Preview of Coming Attractions

If anyone doubts whether Republicans will gut the Post Office the next time they control the government, just take a look at what the Tories have done in the Great White North:

An iconic slice of Canadian life – the postal worker dropping letters through the door – is slipping into the past as financially troubled Canada Post scrambles to find its footing in the Internet age.

Faced with a persistent decline in letter-mail and a massively underfunded pension plan, the money-losing federal Crown corporation announced drastic measures on Wednesday designed to get back to profitability and ensure its survival.

The changes include the phase-out of home delivery for the five-million Canadian households that still get it and moving them to community mail boxes over the next five years, and hiking the cost of stamps by more than one-third to 85 cents from 63 cents, effective March 31.

The rurals get a good deal under this plan (nothing changes for them), but the suburbans get screwed (community mail boxes will probably mean a walk of a block or two to get your mail every day). Both of those are important Republican/Tory constituencies, so it will be interesting to see how this shakes out for Harper. Of course, President Christie would do the fiscally responsible thing and stop mail delivery to Democrats, so it may not be an issue.






116 replies
  1. 1
    mak says:

    When Fedex will pick up a letter at my home and transport it to Hawaii for 46 cents, we should mess with the USPS. Until then, back off.

  2. 2
    Betty says:

    As someone who gets mail at a post office box, I can tell you it’s always an issue with some big organization, public or private, insists you give them a street address for delivery of mail. working at cross-purposes.

  3. 3
    c u n d gulag says:

    And here in the US, after we do this, we can pass the savings onto the military to help protect us!

    Even though there’s less and less worth protecting, with every year.

    Thanks, Conservatism!
    We’re becoming a Banana Republic – thanks to banana’s Republicans.

  4. 4
    JPL says:

    First you pass laws insisting the Post Office put aside health care costs to cover future employees and then you say it’s not profitable. Privatize it!

  5. 5
    Tommy says:

    My dad sends me letters. Started doing it in like 1987 when I went to college. Each week always a letter.

    Most times and I’ve lived in a lot of places. Louisana. Virginia. DC. That letter from southern Illinois always got to me in 2-3 days.

    That fucking rocks. Let me say that again, that a person comes by my house and gives me a letter FUCKING rocks!

  6. 6
    Tommy says:

    Oh I work for myself. Web development. At the end of each project I sent a thank you card, you know via the postal service. I say in each card that they might work with me in the interactive world, but there is this thing called paper and I just wanted to say thank you for your business. Just saying ……

  7. 7
    debbie says:

    A report on the radio yesterday included a couple elderly Canadians pointing out the obvious: how hard it would be for them to get to the mail drops in good weather, let alone when the weather’s bad. This is such a stupid decision.

  8. 8
    dmsilev says:

    @JPL: Employees that are so far future that many of them aren’t even born yet.

    Dear Republicans: If you want to know why the Post Office is having so much financial trouble, look in a fucking mirror.

    (offer not applicable for Dick Cheney)

  9. 9
    Baud says:

    I wonder if Democrats can make saving the post office a wedge issue against the GOP, given the GOP’s similar strength in rural areas and suburbia.

    ETA: Speaking of coming attractions, dpm, the WSJ has a preview of the NSA reforms that the Administration is likely to recommend or implement.

  10. 10
    Violet says:

    The US Postal Service needs to start charging FedEx a competitive market rate for doing the end delivery portion of their FedEx SmartPost delivery service. Why can’t FedEx deliver those packages all by themselves? Because it’s too expensive. So the USPS is subsidizing FedEx by doing that portion of the delivery. Doesn’t that make FedEx a Taker?

  11. 11
    MattF says:

    I guess the USPS is going to have to sell itself to Jeff Bezos.

  12. 12
    PurpleGirl says:

    @JPL: One addition: To cover future employees who AREN’T even born yet!

  13. 13
    NonyNony says:

    @Violet:

    The US Postal Service needs to start charging FedEx a competitive market rate for doing the end delivery portion of their FedEx SmartPost delivery service. Why can’t FedEx deliver those packages all by themselves? Because it’s too expensive. So the USPS is subsidizing FedEx by doing that portion of the delivery. Doesn’t that make FedEx a Taker?

    FedEx is actually using the postal service exactly the way it should be used. It’s what makes the US postal service the envy of most of the rest of the world (and it has been the envy of most of the rest of the world for well over a century).

    The very idea that we would do ANYTHING to our Postal Service other than figure out ways to make it better boggles the mind. Take away the Postal Service and FedEx, UPS, Amazon and a whole host of other company business models shrivel up and die. But of course the Republicans have a religious objection to anything that resembles infrastructure spending, so I can’t be surprised about terminal idiocy.

  14. 14
    Cervantes says:

    The suburbans get screwed (community mail boxes will probably mean a walk of a block or two to get your mail every day)

    You’re joking, right?

    Having to walk a block or two is “getting screwed”?

    I’d have thought it would be good for their health. (Not that “getting screwed” isn’t, of course.)

    And besides, how many of them are actually going to walk?

  15. 15
    jayackroyd says:

    Actually, what they should do here and there is pull fiber to every post office, put up some workstations and put up some damn wifi.

    And ATMs too, dammit.

  16. 16
    Violet says:

    @NonyNony: The USPS could charge FedEx (and any other package delivery company) a lot more to end-deliver their packages. In contrast, they could charge people who ship with the USPS regular rates. FedEx doesn’t do end delivery for a lot off people because it’s too expensive for them. As a result, people think that FedEx is just as cheap and better and faster than the USPS. No, they’re not. They’re using the USPS for a significant portion of their deliveries, but it’s hidden from view.

    The USPS is in a fight to save itself. Charging a premium to FedEx to deliver their packages is a way of showing the consumers that FedEx doesn’t cost the same as USPS–it costs a lot more.

    I agree, we need to be doing whatever we can to improve the postal service, not gut it.

  17. 17
    Judge Crater says:

    Living in Washington, DC I have started thinking about other great capital cities and how the wealth of nations has been spent to improve the world of its citizens. The Paris we know today was created by public planning and the expenditure of large sums of public money. In America today we’ve now eschewed any notion of improving public institutions – cities, universities, cultural institutions. Privatization and “free market” nostrums have taken over.

    We’re not even maintaining our basic infrastructure much less adding anything to the public world around us. The right-wing luddites who want to down-size government at every level and smash anything in the public sector (the postal service) are hollowing out our nation at every level. Highways, parking meters, schools, prisons, public safety, are being sold off to the highest bidder. The government shutdown was a case study in the crazy desires of the Tea Party and its followers.

    Most nations, when at the peak of their power and wealth, have at least built great things. The United States has instead lowered its horizons to the public funding of sports stadiums and casinos. Once we’ve transferred all public wealth to the control of Wall St. and the Koch brothers, the free market utopia will have arrived. But our country will have all the grandeur of a strip mall.

    “After they came for the postal workers”, will be the phrase ringing in our ears.

  18. 18
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @Cervantes:

    Having to walk a block or two is “getting screwed”?

    Obviously you are not a suburbanite.

    I really don’t see something like this happening here – after all plenty of people get their bills this way.

  19. 19
    ET says:

    Congress seems to have a weird relationship with regards to the Post Office.

    They screwed with their pension in an effort to screw someone they could (screwing with the entire federal government to that level is much, much bigger) but they don’t want the PO to stop Saturday service or cut branches -at least the ones that service their populations.

  20. 20
    C.V. Danes says:

    The postal service is not a profit center, but a vital government service.

    Not surprised to see it being destroyed by those who adhere to the doctrine of “government is always bad.”

  21. 21
    Violet says:

    @Cervantes:

    You’re joking, right?

    Having to walk a block or two is “getting screwed”?

    You don’t know any suburbanites, do you? Yes, having to walk further than down to the end of your driveway is “getting screwed.” Even that is pretty rough for a lot of people and they drive to their mailbox, which is just down their driveway. You change that to a mailbox at some central location that they couldn’t walk to in under sixty seconds (if they had to), and the screaming could be heard from space.

  22. 22
    C.V. Danes says:

    @Cervantes:

    I’d have thought it would be good for their health. (Not that “getting screwed” isn’t, of course.)

    And besides, how many of them are actually going to walk?

    Perhaps some of these people are retirees and the disabled who may not be able to walk that far…

  23. 23
    different-church-lady says:

    I guess Canada doesn’t have a very strong direct mail marketing lobby — that’s what really drives mail in the US.

    You could probably fix up a lot of what’s wrong with the USPS by not making it so damn cheap to drop catalogs and flyers on people (i.e. lifting rates on bulk and presort). But they don’t dare piss off their only steady customers.

  24. 24
    Shane says:

    Whenever funding the USPS comes up in a discussion I think it’s worth mentioning that the only reason they’re in financial trouble is the recent rule change that required them to fund their pensions ahead for the next 75 years “to protect their workers”.

  25. 25
    C.V. Danes says:

    @Violet:

    The USPS is in a fight to save itself. Charging a premium to FedEx to deliver their packages is a way of showing the consumers that FedEx doesn’t cost the same as USPS–it costs a lot more.

    Or Congress could simply require that the USPO fund its pension obligation by the same criteria as every other organization out there. Problem solved.

  26. 26
    PurpleGirl says:

    My building already has a community postal center — it’s the mail room. It holds the mail boxes for 140 apartments.

    Cervantes: Some of those suburban blocks are a quarter to a half mile on one side of the rectangle.

  27. 27
    C.V. Danes says:

    @jayackroyd:

    Actually, what they should do here and there is pull fiber to every post office, put up some workstations and put up some damn wifi.

    And ATMs too, dammit.

    The US Postal Savings System, too :-)

  28. 28
    jeffreyw says:

    I have a package coming from Amazon, via UPS. It’s been “on the truck for delivery today” for five days running. The snow keeps them away, every day I click on the tracking number and they tell me there is an exception “Emergency conditions beyond UPS’ control”. That would be the snow we had last week. The mailman hasn’t missed a day throughout the whole thing.
    Damn shame, that. Their intention at the outset was to turn the package over to the Post Office but for some reason they decided to deliver it themselves. It was on their truck for a week. Yesterday I get an email saying it has been delivered and thanking me for my using them.
    I was all WTF? because they hadn’t delivered it to me. I click on the link labeled “proof of delivery” – they say it was left at the dock and was signed for by “PORTER”. I have no dock, am not named Porter, and don’t have the package. As an exercise, I call the local Post Office. “Yeah, UPS dumped about fifty things on us this morning, we’ll bring it out tomorrow,” said the nice postmaster.

  29. 29
    dmsilev says:

    @Shane: Let’s be explicit. By ‘recent’, you really should say ‘late 2006, pushed through by the lame-duck Republican Congress just before the newly-elected Democratic Congress was sworn in’.

  30. 30
    Cassidy says:

    And, of course, those “urban” people who would have to walk a few extra blocks from there bus stop after working job 2, but let’s not forego a chance to look down on people.

  31. 31
    Violet says:

    @C.V. Danes: I’m all for that. How exactly is that going to happen? The USPS does not have control over what Congress does. It does, however, have control over what it does. It can’t force Congress to change the way they require the USPS to do its pensions. It can charge a competitive market rate (ie, high) to be the end-delivery vehicle for FedEx.

  32. 32
    C.V. Danes says:

    @Shane:

    Whenever funding the USPS comes up in a discussion I think it’s worth mentioning that the only reason they’re in financial trouble is the recent rule change that required them to fund their pensions ahead for the next 75 years “to protect their workers”.

    Exactly. This is a problem that was purposely created to destroy an example of a government service that was working very well, and profitably.

  33. 33
    Baud says:

    @Violet:

    It does, however, have control over what it does.

    Actually, USPS rates are regulated by the Postal Regulatory Commission, a separate body. USPS can’t unilaterally change their rates.

  34. 34
    C.V. Danes says:

    @Violet:

    It can’t force Congress to change the way they require the USPS to do its pensions.

    No, but we can if the people want to make an issue out of it to save their post office :-)

  35. 35
    Kay says:

    @NonyNony:

    It’s what makes the US postal service the envy of most of the rest of the world (and it has been the envy of most of the rest of the world for well over a century).

    Attacks on the postal service always felt so unfair when I worked for them. It was just really disheartening, because they actually have a great record of on-time service and accuracy. For some reason, it was always Germany. We had to beat Germany. They measure themselves internationally all the time.

    It’s just this stupid line, a set piece, so obviously not about “the postal service” but about the speaker’s anti-government dogma. After a while I could recite the paragraph and standing there you’re a captive audience.

    There are good people, though. More than a few times I accepted a complaint that we had lost a piece of first class mail. It was always a credit card bill, because of course they get hammered with interest and late fees. What was amazing was some people would return and apologize. “I found it in my car, I never mailed it!” Loved those people.

    When I look at privatization generally, and this is about privatization, not “the postal service”, I sometimes think, fear, actually, that “business” people, The Private Sector, are out of ideas on how to make money so they are flocking to making money on formerly public services. It’s the last big pot of money left. It’s not that they can do it better, it’s the other way, it’s just easier to capture the public sector than it is to actually create or invent something new in the private sector.

  36. 36
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Kay: Kay — your last paragraph is very insightful. We are a mature society, in terms of general life and business, and a lot of business people are not great thinkers and look for the easy way to do things and make money.

  37. 37
    Violet says:

    @Baud: Does that body control what the USPS charges other companies or just what it charges for postage to the public?

  38. 38
    Ken says:

    President Christie would do the fiscally responsible thing and stop mail delivery to Democrats

    Don’t be ridiculous – he would only stop mail delivery to Democrats in the states that didn’t vote for him

  39. 39
    JPL says:

    @Cassidy: I left you a note below.

  40. 40
    Suffern ACE says:

    Not a bad plan. So the post office delivers your mail almost to your house. In effect it holds your mail hostage. If you are home bound in any way, you pay extra to get your mail delivered to your home – or your mail gets it. Maybe the post office sends you little notes letting you know you got a letter.

  41. 41
    Kay says:

    @PurpleGirl:

    your last paragraph is very insightful.

    It’s a little mind-boggling how much privatization is going on. It doesn’t matter where you look. It’s everywhere. I do a lot of court-appointed work with abuse, neglect and dependency. For-profit foster care management companies are popping up all over. I think it’s so dangerous, really reckless. They’re not subject to any of the state laws on transparency and reporting, and of course they pay employees less than county or state agencies. I wouldn’t even know who to call if I saw a problem. The county prosecutor? The state AG? I don’t know where they’re headquartered or what entity or corporation runs them. We’re really going to turn a profit on foster care? Is that wise? Don’t we know how this story ends?

  42. 42
    Eric U. says:

    @jeffreyw: I think Amazon might have a mechanism to complain about that.

    I know my rural friends get screwed by UPS all the time. USPS might be a better alternative. In the past, their tracking was no good, but it has gotten better. The only USPS parcels I have ever had go missing were never sent, I’m pretty sure of that. If having deals with UPS and Fedex for home delivery saves the USPS, I’m all for it. The USPS comes to my house every day anyway, I’m not sure how much it should really cost Fedex/UPS for the last mile delivery. And having big customers that don’t want a disruption of service is always a good thing

  43. 43
    TS says:

    @debbie:

    A report on the radio yesterday included a couple elderly Canadians pointing out the obvious: how hard it would be for them to get to the mail drops in good weather, let alone when the weather’s bad. This is such a stupid decision.

    No doubt at all some enterprising soul will set up a company to deliver from the mail drop to the home – for a fee – and no doubt some people will pay for same. Before you know it – the mail drop will be gone & private companies will be delivering the mail – you’ll have to sign up for it – as for cable or a phone plan – 2 year contract $xxx/month.

  44. 44
    Baud says:

    @Violet:

    I don’t know for sure, but I’d be a little surprised if it didnt regulate both. Too easy for accounting mischief otherwise.

  45. 45
    Cacti says:

    Speaking of the media’s favorite candidate…

    Christie asks Andrew Cuomo to rein in the investigation of the GW Bridge closure.

    Methinks trouble’s a-brewin’ for the rotund one.

  46. 46
    katie5 says:

    It’s not screwing suburbanites; it’s screwing urbanites. (a) there’s a significant amount of breakins at these community post boxes (b) efficient CanadaPost has delivered my last 2 parcels to a site that’s a 45 minute walk away. Being a good urbanite I don’t have a car and I cannot trust CanadaPost to put my community mail box a mere 2 blocks away.

  47. 47
    Patrick says:

    @Kay:

    It’s just this stupid line, a set piece, so obviously not about “the postal service” but about the speaker’s anti-government dogma.

    Whoever these people are, they are always such hypocrites.They hate government and claim they want to do whatever to minimize funding for their services. But if someone dares to suggest the same be done for the military, then they explode. Not only can’t we touch the military, we need to increase spending for the military. Last time I checked, the military is part of our government.

    If you don’t agree with them that we should privatize the postal service, then they call you a socialist. What the hell do they think the concept of a government provided military is? It is of course socialism as well. I wonder what color the sky is in their world. Then again, these are the same people that are adamant that Santa Claus is white…

  48. 48
    rikyrah says:

    they have already been trying to kill the USPS with those bullshyt mandatory pension payments.

    never in the history of America has the GOP given two shyts about the ‘stability/health’ of a pension system, but suddenly they were worried about the USPS’s?

    G-T-F-O-H.

    It was the designed to destroy the USPS, plain and simple.

  49. 49
    Cynthia Dudley says:

    @Cervantes: The big problem in urban settings is that there are limited spaces available to place the boxes that are safe and well-lit. The big problem in both urban and suburban places is that vandalism of the boxes is a huge problem as is theft since most government checks come at set times and delivery of packages is visible from a distance.

  50. 50
    rikyrah says:

    Chris Christie reportedly asks Andrew Cuomo to rein in the investigation of the George Washington Bridge closure.

    Chris Christie’s bridge problem just won’t go away.

    According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Christie recently spoke with Cuomo to complain about the way an appointee of the latter was handling an investigation into a controversy over the George Washington Bridge. Christie, according to the Journal, told Cuomo that the investigator — Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Executive Director Patrick Foye — was being too aggressive.

    At question is whether a Christie appointee —David Wildstein, a former high school friend who has since resigned — had two-out-of-three lanes of the George Washington Bridge closed as political payback to a Democratic mayor who refused to endorse the New Jersey governor during his reelection campaign. The initial reason given for the closure, a traffic study, has since been revealed to have been false. The mayor in question, Fort Lee’s Mark Sokolich, originally accused Wildstein of acting “punitively,” but later withdrew his charge.

    http://www.salon.com/2013/12/1.....e_closure/

  51. 51
    Kay says:

    @PurpleGirl:

    I would just say this. When we hear a rant on public employees we should mindful of the fact there is an enormous amount of money to be made on privatizing public services, a lot of very self-interested powerful private sector actors AND an ideology that is grounded in “private is better than public”.
    I heard anti-postal service rants my entire time in the postal service and 99% of them were complete bullshit. That “last mile” thing? Where the postal service carries a parcel the last mile for Fed Ex and UPS? That’s because the last mile is the expensive mile. People should know that our worshipped private sector delivery MOTU’s are dropping parcels at the postal service for the expensive, time-consuming, pain-in-the-ass portion of the trip. I didn’t mind the confusion or ignorance with UPS because they’re Teamsters and they’re paid decently but when the Fed Ex libertarian wingnut asshole accepts awards for on-time service a lazy gubmint union employee should be getting some of the kudos.

    So, you know, follow the money:

    As early as 1983, a FedEx booklet titled “Managers Labor Law Book” credits the company’s success in large part to being “union free.”66 On the second page, the booklet declares that the corporate goal is to remain “union free;”
    • In 1989, shortly before acquiring Tiger International Airline, many of whose pilots were union members, FedEx’s founder and chief executive officer, Fred Smith, declared: “I don’t intend to recognize any unions at Federal Express;”67
    • In 1993, FedEx distributed to its managers a booklet produced by the company’s legal department titled “Keeping the People Philosophy Alive: Making Unions Unnecessary.” The cover letter said, “Enclosed you will find a new guide designed to provide Federal Express managers with basic information about union avoidance and union organizing;”68 and
    • As recently as 2006, FedEx’s Human Resource Services and Diversity Organization published a paper calling on human resources staff to “co-develop strategy with Labor Relations team on union avoidance,” and listing five “union avoidance strategies

  52. 52
    Comrade Mary says:

    Yeah, we have health coverage that, despite some real flaws, covers just about everyone for everything in a pretty simple and straightforward way, but man, do I envy your postal service. (Not enough to trade our health care system, but there is a whole lot of envy from up here).

    A lot of people who live in newish subdivisions in the suburbs already have community mail boxes. In fact TWO THIRDS of Canadians haven’t had home delivery for years, so I don’t expect much of the Tory base to be upset. We’re both frogs in slowly heating water and crabs in a bucket: do you think my suburban relatives are going to give a shit that people living in the cities are now getting what looks like the kind of service they’ve been getting for year?

    If I can’t have pensions and benefits, YOU can’t have it

    If I can’t have home delivery, YOU can’t have it.

    If I can’t have empty and immaculately maintained city roads for my SUV going into and out of your city every day, YOU can’t have surface public transit or bike lanes.

  53. 53
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @jayackroyd: IMHO that would also have the salutary effect of beginning to align the fairly strong privacy protections we enjoy when it comes to printed mail with the much weaker protections in place for email and Internet usage. If parts of the Internet had been regulated as a form of postal service all along — because it’s essentially moving personal information through space — what would the alternative future have looked like?

  54. 54
    Comrade Mary says:

    Oh, this from an anonymous Canadian postal worker. (Yes, the head of Canada post is Deepak Chopra, but not THAT Deepak Chopra).

  55. 55
    Cacti says:

    @rikyrah:

    Chris Christie reportedly asks Andrew Cuomo to rein in the investigation of the George Washington Bridge closure.

    Chris Christie’s bridge problem just won’t go away.

    A short-tempered, petulant bully is just the kind of serious Republican we need as CinC of the Armed Forces.

    Christie strikes me as the sort who would order air strikes on Pyongyang because he got bad service at the Korean BBQ.

  56. 56
    charluckles says:

    Why the fuck does everything have to turn a profit?

  57. 57
    charluckles says:

    Why the fuck does everything have to turn a profit?

  58. 58
    Comrade Mary says:

    @charluckles: This was pointed out on the CBC just yesterday. When governments think they need to treat government bodies, services and crown corporations like a business, guess what you get? Not smooth MBA efficiencies, but the more rapacious elements of capitalism getting into our collective peanut butter. See also: the wildly overpaid executives on Ontario Power Generation.

    OPG has cut staff by 8.5 per cent, but increased the size of “its highly paid executive and senior management group” by almost 60 per cent since 2005, creating “a top heavy organization,” Lysyk said in her annual report.

    You want the best business talent? Well gosh, we have to pay the best private talent to do the job! (See also also our Deepak Chopra).

  59. 59
    fka AWS says:

    @Comrade Mary:

    frogs in slowly heating water

    This is false (snopes), and I blame the damned evangelicals for making this myth so prevalent. Nothing against you, but I try to at least point out the truth when it comes up.

  60. 60
    eldorado says:

    why does it need to be profitable?

  61. 61
    Chris says:

    @Kay:

    When I look at privatization generally, and this is about privatization, not “the postal service”, I sometimes think, fear, actually, that “business” people, The Private Sector, are out of ideas on how to make money so they are flocking to making money on formerly public services. It’s the last big pot of money left. It’s not that they can do it better, it’s the other way, it’s just easier to capture the public sector than it is to actually create or invent something new in the private sector.

    I don’t “fear” – I think that’s pretty blatantly exactly what it is. Pay politicians to sell you new businesses, because it’s easier than working for a living.

    There used to be a very left wing blog called Empire Notes where I read one of the best points about the fetish for privatization in the third world after Thatcher/Reagan. The official line was that, especially in countries with former socialist regimes, this would take inefficient public industries and hand them off to people who could turn them around (private sector = always more efficient). What actually happened instead was that the private sector wasn’t interested in acquiring public companies except in two cases; 1) if they were going to break up the company and sell it off for parts or 2) if the company was already turning a profit.

    In other words, only in cases where the justification didn’t apply.

  62. 62
    WaterGIrl says:

    OT, but is something up with Steve Benen? Now that they fucked up the blog with the unbelievably shitty and slow redesign, I never read the comments. He seems to have been away on and off for days and last time that happened he left political animal for rachel.

    Anybody know?

  63. 63
    Comrade Mary says:

    @fka AWS: Well, we don’t really have any collective peanut butter up here, either. Like maple syrup, it’s all privately owned.

    Anyway, I just wanted to make a crab-frog comparison. If you find a source to tell me that no crabs have ever been found in any bucket, me and k-os are gonna be PISSED.

  64. 64
    Kevin says:

    I’m no fan of the tories, but as a Canadian who has had Community mailboxes since 1996 or so, I don’t think this is a bad thing at all for homeowners in cities.

    ***mind you, i’m a perfectly healthy early 30 year old…so discount what i said, because i can see this being awful for a 70 year old with a bad hip. I’d rather spend on the post office then buying a bunch of new fighter jets.

  65. 65
    Elizabelle says:

    @WaterGIrl:

    Benen left a message he would be gone yesterday and today.

    I only know that because of a link from someone here on a yesterday thread.

    Poor SBenen’s website design blows. Will not go back there. Not blind. I like to read.

  66. 66
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @WaterGIrl: I can’t fathom how they mucked up that site so badly. Maybe if I read blogs on a phone it would make sense? Because as far as I can tell they just ruined it by trying to fold it into a typical TV show website rather than keeping it as a blog qua blog.

  67. 67
    kc says:

    The U.S. killed 15 civilians in Yemen yesterday via a drone strike on a wedding party.

    Not one liberal blog that I read has even bothered to mention it.

  68. 68
    Comrade Mary says:

    @Kevin: Our urban “homes” are widely varied and often very densely populated (see, for example, the Annex or Cabbagetown in Toronto) or on busy roads.My sister has a super mailbox on her block that’s on the verge (that strip of grass between sidewalk and street). What works on her low traffic street won’t work on urban streets with more traffic and more dangerous verges.

    I’m also not crazy about the heightened risk of mail theft: I still have some clients sending me physical cheques and some government paper, like HST forms, still get mailed. I can move to go as electronic as possible, but there are a lot of people not like me who have no home Internet access. I don’t think paying your bills on a library computer is necessarily a good option.

    There’s talk of putting some urban mailboxes inside private businesses like drug stores, but that’s a whole other can of [metaphorical] worms.

  69. 69
    Kay says:

    @Chris:

    Right, but we have to be mindful of it. For example. I could not help but notice that the insane attack on TSA workers which came out of “nowhere!” coincided with the culmination of their year’s long battle to unionize. Does no one else remember the TSA issue under Bush? He didn’t give a rat’s ass about “civil liberties”. He didn’t want them joining a union. Conservatives fought TSA unionization like it was the last battle, for years.

    Republicans have not greeted the TSA unionization with as much enthusiasm. After the results were announced, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) said, “The traveling public will be absolutely delighted to learn that Big Labor has captured the TSA’s army of airport screeners.

  70. 70
    katie5 says:

    @Kevin: I’d warrant that the number break-in’s, only as a function of increased population density in cities, will be higher where I live.

    On a larger point, why should governments be efficient? Effective, yes. But efficiency is purely a function of the private sector. There are so many services in cities that cannot, by definition, be efficient. Serving the last mile is never efficient but governments exist to fill the private sector gap and serve those individuals.

  71. 71
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Cynthia Dudley: I mentioned up-thread that my apartment building had 140 units. I calculated the total number of apartments in the whole development: 7 buildings containing 924 units. Each building has a mail room. Does it make sense to combine our buildings’ mailboxes with other apartment buildings in the neighborhood and have several thousand boxes in its own building, and where do we get the land to put the building on. I don’t see it working in a place like NYC.

  72. 72

    @JPL:

    First you pass laws insisting the Post Office put aside health care costs to cover future employees and then you say it’s not profitable. Privatize it!

    And then loot the pension fund. I’m sure that’s the long-term game plan.

  73. 73
    Feebog says:

    @Kay: Don’t know how long you were with the USPS, I retired after lengthy career. Morale is really pretty low right now, at least according to the few folks I am still in touch with. The problems go beyond just the pre funding requirements enacted by the Republican lame duck congress in 2006. The recession and the ongoing loss of first and second class mail revenues could be overcome with time and moves into new markets. But the health and pension pretending, which is completely bogus, is costing 5 billion a year.

  74. 74
    KXB says:

    Earlier this week, a client asked for an express delivery. Knowing that USPS has curtailed its express service to much of the country (it is now 1-2 days, not always that either), I opted for FedEx. In the past, I’d drop off small FedEx packages in the boxes outside post offices. This time, I drove to the one near my office, but it was gone. So, I drove to the post office near my home, but that FedEx box was gone too. So, I had to drive out of my way to a FedEx office to drop off a package.

    I’ve been having some headaches with the USPS recently, headaches that I normally do not experience with their service. I shipped 3 boxes via Media Mail to a co-worker in CA, but she only received 2. One box was in CA, then suddenly got re-routed to FL, and simply dropped off the face of the earth. Of the two boxes she did receive, one box was damaged and missing contents. I am now going through the process of filing insurance claims with them. Now, I’ve been shipping for work for 11 years, and this is the first time I have had to make such a claim. But, it is several hundred dollars worth of books, and a good amount of time.

    That said, the Canadian plan seems nuts to me.

  75. 75
    Patrick says:

    @eldorado:

    why does it need to be profitable?

    Beats me. Why don’t they require other parts of government to be profitable? How about the military, how about farm subsidies etc etc…

  76. 76

    @Cervantes:

    Having to walk a block or two is “getting screwed”?

    Considering how pedestrian-hostile a lot of suburban neighborhoods are, walking that far daily is taking your life into your hands.

  77. 77
    Patrick says:

    @kc:

    The U.S. killed 15 civilians in Yemen yesterday via a drone strike on a wedding party. Not one liberal blog that I read has even bothered to mention it.

    I guess you don’t read dailykos, where it it currently is #2 on the recommended list. Just as an example…

  78. 78
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Patrick:
    The idea of a trillion-dollar business called United States Armed Forces Inc. seeking to profit from global conflict hotspots sounds kind of frightening, don’t you think?

  79. 79
    Patrick says:

    @Cervantes:

    You’re joking, right? Having to walk a block or two is “getting screwed”?

    Tell that to my elderly neighbor who can barely walk to her mailbox just outside her house. In the meantime we can’t spend enough on our military.

  80. 80
    Kay says:

    @Feebog:

    The recession and the ongoing loss of first and second class mail revenues could be overcome with time and moves into new markets. But the health and pension pretending, which is completely bogus, is costing 5 billion a year.

    I talk to them every time I go to the post office, so I know morale is low. I’ve said this before but I think they could shift some duties to the postal service to compensate for the loss of 1st class revenue. I would actually give them a piece of election administration, because the two services have so many intersects (names, addresses, moving, a post office in every community). They coordinated universal 911 address registry back in the day with the postal service in rural areas, which makes sense. We know where everyone is!
    The postal service would be good at election registration administration. It’s the same basic idea. When I’m canvassing or looking at voter rolls it’s very familiar to me :)
    It seems a shame to lose 200 years of institutional competency and understanding. Give them some more work. They’d do a great job. They got selective service and passports. Give them something else.

  81. 81

    @katie5: An economist’s definition of “efficiency” is also most peculiar. It elevates profits over everything.

    Efficiency = product/(input resources+ input labor + input tool )

  82. 82
    Ian says:

    Our Tories (and their enabling scum, the Liberal Democrats) have just sold off Royal Mail, undervaluing the price, ramming it through without hardly any consultation, and enabling their friends to make a fortune.

  83. 83
    C.V. Danes says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Considering how pedestrian-hostile a lot of suburban neighborhoods are, walking that far daily is taking your life into your hands.

    Indeed. The most dangerous thing I have to do in a week is navigate the Starbucks or Dunkin Doughnuts parking lots!

  84. 84
    Comrade Mary says:

    Huh. I’m getting a Canada Post ePost banner ad up top. Beats toenail fungus.

  85. 85

    Haven’t the Tories in England done the same thing too? Privatized Royal mail?

  86. 86
    C.V. Danes says:

    @KXB:

    I’ve been having some headaches with the USPS recently, headaches that I normally do not experience with their service.

    The Republican plan seems to be working, then: starve an agency until it can no longer perform its duties, then use that as a reason to kill it.

  87. 87
    mai naem says:

    The pension funding set up by the GOP is a feature not a bug. C’mon people, Bain comes in and gets the bid to privatize the USPS and gets a big fat pension fund that Tugg,Biff,Thurston, and Bugger Romney can pillage. They’re just waiting till the Price is Right. Big Money. Big Money.

  88. 88

    Gutting the regulations, destroying the postal service, constant qvetching about the debt and deficit, its all to satisfy one objective. The conservatives want to reverse the gains ordinary citizens have made in the last century and bring back the good old times where the 1% ruled and the 99% knew their place.

  89. 89
    ET says:

    You know what is more expensive than the current Canadian system? Fixing the fix they are proposing – along with all the antacids and aspirin by those having to deal with the problems that arise.

  90. 90
    Jamey says:

    We should probably shutter the armed forces, too, as they’re not yet revenue neutral.

  91. 91
    WaterGIrl says:

    @Elizabelle: @FlipYrWhig: I think that either Rachel or msnbc wanted Benen’s blog hits to be “rachel maddow show” hits. I could maybe forgive them for that if it weren’t so f*ing slow and ugly. But hiding the comments and using a mobile device interface for everything? Ridiculous. It’s even dog slow on my phone and iPad.

    My hoping that Benen is off interviewing for another job is probably just wishful thinking.

  92. 92
    muricafukyea says:

    How cute, glorified reddit poster muckymux is trying to talk about Canadian politics now.

    A parliamentary system, with strong campaign finance laws and limited election cycles. With no deep south civil war resentment. With all 3 parties mostly agreeing on 95% of things including universal gov’t run healthcare. A system like that is NOTHING, nothing like a bunch of corporate backed Republicans, who still resent the fact their ancestors lost the civil war, running around trying to privatize everything and stick it to those libruuul yanks!

  93. 93
    Cervantes says:

    @Enhanced Voting Techniques:

    Obviously you are not a suburbanite.

    @Violet:

    You don’t know any suburbanites, do you?

    Silly puppies. The question isn’t how intimate I am with suburbanites. The question (I had) is whether dpm was using “getting screwed” ironically.

  94. 94
    Cervantes says:

    @C.V. Danes:

    Perhaps some of these people are retirees and the disabled who may not be able to walk that far…

    Sure, that’s a real concern. I presume the Canadians are addressing it.

    I guess just relying on friends and neighbors might not be prudent.

  95. 95
    Cervantes says:

    @jeffreyw: I’ve had virtually the same experience, more than once. Much prefer dealing with the USPS.

  96. 96
    Cervantes says:

    @Kay:

    When I look at privatization generally, and this is about privatization, not “the postal service”, I sometimes think, fear, actually, that “business” people, The Private Sector, are out of ideas on how to make money so they are flocking to making money on formerly public services. It’s the last big pot of money left. It’s not that they can do it better, it’s the other way, it’s just easier to capture the public sector than it is to actually create or invent something new in the private sector.

    You said it, sister.

  97. 97
    Cervantes says:

    @Cynthia Dudley:

    The big problem in urban settings is that there are limited spaces available to place the boxes that are safe and well-lit. The big problem in both urban and suburban places is that vandalism of the boxes is a huge problem as is theft since most government checks come at set times and delivery of packages is visible from a distance.

    I agree — nor do I think the Canadian plan is a good one.

    I was just wondering if, in general, suburbanites having to walk a block or two deserves the moniker “getting screwed” — particularly when too many of [us|them] hardly ever walk, anyway.

  98. 98
    burnspbesq says:

    @Judge Crater:

    Haven’t you heard? In Wingnuttia, there’s no such thing as a public good.

  99. 99
    Cervantes says:

    @rikyrah:

    Christie, according to the Journal, told Cuomo that the investigator — Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Executive Director Patrick Foye — was being too aggressive.

    Wait. Chris Christie says someone is being too aggressive?

  100. 100
    burnspbesq says:

    @muricafukyea:

    Go away, ya dick.

  101. 101
    Cervantes says:

    @Kay: So GOTV activist … USPS employee …

    If you’ve also been a research librarian, you’d be three of my favorite people.

  102. 102
  103. 103
    Comrade Mary says:

    @Cervantes: If Kay can’t answer that question the way you want, I’m available to make up the combo at a very favourable exchange rate.

  104. 104
    Cervantes says:

    @kc: I noticed that, too.

  105. 105
    Cervantes says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Considering how pedestrian-hostile a lot of suburban neighborhoods are, walking that far daily is taking your life into your hands.

    Sure — and who decided that suburban neighborhoods should be “pedestrian-hostile”?

  106. 106
    Yatsuno says:

    @burnspbesq: Durfs gotta Durf after all.

    And the IRS hauls in $4 for every $1 spent on it, and the Republicans want our budget cut further.

  107. 107
    Cervantes says:

    @Comrade Mary: Thanks!

    As they say, entrepreneurship empowers everyone!

  108. 108
    VOR says:

    We often hear Conservatives screech about certain Federal agencies not being mentioned in the US Constitution. But the Postal service is mentioned in Article I, Section 8, Clause 7. Set up by the 2nd Continental Congress. The first Postmaster General was Benjamin Franklin. So why is it so hated? The only reason I can think of is that it employs a lot of workers (522k in 2012, per Wikipedia) and is unionized.

  109. 109
    liberal says:

    @Kay: I would think that delivering mail etc is a natural monopoly, assuming that items are delivered frequently, cuz it’s really inefficient for multiple carriers to service the same block.
    As a natural monopoly, might as well make the govt do it.

  110. 110
    JoyfulA says:

    In my area, these community mailboxes are becoming common. They’re not that big, maybe 20 boxes, and they look doable in townhouse areas: not that far (length of a suburban driveway apart) to walk for even those with trouble walking, and there are small and large lockboxes at the bottom for packages.

    In one village of maybe 100 houses that’s had its own post office for a century or so and has never had home delivery, USPS would like to close this part-time, all-manual post office and replace it with community mailboxes. People are mad. They want to drive to the post office during the 4 hours it’s open and get their mail from their post office box. They make no sense to me.

    In a condo development (150 units, mostly townhouses, 30 attached ranches, 30 apts.), a little mailbox building (external keyed boxes; locked inside room for USPS to insert mail) was replaced with the new distributed community mailboxes. That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.

    My street has no sidewalks. We have individual but clustered roadside mailboxes. Community mailboxes here would be dangerous.

    One size doesn’t fit all. The Canadian postal service seems to be pretending otherwise.

  111. 111

    Whenever there’s a rate case for the Post Office UPS, FedEx and all the other delivery services show up at the meeting and get to comment on any adverse financial impact on their businesses. That is, if the Post Office comes up with something that might hurt UPS’s parcel deliveries, UPS can complain to their friends in Congress. Of course, not the other way around.

  112. 112
    Kyle says:

    @Baud:

    I wonder if Democrats can make saving the post office a wedge issue against the GOP, given the GOP’s similar strength in rural areas and suburbia.

    All those we’re-makers-not-moochers Sarah Palin fans wouldn’t be quite so enthusiastically Galtian if they had to pay the actual market rate of delivering mail to Tundra Trash, Alaska or Sisterbone Swamp, Alabama.

  113. 113
    Kevin says:

    @Comrade Mary:

    Yeah, i grew up in the burbs, so i just remember how much a non-factor it was on my no-traffic street. But if you’re talking someones house in say, Toronto, it could pose quite a few problems.

    Personally, i would just say the post office can make losses. Take the money from those F16’s or whatever the Tories waste money on. It’s all about priorities.

  114. 114
    polyorchnid octopunch says:

    Just as a quick note. The Conservative Party of Canada are not Tories. The Tories were destroyed by the coward Peter MacKay a decade or so ago. The party is only a decade old and is the Reform party under a less poisonous name.

    They’re really not Tories given what the Tories supposedly stand for: the CPC has been taking a wrecking bar to all the traditions that a true Tory would hold dear.

    They’re not Tories, they don’t deserve the name. Joe Clark, now he’s a Tory. Brian Mulroney is also a Tory. Harper, Flaherty, Clement… they’re not Tories. They’re plutocratic loving religious zealots… country club talibangelicals.

    Don’t call them Tories, because by calling them Tories we help them hide what they are.

  115. 115
    smedley the uncertain says:

    @Roger Moore: This!!!

  116. 116
    Narcissus says:

    @burnspbesq: Haven’t you heard? In Wingnuttia, there’s no such thing as a public good.

    They just want serfs.

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