Monday, February 02, 2009

Return To Sender

Let's just throw this out there... if we're looking for Government services to cut, why not start with the post office? Sure it's been useful for hundreds of years, but lately it's an anachronism. Everything it does can be replicated by private enterprise at the the same cost. In fact, the USPS operates like a private company only with unusally binding regulation.

Allow UPS or FedEx to carry letters and junk mail and I bet you and I wouldn't even notice the difference. But it would be one less thing on the plate of Congress. As they struggle now to decide whether to allow one less delivery day a week instead of more important business, wouldn't it be great if a CEO could say, "We're not turning a profit on 6 day a week delivery. Let's do 5. Or let's do 6 in urban areas and 5 in the farmlands."

Letter carrying is especially a practice which is screaming for reform, because private enterprise in the form of the phone companies has already taken over 95% of that business. (The figure isn't researched, but it's probably around that.) Between e-mail and faxes, who writes letters nowadays? Even this blog takes the place of a circular, which I might have mailed to you in the old days if I didn't want to just stand on the corner and pass it out.

So long USPS, and thanks for all the stamps.

1 comment:

wamk said...

The Public and Private sector have already been working together for quite some time.

Airborne/DHL has been having the Post Office deliver some of its packages for several years now. Airborne/DHL uses the USPS for "end of the line" delivery of their packages in rural areas that would be too expensive to deliver to individually. Makes sense, as the USPS is already going there (6 days a week, no less!), and can get there mosre efficiently.

On the flips side, the USPS allowed FedEx to place overnight delivery drop boxes outside their Post Offices (some people want service that is faster than the USPS). For allowing FedEx to place those boxes, they get a certain amount of space on FedEx planes (which gets Priority Mail packages).

So here we have instances of the Private Sector using the USPS for services the Public Sector does better, and we have the Public Sector using services the Private Sector does better.

It's almost like the Free Market found a solution(s) to problems facing segments of both groups.

There have been many Companies over the years that have tried to contract with the Feds to deliver the mail in the big cities. But the regulations that require Saturday delivery, and Universal Service. The big guys are happy to have Los Angeles, but don't want to pick up rural Wyoming. The USPS delivers around 213 billion pieces of mail each year to 146 million homes. That's a bunch of mail, and the numbers have been declining due to internet/faxes.

While lots of business can be conducted over the Internet, there are still lots of folks out there that don't have access, prefer a hard copy, and like getting birthday cards in the mail from Grandma.

There are four different Unions for Postal employees, which number around 400,000 (out of around 800,000 employees. The associated costs of those guaranteed pensions factors in here somewhere as well.

I don't think most people would miss Saturday delivery. I think it's funny that the idea bouncing around to get rid of Tuesday (since right now it is the lightest delivery day) is a joke. Regardless of which day you eliminate, every day will then get exponentially busier, as there will be one less day to deliver those 213 billion pieces. Drop Saturday, as to not disrupt the flow of business mail M-F, and we'll save a ton of $$.

Of course, the four different Unions will be barked loud and long about the loss of jobs, I'm sure.