Hope, But No Change

Perhaps I’m alone, but today when Drudge had a headline that the president had said, “UPS and Fedex Are Doing Just Fine: It’s the Post Office that’s always having problems,” I briefly hoped that the president, to show that he wasn’t wholly against the free market, was going to come out for privatizing the Postal Service.

Then I found out that Obama was somehow using that as an argument for government-run health insurance (which makes no sense whatsoever). I can’t say I was surprised when I found out. Just disappointed. Even reactionaries like me aren’t completely immune from hope.

6 thoughts on “Hope, But No Change

  1. FormerSwingVoter

    I’m sure this is just part of the ideological divide, but I’m not sure what the problem is with the post office. If something is deficit-neutral and provides a service that people use, what’s the downside?

  2. bigglespilot

    A $7 billion annual loss in 2009 is deficit neutral?

    By allowing the PO to continue with all the protection it and its employees receive, the multiple misallocation of resources in the economy continues.
    That’s the downside.

  3. Independent George

    It’s not just a matter of the USPS’s deficit/subsidy. When was the last time you mailed a letter? Or received something that wasn’t a bill, a magazine, or junk?

    As with many things in life, Kramer was a visionary.

  4. FormerSwingVoter

    Facts are stubborn things. Despite the common misconception, the USPS hasn’t received taxpayer money since 1982.

    Of course, if you’re concerned about a suboptimal allocation of resources, I think removing the ban on private letter delivery is the way to go. Privatizing or disbanding the Post Office before doing that would be putting the cart before the horse, so to speak.

  5. Apollo Post author

    Back when I lived in a small town, I never understood the griping about the Post Office – there were no lines, and I knew the people who worked there, so they were friendly. Since I’ve been living in big cities, though, that’s all changed. The Post Office for my home zip code now has a permanent line about 40 minutes long. Every time I’m having to stand in it, I try to think of a privately run enterprise where that sort of customer service would be acceptable.

    Also: their prices for shipping packages have gotten quite high lately; packages I receive from them are frequently damages; and I really, really resent not being able to trade in old stamps for new ones.

    I would not do business with a company that treated me as badly as the USPS does. I kinda resent before forced to deal with them because of a government enforced monopoly.

  6. Tom

    I’ve had the same experience as Apollo regarding the USPS in small towns and in big cities; it’s clearly worse the bigger you go. Customer service is often mind-blowingly stupid. The PO here in Boston’s Back Bay has about six or seven cashier stations, no more than three of which are manned during at any given time. And few things rankle more than the obsession with closing exactly at 5:30 pm, no matter what.

    That said, I send letters and packages all the time, and am usually impressed by how quickly they arrive. I sell books and antiques on eBay, and the new system the USPS has created with PayPal is really awesome: you can create your own shipping label — with your name, the addressee’s name, and UPC stamp — to print from your computer and then just take it down to be mailed. You also get a slight discount on all packages, free delivery confirmation on all priority mail, and an option to email your addressee to let them know their package is in the mail and a link to the tracking number.

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