Mail Bashing

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It's good to see postal privatization back on the radar screen, as the president announces a new commission to examine the mission of the USPS, which is $11 billion in the hole.

"Industry officials said the commission will examine whether the USPS should have more flexibility in setting prices, adjusting service levels and cutting costs."

That sounds ominous. Nothing's going to get better for customers unless they end the Postal Service's monopoly on delivering letter mail.

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  1. If mail were privatized, how long would it bewbefore this magic bullet transforms mail into something I have to pay 20 or 30 bucks a month for? And I have no doubt that people in sparsely populated areas would get screwed. The mail service we get now is pretty effing good, and pretty inexpensive. By the time we pay for the marketing costs of the competing private firms who’d compete to deliver our mail, we wouldn’t end up ahead, competition or no. I’m going to mail 80 xmas cards in a few days, for $29.60. And you’re going to tell me federal express could do it better? By the time the local ones cost a dime and the out of state ones were $2 bucks, I doubt it.

  2. Actually, I am an SBC customer, now that SNET got bought by them. 🙂
    It’s sad that an improvement to the USPS would be to make them more like a phone company.

    I do like the USPS, however. I use them for pretty much everything. They have convient locations and deliver everywhere. Still, I think they could do things they don’t do now and do things now they don’t need to do. A bit more competition would help push them in the right direction.

    It’s probably true that letter prices would go up. I think FedEx or UPS or another company would probably deliver letters if they could do it profitably at a rate compeditive with the USPS. On the plus side, if mail costs went up in rural areas, people who wanted to get away from it all wouldn’t have to worry about junk mail – it would be too expensive.

  3. The existence of the post office is mandated in the constitution — the government is supposed to deliver the mail, with or without private companies also doing so.

    Why is the post office supposed to make a profit? How much money does the Navy bring in? Are the nuclear missile launching stations in the black or the red? How much does the Dept. of Labor bring in in sales each year?

    Certainly the gummint is subsidizing the mail service — it’s supposed to! Ma and Pa Kettle can get their bit of culture — the Sears and Roebuck Catalog — without mortgaging their farm. Cool.

  4. As a pragmatist (as opposed to an ideologue),I don’t care WHO delivers my mail, as long as it gets delivered. A Geverment agency, a private corporation, little green men — just deliver it, please. My concern is tta a private delivere might decide that some parts of the country are not profitable enough to deliver mail to, thus leaving those areas effectively isolated. Let us be honest — not every area life should be controlled exclusively by the bottom line, and mail delivery is one of them.

  5. Is there any place in the country that UPS, Federal Express, and the others DON’T deliver? The only reason why delivering to a certain location would be unprofitable would be if the goverment mandated the price of delivery. A private corporation could, presumably, charge price based on cost. Does it make any sense that mailing a letter across town costs me the same as mailing it across the country?

  6. Money making idea for the post office: I would pay if I could opt out of the unending torrent of junk mail. I figure I get a good 2 inches or so of it a week. Just don’t deliver it. I’ll pay you more than you make delivering the junk to me.

  7. A better postal service would work more like a phone company, a flat fee with a certain number of letters you can send per month, with additional letters costing extra. You could get extra services added on, like screening your mail for junk, mail fowarding, etc. Maybe they could even do away with stamps, so you don’t have to worry if your’re running out. All mail picked up from your home or business is deducted from your account. Stamps could stay and be used like calling cards, for when your on the road, and for collectors (nothing like paying for a service then not using it just to get the equivelent of a pretty receipt).

  8. I couldn’t think of a worse example than a phone company; are you an SBC customer?

    I must be one of the few people who has had a better percentage of experiences using the USPS than UPS or FedEx.

  9. The way the mail service should work is like a regulated utility. Every so often, it shows its costs to a regulatory board, which approves those costs and allows the mail service to set its rates such that it achieves a reasonable margin (say, 5% or 10%). Right now, the USPS is essentially being subsidized by the government. That’s what I have a problem with. Those who don’t use the mail service that much are basically subsidizing a government service for those that do use it frequently. With the “regulated utility” approach, you still have a government monopoly, but at least those who use the service most frequently are required to bear their proportionate share of the cost.

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