Going Postal On The Mofo

Last call for Saturday mail, folks.

The financially struggling U.S. Postal Service says it plans to stop delivering mail on Saturdays, but continue delivering packages six days a week.

In an announcement scheduled for later Wednesday, the service is expected to say the cut, beginning in August, would mean a cost saving of about $2 billion annually.

The move accentuates one of the agency’s strong points — package delivery has increased by 14 percent since 2010. The delivery of letters and other mail has declined with the increasing use of email and other Internet use.

Let’s recall why the USPS is struggling:  because Republicans in Congress forced the agency to pay their retiree health care costs decades down the road up front in 2006, then refused to give them the money to do that.  As a result, the USPS made massive workforce cuts and forced thousands into early retirement, which of course means the USPS has to pay those health care benefits up front, putting them into a death spiral.

The financial woes of the U.S. Postal System have become a point of contention on Capitol Hill. The Postal Service is supposed to make a $5.5 billion payment to its retiree health care fund by November 18th… but doesn’t have the money.

US Postal Service workers have a retiree health care benefit in addition to their pension. Before Congress passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006, the USPS operated under a pay-as-you-go model for retiree health care funding. The new law requires the Postal Service to pre-fund its benefit obligations.

“The idea is that enough money is saved over the course of a career that the benefit is fully paid for by the time the worker retires.

Thanks to these prefunding payments, the Postal Service has greatly reduced its unfunded obligations for retiree health benefits. At the end of fiscal year 2010, these obligations were under $49 billion – a substantial sum, but much more manageable. If the Postal Service continues making its prefunding payments, its unfunded obligations for retiree health benefits will be around $33 billion by the end of the decade. And the postal service will be on course to pay these benefits over time,” a Congressional insider explained.

Sure, unless you force early retirement so that the benefit is paid for well ahead of time, thus leaving the USPS unable to pay for anything else.  Like, you know, operating costs.  It’s like the government came to you and said “OK, you’re 25 years old, but you have to pay for every dime of your Medicare that we project you will use for the next ten years, rather than over the next 40 years.  We’ll be docking half of your paycheck until you get to that number.  Good luck paying your rent or feeding your kids.”

Also, let’s remember who lost the roughly 160,000 jobs since the PAEA was passed:  middle-class civil service workers, a disproportionate amount of them African-American.

African-Americans make up about 20 percent of U.S. Postal Service workers – and are the majority in some urban centers, representing 75 percent to 80 percent of the 5,000 letter carriers in the Chicago area, according to Mack Julion, president of the Chicago branch of the National Association of Letter Carriers.

But the public sector has cut nearly 600,000 jobs since 2009, due to shrinking government budgets and a range of other issues, according to the Bureau of Labor Relations. The slower recovery for African-Americans in the labor market has, in part, been the result of government layoffs after the end of the recession was declared, according to the DOL report. In December, the black unemployment rate was 14 percent, roughly double that of whites.

While some other sectors of the economy are seeing recovery, the biggest problems may be just beginning for the Post Office, the nation’s second-largest civilian employer after Wal-Mart with about 536,000 career workers.

Death spiral accomplished, right?  There’s a reason why the Postal Service was targeted folks, it was a source of tens of thousands of middle-class jobs, especially for minorities.  Since We Can’t Have Nice Things, the PAEA was passed and BLAMMO, a recession coupled with structural failure in the Postal Service all but guaranteed a massive loss of jobs.  And the USPS still has another 4 years to go to pay off the $22 billion or so it has left to pay off, thanks to Dubya.  On top of all this, there are plenty of folks who keep saying the only way to save the USPS is to privatize the mail system completely.

In the case of the Postal Service, though, privatization has become the best path forward, mainly because it would take Congress out of the picture. As New York Times columnist Joe Nocera recently argued, “the problem is that neither the management nor the workers really control the Postal Service. Even though the post office has been self-financed since the 1980s, it remains shackled by Congress, which simply can’t bring itself to allow the service to make its own decisions.” And Congress won’t do so, as long as the post office remains part of the government.

The Postal Service has many assets that could be managed more efficiently, if Congress got out of the way. In addition to its 32,000 post offices, it has 461 processing facilities, monopoly access to residential mailboxes and an overfunded pension plan. These assets would attract bidders. Consider, for example, that many processing facilities and post offices sit on valuable real estate, and it may be smarter to sell many of them than to keep them.

Which awful glibertarian scold said that?  You get points for coming up with none other than former Obama OMB head and current Citigroup exec Peter Orszag before clicking on the above link.  Saving the USPS is not something that’s apparently very high priority for the current administration either, and this is one of the times I disagree with them on economic policy.  These are jobs that aren’t going to be coming back, either, especially here in Cincy.

So yeah, part of me feels like going postal on just about everybody in DC.  This was one of those “self-inflicted wounds” to the economy that President Obama was talking about yesterday, and not a hell of a lot happened to try to fix it.  Ironically, it’s postal service in rural areas that will be cut back the most because of these changes, but this was a needless anchor thrown around the neck of the USPS, and nobody in DC threw them a lifeline when the opportunity was there.  Postal jobs aren’t sexy.

See ya, Saturday mail.  It was cool while it lasted.

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140 replies
  1. 1
    Renie says:

    Why can’t Congress repeal PAEA?

  2. 2
    Raven says:

    I got fired from the PO in 1974, best thing that ever happened to me.

  3. 3
    The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik says:

    Privatizing EVERYTHING is the end game, because FREEDUMS, BITCHES! After all, if you’re not squeezing blood from that stone, what good is it?

    Public good? Commie bullshit. If it doesn’t make a profit, it’s Anti-American.

  4. 4
    Quaker in a Basement says:

    Republicans crippling the post office? So much for Constitutional originalism.

  5. 5
    SatanicPanic says:

    Fuck Peter Orzag.

  6. 6
    MikeJ says:

    When it comes to getting mail on Saturday does anyone actually care? I realise my grandmother was disappointed when mail was cut back to once per day, but if regular mail went to MWF I don’t know how many people would notice.

  7. 7
    JPL says:

    Leave my post office alone. Article I of the Constitution give me the right to the have postal delivery and I have the freedom to carry that postal delivery anywhere I want.

  8. 8
    JPL says:

    @MikeJ: Your comment just reminded me that I forgot to get yesterday’s mail.

  9. 9
    ...now I try to be amused says:

    Why do Republicans hate Ben Franklin?

  10. 10
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik: I have come to the conclusion the Republicans simply do not believe in the concept of the “commons.” Maggie Thatcher (God rot her) once said, “There is no such thing as society;” modern Republicans have bought into that lock, stock, and barrel.

  11. 11
    Zifnab25 says:

    On top of all this, there are plenty of folks who keep saying the only way to save the USPS is to privatize the mail system completely.

    Because if there’s one group of people that have reliably funded their pension systems, its large private sector enterprises. Amirite, or amirite Big 3 Automakers?

  12. 12
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Zifnab25:

    Because if there’s one group of people that have reliably funded their pension systems, its large private sector enterprises. Amirite, or amirite Big 3 Automakers?

    Just ask anyone who’s ever dealt with Bain Capital about that!

  13. 13
    SP says:

    Even if they did pre-fund it, there’s no doubt that Republicans would then start talking about how this huge fund really belongs to the Amerikun peoples and needs to be refunded to them as a cut in the capital gains tax.

  14. 14
    Kay says:

    I would have kept the system and added elections as a Postal Service-administered service.

    I’ve done both things and the two functions could have been combined. They’re already doing Selective Service and passports. Add voter registration and election administration. It’s a natural fit (names, addresses) and they would be good at it. They could keep and maintain voter rolls in the same way they keep and maintain the address system and they have brick and mortar locations in place for Election Day itself. They ramp up for Christmas, they’d simply extend that to Election Day.

    It seems a shame to waste 200 years of developing a national address-delivery service. Just give them another duty to compensate for reduced mail volume. We’d have better, more nationally consistent election administration.

  15. 15
    Mike in NC says:

    I was at the post office last week and some silly old bastard at the next window was waving a piece of paper about some Customs issue he had. The clerk patiently tried to explain that USPS and US Customs weren’t the same thing, and she couldn’t help him. He finally blurted out, “No wonder you’re going bankrupt!” and stormed out. Typical asshole Tea Party nut who’s been victimized by evil Big Government, right?

  16. 16

    Republicans are like termites, they are hollowing out the foundation from within. When they are done with gutting everything, what will they feed on next.

  17. 17

    The pension thing, while egregious, is *not* the only problem plaguing the postal service. There really are some service issues that are forcing changes in the way it operates as a lot of its more lucrative business dries up.

  18. 18
    SenyorDave says:

    The Republicans actively have been trying to destroy the USPS for years. The sad part is that the Villagers say that the left always blames the GOP for everything. The problem is the GOP deserves the blame for almost everything. The current GOP House is wrong on almost everything. In addition, their goal is to make it impossible for Obama (or any Democrat) to govern.

    A pox on our House, and in particluar Eric Cantor.

  19. 19
    gene108 says:

    @MikeJ:

    if regular mail went to MWF I don’t know how many people would notice.

    Businesses that get payments in the mail would notice.

    When it comes to getting mail on Saturday does anyone actually care?

    I think picking up mail on Saturdays is more important, because if you are expecting a check in the mail and it was sent Friday, you could’ve possibly gotten it by Monday. Now it’ll take extra time.

    @SatanicPanic:

    Why?

    Getting Congress out of the way of managing the Post Office would help the Post Office immensely in being able to adjust to changing economic needs.

    Whether the Post Master General would sell off assets, like Orzag thinks would be a good idea, or not is open to debate, but Congress is a millstone around the neck of anyone at USPS trying to do anything to save itself.

  20. 20
    Roger Moore says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Just ask anyone who’s ever dealt with Bain Capital about that!

    And they’ll say that there were suckers companies that funded their pension obligations. The problem is that pension funds are treated as a corporate asset that can be stripped to pay off assholes like Mitt Romney rather than an inviolate trust fund.

  21. 21
    MrQA says:

    PRIVATIZE BABY!

    USPS, Schools, Prisons, ScoSec, Highways, Parking Meters!!
    Go for it all! The masters of the universe will not stop
    until they have ground the last cent out of everything!

    Facist Oligarchy Uber Alles!
    In “Omni Consumer Products” we Trust!

  22. 22
    kindness says:

    NPR did a story on it this morning and what do you know, they never covered the Republican scumbaggyness that is forcing the postal service out of business. You know I posted about it in the on line version after a couple reichtwingnutz blamed the Postal Service & the unions.

    Why can’t the MSM be even remotely honest? I don’t expect reasonably, but I do expect remotely.

  23. 23
    Schlemizel says:

    @SP:

    I am expecting exactly that attack & probably soon.

  24. 24

    I wrote about this today too, but the problem is, even without those forced retiree benefit payments (which the USPS hasn’t paid) they’re still losing billions. The problem is that people don’t use the USPS like they did.

    There are things the USPS can do, new ideas they can try, new services they can offer IF Congress gets the fuck out of the way and let’s them try to innovate. But Congress is intent on tying the USPS’ hands because they’re trying to starve the beast. The thing is, we’re always going to have a USPS — the Constitution says we have to. So instead of purposely making the USPS the least innovative in the western world, let’s tell Congress to get the fuck out of the way and let them try some new stuff that might actually enhance and broaden their scope of service, instead of limit it. Because traditional mail delivery services and selling postage stamps is so last century.

    I’m not gonna miss Saturday delivery, at all. 90% of the stuff that comes in my mailbox is crap I don’t want and never asked for. It’s fundraising letters and coupons and “refinance your mortgage now!” scams.

  25. 25
    MomSense says:

    Wow, I was just talking about this with our mail carrier. He was telling me that what really upsets him is that so many of the postal workers in our town post office are Republicans even though it is the Democratic Party that is trying to protect their pensions and wages.

    The thing that really burns me is that this is another one of those Republican manufactured crises. Let’s pull the profits out of the postal service, starve the beast, and then use this as pretense to break up the unions and privatize the service.

    Generations of taxpayers have been investing in this service–and now they want to let a private company come in and reap the benefits without having made the investments.

    This is BS!!

  26. 26
    ruemara says:

    I find it amazing how many true progressives I know detest the post office. It brings them junk mail, it lost a package once, it takes longer than FedEx. There’s a real blind spot here.

  27. 27
    peach flavored shampoo says:

    Mailmen are going to be dropping like flies from the hernias and thrown-out backs they get from trying to deliver 2X their normal mail amounts with the same efficiency and accuracy every Monday.

  28. 28
    DanF says:

    @kindness: Yeah – This provided my daily screaming at NPR “Morning Edition” moment.

  29. 29
    Roger Moore says:

    @gene108:

    Getting Congress out of the way of managing the Post Office would help the Post Office immensely in being able to adjust to changing economic needs.

    Sure, but there’s a big range of options between Congressional micromanagement and privatization. It should be an independent agency with a lot of autonomy to make decisions about things like stamp prices and exactly which post offices to keep open or closed. The Postmaster General would still be a presidential appointment confirmed by the Senate, and Congress would still have the power to set high-level policy, like all first class letters costing the same. IOW, they should be managed more like the Fed.

  30. 30
    askew says:

    This is one of the many places Dems dropped the ball in 2009-2010. This would have been an easy fix for them to do and it would have saved thousands of jobs. Instead they punted on this fix and now we’ll have layoffs.

  31. 31
    MikeJ says:

    @ruemara: I don’t hate the USPS, and for the most part the package service is fine. I just don’t get enough mail that can’t wait an extra day. I don’t know anyone who does.

    I don’t want postal service to stop altogether. I just don’t need it every day. As I mentioned above, there used to be morning and afternoon delivery. Now there’s not, and nobody is really that upset about it.

  32. 32
    askew says:

    @Kay:

    I’ve been arguing for the post office to add voter registration for ages now. It would never happen though.

  33. 33

    @ruemara:

    I love the post office. I used them all the time for stuff. But I’m also not immune to facts and reality. I get direct-deposit checks, I pay bills online, I send e-mail not letters and everyone in my fucking life does the same thing. The world has changed. Get over it.

    There are things the post office can do to make them better. They can get into digital communications, like they have in Europe. They can close post offices and operate in stores. They can sell new products, like offer satellite communication services. In Scandinavia they offer all sorts of services, like helping companies develop direct marketing campaigns.

    The idea that we can only let the post office deliver mail and sell stamps is just stupid.

  34. 34
    DanF says:

    The irony in all of this is that once privatization is completed, it means no local delivery of Soldier of Fortune to Rural Route 129, Middle Of Nowhere, ID, for less than $27.50.

  35. 35
    russell says:

    When it comes to getting mail on Saturday does anyone actually care?

    Yes.

    Maggie Thatcher (God rot her) once said, “There is no such thing as society;” modern Republicans have bought into that lock, stock, and barrel.

    In a nutshell.

  36. 36
    JustPeachyAndYou says:

    So the Republicans privatize the post office, then the next Democratic administration has to add funding to various agencies to oversee/regulate/discipline it, because as it turns out, there are benefits to a national mail and package delivery system that meets certain standards of reliability, confidentiality, affordability, and availability to all citizens.

    Sadly, today’s Republicans think “common good” is something to do with stinkin’ welfare, or something.

  37. 37
    JPL says:

    The BSA needs more time to decide the gay issue… Bunch of wimps all of them.

    it’s on nbc.com

  38. 38
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    One important thing; the Postal Clause (Article I, Section 8, Clause 7, of the US Constitution) gives Congress the power to enact and regulate a postal system. It does not mandate that Congress does so.

    Most of us here know that privatizing mail delivery would be a dumb idea because, among other things, postage would then be based on distance and difficulty. Acting on dumb ideas has become the Republicans’ métier so I anticipate a bill to privatize the USPS any day now.

  39. 39
    Roger Moore says:

    @MikeJ:

    I don’t want postal service to stop altogether.

    Neither do FedEx or UPS. It turns out that one of the reasons USPS is delivering more packages these days is that the private delivery companies don’t like residential delivery, so they have USPS deliver a lot of their non-rush residential packages.

  40. 40
    russell says:

    There are things the post office can do to make them better

    Yes, that’s true. And if they try to expand their business model beyond what they’re doing now, conservatives in this country will scream bloody murder, because they will be competing with private entities.

    At the time the Constitution was written, postal service was the fundamental public means of communication. Nowadays it’s email, phone, and all of the various forms of public social media, including this blog.

    Can you imagine anybody suggesting that all of that be provided as a public service? All of the (R) and well more than half the (D) in Congress would sh*t a freaking brick.

    So yeah, the idea of the USPS *expanding* their business model makes sense. And the gauntlet they will have to run to do that is freaking crippling.

    The comment about Maggie Thatcher was right on the money. Conservatives have no concept of public life, or investment in a shared public infrastructure. They worship private property, and private privilege.

  41. 41
    jayackroyd says:

    @Kay: Also internet and Fed ATMs. The fees for checking cashing services for people without bank accounts is insane. We should all have a fed account.

  42. 42

    @russell: The postal service should be in charge of expanding broad band access throughout the country.

  43. 43
    russell says:

    the Postal Clause (Article I, Section 8, Clause 7, of the US Constitution) gives Congress the power to enact and regulate a postal system.

    Nothing in Article I Section 8 is a mandate. The section, in its entirety, is an enumeration of *powers*.

    Congress isn’t required to do anything except (a) meet once a year, (b) keep a journal of their meetings, and (c) get paid.

    Everything else is optional.

  44. 44
    TooManyJens says:

    @The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik: Our new national motto should be, “If Someone Can’t Make a Buck Off Of It, It’s Not Worth Doing.”

  45. 45
    gex says:

    I love when people decide their opinion on national policy with thoughts like “I don’t know anyone who does.”

    Fuck that noise. Research the situation or STFU. Policy by the gut doesn’t work.

  46. 46
    liberal says:

    @askew:
    Good point. I’d be interested in details.

    I’m also interested in the actual origin in 2006 or whatever. Didn’t people see this would be a disaster, and if so why didn’t they make any movement to stop it?

  47. 47
    jayackroyd says:

    @MrQA: Yes that is Democratic program, ruled as they are by centrists.

  48. 48
    Roger Moore says:

    @Kay:

    Just give them another duty to compensate for reduced mail volume.

    I know! We’ll have them handle last-mile telecommunication services like land-line phones, cable TV infrastructure, and residential and small business internet. Those are the logical 20th/21st Century equivalents of mail delivery, and they’re something that’s handled incredibly badly right now. Of course it will never happen, but that’s what would happen in a country that actually wanted to provide quality service in those areas.

  49. 49
    liberal says:

    @russell:

    Conservatives have no concept of public life, or investment in a shared public infrastructure. They worship private property, and private privilege.

    Thing is, without government, there is no such thing as property. There’s possession, but that’s not at all the same thing.

    And private privilege is backed up with the force of government guns.

  50. 50
    kc says:

    God damn it, that’s gonna put a hurting on my bidness.

  51. 51
    MikeJ says:

    @jayackroyd: The post office in England allows you to do banking at the counter in many locations and collect benefit cheques and pensions. Of course they also sell life insurance and do all sorts of other things, including broadband and phone: http://www.postoffice.co.uk/br.....g-services

  52. 52
    liberal says:

    @Roger Moore:

    We’ll have them handle last-mile telecommunication services like land-line phones, cable TV infrastructure…

    That does make sense. Last mile infrastructure is a natural monopoly, in the sense that it’s not cheap and duplicating it in the non-monopoly case is costly and wasteful. IMHO mail delivery itself (assuming a minimum number of frequent, widespread deliveries) is a natural monopoly, because having carriers from different services all make stops on the same block over and over again has the same issues.

  53. 53
    kc says:

    @MikeJ:

    When it comes to getting mail on Saturday does anyone actually care?

    I damn sure care, for my business, not so much for personal mail.

  54. 54
    Roger Moore says:

    @gex:

    Fuck that noise. Research the situation or STFU. Policy by the gut doesn’t work

    Word!

  55. 55
    kc says:

    @Southern Beale:

    , I pay bills online, I send e-mail not letters and everyone in my fucking life does the same thing. The world has changed. Get over it.

    Aren’t you special.

  56. 56
    liberal says:

    @MrQA:
    A huge stealth privitization that almost no one talks about is financing home ownership.

    When property taxes are lowered, all the funds from the portion falling on site value (which for my house, for example, is about 2/3, though YMMV) that previously went to government goes to the current owner plus banks collecting interest on (future) mortgages.

  57. 57
    slippy says:

    The thing is, we’re always going to have a USPS — the Constitution says we have to.

    Silly wabbit, conservatives get to say what is, and what is not in the Constitution.

    I love my local PO. They are very effective and helpful, and I’m going to drop a note to my postman thanking him for his service.

    Trying to replace the post office is not something a private concern can do. It’s the same reason we don’t have good internet in rural areas — the costs have to be spread across the entire system and you know how business is about that.

    Also, my postal delivery guy literally has some fuckin’ big shoes to fill. I found his footprints in my driveway in the snow, and damn . . .

  58. 58
    liberal says:

    @jayackroyd:
    I agree, but one thing I’ve never understood about payday loans is why the (usury) rates aren’t lowered through competition.

    I mean, I hate the industry as much as the next guy, and I feel as much as anyone else that “competition and the free market will solve all of our problems !!eleventy!” is as idiotic as the next guy, but the rates charged are so comically high that you wonder why someone doesn’t come in, blow away the current players, and make a lot of money doing so.

    I figure it’s something to do with barriers to entry and other factors involving market failure, but…

  59. 59
    liberal says:

    @slippy:

    Trying to replace the post office is not something a private concern can do.

    Well, that’s not quite true. Rather, due to economies of scale, it’s something that a private concern likely can’t do for a price that’s within an order of magnitude of the current one.

  60. 60
    danimal says:

    @russell:

    In a nutshell.

    I see what you did there. Brilliant choice of words.

  61. 61
    Lane says:

    Ok, I may be late to point.

    The constitutional nutjobs should be raving in discord. Postal delivery is a constitutional right. But it costs cash from a ‘fined’ populace.

    HOLY CRAP.

    I really hate people

  62. 62
    Lit3Bolt says:

    Anyone else getting the sense that this country is unfixable?

    Mainly because of a Third World Theocratic Millstone strapped around the US’s neck called “Real America?”

  63. 63
    liberal says:

    @russell:

    Can you imagine anybody suggesting that all of that be provided as a public service? All of the (R) and well more than half the (D) in Congress would sh*t a freaking brick.

    Just to be clear, that kind of activity really is “sochialist,” meaning when the government owns or controls hte means of production(*). Taxes/transfer payments and regulation, not so much.

    —-

    (*) “Not that there’s [always] something wrong with that.”

  64. 64

    @MikeJ: They do that in India too. I am not surprised because India inherited many of its bureaucracies from England.
    @slippy:

    Also, my postal delivery guy literally has some fuckin’ big shoes to fill. I found his footprints in my driveway in the snow, and damn . . .

    Yeti or Tunch?

  65. 65
    Cassidy says:

    @liberal: Because they prey on desperation. Essentially, these companies are going to get customers. That’s a given. It’s an almost unspoken agreement to not challenge each other as they all ar emaking money hand over fist.

    Think of it like an emergency plumber. If you have two choices, both ar elikely to charge the same amount of within a few dollars of one another. Why lower your price to undercut one guy, gaining business you can’t cater to, when you can both make quite a bit based on convenience of location.

  66. 66
    jayackroyd says:

    @MikeJ: I know. Postal banking in Japan as well. And internet services in every OECD country I’ve visited. This stuff is infrastructure–stuff that is more efficiently done by government for basic universal access.

    That creates a bar, both cost and service quality, for private sector competitors. Like UPS and FedEx

  67. 67
    Roger Moore says:

    @kc:
    If businesses want and need delivery on Saturdays, why not have some kind of tiered system? For example, you could make Saturday deliveries (and Sunday and holiday, if you could manage it legally) to PO boxes but not door-to-door. Business and people who really depend on the fastest possible delivery could pay a small premium to rent a PO box- and my impression is that most businesses that get payment through the mail already do- while people who don’t care can continue to get residential delivery. It even works with the existing system, since delivery to PO boxes is already handled differently.

  68. 68
    cmorenc says:

    Regarding privatization, reasons the USPS is struggling beyond just the odious 2006 health care/pension requirements the GOP saddled it with are:
    1) Privatization of package delivery and expedited document delivery services has already occurred: that’s what FedEx and UPS are all about. It’s hard to remember now, but these services used to be the near-exclusive domain of the US Postal Service. It’s only relatively recently that the USPS began again offering decently competitive alternatives to this more profitable end of the business. I particularly like their “if it fits, it ships” box pricing system.
    2) The USPS sold its soul back a few decades ago in giving especially favorable rates to bulk mailers. That’s why such a high percentage of the remaining mail that arrives in your mailbox is junk advertising mail. But the return on handling this huge volume and weight of mail isn’t so great now, which is exactly why UPS and FedEx are in no hurry to attempt to competitively take over this part of the USPS’s business.

    One not-so-trivial consequence if the USPS does get forced out of business is that there are many situations where only certified delivery by the USPS satisfies crucial legal requirements. Not FedEx, not UPS. These legal requirements will all have to be changed in that event.

    But yeah, it’s the 2006 burdens the USPS cast on

  69. 69
    Roger Moore says:

    @liberal:
    It’s possible that the payday loan business isn’t as profitable as it’s cracked up to be because of high default rates, high overhead of dealing with many small loans, or some other practical factor that you and I don’t understand.

  70. 70
    kc says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Roger, d’oh! I popped off my mouth too soon. As usual. I just read the whole story and I see that I’ll continue to get mail in my P.O. box on Saturday. I mean, I would have lived without it, but it would have sucked somewhat.

    It still kinda sucks that they’re stopping Sat. delivery.

  71. 71
    SatanicPanic says:

    @gene108: That’s an argument for reforming Congress more than an argument for privatizing the PO

  72. 72
    Soup of the evening says:

    Another thing is, if you live at a rural address that’s not obvious, the post office knows how to find you and delivers, UPS or Fed Ex not necessarily. I had to mention this in an email once to Fed Ex management as I was waiting (and waiting)for a book order. The wait had become pretty ridiculous but that seemed to speed things up.

  73. 73
    Joel says:

    I’m actually okay with this move. The USPS is moving towards package delivery, which is what people use these days. That element of their service will probably be with us forever, because the private carriers depend on the USPS to do their local delivery for them.

  74. 74
    Pink Snapdragon says:

    @Roger Moore: If the post office were privatized what is the liklihood that any postal employee would ever see that pension that has been fully pre funded? The Bain Capitals of the world want that money, and they will stop at nothing to get it.

  75. 75
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    Anyone else getting the sense that this country is unfixable?

    Mainly because of a Third World Theocratic Millstone strapped around the US’s neck called “Real America?”

    @Lit3Bolt: Shit, go take a car trip through the Deep South sometime (unless you’re a minority, in that case I really gotta recommend that you don’t). We have to compromise and work out national problems with those people, by law.

    It’s fucking amazing we’ve gotten as far as we have.

  76. 76
    Cassidy says:

    @Forum Transmitted Disease: Hey, hey, hey, I live in florida and…fuck, you’re right.

  77. 77
    Roger Moore says:

    @kc:

    As usual. I just read the whole story and I see that I’ll continue to get mail in my P.O. box on Saturday.

    Don’t beat yourself up. Reading the whole article puts you ahead of about 95-99% of the other posters here. Obviously I didn’t read the whole thing, or I wouldn’t have tried to pass off what the Post Office was already planning on doing as my own clever idea.

    OT, but in another sad end to an era, the iron has been retired as a Monopoly piece. It’s being replaced by a cat, which was the natural winner in any internet poll.

  78. 78
    burnspbesq says:

    @DanF:

    This provided my daily screaming at NPR “Morning Edition” moment.

    Fine, but who else covered the story of the environmental disaster caused by debris from the 2011 Japanese tsunami washing ashore in Alaska this morning?

  79. 79

    I wonder whenever this subject is brought up why no one ever mentions that the USPS is the largest employer of veterans in the United States? If the post office goes under it will put hundreds of thousands of veterans out of work. The repubs keep saying that they support the troops and the vets, so why don’t we go with that angle?

  80. 80
  81. 81

    @Roger Moore: Does the cat look like Tunch?
    ETA: It is rather fitting isn’t it, since kittehs love board games, sitting on the board and tossing and batting pieces around is a lot of fun.

  82. 82
    burnspbesq says:

    Saturday delivery will resume in 2017, after howls of public outrage over no deliveries on Christmas Eve 2016.

  83. 83
    Michele C says:

    @MikeJ: Honestly, I pick up our mail once a week. Still, I am positive privatization is not the answer. Look at the prison system.

  84. 84
    dww44 says:

    I’ve not read any of the comments, so forgive me, please, if I plow comment ground that’s already been hoed. The gutting of our USPS is the subject that causes me extreme consternation and pain because it is largely unnecessary. It has been easy for the GOP to target them, simply because many of its workers are minorities. In my red state small city, probably 70 to 75% of them are AA.

    I remember back in the day (the 50’s and 60’s) when many a subsequently GOP converted relative of mine supplemented his other working income (like farming) with a rural mail delivery job. All of them, bar none, didn’t cast aspersions on those jobs back in the day.

    In fact, as a child I remember listening to their fireplace conversations about people they knew and would remark, “He’s got one of those good “gubmint” jobs.” It was said with envy and appreciation as every single one of them grew up on a farm during the Depression. They had nothing, and certainly not a high school diploma or college education and getting a good civil service job was a path to prosperity not otherwise open to them.

    Is there anything that we citizens can do to stop this gutting? FYI, I never cared for Peter Orszag and after reading the above, I really, really do believe he’s not a liberal in any respect.

  85. 85
    Joel says:

    @MikeJ: That would be excellent. I would love to see the check cashing business driven out of business forever.

  86. 86

    Does this mean that the post office will not be open on Saturday? I like to do my post-office related errands on Caturdays.

  87. 87
    liberal says:

    @Roger Moore:
    Yeah, that’s possible.

  88. 88
    MikeJ says:

    @Michele C: Privatization is almost always the wrong answer.

  89. 89
    Kip the Wonder Rat says:

    @MikeJ: I would, FWIW.

    Why don’t you care? What do you think will happen with all the stuff that normally gets delivered on Saturday? Do you think it just disappears? Or, upon reflection, do you think it will get delivered on Monday, but now the stuff that would have been delivered on Monday might get delivered on Tuesday, etc. ? See the problem?

  90. 90
    SatanicPanic says:

    @dww44: This is a very important point. The USPS was a stepping stone to middle class status for a lot of minorities. I wonder if this isn’t part of the angle the Republicans are playing.

  91. 91
    GxB says:

    @Kay:

    would have kept the system and added elections as a Postal Service-administered service.

    Actually a great idea… now why didn’t I think of that? Is this your own or is this a sentiment that’s been kicked around by DFHs all along? I’d get behind it.

  92. 92
    WereBear says:

    @MrQA: It has come to my attention, very sharply and recently, that giant corporations have “lost the plot” and no longer know how to do business.

    A few years ago, a certain company sent us something we ordered that wasn’t quite the item in the catalog. It was obvious the picture was a prototype, and the item we got had been downgraded quite a bit in actual production.

    When I called to complain, I was passed up the line to someone who could do something about it, and did, to the tune of a substantial discount to reflect the lack of quality. We were both happy.

    This same company has screwed up our account because of a recent order, and I’m in my third fabulous week of trying to get it unscrewed.

    That layer of people who can Get Things Done? I believe they have been discarded to put another nickel of profit on the spreadsheets. My point is that they don’t know how to run a business, and instead of recognizing that fact, they are busy kneecapping the competition and changing the rules.

  93. 93
    MikeJ says:

    @Kip the Wonder Rat: When they killed afternoon delivery it meant that all that excess mail that would have gone out the day before wound up in the morning delivery the next day.

    One way to minimize the Monday pile up problem would be a premium for bulk mail on Mondays. Move a couple of magazine deliveries (do people still get those? Will they in five years?) and the bag volume goes back down.

  94. 94
    raven says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: Ha, I got fired from the PO because of a little jam I got into in Korea! Fucking place was a nightmare.

  95. 95
    WereBear says:

    @DanF: The irony in all of this is that once privatization is completed, it means no local delivery of Soldier of Fortune to Rural Route 129, Middle Of Nowhere, ID, for less than $27.50.

    Of course. And your rural wingnut will blame… the gubmint!

  96. 96
    PurpleGirl says:

    Back in the early days of AOL and Prodigy causing a decrease in personal mail, there was talk of the USPS getting into the provision of e-mail. A lot of people poo-poohed the idea and it went no-where. Could it be done, maybe. But the USPS didn’t get the support to study the idea and do it.

    Can Fed Ex and UPS take over mail delivery, or a new private company? Possibly, but the prices won’t be what they are now are. The Rural Route and Rural Free Delivery will vanish cause no one wants to deliver 20 miles out of town, down the rutted road in rainy season… and certainly not for a .46 stamp. Maybe more like $30.00 and the first people to scream about that will be the Republicans who are now screaming/scheming to privatize the USPS.

    The APA I participate in has a number of foreign member — in Canada, England, and Australia. I’m very familiar with the postal services in those countries. Service costs more than in the U.S. and takes longer than in the U.S. We have good deal here and the idiots are ruining it.

  97. 97
    raven says:

    @MikeJ: I worked on the loading dock, mail handler not carrier. The worst thing we handled was National Geographic, high quality paper bundled into #4 canvas bags. Almost as bad as humping crates of 105 howitzer rounds.

  98. 98
    WereBear says:

    @Roger Moore: OT, but in another sad end to an era, the iron has been retired as a Monopoly piece. It’s being replaced by a cat, which was the natural winner in any internet poll.

    I am pleased. About time cats had parity with the dog!

  99. 99
    Chyron HR says:

    @WereBear:

    And about time Uncle Pennybags got some pussy!

    ** USER HAS BEEN BANNED FOREVER FOR THIS POST **

  100. 100
    Ohio Mom says:

    @Pink Snapdragon: I think you’ve hit on the larger plan here. The USPO by itself might not be all that enticing a take-over target but the USPO and a huge pile of cash for the taking, that’s a different story.

    The other side really are evil geniuses sometimes.

  101. 101
    Yutsano says:

    @Cassidy: Heh. I should tell you my getting lost in the back highways of Georgia story some time.

  102. 102
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @raven: 203mm rounds are the stuff. 105s, hah.

  103. 103
    raven says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Were there two in a box?

  104. 104
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @raven: They don’t come in a box. They do weigh of 200lbs a piece though.

  105. 105
    raven says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Come to think of it we always marveled at how hard the officers worked loading and unloading the ammo. Kind of like the Navy Reserve puke supervisor that came to the post office in uniform and watched us work.

  106. 106
    PurpleGirl says:

    @dww44:
    The gutting of our USPS is the subject that causes me extreme consternation and pain because it is largely unnecessary. It has been easy for the GOP to target them, simply because many of its workers are minorities. In my red state small city, probably 70 to 75% of them are AA.

    I’m convinced that the opposition to government unions is in part due to the number of minorities who are now government workers.

  107. 107
    DanF says:

    @burnspbesq:

    Fine, but who else covered the story of the environmental disaster caused by debris from the 2011 Japanese tsunami washing ashore in Alaska this morning?

    I didn’t say I scream through the entire program (otherwise I wouldn’t listen), but they do provide me with at least one WTF? moment a day.

  108. 108

    Over funding of the pension fund is probably a set up so that down the line when (not if!) it gets privatized the vulture capitalists will come along and poach the retirement fund. It will be pretty simple. Guys like Mitt Romney will end up with all those funds as “carried interest” paying tax at a VERY low rate on it. forcing it to make the postal service to make it up with other “savings” by cutting back on the “lazy workers”.

  109. 109
    Cassidy says:

    @Yutsano: Hehehehe…I took the kids for a drive one day to give my wife some much needed alone time. So as we’re driving, I’m going in random directions; we’re still in civilization, and I’ve got GPS. So I make this one turn that, about 5 miles in, turns to dirt and lo and behold, my cell and GPS have no signal. My map is still up, though, so I have a general idea of where I am and wher to go, but the kids are starting to freak out. It just so happens that around this time is when I’ve started letting my older two start watching some horror movies. So, I stop the car, act like I’m going to get out and wander around to get a cell signal, start syaing things like “keep the door locked”. I haven’t had that much fun messing with my kids in a long time. Of course, the wife got an earful when we got home, but it was fun.

  110. 110
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @MikeJ:

    : I don’t hate the USPS, and for the most part the package service is fine. I just don’t get enough mail that can’t wait an extra day. I don’t know anyone who does.

    Well, that settles it then, because YOU are the only USPS customer…or something….

  111. 111
    MikeJ says:

    @DanF: The Oregonian had a story on tsunami debris yesterday, The Seattle times have had them off and on since at least last spring. And there’s more talk about invasive species coming over with the debris, which the NPR story didn’t even mention.

  112. 112
    JoyfulA says:

    @Kay: Maybe in really rural areas, Kay, but in cities and suburban sprawl, there are very few physical post offices for the population, and the post offices are small. Our voting lines would make Florida’s look short!

    No doubt, however, the post offices could maintain voter lists better and at less cost than the current county-administered setup.

  113. 113
    Grumpy Code Monkey says:

    @Quaker in a Basement:

    Republicans crippling the post office? So much for Constitutional originalism.

    Exactly. Post offices and post roads are one of the few things the Constitution explicitly mandates Congress to do.

  114. 114
    Todd says:

    @Ted & Hellen:

    YES! And as predicted, Ted the contrarian “lefty” (*snort*) chimes in to join the USPS hate.

  115. 115
    JoyfulA says:

    @Roger Moore: We had a big push in our area to save the Wheelbarrow, most of which, it turns out, are made nearby. The manufacturers, via the newspaper, encouraged saving an icon that is still made in the USA. This may be how the iron lost.

  116. 116
    Beatrice says:

    Almost everything the Republicans propose these days can be traced back to their goal of eliminating labor unions in this country.

  117. 117
    Ruckus says:

    Yeah privatize the postal service. Just had to send an envelop with tracking and couldn’t get to the post office but a FedEx shop was very handy. Three day envelope – $24.

    It is always about money with conservatives. OK except when it’s about someone’s lady bits. But other than that it is about stealing money from everyone. Is it any wonder that the crappy pizza merchants are conservatives?

  118. 118
    russell says:

    as a child I remember listening to their fireplace conversations about people they knew and would remark, “He’s got one of those good “gubmint” jobs.”

    i received an email recently containing a cartoon illustrating the general laziness and sucking-on-the-government-teat dependence of USPS workers. because, you know, government workers are lazy do-nothings.

    the email came from an uncle, a former bircher (literally) and long-time conservative.

    said uncle is retired NYFD.

    i would consider this to be a truly remarkable example of lack of self-awareness, except that it’s typical.

  119. 119
    Ruckus says:

    @gene108:
    Congress is a millstone around the neck of anyone…

    You said a mouth full there.

    How many problems would go away if congress didn’t try to mis-micromanage government everything?

  120. 120
    mouse tolliver says:

    This is going to hurt a lot of ordinary people in ways our elite millionaire media can’t even fathom, so it won’t even come up when their covering this.

    Some people still get paid through the mail. Whether or not they get paid on time often depends on what day of the week the 1st or 15th happens to fall. If it’s on a weekend or a holiday, you get paid late. Then you can’t pay your bills on time, which means you get hit with late fees. And then you come up short at the end of the month and find yourself in an economic death spiral thanks to our excessively punitive capitalist system.

  121. 121
    dcdl says:

    I like the Post Office. Change of address online and haven’t had any issues with delivery. If a package is to big they come to the door and wait for me instead of drop and run. I know the rural areas around me are now crying because their little rural post office closed and some have to drive 40 minutes or longer to get their mail.

  122. 122
    TheStone says:

    @Ruckus: The lady bits part is a sop to the Frankensteinian creation that only recently got completely off the leash. The BIG MONEY boys are on it, though. Rove and his ilk are collecting cash as we speak for the euthanasia of their Tea Party Boris Karloff.

  123. 123
    dww44 says:

    @russell: Sadly, you are only too correct and this is but one of many examples of the contradictory beliefs that conservatives like your Uncle hold. The people at my USPS work hard and even my very conservative older friend takes up for the Post Office even tho she listens to Neal Boortz slamming it almost daily in his radio show.

  124. 124
    Jay in Oregon says:

    @Southern Beale:

    I pay bills online

    So do I.

    The bills for my local utilities get mailed as checks.

  125. 125
    rikyrah says:

    thank you for pointing out WHY the USPS Is in this pickle. it’s by GOP DESIGN.

  126. 126
    Bago says:

    @Kay: Actually, just setting up the USPS as a government terminal would be awesome. You could have a USPS.gov email address to coordinate all of your business with the IRS, DMV, ssa, worksource, department of health, voting, whatever. It would be a one stop shop for all of your government business. And you could ship packages.

    Basically, put as many services that you could onto the web to reduce paper work, and make postal employees into a concierge service for government dealings. Want to Enlist? Go to the post office. Want to file paperwork for a zoning application, visit the website. Confused about the bureaucracy and need someone to help you navigate the website? Visit the post office.

    It could be the customer service branch of the federal government.

  127. 127
    Original Lee says:

    @askew: Maybe this would make a good We the People petition?

  128. 128
    Djur says:

    $49 billion? Jesus Christ, why can’t we pay for this out of the general fund and be done with it?

    It’s certainly nice for the postal service to be self-funding when possible, but why in the world are we letting it collapse over a single liability of less than 5% of annual federal expenditures?

  129. 129
    Steeplejack says:

    @kc:

    What is your business, that it is so dependent on Saturday mail delivery?

  130. 130
    Jamey says:

    @Kay: Consumer banking and telco services, too. Like in the nations of Urp that righties now love for their austerity-driven budgets…

  131. 131

    […] iron. The history of U.S. labor (on the same day that the U.S. Postal Service announced plans to discontinue Saturday delivery – some speculate to continue nationwide union busting) is being lost on the post-industrial […]

  132. 132
    What Have The Romans Ever Done for Us? (formerly MarkJ) says:

    While I can’t say I’ll personally miss Saturday mail delivery, it really sucks that the GOP is able to destroy important American institutions through sabotage or neglect without paying more of a price. Maybe there’s hope they’ll pay the price once people actually see a change in delivery service. The problem is the customer hasn’t felt the change yet – once that happens the dems need to make it crystal clear who killed the Post Office.

    If they want to let us be the party that makes sure the mail is delivered on time, potholes get filled, more teachers are in the classroom, the trains run, grandma gets her social security check, etc. we should be alright.

  133. 133
    NA says:

    @MikeJ:
    I think the point is jobs.

  134. 134
    NA says:

    @Kay:
    Brilliant!

  135. 135
    kay says:

    @Jamey:

    The post office replaces a bank in poor rural areas. What the financial services industry calls “the unbanked”, which always makes me laugh.

    We’ll never replace something someone is making a profit on. That’s why I want to give them elections. That HAS to be a state function. I think they’d be good at it. It’s exactly the same sort of nit-picky rule-bound process as sorting and delivering mail. When I was a poll worker I thought “oh,names and addresses and a million rules! Just like postal work!” :)

  136. 136
    The Other Chuck says:

    @Bago: That sort of idea would allow the government to function, serving ordinary citizens efficiently, and therefore must be opposed at all costs.</republican>

    I wish I could say that ascription was in jest.

  137. 137
    'Niques says:

    @Cassidy: Floridian here, as well. My son just said, “The farther north you go, the more South you get.”

  138. 138
    Kathleen says:

    @Roger Moore: At one time (don’t know if it’s still true) telecommunications operated under the umbrella of the postal service.

  139. 139
    priscianusjr says:

    @liberal: Thing is, without government, there is no such thing as property. There’s possession, but that’s not at all the same thing.—— And private privilege is backed up with the force of government guns.

    That is true, but the point is, that is their sum total conception of “the common good” — using public resources to protect wealth and power. That is the sum total of what they think government is for.

  140. 140
    Ronzoni Rigatoni says:

    Well, if I remember correctly, the price of 4th class mail (junk) did not go up because Congress wouldn’t let it.

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