US Postal Service

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by iSaint, Nov 3, 2011.

  1. iSaint macrumors 603

    iSaint

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    #1
    I don't hear much outrage over the US Postal Services continued losses. Any wise corporation would fire their CEO and restructure for what's going on with the post office.

    They're considering closing a facility in Gulfport MS (among others), and saying no one will lose their jobs. How does this save money? Jobs are going to be lost to become profitable, or to break even.

    I'm curious as to why FedEx or UPS or someone won't offer to take over mail services. Someone has to have a solution somewhere!

    discuss...
     
  2. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

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    #2

    Well part of the problem is the US congress. They will not let the postal system shut down the unneeded parts. Remember after the announcement of shutting down some of the post offices congressmen and women went insane and would fight them on it.

    Remember any other bussiness does not have congress fighting them every step of the way when they try to save money.

    On top of the congress passed a law that they can not raise stamps more than inflation. Another wammy to them.
     
  3. iSaint thread starter macrumors 603

    iSaint

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    #3
    I'm not so sure about that. What about the student loan industry? Thousands of jobs lost and many companies closed down due to government involvement.
     
  4. CalBoy macrumors 604

    CalBoy

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    #4
    The problem is not with Postal Service management, it's with Congress and the mandates they've set out.

    Unlike a business, the Postal Service must serve all 311 million of us. It can't end service in sparsely populated places. It can't raise prices whenever it needs to. It can't restructure whenever its would be prudent from a business perspective: it has to wait for Congress.
    Most likely by reducing trips and closing down a less efficient link in the chain. It could be that this facility is older, no longer handles as much mail, etc and the workers could be put to better use at other locations.
    They aren't allowed to by law.

    Even if we did let FedEx or UPS takeover, we would have a serious problem. It's going to cost a lot of money to guarantee 3 day delivery across 6,000 miles of this country for less than 50 cents. FedEx and UPS make money and keep prices low by focusing their deliveries on highly populated areas and medium-term deliveries.

    UPS won't deliver a letter to Montana for 50 cents because it costs a lot more than that. Conversely, mailing within the city limits of New York, San Francisco, Chicago, etc, will drop to much lower prices.
     
  5. Daffodil macrumors 6502

    Daffodil

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    #5
    I wonder though, can you really treat the US Postal Service just like any other corporation? In my mind, you might make a case for essentially considering it infrastructure. People aren't concerned with whether roadwork breaks even (don't see how that would be possible), so why should the postal service?

    You all bring up excellent points about the limitations in its mandate, and I'm not trying to argue strongly that you should or shouldn't treat it purely as a corporation either way, just thinking out loud...
     
  6. rdowns macrumors Penryn

    rdowns

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    #6
    As stated, Congress is a big part of the problem. Also, upper management of the USPS are mostly letter carriers who worked their way up the chain. They're focused on delivering mail, not business and economics which is sorely needed there.
     
  7. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

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    #7
    But in both of those examples you do have no were near the level of involvement of control as the US postal system.

    They could shut down several of their sorting places and really need to but congress will not let them.

    On top of that they can not raise postal rate to keep pace with increasing cost like fuel. They are limited only to inflation.

    So now they have a double hit. Increasing cost with no extra revenue plus they can not shut down unneeded parts. Both of which are 100% feds fault.

    They are getting screwed in every way.
     
  8. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    #8
    A decade or so ago when Canada tackled it's debt problems, one of the institutions that was re-invented was the Post Office. Structurally, it is a Crown Corporation.... so a corporation whose sole shareholder is the Government of Canada. While it must work within the framework of the service contract that the Government imposes on it (rates, delivery targets, etc) it is arm's length from the Government has some considerable flexibility to run itself.

    One of the cost saving measures it instituted (though there was some flak from Parliament) was to shut down a whack of post-offices in both rural and urban centres. However, it simultaneously contracted out the post-office retail operations to the private sector. What this means is that any business can apply to run a postal outlet (under strict conditions regarding service hours, look and feel, etc) on their premises. And they pay Canada Post for the privilege of running the retail outlet franchise, as well as pay the employees themselves. Canada Post provides the signage, the retail products and shelving etc so they all look the same.

    Retailers do this because it draws customers into the store, plus they get a commission on the products sold - so they may even make a profit on the operation. But mostly, they want the customers coming into the store. Usually you will find postal outlets in supermarkets, pharmacies, etc etc Canada Post loves this arrangement because they don't have to look after the real-estate, the employees are on someone else's books, and they actually increased the points of contact between themselves and the public. It became easier to find an outlet for customers, plus the outlets are often open later - echoing the hosting store's hours. Canada Post trucks pick up and deliver the mail to the retail outlets, and of course maintain the sorting and delivery centres.

    As far as I'm concerned it was a win-win situation. Just as a note, Canada post also has an ownership stake in Purolator Canada which they use for their courier deliveries, often. And Canada Post serves a bigger area than anyone else in the world. The Russian service only serves the Siberian communities along the railway lines.
     
  9. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #9
    Germany did the same thing.

    NYT

     
  10. samiwas macrumors 65816

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    #10
    From my quick searches, the USPS delivers nearly 36 times as many articles as FedEx and UPS combined, with fewer employees than the two put together, to nearly every address in the country every day, and for a fraction of the cost. And, for me personally, they've lost and damaged far fewer things than FedEx!

    It's a shame that they aren't getting their stuff together financially, though. I kind of like the idea of offering privatized post office locations, letting other companies have outlets in their store that they pay for themselves, letting the USPS work on just delivery.
     
  11. Huntn macrumors G5

    Huntn

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    #11
    My uneducated guess is that the Post Office, is on a long slide, as quantities of snail mail continues to erode. They will have to completely remake themselves to remain in business. Can this happen? yes. Will it? Unknown.
     
  12. tjb1 macrumors 68000

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    #12
    USPS doesnt do guaranteed 3 day delivery for $.50...the only GUARANTEED delivery USPS offers is Express Mail.
     
  13. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

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    #13
    Don't be so damn impatient. It's only 50 ****ing ¢s.
     
  14. tjb1 macrumors 68000

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    #14
    First Class and Priority also arent guaranteed, USPS also doesnt offer tracking on those two options either. You get delivery confirmation which is OPTIONAL for them to scan along the path to the destination. And I said nothing complaining about $.50 or being impatient...learn to read.
     
  15. CalBoy macrumors 604

    CalBoy

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    #15
    You're quite right, that was the wrong word.

    The essential point is the same though; UPS and FedEx can't deliver 1 ounce within 3 days for 50 cents across 6,000 miles, but USPS can.
     
  16. OutThere macrumors 603

    OutThere

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    #16
    Can they, though?

    [​IMG]
     
  17. CalBoy macrumors 604

    CalBoy

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    #17
    As far as I understand things, one of the biggest reasons USPS expenditures look like they're out of control is because of a unique retirement funding provision which has forced USPS to front too much money into their retirement fund. I believe that a substantial (maybe even a majority) of the current shortfall would be eliminated if the retirement funds were the same as other federal agencies.

    I'll also add that the current price is only 44 cents, and going up to 45 in January, leaving plenty of room to bridge the gap before we hit 50 cents. ;)

    Once again though we have an operation that can only charge what Congress will allow, and must serve everywhere Congress says it has jurisdiction.
     
  18. iJon macrumors 604

    iJon

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    #18
    The unfortunate thing about the mail they deliver is most of it is crap, junk mail, Cabela magazines, credit card offerers. It's all a bunch of junk.

    Also they have to go deliver mail to people out in the sticks. Some people should have to come into town to get their mail instead of dragging the post office guy to the middle of nowhere to deliver a bunch of stuff you'll probably throw away anyways.

    The Post Office is a lost cause, who knows when it will ever be fixed.
     
  19. Zombie Acorn macrumors 65816

    Zombie Acorn

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    #19
    Rural areas need to require centralized boxes so that drivers aren't going miles between houses. I filled in for a rural carrier once, what a complete waste.

    Secondly their retirement plans are ridiculous and they have regulations that require for retirement funding to be put up front at the beginning of each year if I remember right.

    Worst business in the US by far.
     
  20. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

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    #20

    The 2nd one is an example of congress screwing with it. Plus they had to do like 10 years worth funding in like 2-3 years. (Congress screwing it up and trying to force it to fail)

    first 1. For new mail boxes yes they can require it but for existing ones will if they tried to cut it off I will point back to congress. The biggest cost is the last mile. Even fedex and UPS do not go to the last mile that USPS they had it off to the USPS for things in the very rural areas.
     
  21. Sydde macrumors 68020

    Sydde

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    #21
    The US Constitution mandates the Post Office and Post Roads. Currently, on of the biggest Post Roads is, as you say, the ISH. So why not put the USPS on it? An IPv6 wireless relay mesh network, where every citizen who wants one can put up a relay unit and get online for just a $100 yearly licensing fee paid to the PO. It would be better for national security, to not have to rely on just a few major backbones to handle most of the traffic, and it would scare the pants off the telecoms, that they would actually have to compete, and provide service.
     
  22. mcrain macrumors 68000

    mcrain

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    #22
    From what I have read, the postal service actually runs a profit if you remove the pension funding mandate that the GOP put in place. NO for profit business, or any other governmental agency, has anything even remotely similar, and it was designed with the intent of destroying the postal service so it could be taken over and sucked dry by private corporations that donate massive amounts of money to... guess who.
     
  23. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #23
    Your dismissive attitude is what has caused the USPS's problems. It's an incredibly important service but one that is continually hampered by Congress. They do need to consolidate rural services but only Congress can do that. The retirement funding is mandated by Congress.

    Thumbing your nose at the problem doesn't change anything.
     
  24. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    #24
    This works well. Again, looking at the Canadian experience where the Post Office was re-invented a few years ago, anyone outside of an urban area picks up their mail at a neighbourhood "Superbox". Each Superbox is 10 to 15 mailboxes, each box belonging to an mailing address - though some Superboxes also have a couple of larger "parcel" boxes. A number of Superboxes are combined together to provide for the needs of a single neighbourhood (we have about 40 mailboxes in our pod). Each pod also includes an outgoing mail slot.

    The parcel boxes are "common". If you have received a parcel a key on a large keychain is left in your mailbox. You use the key to open the parcel box, and then deposit the key back into the outgoing mail slot.

    We're lucky, because our pod is on our route home, no detour necessary. Other people will have to drive a kilometre or so out of their way.

    It works well. Once a day a postal contractor shows up and opens the Superboxes, and deposits the mail. Also picks up the outgoing mail. They save at least 40 kilometres of driving for each Superbox (using our's as an average). As someone mentioned above, it's the last kilometre/mile that costs the most, so this saves Canada Post a ton of money.

    There was a lot of opposition initially, but now it's just the way it is - and people tend to gather and chat at the Superboxes.

    One other trivia tidbit. Because the Canadian postal-code system (alternating letters and numbers - A1A 1A1) has many many many possible combinations, each Superbox has its own unique postal-code. Makes it easy to route the mail, even if the receiving office can't quite make out the address, if the code is clear they can forward it to the local delivering office who will be more familiar with the names. Also, in urban areas each side of a city block has it's own unique code. As well as any large buildings get their own code. As I said, it makes routing the mail to it's destination very efficient since the postal-code alone gets the mail to within a hundred metres, or less, of it's final destination.
     
  25. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

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    #25
    Ours has only 42 units, and we have our own code. Same with the slightly larger building next door.

    New subdivisions for quite a while have had Superboxes. They had no choice.

    Home delivery in older areas is Grandfathered, for now, but I think the days of carriers schlepping about a neighbourhood are numbered.
     

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