USPS

Post Apocalypse

Neither rain nor sleet nor snow will stop the U.S. Postal Service. But a pandemic on top of a political fiasco? That's a first-class problem.

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In November 2020, George White sent his mother a birthday card from where he lives in Ohio to her home in Virginia. The typical United States Postal Service (USPS) promise is to get first-class mail to most destinations within three days.

White—as the president of an Ohio-based greeting card company, Up With Paper, that makes heavy use of the postal service—suspected that an on-time delivery wasn't in the cards.

To be on the safe side, he mailed his mom's birthday card a week early. It got there a week late.

"That was a bummer for me," says White, who serves as the president of the Greeting Card Association, a trade group. It was also a bummer for his industry. The value of greeting cards rests on timely delivery of products commemorating particular dates, be they birthdays, graduations, or holidays. Late delivery, White says, "can lead to less greeting cards being purchased and mailed. Because if they're not going to get it in time, what's the point?"

White was far from the only one to experience late arriving mail in 2020. In the final months of that year, with tens of millions of people quarantining at home, Americans sent and ordered an unprecedented number of holiday packages. E-commerce, which relies on shipping services to deliver goods to customers, had been growing rapidly even before the pandemic, but COVID-19 moved retail online at an even faster pace.

Complaining about the post office has long been a national pastime. Years of declining paper mail volumes, persistent fiscal deficits, and a logistics network not optimized for package delivery were all challenges that predated COVID-19. The pandemic made them much worse.

At the same time, a record number of Americans voted by mail in what would become one of the most hotly contested presidential elections in U.S. history. Critics wondered if the troubled agency would be able to handle the added volume created by the additional mailed ballots, while some Democrats worried that then–President Donald Trump might use the government-run post to steal the election.

The combination of preexisting retail trends, increased package volume spurred by stay-at-home workers, and high-stakes political gamesmanship surrounding mail-in voting pushed the postal service nearly to the point of collapse. By late December, only about a third of first-class mail was getting to its destination on time in major East Coast metros such as New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. Libertarians and other critics who have long warned about the inefficiencies of a government-run postal monopoly could at least feel some vindication when they found their mailboxes empty.

"In my experience of 18 years following the postal service, we had the most high-salience, bizarrest postal politics moment ever," says Kevin Kosar, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

The dual crises of the election and the pandemic are now fading, but this affords the troubled agency little breathing room. With short-term fires extinguished, the USPS now must ask itself some existential long-term questions. Is the post office's traditional business model finally falling apart?

'Every Day Is Christmas'

March 2020 sparked a big change in Kate Murray's business, Quick Brown Fox, a one-woman Brooklyn-based greeting card company. The retail stores she normally sold bulk orders of cards to were all shut down. Meanwhile, customers were stuck inside with little to do but shop online.

"Suddenly people were home and people were buying," says Murray. So she pivoted. Instead of larger shipments to businesses, she started filling individual, direct-to-consumer orders. To make up for the drop-off in wholesale cards, she started to push higher-price-point candles and wrapping paper.

Her changing business model meant changes in how she interacted with the USPS. Concerns about going to a physical post office meant she had more packages picked up at her front door. Suppliers, too, ended up shipping more directly to her. More candles and fewer cards meant more packages, less first-class mail.

For Murray, these shifts in her business all proved manageable. She says she was pleased with the postal service during the pandemic. It was likely much less pleased with her.

The postal service's massive logistics network is made up of 644,000 people staffing around 34,000 post offices, plus a few hundred annexes, hubs, and processing and distribution centers. It was primarily designed to get high-margin "flat mail" to 161 million addresses across the country.

"For most of the U.S. Postal Service's history, letters, cards, and magazines were its bread and butter," notes a USPS Office of the Inspector General (OIG) report from September 2020. "Its delivery infrastructure was primarily designed with mail in mind—from the vehicles to the facilities to the mailboxes."

That business model has been in steady decline for over a decade, with paper mail volumes falling 45 percent between 2007 and today. In fiscal year 2020 alone, they fell 11 percent. In an age of near-universal email access and paperless billing for every imaginable service, mail you can fit in an envelope has become increasingly irrelevant.

Thanks to the rising popularity of e-commerce, however, packages are in greater demand than ever. An October customer survey by the USPS OIG found that the number of respondents who ordered a product online at least once per month rose to 81 percent in 2020, up from 57 percent in 2019. The number of packages handled by the service rose from 6 billion in fiscal year 2019 to a little over 7 billion in fiscal year 2020, a 19 percent increase. This is causing serious problems for the USPS.

"Paper mail and boxes are not the same thing," Kosar says. He pointed to congressional testimony from Louis DeJoy in March, in which the postmaster general said that your average USPS tractor-trailer could carry 500,000 pieces of first-class mail…or about 5,000 packages.

It's also a crowded field given the existence of private parcel rivals like FedEx and UPS.

Meanwhile, people's reticence to visit physical post offices during the last year meant more mail had to be collected and dropped off at individual residential addresses, often in dense urban areas—where constrained space makes pick-ups and deliveries more difficult—or rural locations that private shippers don't serve.

The sheer space all these packages took up put an incredible amount of strain on the system that needed to collect, sort, and ship them. One common utterance among USPS employees during the first few months of the pandemic was "every day is Christmas." It wasn't meant to be a happy saying.

During the actual 2020 Christmas rush, a surge of 1.1 billion holiday packages enveloped USPS, producing scenes of logistical horror across the country.

At one post office in Cleveland, drivers waited upward of 12 hours to pick up or drop off packages, according to News5, the local ABC affiliate. "Don't be using the post office right now," a USPS employee told the Philadelphia Inquirer, "because we can't deliver the mail." According to CNN, one processing facility was receiving 250,000 packages a day in December—so many that it had to open a fourth annex just to store them all.

The flood of bulky holiday packages was always going to prove a challenge for an agency designed to sort and deliver envelopes. But that challenge was made substantially more difficult by the fact that the agency had also been tasked with facilitating a high-stakes presidential election.

The Myth of the Missing Blue Boxes

In August 2020, Twitter user Thomas Kennedy posted a picture of a number of blue USPS mail collection boxes wrapped in plastic and piled up on their sides behind a fence in what looked like a dump. "This is happening right before our eyes. They are sabotaging USPS to sabotage vote by mail," he wrote.

In fact, the soon-to-go-viral image didn't show discarded mailboxes, and it wasn't taken at a dump. It showed mailboxes at a facility waiting to be refurbished. It nevertheless came at the perfect time to fuel paranoia that Trump, through his stooge DeJoy, was plotting to use the post office to steal the election.

In the days and weeks prior to that picture going viral, local news stories and social media had been filled with mostly accurate accounts of mailboxes being taken off the streets and sorting machines being decommissioned. These moves were part of cost-cutting operational changes being made by DeJoy, who took over as postmaster general in June 2020. They also reflected a long-running trend of USPS consolidating its mailboxes and facilities to reflect falling volumes of paper mail.

These run-of-the-mill changes, however, were happening at an unusual time: the 2020 election season, when partisan attitudes were running high and the country as a whole was gearing up—for the first time, thanks to the pandemic—for mass voting by mail. Adding fuel to the fire, both USPS officials and Trump made statements that gave the impression that the agency was either not up to the task of handling ballot mail or, alternatively, being deliberately sabotaged.

On the same day of Kennedy's misleading viral tweet, for example, The Washington Post revealed that the Postal Service had in July sent 46 states letters warning that it couldn't guarantee that all mail-in ballots requested or cast by state-set election deadlines could be delivered by USPS in time to be counted. During his daily pandemic press briefing two days prior, Trump had said that he would continue to oppose $25 billion in emergency funding for the USPS, without which the agency likely would not be able to ensure universal mail-in voting.

Days after Trump's comments, the Postal Service announced it would stop removing mailboxes—an apparent attempt to tamp down the controversy. It didn't work. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.) and then–Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D–N.Y.) publicly demanded that Trump "immediately cease his assault on the Postal Service." Reps. Ted Lieu (D–Calif.) and Hakeem Jeffries (D–N.Y.) asked the FBI to investigate whether the postmaster general had committed any actual crimes. And several Democratic state attorneys general filed a lawsuit to stop DeJoy's operational changes.

An injunction granted in that suit by a U.S. district judge in Washington state restricted the Postal Service's ability to make further changes in the run-up to the election. It also required that the USPS treat all election mail by first-class delivery standards.

In the end, worries that Trump would sabotage the election via the mail proved overblown. The movement of ballots and voter registration forms was one of the bright spots in the USPS' performance during the pandemic: The agency managed to deliver 93.8 percent of election mail on time.

That was a better record than all other types of first-class mail, for which on-time delivery rates ranged from 91 percent for overnight mail to 78 percent for three-to-five-day deliveries last fall and winter. It was also an 11 percentage point improvement from its delivery of election mail during the 2018 midterms.

A USPS OIG report chalks up the agency's success to "high-cost efforts such as extra transportation and overtime to improve delivery performance." But the prioritization of ballots meant other types of mail ended up delayed, sometimes severely.

Late Edition

One byproduct of the lawsuit against DeJoy's overhaul of USPS' operations was a court order requiring the agency to release granular weekly data on its record delivering first-class mail on time. That data painted a bleak picture.

The Postal Service had given itself a performance goal of delivering about 95 percent of first-class mail to its destination on time in fiscal year 2020. Beginning in July, it had started to fall short of that goal, according to The New York Times' parsing of USPS data. By December, only about a third of first-class mail was arriving on time on much of the East Coast.

A USPS quarterly performance report covering October through December 2020 found that on-time rates for package service were 80 percent, well below the agency's 90 percent on-time goal for packages in fiscal year 2020. (Yearly performance targets for fiscal year 2021 have yet to be established.)

Faring even worse were periodicals. Their on-time performance dipped to 69 percent in the first quarter of fiscal year 2021, down 16 percentage points from last fiscal year and a solid 21 percentage points below last year's on-time goal.

These national numbers mask a lot of regional variation. The post office in Seattle was able to get 82.29 percent of periodicals to their destinations on time during the week of December 26. The Western New York District managed an on-time rate of 1.63 percent that same week.

One printer tells Reason that 30 percent of its customers reported delayed deliveries of at least 10 days, and some had their materials arrive as much as 80 days late. Barcodes that were supposed to let the printer track orders routinely went unscanned, and inquiries to the USPS about missing shipments only returned boilerplate apologies about how the postal service was "experiencing delays."

Weekly papers, in particular, make heavy use of the mail given the difficulties of keeping a dedicated delivery team around for just one day a week, says Brett Wesner of Wesner Publications, a publisher of 12 small-circulation weekly newspapers in Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico. The years leading up to the pandemic had already seen service standards decline for out-of-state and out-of-county deliveries, he says. The pandemic was disastrous across the board. Papers that were supposed to arrive in November 2020 didn't show up until April in some cases. Other times, subscribers wouldn't receive papers for several weeks in a row and then have them all show up at once.

Murray, the greeting card maker, was able to cope with worsening delivery times by giving customers longer delivery dates for their orders. No such option exists for mailed periodicals that are supposed to reach customers on a regular date.

Delayed newspaper delivery also caused problems with advertisers, which include local governments publishing required public notices and event promoters, says Wesner, who also chairs the board of the National Newspaper Association. "In some circumstances, papers got delivered after the event that was being advertised, so obviously these advertisers were not interested in paying for advertising after the event," he says.

His company heavily relies on rural post offices, which were even more acutely affected by USPS staffing issues than were other locations. When employees at these branches had to "quarantine, or someone got COVID," Wesner says, "they didn't have 50 people to rely on. At one post office, we actually had the janitor running the front desk, because she was the only one with a key to the front office."

Reason itself saw a significant uptick in subscriber complaints about delayed or undelivered issues, with some people reporting bundles of magazines addressed to several other subscribers arriving at their doors.

Back to the Black?

The new year has eased the immediate crisis. As of early March, the weekly on-time rate for first-class mail had reached 84 percent, up from a weekly low of 62 percent during the Christmas season last year. But nothing has been done to resolve the USPS' longer-running issues.

Those include chronic deficits, a growing number of packages entering a system financially and logistically designed to handle traditional paper mail, and mounting unfunded retiree and health care benefits.

In March, DeJoy released a 10-year plan designed to put the agency in the black by 2024 through a mix of service cuts, rate hikes, and shifting of employee compensation costs from the USPS' balance sheet onto taxpayers. (He also wants to open more package sorting annexes and to revamp the agency's vehicle fleet to handle more parcels.)

Under the plan, the Postal Service would have mail sent cross-country on USPS-owned trucks instead of privately owned planes. That would save the agency money but lengthen delivery times.

At the same time, the plan calls for raising postage rates. In 2006, the last year the postal service made a profit, sending a letter cost 39 cents. Prices have ticked up almost every year since, including a 10 percent jump from 50 to 55 cents in 2019 (the largest price increase since 1991).

The postmaster general has thus far declined to say exactly how much he wants to raise rates this time around. His 10-year plan says the agency can claim $24 billion more in revenue from expanded package delivery, the introduction of new products, and "price changes." Industry officials interviewed by The Washington Post predicted rate hikes of up to 9 percent.

The USPS has about $120 billion in unfunded retiree benefit obligations, including $50 billion in unfunded pension obligations and $70 billion in retiree health care benefits. Now the postmaster general is asking Congress to end the requirement that USPS "pre-fund" its pension and health benefits (meaning it saves current revenue to cover future retirees' costs) and to start requiring retired postal workers to enroll in Medicare. Currently, they can choose to keep the private health coverage they had while employed by the USPS.

If the USPS stops putting money down today to cover tomorrow's retiree benefits, there are obvious risks for both postal workers, whose pensions would be less secure, and taxpayers, who could be called on to cover the costs of these unfunded obligations whenever the bill comes due.

The plan has landed with a thud for big senders of traditional flat mail. "I have not seen a business model like his, that promises worse service for higher prices, succeed," says Wesner.

USPS' plan to shift its emphasis to parcel service also concerns Kosar. "Do we really want the Postal Service to compete increasingly with the private sector?" he asks. "We do have private companies that deliver parcels—lots of them."

Dreams of Laissez Faire

Falling volumes of first-class mail and a growing package delivery market that's already well-served by the private sector might lead some to ask whether we need a government-run postal service at all. Going back at least to the 19th century, the agency's poor execution of its core mission has provoked complaints from customers for its slow service and high prices. Libertarians, too, have been at work on this issue for as long as we've been around.

The individualist anarchist Lysander Spooner, one of the earliest and most loquacious critics of a publicly run postal service, sought to set things right with his 1844 founding of a private postal competitor, the American Letter Mail Co. The U.S. government, none too thrilled with the downward pressure the company put on its monopoly prices, shut him down in 1851.

The company's spirit nevertheless lives on in private package delivery services like FedEx and UPS, whose on-time rates were head-and-shoulders above USPS during the worst of the pandemic. (Part of the reason for this is that private carriers can hand off their hardest-to-deliver parcels to the USPS, which is legally required to serve every part of the country, even when it's nowhere close to cost-effective to do so.)

Reason has been dreaming of a laissez faire postal system since its inception. A 1988 issue of the magazine explored how, and how quickly, we could turn the bloated, subsidized agency over to the free market before the fax machine destroyed it entirely. By 2009, Reason even suggested selling the USPS to Netflix, which could use its expertise shipping DVDs to customers' doorsteps to cut down on persistent postal delays.

The unprecedented circumstances of the last year have exacerbated many of the post office's problems. But Kosar says there's still a lot of traditional mail that needs to be sent, from ballots to jury summons. And some rural parts of the country, he argues, are just not going to be adequately covered by a private company that has to turn a profit.

Voters themselves aren't in a hurry to get rid of the agency, either. A survey by the USPS OIG found that 91 percent of respondents had a positive view of the Postal Service in 2020, an increase from previous years. The explicit inclusion of mail delivery in the U.S. Constitution, meanwhile, makes complete elimination even more difficult than it would be for other federal agencies (which history suggests are also not particularly easy to eliminate).

All of which means that most any vision for reform is likely to run into serious challenges. An overhaul intended to prioritize handling more packages would risk alienating the large customers most invested in the USPS' flat mail services. Focusing on ever-declining paper mail would make the agency both less relevant to the public and more dependent on public subsidies. A host of countries not known for radical free market experiments, including the U.K., Germany, and the Netherlands, have either privatized their postal services or opened them up to private competition. But polling suggests trying something similar in the U.S. would be politically difficult.

Kosar argues it's time for a rethinking of what we actually want from a government-run postal service. "We need to have a public conversation to get clear on what that would be," he says. "We have to estimate the cost, and we have to figure out how to pay for it."

But no matter which direction the Postal Service goes from here, the vision of an agency that provides a valuable service while sustaining itself without taxpayer subsidies appears doomed.

For more on the Postal Service, see "Postal Censorship and Surveillance: A Timeline" by Jesse Walker; "The USPS' Semi-Secret Internet Surveillance Apparatus" by Elizabeth Nolan Brown; and "The Post Office Pension Ponzi Scheme" by Eric Boehm.

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  1. Well Ya; but you’re missing the ‘Big Picture’… As long as [WE] mobs control the USPS I get to charge 99% of my Chinese import shipping costs to ‘those’ people to get fraudulent IP knock offs at 10% of the actual price. It’s funner (and ‘the same’) than buying car parts from nightly junk-yard robbers.

    Crony Socialism strikes AGAIN!
    It’s so Crony; I can import clear across the ocean from china CHEAPER than sending a letter to my neighbor.

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  2. I know the existence of a US Postal System that allows anyone – even unwashed, smelly poor people who can afford a stamp – to use and send mail in this country absolutely steams Libertarians. They just let anyone use it!! Even poor people!!!!

    Sending mail, like insulin, food, and shelter, needs to be entirely dependent on how much money you have. That is truly a better system

    1. The Scarecrow would like to borrow some of that straw you have.

      1. Tell him the straw is mixed with bull shit.

        1. Pretty sure the ratio is reversed.

    2. It’s called free enterprise. It rewards those who provide better service at a better price. If you don’t need speed, you can pay less (see UPS Ground).

      The Post Office mainly delivers junk mail I don’t want. There’s no real need for it anymore. You can send money and greeting cards and family updates and pay bills online.

    3. So you’re the one who used my city’s 24/7 Post Office as a public toilet and homeless shelter and made them start closing a 5 PM.

    4. Are you kidding? I wouldn’t let the USPS send medicine, food, or anything else important to me. They’re too messed up, and that DeJoy has made an already-rotten situation a hell of a lot worse.

  3. “Do we really want the Postal Service to compete increasingly with the private sector?” he asks. “We do have private companies that deliver parcels—lots of them.”

    Oh, you know the answer to that – of course we do! See, without the profit motive, the post office can be much cheaper and more efficient than the private sector just like every other government operation!

    1. It’s not cheaper; the bill just moved from the stamp to the income tax bill.

  4. “In the end, worries that Trump would sabotage the election via the mail proved overblown.”
    It was the democrats that did it.

    Back ‘on topic’: “The explicit inclusion of mail delivery in the U.S. Constitution, meanwhile, makes complete elimination even more difficult than it would be for other federal agencies”
    Minor detail; the US Constitution does NOT include mail delivery. It MAY create “post roads”, it says nothing about those roads being exclusively for government employee union members. Other than that, another reason article about a non-Trump topic full of outdated Trump hate.

    1. “the US Constitution does NOT include mail delivery.”

      Correct. Example number #2,564,321 why, rather than spending limited time indoctrinating students with Marxism, maybe public schools could teach what is actually in our founding documents.

      BTW Congressional Franking is statutory. The money to cover the cost of those auto stamped signatures could go to any common carrier as easily as it goes to the USPS.

  5. How’s about they triple the price of sending advertisements?
    I get maybe… MAYBE 10 pieces of personal mail per year. Most days it’s 5-10 advertisements that go immediately to the recycle bin.
    Have a separate rate for government mandated commercial mail; like bank, investment and tax info.
    Another for bills.
    Also, stop paying them motherfuckers so much! It was one thing when they had to walk, but them days are over. And do away with the retarded testing regime.

    1. “It was one thing when they had to walk, but them days are over.”

      They still do a lot of walking in some places. Not every city has curb mounted mailboxes. I have a friend who is a postal worker, she walks about a marathon and a half per day.

      1. The mail carriers in my zip code walk door to door. They park the postal mini-van at the end of the block, hit the houses on one side, cross the street, and then hit the other on the way back to the van.

        Pull forward a block, rinse, repeat.

        But the marathon and a half claim doesn’t make sense. Given that the average walking pace is approximately 2 mph, and that a marathon is 26.2 miles, 1.5 marathons is almost 40 miles. Given that your friend should at least stop occasionally during her daily walks, at every address, it would take at least 24 hours for her to walk 40 miles.

        A marathon and a half per week would be believable.

        1. Perhaps I have misremembered. It’s been a while since we talked about it.

        2. A leisurely stroll is 2mph. A purposeful walk is 4 mph

          1. “A purposeful walk is 4 mph”

            For an average adult male that is a brisk pace. For adult humans the range is more like 3 mph but somewhere less than 4 mph.

            Once you break the 15 minute mile you are generally in into some sort of speed walking

        3. In 1778, after being captured by Indigenous people, Daniel Boone escaped and covered 160 miles in 5 days (1.22 marathons per day for five days in a row), then fought a 10-day siege defending Boonesborough. He was America’s first great endurance athlete.

        4. I gave her a call. According to her pedometer, she clocks an average of 25 miles a day on foot. So only 0.95 marathons per day. Says her typical shift is 12 hours long. So I misremembered. But it’s still a fuck ton of walking.

          1. And that’s probably all on pavement. Hope she buys quality shoes.

      2. You are a moron. It would take 24+ hours for someone to walk 40 miles and deliver mail. I’m sure friend is not an elite athlete.

        1. Aww, you’re so sweet.

    2. USPS is not going to kill the golden goose. Junk mail keeps USPS alive. If they discourage junk mailers by increasing delivery cost the junk mail will dwindle and USPS will be in a pickle.

      The biggest problem the USPS faces is being forced to fund pensions for postal employees that are not even born yet.

      USPS pay has been doing down steadily. When I applied for a job 7 years ago the gig played just under $20 per hour. I had to reapply because they dropped the pay to just about $15 per hour. The next job posting after I got in dropped a bit further. It was a brief 18 months working for USPS but I could see how ass backwards it was. Management was all failed carriers that were terrible at their jobs and failed upwards.

      1. “The biggest problem the USPS faces is being forced to fund pensions for postal employees that are not even born yet.”

        Bullshit.
        Funding pensions rather than hiding those future costs is the only honest way to run an organization.

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  7. They also reflected a long-running trend of USPS consolidating its mailboxes and facilities to reflect falling volumes of paper mail.

    Oh bullshit. That long-running trend has been happening for over 100 years. Long before mail volumes started dropping because it doesn’t have shit to do with mail volumes and whoever is Britchsgi’s puppeteer knows it.

    It started because postal delivery directly conflicts with the need for distributed postal facilities. The latter is directly constitutional. The former is a combo of 1893 legislation – Rural Free Delivery Act and the previous ‘perks of the spoils system’ for urban postmasters. The more stuff gets delivered to homes, the fewer post offices you need and the more geographically concentrated they can be.

    And turns out that lends itself to nice little land scams by noted libertarians such as Dianne Feinsteins husband. Justified by the clapping seals and three-card monte con men of donor-class ‘libertarians’. Esp post 1970 and 2006.

    FFS at least make a fucking effort to try to understand land you tools.

    1. Between the spinning and arm-waving, don’t you get dizzy and tired?

    2. FFS at least try to be coherent and make claims that withstand the smell test. It’s hard to figure out what you’re even saying. I’m guessing you say last mile distribution aids in centralization, presumably because you don’t need a post office in every zip code to handle PO Boxes but can have huge buildings and parking lots full of delivery vehicles. But that ignores window services, and while grocery stores around here are always asking me if I want to buy stamps, I’ve never seen anyone take them up. Then there are people who send packages by USPS — they have to use the window service because last mile carriers don’t have scales and can’t very well walk their route lugging packages to send.

      1. “…It’s hard to figure out what you’re even saying…”
        Pretty certain that’s true of him, also:
        “…FFS at least make a fucking effort to try to understand land you tools.”
        Drunk or just an idiot?

      2. Then there are people who send packages by USPS — they have to use the window service because last mile carriers don’t have scales and can’t very well walk their route lugging packages to send.

        Golly gee. So the private sector has NOT solved the last-mile problem have they. They’ve solved half the problem (the last-mile), abandoned the other half of the problem (the first-mile), thrown the shit work over to gummint, and given money to Reason/ilk to flimflam everyone into how great the markets work if only we can sell off all the post offices for 10c on the dollar to fund pensions for the delivery people.

        Good thing people have been a bit skeptical about this and haven’t sold all the post offices yet to turn govt into a tenant farmer to feudal landlords. Because let me restate that ‘package’ problem – it only fucking works from a central location (like say a warehouse or a post office) to a residence or vice versa. It doesn’t work from a residence to a residence.

        Of course we’ve known that for 250 years. We’ve also known that govt is not very good at doing operations. It is however quite good at setting up post offices everywhere and getting stuff delivered to/from them – for the price of a postage stamp. And for the first 50 years – didn’t even have postage stamps. Central location to central location. And by ‘we’ I mean every single person back then who wanted to be appointed postmaster of PoDunk, MyState in order to make money at that job. So how do YOU think they made money?

        1. Golly gee. When was the last time you shipped something by UPS or FedEx? Probably about the last time you learned to close your italics.

        2. “…Then there are people who send packages by USPS — they have to use the window service because last mile carriers don’t have scales and can’t very well walk their route lugging packages to send.
          Golly gee. So the private sector has NOT solved the last-mile problem have they. They’ve solved half the problem (the last-mile), abandoned the other half of the problem (the first-mile), thrown the shit work over to gummint, and given money to Reason/ilk to flimflam everyone into how great the markets work if only we can sell off all the post offices for 10c on the dollar to fund pensions for the delivery people…”

          Do you EVER post anything which doesn’t require belief in your fantasies? Or do you ever post other than lies, you pathetic piece of lefty shit? I’m doubtful you ever post when you aren’t legally drunk, asshole.
          My company is contracted to UPS and to a lesser degree with DHL. Not a SINGLE one of our deliveries (other than the few products which will fit in the USPS-defined envelopes) goes out otherwise, and with very few exceptions, every one got there on time.
          Stuff it up your ass along with your mask and PANIC flag, you cowardly piece of lefty shit.

        3. Are you kidding? I will not send important stuff via USPS, and I haven’t done so for years, because USPS is so screwed up that it’s not even funny! If I have to send really important stuff, I use Federal Express, instead. They’re a hell of a lot more reliable and quicker than the Post Office.

    3. That word salad makes no sense. And, yes, paper mail volume has fallen sharply per capita. Any idiot can see that.

  8. “Part of the reason for this is that private carriers can hand off their hardest-to-deliver parcels to the USPS, which is legally required to serve every part of the country, even when it’s nowhere close to cost-effective to do so.”

    Does the USPS get to charge the private carriers for that? Letting FedEx claim they can deliver a package to the middle of a medium size city as well as the sticks for the same price seems unreasonable if they’re only able to do it because they get subsidized for the deliveries they can’t actually make for that price.

    Maybe the USPS should get out of the package business except for those packages, and charge enough money from the private carriers to make it worthwhile? Sure, FedEx might have to charge a different price based on the delivery location, but that makes sense. Certainly, “difficulty of pickup and delivery” are relevant factors in the pricing of a tractor trailer load.

    1. It isn’t that they hand off deliveries but that they don’t take excessively remote deliveries to begin with.

        1. Or possibly still are at some level. The post wasn’t actually all that clear on if they’d completely stopped.

    2. Hell….if I have to send package and other important stuff, I’ll use Federal Express rather than USPS.

  9. The USPS has been so bad as of late that it should be renamed the Tony Express.

    1. The Tony Express refuses to stick it in a box… well maybe a malebox.

      1. The Tony Express does not have stamps and therefore does not support, “Lick it before you stick it.”

      2. Only delivers to the back door.

  10. Criticizing the P.O. is low-hanging fruit for what amounts to a “journalist” these days. It’s also easy to put down healthcare and the airlines with emotional screeds about isolated incidents.

    1. If something is low-hanging fruit for the low-hanging fruit of nournalism, that is a pretty good measure of how terrible postal service, healthcare, and airlines really are. You forgot Gummint Skoolz too.

  11. One question: how often do USPS employees get fired?

    1. Whenever the local news needs the ratings boost of a mass shooting

  12. The takeaway from this is the amoral billionaires running social media sites got away with letting lies fester during 2020 if it impacted the GOP negatively, and then squashed anything after the election once they got their senile puppet elected.

    Arrest their executives and try them for treason.

    1. Exactly

    2. This. I don’t care if you’re “muh private cumpanny”. If you deliberately and effectively suppress news organizations reporting on legitimate accusations of a party’s malfeasance, and suppressing your customers ability to discuss it, you’re conspiring to defraud the electorate.

      1. Then every media outlet would be subject to your punishment. Here is a thought: stop using propaganda apps like Facebook and Twitter.

        1. A newspaper and a social media platform aren’t the same thing, and it’s time to quit pretending that they are. The platforms are more akin to a postal or telephone system than anything else. When was the last time Twitter published an article, or Facebook covered a story?

          1. I have no idea. I don’t use that prog garbage. I don’t know why others do.

            1. Because they’re useful.
              If Soros owned Ma Bell in the 70’s and was monitoring conversations for conservative sentiment, it wouldn’t deminish the inherent usefulness of the telephone.

              1. They seem like time wasters. And there is what the companies/their CEOs do.

                “I wish I would have been on Facebook more.” – said nobody on their deathbed

                1. It a little bit of both. They *are* useful, for certain things. Communication and discussion with large groups of people.

                  They’re also in the business of showing you ads and selling your data, so they’re designed to be addictive which leads to them wasting a lot of people’s time so you see more ads and generate more data.

                  But I’m definitely a much happier person and get a lot more done now that I don’t have a Facebook account.

      2. Fuck off.

        1. No, you fuck off, you fat, trolling twat. Go suck authoritarian cock on Huffpo, you shitposting hack wannabe.

        2. How rude! Why would you just come on the internet and say that to a stranger?!

        3. Stuff it up your ass

  13. The Pony Express was faster. In 1860.
    “California’s newspapers received word of Lincoln’s election only 7 days and 17 hours after the East Coast papers, an unrivaled feat at the time.”

    FedEx has gotten slower during the pandemic too, but at least they can tell you where your package is and when it will be delivered.

    1. That is a fact! Every time Amazon says “shipped by USPS”, I wince, knowing I have no idea when to show up at the post office to get it. They don’t predict when it will arrive, they don’t report when it has arrived, and half the time, it takes them several weeks to report I have picked it up, and meanwhile, Amazon is telling me and the seller how to ask for a refund for non-delivery.

      1. “Every time Amazon says “shipped by USPS”, I wince, knowing I have no idea when to show up at the post office to get it. ”

        If it is something that will fit in the mailbox it is usually on time.

        Anything that needs to be left door side I either need to go to the Post Office the day after delivery has been ‘confirmed’ or wait and they will eventually bring it on the subsequent weekend.

        I would mind less if these things were simply stated upfront instead of the seller and USPS playing lie-to-me with each other.

      2. My daughter frequently has Walmart ship things to my house. USPS tracking typically shows it was delivered 24 hours _before_ it’s actually delivered. And they drop it in my driveway, not up to the house.

    2. They probably lost employees who went to other jobs like work at home or delivery jobs like door dash.

    3. My vote for Gary Johnson came back after the Electoral College voted in the Nixon-law subsidized fascist candidate. The explanation was there is a secret deadline, so three weeks early ain’t good enough. Anyone wanting to vote absentee for a Libertarian needs to get that ballot from the consulate during looter party primaries and photograph the mail receipt.

      1. You voted for Gary Johnson? The ‘libertarian’s’ Nixon?

        1. twice! chicago style

  14. Sell the USPS. Fed Ex or UPS could easily turn a profit.

    1. Not by delivering first class mail everywhere for 56 cents. Fed Ex and UPS do great with premium services, but can’t deliver anything for under about $3, no matter how slowly. OTOH, they’ve always been forbidden by law from competing with the post office on first class and other regular-speed flat mail…

  15. The whole “vote by mail created a huge backlog” is a stupid myth, too, Britches.

    All the ballots cast by mail in total over a 3-4 week period represented less than 20% of the average daily volume of 460milkion. So voting by mail added less than 1% to daily volume

  16. Government’s only competency is in incompetency, and government’s only efficiency is in inefficiency.

    Privatize the mail.

    1. Privatize the mail, eh? That’s EXACTLY what Donald Trump wanted to do, which is why he put DeJoy in charge. That’s partly why the USPS is in such rotten shape right now. The USPS has been in bad shape for years, but that DeJoy has made an already-lousy situation a hell of a lot worse.

  17. The Republican and Prohibition parties joined forces to appoint a mystical bigot named Comstock mail czar. The guy immediately got Congress to vote censorship so that a mother advising a daughter in writing abt the rhythm method could get ten years on a chain gang. Pictures of naked ankles went straight to the bonfire, ditto “disloyal” stuff mailed by angry opponents of the Morrill protective tariff. There is profit in a monopoly burning rather than delivering the mail. Search “Republicans Banned ALL Birth Control”

    1. “named Comstock mail czar”

      Was that his given name, or more like a nickname?

    2. But where is the Corn Laws mention?

      1. Well, with the Corn Laws, I’m sure the Irish couldn’t get grains by mail either, so there’s that.

  18. My sister mailed me a replacement driver’s license for one that I’d lost/been stolen. Shipped from Houston to a small town just north of Cincinnati. This was November of 2020. It took so long to be delivered (3 months) that I had returned to Houston and gone in person to the DMV for a new, new replacement.

    1. Sounds legit. And by legit I mean an interesting way to obtain 3 copies of an ID.

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  20. The Post Office never had a chance. Congress, not the Post Office sets it’s rates. The Republicans wanted it privatized and set the rates low to kill it. It is working. The rates are so low UPS, Fed Ex and Amazon all ship through the Post Office if it is not urgent delivery.

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  23. eliminate the government funded pensions. the public sector abandoned this a long time ago as they are not sustainable over the long haul. move to an employee funded 401k system like everyone else.

  24. One thing I will never forget or forgive about the U.S. Post Office is that, when I moved to a new home 30 years ago, I had no mailbox, so I went to the Post Office to get precise instructions on how to put in a mailbox.

    After getting them, my Step-Uncle and I went to all the trouble of boring through rock-filled and concrete-filled ground manually with post-hole diggers when the job really needed a steam-powered jack-hammer. After that, we poured in concrete and set the base pole with an antique air-bubble level, then waited for days for the concrete to harden and cure.

    When it dried, I set the pole and the mailbox in the base pole and thought everything was all right until I didn’t get regular mail for a week. I went to the Post Office to find out what the problem was.

    They informed me that because my neighbor’s wooden post fence jutted out 3 feet from my mailbox, delivering my mail would require the Postal Worker to get out of the Post Office Jeep to reach 3 feet to the mailbox and would require the Postal Worker to back up the Jeep, all of which were prohibited by U.S. Post Office Regulations.

    And my neighborhood was peaceful and had no dangerous animals roaming around, so there was no reason why a Postal Worker couldn’t have safely got out of the Jeep to insert my mail into the box. All of that work to put in a mailbox only to be reciprocated with red tape and laziness!

    I had to get a Post Office Box at the local office, which, although better from a stance of privacy and safety, was an added expense for which I didn’t ask. And the exense only went up with each passing rate increase. To this day, the name U.S. Post Office is one that sticks in my crawl! The faster they sell off their assets and make their service private and competitive, the better!

  25. dear post office runners, i am a frequent and happy user of first class mail for letters and parcels and can assure you that you run that place in THE most inefficient way imaginable. let me fix it for you in one paragraph…

    stop going to every door every day. the crap i get can EASILY be digested with a monday wednesday friday route. you can do the next ‘hood over on tuesday thursday saturday. after a few years you’ll have retirements, terminations, folks that quit and can do the job with about half the folks and half the trucks. no need to fire anyone or fire sale existing trucks. for those claiming they need everyday delivery simply give those folks a p.o. box and a promise that their critical crap will be in their box by 10a.m. daily so THEY can get it early. you’re welcome

    1. I agree. I’d be happy with 2 days a week delivery, because anything that can’t wait a few extra days to be delivered shouldn’t be going by USPS. They’re too unreliable.

      I’ve had 2-day-delivery-guaranteed mail coming to my job by USPS get lost for a week, no explanations. We got a refund of the postage eventually, but that was like $10 worth of work filling out forms to get $5 refunded – and there was not going to be any repayment for the thousands of dollars of business loss due to the delay.

      I’ve also had first-class mail go missing and reappear six months later. OTOH, I think the most recent time mail was outdated by the time it arrived wasn’t the Post Office’s fault. This was a letter from President Biden’s office saying that I was about to receive a $1400 per person stimulus payment. This was confusing, since it was a month after the direct deposit appeared in my bank account. Was there another round of payments coming? No, the date in the letter header was from well before the payment.

      As far as I could tell, it took six weeks from setting up a word-processing program to write the letters for this one to be mailed. Did they let Slow Joe handle this personally?

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