Is rural mail delivery the real problem with the USPS budget?

posted at 1:01 pm on February 9, 2013 by Jazz Shaw

It’s Saturday, and I went out on the front porch this morning after shoveling out from Nemo and got the mail as usual. There was an advertisement trying to get me to switch homeowner’s insurance and a coupon flyer for the local grocery store. That sort of surprise waiting in the mailbox doesn’t exactly get me all up in arms over the Post Office’s idea to cancel Saturday mail delivery. Up until now, I’ve been assuming that the Post Office is simply an unprofitable enterprise and they may have to put trucks out on the road less often to reduce costs. I suppose I’ve been mostly in line with Jon Stewart’s rather cynical take on the subject.

I can’t believe the business model of transporting letters with vehicles across the country for forty cents a pop is failing. Sorry… where ya want me to take that? Hawaii? Yeah, no trouble. I’ll put it on a plane, get it there in two days. Uh… ya got a quarter?

But perhaps there’s more to the story than that. Doug Mataconis links to Matthew Yglesias who seems to feel that government subsidy of more expensive deliveries to rural areas is part of the rot at the heart of this business model. What was once a lucrative monopoly, according to this line of thinking, has been squeezed out of the profit margins.

But the monopoly has become less lucrative and that’s not going to change in the future. That’s squeezed the budget, squeezed postal workers’ compensation packages, and is now squeezing the quality of nationwide mail service. As a country, we need to ask ourselves whether providing subsidized mail delivery to low-density areas is really a key national priority. Without the monopoly/universal service obligation, it’s not as if rural dwellers wouldn’t be able to get mail, it’s just that they might need to pay more in recognition of the fact that it’s inconvenient to provide delivery services to low-density areas. Nostalgia-drenched Paul Harvey Super Bowl ads aside, it’s not the case that rural Americans are unusually hard-pressed economically or are disproportionate contributors to the economy. They are, rather, the beneficiaries of numerous explicit and implicit subsidies, of which the Postal Service’s universal service obligation is one.

Doug seems to agree:

Most of the complaints one hears about privatizing first class mail and ending the USPS monopoly on its delivery center around the issue of what is to be done about delivery to rural areas. The basic idea behind is that it shouldn’t cost rural customers, or those who want to correspond with them, more to send first-class mail than it does to send first-class mail from one major city or suburb to another. There’s no economic rationale for this kind of policy. Indeed, it exists nowhere else almost nowhere else in the delivery business right now. If you want to send a package via USPS, you are generally going to pay based on where you’re sending it to. UPS prices its delivery services in much the same manner. The only place you see “flat-rate” pricing is in things such as overnight mail, which is based on an entirely different kind of business model from regular package shipping and for which the customer is paying a premium for the convenience of next-day, or 2nd-day, delivery of something that would ordinarily take a few days longer.

I’m no package delivery expert here, but I’d always sort of assumed that the United States Post Office was pretty much designed with an untenable business model baked into the cake. It’s something which is mandated by the Constitution, thereby bringing the government into the mix, but it’s being expected to run at a profit while conforming to a business model which no sane, private business would ever consider. It costs more to drive a letter or package fifty miles out into the boonies than it does to simply get it to a commercial hub in a city or suburb with the bulk of the parcels. If you charge the same amount for all of the letters, somebody is getting more value for the same price point than everyone else, simple as that. I suppose you have to average all the deliveries together to come up with a flat price which keeps you in the black, but it’s got to be one hell of a lot more than fifty cents per letter.

With that in mind, it’s hard to see how eliminating Saturday delivery does much to address the real problem. You’re still running the same losing business model… you’re just losing money more slowly by doing it one less day per week. I’m still not entirely opposed to just having the Post Office jack up the rates far enough to make the service profitable. If it costs more to mail junk – particularly bulk advertising and such – people might think more carefully about what they are mailing, rather than flooding our boxes. Exceptions could be made for free or low cost postage for the mailing of payments to utilities or answering required government correspondence. But do you really think it’s reasonable to be able to send a letter from Virginia to Oregon in two days for four bits?


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Lol at all the worthless fraudulent so-called “conservatives” commenting. A bunch of reactionary pukes. Whining about government all the time, until it comes to a government service for “rural” dwellers. Then its an outrage that such service not be available to them. You even have guys like Mark1971 who are so deep into TEAM politics that they actually blatantly suggest supporting big-government subsidized anti-market postal policy simply because there are some on the other TEAM who might (for once) be right about the needless subsidy of greedy rural bumpkins who feel entitled to have trucks come out to their secluded ranch every day at the expense of them no good big city urbanites. Those urbanites are subisidizing farms more than enough as it is. And that dosn’t even take into account all the rural dwellers who are simply social-security sucking pensioner parasites and don’t even produce ANYTHING.

Rural dwelling is artifically attractive, Mark1971, because it is massively subsidized using taxpayer money. If you have any agreement with the statement: “taxation=theft” (and you should), then you need to realize that rural dwellers are inordinate beneficiaries of that theft. The USPS is not taxation, but the flat, non-market derived, government-mandated rates behave exactly the same way as to how they benefit the bumpkins.

Daikokuco on February 9, 2013 at 6:04 PM

I find it interesting that in one of the wealthiest enclaves in California (Rancho Santa Fe) there is no “home delivery” by the USPS, and every household MUST rent a P.O.Box at the one facility within the ZIP-code to receive their mail at (not to say that a lot of households don’t have the maid, cook, chauffeur or gardener collect the mail).
And, I am familiar with remote towns that also have no home delivery and use the same system.

Another Drew on February 9, 2013 at 2:56 PM

Yes. When we lived in Carmel-by-the-Sea, it was the same. No one got “home” delivery service, we had to secure and pay for a post office box in town.

In Canada, new subdivisions and ex-urban areas do not get individual mail delivery. Mail is delivered to boxes in a communal mail station, usually at the end of the road or at a major road hub.

YTZGal on February 9, 2013 at 6:05 PM

Unions and golden benefits plans, wholesale graft and corruption …pretty much began the destruction of the postal service back in the 1970′s.

Under Carter, seems the postal service became a giant vacuum cleaner sucking up all those who could not qualify for regular civil service jobs…and now that most have or are retiring, the few postal service regular employees remaining have to finance the retirement for thousands, if not millions, of former postal service employees.

They’ve been untouchable since…and try to fire a postal employee.

Been just a matter of time before it all caught up with itself since then.

It has/had one of the most lucrative (for the beneficiary) health and retirements plans out there for US government employees. Even members of other government agencies and departments tried to get Postal Service medical insurance plans whenever open season came around…paid for anything and everything with very little employee contribution.

And, figure this one out…the Postal Service employs about one-half-million employees and operates about one-quarter million vehicles. Are all of these vehicles being used economically? Probably not. Are over half of the postal service members out there driving around and not sorting mail? And, the postal service (on top of maintaining their own fleets) lease/rent/contract private companies at a cost higher than using a regular postal person to haul mail all over the place, and in rural areas, private vehicles deliver most of the mail…not those little white trucks/jeeps.

And, how many buildings does the postal service actually own and how many does it lease?

(When they closed the Chicago Post office (downtown) a number of years ago, the building sat empty for nearly a decade or so before being offered for sale…and it sold for fractions of a penny on the dollar when the sale finally was approved. Being Chicago, can we surmise that somebody got their palm nicely greased for that bargain of a real estate killing?)

And the postal service has private companies printing all the stamps, making all the envelopes and boxes (even off-shore companies, at that, from time to time) so as to “save” money once spent by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to produce collectible stamps (free money for the post office, really) and not these stickers we’ve had to deal with for more than a decade now. The guys who make those :Hi! My name is…” stickers also make those stamps you use to mail stuff.

All of them pretty crummy facsimiles of postage stamps…even foreign collectors shy away from them, driving the prices of older, engraved, stamps higher and higher each year.

So, what do they do?

Raise the postal rates, again and again.

Like raising taxes…it does not work if you do not cut excessive spending.

But…we, the People, have no say anymore.

The unions are running this show.

Maybe these quasi-private governmental outfits run by unions really need to be looked at more honestly and closer?

coldwarrior on February 9, 2013 at 6:13 PM

Those urbanites are subisidizing farms more than enough as it is. And that dosn’t even take into account all the rural dwellers who are simply social-security sucking pensioner parasites and don’t even produce ANYTHING.

Daikokuco on February 9, 2013 at 6:04 PM

The urbanites are subsidizing farms? Yes, there are inappropriate subsidies (borne by the entire country, not just urbanites), but I think what you really mean to say is “urbanites don’t have any clue they are paying those farmers for what they do because most of them think corn grows in that little steamer bag.”

As far as “pensioner parasites”, get your vote out to eliminate SS and Medicare and Medicaid. I’m with you there. I doubt there’s any disproportionate amount of them living in rural conditions, though.

Rural dwelling is artifically attractive, Mark1971, because it is massively subsidized using taxpayer money.

Daikokuco on February 9, 2013 at 6:04 PM

You’re going to have to prove that absurd statement.

GWB on February 9, 2013 at 6:21 PM

Daikokuco on February 9, 2013 at 6:04 PM

You’re an idiot.

And not too bright, either.

Solaratov on February 9, 2013 at 6:26 PM

Daikokuco on February 9, 2013 at 6:04 PM

this one must hate little things like food.

dmacleo on February 9, 2013 at 6:35 PM

If it were not for farmers, there’d be no urban dwellers. None.

coldwarrior on February 9, 2013 at 6:40 PM

If it were not for farmers, there’d be no urban dwellers. None.

coldwarrior on February 9, 2013 at 6:40 PM

dammit now I want a moratorium on farmers :)
just to help prove your point :)

dmacleo on February 9, 2013 at 6:43 PM

I just don’t interpet “power to establish…” as specifically a mandate and all that that word implies.

YTZGal on February 9, 2013 at 5:42 PM

I think the mandate is actually established by the word ‘shall’. If the Constitution had said ‘may’, establishing the Post Offices would have been optional. ‘Shall’ made it a mandate.

trigon on February 9, 2013 at 7:21 PM

If we are going to talk about not delivering to inconvenient places, perhaps we should talk about not delivering to Iraq, Afghanistan, Germany, England, Australia, …

unclesmrgol on February 9, 2013 at 7:21 PM

I suppose I’ve been mostly in line with Jon Stewart’s rather cynical take on the subject.

If that’s so, the majority of liberals should be lining up too — because that’s where most of them get their news.

unclesmrgol on February 9, 2013 at 7:22 PM

If you want to send a package via USPS, you are generally going to pay based on where you’re sending it to.

I don’t understand this sentence. It seems to nullify the point of the article.

As I understand it, postage price within the US is not based on location but the size/weight, speed of delivery and security to insure delivery.

My small town makes everyone pick up their mail at the Post Office.
Problem solved.

HellCat on February 9, 2013 at 7:40 PM

Daikokuco on February 9, 2013 at 6:04 PM

What. A. Load. Of. Urban. Excrement.

I guarantee you. You subsidize NOTHING for me outside of what is subsidized for the city dweller also. Nothing.

Electrical? Nope. Privately-owned Coopererative.

Water/Sewer? Nope. Privately-owned provider.

Roads? The county had better maintain the single oil and chip road going to my little slice of heaven-on-a-lake. I pay enough in property taxes. In fact, that IS ALL THE GOVERNMENT DOES FOR US. Nothing Federal, not even State. County. That’s it.

Police/Fire? If Andy and Barney can get out here (doubtful) before any criminal type catches numerous rounds of 5.56/7.62×51/7.62×63 or .45, they can have at it. In the last twenty years, the sum total of our “incidents” have been one domestic dispute. No murders, no burglaries, no vandalism.

I have no problem whatsoever with the elimination of Saturday mail. They can eliminate Tuesday and Thursday, as far as I am concerned. Funny how Amazon has no economic difficulties delivering my stuff out here, regularly and very quickly, too. Free shipping and it’s cheaper than Wal-Mart.

Social Security suckers? You’d better look in the mirror, prog.

Eat me, city boy. I was born and raised in one (Chicago) and all you proggies put together will never put me back in one.

98ZJUSMC on February 9, 2013 at 7:54 PM

Those urbanites are subisidizing farms more than enough as it is. And that dosn’t even take into account all the rural dwellers who are simply social-security sucking pensioner parasites and don’t even produce ANYTHING.

Rural dwelling is artifically attractive, Mark1971, because it is massively subsidized using taxpayer money. If you have any agreement with the statement: “taxation=theft” (and you should), then you need to realize that rural dwellers are inordinate beneficiaries of that theft. The USPS is not taxation, but the flat, non-market derived, government-mandated rates behave exactly the same way as to how they benefit the bumpkins.

Daikokuco on February 9, 2013 at 6:04 PM

OK dude. I live is very rural SW North Dakota. I’m basically 30 miles north of the stix of Lemmon South Dakota.
I’m not asking for perks.
I mean, I do like electricity & I do like the main highway being paved. But we actually do without a lot out here & I never asked for the high speed internet that got out to my place, subsidized by the Fed.
I never asked for it. I was waiting for satellite internet to get better. But it didn’t & so here I am.
But mail delivery? You know I really don’t need it. I could go to the nearest town of 300 & have a box there.
That doesn’t bother me.
But to call us bumpkins? You are a huge steaming pile of rancid $hit.
How many parasites are you talking about being bumpkins are living in that rat hole you call suburbia & the city?
Your ancestors started out as bumpkins you fracking b!tch.
And a lot of people also died in those cities you think are so great.
To each their own.
And you worthless piece of trash, us bumpkins fracking make your damned food.
Without us you wouldn’t be eating on the cheap like you are.
I won’t deny it could be cheaper without govt subsidies.
We are cattle ranchers & we personally don’t take them. We do not agree with sucking off the govt teat like a lot of our farmer neighbors.
But I do know one thing. Those of us who make your food so you can sit in your high chair in the city & eat it without getting your dainty fingers dirty should stop short at insulting those of us who toil to sustain you.
A modicum of respect is deserved for many of us.
You can always go hungry you arrogant a$$.

Badger40 on February 9, 2013 at 8:19 PM

Rural dwelling is artifically attractive,

Daikokuco on February 9, 2013 at 6:04 PM

And no it isn’t. I love being out in the middle of no where.
Bcs it means I deal with less pr!cks like you.

Badger40 on February 9, 2013 at 8:29 PM

Why don’t I ever see it mentioned, there are days when 1 piece of mail is delivered; whether it be some type of junk mail or a bill. Some times there are 2 pieces. There was an expansion of mail service, but no correction for the telecom takeover that occurred either simultaneously or immediately after, depending on selected info used.

USPS as a public service, as with all other public services, always paid above board. Wages, pensions, benefits…and of course non-oversight since it’s government and apathy becomes common place. All government is inefficient for the same reasons at every point. There is no compelling reason for anyone, anywhere, to fix inefficiencies. Integrity, pride, and honesty are failing traits in the nation…so they go, so goes governance.

They aren’t even fully shutting down Saturday, so I’m not sure they are really going to cut much. This should have been done 5 years ago, nowadays they need to cut off 2 days. There really isn’t a need for more than 4 days, mail is only busy on Monday from the weekend sent items and Wednesday from Supermarket/business advertisements. All this talk about rural is simply the same tired pack-em-like-sardines ideology. I expect that to get more play because of the rampant anti-Amercanism throughout the technorati.

We don’t get info on Public Debt, Budgets, Continuing Resolutions, Congressional Expeditures, conflicts-of-interest, criminality and regular corruption. There is simply no common sense debate such as I gave…1-2 pieces of mail a couple times a week should be clear enough with ZERO demagoguery. There are many options, but cutting bloat should be first any easiest. If it is excessive…a correction is easy enough. In government it is easier to add, than to subtract; therefore when you are able to subtract as much as possible.

John Kettlewell on February 9, 2013 at 9:29 PM

first any and easiest

fixed

John Kettlewell on February 9, 2013 at 9:30 PM

Rural dwelling is artifically attractive, Mark1971, because it is massively subsidized using taxpayer money. If you have any agreement with the statement: “taxation=theft” (and you should), then you need to realize that rural dwellers are inordinate beneficiaries of that theft. The USPS is not taxation, but the flat, non-market derived, government-mandated rates behave exactly the same way as to how they benefit the bumpkins.

Daikokuco on February 9, 2013 at 6:04 PM

Oh my goodness! You ok?

Why don’t you take a Midol and put a warm cloth on your tummy? You’ve had a big day honey.

itsspideyman on February 9, 2013 at 9:33 PM

And no it isn’t. I love being out in the middle of no where.
Bcs it means I deal with less pr!cks like you.

Badger40 on February 9, 2013 at 8:29 PM

I was born in the city, and I lived and worked in a big city for 25 years. It was like being in Red China. Then I moved from the city to mountain woods to return to civilization as we know it. Best move of my life.

petefrt on February 9, 2013 at 9:58 PM

I just don’t interpet “power to establish…” as specifically a mandate and all that that word implies.

YTZGal on February 9, 2013 at 5:42 PM

I think the mandate is actually established by the word ‘shall’. If the Constitution had said ‘may’, establishing the Post Offices would have been optional. ‘Shall’ made it a mandate.

trigon on February 9, 2013 at 7:21 PM

Thanks for your reply. Earlier today, I had looked up the legal definition of “Shall..” and came across this

shall v. 1) an imperative command as in “you shall not kill.”
2) in some statutes, “shall” is a direction but does not mean mandatory, depending on the context.

which is how I had always interpeted it… but now the whole discussion seems to veering dangerously close to the silly point of no return vis a vis, defining “is”. :-) Sorry I brought it up.

Since private mail/package providers have long since supplanted the efficiency and efficacy of the USPS, I’d like to be given the option to “opt out” of USPS service … much like the “Do Not Call” option with my telephone service. I don’t want to be inundated with “mandatory” junk mail any more than I want to be inundated with telephone spam.

And … when we moved back from out of country, the inquisition at the local USPS about why we didn’t have a forwarding address was … disturbing. None of their d@mn business, thank you very much.

YTZGal on February 9, 2013 at 10:16 PM

IlikedAUH2O on February 9, 2013 at 5:44 PM

You are the third source I heard that cited affirmative action under Carter as a real problem in the Service. Now I have been assured that the normal run of management there could well mess up a one car funeral. There are also some good minority workers there. I just saw one.

Carter was disaster is so many ways, but I didn’t mean to tar all minorities with the same brush. I worked with some excellent minority employees, both carriers and management.

I also heard that the normal van type vehicles we see everywhere can cost an independent operator upwards of $30K and they come or came in four wheel drive.

During my time with USPS, I owned: two former Postal Jeeps, both RHD, one reconditioned Postal Jeep, RHD, $11,000.00, one 1998 RHD Subaru station wagon purchased new, $21,000.00, one 2000 RHD Jeep Cherokee purchased new, $26,000.00, and one 2005 Jeep Wrangler purchased used for $16,000.00. The two former Postal Jeeps were so unreliable that at one point I had one in a shop (on my route) for major repairs and the other one broke down on the route. A tow-truck hauled me, my back-up Jeep, and almost a full load of mail into the shop. My two Jeeps were in adjoining service bays. The guys in the shop got my loaded one running and back on the route within an hour. The Subaru had electrical problems from day one. The dealer could never get the electrics right. More than once it left me stranded on the route, and when we broke down on the route, we were responsible for having someone bring us a back-up vehicle. I sold it after three years on the route. When I sold the 2000 Cherokee, I totaled all bills; original invoice, tires, maintenance, insurance, everything. It had 118,000 miles on it when I sold it and when everything was added up I had spent just over $62,000.00 on it in six 1/2 years. The Wrangler was a little better.

One low level guy said that UPS and FEDEX both just drop junk in the USPS system if they don’t want to handle it. He said that exhaust systems, poles, sacks of glass and other junk were often put in their lap. Is that true?

Yes. If you watch almost any Post Office, mid-morning you will see UPS, FedEx, and DHL trucks pull up to the loading dock. They will unload small parcels to be delivered in rural areas where the competitors don’t want to go. About 10 years ago, UPS drivers went on strike. I was joking with a friend who is a UPS supervisor, and I told him we were going to take his business. He told me that he hoped I did because he didn’t want to waste the time to deliver two or three parcels where my route ran. He said he lost money.

The other comment I heard from numerous sources was that the congress takes money from the USPS’s competitors and industries who parasitically use the system for junk mail and a host of other things.

Again, yes. The Postal Service not only subsidizes bulk mail (junk mail) for major advertisers, they also subsidize bulk mail by raising first class mail rates. However, to be completely forthcoming, until about 2002 or 2003, when Congress passed laws that could hamper the competition – read OSHA and the like – they exempted the USPS. OSHA could not enter a USPS facility without giving a week or two warning. When I worked in private industry I would loved to have that much time to clean up before OSHA or other agencies showed up.

Thanks for your service to our country.

Your welcome. I always had great rapport with my customers and I loved my job, but few people understand what really goes on in the USPS.

oldleprechaun on February 9, 2013 at 10:27 PM

Rural dwelling is artifically attractive, Mark1971, because it is massively subsidized using taxpayer money

What. A. Load. Of. Urban. Excrement.

I guarantee you. You subsidize NOTHING for me outside of what is subsidized for the city dweller also. Nothing.

Electrical? Nope. Privately-owned Coopererative.

Water/Sewer? Nope. Privately-owned provider.

I would have to agree with the other rebuttals to
Daikokuco on February 9, 2013 at 6:04 PM ‘s screed.

When my parents left the city and built their home in the country, they had to:

pay for and drill their own well
build their own road into their homesite
pay for the hydro (electric) service to be run to the homesite
pay for fire as a separate levy on their taxes – and it’s a local, volunteer force

How is this “taxpayer” subsidized?

It was finally a relief for them to not have their wealth confiscated to be redistributed in some maniacal Progressive utopian scheme.

YTZGal on February 9, 2013 at 10:51 PM

YTZGal on February 9, 2013 at 10:51 PM

Individuals who live outside the normal city systems have to band together in cooperatives. They usually have volunteer fire departments, serve on rural electricity boards, have local sewage and water systems, and do all the things that larger cities do.

Except sit on their a$$ and wait for the goverment to come give them cellphones.

itsspideyman on February 9, 2013 at 11:37 PM

Badger40 on February 9, 2013 at 8:19 PM

Awww, don’t let him get to you, Badger. He ain’t worth it. (But, good job tearing him up. ;) )

GWB on February 9, 2013 at 11:57 PM

Badger40 on February 9

…no wonder I like you!

KOOLAID2 on February 10, 2013 at 2:45 AM

Interesting take, but I think this is way off the mark:

If it costs more to mail junk – particularly bulk advertising and such – people might think more carefully about what they are mailing, rather than flooding our boxes.

The crap that fills our mailboxes (at least mine) is not first class mail, it is bulk rate addressed to “Postal Patron”.

I would say that *these* spammers are the ones getting the massive subsidy. I suppose the logic is: we have to deliver to nearly every box, every day, so we will accept a fraction of a cent for every piece of junk and take it along for the ride.

You can’t even opt out of this junk, except maybe by getting a PO Box, since the post office is basically obligated by contract to deliver it.

Maybe it makes sense, since it brings in revenue without incurring commensurate extra costs, but if everyone had to pay the same rate for sending something to you, there would be no mass junk mailings.

LagunaDave on February 10, 2013 at 5:10 AM

Unions and golden benefits plans, wholesale graft and corruption …pretty much began the destruction of the postal service back in the 1970′s.
coldwarrior on February 9, 2013 at 6:13 PM

WE HAVE A WINNER!

Delivering pensions by mail to rural locations, or retirement addresses in sunny Florida could be a triple negative.
Obama’s artificially inflated fuel prices certainly created the perfect recipe for mass failures across business lines. UPS, FedEx, and other trucking companies added fuel surcharges to cover the added expense.
When we pile government induced inflation, over regulation and Obama care to the mix … we’re on the road to nowhere.

“Honey who’s watching our 1.5 children?”
“It’s okay mom… they’re in front of the TV!”
A phrase often heard in Daikokuco-type households. What a worthless troll.

kregg on February 10, 2013 at 7:38 AM

Daikokuco on February 9, 2013 at 6:04 PM

Lol! Well here then lets make a deal shall we. You starve, I’ll give up my rural delivery. Lol!

Bmore on February 10, 2013 at 8:42 AM

98ZJUSMC on February 9, 2013 at 7:54 PM

Thanks, you saved me the trouble of typing all of that.

jims on February 10, 2013 at 8:45 AM

Badger40 on February 9, 2013 at 8:19 PM

I still like the deal I offered it Badger40. Let it starve. Lol! ; ) Poor little thing couldn’t feed itself if it had to.

Bmore on February 10, 2013 at 8:45 AM

Unions and golden benefits plans, wholesale graft and corruption …pretty much began the destruction of the postal service back in the 1970′s.
coldwarrior on February 9, 2013 at 6:13 PM

Add to that the burden of a bloated administration and having to deliver junk mail. The invention of the zip + 4 and sale of all those wonderful machines that sort the mail was another nail in their coffin. They never could sell that additional 4 to the public or standardizing sizes of envelopes, dang it, or all would be wonderful in postal land. Say, has anyone noticed that all the finger pointing seems to be toward the govt?
We live in a rural setting and have to drive 5 miles to the mail box. I pay a large phone bill to get my internet, an even larger electric bill to stay warm, a larger gas bill to get to town, and just as high property taxes as a city dweller. Where’s my subsidy?

Kissmygrits on February 10, 2013 at 8:58 AM

and having to deliver junk mail

Having to ‘deliver’ junk mail? They solicit it, print it AND happily deliver it !!! It’s not ‘junk’ mail to them, it’s revenue!

DanaSmiles on February 10, 2013 at 9:41 AM

I was born in the city, and I lived and worked in a big city for 25 years. It was like being in Red China. Then I moved from the city to mountain woods to return to civilization as we know it. Best move of my life.

petefrt on February 9, 2013 at 9:58 PM

See I grew up all over the country myself in city/suburbia & I always hated it.
Out here there is time to think & slow down & people aren’t at you all the time. Is is so much less stressful.
I also have less weight bcs I’m not tempted to go out & eat all the time ;)

pay for and drill their own well
build their own road into their homesite
pay for the hydro (electric) service to be run to the homesite
pay for fire as a separate levy on their taxes – and it’s a local, volunteer force

How is this “taxpayer” subsidized?

It was finally a relief for them to not have their wealth confiscated to be redistributed in some maniacal Progressive utopian scheme.

YTZGal on February 9, 2013 at 10:51 PM

THIS. My hubby put his home where no one had ever lived before. So he had to do everything like that. He & his dad built the road, etc.
I’m still living with a well that has a cracked casing & only pumps 2 1/2 gal/minute.
I will note that yes, it seems from what I know, electricity was subsidized & that’s why electric co-ops exist.

As far as “pensioner parasites”, get your vote out to eliminate SS and Medicare and Medicaid. I’m with you there. I doubt there’s any disproportionate amount of them living in rural conditions, though.

GWB on February 9, 2013 at 6:21 PM

No there isn’t. I will note that there are more deadbeats on welfare coming from the city though to live out here on the bennies.
So if these days there is a disproportionate amounts of deadbeats out here, it’s bcs they’re fleeing the cities.

few people understand what really goes on in the USPS.

oldleprechaun on February 9, 2013 at 10:27 PM

Great info! I was talking with the postal lady a few weeks ago about a package I was expecting from FedEx. They will not deliver to my house if they can help it. They dump it off at the post office. Now UPS delivers to my house. But I know the driver & just tell him to drop stuff off for me at the school I teach at. There’s no reason to make them drive 30 miles out of their way.
But it is a service that’s been paid for TO FedEx. So I just cannot understand how they can do that unless they pay the USPS?

Badger40 on February 10, 2013 at 9:57 AM

this one must hate little things like food.

dmacleo on February 9, 2013 at 6:35 PM

Reason, morals, integrity, character, etc.

tom daschle concerned on February 10, 2013 at 10:02 AM

We live in a rural setting and have to drive 5 miles to the mail box. I pay a large phone bill to get my internet, an even larger electric bill to stay warm, a larger gas bill to get to town, and just as high property taxes as a city dweller. Where’s my subsidy?

Kissmygrits on February 10, 2013 at 8:58 AM

LOL! You nailed it. I know on my cable/internet/phone bill there’s a tax especially for us rural dwellers on there. IDK if it’s bcs they just put in the lines a few years back or what.
I think a lot of people would be surprised at just how expensive it is for rural people to live everyday life.
Things are not cheaper for us out here, nor subsidized to the tun that nutbag is screeching.
I do know there are ‘grants’ that are Federal for rural community development: for people to start businesses. GRANTS. I do not agree with that. But they are there for the taking if you can prove your business model. My father & I are looking to start a small rural traveling portrait/photography business. We were told we could get a grant up to $30,000. But we don’t want to go through all that hassle. I mean, you have to even have a permanent brick & mortar & the insurance you’re forced to buy is as much as my farm & ranch policy for liability: over $5,000 per year.
So we are going to do it on our own.

Badger40 on February 10, 2013 at 10:05 AM

Add to that the burden of a bloated administration and having to deliver junk mail.

Kissmygrits on February 10, 2013 at 8:58 AM

Here’s a suggestion for you. For the next week, count the pieces of mail you receive and keep a list of them. Sort them as to “junk” or useful things you actually WANT to receive. The first class mail subsidizes the junk.

Something else re: “bloated administration”. In the late 1990′s, the Richmond VA district actually thinned management ranks by about 25% through attrition and some transfers. Carriers in the District offices never knew they were gone. That was because “management” that left had no actual function.

Like almost all Federal controlled agencies, USPS suffers from “Obamaphone syndrome”.

oldleprechaun on February 10, 2013 at 10:17 AM

They could deliver one day per week like my garbage pickup. I don’t send or receive anything urgent through USPS anyway. Actually, if they could deliver about 10 minutes before garbage pickup, that would be great. Most of what I get goes in the trash anyway.

tdarrington on February 10, 2013 at 10:20 AM

If the USPS disappeared in its entirety tomorrow I wouldn’t even notice. Every correspondence or transaction I care about is handled either online or via FedEx or UPS.

USPS can go the way of the Pony Express – it has outlived its usefulness.

glockomatic on February 10, 2013 at 10:23 AM

Kissmygrits & Badger40
Not to mention the fact that you need a well stocked pantry large enough to fit a months supply of dry goods.
More subsidies go to city schemes like welfare, lunch programs and athletic stadiums than any amount ever received by those of us who have lived in the sticks.
Then there’s the strange fact that places like Manhattan and Chicago receive FARM subsidies … can I get a collective WTF?

kregg on February 10, 2013 at 10:32 AM

“rural mail delivery” sounds like a racist term that Rev. Wright or Obama would use.

Karmi on February 10, 2013 at 10:59 AM

And … when we moved back from out of country, the inquisition at the local USPS about why we didn’t have a forwarding address was … disturbing. None of their d@mn business, thank you very much.

YTZGal on February 9, 2013 at 10:16 PM

Just like Kramer trying to cancel his mail delivery:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hox-ni8geIw
And getting a visit from the Postmaster General:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nKlzQo3Wqo

mdenis39 on February 10, 2013 at 11:24 AM

The author makes no mention of the Third Class Mail that arrived on Saturday. It makes up an increasing percentage of all mail as First Class continues to plummet.
The Commenter who said mail entitlement is NOT a tax neglects that it is paid entirely by taxes, less postage fees, leaving a 2012 deficit of something like $8 Billion. If that 8 bil isn’t tax, what is it?

johncorn on February 10, 2013 at 11:42 AM

We live 4 mile from a post office and we do not get mail delivery.
That is fine with me as we get a free PO Box but what really sux is that since the PO has no idea about how to make money they have reduced hours of the PO to 9:30 am to 3:30 pm and they are only open 1 hour (11-12:00) on Saturday.

So what this does is limit exposure to paying customers.
Here, if you work normal hours like 8 to 4:30 M-F you have only a small window to get or ship a package.

A private firm would do split shifts so that they could do business when customers are available.
But, like they say “bureaucracy and labor unions make the possible impossible”

esnap on February 10, 2013 at 12:10 PM

It’s the pensions and other benefits.

rdbrewer on February 10, 2013 at 12:15 PM

The post office is losing billions every year,two billion is not even a drop in the bucket.
You only have to look in many of the PO parking lots like the one we have here in the Keys and notice the little tiny dem play cars that all sport obama bumper stickers to know what is really going on.
Nothing big will happen to the post office. There is too much union labor there and too many obamas working there. A two billion dollar cut does nothing. Pensions ,pay cuts, might make a difference but the post office needs to be sold.

rodguy911 on February 10, 2013 at 12:24 PM

Daikokuco on February 9, 2013 at 6:04 PM

Douche and bag. At least you would be if you had a clue what you were talking about. But then I’m sure your food is grown in a supermarket. News flash – no one is subsidizing me in any way. So from this ‘bumpkin’ to you – GFY, you smug, sanctimonious, ‘enlightened’ ‘tolerant’ liberal.

98ZJUSMC on February 9, 2013 at 7:54 PM

Badger40 on February 9, 2013 at 8:19 PM

YTZGal on February 9, 2013 at 10:51 PM

+ 1000 and then some.

ghostwalker1 on February 10, 2013 at 12:28 PM

My usual post office, in downtown Philadelphia, would have the founders rolling in their graves. It looks like something straight out of the old Soviet Union. Dimly lit, paint peeling, shelves poorly stocked or not at all, piles of official forms that must be printed by hand, long lines of customers waiting on line to be served by one or two at most postal clerks, who hate their jobs and their customers.

It has US Government FAIL stamped all over it. It should be chopped up and sold off to the highest bidder, assuming a bidder can be found. It is, in fact, a model for most other federal agencies, all of which should meet the same fate.

james23 on February 10, 2013 at 1:56 PM

I was talking with the postal lady a few weeks ago about a package I was expecting from FedEx. They will not deliver to my house if they can help it. They dump it off at the post office. Now UPS delivers to my house. But I know the driver & just tell him to drop stuff off for me at the school I teach at. There’s no reason to make them drive 30 miles out of their way.
But it is a service that’s been paid for TO FedEx. So I just cannot understand how they can do that unless they pay the USPS?

Badger40 on February 10, 2013 at 9:57 AM

FYI -If buying online retailers can use FedEx Home (delivered to an address by a FedEx carrier), or instead, to keep their shipping costs lower and avoid rural fees both UPS and FedEx charge, they can opt to use FedEx SmartPost. Another words the package is a piece of mail that FedEx SmartPost routed cross country then gives to the USPS for the “final mile” to delivery – hence it is really mail so the USPS delivers your packages in their usual manner. It’s the retailer making the routing choice.

wubu on February 10, 2013 at 1:59 PM

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Postal_Service#Revenue_decline_and_planned_cuts

Interesting note about the USPS needing to prefund their pension and benefits plan for 75 years.

Yes, this is not much to do with economics of postage, rather the softness of the retirement featherbed.

virgo on February 10, 2013 at 2:29 PM

Just a few rural alternatives I thought of reading the article, feel free to shoot holes in them:

1) Rural delivery one day a week. Like the garbage truck, your day depends on where you live.

2) Free PO box, come pick up your mail as often as you feel the need for it, including Sundays.

3) If you’ve got a fax machine or email, authorize the post office to open your mail and scan it, then deliver it electronically.

Socratease on February 10, 2013 at 2:42 PM

Daikokuco on February 9, 2013 at 6:04 PM

Man you hit the nail right on the head.

Rural folks are subsidized, lazy welfare grubbing imbeciles. They lay around whining for free Obama phones, free healthcare, free food and subsidized mail while clutching their Bibles and cleaning their guns. I don’t know how anyone with half a brain or even a third of a brain could live that way.

Much better to live in town amongst the sophisticated, clean and enlighten groovy people. I’ve noticed when I go to town for provisions how nice everyone is to each other, how courteous the younger folk are to their elders and how clean the streets and restrooms are. There’s never anyone begging for change, on unemployment, food stamps, welfare or homeless or peeing in the parking lots of Wal-Mart, or selling favors or drugs on the street.

Progressive Utopia!

old school

old school on February 10, 2013 at 2:58 PM

Jazz,
You do realize that raising rates on junk mail and getting them to send less is counterproductive to raising revenue. Mail volume is well past the tipping point where every home is visited every day. Cutting down the number of parcels delivvered to my home every day from 4-2 does nothing to cut down on the major costs faced by the USPS.

oconp88 on February 10, 2013 at 3:18 PM

Costs a lot to transport all that food and potable water into the high density areas too.

WryTrvllr on February 10, 2013 at 5:50 PM

I’m no package delivery expert here, but I’d always sort of assumed that the United States Post Office was pretty much designed with an untenable business model baked into the cake. It’s something which is mandated by the Constitution, thereby bringing the government into the mix, but it’s being expected to run at a profit while conforming to a business model which no sane, private business would ever consider.

Pretty bad when we have to spend so much time arguing about the friggin’ mail of all things.

If we fight over stuff like this while the Federal bureaucrats, politicians and their banker buddies are robbing us blind to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars, then I don’t think we’re bound to end up in a good place.

The point of being a wealthy country is that we indeed have the option of subsidizing some citizens. If you don’t subsidize farmers through the bad times, they won’t be around to grow food during the good times. I don’t think the same can be said about major agribusinesses who own land all over the place. They can and do spread their risk. A private farmer can’t-he’s only in one place.

As for RFD, think of how that benefited private businesses like Sears, and other mail-order businesses, and continues to do so to this day for Amazon and others.

Complaining about paying taxes for roads we don’t drive on or for fire and police services we may never use really aren’t valid civic arguments.

Dr. ZhivBlago on February 10, 2013 at 7:19 PM

Ok folks, lets add some background to counter peoples perceptions about the business mail model and what subsidizes what…

Disclaimer – I spent 30+ years in the printing and direct mail industry.

Consider this, your 96 year old grandmother can send you a birthday card by just scribbling out your name, some portion of your street address and some components of your city, state and zip code and it will be delivered to your door just because she stuck a postage stamp on it. A pretty good deal if you think about it, despite any advances in OCR, that card will most likely end up being handled manually at several points in the postal system well before it ever gets handed off to the carrier who drops it in your box.

Business mailers on the other hand produce the mail the post office handles the least, often shipped via business contracted tractor trailer to the last post office in the delivery chain and prepared so that the mail carrier grabs their individual tray or bundle that is already fully prepared and sorted to have the mail in the same exact order as the carrier delivers it. Oh but hey the carrier looks at the mess of handwritten stuff needing more handling and then delivery, so they just leave that business mail sitting there for another day.

Business mail has to conform with thousands of rules and regulations on things that would dumbfound you. That is short form for why different mail has different price structures, it’s not about grandma’s birthday card paying the freight for “junk” mail.

I could drone on for hours and hours about it all but to sum it up, most folks here have no clue what they are talking about when it comes to mail and I just wish they would STFU and move onto topics they are more familiar with, like rocket science, SEO algorithms and the geology of Uranus.

AndyG_CT on February 10, 2013 at 9:09 PM

Open up First Class mail to competition and let the market sort it out. Yes, the Constitution says the government has to run a postal service, but I don’t see where it says they’re the only ones who can run it.

Rural delivery might indeed be part of the problem, but I’m very curious about how they deal with international postage. I can buy a widget from China and have it shipped to my door for less money than it costs me to ship that same widget to Texas.

angelat0763 on February 10, 2013 at 11:38 PM

The Constitution does not require the Federal Government to establish a post office. It provides that:

The Congress shall have Power to … establish Post Offices and post Roads.

The operative phrase is “shall have Power to”, not the word “shall.” Congress is not required to do everything that it has the power to do. For instance, four paragraphs later, we find the Congress has the power to grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal. No one would suggest that Congress is disregarding some sort of Constitutional duty to issue private licenses to attack and capture foreign ships.

Congress may establish a national post office, but is not required to do so.

jms on February 11, 2013 at 12:09 AM

Funny how Amazon has no economic difficulties delivering my stuff out here, regularly and very quickly, too. Free shipping and it’s cheaper than Wal-Mart.

98ZJUSMC on February 9, 2013 at 7:54 PM

At the risk of pointing out the obvious, my Amazon packages arrive via USPS. If they cut out Saturday, Tuesday, and Thursday, you may wind up waiting a whole extra day for that important package.

Then again, they DID say that only first class mail delivery was being halted on Saturdays….

unclesmrgol on February 11, 2013 at 12:53 AM

Drop the union and the pensions…& “retire” as many as possible. Rehire under a lower wage and base pay, and a 401K plan. BOOM!! …problem solved.

bill glass on February 11, 2013 at 10:51 AM

could drone on for hours and hours about it all but to sum it up, most folks here have no clue what they are talking about when it comes to mail and I just wish they would STFU and move onto topics they are more familiar with, like rocket science, SEO algorithms and the geology of Uranus.

AndyG_CT on February 10, 2013 at 9:09 PM

Well, Andy, You have established your bonifides and explained what You have to do to get a CUT RATE on YOUR product. You’s just like the broad who justifies voting for obama because he got her a new phone. I notice, your use of the STFU pegs you as someone who only wants discussion if everybody agrees with you. Why don’t you practice what your preach? Hmmm?

Old Country Boy on February 11, 2013 at 1:25 PM

If you offered a tax rebate of something like $100 to opt out of the home mail delivery, my guess is about 90% of Americans would jump on it. Hell, they’d probably pay $100 NOT to have home delivery.

If the Post Office had a “Do Not Mail” list with teeth for junk mail, you could easily cut the entire department in half overnight.

There’s easy solution to this because at the end of the day, no one really uses the Post Office anymore. It’s become more a welfare/jobs program than anything.

BradTank on February 11, 2013 at 6:43 PM

This is the problem with leading an article with a quote from John Stewart.

It’s guaranteed to trivialize an important issue and send people off on a tangent.

Stop worrying about the USPS business model: it doesn’t have one. Like GM, it is a retirement and benefits fund.

virgo on February 11, 2013 at 11:03 PM

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