Thursday, February 7, 2013

How This Will End

Wednesday's announcement that the US Postal Service will discontinue Saturday delivery in August is just another step for a lumbering dinosaur into the tar pits of oblivion.  It is inevitable that the USPS will collapse under the weight of its pension obligations, infrastructure costs and general lack of interest in its service--forcing it cut delivery days to perhaps only four days or an every-other-day schedule--before finally becoming what it should be: a subscription or an on-demand service only.

But unlike the real dinosaurs, the Postal Service is unionized--and that means it has allies in halls of power that will do everything they can to preserve the current, over-bloated business model--no matter the cost to taxpayers.  However, they won't try to sell it to us a "pension, benefits and political spoils preservation effort"--they know that wouldn't fly with voters.  Instead, they will use the same arguments that have been used to successfully expand other government programs in recent years.

"Doing away with the mail will cost tens of thousands of jobs".  This is why we still have so many lighthouse-tenders, telegraph operators, blacksmiths, caboose attendants, lamplighters, trolleymen, and milkmen--because we just "couldn't afford to lose those jobs"--even if technology made them absolutely unneccesary.  Of course, most of those jobs were private-sector--and we know businessmen don't know how to do anything right.

"Doing away with the mail will unfairly impact the poor and the elderly".  Twenty percent of American households do not have internet access.  And yes, those people would be impacted the most by a reduced postal service.  But if you only need to serve one in five houses in every neighborhood only a couple of times a week, why would you keep in place the manpower and infrastructure to serve every house, every day? 

"Doing away with the mail will deny people their right to information".  This argument is also being used to justify public wi-fi access for inner cities and rural areas not currently served by broadband providers as well.  The "Right to Access to Information" is clearly spelled out in amendment--yeah, that's the ticket. 

"Doing away with the mail will just drive up the cost of sending anything through the USPS competitors."  I'd buy that argument, if USPS was actually competitive in price with its competition.  Did you know, that when you send something overnight or priority through the mail, that it travels in the same airplanes that FedEx ships their customer's packages and envelopes?  Any difference in price is then "eaten" by USPS and made up for in regular postage.  Plus, if it cost more to send something through the competition don't you think we would get a lot less junk mail and political advertisements?

Should the previous arguments fail, the postal union sympathizers could also take the ObamaCare approach--and force those not using the service to still pick up the cost.  How does an "Email Tax" sound?  or perhaps a "PDF Attachment Surcharge"?  Or a "Tablet Reader Magazine Subscription Fee"?  It's the fault of those of us who have chosen the faster and more expedient technologies to handle much of the business that used to go through the mail--so its "only fair" that we subsidize those who don't.

We all know what fate awaits the Postal Service--it's just too bad there are some who want to make it as long and as expensive as possible to get there.

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