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When You Absolutely, Positively Have to Change Your Business Model Overnight
2009.04.06 (Mon) 02:36
Oh, horrors! The United States Postal Service just might have to give up its Saturday schedule mail delivery.
And we should care...why?
The agency lost $2.8 billion last year and is looking at much larger losses this year. Reducing mail delivery from six days to five days a week could save $3.5 billion annually, [Postmaster General John] Potter said.
And what does the House Oversight post office subcommittee have to say about this?
"With the Postal Service facing budget shortfalls, the subcommittee will consider a number of options to restore financial stability and examine ways for the Postal Service to continue to operate without cutting services," subcommittee chairman Stephen F. Lynch, D-Mass., said.
Lynch said the financial stability of the Postal Service is "critical to the American expectation of affordable six-day mail delivery."
Well cry us a fucking river, but we don't expect that shit. It's wonderful that National Association of Letter Carriers President William Young insists "that the agency is not seeking a taxpayer bailout," and it's thrilling that they don't currently take any taxpayer money, but we're not very interested, either way, in supporting an agency that expected a $1-billion loss last year, and wound up losing a whopping $2.8 billion. What's with this automatic assumption that they'll operate at a loss? Here are a couple of salient words: junk mail.
Will Craven, a San Francisco spokesman for [ForestEthics] -- which penned the legislation sponsored by several S.F. supes -- notes that the United States Postal Service itself admits that 30 percent of all the mail delivered in the world is American junk mail -- 104 billion pieces at its 2007 high (or nadir, if you see things differently).
"When you have a for-profit business -- and the postal service is a for-profit business -- and you don't anticipate being within $1 billion of profitability, maybe you need to re-examine your business plan."
Some sources place the percentage of junk mail a bit higher, at nearly 40 percent. The Post Office has essentially made a business of delivering mail that nobody fucking wants, and now they're expecting any kind of sympathy or support when their business is floundering? Give us a break.
Gee, how will we ever survive if our loads of useless junk mail will only be delivered on weekdays? Wake the fuck up, Congress. Why are you fighting the five-day Post Office delivery plan? Who the fuck really needs mail on Saturday? If you absolutely, positively need to get something somewhere on the weekend, cough up the extra money for a fucking guarantee from a corporate outfit like FedEx.
Personally, we've been inching toward the paperless life for quite a while, opting for paperless billing across the board, wherever possible, communicating almost entirely through e-mail, ordering our deliveries through FedEx or UPS, et cetera. Aside from American Express, which has inexplicably been ignoring all requests for paperless billing (and outright lying about being unable to e-mail our electronic statements to us — we get plenty of your advertisement e-mails, AmEx, so stop pretending), it's been going pretty well. Don't pat our backs too hard, since we're not really in it for the "environmental" reasons; but that's certainly a nice bonus.
Frankly, if the Post Office would simply implement a full-scale Do Not Mail sign-up, akin to the Do Not Call lists, we'd applaud some goddamn effort on their part, at the very least. But this fucking organization has been operating like a blind man on a heavy construction site for years. Getting rid of what has essentially become an industry devoted to junk mail would start to help the Post Office cut itself down to size, and maybe then it could stop hemorrhaging so much fucking money.
For fuck's sake, we ourselves have been dealing with their fucking inept policies for decades. For example, some of us are subject to local "you must have your name on the mailbox or we won't deliver your mail" rules. What?! Like us, you folks probably get tons of mail every fucking week addressed to "Resident," and these USPS fucks dare to say we need to have our own names on the box? In addition, if you live in an apartment, you probably continue to get tons of mail addressed to the previous tenant of your apartment...whose name is no longer on the box. If we really "must" have our own names on the box, then shouldn't that name, printed on the box, preclude the fucking USPS from delivering any mail that isn't addressed to us?
Who are they trying to fucking kid?
(And, for the record: don't ever do anything that a fucking mentally unbalanced postal worker might completely misconstrue as "rude" or "aggressive" — like, you know, trying to point out your name on the mailbox to prove you've put it there — because they can apparently simply refuse to deliver your mail with no notification whatsoever for upwards of two months. Or, with no provocation at all, perhaps, they might inexplicably assume you have died, despite the fact that you are still alive and in reasonably good health — and in fact, the guy in the apartment downstairs is the one who shuffled off this mortal coil — and they'll stop delivering your mail, have it returned to the sender stamped with an undeliverable notice, and refuse to believe you for over two months when you point out — live and in person — that you are still among the living. And these anecdotes are just the experiences of people in our own small Two Percent circle! Nice to know the USPS is particularly accountable to anybody.)
The fucking USPS is a practically useless arm of the government that has far outlived its original mandate. We have no reason to support it any more — at least, not in its current incarnation. We've got e-mail, we've got good (and affordable) commercial delivery services, we're doing just fine with or without them.
Yes, there are those who still prefer sending missives on paper (though we can't really get behind that feeling ourselves), and sending a simple letter by FedEx is prohibitively expensive, comparatively speaking. It's also nice, on occasion, to have free pick-up right at your house, which UPS and FedEx don't provide (though if you live in an urban area, or an apartment, you likely just go to the Post Office when you have something to mail). So, sure, there's a definite niche for the USPS to occupy...but it's not the one they're aiming at right now.
So yeah, cut out the Saturday mail delivery — better yet, cut a few more days off the postal work week. That alone should save a buttload of money. In fact, just off the cuff, we'd say that 1 to 2 at-home pickups per week is more than enough these days. Seriously, how much more than weekly do you really have to mail shit from your house? Even people who pay their bills by mail can certainly do so weekly. We have no idea how much money a move like this would save, but we feel pretty safe in saying it would be substantial, based on their current figures. So why not do it? What's the problem, other than entirely misplaced nostalgia?
In short, they need to scale their current services way the fuck down...they just aren't needed anymore. And, while we're at it...why don't we use the infrastructure they've established to good effect?
The Post Office has already become the "go to" department for passports. Just as an example, why not make them the place to head for Social Security cards? How about other civil government transactions? Perhaps Motor Vehicles could jump aboard, as well!
Why not simply make what was once the Post Office into a general government outlet for all of our civilian needs? In our hometown (though we don't live there anymore), there's literally no place to go, these days, if you need a new copy of your Social Security card (the place the town used to have closed down). Having one office in each town (obviously, some larger towns would have more) in which we could attend to any civil service needs would be outstanding. And cutting out the useless chaff would give us an organization that ran smoothly, effectively, and within budget.
There's no need to get rid of the Post Office — but it's time for the damn thing to evolve into something that will serve the needs of the population today, not the needs of people who lived four or five generations ago. We certainly don't need the Pony Express in 2009, and the era is rapidly approaching where we won't need paper mail at all.
We could even envision the Post Office adapting to modern technology, and — rather than misusing the budget they're given on bullshit operating procedures and massive amounts of unwanted paper mail — setting up a broadband network for E-Post. Every citizen could get an E-Post address (for instance, a usps.net e-mail address), and could make use of terminals at Post Offices nationwide to check these accounts for new mail, send mail to other E-Post accounts, and so on (but not to browse the Web or participate in any other Internet activities). You want a copy for yourself? Transfer a copy of your e-post to a Flash drive. You want a hard copy? Print it the fuck out.
It's a simple matter of adopting modern technology, and adapting to modern needs — something we've recently discussed. It's getting fucking absurd that so many organizations, whether government or commercial, have so much fucking trouble understanding this basic rule of how the world fucking works. Progress progresses, technology improves, and we take advantage of innovation and invention to improve ourselves, our world, and the procedures we use to get by in it.
What does this all boil down to? Just this, really: hey, US Post Office — grow up, and catch up. 'Cause if you don't, we'll leave you and your commemorative stamps far, far behind.
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[ Filed under: % Business & the Economy ]
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