The U.S. Postal Service reports that it plans to eliminate 35,000 jobs this summer, while closing or consolidating 223 mail processing plants.
In the last quarter of 2011, the Postal Service lost $3.3 billion. That sounds like justification to cut back. But it’s not. MOST of that was from retirement and healthcare benefits owed to future retirees. The USPS claims it will lose $18 billion in 2015 if nothing is done. And averting such a loss is only prudent. The means of doing so, however, is vastly flawed. There’s no need to add 35,000 people to the unemployment lines.
The price of sending a 1st Class letter is by far the best bargain in the country, if not the world. Raising the price by 10 cents is a substantial percentage increase in revenues, and STILL a huge bargain. The post office has been systematically increasing fees on everything else BUT that service, which only serves to aggravate the consumer when he arrives to find that the up-charges and insurance are more than the postage itself.
The USPS is in dire need of a restructuring, a rethinking of the ways in which they charge. The model they’ve been operating under was one of monopoly. With other carriers taking packages, (and responsibility for whether those packages arrive or not) they need to be more than competitive. Stop nickel-and-diming me about electronic proof of delivery. Stop charging me EXTRA to insure that you deliver my package as you were paid to do in the first place. Charge a fair price for a comparable product, and then all the mail can go to sixty cents per envelope without any sincere objections. DO step UP staffing. The long lines have to go. With that increase, you should have plenty of money with which to pay POLITE counter staff.
I’m told that there is some sort of law that Congress enacted, limiting their rate increases to some statistic. What Congress enacts, it ca revise… and if it can dump billions into banks and auto manufacturers, it can take a few hours to figure out how to keep the venerable post office alive through this 21st century.
Yes, emails and the Internet have cut into the use of the post office, but they have far from replaced it. Decrease in demand does not necessarily decrease relative income. This is not complicated. Only a bureaucrat could fail to understand how to make it functional again.
Some ask if we should save the post office. From this perspective, we don’t need to bail them out to save the institution. We simply need to be more flexible in our control of its rates.
The plan to consolidate outlines consolidation in many rural communities. That’s the LAST place to close, as those are the communities that most need the service and, very frequently, get the least amount of service for their money. My cabin in S. California does not offer to-the-house delivery. I have to drive 2.4 miles to the mailbox cluster. If there’s a package, I have to drive 15 miles to the station to pick it up. Consolidation would double that… or we could just raise the cost of an envelope by a few cents.
Another area that could stand improvement is that of bulk mailings. They are hard on the environment, spam mailboxes with things that few people need or want, and are provided at such a discounted rate that it’s worthwhile for companies to send that spam (and then charge the customers that much more for having done so.) Charge the same rate for one such mailing as an envelope. The wasted workload will decrease as revenues for worthwhile mailings increase, and the amount of trash and cut trees, toxicity from ink and paper mills will all be reduced as well. In this electronic age, it’s a no-brainer, really.
Some supposedly brilliant minds have been at work on this problem… and cutting jobs and consolidating facilities is the best they could come up with? Fire them and hire me. They’d save millions right off the bat! These methods didn’t take months or years to develop. A few days of random pondering, and less than 30 minutes to pull them all together. Surely the best and brightest minds of our nation can do better than that?