Post Office

Neither Snow Nor Rain Nor Heat Nor Gloom of Night? How About $5.7 Billion In Losses and A Possible Default?


Will the Post Office go the way of Kevin Costner's career?

Forget delivering the mail; the U.S. Post Office may not be able to deliver on its financial obligations for much longer:

Net losses for the nine months ended June 30 amount to $5.7 billion in 2011, compared with $5.4 billion in 2010, USPS officials said. Total mail volume was 39.8 billion pieces for the quarter, compared with 40.9 billion pieces in the third quarter of fiscal year 2010.

Despite efforts to reduce costs and grow revenue, projections indicate the service would have a cash shortfall and reach its borrowing limit by the end of the fiscal year, officials said. If Congress doesn't act, the USPS will be in default on payments to the federal government.

"We are experiencing a severe cash crisis and are unable to continue to maintain the aggressive prepayment schedule that was mandated in the [Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006]," said Joseph Corbett, USPS chief financial officer and executive vice president. "Without changes in the law, the Postal Service will be unable to make the $5.5 billion mandated prepayment due in September."

The $5.7 billion in losses so far this year follow $5.4 billion in losses in 2010. And the long-term outlook is even worse: Last year, former Postmaster General John Potter told Congress that the federal mail service faced a whopping $238 billion in projected losses over the coming decade. It's a size-and-scope problem more than anything else: The Washington Post's Brad Plumer reports that "80 percent of its post offices lose money; the lowest-performing offices, deep in rural areas, often earn less than $50 per day, not even enough to pay for electricity."

So why keep them open? Plumer notes that proposals to shutter operations "have met resistance from members of Congress — particularly those in rural areas." Those legislators, of course, are responding to heavy political pressure; any plan to downsize inevitably produces news stories like this one, from the Ohio Times-Reporter, which starts with the following line:

A proposal to close 3,700 small post offices across the country — including six in the Tuscarawas Valley region — isn't sitting well with area residents who depend on them to maintain a sense of community in their towns.

Hard to argue with that, I suppose. What's a couple hundred billion dollars in losses next to a small town's sense of community?

Read Greg Beato's column on the post-postal society from Reason's May issue. 

NEXT: Shoveling Your Federal Income Taxes Into the Pensions of State Employees, in the Name of Affordable Housing

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  1. Too big to mail?

    1. Well done

    2. Sublime.

      1. Thanks. I’m tanned, rested, and ready after my vacation.

        1. Ah, vacation. Most of us thought you had got picked up on a parole violation and had to spend a week in county.

          1. Strangely, I’ve never been convicted of any crimes, despite being a known libertarian.

            We went to North Carolina and spent time in the mountains.

  2. Neither Snow Nor Rain Nor Neat Nor Gloom of Night?

    I didn’t know “Neat” was such a hardship.

  3. Did Costner ever realize that The Postman was a Dancing with Wolves-ripoff?

    1. Times are tough all over. General Bethlehem has been demoted to Captain Weaver on Falling Skies.

      1. I am liking Falling Skies more and more. Pope is a totally interesting character and I like where they’re going with the skitters/harnesses/etc.

        1. Pope is the only interesting character. It has been a seriously disappointing show.

          1. Up until the last couple of episodes, I was agnostic. But now I think they have set it up to do some pretty cool shit, if the writers are smart.

            1. See below

          2. I havent decided if I like it or not.

            I ended up watching last 4 episodes (counting the 2 hour finale as 2) on Sunday.

            Noah Wylie needs to be shot, that might improve it.

            1. Noah Wylie is the single biggest drag on the show.

            2. I sometimes imagine what the show could have been with Pope as the lead character and the show running on HBO.

        2. We’ll see. Characters are still somewhat phony. The whole farm human trafficking sub-plot was ludicrous when you scratched the surface (how long did they think they could keep that up?).

          The best post-apocalypse show remains Jericho (best TV serial evah).

          1. The show has a bunch of plot flaws, some pretty severe (if the invaders have air superiority, how can they walk around outside?), but it’s at least getting interesting.

            I mean, at least it’s not the V remake. Holy shit was that terrible.

            1. But at least I got to see a hot chick in her underwear a couple of times.

              1. A couple of times? Are you new to the internet?

                Google search results for “hot chick in her underwear”

                And about a bazillion sites showing video of that, too, but reason won’t let us give links to them.

                1. I said it was the only redeeming features of V.

            2. (if the invaders have air superiority, how can they walk around outside?

              Yeah, that’s bugging the shit out of me too. We can detect body heat with our current technology, but the aliens need a fucking flare to see heat? Either the aliens really don’t give a shit about their camp or they’re really incompetent conquerors.

              That said, it’s fairly entertaining and far better than the most recent crop of mainstream sci-fi. And yeah, Pope’s a good character with a halfway decent actor behind it. The Maggie character being hot as balls doesn’t hurt either.

            3. I mean, at least it’s not the V remake. Holy shit was that terrible.

              That show actually bored me to tears, Morena Baccarin notwithstanding. It sucked almost as much as Heroes did when it was cancelled.

          2. Jericho was the stupidest motherfucking shit ever. Who ever thought you could start a series with a nuclear explosion and then immediately make every episode about mundane domestic drama. You have terrible taste.

        3. It’s getting much more interesting now, with the skidders also being harness victims, and the introduction of the mysterious new aliens.

          1. Well fuck. This is what happens when I get behind on the DVR.

            1. It’s been a week. Get with the program.

              1. Summer — Life — Other shit happens.

                I’m about two weeks behind on a whole slate of shows.

        4. ^THIS^ Suck that the new season won’t start until Summer 2012. =(

          1. *sucks

    2. I still can’t believe Brin signed off on the movie. The book is good. The movie is retarded.

      1. It was Costner’s hissy-fit over no one liking Waterworld, which was his hissy-fit over no one like Wyatt Earp.

        1. He recovered with 3000 Miles to Graceland, but by that point, the damage had been done.

          1. This is a joke, right? 3000 Miles to Graceland was one of the biggest pieces of shit I’ve ever seen vomited out by Hollywood. I only finished it to punish myself for starting it in the first place. Fuck, it was terrible.

            1. Re: Episiarch,

              I only finished it to punish myself for starting it in the first place.

              Ha! Don’t be coy… You’re into it…

        2. It was Costner’s hissy-fit over no one liking Waterworld

          Jeanne Tripplehorn naked……what’s not to like!?

        3. There was a guy who looked just like him in Bull Durham. Also named, strangely enough, Kevin Costner. I thought SAG didn’t allow its members to share the same name?

          1. I don’t know how to put it exactly, but Costner just seems to be a really good actor who keeps getting stuck in shitty parts. Who knows if it’s because he’s a bad judge, desperate or something else?

            1. He casts himself in most of those shitty parts, doesn’t he? Maybe his mistake was trying to be a director as well as an actor.

              1. Good point.

                A lot of bad judgment in his choices of material.

                Even so, a shitty as Costner-directed movies tend to be, they still seem to be technically well done.

              2. He’s in shitty parts because he has bad judgment. Will Smith talked about his criteria for screening parts that results in him almost always getting good parts in shows that do well at the box office.

                1. Yes. This ain’t the old studio system. He takes bad roles, because he can’t tell they’re bad when he takes them or he’s just looking at the cash out.

        4. Oh god, do I hate Wyatt Earp. It was just the most boring, awful piece of shit ever. BAD COSTNER.

          1. Compare and contrast with Tombstone.

            1. I did like Dennis Quaid’s Doc Holiday, though.

              1. Compared to Val Kilmer’s? He should’ve won two Oscars for that performance.

                1. Quaid’s “kiss my Rebel dick” line was pure gold.

            2. My Darling Clementine is better.

        5. Waterworld. One. Of. The. Worst. Movies. Ever.

      2. The book totally sucked. Saved me from ever seeing the movie though. So it had that going for it.

      3. I agree with Epi. The book was great.

      4. The book is good. The movie is retarded.

        Olivia Williams’ bare boobs aren’t flashed in the book, are they?

  4. Fuck those guys.

    1. Nice.

  5. I assume these multi-billion-dollar, soon-to-be-missed, scheduled pre-payments by the USPS are included in the federal budget baseline….

  6. Nitpick:

    What’s a couple hundred billion dollars in losses next to a 3700 small towns’ sense of community?

    1. Well, that’s only 54,000,000 per town for their sense of community. I can give them a sense of community for that- hell, for half that! per year… or, they could each get internet from space for $90/citizen of 50,000 population towns at that price. That’s a whole lot of e-mail and skype and online banking and bill pay.

      1. Libertarians need to step up to the plate, here.

        I suggest that we each volunteer to adopt one of these small towns, and offer to support their sense of community for only $27MM per year. Hell, we’re libertarians, I bet we could do it for $20,000,000 per year.

        For that, I can buy a truck and hire a guy to drive back and forth to the nearest Post Office to pick up the fargin’ mail. Leaving me only $19,900,000 to set up and run some kind of facility where people can come and get their damned catalogs.

        1. I was thinking we could offer a library/post office/starbucks/subway sandwiches combo for a few hundred thousand dollars a year -I’m talking NICE subs here- and use the rest to build a rural mass transit system that no one will ever use to bring them to us and return them home.

          Who’s in? It promises a -200% ROI in no time.

          1. Change that from “sub shop” to “Cincinnati Style Chili shop” and I’m in.

            [scurries back into hole]

            1. So sloopy’s plan is out. He wants us to poison all small town residents!

        2. Is there really a need for 6-days-a-week mail delivery in rural areas? I don’t think closing the post offices completely is the best answer, although merging smaller ones and splitting up the deliveries to M-W-F and T-TH-S might make more sense. Those who need their mail more often can either purchase the additional service or go pick up the mail from their p.o. box on the delivery “off” days.

          1. I’m serious about putting them in the libraries. There is NO REASON librarians and library clerks can’t also be postal workers.

            1. Libraries merging with Post Offices would be like buggy-whip makers merging with farriers.

              1. Living history museums.

              2. yes, but when both are propped up with public funds, to combine and minimize is a good deal to me.

            2. Bars like in puritan era Massachusettes. Mail is delivered to your neighborhood bar, which you have to frequent if you want your mail.

              1. which bar gets the gig? I can see major corruption here.

            3. In Finland, the many of the post offices are subcontracted out such that you get postal services in the same place that’s also the local grocery store

  7. Hope and change, bitches. Hope and change.

  8. I know a guy who works for the Post Office who routinely jokes that there are managers whose entire staff was let go to cut costs, but no manager ever loses their job.

  9. This is a precursor to Obamacare, and even President “Not My Fault” admits it.

    Obama on Health Care being Like Post Office, Private Insurance like UPS and FedEx –…..r_embedded

  10. libtiods really want a bunch of laid-off postal employees running around all stressed? and nothing happens…

    1. you wanna keep them employed? You ****ing pay for it, then!

    2. So this is a protection racket?

      1. curse you linear time!

    3. isn’t this mail via extortion?

      1. give us $1,000,000 or your valpack coupons get it!

  11. Perhaps they should have a law making in mandatory for businesses to send bills via mail, since many are just done online, and requiring that they no longer accept payment online or on the phone… only snail mail. Gotta keep them postal workers employed!

    1. I think they should pass that law and if a business doesn’t do it, they get fined.

  12. The Postal Service sucks. When I have important documents to deliver to a client, I don’t even trust the Postal Service to deliver something to the next town over. No ability to track, no confirmation of delivery, no guarantee the package will actually arrive. Time for USPS to die.

    1. they can do all but the last one- but they are outpriced and outserviced for those options.

      1. Good point, I should have clarified that regular mail, as opposed to certified, is a complete gamble. But even “priority” doesn’t allow tracking.

    2. Some books I ordered over eBay recently went missing. Using the USPS tracking number from the sender I went online and found they were marked undeliverable (?!??) and sent to the dead mail office in Atlanta, GA.
      That’s all kinds of stupid right there.
      But then I call USPS, give them the tracking number and they confirm, yeah, the package is in the dead mail office. And to retrieve it I have to send a letter with all the pertinent information to the Atlanta office.
      I never got those books, of course.

      1. I’m sure that Epi would just let you borrow his copy of It’s Not the Size of the Boat: Embracing Life with a Micropenis.

      2. I imagine those “dead mail” warehouses as some sort of dragon’s hoard. I know I’ve lost some cool shit that “most likely is in our undeliverable mail offices – here, fill out this form”.

    3. I am waiting on a package, with tracking number, that the USPS said was out for delivery on Aug 4th.

    4. I agree that the USPS should be cut free from the government teat (and then probably die), but I have honestly never encountered any problem with their service.

      1. Back in 1999, I sent a letter to Radio Slovakia International. The final lines of the address on the envelope were, “Bratislava, Slovak Republic”. A few days later, I got the letter back in the mail, telling me I needed to write the name of the country in English!

        So, despite the fact that “Slovak Republic” is perfectly good English, I changed the final line to “Slovak Republic/Slovakia” and took the letter back to the post office. At this point I was told that mail delivery to Slovakia had been stopped because of the war!

        Er, Slovakia isn’t part of the former Yugoslavia.

  13. …and next, you’ll want to stop maintaining roads that don’t go to popular areas… then you’ll want to stop providing water to small towns… oh, and hey, why police those areas? Just let non-city USA turn back into completely wild forests and so forth, and the people that remain can cower in cities, where the population density justifies services with profit, because profit is the only good reason to do anything, right?

    It doesn’t mean anything that the people in those rural areas, you know, the ones using those non-profitable post offices and other services, are engaged in providing grain and cattle and minerals and so forth to you folks who live in the city, where you can’t practically do these things, and that without those same rural folk, you’d all be starving?

    I mean, damn… I’m libertarian in the sense of wanting individual rights and privacy protected, but sometimes you people are just unbelievably self-centered and shortsighted. Nations are systems, and in order for them to work decently, there will be areas where services are cheap per capita and areas where they are expensive per capita. If it takes a subsidy to keep an important service going, then that should be perfectly ok, at least it should if you can think rationally. Otherwise, the only reasonable conversation is “how do we replace this system with something sufficiently functional but more efficient?”

    Unless you’re willing to pony up for some other form of communications (like ensuring every home has a basic network connection and mail-capable computer, a very good idea), the idea of not paying for any postal op that doesn’t make a profit is by its very nature destructive to the nation. And although that addresses messaging, it doesn’t address packages… and you want to be careful you don’t allow for-profit entities like FedEx and UPS to ignore the rural areas, either.

    1. I’m libertarian in the sense of wanting individual rights and privacy protected, but…


      1. then you’ll want to stop providing water to small towns… oh, and hey, why police those areas?

        I live in a rural area with a septic and only an occasional sheriff or state trooper cruising through, and I like it that way.
        Who needs cops when everyone knows each other and is armed to the teeth?

        1. this was meant for fingers, not Epi

        2. My own well.

          My own septic system.

          Private company to haul off the garbage.

          The county plows the snow off the road.

          Who needs the city government.

          1. Our town does have a transfer station, paid for by meager property taxes, though some recycling is a precondition of use.
            I’m sure I’d come out ahead if I kept the property taxes and rented a small dumpster.

          2. i used to live small town new england and they actually do stuff pretty efficiently.

            for example…

            a bunch of people could sign up to be snow plowers.

            when we had bad snow , depending on how bad it was, the town paged one or more of the people on the list and they’d attach the city owned plow to their 4 wheeler and start ‘a plowin’ (don’t even get me started on seattle’s refusal to use fucking salt that resulted in over a week of impassable roads either – god forbid a little salt drain into the PUGET SOUND).

            they did a lot of frugal, commonsense small town shit… better

            another thing that was cool was people could sign up to be on a list to receive deer meat. when a car hit a deer, the person who hit got first dibs. if they didn’t want it, the dispatchers would call out a person from the rotating list to come pick it up for meat. nothing got wasted.

            HERE in leftwing WA, it is ILLEGALfor the person who hits the deer to take it for meat (or anybody else). it must be left in the brush on the side of the road and state wildlife agency notified so they can come out the next day (or later) to pick it up

            1. You a pathological liar, Dunphy. You’ve got more stories than Tommy Flanagan:

              Announcer: And now, a message from Pathological Liars Anonymous.

              Dunphy: Hello, my name is Dunphy, and I’m a member of Pathological Liars Anonymous. In fact.. I’m the president of the organization!

              I didn’t always lie. No, when I was a kid, I told the truth. But then one day, I got caught stealing money out of my mother’s purse. I lied. I told her it was homework – that my teacher told me to do it. And she got fired! Yeah, that’s what happened!

              After that, lying was easy for me. I lied about my age and joined the army. I was thirteen at the time. Yeah.. I went to Vietnam, and I was injured catching a mortar shell in my teeth. And they made me a three-star general! And then I got a job in journalism, writing for the National Enquire.. er, Geographic! Yeah.. I was making twenty thousand a ye.. month! In fact, I won the Pulitzer Prize that year! Yeah, that’s the ticket.

              And then my cousin died – Joe Louis – and I took it hard. Maybe too hard – I tried to kill myself. Yeahh.. I did kill myself! Sure! I was medically dead for a week and a half! It was a woman that brought me out of it – Indira Gandhi! Yeah, right.. And she told me about Pathological Liars Anonymous.

              Oh, you’d be surprised how many famous people belong. In fact.. at one of the meetings I met my wife – Morgan Fairchild! Yes, I’m a changed man now, and all because of Pathological Liars Anonymous. Why, I – I even have my picture on the cover of Newsweek magazine. Yeah. Every day! Yeah.. that’s the ticket! Yeah, you betcha!

              1. your obsession is kind of sad and ridiculous.

                i realize you have some kind of weird belief that i am a LIAR.

                are you claiming my smalltown experiences are made up or are you still on the “yer a pig cop who has never seen one of yer coworkers commitin’ a crime!!! that’s gotta be a lie” thing?


                oh, and btw …

                SMOOCHES!!!! pip

        3. A lot of people in rural areas have a well and septic tank set-up. Easy solution. But he does have a point about some of the other services, especially mail. But there are some fixes out there, like weekly delivery instead of 6 days a week.

          1. The only real fixex for the Post Office are to decertify the union, price labor at fair market, and then set postage fees high enough to cover costs.

            You know, run a real fucking business instead of a government entitlement program.

            1. Yup. But where’s the incentive?

              1. Revolution?

              2. The incentive is to not go ****ing broke and lose your job!

            2. The real fix is to allow competition for first class mail delivery, and then watch the USPS die a quick death.

    2. “fyngyrz”

      How morons spell moron.

      1. Maybe that is how things are spelled in SOMALIA where there is no POSTAL SERVICE OR ROADZZ. Do you want to live in world without vowels, you heartless libertarian monster?

        1. Clinton tried to address that problem:

          President Clinton announced US plans to deploy over 75,000 vowels to the war-torn region of Bosnia. The deployment, the largest of its kind in American history, will provide the region with the critically needed letters A,E,I,O and U, and is hoped to render countless Bosnian names more pronounceable

          1. Yes, but with the increase in accent and umlaut imports, we’d still find a way to run a deficit. And that’s not even bringing up the diphthong imbalance we are currently experiencing.

        2. Do you want to live in world without vowels, you heartless libertarian monster?

          “Y” is a sometimes vowel, you Canadatrix.

    3. you’ll want to stop maintaining roads that don’t go to popular areas


      you’ll want to stop providing water to small towns

      Why? Water is locally financed.

      Just let non-city USA turn back into completely wild forests

      Al Gore likes this.

      1. “Why? Water is locally financed.”

        Let me be clear. Before my term is over, I will be nationalizing the water supply. Water is a basic human right and only the federal government can ensure that we, you know, spread the water around.

    4. Her de Der

      small town dwellers (short of electrical services) use propane tanks or wood to heat. Water is from the well and waste is handled by septic tanks. Roads are handled at the county level – with some smaller roads completely private. Police presence is minimal and SOMEHOW they manage to survive.

      The horror, the horror.

    5. As someone who lives in a less-populated, under-serviced rural area, (no cable, no broadband) I say –Fuck the people who live in less-populated under-serviced rural areas.
      If they want the services, pay for them or make due.

      1. Dish Network.

        Wi-Fi to the local water tower.

        All private.

        1. You’ve been able to reverse-engineer wi-fi into water ?

          Damn, kinnath, you are good.

          1. Some poor, underpaid slob climbed to the top of the local water tower and installed an access point. Since this is fucking Iowa, it’s the tallest thing for miles around, and you can get line-of-sight a long damn way.

            But you know that 😉

            1. They probably could have gotten half the high school kids in town to pay the owner of the water tower for the privilege of being allowed to climb it.

              1. Liability insurance.

    6. Unless you’re willing to pony up for some other form of communications

      Or, you know, if you choose to live in the sticks, you can pony up.

    7. Re: fyngyrz,

      I mean, damn… I’m libertarian in the sense of wanting individual rights and privacy protected,

      “Except when I don’t!”

      […]but sometimes you people are just unbelievably self-centered and shortsighted.

      “You’re just a bunch of heartless misers!”

      Nations are systems, and in order for them to work decently, there will be areas where services are cheap per capita and areas where they are expensive per capita.

      “Forget about trade and arbitrage! Ignore those things, they don’t exist in my scenario! Move on!”

      If it takes a subsidy to keep an important service going, then that should be perfectly ok,

      “I love to make question-begging assertions!”

      […]at least it should if you can think rationally.

      “At least it should if you think like me!”

    8. I live in a lake community which has private roadz, private security, an all volunteer fire dept, we get our water from wells. My electricity comes from a Co-op. Tell me again how much I need government?

      1. and on top of all the shit we already pay for, we also have to pay property taxes to the municipality that doesn’t provide a god damned thing.

        1. One of the local communities started a minor rebellion a couple of years ago when the published an annexation plan. They were going to grab lots of territory and then take up to 15 years to provide services.

          It didn’t go over well.

          1. our little community has it’s own zip code. we’d be our own town if the lake wasn’t built within the larger township back in the 30’s. That’s the only explanation I have for us not being the 567th municipality in NJ.

      2. Actually, if you have a rural electric cooperative, it was probably established under the Rural Electrification Administration a New Deal agency abolished in 1994 with its functions assumed by the Rural Utilities Service which still does the same things.

        1. That said, rural electric cooperatives are self supporting entities.

          Their reliance on the Federal government is mostly for the purpose of getting low or no interest financing. Most could probably get financing on the open market but it’s highly unlikely it would be on terms anywhere near as favorable.

          1. So while subsidized, they are still probably less subsidized than the big electric companies.

        2. Yes, it is a rural electric cooperative. My brother-in-law was actually on the board for a few years.

      3. Re: Nipplemancer,

        I live in a lake community which has private roadz, private security, an all volunteer fire dept, we get our water from wells. My electricity comes from a Co-op. Tell me again how much I need government?

        Without government, you would have to generate your electricity by rubbing balloons on your hair!!!

        You would have to put out your fires by shoveling manure on them!!!! Oh, the humanity!

        Without government, there would be no taxation and, thus, no civilization!!!! OMG!!!

        (Ok, the sockpuppet argued that last point. No, really! He did!)

    9. You’ll see FedEx trucks in the middle of effing nowhere Montana. Even in our or so precious rural areas for profit works better

  14. “The $5.7 billion in losses so far this year follow $5.4 billion in losses in 2010.”

    I’m going to take a wild guess and bet the contracted employee benefits are not included in this number.

  15. The only thing that I get in the mail that has any value to me whatsoever, are postcards from my brother when he’s vacationing in Bonaire

  16. the Postal Service will be unable to make the $5.5 billion mandated prepayment due in September.

    So what?  Congress can never pay back the hundreds of billions it has borrowed from Social Security, and the U.S. can never pay back the trillions is has borrowed from everyone, including China and Warren Buffett.

    Mandate, schmandate.

  17. Working in shipping, USPS is always a tossup for effectiveness. Alot of times they won’t even log things. According to some insider sources, the place is a nightmare to manage. Veteran workers get so much time off, scheduling is a nightmare. And usually, all the ones that work hard are considered “part time” and don’t get any of the benefits.

    1. They could just hold a bake sale at each of those 3,700 post offices. Each post office would only have to raise 1$,540,540.54 to cover the loss.

  18. Mere single-digit billions in losses? That seems like nothing these days. Crap, I probably have a few billion in my change jar.

    1. QE3?

  19. A better image would’ve been from Il Postino, especially one with Comrade Neruda.

    1. Or better still, Maria Grazia Cucinotta.

  20. Given that 90% of my mail is unsolicited garbage, I say shut ’em down.

    1. The USPS loves junk mail, though. No joke. It pays the bills.

      1. “It pays the bills.”
        Not quite.

        1. Well, it pays the bills that get paid.

          1. It’s actually a loss leader, but the large mailers have good lobbyists.

            Sound familiar?

  21. How about the postal service stops paying pension obligations and sticks to its core mission of delivering the mail – even to my small rural PO.

  22. Neither snow, nor rain, nor gloom of night,
    through bandit’s hell, through firefight,
    through flood and plague we cannot fail.
    no Holnist trash will stop the mail.

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