of the Postal Service in the major media outlets, I saw one in NYT and the Time magazine in the last couple of weeks.

  18. 18
    Mike Goetz says:

    And in the spirit of comity, the Senate Republicans are now filibustering Obama’s judicial nominees, including Gang of 14ers Graham, McCain, Snowe and Collins.

    Snowe is the one recently whimpering about how mean and rude Obama has been to Congress.

  19. 19
    Schlemizel says:

    I check on UPS and FedEx 2 day shipping from Minnesota to New Hampshire (randomly chosen YMMV)
    FedEx – $21
    UPS – $19
    USPS – 44 CENTS

    And USPS delivers packages for FedEx and UPS because it is too expensive for them to get to many houses.

    According to the management USPS would have had several billion in surplus over the past few years if not for the prefund requirement; it is obvious Republicans think they can win by destroying the country. And who can blame them for thinking this when it seems to work.

  20. 20
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    So at what point does everyone wake up and realize we pay most of our bills by first class mail? I would think that would would set off corporate America more than anything else. It’s not like I mail people letters, but that whole bill thing is important to my creditors.

  21. 21
    Elizabelle says:

    I think the war on the Post Office might be a turning point. It’s a bridge too far.

    Also: how does this impact vote by mail? Backdoor attempt to reduce timely voting in states that allow it?

  22. 22
    Hunter Gathers says:

    @Mike Goetz: Snowe’s got a primary to win, so she can’t be seen giving any support to the uppity negro or else she’ll incur the wrath of Maine teabaggers.

  23. 23
    Comrade Dread says:

    So when rural Americans start screaming because the mail isn’t coming, they can go blame their “fiscally conservative” Congresscritter.

    No, they’ll just hear about it as an example of why we should let Wal-Mart handle all of our mail delivery.

    After all, I’m pretty sure they’ll never have to worry about pre-funding 75 years worth of health care costs, since most of their employees won’t be able to afford a plan at all. Think of the savings to the consumer!

  24. 24
    carpeduum says:

    I have mixed feelings about this. The usps is an amazing service but has become unsustainable in it’s current form. In Canada the postal service isn’t as good in terms of number of outlets and delivery times and cost but it’s sustainable.

    Perhaps that is the model the usps is moving towards. Less outlets, longer delivery times, higher cost. But at least it won’t be hemorraging taxpayer money.

  25. 25
    Elizabelle says:

    Obama’s giving an excellent speech about income disparity and the economy now.

    CNN is carrying, as well as C-Span 3.

  26. 26
    catclub says:

    @Enhanced Voting Techniques: I suspect that electronic payments are preferred by the creditors, anyway.

    I also supect that electronic payments are either larger than first class mail payments now, or going to be that way soon.

  27. 27
    daveNYC says:

    This is just going to come down to the cities (some of them) having functioning governmental services, and the rest of the place being freaking Somalia.

  28. 28
    Tone In DC says:

    John, thanks for this.
    That pension requirement (this is the only government agency that has to follow this rule) is nucking futs.

  29. 29
    Studly Pantload, the emotionally unavailable unicorn says:

    I’m all for bitching about conservatives’ “starve the beast” strategy to Third-Worlderize America, but why didn’t Congress & Obama address this back when Dems held both chambers?

    Anyone know what’s up with that?

  30. 30
    Brachiator says:

    A record of the votes:

    Dec 8, 2006: This bill passed in the House of Representatives by voice vote. A record of each representative’s position was not kept.
    __
    Dec 9, 2006: This bill passed in the Senate by Unanimous Consent. A record of each senator’s position was not kept.

    If anybody really gave a damn about the Post Office, why didn’t anyone, especially Democrats, do a damn thing?

    So when rural Americans start screaming because the mail isn’t coming, they can go blame their “fiscally conservative” Congresscritter.

    This is a mess, but even without this pension bullcrap, the Post Office would have to be transformed into something new. It can’t exist as a rural parcel delivery service.

  31. 31
  32. 32
    Social Outcast says:

    So when rural Americans start screaming because the mail isn’t coming, they can go blame their “fiscally conservative” Congresscritter.

    They won’t. They’ll loudly insist that overpaid union workers can be replaced by black schoolchildren bussed in from the city to deliver the mail as part of the republican plan to give them a work ethic.

  33. 33
    daveNYC says:

    @Brachiator:

    This is a mess, but even without this pension bullcrap, the Post Office would have to be transformed into something new. It can’t exist as a rural parcel delivery service.

    Why the hell not? The federal government spends piles of cash on services that do far less for far fewer people.

  34. 34
    The Populist says:

    My business is e-commerce/mail order. This is not good.

    For all you cons who cry about the post office? Try sending your bills out any other way. Try sending a package to a friend using UPS. USPS is the best value, PERIOD.

    What a shame. Darrell Issa gets 100% of the blame for this.

  35. 35
    PeakVT says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: And they all feature the phrase “the struggling US Postal Service”, I bet. FSM-damn media narratives.

  36. 36
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    @Brachiator:

    If anybody really gave a damn about the Post Office, why didn’t anyone, especially Democrats, do a damn thing?

    I feel the same way about the way the last Congress, in its last days, made changes to the Post 9/11 Gi Bill that make my life harder, and that I think mean the beginning of the end of it.

  37. 37
    The Populist says:

    @Brachiator: Dems are spineless wimps. The few who stood up for the post office were shrugged off.

    The problem here is that this fiasco could impact small businesses like nothing we’ve seen. I know a ton of mom & pop stores who sell their wares on the net as well as offer them in a storefront.

    UPS is NOT cost effective unless you do AMazon-like volume. For example, I can mail a 1 pound package, Priority Mail through USPS to the East Coast (I am in Cali) for about $7. To do the same via UPS without discounts means I pay maybe 1-2 dollars more AND it takes an additional 1-3 days on top of the USPS delivery date. ON TOP OF THAT they charge fuel and residential surcharges that can add another dollar or two to the total.

    Sorry, USPS rocks better than anybody gives them credit for. If they go away or are forced to continue funding pensions of foetus’ (yes, I know but it’s true – they are funding pensions for those not yet BORN!) then it will collapse.

  38. 38
    rikryah says:

    having parents who grew up in rural areas, I feel for them,..

    but, only to a point…

    because rural folks continue to vote for these mofos

  39. 39
    Cluttered Mind says:

    I’m not really sure why the post office needs to be “profitable” in order to exist. Ditto for Amtrak, and many other government programs that serve a lot of people but are roundly criticized for losing money. To me, that’s kind of the entire point of it being run by the government. A private company can’t afford to run an unprofitable business just for the benefit of the general public, because once they run out of money, that’s that. The government doesn’t have that problem, because of the vastness of the federal budget and the ability to allocate money knowing full well that it won’t be returned. If ever there was a cause worthy of spending money that won’t be returned, it’s the postal service. I guess I just feel that this is a classic example of a service best provided by the government rather than the private sector.

  40. 40
    The Populist says:

    @PeakVT: It’s profitable when you subtract the damn pension payments.

    Fucking GOP.

  41. 41
    burnspbesq says:

    @carpeduum:

    The usps is an amazing service but has become unsustainable in it’s current form.

    Pay attention, willya? The ONLY reason the postal service is unsustainable is because a Republican-controlled Congress decided that it shouldn’t be allowed to fund retiree health costs the same way every private business that has retiree health costs is allowed to fund them. And sorry for shouting, but THERE WAS NO CONCEIVABLE BUSINESS OR ECONOMIC JUSTIFICATION FOR THOSE UNIQUE FUNDING OBLIGATIONS.

    What is it with you?

  42. 42
    The Populist says:

    @rikryah: I’m with you. Problem is most of the products I sell go to rural addresses. It’s a fucked up situation for all involved.

    These folks can’t get what I sell in a local general store. Without giving details (hate to be dogged by trolls in the real world) I sell nutritional and food supplements. I support mom & pop brands who make a great product.

    The problem is my business and many others will die quick deaths AND these folks in rural areas will lose out on affordable products if the GOP keep playing this game of chicken with the USPS.

  43. 43
    The Populist says:

    @burnspbesq: THANK YOU!

  44. 44
    shortstop says:

    @Enhanced Voting Techniques: Since you are comfortable with using a computer and have ready access to one, you can set up most of your bill-paying online.

    Older and/or poorer Americans who are not comfortable with using computers or don’t have one handy can go get fucked, sayeth the GOP. And if their credit ratings suffer as a result, well, they’ve just made bad choices.

  45. 45
    The Moar You Know says:

    USPS was killed back in the 1970s when the decision (completely unconstitutional, BTW) was made to move the postal service out from under the aegis of the government and to take it “private”. Everything else has been muffling the screams of the victim with a sofa cushion and praying that it will die quickly.

  46. 46
    The Populist says:

    Oh and for anybody who dogs Ed Shultz, he was the one of the only MSM shouters (Hartmann speaks about it from time to time but he ain’t a shouter) who was on this like ticks on a dog for almost a month before the MSM picked up on it. Problem is nobody cared I guess :(

  47. 47
    The Populist says:

    @shortstop: This. My father in law is 80 and won’t look at his bank or stocks online. He calls them or walks in.

    He won’t pay bills online even when my wife and I show him it’s safe.

    The GOP are just a bunch of grinches who want us all to suffer so they can make the lives of their benefactors better. Time for America to wake up.

  48. 48
    burnspbesq says:

    @Cluttered Mind:

    I guess I just feel that this is a classic example of a service best provided by the government rather than the private sector.

    This is, of course, exactly correct in all material respects. The problem is that one of our major political parties is beholden to a minority of a minority that believes there is no such thing as a public good, and the other major political party hasn’t yet figured out how to explain to the American people in simple declarative sentences that those who disbelieve in public goods are bat-guano crazy.

  49. 49
    ET says:

    I wonder how many “rural Americans” who “start screaming” voted Republican?

  50. 50

    H.R. 1351, the bill that would recalculate the Post Office’s pension-funding obligations and apparently fix this mess, has 227 co-sponsors. That’s more co-sponsors than the number of votes that would be needed to pass. Which of course still doesn’t mean this useless fucking Congress will be able to get it done, but get on the phones anyway.

  51. 51
    Martin says:

    @Elizabelle: It shouldn’t impact it – generally these things are ‘postmark deadlines’, so the time to receive a ballot is immaterial. It can be fairly easily worked around because it’s really not time sensitive.

    Heaven help us if Oregons EVs are the deciding factor in an election, however, and we need to wait 4 days for all of the ballots to arrive and be counted and the MSM will be intolerable through that period.

  52. 52
    shortstop says:

    @The Populist: Well, it’s the lack of waking up that’s so frustrating. Assholes are going to be assholes, but it’d be nice if the people taking most of the damage from the assholes’ policies didn’t go around defending the assholes. As many have pointed out above, the number of old people dependent on the USPS who will blame the GOP rather than the USPS for the newly craptacular postal service may be countable on two hands.

  53. 53
    burnspbesq says:

    I wasn’t introduced to “The Tragedy of the Commons” until law school. That article should be required reading in the sixth grade.

  54. 54
    carpeduum says:

    @burnspbesq: In Canada they can’t make it work regardless of pension payments. So while I have no doubt there is a healthy heaping of GOPer bullshit involved there are also real practical business dynamics involved as well.

  55. 55
    Makewi says:

    This bill was passed 1 month and 2 weeks after both houses of the legislature were won by the Democrats. Fiscally conservative? It’s pathological how you just treat every bad thing as the fault of those other guys. It’s sad how much of a child you’ve become.

  56. 56
    celticdragonchick says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    USPS was killed back in the 1970s when the decision (completely unconstitutional, BTW) was made to move the postal service out from under the aegis of the government and to take it “private”. Everything else has been muffling the screams of the victim with a sofa cushion and praying that it will die quickly.

    Saddest and truest comment I have read today.

  57. 57
    Jeff Boatright says:

    @Enhanced Voting Techniques: This is a new revenue stream for your creditors. THEY don’t give a shit that your payment is two days late. Hell, they’ll just charge you a late fee and report it to one of the ratings services. You get a double whammy because not only do you owe a late fee, but the next time you apply for a loan (probably from the same creditor), you’ll pay a higher interest rate and higher closing costs and insurance.

    THEY, on the other hand, RECEIVE the late fee, the higher interest, the higher closing costs, and the higher insurance.

    Got a problem with that, PROLE?

  58. 58
    Cluttered Mind says:

    @Makewi: 1 month and 2 weeks? Sounds like it took place in the lame duck period, then.

  59. 59
    Ray says:

    @Schlemizel:

    @ Schlemizel.

    i rather pay UPS 3 days ground{what ever the cost maybe} than having USPS unreliable service to delivery my stuffs.

  60. 60

    @Cluttered Mind: Do people not understand that officials aren’t seated the day after the election?

  61. 61
    Cluttered Mind says:

    @TooManyJens: Sometimes I’m inclined to chalk things up to ignorance rather than malice, but in this case I think we’re just being trolled. It’s not an uncommon right wing trolling tactic, either. I’ve read a lot of troll posts all over the internet blaming Obama for stuff that happened in December of 2008.

    ETA: I’m not letting the Democrats off the hook though, as has been pointed out elsewhere, they DID vote for the bill even if they weren’t in power when it passed.

  62. 62
    smintheus says:

    Has anybody pointed out that UPS is a huge donor to Republicans?

  63. 63
    Chris says:

    @Cluttered Mind:

    ETA: I’m not letting the Democrats off the hook though, as has been pointed out elsewhere, they DID vote for the bill even if they weren’t in power when it passed.

    More than that, I believe two of the three cosponsors were Democrats.

  64. 64
    Sasha says:

    @Enhanced Voting Techniques:

    But the penalty fee of being late with payments also is important to them.

  65. 65
    Sasha says:

    @carpeduum:

    But at least it won’t be hemorraging taxpayer money.

    It already doesn’t. It’s self-sufficient and does not depend on government subsidies.

    However, thanks to GOP interference, it might have to.

  66. 66
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Basilisc: No, they won’t raise rates… don’t you know that 44-cents (going to 45-cents in January) is obscenely HIGH. People have always complained that first class mail was too expensive. People remember back when every thing was less and want those lower prices back. (Except they don’t want the salaries that went with those lower rates.)

    Americans tend to be idiots.

  67. 67
    MonkeyBoy says:

    Reasons to kill the USPS

    1) all post-office workers I have know enough vote Democrat.
    2) the PO employs a disproportionate number of blacks.

    I had a neighbor who when he returned from fighting in Viet Nam was unable to find a decent job in part just because he was black. There is a law that gives first-preference for PO jobs to veterans and for many black vets the PO was the best job they were allowed to have. Thus my neighbor like many other black vets work there.

  68. 68
    carpeduum says:

    @Sasha: Losing 4billion last year doesn’t sound like “self-sufficient” to me.

  69. 69
    smintheus says:

    @Cluttered Mind: yes, it was a parting gift to two of the Republican Party’s biggest and most reliable donors, UPS and FedEx. Between them, they’ve given more than $45 million to our political masters since 1989, mostly to Republicans.

  70. 70
    PurpleGirl says:

    @shortstop: Poorer Americans can’t afford the types of accounts that allow them to bank on line. And the fees for using on-line banking would cost more than the poor can pay. They use money orders and mail because they don’t have checking accounts, let’s not ask about them having savings accounts.

  71. 71
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    USPS was killed back in the 1970s when the decision (completely unconstitutional, BTW) was made to move the postal service out from under the aegis of the government and to take it “private”.

    A reading from the holy Gospel of Ronald:

    1 “And in those days Ronald spoke to the multitudes, and he said, “Everything that is, can be bought and sold. That which cannot be bought and sold, is not. 2. Everything private is better than anything public, and better than anything public could ever be. 3. So long as one of us, somewhere, is covered by a collective bargaining agreement, none of us, anywhere, can truly be free.”

    Here endeth the lesson. Blessed be the Market, the righteous Judge.

  72. 72
    carpeduum says:

    @PurpleGirl: Again, using the Canadian example. We went through all this BS several years ago. All the same arguments. You can’t raise rates, you can’t shut down outlets. You can’t slow down delivery times. All the Gloomers were saying that would kill the service and/or make people flock to the evil private alternatives.

    Never happened. Canada post is as popular as ever and financially stable.

  73. 73
    shortstop says:

    @PurpleGirl: Yep. There’re all kinds of reasons why this targets the poor disproportionately.

  74. 74
    Judas Escargot says:

    And the Great American Fire Sale continues.

    One question: If they were forced to put money away for pensions in advance, what happens to that pile of cash when the USPS is finally privatized?

  75. 75
    PurpleGirl says:

    @MonkeyBoy: I knew a guy who was a Vet and had some mental problems. He was a hard worker but another employer wouldn’t have put up with some of his personal quirks. (Not violent but a loud mouth on the lefty side.) That the Post Office gave preference to Vets meant that he was able to get and hold a job and make a decent living. (He was a sorter in the Morgan facility in Manhattan.)

  76. 76
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Judas Escargot: Sales commissions. Management fees. Service charges. In other words, right where it belongs.

    The FIRE sector of the US economy is like your friendly neighborhood neutron star. It’ll ingest everything in its arm of the galaxy, then blow up.

  77. 77
    Linnaeus says:

    @MonkeyBoy:

    I had a neighbor who when he returned from fighting in Viet Nam was unable to find a decent job in part just because he was black. There is a law that gives first-preference for PO jobs to veterans and for many black vets the PO was the best job they were allowed to have. Thus my neighbor like many other black vets work there.

    Thanks for pointing this out. The recent ramped-up hostility to public sector workers affects minority workers (especially African Americans) disproportionately because they are relatively more likely to be employed in the public sector.

  78. 78
    Tone In DC says:

    @celticdragonchick:

    And, of course, who was at the helm when this travesty occurred? The Trickster.

    In May 1969, four months after he became a member of President Richard Nixon’s Cabinet, Postmaster General Winton M. Blount proposed a basic reorganization of the Post Office Department. The President asked Congress to pass the Postal Service Act of 1969, calling for removal of the Postmaster General from the Cabinet and creation of a self-supporting postal corporation wholly owned by the federal government.
    ______________________________________________________
    On August 3, by a roll call vote of 57 to 7, the Senate approved the conference report on House Resolution 17070, a modified version of the legislation proposed by the President; three days later, the House of Representatives approved it. On August 12, 1970, President Nixon signed into law the most comprehensive postal legislation since the founding of the Republic, Public Law 91-375.

  79. 79
    Herbal Infusion Bagger says:

    “meaning that it had to put aside billions of dollars to pay for the health benefits of employees it hasn’t even hired yet, something “that no other government or private corporation is required to do.””

    What private sector corporations fund the retiree benefits of their employees these days? There might be a few out there with long-time employees grandfathered it, but for most its crappy 401(k)s and that’s it.

    How much are private-sector retirements underfunded by the switch to 401(k)s, and the socialization of retiree healthcare by letting Medicare pick up the tab?

  80. 80
    Cluttered Mind says:

    @Chris: Please don’t use such misleading language. Saying “two of the three cosponsors were Democrats” is just a sneaky way of saying “two of the four sponsors were Democrats” in a way that people who aren’t reading every comment carefully will not catch on to and think that Democrats were more responsible for the bill than Republicans. It was a bipartisan bill and a bipartisan mistake, passed by a Republican controlled legislature. No amount of weasel words are going to erase the involvement of the Democrats in this, but that doesn’t mean I have to give a pass to weasel words that try to amplify their involvement either.

  81. 81
    Cluttered Mind says:

    @carpeduum: Is there a reason why the government should have to expect all its programs to be self-sufficient? If all government programs were self-sufficient, we’d have no need of taxes at all. That is clearly not how the government works, or is supposed to work.

  82. 82
    Snowball says:

    So when rural Americans start screaming because the mail isn’t coming, they can go blame their “fiscally conservative” Congresscritter.

    No, they really should blame themselves. This is exactly what they voted for. This is what they wanted, ie get the government out of their lives.

    Elections have consequences…

  83. 83
    JC says:

    Why isn’t there a ‘national greatness” republican, or conservative, party anymore?

    “Of COURSE we are funding the USPS! America is the greatest country in the world, and damn it, we fund our post office!

    “I want the infrastructure of the United States to be the greatest in the world! There is no way that we will let Thailand have a better public transportation system than all the cities in the U.S.! If we have to spend 5 trillion to do so, then we will do so! America number 1! Like Eisenhower, we will fund what we need to fund, and fund it from those lucky enough to profit the most in our great American system.”

    American #1
    America – National Greatness Party
    America – doesn’t matter your color, as long as your veins bleed the red white and blue.

    There USED to be a Republican party that believed in the above right?

    That believed rather than ‘drowning the government in the bathtub’, believed that the United States could be an example, from sea to shining sea?

  84. 84
    Maus says:

    @carpeduum:

    But at least it won’t be hemorraging taxpayer money.

    Holy shit, do you know ANYTHING about the USPS?

  85. 85
    Sasha says:

    @carpeduum:

    They’re obligated to prefund over $5 billion a year in order to meet the requirement mandated by PAEA. The USPS would be in the black if not for that. (And they still aren’t funded by taxpayer subsidies.)

    Don’t blame the USPS for budget woes that were prompted by a ridiculous budgeting requirement imposed upon them. That’s just foolish of you.

  86. 86
    Chris says:

    @Cluttered Mind:

    I stand corrected.

  87. 87
    gene108 says:

    @burnspbesq:

    simple declarative sentences that those who disbelieve in public goods are bat-guano crazy.

    There are many people, who agree with Republicans and will fight tooth-and-nail to make sure the rich get richer, their income stays flat and/or declines, as well as back anyone, who wants to take hatchet to government services that generally benefit them like the Post Office.

    EDIT: You have to make sure these folks realize what R’s are doing, but that means breaking through Fox News, talk radio, etc.

  88. 88
    Jennifer says:

    Here’s what’s so fucking ridiculous about this:

    The cost of mailing a first-class letter in the US is currently lower than in almost every other country I researched – and I looked at quite a few of them (only Brazil was lower, at the equivalent of $.39). Those vaunted “privatized” mail systems in Europe? They either aren’t fully private (Germany, 69% private, first class postage = $.74) or they’re much more expensive (Netherlands, 100% private, first class postage = $.62). Keep in mind that The Netherlands is about 1/1000th (or smaller) of the size of the United States, and you get a better idea of how much more they’re actually paying for first-class mail.

    EVERYONE else in the developed world is paying more than we currently pay to send first-class mail. The closest in price are Poland ($.46), Israel ($.46) and New Zealand ($.47). Everyone else is paying quite a bit more.

    Then take into account that the current $5 billion deficit would be wiped out with a 3-cent increase on first class mail, or better yet, by increasing the cost of junk mail by a few cents, or some combination of the two. The $14 billion projected to be the deficit in 2012 could be wiped out with a first class increase of $.09. Add the two together, and first class would go up to $.56. That’s still a huge fucking bargain, and it would only go up that much if NO other changes were made other than raising prices – no repeal of the ridiculous pre-funding of benefits requirement, no closings of any distribution centers or post offices, no layoffs, no rollback of 6 day per week delivery.

    And at $.56, we’d STILL be paying less to send a first-class letter than in Canada, the UK, Australia, Japan, France, Italy, Sweden, Norway, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Ireland, Iceland, Finland, or Denmark – none of which, with the exception of Canada and Australia are anywhere near being in the same ballpark as the US is, size-wise.

    I’ve got more, and had started a post about it at my place, so I’ll leave the rest for there…and if anyone’s interested they can come by my joint and read the rest after I put up the post this evening.

  89. 89
    sublime33 says:

    As silly as this sounds, delaying the delivery of Netflix DVD’s with a likely price increase may be what it finally takes for middle America to realize that the fantasies preached to them by their favorite right wing radio host have consequences that just don’t affect “the others”. In fact, middle America is part of “the others”. They just don’t realize it.

  90. 90
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Cluttered Mind: Before the rise of the classic 18th c. nation-state, your well-run defense establishment ran pretty close to break-even, what with booty, and pillage and such. Ok, a little ship-money now and then, too.

  91. 91
    gene108 says:

    @Cluttered Mind:

    Is there a reason why the government should have to expect all its programs to be self-sufficient? If all government programs were self-sufficient, we’d have no need of taxes at all. That is clearly not how the government works, or is supposed to work.

    I personally want the military to be self-sufficient. I think wars for profit and conquest may be just what the doctor ordered to boost the economy (for us, at least).

  92. 92
    Brachiator says:

    @carpeduum:

    Canada post is as popular as ever and financially stable.

    Right.

    Wait a minute.

    Canada Post has a history of troubled labour relations with its trade unions, particularly the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) and the Letter Carriers Union of Canada (which merged with CUPW in 1989) culminating in periodic strike action which has brought mail service in Canada to a halt. There have been at least 19 strikes, lockouts and walkouts between 1965 and 1997 including several wildcat strikes. A number of these strikes have seen the corporation employ strikebreakers and most, since the 1970s, have resulted in back-to-work legislation being passed by the Canadian parliament….
    __
    Moya Greene, former Canada Post CEO, was quoted as saying that years of under-investment to improve the company had hurt its efficiency and its financial performance. In September 2007, she estimated that modernizing the corporation would cost $2.7 billion over five to seven years for new buildings, equipment, technology and training
    __
    There have been calls for the privatization of Canada Post. Supporters of privatization contend that the public sector is more labour intensive and uses less capital than the private sector, resulting in state owned enterprises that are less productive. Some argue that the economic crisis coupled with deficit spending makes Canada Post a prime candidate for privatization. Supporters of privatization point to Great Britain, Finland, New Zealand and Sweden, which have given up on the government-enforced monopoly on mail delivery and have exposed their former monopoly mail providers to competition. Additionally, 27 European Union member states have also agreed to end government monopolies on mail delivery.
    __
    Critics also point to the Netherlands, which fully privatized its postal service which had previously expanded into foreign markets and diversified business.

    As Rick Perry might say, “oops.”

  93. 93
    burnspbesq says:

    @Makewi:

    This bill was passed 1 month and 2 weeks after both houses of the legislature were won by the Democrats.

    Can you not read a calendar? The results of the 2006 election were not reflected in the makeup of the Congress until January 2007. This legislation was passed in a lame duck session by a Republican controlled congress.

    Idiot.

  94. 94
    Jennifer says:

    @Ray: And Ray, if you’re accusing the USPS of bad service, then pardon my French, but you quite simply are full of shit.

    My experience with FedEx, which costs 25 times as much as the USPS, has been that their on-time-to-the-right-address stats are quite a bit lower. Once they lost a computer in a warehouse for about 6 weeks; several other times they delivered my package to the wrong street address. USPS has something like a 99% on-time-to-the-correct-address efficiency rate. Neither UPS nor FedEx comes close to that.

  95. 95
    Jennifer says:

    Which raises an interesting point. Both FedEx and UPS contract out something like 25% of their “last mile” delivery to the USPS. Wonder how well FedEx’s “absolutely positively has to be there overnight” is going to work when the USPS stops daily delivery? Want to place any bets on what impact that’s going to have on their already exhorbitant rates?

  96. 96
    carpeduum says:

    @Cluttered Mind: I’m not saying that usps should not be subsidized. I am saying that perhaps shutting down a few outlets, increasing prices a bit, slowing down service a bit…is not the end of the world.

    The status quo seems unsustainable. Even without the GOP bullshit.

  97. 97
    Cluttered Mind says:

    @carpeduum: I guess that really depends on your definition of “unsustainable”. I’d argue that spending billions and billions on the endless and unwinnable War on Terror and War on Drugs represents a far better example of unsustainable government excess. As long as the Post Office operates more or less efficiently and does its job and serves the people of the country the way it’s supposed to, I don’t consider it a bad investment. Since I have no actual knowledge of the facts of how the post office’s budget works or where any inefficiencies might be, I’m not going to try to argue specifics. It would indeed not be the end of the world if a few outlets shut down, prices went up a little, and service slowed down a bit. However, from what I’ve been reading, what’s going to happen is quite a bit more severe than that.

  98. 98
    The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik says:

    @carpeduum:

    Except the ‘status quo’ was changed by the GOP in a way that severely screwed the budget of the USPS to the point of requiring these kinds of ridiculous cuts. The problem isn’t the way USPS operates, it’s the ridiculous fucking regulations (hey, you know that word, the one the GOP fucking has conniptions over when it applies to more obviously private enterprises?) placed on the USPS and apparently no one else that has caused them to hemorrhage money? The same nitwits who espouse companies like UPS and such and decry ‘public funding’ of things like USPS tend to have been the ones who helped fucking bleed it dry, as if to prove how awful gov’t is and how infinitely wonderful private options are, forget the fucking fact that as noted elsewhere, UPS, DHL, FedEx, etc., fall back on USPS to deliver to places its not ‘cost effective’ to go all the way out to the end to.

    This was a shit in the bed by Congress that they left the USPS to clean up, then pointed at as proof that they’re too immature compared to their private ‘big brothers’.

  99. 99
    Rafer Janders says:

    @Cluttered Mind:

    I’m not really sure why the post office needs to be “profitable” in order to exist. Ditto for Amtrak, and many other government programs that serve a lot of people but are roundly criticized for losing money.

    Nobody demands that the US armed forces be profitable.

    Though, I suspect, that day is not long coming….

  100. 100
    Kathleen says:

    Remember the post 9-11 anthrax scare? The media of course focused on the fact Brokaw and Leahy received envelopes with anthrax. Does anyone remember that US Posal workers were the ones who actually died? The media seem to forget about that. I’ve worked at the Post Office and I respect Postal workers. Some of the nicest people I ever worked with. Plus, I contend the pension requirement was a precursor to privatization so that Rethugs could get their cloven hooves into that pension fund.

  101. 101
    dollared says:

    There is still absolutely no reason why the Democrats supported this. It is a crime. And where was Obama in all this?

    What fight will this guy take on? The Postal Service is in the !#@$#$%^^ Constitution!

  102. 102
    dollared says:

    @carpeduum: And again, you are wrong on the facts. Just wrong. Raise the bulk mail rates 1 penny per item, and the entire deficit is erased.

    But you would prefer that 30,000 people lose their jobs.

  103. 103
    The Spy Who Loved Me says:

    @PurpleGirl:
    A few years ago, we wanted to institute auto deposit for our copmpany payroll. The bank offered free checking accounts for the employees and there is a bank owned ATM right around the corner. The warehouse crew pitched a fit. None of them have bank accounts and didn’t want them. For some reason, they would rather pay the liquor store around the corner to cash their checks and then buy money orders to pay bills. Only one guy in the warehouse has a checking account. He is also the only one that owns a house and isn’t having his paycheck garnished by the Juvenile Court for child support.

    I just don’t understand people sometimes.

  104. 104
    Ruckus says:

    @Cluttered Mind:
    You keep making sense like this and soon no one will pay attention.

  105. 105
    Ruckus says:

    @The Spy Who Loved Me:
    How many of those having their paychecks garnished think that they were not at fault in the split? How many think the courts are screwing them? How many think the government screws them, everyday? How many think they were great fathers until the court stepped in? I’ll bet it’s the majority.

  106. 106
    El Cid says:

    I think the USPS needs to completely shut down for a few months to ‘save money’ while people learn the joys of using UPS or FedEx or DHL to send a letter ‘cross town.

  107. 107
    Joeshabadoo says:

    When the post office gets shut down these assholes suddenly have 75 years worth of health care benefits to stick in the casino or to justify another “temporary” tax cut for the wealthy.

  108. 108
    cckids says:

    @Enhanced Voting Techniques:

    So at what point does everyone wake up and realize we pay most of our bills by first class mail? I would think that would would set off corporate America more than anything else. It’s not like I mail people letters, but that whole bill thing is important to my creditors.

    late to the party, but the vast majority of those bills arrive at your house via USPS. That will screw businesses–big and small–to a huge degree. Are they supposed to send out bills via FedEx, at $6-$12 a pop? My spouse owns a small accounting/financial services firm; this would be a killer. Many clients are older & even if they use email/internet, don’t want their bills that way.

    It would be cheaper to hire a teenager with a small car to hand-deliver the in-town stuff to people. JOBS!!

  109. 109
    Mnemosyne says:

    Interesting how “legacy labor costs” is apparently code for “projected healthcare costs for people who haven’t been hired.”

  110. 110
    shortstop says:

    @The Spy Who Loved Me: At least around here, most banks require a credit card to open a checking account. Probably the coworkers to which you refer do not have credit cards.

  111. 111
    shortstop says:

    @El Cid: Ridiculous. Are there no workhou…er, elementary schools? Can poor children not be drafted to serve as a human pony express for short distances?

  112. 112
    Maus says:

    @carpeduum:

    ’m not saying that usps should not be subsidized

    Oh my fucking lord, you still don’t have any clue how the USPS operates.

    The USPS has not directly received taxpayer-dollars since the early 1980s with the minor exception of subsidies for costs associated with the disabled and overseas voters.

  113. 113
    The Other Chuck says:

    @burnspbesq:

    You’re talking as if Makewi has ever made a single argument in good faith and isn’t instead bent on destroying every shred of civil argument wherever she decides to exist.

    Yes, it’s infuriating that Cole doesn’t ring the ban hammer in an unending melody of righteousness, but worse yet is the fact that people feed these fucking trolls year after year after year.

  114. 114
    Admiral_Komack says:

    “So when rural Americans start screaming because the mail isn’t coming, they can go blame their “fiscally conservative” Congresscritter.”

    No they won’t, and you know it.

    They’ll blame the nig(GONG!).

  115. 115
    KXB says:

    This week, our company is trying to clear out excess inventory of old books. We have had a very good response, so most of my time this week will be taken up with packing and shipping the books out. But, it is the fact that I have the USPS Media Mail option that we were able to setup this sale. If we had to ship using either FedEx Ground or UPS Ground, there was no way we would have been able to lower the prices of our goods.

    I do put most of the blame on the Republican lame duck Congress of 2006 that voted for that absurd pension law. But I do not let Democrats off the hook for keeping the law in place. Democrats seem to think waiting until the last possible moment is the best way to govern.

  116. 116
    blondie says:

    @daveNYC: Absolutely!

  117. 117
    Maus says:

    @KXB:

    Democrats seem to think waiting until the last possible moment is the best way to govern.

    Don’t make waaaaves!

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