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United States Postal Service – What’s the Point?
According to an ABC report, Congress’ Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs will host a hearing at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, September 06, 2011 called “U.S. Postal Service in Crisis: Proposals to Prevent a Postal Shutdown.” The issue is that the U.S. postal service has a $9.2 billion deficit and is near a default.
We saw this coming. Literally. In 1976, Postmaster General William Henderson conducted a study which showed that electronic media would eventually reduce (or eliminate) physical mail delivery. But through the years it was determined (by bureaucrats) that it would bad form to intrude into the private sector. But even back then they considered adding an email address to every physical address. (Guess someone dropped the ball on that one.)
All initiatives to transform the United States Postal Service have been effectively squashed by the American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union (NPMHU) who seem to have lost that, “ask not what your country can do for you” feeling.
According to current union contracts that you never agreed to (but your congressmen did) union employees cannot be fired and they must get massive pension plans and regular salary increases; whether the post office makes any profit or not. It’s now 9.2 billion in the red – not including pension payments to be made later this year.
At the end of the day what we really need to ask ourselves is, “what is the point of the USPS?”
Let us take a quick trip down memory lane.
The United States Post Office (USPO) was created on Wednesday, July 26, 1775, by the Second Continental Congress based on the “Postal Clause” (Section 8, Clause 7) in Article One of the United States Constitution. This part of the Constitution grants Congress the power “To establish post offices and post roads”. Thus, the Post Office Department (USPOD) was created in 1792. Benjamin Franklin was appointed to be the First Postmaster General. An interesting side note: The Postmaster General is the last person in the United States presidential line of succession. (Thanks Wikipedia)
Without doubt, the ability of a society to connect its citizens via correspondence is paramount to its success. It is part of the human condition, as well as an essential component to freedom, to be able to communicate with distant parts of the land. Prior to 1792 this was done by writing letters, which were delivered by private couriers or by anyone who happened to be traveling in the general direction of the recipient.
As can be imagined, this was extremely slow and extremely inefficient. The establishment of the Post Office Department created the first organized and reliable means of communication – and our country flourished because of it.
But the very purpose for which the Post Office was created is no longer existent. The purpose of the Post Office was to allow communication between distant parties. It was primarily a National Security issue but with a social interest that allowed for a better Democracy; as an informed public was less susceptible to undue influence by foreign propaganda. It was not, “package delivery” and it certainly had nothing to do with the “Economically Disadvantaged” as Progressives and Postal Unions are attempting to spin the debate today.
When you boil it down the Postal Service exists for one purpose: to allow communication between parties. In our modern society, almost everyone has a radio, television and telephone. Even children as young as 10 years old have cellular phones that they keep with them at all times. 75% of our population has at least one email address, if not several…and those without an email are literally only feet away from someone who does. “Communication” is no longer an issue and the United States Postal Service (USPS) is no longer necessary.
So for those who are simply, “Change Adverse” I have a simple solution. I propose that the Post Office be reconfigured into a “virtual post office” and that physical delivery is eliminated, except for package delivery – just as is done in the private sector.
Each person should be issued a single email address (at the post office) which would be assigned to them – for life. They would have access to their mail at any time, from any internet enabled device. The same laws would apply to electronic mail as those for physical mail. “Return Receipt” email would be just as legally binding as physical delivery, etc. and yes, you would have to pay the Post Office for a “Return Reciept”. In effect, each person would be assigned an, “Official” email – just like a social security number. This email would become your mailbox.
And what about all that junk mail? You still get that too. Businesses who desire to send bulk mail based on zip code (or any other demographic) can still do that, but [i propose] the Post Office would not release email addresses – they would send the mail on behalf of the business after they have paid their fee.
If Yahoo, Google and Microsoft can issue email addresses without charging for them – so can the New Post Office. The Post Office will continue to earn its revenue through package delivery and bulk mail sales and they can add revenue from advertising on their website and through sales of demographics mailing lists (by zip) which can easily be mined from the data (just ask Google).
The Environmental Freaks should be happy. The USPS fleet of vehicles (the largest in the world) would be reduced by 70% and would eliminate tons of carbon dioxide emissions. This would affect not only the local delivery vehicles – but tractor trailers and even aircraft would be reduced as well. The Post Office could become the poster child for the Green Movement. Obama and Van Jones would be proud.
In addition, just imagine all the trees that could be saved by eliminating all that junk mail. Of course, the paper industry will take a little hit but hey, those are “dirty” industries and sacrafices must be made – right?
What about all those Union Postal Workers? Won’t they lose their jobs? Well, if they care about their country some of them will have to make the sacrifice as well. Becides, they have been getting a free ride on the backs of middle class taxpayers for a long time and now it is time that they “pay their fair share” as Obama would say.
So for you Postal Workers, we thank you for your service – but your services are no longer required. Have a nice day.