Thursday, September 08, 2011


When I order something and then find that it will be delivered courtesy of the U.S. Postal Service I’m not a happy boy. No problem if I happen to be home to take possession of the item on the first delivery attempt. But if I’m not here I receive a little beige card that tells me what I have to do to get my package.

UPS and FedEx will attempt to deliver three times before I am inconvenienced. Not the USPS. If I’m lucky I can get a call through and ask them to redeliver. Usually I have to make a trip to the post office, wait in line, then wait again while a person goes to fetch the item, and finally take possession of what should have been delivered to my front door.

Every year we’re told that the price of stamps is going up. More inconvenience. We’re left with old stamps that require an additional 1, 2 or 3 cents under the new rates. Not long ago they came out with Forever stamps, which are purchased at this year’s price and will also work next year when the price is more. That’s a good thing, but hardly a substitute for a system that is viable and efficient for more than a few months.

Also every year we’re told that the USPS is on the verge of bankruptcy. The story is always the same: Congress needs to appropriate more funds to subsidize this badly run business. Prices need to go up. Post offices need to be closed. The number of mail boxes at the corner need to be reduced. Mail delivery on Sat. needs to stop. And so on . . .

The other day I read that 80% of the cost of running the USPS is to cover labor expenses. At UPS that number is 53%. At FedEx it is 32%. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that there’s something wrong with this picture.

I’m not a ‘turn everything over to the private sector’ guy. However, when it comes to USPS I’m ready to make an exception.


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