Civil Society

Public Choice in Action

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This U.S. Postal Service is opposing a "do not mail" list for junk mail because . . . well, I'll just let them explain it:

Postal Service spokesman Al DeSarro said half of the mail his agency handles is direct marketing mail, and reducing its volume could cost thousands of Postal Service jobs.

This is terrific logic. Americans should be bothered with useless, unsolicited junk mail so that the USPS can continue to pay otherwise unneeded postal workers to deliver it. Makes sense to me.

I thus propose a federal "Agency for Digging Holes in Americans' Front Yards." Then, because of the holes-in-people's-front-yards problem that will inevitably result, I propose a second "Agency for Filling In Yard Holes."

These two agencies will create thousands of new federal jobs. And as we all know, new jobs are good for the economy. 

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  1. Mainstream libertarian approved.

  2. Hey, it got us out of the Great Depression.

  3. Hey, you’ll be sorry you wrote this when it shows up in Edwards’ and Obama’s platforms.

  4. What about an Agency For Putting Things on Top of Other Things? That could provide a lot of jobs.

  5. Agency for Building Superfluous Bridges Over Creeks!

  6. Can I at least get off the IRS’s mailing list? After all, the “s” stands for “service” and they can serve me better by not sending me junk mail.

  7. These two agencies will create thousands of new federal jobs.

    Or we could consolidate them into a single entity, and call it something romantic and progressive, like the “Works Progress Administration.”

    Or did we do that already?

  8. Radley, you know Mexicans would just end up taking those hole digging and filling jobs from good hardworking Americans. That’s bad for the economy.

  9. I don’t have much of a problem with junk mail. The advertisers are paying for it after all, and I own a waste basket. It’s nice to know what the specials are at local stores. Junk e-mail, on the other hand, is a total nuisance with no redeeming qualities.

  10. Wait a minute Radley, I think your anti-gubmint streak just got away from you.
    If companies want to pay the USPS to deliver their ads what’s wrong with that? Free market in action, no? Presumably those “unneeded” workers are being paid by those same companies’ mail payments.
    You don’t like getting it, so instead of taking a sec to toss it, you call for a no-send list, government enforced, of course. What gives?
    I don’t like TV ads, I’m paying for cable and satellite already. I demand a no-receive list! I don’twant to wear out my new 50″ LCD with unsolicited ads!

  11. “You don’t like getting it, so instead of taking a sec to toss it, you call for a no-send list, government enforced, of course. What gives?”

    Um, just in case you are unaware of it the USPS is a government agency. Not only that it is a government agency that has a monopoly on the delivery of 1st class mail. I do not have the option of switching from the USPS to another company for this service. If I did you might have a point.

  12. Maybe we could make a trade. In return for nixing the no send list idea, postal workers will pretend like they give a crap about customer service and for just one second act as if they were in a private sector job. That’s not one second everyday, mind you. All I ask is for one second. Since there can be no such compromise, why don’t we just fire the postal employees and contract out to a company that gives a damn when the mail overflows?

  13. What takes only a minute more than throwing it away is repackaging it in the handy prepaid response envelope and mailing it back to the sender. They pay for it twice that way, the postal drones stay busy and you feel good about yourself. Everybody wins!

  14. I was forgetting the credit card spam mail. I object to any mail I have to put through the paper shredder.

  15. Radley, you know Mexicans would just end up taking those hole digging and filling jobs from good hardworking Americans. That’s bad for the economy.

    No, that is the free market.IllegalMexicans can save the taxpayer money by doing these make-work jobs cheaper and more efficiently than the lazy Americans.

  16. Yes, the key to reducing the bureaucracy of the USPS will be add a whole new layer of personnel responsible to maintain the “Do Not Mail” list!

    Radley, if you don’t like the USPS, perhaps you should fight for a constitutional amendment to revoke Clause 7 in Article 1, Section 8.

    Meanwhile, some of us believe in priorities.

    Also, if we’re going to have USPS, then there’s no reason to restrict the people’s right to use it. I might consider a letter from you junk mail, but you should have the right to send it if you are willing to pay for it.

    For me, it’s too easy to deal with “junk” mail: just write RTS on everything and stick it back in the mailbox.

  17. This is off topic, but Wolf Blitzer just interviewed Ron Paul on CNN. Blitzer was respectful and WISHED RON PAUL GOOD LUCK!

    This is BIG! The tide is turning! Fifth place in the NH primary is secured! SEND MORE MONEY!

  18. This is an infringement on commerce and an infringement on free speech.

    You’re a government organization, for Pete’s sake!

  19. postal workers will pretend like they give a crap about customer service and for just one second act as if they were in a private sector job.

    given that the USPS relies entirely on its revenue to conver operating expenses, the only issue is the first-class monopoly, which is becoming increasingly irrelevant.

    The USPS is a hell of a lot more efficient, friendly and customer-oriented than you think.

  20. Jerry – he’s arguing on behalf of his customers.

    If the government’s going to provide a service, and people are willing to pay for it, I don’t see how it is any way fair or “libertarian” to restrict access because the use of that access may annoy some people.

  21. Plant Immigration Rights Supporter:

    What keeps you from taking down your mail box and switching to Fed-Ex or similar to get your mail? Inconvenient? Yes. But why call for coercive government action just to keep you from being inconvenienced?

  22. “If the government’s going to provide a service, and people are willing to pay for it, I don’t see how it is any way fair or “libertarian” to restrict access because the use of that access may annoy some people.”

    Ayn_Randian, in this case it would be one set of customers restricting access to another set of customers. Shouldn’t I have the right to tell someone not to put litter my mailbox with thier property?

  23. What keeps you from taking down your mail box and switching to Fed-Ex or similar to get your mail? Inconvenient? Yes. But why call for coercive government action just to keep you from being inconvenienced?

    Because it’s against the law for anyone other than the US Post Office to deliver mail.

  24. “What keeps you from taking down your mail box and switching to Fed-Ex or similar to get your mail?”

    The law stops me. The USPS has a monopoly on the delivery of first class mail. It is against federal law for anyone but a federal postal employee to put mail in a mail receptical (except on Sundays and national holidays).

    “But why call for coercive government action just to keep you from being inconvenienced?”

    Because there is a coercive government law that prevents me from solving this problem using free market solutions.

  25. Because it’s against the law for anyone other than the US Post Office to deliver mail.

    Huh? I’ve got plenty of small envelopes delivered by Fed-Ex. They just can’t throw it in the mail box.

  26. I’m ambivalent about the do-not-mail list. If it were applied to private carriers, I’d be against it. But I’m not so sure it’s such a bad idea with a government-enforced monopoly.

    The point of the post, though, was that a government agency is opposing the idea because if we stop allowing companies to use the USPS to send people crap they don’t want, thousands of federal employees will be without a job.

  27. By adding a $1.00 additional user fee on all first class items we could give the USPS employees a pay raise.In addition, we could call it a sin tax, ’cause without it too many people are using first class mail, causing the employees to have to know how to read, etc. With the junk mail it goes to all of us, it’s fair (and equal).

  28. The USPS is a hell of a lot more efficient, friendly and customer-oriented than you think.

    That’s true, but it’s like having a heart surgeon who only makes mistakes ten percent of the time.

    But I don’t care much about junk mail. My recycle bin isn’t far from the mail box.

    OTOH, I think Radley’s point is well taken. USPS opposes an opt out provision in the law on a make-work basis. I see their point, after all, people like me never use the USPS for anything anymore. In fact, the writing is on the wall, without junk mail there will be no more post office.

    The other thing to remember is that junk mail is subsidized by first class. The advertisers are not paying market price, which is why they use the USPS instead of buying TV ads or hiring individuals to walk around your neighborhood and hang stuff on the door knob or gate.

    When you consider that the USPS is a creation of government and not a private provider it doesn’t seem unreasonable to force efficiency or customer service by law.

    Nobody griped about legislated opt-out service for phone lines and phone service is at least nominally market oriented.

  29. I see Radley beat me to it. And speaking of efficiency, he only used about half as many words to do so. 🙂

  30. Oh, I’m so torn!

    Ayn_Randian –
    does it really work to write RTS on everything?

    I am generally very happy with the service provided by the USPS, but since I’ve been switching most of my commerce to electronic form, a larger and larger percentage of my mail is junk mail.
    Do I, as a private citizen, have the right to mail obnoxious, unsolicited material to every mailbox in the country with deceptive print on the envelope?
    I view this as similar to the complaints I hear about people playing loud music from their cars as they drive by our homes. Should I be able to stand at the end of someone’s driveway (on the public side-walk) and shout through an amplified source that I have important information about their potential loan consolidation?

  31. Shouldn’t I have the right to tell someone not to put litter my mailbox with thier property?

    No, not unless you think it would be OK if court summonses and the like should be restricted too.

  32. Junk mail is not subsidized by first class. It’s by far the other way around.

    The price of the class of service isn’t the relevant point. It’s the profitability of it. Bulk mail is more profitable for the post office than first class mail.

    Ayn_Randian, in this case it would be one set of customers restricting access to another set of customers. Shouldn’t I have the right to tell someone not to put litter my mailbox with thier property?

    Nope. The DNC list for phones is crap also. As are spam laws. If you don’t want to receive communications, don’t participate in communications systems.

    [Please note that I oppose each of the above as laws, and not necessarily as tiers of service. If someone wanted to offer phone service that screened your calls for you, I’d be happy with that. But stopping me from calling you, as a matter of law? Blow me.]

  33. Radley –
    Bravo on the hole digging analogy. I would amend that agency to be a hole digging agency (which is at least sometimes a service), but where 80% of the holes dug are unsolicited and in peoples front lawns.

  34. Martin, Fed Ex does deliver small packages and if it makes you happy mailing things that way go for it. On the receiving end however banks, Departments of Motor Vehicles, doctor’s offices and lots of other necessities will simply not mail small parcels that way. I should not be forced to live as a hermit simply to avoid junk mail, not when it is a government agency with oodles and oodles of regulations in the first place.

  35. I just don’t think the “I have no free-market choice” holds water. There clearly are alternatives. Taking down the mail box is the simplest, most efficient one. Switch to another service. They are out there.
    Strikes me that some here argue from a it’s government – I’m against it position. Works many times, but not this time.

    Reinmoose:
    Do I, as a private citizen, have the right to mail obnoxious, unsolicited material to every mailbox in the country with deceptive print on the envelope?

    Certainly you have that right. As long as you pay the USPS fees. If you find that you get nothing you want, do awya with it – take down the mail box.

  36. I wrote:
    “Shouldn’t I have the right to tell someone not to put litter my mailbox with their property?”

    Ayn_Randian wrote:
    “No, not unless you think it would be OK if court summonses and the like should be restricted too.”

    In a Rothbardian anarchist utopia sure. I live in the real world and recognize that “life isn’t fair”. I wish I could get off the IRS mailing list as well. But we have to go to war with the post office we have, not with the post office we with we had. Just because I cannot exercise a right consistently does not mean I should be denied that right completely.

  37. Fluff, junk may or may not be more profitable to the USPS but I can assure you each piece of junk mail sent to my house costs the sender much, much less than when somebody sends me a check for services rendered via first class mail. Since it isn’t possible to send me a check using junk mail rates, I assert that first class mail rates do, indeed, subsidize junk mail.

    Other than that, I agree with you.

    BTW, you can opt out of junk mail by writing:

    Direct Marketing Association, Mail Preference Service, 6 East 43rd Street, New York NY 10017

    Chances are it won’t work very well, but if you pursue it and work hard at it, you may get off the list.

  38. PIR, it is illegal to use FedEx to deliver stuff considered to be first class mail to anyone unless it absolutely has to be there the next day. USPS has inspectors in many big companies (think IRS auditors) to determine whether these regulations are being ignored. They often levy fines.

  39. Hey, there’s no need for worrying about the economy. Another govt official had this to say —

    “The beauty of Social Security to me is that all the money (that goes to retirees) goes right back into the economy,” says Stephanie Sue Stein, director of the Milwaukee County Department on Aging. “It’s money that is being spent, which is why we’re never going to have another Depression.”

  40. Fluffy, in the case of the Do not call list there probably could be technological way of doing the same job. But I consider junk mail as a (extraordinarily minor) form of trespass. Another person’s property has been placed on my property without my permission.

  41. Thank you, Fluffy…you and I are seeing eye-to-eye here.

    Of course, in the linked piece, the devil is the details:

    “The bill wouldn’t include mail from political organizations, nonprofit businesses, charities and small businesses with 25 employees or less.”

    Oh, of course it wouldn’t. Just Big Corp. only, you know…I don’t smell any class warfare in here, no siree.

    Yes, you can mark mail RTS (Return to Sender) and off it goes at no cost to you. Additionally, if said mailer gets enough RTS mail from you, they might just knock off the mailings.

  42. USPS has inspectors in many big companies (think IRS auditors) to determine whether these regulations are being ignored. They often levy fines.

    All true except for the “often”…the Equifax case is the only time that springs to mind, and USPIS (Inspectors) actions are obscure enough already.

  43. “Also, if we’re going to have USPS, then there’s no reason to restrict the people’s right to use it.”

    Anyone is perfectly within their rights to refuse a delivery. If they tell the USPS that they don’t want to get junk mail, the junk mailers have no right to override that decision.

    -jcr

  44. Wine Commonsewer, I had not idea the Postal Service had so many spies! I assume, since the federal government is so concerned with whether or not Martin is sending his Aunt a Christmas card using Fed Ex that no other crimes exist in the United States of America.

  45. Anyone is perfectly within their rights to refuse a delivery. If they tell the USPS that they don’t want to get junk mail, the junk mailers have no right to override that decision.

    Then you can tell them that. I don’t see where a new law is necessary, especially since it conveniently exempts politicos from that very law.

    See also: mail from the courts and the IRS point made above.

  46. “Then you can tell them that. I don’t see where a new law is necessary, especially since it conveniently exempts politicos from that very law.

    See also: mail from the courts and the IRS point made above.”

    I agree that the law should not exempt politicritters. However, if you had two diseases and a physician gave you a drug the cures one disease but not both it would be better than nothing.

  47. Just digging holes? Robert Heinlein’s Beyond This Horizon had a much grander version. As I recall (it’s been some years) Heinlein had Cadillacs being made in Detroit, shipped around the country, then crushed and recycled.

  48. If you had two diseases and a physician gave you a drug that cures one disease but the other disease was due to the treatment given you by said physician, then you should rebel.

  49. Just out of curiousity, are you legally required to empty your mailbox? What happens if you just leave all the junkmail in there?

  50. “If you don’t want to receive communications, don’t participate in communications systems.”
    –Fluffy

    Anyone is perfectly within their rights to refuse a delivery.
    –jcr.

    It seems that people are talking at cross-purposes here.

    In one sense, jcr is right. If I don’t want to see an ad, I can change the channel. If I don’t want to receive spam, I can get a spam filter. If I don’t want to read a letter, I can throw it away. I can screen unwanted calls. There’s nothing wrong with using a device or service to evade communication. If the post office offered (for a fee) to recycle the junk mail addressed to people who don’t want to receive any, I’d be fine with that.

    But that’s not what the USPS would be doing, and here’s where Fluffy is right. A company wants to advertise to me; I don’t want to receive their mail; so they can be compelled by law not to send me mail. This is potentially a free speech issue. It would essentially make it illegal for Company X to attempt to communicate with me.

    The solution is to allow people to buy a mail-screening service. In the long run, it has the same effect as a do-not-mail list, since (if choices are made public) direct mailers can save money by not sending junk to the people who refuse to receive it.

  51. Does any know what the bill was that brought the do not call registry into place? I want to find out whether my reps votes for it(which I’m sure they did) then use that in an email to them asking them also to support a do not mail list.

  52. Personally I like Junk Mail. maybe it’s because I’m a capitalist. I don’t know. I like analyzing it and then I use it in my own marketing ( again I’m a capitalist, not a liberal journalist).

    I like sending it, of course. Maybe some kind of screening or whatever will save me money by not sending offers to people who aren’t interested in saving money and receiving high quality services.

  53. It is my understanding from my letter carrier that if you mark junk mail as RTS it goes in a trash bin as USPS will not return it unless return postage has been guaranteed by the sender.

    As for as court summons goes, I don’t think that’s in the same class as junk mail. More in a class with service of process. Aside from that, to make the jury summons stick the court has to prove you got it.

  54. “The solution is to allow people to buy a mail-screening service.”

    One can also advise the mail service that they want to block the junk mail. The moral principle is the same, and no additional party is needed.

    The junk mailer’s right to free speech does *not* include a right to compel me to receive it. I have no moral basis to stop them from sending the junk mail to anyone *else*, but my right to refuse it remains.

    -jcr

  55. AR, often or seldom, in either case the law exists. If you stick an invoice into a FedEx package to send to a client overnight you are required by law to put a first class stamp on the envelope with the invoice in it. The fact that this is impossible to enforce does not make it right.

  56. “Aside from that, to make the jury summons stick the court has to prove you got it.”

    Somewhat off topic but I have never been on a jury. My employer is willing to continue to pay my sallary if I get on one and I would LOVE to get on one. I have recieved summonses but never got on one. Maybe this is because I am a registered Libertarian.

  57. As I said before, I don’t care about junk mail, I’m just arguing in my spare time. It all goes in the recycle bin before I enter the house. The stuff in regular envelopes goes straight into the shredder, unopened. It seems so easy. Occasionally I open something I don’t care about, but I never waste time with it. Shred, shred, shred.

    And John, I am also a capitalist too, but I rarely purchase anything based upon something that came in the mail. I’ve also used targeted direct mail myself (years ago). It wasn’t that successful but I did get about a 1% response and some of those people still love me today.

    I hate spam though. However, I don’t ever get spam because I use throwaway email addresses whenever possible. That way, I only get stuff I want. Like from Amazon.

  58. And if I send direct mail- it goes something like this. I go to the site of the company that has the lists, I put in my parameters and get my list. Then I rent it.

    Lets say I want to cherry pick 10,000 homeowners in Idaho age 19-29 with HHI over $100,000 to send a targeted offer.

    These lists are never 100% accurate ( and they also plant some controls in there) and up to date. Some of the best ones I might get 5% returns.

    I am a guy making middle class money. Small business just feeding my kids. So let’s say out of this list of 10,000 ( or 1000 or 100,000 or whatever it happens to be), there is 1 person on a “do not mail” list. Perhaps the list company made a mistake or even the “do not mail” entry just hasn’t updated and cleaned yet.

    (And who/what handles all these requests and makes sure every marketer and database in the country has accurate up to date info? Big Government?).

    So I happen to mail to 1 person on some list I don’t control. How much am I going to be fined? Am I going to go bankrupt, lose my house, whatever because I sent a piece of mail to one person who didnt want it? I guess if the risk is too high, I could just go out of business. My suppliers and vendors will go out of business too. We will lay off a bunch of people. It’s OK, we will all get jobs stocking shelves at Wal-mart. Beats risking actually having a business in the face of BS regulations.

  59. PIR, move to my county. You’ll get called for jury duty every year. I always figured it was because I was a libertarian.

  60. For the record, I also support the right of people to go the Cosmo Kramer route.

  61. Wine Commonsewer, what county do you live in?

  62. Oh, I’ve never been on a jury, but I do have to show up and not be picked. Thank the lord for a last name at the end of the alphabet. Or something. Actually, I think jurors are treated worse than criminals, but my county has at least made an effort to ease the problem. It seems to be less invasive than it used to be.

  63. Thanks

  64. alisa wins the thread.

    There is nothing inherently wrong with the concept of the “do not send” list… it is all in the implementation.

    A service provided by USPS to screen advertisements from ever entering my mailbox should include personalization much as an email filter. I should decide if I want to receive non-profit or political junk mail, ads from sports companies or viagra-like products… not the USPS or those writing the law setting up the screening.

    Some types of correspondence would be ineligible for screening, such as bills, court/official documents, etc.

    For those arguing that this is a “free speech” issue… I will see your free speech and raise you free association.

    Yes, you can mark mail RTS (Return to Sender) and off it goes at no cost to you. Additionally, if said mailer gets enough RTS mail from you, they might just knock off the mailings.

    and

    Anyone is perfectly within their rights to refuse a delivery. If they tell the USPS that they don’t want to get junk mail, the junk mailers have no right to override that decision.

    Both seem correct in principle, but…

    You will receive that same piece of mail back in your box. It will not go back to the sender, it will continue to be delivered to you. I used this strategy for awhile. The post-office just sent the same pieces of mail back to me, multiple times.

    Formalizing this in a government regulation is a restriction on government action and seems totally appropriate to me.

    The Post-Offices concern about job-loss that inspired Radley’s post, should not be a factor.

  65. In my county I have to call a number. I don’t have to physically show up at the building unless this code I am given in in between the numbers the robot voice tells me. My code is never in between those numbers the robot voice tells me.

  66. JC Jackson,

    So I happen to mail to 1 person on some list I don’t control. How much am I going to be fined? Am I going to go bankrupt, lose my house, whatever because I sent a piece of mail to one person who didnt want it? I guess if the risk is too high, I could just go out of business. My suppliers and vendors will go out of business too. We will lay off a bunch of people. It’s OK, we will all get jobs stocking shelves at Wal-mart. Beats risking actually having a business in the face of BS regulations.

    You assume here a level of complication that does not apply.

    I set up the advertisement filter on my mail service, you address a bulk mail to me, the post-office sees that the address is on the list, re-routes it back to you as undeliverable, you scratch that name off of your list. End of story.

  67. Implementation of the do not send list is no more complicated than a holiday delivery stoppage, or mail forwarding when you move.

  68. I like sending it, of course. Maybe some kind of screening or whatever will save me money by not sending offers to people who aren’t interested in saving money and receiving high quality services.

    Yeah, that is the only kind of junk mail I get…ways to save money or receive high quality service.

    I laughed out-loud at that one.

  69. From wikipedia, to bolster arguments on the usps monopoly on letters.

    …Until 1979, competition in all letter mail was prohibited. However, faced with imminent legislation to exempt “urgent” letter mail from the monopoly, the Post Office decided on its own to exempt “extremely urgent” letters.[5] Competition in “extremely urgent letters” is allowed under certain conditions: The private carrier must charge at least $3 or twice the U.S. postage, whichever is greater (other stipulations, such as maximum delivery time, apply as well); or, alternatively, it may be delivered for free.[6]…

  70. PIR, we do have a very similar system in my county as well. I find it much, much better than the old days. The flip side is that these days you can’t get out of jury duty for any reason except a death in the family. Yours.

  71. Is it possible for one not to have an address? My financial affairs are electronic. If I choose not to have a driver’s license do I need an address? I want to become an non-person, no identification. No voting, no jury duty, nada, rien, zip, zilch. In the words of that great president, All I ask is to be left alone. Why not? Against the law?

  72. Plant Immigration Rights Supporter: I just got my first jury summons last month. I get to wake up and go to a county courthouse for five days. I have this strange feeling that the long haired work shirt wearing guy isn’t going to get picked… so I just get to waste my time…

    Nephilium

  73. I hate ALL advertisements that I do not ask for, but I don’t blame USPS. I don’t mind paying a little more to support deliverers who can put them in the trash for me.

    And USPS is NOT a government agency – hasn’t been for over 20 years.

  74. Has someone above considered this:

    Every time the PO delivers junk. Write “Return to Sender”. That way we cut their profits by 1/2.

  75. Implementation of the do not send list is no more complicated than a holiday delivery stoppage, or mail forwarding when you move.

    This would be true, except implementing those services have a time limit designated on the form you file at USPS.

    This would have no time limit. And those cards and maintenance of the registry don’t man themselves. Granted, implementation of the “Do Not Mail” list will probably save labor in the long run, but I’m not going to support such a list, especially since it’s not comprehensive (

  76. And USPS is NOT a government agency – hasn’t been for over 20 years.

    Ding ding ding! we have a winner.

    I understand the principles behind opposing the special monopoly granted, but I’ve never understood wasting time or effort on it. If we got back to the Constitution as it was meant to be in the United States we’d still have a post office.

    Also, given that the politicians are never going to ban themselves from sending bulk mail to an individual, I don’t support banning certain categories of individuals from using the Post Office.

    If you want USPS to offer a Do Not Mail service, call the Postmaster General. Don’t pass a law about it.

  77. I can’t believe this thread has gone this long without someone bringing up the obvious Seinfeld reference…

  78. I agree with Ayn Randian, the government always has and probably always will run the postal service. Even the freaking Articles of Confederation gave the federal government that job. Not because its so incredibly efficent (ha!)but because its a thankless job that really nobody else wants to do.

  79. “And USPS is NOT a government agency – hasn’t been for over 20 years.”

    Acording to about.com it is both an agency and a business and does get some taxpayer dinero:
    “The USPS does get some taxpayer support. Around $96 million is budgeted annually by Congress for the “Postal Service Fund.” These funds are used to compensate USPS for postage-free mailing for all legally blind persons and for mail-in election ballots sent from US citizens living overseas. A portion of the funds also pays USPS for providing address information to state and local child support enforcement agencies, and for keeping some rural posts offices in operation.”

    http://usgovinfo.about.com/blpostalservice.htm

  80. “but because its a thankless job that really nobody else wants to do.”

    Next up: The United States Janitorial Service.

  81. Next up: The United States Janitorial Service.

    Owning a Janitorial service can be very profitable.

    Delivering mail to Bumfuck, South Dakota that people pay only 30 cents to send? Good luck with that.

  82. Nephilium,

    You can bet that if the victim in a murder trial was a guy who had long hair and wore a work shirt when he was murdered that the prosecution would push to have you on that jury.

  83. Why be so subtle with the hole digging? Instead, I propose a national program of breaking windows for everyone!

  84. “Delivering mail to Bumfuck, South Dakota that people pay only 30 cents to send? Good luck with that.”

    Perhaps it would cost more than 30 cents, perhaps not. Perhaps a nonprofit organization would take care of rural areas. This might shock some statists but there are people who have motivations besides profit. Fact is, until government lets people experiment with different systems we will simply not know. Rest assured, rural people would get mail.

  85. This might shock some statists but there are people who have motivations besides profit.

    Um, what? Are you calling me a statist for supporting what’s written in the freaking Constitution?

    Rest assured, rural people would get mail.

    Put down the crystal ball, Kreskin.

  86. “The USPS is a hell of a lot more efficient, friendly and customer-oriented than you think.”

    You might not want to mistake my objective observations as a “thought”. My criticism was a reasonable assessment based on observations made at both NYC post offices (where workers will openly insult you, as if they yearn for the 1970’s version of NYC), and central Florida post offices where they will have two workers openly talk on a cell phone while a single counter rep tries to take care of a 25 person line.

  87. You might not want to mistake my objective observations as a “thought”.

    Don’t get smart. I was assessing the general trend.

    The plural of anecdote is not data.

  88. I just don’t think the “I have no free-market choice” holds water.

    Tell that to Lysander Spooner.

    There clearly are alternatives. Taking down the mail box is the simplest, most efficient one. Switch to another service. They are out there.

    Nope. The law prevents competition in a number of ways, including underpricing the USPS.

  89. The law prevents competition in a number of ways, including underpricing the USPS.

    Best get cracking on that Constitutional Amendment, then.

    Good luck…I’m more focused on BCRA, Iraq War, Drug War, immigration, abortion…pretty much everything but the damn Post Office.

  90. I wrote:
    “This might shock some statists but there are people who have motivations besides profit.”

    Ayn_Randian wrote:
    “Um, what? Are you calling me a statist for supporting what’s written in the freaking Constitution?”

    This was not directed specifically at you but, since you ask. Supporting what’s written in the freaking Constitution makes you more of a statist than I am.

    I wrote:
    “Rest assured, rural people would get mail”.

    Ayn_Randian wrote:
    “Put down the crystal ball, Kreskin.”

    No crystal ball needed. There are laws of economics just as there are laws of physics. One such law is the law of supply and demand. If a demand exists someone, somehow will fill that demand. This law is so powerful that even governments often cannot stop it (see also War on Drugs). Remove government imposed barriers and geography is no barrier.

  91. Define junk mail. Anything from my ex-wife? My ne’er do well brother’s missives? The darned PTA meeting schedule. Congressional newsletters? Guys, there is no right to ber free of commercial speech. I bought the no-call list (with reservations) because you interrupt what you’re doing to answer the phone. Not an issue here.

    As somebody pointed out, prepaid response cards should always be mailed back blank or with Nyah, nyah, nyahs on them. It keeps the price of first class postage down.

    Jehovah’s Witnesses bother me A WHOLE LOT MORE than junk mail and I certainly don’t want a do not proselytize list with the necessary enforcemnt mechanism. Think this through folks.

  92. There are laws of economics just as there are laws of physics. One such law is the law of supply and demand. If a demand exists someone, somehow will fill that demand.

    First of all, I’m not a retard. My degree’s in econ. Not all “demands” are filled by the market. You’re “if a demand exists someone will fit it” stuff is the stuff of religion. I demand a free pony and hot hookers at 10 dollars an hour. Guess what? I demand it, no one supplies it. Darn.

    Supporting what’s written in the freaking Constitution makes you more of a statist than I am.

    uh-oh, looks like we have another Anarchrist on our hands. Making the perfect the enemy of the good and all that.

    I suppose you’re so super-duper anti-statist that you don’t pay your income taxes either?

  93. Best get cracking on that Constitutional Amendment, then.

    No amendment needed to change the law allowing competition. The con doesnt guarantee the USPS a monopoly.

  94. A_R,

    Also, just because something isnt the most important issue doesnt mean people shouldnt care about it.

  95. Yes, the USPS’s statement is a little silly, but I’m equally confused by the poster’s statements.

    Wouldn’t the proper libertarian response to a proposed “do not mail” list to say that (1) mailers have a First Amendment right to send people mail — including commercial speech soliciting the recipient’s business; so (2) government should stay out of the business of saying who can mail whom?

    Or do libertarian principles go out the window just so that you can take a cheap shot at the USPS?

  96. abc,

    The issue is:

    1. I have the right to determine who can deliver to MY mailbox.

    2. I have the right to negotiate a filter with those delivery companies.

    The problem is that the USPS is governmental. In a hyopthetical free market, I can tell Fed Ex to stop delivering bulk mail to me. Multiple outcomes:

    A. They agree
    B. They say no and I either accept all or none
    C. They say no and I tell them to stop delivering to me

    I dont generally support doing things like this with a law but since the USPS is a (quasi-) government agency then passing a law is roughly equivalent to a shareholders vote.

  97. If Balko’s program of having one federal agency dig holes and another to fill them is enacted, for the safety of the children we will need two more federal agencies. The first will pay hole diggers not to dig and the second will pay hole fillers not to fill.

  98. A. They agree
    B. They say no and I either accept all or none
    C. They say no and I tell them to stop delivering to me

    FYI robc, options (B) and (C) are available from the friendly folks at USPS. Somehow I doubt you are going to exercise those options. Somehow I doubt that Fedex or UPS is willing to give you option (A) an filter your incoming deliveries either.

    IOW, get over it folks. Life ain’t perfect and little irritations abound. Y’know in the not so distant past the USPS did regularly make decisions on what to deliver, based on content, as a matter of policy. They still do IRT child porn. Am I the only one who remembers that friggin’ Playboy Magazine had to go to court to get the USPS to deliver in as bulk mail?

    If the cure is worse than the disease, live with the disease.

  99. J sub D,

    Hey, Im fine with it. All Im saying is if the “shareholders” decide to change the internal policy of the USPS, Im in favor of it.

  100. J sub D,

    The other is because of the USPS monopoly, I cant negotiate with multiple companies until 1 gives me a filter Im happy with. Right now, I can use many different products to filter my email.

  101. In a true free market, there might be a mail delivery company willing to pay me to not filter out bulk mail.

  102. The other is because of the USPS monopoly, I cant negotiate with multiple companies until 1 gives me a filter Im happy with. Right now, I can use many different products to filter my email.

    Assuming competition, which I support, the following still applies

    You don’t pay for the delivery.
    You don’t decide which company delivers it.
    The sender does.
    Would the sender, being a rational, profit minded businessperson, contract with a company that charges more (cost of filtering), and delivers to < 100% of desired recipients?

    Think!

  103. I just don’t think the “I have no free-market choice” holds water. There clearly are alternatives. Taking down the mail box is the simplest, most efficient one. Switch to another service. They are out there.

    martin, FedEx and whatnot exist because the postal monopoly is on first-class mail, not ALL mail. If FedEx were to start delivering first-class mail, their executives would probably go to jail. That’s the problem. Allow others to compete with the USPS, and I’d be fine with the USPS doing whatever the heck they want, so long as they didn’t get any subsidies.

  104. “I demand a free pony and hot hookers at 10 dollars an hour.”

    Well, in a free market you could probably get yourself hookers at that price. You might want to take protection. As for the free pony check the ads in the paper. Free kittens and free puppies are not uncommon. In a truly free society you would probably have a similar situation with ponies.

    “uh-oh, looks like we have another Anarchrist on our hands. Making the perfect the enemy of the good and all that.”

    I am an Anarchist but no, I don’t make the perfect the enemy of the good. I am the Objectivist’s worst enemy: a pragmatist.

    “I suppose you’re so super-duper anti-statist that you don’t pay your income taxes either?”

    See above

  105. J sub D — Introducing competition would also need to have the proviso that consumers have the right to put NO USPS MAIL ALLOWED on their mailboxes, and make it an actionable offense for the USPS to ignore that equivalent of a NO TRESPASSING sign (or a NO POLLUTING sign, if you will).

  106. “Jehovah’s Witnesses bother me A WHOLE LOT MORE than junk mail and I certainly don’t want a do not proselytize list with the necessary enforcemnt mechanism. Think this through folks.”

    You don’t need one. A “NO SOCLICITATION” sign works fine. Can I put a “NO JUNK MAIL” sign on my mail box and stop it that way?

  107. You don’t need one. A “NO SOCLICITATION” sign works fine.

    In some neighborhoods.

    Can I put a “NO JUNK MAIL” sign on my mail box and stop it that way?

    Nope. I just throw it out. It probably occupys 2.5 sec, 5 times a week.

  108. Introducing competition would also need to have the proviso that consumers have the right to put NO USPS MAIL ALLOWED on their mailboxes, and make it an actionable offense for the USPS to ignore that equivalent of a NO TRESPASSING sign (or a NO POLLUTING sign, if you will).

    prolefeed, are you going to take the time to file a complaint and appear in court because UPS left a Victoria’s Secret catalog on your porch? UPS will deliver anything to an address because THE CUSTOMER paid for it. You’ll complain but take no legal action because it ain’t worth your time. That’s reality. Free market or not.

  109. Wait a minute Radley, I think your anti-gubmint streak just got away from you.
    If companies want to pay the USPS to deliver their ads what’s wrong with that? Free market in action, no?

    I haven’t read the whole thread so I don’t know if someone else brought this up, but: more and more places these days charge for garbage removal based on how much garbage is removed. So your sending me unwanted mail costs ME money, because I have to pay to get rid of it. The same holds true for people who live in those rural areas where you have to take your own garbage to the dump.

  110. A lot of the junk mail I get isn’t really mail. There is no delivery address, no return address, and no postage stamp on it. It’s just junk advertising that the post office charges money to stick in my mail box. I have asked at different post offices more than once how to opt out of it, and they won’t let you. Since they charge for every piece they stick in my box, they have no incentive to allow a customer to opt out of it. I think its BS and that we should be able to. Sometimes, I take a bunch of the crap with me and stick it in a post office box. Let them deal with the trash they create.

    Sort of a separate issue, but when I lived in an apartment, all these adds just created litter. Lazy people would often just drop them right on the ground. There used to be a trash can there by the mail boxes, but it would fill up and people would still try to put these junk adds there and they would blow around and just become litter on the ground. So the complex took away the trash can, and then there was still just as much litter as some people were too lazy or too annoyed to take the crap back to their own trash cans.

    But thankfully we can’t opt out, we need to keep the public servant tit swollen and flowing.

  111. I agree with Ayn Randian, the government always has and probably always will run the postal service. Even the freaking Articles of Confederation gave the federal government that job. Not because its so incredibly efficent (ha!)but because its a thankless job that really nobody else wants to do.

    Yeah, but it’s also becoming an increasingly obsolete job. Almost all of my personnel correspondence is done by either email or phone, and my routine financial transactions are likewise done online. And when was the last time you bought a product from a company that offered the USPS as delivery option, rather than FedEx or UPS?

    A friend that works for the USPS tells me that the bulk of the deliveries they perform now are third-class mail – that is, junk mail. We really need a federal post-office to ensure advertisers can reach us?

  112. The junk mail is what is keeping first class postage so low…
    The Post Office is not supposed to be making any profit.
    There is no way the Post Office can sustain itself if junk mail goes away.
    This will mean skyrocketing postage in order to afford universal delivery which I think is a very important factor that keeps our mail safe and out of the hands of private mailers who could close up shop in a minute when they realize how much labor does go into mailing something.
    Blue collar postal workers are paid a living wage.

    If you pay them less, many would not want to keep the job and the turnover would be horrible as far as training new hires to get up to speed with everything.

    We can recycle junk mail and that is what we should be pushing for…not handing over postal work to the lowest bidder.

    have a very nice day!

  113. And when was the last time you bought a product from a company that offered the USPS as delivery option, rather than FedEx or UPS?

    It’s not hard, although maybe my personal example isn’t a significant enough mail user or commerce entity to effectively break this particular point of yours?

    This is one of those threads that not only is almost entirely un-about what the H&R blogger was really driving at, but the thread was long and interesting enough that multiple waves of posters debated the same topics with eachother. (Thus this minor nit-pick is all I have to add.) These tend to be my faves on here.

  114. Oh and…

    We can recycle junk mail and that is what we should be pushing for…not handing over postal work to the lowest bidder.

    Yes, you’re right. How silly that we should want to avoid wasting money for no reason. Let’s do our best to avoid any lowest bidders.

    I am also reading into your comment the notion that there would be ONE mail carrier, determined by their lowest bid, but that is really only a worst-of-both-worlds solution. In a free market of mail carriers with MULTIPLE companies you would not stay with a mail carrier if you were unsatisfied by the mail service you were getting. Think hotels.

    This does illuminate why and with what emphasis Balko posted this story in the first place though. Outside of circles like H&R, the discourse springing from a story like this is not about the topics mostly covered by posters here, it IS about wasting money through the government (which to many is an oxymoronic phrase) for gratifying notions of fairness, civic pride, employment, etc.

  115. One day last week, a particularly annoying junk mailer sent me a giant, letter-sized rigid flyer. Ever anxious to please, the mailman stuck it into my mailbox without closing the lid, since the flyer wouldn’t fit without bending it.

    Then, it started raining. When I got home, all my mail was soaking wet because the lid hadn’t been closed. But I got the crucially important communication from the junk mailer — Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, explaining how much she was doing for upstate NY.

    It’s almost enough to make me switch parties to vote for Obama…

  116. Why not just pay the advertisers to NOT print the junk mail, and the USPS to NOT deliver it?

    Hey, it works for farmers and Archer Daniels Midland.

  117. Based on Malto Dextrins’s last post and mine earlier suggesting that I might be willing to be paid to accept junk mail, this clearly presents itself as a problem with a Coase Theorem solution.

    The key is in defining the property rights. Do I own my mailbox or does the USPS? Which way minimizes transaction costs in the bargaining to reach the most efficient solution?

  118. Well, I’m now convinced. There does not exist an issue about which a libertarian will not whine about “rights!” and whatever it is, the problem is that the “market isn’t free enough!”

    You guys sound just like Marxists, except in their case it’s “the system isn’t communistic enough!”

  119. Mailers advertise through the mail because the response is worth it to them
    (people are reading their just mail before recycling it)
    First Class Postage rates are low because it is subsidized by advertising mail.
    (it would go up even more than gas if there is no control over it)
    People who get mail that sticks out of their mailbox should get a bigger mailbox. (Don’t exagerate and tell me that that is the only oversize item that ever held your lid open)
    Privatizing the postal service would open up the mailbox to unsavory hands, who would pay for that in the long run?.
    (You will with no accountability the mail service will rot and get more expensive, when ATT was forced to break up…did our phone costs go down, do you even use your home phone as much as you used to but still pay more than when you used it for everything?)
    Some people only think about here and now and me and mine…
    You cost this country a lot with your shortsightedness!

  120. Jehovah’s Witnesses bother me A WHOLE LOT MORE than junk mail and I certainly don’t want a do not proselytize list with the necessary enforcemnt mechanism. Think this through folks.

    Me too. But they’re trespassing. I had to threaten to get a court order to get them to leave me alone. Telling them to get TF off my property was largely ineffective.

  121. Privatizing the postal service would open up the mailbox to unsavory hands, who would pay for that in the long run?.

    This is all pretty formulaic stuff, but:
    ? What makes mail service more susceptible to “abuse” by unsavory companies than all the other necessary services that are privately run now (like, e.g., the food you eat)?
    ? What makes you so certain unsavory hands would survive in an open market where the current semi-competitors (FedEx, UPS, DHL) go to great lengths to assure their customers of reliability, punctuality, parcel tracking, etc.?

    Note also that the Postal Service runs on diminished expenses because it is exempt from many government fees and taxes even though it draws on those other public services just as private enterprises do. The postal service is not maintaining a level of quality we would otherwise lack, nor is it keeping costs below the otherwise exorbitant levels we would pay.

  122. Wow! I thought this would be a cut-and-dried libertarian issue.

    This issue for me is this: when someone sends me junk mail, he’s paying for the cost of delivery, but he’s not paying me to receive it. He’s imposing a cost on me.

    If the delivery of these packages were free market based, then I could choose the service that best met my needs and I would not support further government intervention. It’s not, and I do.

    jimmy smith | January 6, 2008, 2:36pm | #
    Is it possible for one not to have an address? My financial affairs are electronic.

    It’s possible, but not practical. I’ve been putting this to the test for the last 4-5 months. I have an address with this company http://www.earthclassmail.com/ and I’ve tried to avoid using it whenever possible, because it costs me money.

    When I’ve needed it:
    My bank requires an address, even though I use electronic statements. When I make an online payment with my check card it typically requires entering a zip code and that zip code must match the one on my bank account.

    I have a business and the CEO address is a required part of the annual registration with the state.

    The IRS continues to send me mail and I haven’t figured out a way to have them deal with me entirely electronically, yet.

    In general there are a lot of big companies (and government agencies) out there with business rules that assume you have an address. Small companies make the same assumption, but their processes tend to be less automated and they deal with exceptions.

  123. I was considering digging holes in my front yard just so I could laugh when the letter carrier falls into it. Cuz they NEVER use the sidewalk. They avoid the nicely shoveled-and-salted sidewalk and walk over and through the mounds of snow, so I’m sure they’d just walk into the holes since going around them would be going out of their way.

  124. I am the Objectivist’s worst enemy: a pragmatist.

    Sure you are sweetie…we’re all terrified of you and your cute little mask and your cape with a big “P” on it.

  125. THE LAST TIME I LOOKED IN MY UNION’S CONTRACT, THE USPS IS PROHIBITED FROM LAYING OFF THE MAJORITY OF ITS’ EMPLOYEES – THEREFORE THE USPS MANAGER WHO STATED THIS EVIDENTLY DOES NOT READ HIS COPY OF THE UNION CONTRACT.

    FURTHERMORE, “JUNK MAIL” IS THE LEAST INVASIVE OF ALL FORMS OF ADVERTISING. THROW-IT-AWAY INSTEAD OF ANSWERING THE PHONE DURING DINNER OR THOSE VERY ANNOYING TELEVISION ADS DURING YOUR FAVORITE SHOW OR PLAYOFF SPORTING EVENT.

    I’D RATHER CHOOSE TO READ IT OR THROW-IT-AWAY THAN PUT UP WITH POP-UP ADS ON MY SCREEN OR BIG BILLBOARDS ACROSS THE BEAUTIFUL LANDSCAPES OF OUR GREAT LAND. WHAT DO YOU THINK?

  126. BooBoo wrote: “(You will with no accountability the mail service will rot and get more expensive, when ATT was forced to break up…did our phone costs go down, do you even use your home phone as much as you used to but still pay more than when you used it for everything?)”

    Huh? Phone costs are much lower now than they used to be. Where were the ubiquitous unlimited long distance calling plans for $20 a month? Oh, that’s right. They didn’t exist.

  127. I am talking land lines doofus!
    Prove to me your home phone line is cheaper than before the break up.
    (compare it to how postage has gone up okay)
    PS ATT owns just about everything again anyway

  128. “Sure you are sweetie…we’re all terrified of you and your cute little mask and your cape with a big “P” on it.”

    Ayn_Randian, evidently the former Hollywood screen writer you named yourself after was. Or don’t Objectivists read her essays anymore? I did back when I was in my Objectivist phase. That was before I discovered more thoughtful pro-free market writers like Heinlein, Mises, Rothbard and even David Kelley who was excommunicated by Pope Peikoff.

  129. “Wow! I thought this would be a cut-and-dried libertarian issue.”

    So did I.

    “This issue for me is this: when someone sends me junk mail, he’s paying for the cost of delivery, but he’s not paying me to receive it. He’s imposing a cost on me.”

    Very well said.

  130. You better not take down your mailbox in the hope of avoiding junk mail. I’m pretty sure it is illegal to not have a mailbox on your property.

  131. I just happend to come across this line of thought….I have been a letter carrier for about 14 yrs….i do enjoy my job….it is stressful at times…..undue pressures by the boss…just like your job, as to some of the previous thoughts….Fedex, UPS, etc…can deliver your mail for you…we charge 41 cents…to anywhere in the country….can get most places in a few days, I know the others charge quite a bit more….it is your choice….thats why we are FREE!!!!…there is no stipulation that they cannot deliver first class mail…just depends on whether the sender wants to pay the 10-14 dollars for each item to send it..i am not knocking Fedex, UPS i believe the work hard and do a great job also..I take care with my customers to ensure they get their mail….think about Christmas time….when you get that card…that didnt quite have the right address on it….or no street number whatsoever…but it still made it to your house…..we do make mistakes…to err is human…but majority of us try to do our best to get the mail delivered in an efficient manner…How many names we have to remember….i have about 700 customers that i deliver to daily…i have to remember their names…several names…if their are combined families….the names of people that have moved from that address….in order for you not to get that mail…etc….let me enlighten you if you have questions you arent sure about this job….i am there when it is 110 degrees and when it is 10 below….

  132. Postal guy, I am not “anti-postal-worker” and I don’t think there is anyone who posted on this thread who is. All I want is for top down federal regulations to be repealed that make it harder for other carriers to compete (or as an alternative a do not postal-spam list.) I am sure there are also oodles and oodles of top down federal regulations that make your job harder as well. I’ll make a deal with you. I will support repealing the laws that make your job harder if you support repealing the laws that make it harder for other carriers to compete with you? Deal?

  133. “”This issue for me is this: when someone sends me junk mail, he’s paying for the cost of delivery, but he’s not paying me to receive it. He’s imposing a cost on me.””

    “Very well said.”

    Very well said … but disingenuous.

    The ‘cost’ to you: is cheaper first class rates on letters that you send and receive from all over the United States including Alaska and Hawaii!!!

    You start privatizing the Post Office and you will find that companies will refuse to deliver mail to places that are too far off the beaten track.
    They will cherry pick what they will and won’t deliver and grandma in the sticks will have to pay more for her stuff than Sully in the ghetto. (oops…they won’t go to ghetto’s either. How will ghettoans get their bills?
    How will they pay them…?
    You will pay through higher rates to get their mail to them too. You will pay for people to be on welfare, including the postal employee who lost his middle class wage, because of selfish provate interests who do not have the good of America in their hearts.
    Look at the big picture okay?
    We Americans have a right to Universal Service.

    Heck, UPS, FEDEX and DHL already do it…they drop off their packages at our Post Office after charging their customers more than we would have charged them from the get go.

  134. “You start privatizing the Post Office and you will find that companies will refuse to deliver mail to places that are too far off the beaten track.”

    Quoting myself from earlier in this thread: Perhaps a nonprofit organization would take care of rural areas. This might shock some statists but there are people who have motivations besides profit. Fact is, until government lets people experiment with different systems we will simply not know. Rest assured, rural people would get mail. There are laws of economics just as there are laws of physics. One such law is the law of supply and demand. If a demand exists someone, somehow will fill that demand. This law is so powerful that even governments often cannot stop it (see also War on Drugs). Remove government imposed barriers and geography is no barrier.

    “You will pay for people to be on welfare, including the postal employee who lost his middle class wage, because of selfish private interests who do not have the good of America in their hearts.”

    Ahh, the “We need government program “A” so we don’t have to pay more for government program “B”.” trick. What if I oppose both government programs “A” and “B”?

    “We Americans have a right to Universal Service.”

    Question for you, what is the origin of this right in your view? I want to know your line of thinking.

  135. “Perhaps a nonprofit organization would take care of rural areas. This might shock some statists but there are people who have motivations besides profit.”

    There are some folks, like me who do care but where are you gonna get that kind of manpower???
    I just think that is way too hopeful on your part.

    “”You will pay for people to be on welfare, including the postal employee who lost his middle class wage, because of selfish private interests who do not have the good of America in their hearts.””

    “Ahh, the “We need government program “A” so we don’t have to pay more for government program “B”.” trick. What if I oppose both government programs “A” and “B”?”

    These are jobs…what is wrong with someone getting a decent wage for a job that they are doing. If you look at the other side of this coin you will find businesses like Halliburton who have no problem fleecing the governement (ie you and me) with their form of Capitalism.

    What is worse…people doing the job for a fare wage or people fleecing the government (ie you and me) for the same work?
    Who gets the extra money???Who will be the watchdog that makes sure they are not in cahoots with people in our government who are less than forthcoming with the truth?

    I think that we have a right to unfettered communication…I am not sure what the origin of that right is, I just know that charging people more than others for a fundamental ‘right to be informed’ is an unfairness that should not be tolerated.
    It’s like keeping people in the dark…

    I wonder what part of informing people and keeping the lines of communication open and affordable is so distasteful to you?

  136. I wrote:
    “Perhaps a nonprofit organization would take care of rural areas. This might shock some statists but there are people who have motivations besides profit.”

    boo boo:
    “There are some folks, like me who do care but where are you gonna get that kind of manpower??? I just think that is way too hopeful on your part.”

    Where do Goodwill, the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and all the rest get it? Donations and volunteers.

    boo boo wrote:
    “These are jobs…what is wrong with someone getting a decent wage for a job that they are doing.”

    Nothing. Who said there was?

    boo boo wrote:
    “If you look at the other side of this coin you will find businesses like Halliburton who have no problem fleecing the government (ie you and me) with their form of Capitalism.”

    Haliburton is not an example of capitalism. It is an example of mercantilism. When Adam Smith wrote his Wealth of Nations it was a treatise against mercantilism. Libertarians are NOT conservatives and you won’t find very many of us who are big fans of Haliburton.

    boo boo wrote:
    “What is worse…people doing the job for a fare wage or people fleecing the government (ie you and me) for the same work?”

    False alternatives.

    boo boo wrote:
    “Who gets the extra money??? Who will be the watchdog that makes sure they are not in cahoots with people in our government who are less than forthcoming with the truth?”

    I oppose government. The free market IS the best watchdog available.

    boo boo wrote:
    “…I am not sure what the origin of that right is,”

    I didn’t think so.

    boo boo wrote:
    “I wonder what part of informing people and keeping the lines of communication open and affordable is so distasteful to you?”

    Certainly not. It is violence that is distasteful to me. I just don’t think people who have to pay for it at the point of a gun.

  137. “pay for it at the point of a gun….”
    tee hee
    that’s funny

    The Post Office is not run by taxes

    Even if it were…since when does someone get killed for not paying them?…I think they go to jail and get three square meals…

    You don’t have to have delivery…just take your mailbox down

    You don’t have to mail anything…just walk it where it needs to go…

    You would put this great service in the same boat as something that You do not need and You do not use when everyone needs it and everyone uses it.
    You probably don’t like paying taxes either but will gladly ride the maintained roads, under the lights and through the lights and
    over the sewers and …all of the men who hired on to protect our constitution.
    it just takes a glance through the blue government pages in the front of your telephone to get an idea of all of the things that you take for granted and somehow think that private enterprise could take care of better.

    Some might…but if someone gets screwed because of a bad halliburton like contractor…who will pay for that?
    It is better when everyone owns something. Even the workers (who also pay taxes) own their own job.

    Taxes are insurance. You may not think you will ever need it but you can’t prove that can you???
    Nor could you prive that you won’t ever refuse to benefit from it.
    It’s called ego centrism…all you think about it yourself…
    that hurts this awesome country that I am so grateful to live in and so honored to support through my taxes and more than willing to support my mail service with the stamps that I buy
    Call me ‘one grateful son of a b*****’

  138. “The Post Office is not run by taxes”

    Look at the about.com article I linked to in one of my comments above. Besides that, its monopoly is enforced by police officers who are paid through taxes.

    “Even if it were…since when does someone get killed for not paying them?…I think they go to jail and get three square meals…”

    If a prisoner tries to escape force is used to keep him in jail. The more he resists the more force is used. If he resists enough they will kill him. Besides that a part of his life is stolen from him.

    “You don’t have to have delivery…just take your mailbox down.”

    Why should I have to live like a hermit just because I do not want to participate in a state-enforced monopoly?

    “You would put this great service in the same boat as something that You do not need and You do not use when everyone needs it and everyone uses it.”

    No, I just don’t like state enforced monopolies.

    “You probably don’t like paying taxes either but will gladly ride the maintained roads, under the lights and through the lights and over the sewers and …all of the men who hired on to protect our constitution.”

    Answering this one fully myself would take too much space. I will let the economist Walter Block do so. He wrote a great article on this here:
    http://www.mises.org/journals/jls/3_2/3_2_7.pdf

    “it just takes a glance through the blue government pages in the front of your telephone to get an idea of all of the things that you take for granted and somehow think that private enterprise could take care of better.”

    I don’t take them for granted and yes, private enterprise could take care of all of them better.

    “Some might…but if someone gets screwed because of a bad Halliburton like contractor…who will pay for that?”

    As I stated above Halliburton is not an example of capitalism. It is an example of Mercantilism. Not the same thing. When Adam Smith wrote his Wealth of Nations it was a treatise against Mercantilism.

    “Taxes are insurance. You may not think you will ever need it but you can’t prove that can you???”

    Taxes are theft pure and simple. They are the moral equivalent of a member of the Mafia asking for protection money.

  139. Capitalism, schmapitalism, mercantilism
    whatever!

    Money for nothing is what ‘that kind of business’

    Halliburton, Blackwater and other companies are proof that private enterprise can be as corrupt as any government enterprise and the great thing about federal employees is that there are checks and balances that would catch the crooks a lot sooner than in private enterprise and they will end up being punished as opposed to those ‘private’ corporations who will get paid up the butt (unlike federal employees) and then pardoned!
    People who oppose taxes for the benefits that they receive are thieves who would sooner see the whole country fall into disarray than pay their fair share.
    This is a sociopathic dream.
    Getting away with getting something that others are paying for.
    Why can’t you just be grateful and hold the federal employees accountable…
    Can you promise that if you were ever in dire need that you would stand by your principle and let yourself rot in a gutter somewhere???
    Would you want this to happen to your family?
    The Office of Inspector General is above and outside of the Postal Inspectors that we still have.

    We STILL have. Just because some postal board of governors (mostly recess bush appointees) hires someone else to oversee doesn’t mean that
    the Post Office and all of the workers who get the mail from here to there are paid by taxes…
    they are not paid by taxes

    In fact… postal employees under the civil service end up having their social security reduced even tho they have earned it.
    Even their spouses social security is reduced!

    I wonder if we would be having so many problems in Iraq if they had had a government infrastructure and model that they could have fallen back on?
    They have to start from scratch…we are the greatest country and you and your ‘taxes are theft’ philosophy is just so short sighted.

    I love the blue pages and everything that is in them and I will gladly keep paying my taxes to keep them there for me and my fellow americans.

  140. “”You don’t have to have delivery…just take your mailbox down.””

    “Why should I have to live like a hermit just because I do not want to participate in a state-enforced monopoly?”

    Since taxes don’t pay for mail this just doesn’t make sense. It is not ‘state enforced’ you don’t have to buy a stamp or receive any mail
    In fact you could do everything UPS…
    I am so sure they would love to deliver your bills to and from your door…it would just be a lot more expensive than a .41 stamp.

  141. “Where do Goodwill, the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and all the rest get it? Donations and volunteers.”

    Donations like from postal employees who make middle class wages.

    Voluntees like many Postal Employees and other blue collar laborers who give and give and give.

    I just think it is so insincere to point to charitable organizations when they can not do everything…
    Have you checked your food banks lately?

    This reasoning allows someone who doesn’t give a crap about people to give 5 a week and say they are doing their fair share…
    they give to the poor…

    When we give money through taxes it not only pays for all of the benefits we receive by living in a country as awesome as ours is but it does serve as insurance because we never know what is around the corner for us.

    To act as tho this isn’t true is denial that is based on selfishness.

    You would really have to prove to me that you would never accept anything…
    even if it was from a charitable organization unless you had put exactly the same amount into that same organization.

  142. Boo Boo said
    “You would really have to prove to me that you would never accept anything…
    even if it was from a charitable organization unless you had put exactly the same amount into that same organization.”

    I can see how that would be hypocritical of someone.

  143. Some of you may be interested to know that where I live, in a suburb of Amsterdam, I get mail delivered by multiple competing companies. This has been made possible because the Dutch government has (1) sold the postal service (which subsequently merged with an Australian packet delivery service and is now known as TNT N.V.), and (2) slowly but steadily decreased the scope of TNT’s monopoly. At one point the firm held a monopoly on shipments under 500 grams, then it was 100, then 50. A number of competitors have sprung up, most of them concentrating on bulk business mailings of bills and the like, and cutting cost by delivering twice a week rather than daily. By the time the monopoly threshold was down to 50 grams, Sandd (one of TNT’s competitors) realized it could legally do mailings for a local mail order firm by including a catalog with each letter. TNT sued them for somehow violating the spirit of the remaining monopoly but lost. The monopoly was due to be abolished altogether last week, but I don’t know if TNT succeeded in getting One Last Extension. It really helps that there are now competitors who can counter claims that TNT wants to save jobs with saying that jobs gained at TNT can mean jobs lost at Sandd et al.

  144. How much is it to mail a letter in Amsterdam??
    Do they forward it without charge?…does it come right to your neighborhood?

    Are these good jobs for folks in your economy?

  145. @boo boo:

    As for the cost of mailing a letter: it depends which firm you use. If you have only a single letter to send, you’d probably end up buying a TNT stamp for 44 cents. They typically deliver within a day or two (it’s a small country.) If you have a business and you want to send out a pile of invoices, you may want to go with a company like this regional firm, which promises to undercut TNT’s bulk mail rates by 20-50% through their network in the middle of the country and partnerships with postal firms in other parts, or maybe with this nationally operating postal company.

    If you move, you can have your TNT mail forwarded for free for a month, I believe. As far as I recall, this policy was not changed by the privatization. I have no idea whether the other postal companies offer something similar, nor whether they coordinate the forwarding requests among themselves.

    As for the “good jobs”-it all depends. TNT has had to cut cost in anticipation of the competition, but mail volume happened to be increasing and they had rather a lot of retiring employees, so as far as I recall they’ve never had any layoffs. I think they used to hire mostly people on full time, long-term contracts, and now they take more part-timers and temporaries. Whether you consider this a good development or not depends on your point of view. In the past, part-time jobs were hard to come by in this country, putting a barrier between stay-at-home moms and the job market that has now been eroded.

  146. @boo boo:

    By the way, even though I used it casually in my second comment, I actually don’t like the word “privatization” because it can refer to two very different things that a government can do, to wit: (1) to contract something out, and (2) to sell something. For instance, if the country of Anthracitistan owns a coal mine and decides to sell it to Blackfuel, Inc., that is commonly called “privatization.” If the same government decides to grant Mining Services Corporation a 2-year contract to dig up the actual coal, for a fixed fee, without selling the mine… that could easily be called “privatization” as well.

    Blackwater is a typical case of contracting out. It may or may not be a good idea; I’d say it’s a bad idea to the extent that there is not enough accountability built into either the contract or the law to keep them from taking shortcuts that the government itself for good reasons (like the Geneva Conventions and the principles they embody) wouldn’t take.

    Government-run postal services like USPS also commonly contract out part of what they do to trucking firms and airlines and the like, and you could imagine the US government retaining the monopoly on first-class mail but awarding a contract to actually do the delivery to a cousin of the president-and that would not be a good idea at all.

  147. “Halliburton, Blackwater and other companies are proof that private enterprise can be as corrupt as any government enterprise and the great thing about federal employees is that there are checks and balances that would catch the crooks a lot sooner than in private enterprise and they will end up being punished as opposed to those ‘private’ corporations who will get paid up the butt (unlike federal employees) and then pardoned!”

    When a business colludes with big government you inevitably get corruption and inefficiency because government itself is corrupt and inefficient.

    “People who oppose taxes for the benefits that they receive are thieves who would sooner see the whole country fall into disarray than pay their fair share.”

    How about I mow your lawn without your permission and then demand you pay me a price that I choose for this service. If you oppose this you are a thief who would sooner see your whole lawn fall into disarray than pay your fair share.

    “I wonder if we would be having so many problems in Iraq if they had had a government infrastructure and model that they could have fallen back on?”

    Nice try. It is the “government infrastructure” under Saddam Hussein that got them into the shape they are in now. Saddam provided all kinds of wonderful governmental services.

    “I am so sure they [UPS] would love to deliver your bills to and from your door…it would just be a lot more expensive than a .41 stamp.”

    Only because of federal laws.

    “You would really have to prove to me that you would never accept anything… even if it was from a charitable organization unless you had put exactly the same amount into that same organization.”

    What? So, it would be hypocritical for me to support private charity as an alternative to government if I would ever need private charity? How does that make sense?

  148. “Government-run postal services like USPS also commonly contract out part of what they do to trucking firms and airlines and the like, and you could imagine the US government retaining the monopoly on first-class mail but awarding a contract to actually do the delivery to a cousin of the president-and that would not be a good idea at all.”

    Jaap Weel, this is a very good point. Whenever you have government contracting out corruption of one kind or another can speak in. Halliburton has been criticized in some quarters for having ties to the Vice President. In a true free market situation this would not be an issue. In a true free market a business rises or falls based upon the quality of the product or service. When you throw government in the mix political connections are sometimes more important.

  149. Jaap Weel, thanks for your information about the postal system in Amsterdam. It is interesting.

  150. “”You would really have to prove to me that you would never accept anything… even if it was from a charitable organization unless you had put exactly the same amount into that same organization.””

    “What? So, it would be hypocritical for me to support private charity as an alternative to government if I would ever need private charity? How does that make sense?”

    If, by ‘supporting’ you mean giving the charity a whole bunch of money you would not be a hypocrite by using it later when you need it.

    If by ‘supporting’ you mean ‘I support the idea of charities’ but you don’t give them as much as you could possibly end up using in your lifetime, you would be a hypocrite.

    Let’s say you lose your job because of an accident that is not covered by insurance and you lose a lot of your assets…then let’s say your child gets leukemia and needs treatment that you cannot afford.

    If you had not given money to the Leukemia Foundation or to the Children’s Hospital that had a fund for cases such as yours…would you accept the help for your child or let them go.

    That is what I am talking about.
    Let me know if you need more explanation in order to make sense…

    “In a true free market situation this would not be an issue. In a true free market a business rises or falls based upon the quality of the product or service.”

    In a true free market situation there will still be the corruptin by those who wish to get rich quick yet who skip out without finishing all of their work when they realize that by lowering their prices in order to compete…they have left themselves hanging.

    This leaves the person who put faith in their work hanging…
    So you put the guy in jail for being a crooked businessman??? What does that resolve?

    This will happen again and again.

    We need people to have licenses to be contractors and that might not even stop crooks but at least with bonding by the government, people can be protected somewhat by knowing who they are doing business with.

    In a free market…people will be free to deceive…until they are caught.
    Good luck catching them with private policeman…they will only try to catch someone that actually has money that they could confiscate.
    Our government takes a lot of care to make sure that jippers can’t jip and that if they do, they will be prosecuted.

    There is so much minutia that you take for granted with your
    ‘free market’ solves everything blather.

  151. “If you had not given money to the Leukemia Foundation or to the Children’s Hospital that had a fund for cases such as yours…would you accept the help for your child or let them go.”

    Apparently you do not understand the concept of charity.

    “In a true free market situation there will still be the corruption by those who wish to get rich quick yet who skip out without finishing all of their work when they realize that by lowering their prices in order to compete…they have left themselves hanging.”

    One of the most valuable commodities in a free market is reputation. If you loose that your business will go down and you will loose money

    “This leaves the person who put faith in their work hanging…
    So you put the guy in jail for being a crooked businessman??? What does that resolve?”

    The crime is called fraud.

    “This will happen again and again.”

    See my above remark about reputation.

    ” . . . . but at least with bonding by the government, people can be protected somewhat by knowing who they are doing business with.”

    When you deal with a business that is bonded with government you know you are dealing with a business that is bonded with corruption.

    “In a free market…people will be free to deceive…until they are caught.”

    Sounds a lot like government.

    “Good luck catching them with private policeman…they will only try to catch someone that actually has money that they could confiscate.”

    See my above remark about reputation.

    “Our government takes a lot of care to make sure that jippers can’t jip and that if they do, they will be prosecuted.”

    I find it interesting you use an anti-Romany slur. They are an example of a people who have suffered under the weight of government oppression. Your argument is the basic “free-rider” argument. If I plant a rose garden should anyone who enjoys looking at it be forced to pay at the point of a gun?

  152. “Apparently you do not understand the concept of charity.”

    Apparently your definition of charity is take…and not give???

    “One of the most valuable commodities in a free market is reputation. If you loose that your business will go down and you will loose money”

    It only takes one bad deal to lose your reputation…what will happen to the victim of that bad deal. Multiply that bad deal by all the sheisters who will take advantage of a free market and start up businesses with new names.
    Won’t happen??? Who will enforce that?

    “The crime is called fraud.”
    Who will go after these fraudulant sheisters??

    “See my above remark about reputation.”

    See above my remark about no one being around to enforce it.

    When you deal with a business that is bonded with government you know you are dealing with a business that is bonded with corruption.
    Bonding is an insurance plan that businesses use to prove that they are reputable.
    Enforced by the government…laws…guidelines etc

    “In a free market…people will be free to deceive…until they are caught.”

    Sounds a lot like government.

    Government has checks and balances unlike businesses who can swindle and move on (even to foreign countries)
    We won’t be able to vote those fraudulant businesses out with our democracy…but we will be able to vote immoral pioliticians out.

    “Good luck catching them with private policeman…they will only try to catch someone that actually has money that they could confiscate.”

    See my above remark about reputation.
    See above my remark about who will enforce this.

    “Our government takes a lot of care to make sure that jippers can’t jip and that if they do, they will be prosecuted.”

    I find it interesting you use an anti-Romany slur. They are an example of a people who have suffered under the weight of government oppression. Your argument is the basic “free-rider” argument. If I plant a rose garden should anyone who enjoys looking at it be forced to pay at the point of a gun?

    The gun thing is just plain rhetoric because there is no gun, and even if there was a gun we could vote the gun out which you want to do but we do need the gun a little bit if you see my above remarks about enforcing that which you think will just miraculously happen in a free market.

    thanks!

  153. “Apparently your definition of charity is take…and not give???”

    Charity, by definition, is intended for those who are unable to pay for a good or service on their own. The rich do not need to go to a food bank to find something to eat. Of course people who need a service a charity provides are not going to BE ABLE to give money for that service – at least not the full price of it. By the way, I DO donate to charities (The Red Cross and Goodwill) but if I were in a dire situation I might not be able to.

    “It only takes one bad deal to lose your reputation…what will happen to the victim of that bad deal. Multiply that bad deal by all the sheisters who will take advantage of a free market and start up businesses with new names. Won’t happen??? Who will enforce that?”

    To answer this question fully on my own would take too much space. If you truly are interested and not just trying to yank my chain I will provide you a link to a good treatment on this subject. http://www.mises.org/journals/jls/3_4/3_4_4.pdf

    “Government has checks and balances unlike businesses who can swindle and move on (even to foreign countries)”

    Corrupt politicians can swindle and move to another country with their slush funds.

    “We won’t be able to vote those fraudulent businesses out with our democracy…but we will be able to vote immoral politicians out.”

    Actually, you do vote on businesses all the time – with your Dollars. If you buy a Ford rather than a Toyota you vote on that choice. If you buy a Lennar home rather than one built by another company you vote on it. If you send a package with FedEx rather than UPS you are voting. The best part of this kind of voting is that you can be happy with your vote and not directly impact my life with it. If you choose to drive a Ford this is no way prevents me from driving a Toyota. Government on the other hand is a one-way street. If you vote for a president and your vote is the one that puts that person in the White House I have to live with that regardless of who I chose to vote for.

    “Our government takes a lot of care to make sure that jippers can’t jip and that if they do, they will be prosecuted.”

    “The gun thing is just plain rhetoric because there is no gun,”

    Tell that to the Native American tribes who were forced off their land. Tell that to the Branch Davidians. Tell that to Jewish, Romany, homosexual and other minorities who were kept in concentration camps by the Socialists in Germany during World War II. Tell that to the families of people killed in no-knock raids during our own era in the United States.

    ” . . and even if there was a gun we could vote the gun out . . .”

    Why should I be shot just because a majority or plurality thinks I should?

  154. The Goodwill and The Red Cross are worthy causes but if there were no taxes I think more people would need more help.
    You might think that all the help people would need would be covered by charities but I don’t.

    You will not be killed for not paying taxes.
    So you saying ‘why should I do this or that with a gun pointed to my head’ is just rhetoric

    Fact is… you have a right to vote and so do I.
    We can try to educate each other with our views and one or the other…or a third party will end up prevailing.
    This is a democracy and you are being represented by your taxes.
    If more people felt your way…we would not have taxes. Taxes do not kill people. Taxes are payment for goods and services received.
    You think someone else could do those services better.

    When that kind of thought prevails, everything that people before us have thought was important to our infrastructure gets thrown by the wayside.
    What happens to the maintenance and upkeep of these goods and services?
    You will find more and more people thinking ‘your way’
    ie:
    “Why should I pay for something that I am not benefitting from?”

    The reason why is because some things should be shared responsibility within a community. For the good of all.

    When you take away services…lets say a county planning and licensing dept…you will find that bids will go to the lowest bidder (possibly with a new name under their belt so as to throw off any would be reputation seekers) and the work will be shoddy. People get hurt with shoddy workmanship. People get away with this kind of stuff if there is no oversight and as a general rule…it is better to prevent crap from happening than to have to deal with it.

    “Why should I be shot just because a majority or plurality thinks I should?”
    Again…
    taxes don’t kill people…
    lack of taxes to take care of situations that ‘everyone benefits from’
    ‘does’ kill people.

    I gather that you believe that power corrupts.
    I tend to think the same thing…I just have higher hopes that a government employee who is stealing would get caught sooner than some private enterprise who not only steals but exploits others.

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