United States Postal Service: What to do?

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United States Postal Service: What to do?

Post by Rob Lister » Sun Nov 14, 2010 3:39 pm

I put this thread in science and mathematics even though it technically belongs in Politics and Social Events. Its not that I want to avoid the politics of the matter, I just want to avoid the partisan part of those politics along the usual lines (Rep/Dem - Con/Lib)

That said, the first quote I'm going to provide, before I provide context, is this:
Postal Service spokeswoman Joanne Veto said her organization has asked Congress to allow it to scale back to five-day delivery, cutting Saturdays,...
http://money.cnn.com/2010/11/12/news/ec ... topstories

Okay, that's out of the way.

Something has got to give. The five-day work-week is a winner. Maybe even three days.

Now for some context
The Postal Service said its net loss totaled $8.5 billion in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. That compares to a loss of $3.8 billion the prior year.
I could quote more but looking at the longer trend (1900-2009) there is clearly a real problem starting about 2000. I took the liberty of charting that data (pls excuse the formatting); the y axis is billions of pieces of mail, the x is 1900 to 2008
b.
Captureusps.JPG
You can see recessions and depressions pretty clearly. No doubt that the economy is impacting us now, but email and the intertubes in general are the real issue. Well, maybe a decline population growth too but I don't have the numbers on that.
The Postal Service blamed the deeper losses on the recession and on the continuing growth of e-mail.


Well, we knew that, and I don't fault him for stating the obvious because I did too.

Another site I looked at said email wasn't a big problem because the problem only really started recently, more recently than computers have been in popular use, but I think that is wrong. It takes a while for business processes to change and they are only just now really changing the way they communicate with customers. Sure, we stopped mailing checks a while back but we still got the bill in the regular mail.
(with the exception of one bill, all my regular bills come via email, and I pay them all via the computer...but that's just me).


But what to do?

I'm of the opinion that we still need the USPS. (do you agree?)
I'm of the opinion that it really is a pretty efficient organization in terms of actual flow processes. (do you agree?)
I think they should cut back delivery (and workforce) by whatever it takes (5? 4? 3?/w)
I think they should [be able to] raise rates by whatever it takes (hopefully they'll look at their Supply/Demand charts and make thoughtful adjustments).
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Re: United States Postal Service: What to do?

Post by hammegk » Sun Nov 14, 2010 4:30 pm

My real question is why is USPS supposed to self-fund? What other Fed program has that restriction?

That and the only fully-funded Pension liability on the face of the planet?

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Re: United States Postal Service: What to do?

Post by corplinx » Sun Nov 14, 2010 4:43 pm

hammegk wrote:My real question is why is USPS supposed to self-fund?

Because it is not a charity. They compete with UPS/Fedex/etc.

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Re: United States Postal Service: What to do?

Post by Rob Lister » Sun Nov 14, 2010 4:52 pm

hammegk wrote:My real question is why is USPS supposed to self-fund? What other Fed program has that restriction?

That and the only fully-funded Pension liability on the face of the planet?
The usps is really only quasi-fed. But regardless, why are not ALL pensions fully funded, public and private alike.

Get past it. Focus on this real issue: the future of the USPS.

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Re: United States Postal Service: What to do?

Post by hammegk » Sun Nov 14, 2010 5:03 pm

Barring a constitutional amendment, it's here to stay.

The few billion needed to fund it is peanuts, and the only reason it's under continuing attack is that it effects every one of us on a day to day basis, and no one wants to lose it, but politicians want to direct our attention -- as usual -- from where they do nothing but waste taxpayer $. Like funding DOA Obambicare.

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Re: United States Postal Service: What to do?

Post by Rob Lister » Sun Nov 14, 2010 5:08 pm

hammegk wrote:Barring a constitutional amendment, it's here to stay.

The few billion needed to fund it is peanuts, and the only reason it's under continuing attack is that it effects every one of us on a day to day basis, and no one wants to lose it, but politicians want to direct our attention -- as usual -- from where they do nothing but waste taxpayer $. Like funding DOA Obambicare.
Did you catch the part in the OP about why this was posted in S and T and not Politics?

Did you look at the questions I posed at the bottom?

Did you read past the first paragraph?

Can you read?

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Re: United States Postal Service: What to do?

Post by Rob Lister » Sun Nov 14, 2010 5:11 pm

In the OP I opined
Something has got to give. The five-day work-week is a winner. Maybe even three days.
What I meant was

The five-day deliver-week is a winner. Maybe even three days. The postmen can work 8 days a week if that's a keeper.

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Re: United States Postal Service: What to do?

Post by gnome » Sun Nov 14, 2010 5:16 pm

I'm not sure why putting it in the wrong forum was going to avoid partisan conversation... :P

I'm a fan of all pensions being fully funded. What's the idea behind them NOT being?
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Re: United States Postal Service: What to do?

Post by Rob Lister » Sun Nov 14, 2010 5:23 pm

gnome wrote:I'm not sure why putting it in the wrong forum was going to avoid partisan conversation... :P

I'm a fan of all pensions being fully funded. What's the idea behind them NOT being?
To make it look like they are more profitable than they are. It doesn't address the issue of declining need and declining revenue. so what to do?

I'm of the opinion that we still need the USPS. (do you agree?)
I'm of the opinion that it really is a pretty efficient organization in terms of actual flow processes. (do you agree?)
I think they should cut back delivery (and workforce) by whatever it takes (5? 4? 3?/w)
I think they should [be able to] raise rates by whatever it takes (hopefully they'll look at their Supply/Demand charts and make thoughtful adjustments).

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Re: United States Postal Service: What to do?

Post by hammegk » Sun Nov 14, 2010 5:27 pm

Rob Lister wrote: I put this thread in science and mathematics even though it technically belongs in Politics and Social Events. Its not that I want to avoid the politics of the matter, I just want to avoid the partisan part of those politics along the usual lines (Rep/Dem - Con/Lib)
My comments so far have not been partisan, dipshit.
But what to do?

I'm of the opinion that we still need the USPS. (do you agree?)
Yes. Constitution.
I'm of the opinion that it really is a pretty efficient organization in terms of actual flow processes. (do you agree?)
Yes, but they do have some staffing issues with people that apparently know they can't be fired, so why work.
I think they should cut back delivery (and workforce) by whatever it takes (5? 4? 3?/w)
Nope.
I think they should [be able to] raise rates by whatever it takes (hopefully they'll look at their Supply/Demand charts and make thoughtful adjustments).
Again. Nope. Why should they be forced to self-fund?

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Re: United States Postal Service: What to do?

Post by corplinx » Sun Nov 14, 2010 5:34 pm

Self-funding at least forces some kinds of efficiency.

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Re: United States Postal Service: What to do?

Post by Rob Lister » Sun Nov 14, 2010 6:01 pm

hammegk wrote:
Rob Lister wrote: I put this thread in science and mathematics even though it technically belongs in Politics and Social Events. Its not that I want to avoid the politics of the matter, I just want to avoid the partisan part of those politics along the usual lines (Rep/Dem - Con/Lib)
My comments so far have not been partisan, dipshit.
But what to do?

I'm of the opinion that we still need the USPS. (do you agree?)
Yes. Constitution.
The constitution does not address whether we still need it. It also doesn't require changing the constitution to get rid of it. It only empowers congress "To establish post offices and post roads;" It doesn't prescribe how they do it or even require that they do it at all.
hammegk wrote:
Rob Lister wrote: I'm of the opinion that it really is a pretty efficient organization in terms of actual flow processes. (do you agree?)
Yes, but they do have some staffing issues with people that apparently know they can't be fired, so why work.
That is an issue, but according to some, most of them put in a pretty solid day. They're pretty tightly self-regulated that way. Don't go 'postal' on me about that. There may be legit issues with how much they get paid and what their retirement benefits are but that's water under the bridge. Looking forward, that can be addressed. But how?
hammegk wrote:
Rob Lister wrote: I think they should cut back delivery (and workforce) by whatever it takes (5? 4? 3?/w)
Nope.
Why not? Do we need delivery every day? Why six days a week? If they cut it down to 3 (mon, wed, fri) they would save a buttload of money. That could possibly cut their operating costs by a third (rather than the more obvious half).

hammegk wrote:
Rob Lister wrote:I think they should [be able to] raise rates by whatever it takes (hopefully they'll look at their Supply/Demand charts and make thoughtful adjustments).
Again. Nope. Why should they be forced to self-fund?
Why should they NOT be self-funded. Self-funding puts the cost where it belongs -- the users.

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Re: United States Postal Service: What to do?

Post by Geni » Sun Nov 14, 2010 7:32 pm

gnome wrote:I'm not sure why putting it in the wrong forum was going to avoid partisan conversation... :P

I'm a fan of all pensions being fully funded. What's the idea behind them NOT being?
Varies. The most obvious case if penssions have to be fully funded it is impossible for a large established organisation to intruduce a pension scheme because people a few years a way from retirement will require it to make a massive up front payment (this is why state pensions are not normaly fully funded). For businesses their pension scheme usualy involves investments in the stockmaket. During a downturn the value of those investments fall resulting in a situation where a company is handed a bill for several billion just when they can least afford it.

But even if you ignore those two "fully funded" is the kind of idea accountants can have way too much fun with.

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Re: United States Postal Service: What to do?

Post by hammegk » Sun Nov 14, 2010 7:37 pm

Rob Lister wrote:
hammegk wrote:
Rob Lister wrote: I put this thread in science and mathematics even though it technically belongs in Politics and Social Events. Its not that I want to avoid the politics of the matter, I just want to avoid the partisan part of those politics along the usual lines (Rep/Dem - Con/Lib)
My comments so far have not been partisan, dipshit.
But what to do?

I'm of the opinion that we still need the USPS. (do you agree?)
Yes. Constitution.
The constitution does not address whether we still need it. It also doesn't require changing the constitution to get rid of it. It only empowers congress "To establish post offices and post roads;" It doesn't prescribe how they do it or even require that they do it at all.
Hogwash.
hammegk wrote:
Rob Lister wrote: I'm of the opinion that it really is a pretty efficient organization in terms of actual flow processes. (do you agree?)
Yes, but they do have some staffing issues with people that apparently know they can't be fired, so why work.
That is an issue, but according to some, most of them put in a pretty solid day. They're pretty tightly self-regulated that way. Don't go 'postal' on me about that. There may be legit issues with how much they get paid and what their retirement benefits are but that's water under the bridge. Looking forward, that can be addressed. But how?
Nope, only an issue with people that don't earn either their pay or benefits. After DMVs, the USPS offices where people actually have to meet them is next worse.
hammegk wrote:
Rob Lister wrote: I think they should cut back delivery (and workforce) by whatever it takes (5? 4? 3?/w)
Nope.
Why not? Do we need delivery every day? Why six days a week? If they cut it down to 3 (mon, wed, fri) they would save a buttload of money. That could possibly cut their operating costs by a third (rather than the more obvious half).
I doubt it. The mechanization costs & depreciation are still there, and working for 1/2 pay isn't an option most people can live with.

hammegk wrote:
Rob Lister wrote:I think they should [be able to] raise rates by whatever it takes (hopefully they'll look at their Supply/Demand charts and make thoughtful adjustments).
Again. Nope. Why should they be forced to self-fund?
Why should they NOT be self-funded. Self-funding puts the cost where it belongs -- the users.
Not sure why that belongs there any more than other 'govt service'. Luckily I don't use the military much; I damn sure can't afford them -- but do, through general tax revenues, the same source that funds the USPS.

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Re: United States Postal Service: What to do?

Post by gnome » Sun Nov 14, 2010 9:45 pm

Wait... by "fully funded" I mean that pension money is saved as it's earned... why would that require any huge up front cost? If it's a question of "catching up" a transition method can be devised...

During a downturn--if you're only risking money already funded, why do you need extra money to cover it?
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Re: United States Postal Service: What to do?

Post by Rob Lister » Sun Nov 14, 2010 11:16 pm

hammegk wrote:
Rob Lister wrote: The constitution does not address whether we still need it. It also doesn't require changing the constitution to get rid of it. It only empowers congress "To establish post offices and post roads;" It doesn't prescribe how they do it or even require that they do it at all.
Hogwash.
Why is it 'hogwash'. Is there a part of the constitution to which only you are privy?
hammegk wrote: Nope, only an issue with people that don't earn either their pay or benefits. After DMVs, the USPS offices where people actually have to meet them is next worse.
Well, we agree on something anyway. What is your solution?
hammegk wrote:
Rob Lister wrote: Why not? Do we need delivery every day? Why six days a week? If they cut it down to 3 (mon, wed, fri) they would save a buttload of money. That could possibly cut their operating costs by a third (rather than the more obvious half).
I doubt it. The mechanization costs & depreciation are still there, and working for 1/2 pay isn't an option most people can live with.
Not half pay, half the carriers. Maybe not so little as half but two-thirds would be too many for a 3-day delivery schedule. This can be done through attrition or hiring fewer temps.

hammegk wrote:
Rob Lister wrote: Why should they NOT be self-funded. Self-funding puts the cost where it belongs -- the users.
Not sure why that belongs there any more than other 'govt service'. Luckily I don't use the military much; I damn sure can't afford them -- but do, through general tax revenues, the same source that funds the USPS.
I don't think the comparison holds. If you don't want to use the postal service, you simply don't buy stamps. I don't, unless the situation is forced. But sometimes they are necessary and for that reason, I think we should keep them, at least for another 50 years.

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Re: United States Postal Service: What to do?

Post by Grammatron » Tue Nov 16, 2010 7:36 pm

corplinx wrote:
hammegk wrote:My real question is why is USPS supposed to self-fund?

Because it is not a charity. They compete with UPS/Fedex/etc.
Actually, by law, USPS competes with no one. In fact, if someone actually tries to compete with USPS they would be in violation of said law.

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Re: United States Postal Service: What to do?

Post by DrMatt » Tue Nov 16, 2010 8:51 pm

The USPS exists first and foremost as the government's way of communicating with itself. Philosophically, in the USA, the government is us. So we get to use it. And then we get to mock it as communist.
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Re: United States Postal Service: What to do?

Post by EvilYeti » Thu Nov 18, 2010 3:05 am

Rob Lister wrote: I'm of the opinion that we still need the USPS. (do you agree?)
I'm of the opinion that it really is a pretty efficient organization in terms of actual flow processes. (do you agree?)
I think they should cut back delivery (and workforce) by whatever it takes (5? 4? 3?/w)
I think they should [be able to] raise rates by whatever it takes (hopefully they'll look at their Supply/Demand charts and make thoughtful adjustments).
I'm sure you all will find this amusing, but I say we should shit-can the whole thing.

My reasoning:

1. Their service sucks.

Whenever I ship something to my parents I have to use FedEx or UPS anyway as the USPS invariably fucks up the delivery. The management at their local post office could care less as nobody ever gets fired.

2. They are redundant.

See above.

3. They enable shitty and lazy small businesses.

The only thing I get in my mailbox at home is a few bills from places that won't do e-bills with my bank and about 40 metric tons of junk mail a year. Get rid of the USPS and it forces everyone to either switch to electronic billing or pay through the nose for the premium carriers. The junk-mailers can go fuck themselves.

I also think we should shit-can NASA while we are at it, but that's a different argument.

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Re: United States Postal Service: What to do?

Post by Rob Lister » Thu Nov 18, 2010 11:56 am

EvilYeti wrote:
Rob Lister wrote: I'm of the opinion that we still need the USPS. (do you agree?)
I'm of the opinion that it really is a pretty efficient organization in terms of actual flow processes. (do you agree?)
I think they should cut back delivery (and workforce) by whatever it takes (5? 4? 3?/w)
I think they should [be able to] raise rates by whatever it takes (hopefully they'll look at their Supply/Demand charts and make thoughtful adjustments).
I'm sure you all will find this amusing, but I say we should shit-can the whole thing.

My reasoning:

1. Their service sucks.

Whenever I ship something to my parents I have to use FedEx or UPS anyway as the USPS invariably fucks up the delivery. The management at their local post office could care less as nobody ever gets fired.

2. They are redundant.

See above.

3. They enable shitty and lazy small businesses.

The only thing I get in my mailbox at home is a few bills from places that won't do e-bills with my bank and about 40 metric tons of junk mail a year. Get rid of the USPS and it forces everyone to either switch to electronic billing or pay through the nose for the premium carriers. The junk-mailers can go fuck themselves.

I also think we should shit-can NASA while we are at it, but that's a different argument.
1. I don't think there service sucks that bad. For the price of a stamp, you can have a letter delivered anywhere in the US in a few days. Packages they suck at. You could wait weeks.

2. They are, by law, not redundant. UPS and fedex can't do letters (cheaply), and can't even touch your mailbox. But lets kill the law for argument's sake. how long would it take ups/fedex/other to stand up enough trucks and people to touch every house in the US 6 times a week?

3. I don't understand 3.

Computers are not the solution...yet. It could be made the solution, but it would be more costly than USPS subsidies by far.

But I'm open to ideas. How would you do the switchover. You can use the following survey as thought-food.
http://www.npr.org/programs/specials/poll/technology/
but use other sources as you see fit.