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An independent agency of the United States government responsible for providing postal service in the United States.

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Time to shut it down

  • Nov 9, 2011
  • by
Probably the worst thing for the USPS is that it's controlled by Congress, giving them no power to determine their own fate or profitability. In a classic example of how the Federal Government can screw up almost anything without trying too hard, the USPS has an annual deficit of a small country, employs some ungodly number of people, all the time looking quaintly ridiculous in the face of technology.

If USPS were a company, they would have determined that their financial situation would have to be fixed by:
- Raising prices
- Reducing costs
- Providing profitable new services 

When Congress heard of their financial issues, instead their natural reaction was to figure out how to frame the problem as threatening small town life in America. There are lines of politicians spewing out phrases that make having a post office seem patriotic or a vital part of the American dream, while most Americans have moved on.

Looking at my own mail, I don't remember the last time I received something important. Amid the credit card offers, unwanted catalogs and junk mail, it's hard to justify opening anything I receive. Almost every periodic bill now arrives in email, and even Amazon Prime items tend to arrive by UPS. You might recall that UPS does almost the same thing as the USPS but actually makes money.

The natural fate of the Post Office would be to shut down. It's unnecessary in the Internet era where 99% of mailable items can be sent digitally. But naturally the Feds will continue to shoe-horn hundreds of millions of dollars into something that nobody needs, all the time murmuring about jobs and painting small towns like their post office is the center of their universe. They've even fumbled the six-day delivery question so who knows how much more money will be lost supporting this anachronistic service.

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December 07, 2011
You've posited no small number of relevant points here. Thank you.

During Saturday, the customer service window of my local P.O. is open from 8:30 to 10:00 A.M. This period can't literally be described as working hours, for it isn't even comprised of multiple complete hours. Saturday hours are soon to be eliminated entirely, and Postmaster General Pat Donahoe wants nothing so much as to raise postage rates every higher. UPS is nearly so ubiquitous as the USPS, and demonstrably more competent.
For the diminished, increasingly marginalized service of letter and disc delivery, I can't believe that some entrepreneurial soul might not follow in the footsteps of Lysander Spooner by establishing a comparably small, efficient, nationwide service of lower cost and greater expedience.
December 07, 2011
Thanks Robert. I was sent a money order for $600 a while back and had to visit 5 different post offices in California to turn it into cash because they didn't have enough money on the premises. Eventually a small branch in San Rafael eventually raided their collection of $5 and $1 bills to complete the transaction. I felt almost sorry for them. i would love to see an enterprising solution to the problem. Personally, I'd pay to have a service receive my mail, throw away the junk and email the remainder as scanned images!
November 22, 2011
Good write-up. I agree that this service needs to be privatized. Definately needs to be scaled back. But shut down, no. Not yet. Many of use still need "snail mail" for things "paper" and there is no other option available for letters at a reasonable rate.
November 23, 2011
Yeah, that might work. I'm not convinced we need delivery 6 days a week - maybe 2!
November 22, 2011
And how much mail do they lose? That was a rampant problem when I lived in Chicago. If I knew something was supposed to be coming by mail, that meant I had a 50/50 shot of actually getting it.
November 23, 2011
So true... "lost in the mail" is actually a real excuse these days.
November 22, 2011
Agreed! Although a birthday present sent by a friend hasn't reached me yet (it's been more than 5 weeks)... they can shut it down for all I care!
November 23, 2011
I always end up using UPS for important things since I so rarely send anything the cost difference doesn't make much difference.
November 23, 2011
Oh, I told him to just get me the iTunes card next time and email me the code so that I can get whatever I want from the Apple store, lol... save time, cost and trouble!
November 23, 2011
This year's challenge is to do all Christmas shopping on Amazon.com. I fully intend to be done in a couple of hours with a beer in grip at all times
November 10, 2011
You bring up some good points! I do like receiving cards and invites/postcards/holiday pics in the mail and you can't get that online. Though, Evite and ecards and even e-holiday cards or those taken with your iPhone are all good choices, I still love the handwritten variety! I also like getting my magazines- something about opening up my mailbox and seeing a magazine, a card, my paycheck and the new Netflix just brings me joy. Yes, you can get all of those things online but, something about getting those physically in the mailbox just makes it better.
November 10, 2011
Yep! You can get direct deposit but, in some occupations (namely mine) as an independent contractor, I'm not eligible. So, there's no choice but to mail me the physical check!
November 10, 2011
How about electronic transfer?
November 11, 2011
I tried it with a couple of jobs I've had and they prefer to write checks and usually quote a human resources policy as their reason. I think it may have something to do with legality as well but, I'm not sure. It's been a while since I've brought it up.
November 09, 2011
But....but..I like stamps LOL! nice write up, James!
November 09, 2011
Ha ha - good point. The invention of the Forever stamp was a stroke of genius.
More United States Postal Service (... reviews
review by . February 26, 2011
The time has come to privatize the USPS
I take no great joy in this but in my view the time has come to completely privatize the United States Postal Service.  Despite numerous rate increases over the past several years the USPS continues to drown in a sea of red ink.  In fact, the USPS projects a deficit of nearly $7 billion for the current fiscal year!  It is a luxury that this country can no longer afford.      Despite improvements in productivity and some major reorganization the …
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About this government


The United States Postal Service (USPS) is an independent agency of the United States government responsible for providing postal service in the United States.

Within the United States, it is commonly referred to as the Post Office, Postal Service, or U.S. Mail.

The United States Postal Service employs over 760,000 workers, making it the third-largest employer in the United States, after the United States Department of Defense and Wal-Mart. Its employees deliver mail at an average yearly cost of $235 per residence as of 2009.

The USPS operates the largest civilian vehicle fleet in the world, with an estimated 260,000 vehicles, the majority of which are the easily identified Chevrolet/Grumman LLV (Long-Life Vehicle), and the newer Ford/Utilimaster FFV (Flex-Fuel Vehicle), originally also referred to as the "CRV" (Carrier Route Vehicle), as shown in the pictures below. In an interview on NPR, a USPS official stated that for every penny increase in the national average price of gasoline, the USPS spends an extra $8 million to fuel its fleet. This implies that the fleet requires some 800 million gallons (3.03 billion liters) of fuel per year, and consumes an estimated fuel budget of $2.4 billion, were the national gasoline price to average $3.00. Some Rural Letter Carriers use personal vehicles. Standard postal-owned vehicles do not have license plates. These vehicles are identified by a seven digit number displayed on the front and rear.

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