Even slower snail mail

Dec 6, 2011 | Posted by: roboblogger | Full story: Press-Telegram

Already mocked by some as "snail mail," first-class U.S. mail will slow even more by next spring under plans by the cash- strapped U.S. Postal Service to eliminate more than 250 processing centers.

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1 - 16 of 16 Comments Last updated Feb 14, 2012
Dork

Claremont, CA

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#1
Dec 6, 2011
 

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The only people who write letters today are people in jail. Outside of somebody who is on jail, why write a letter.
Ronald

Long Beach, CA

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#2
Dec 6, 2011
 

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More than 50 years ago I discussed the then existing Post Office personnel complement with a high ranking Post Office Department official. He explained to me that, broadly speaking, there were two major components of the Department's work force. One component were those who preformed the clerical functions that was needed to process the mail, and the other component were those who delivered the mail to its intended destination, the mailmen.

The official explained to me that any job being done by the clerical force could be mechanized, but there would always be the need for boots on the ground to spirit letters to their ultimate destination. At the time, neither of us could have envisioned the coming era of computerization that would eliminate even the need for much of the envisioned mechanization.

At the time, the Post Office clerical workers were represented by associations built on both the AFL craft union model, and on the CIO industrial union model. This distinction was made by vote by those affected according to city. For example, the Post Office clerical force who worked in Long Beach were represented by the National Postal Union, a bargaining association based on the CIO industrial union model.

As a result of a Post Office strike that was centered in New York City, the Government divested itself of the Post Office as a Department of the Executive Branch, instead, establishing today's Postal Service. The Government did not, though, divest itself of control of the "new" entity.

As is the normal tactic of the by the revolutionary Government that was then becoming established, the matter of "choice" was eliminated by holding a "democratic" nationwide election to determine only one bargaining representative which would thereafter represent the complement of clerical workers working for the Postal Service.

The winner of that election was the American Postal Workers Union.*(APWU)* The APWU is based on the AFL craft union model. As such, any mass reduction of clerical workers puts it at odds with the union representing the mailmen - also a AFL craft union - because the very purpose of an AFL union is to protect those in the craft that it represents. It would be very difficult for the Postal Service to modernize by transferring its unneeded clerical force into a craft that is being represented by another craft union, without participating serious labor strife.

Ronald
redfox

Long Beach, CA

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#3
Dec 7, 2011
 
old and disabled people still write letters and so grateful to receive one.
the year 2011

North Hollywood, CA

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#4
Dec 7, 2011
 

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redfox wrote:
old and disabled people still write letters and so grateful to receive one.
Time to buy an iPad, grampy. You too, stumpy!
redfox

Long Beach, CA

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#5
Dec 8, 2011
 
Thank you "THE year 2011" for your advice and kindly put down. You don,t know me so who gives you the innside of my life. I have all the latest tech.stuff. I was concerned when I wrote the avove letter. Compassion is not in your iPad! One day you might get old or ill ,if at all.
the year 2011

Northridge, CA

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#6
Dec 8, 2011
 

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redfox wrote:
Thank you "THE year 2011" for your advice and kindly put down. You don,t know me so who gives you the innside of my life. I have all the latest tech.stuff. I was concerned when I wrote the avove letter. Compassion is not in your iPad! One day you might get old or ill ,if at all.
You have all the latest tech stuff-except a spell checker. And what gives you the right to judge my iPad when you don't even have one? How do you know if it can display compassion? The truth is, if you had a new iPad, it wouldn't have allowed you to appear illiterate. It would have corrected your spelling for you. When you want a pizza, it tells you where the closest place is, and give you directions. If you want to hear music, it gives you millions of choices.
All in all, the iPad kicks Mother Theresa's ass.
Know your place, and quit talking smack about the iPad. You only display your abject ignorance.
Frodoe of Fort Monroe

Norfolk, VA

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#7
Dec 8, 2011
 
the year 2011 wrote:
<quoted text>
You have all the latest tech stuff-except a spell checker. And what gives you the right to judge my iPad when you don't even have one? How do you know if it can display compassion? The truth is, if you had a new iPad, it wouldn't have allowed you to appear illiterate. It would have corrected your spelling for you. When you want a pizza, it tells you where the closest place is, and give you directions. If you want to hear music, it gives you millions of choices.
All in all, the iPad kicks Mother Theresa's ass.
Know your place, and quit talking smack about the iPad. You only display your abject ignorance.
Would you ever like to see the making of a Fort Monroe postage stamp 'year 2011'?
Postman Jack

Norfolk, VA

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#8
Dec 8, 2011
 
Dork wrote:
The only people who write letters today are people in jail. Outside of somebody who is on jail, why write a letter.
You've never been in jail yourself, have you "Dork"?
the year 2011

Northridge, CA

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#9
Dec 8, 2011
 

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Frodoe of Fort Monroe wrote:
<quoted text>Would you ever like to see the making of a Fort Monroe postage stamp 'year 2011'?
No, but for historical irony's sake, I'd like to see it reassigned as a federal prison.

daw

Since: Oct 07

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#10
Dec 11, 2011
 
the year 2011 wrote:
<quoted text>
You have all the latest tech stuff-except a spell checker. And what gives you the right to judge my iPad when you don't even have one? How do you know if it can display compassion? The truth is, if you had a new iPad, it wouldn't have allowed you to appear illiterate. It would have corrected your spelling for you. When you want a pizza, it tells you where the closest place is, and give you directions. If you want to hear music, it gives you millions of choices.
All in all, the iPad kicks Mother Theresa's ass.
Know your place, and quit talking smack about the iPad. You only display your abject ignorance.
You might have spell-check but you're a ignorant parasite.

Since: Dec 11

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#11
Dec 21, 2011
 
If you think the post office only exists to send letters, so it is now obsolete because of the internet, think again:

"Think of what this slower service will do to time-sensitive materials like news publications and mail-order prescriptions to towns too small to have a pharmacy (and soon too small to have a post office) or to those Netflix movies that will now take 2-3 times longer to reach you, meaning you’ll get fewer a month. There are still many transactions that cannot be completed online, even though the transaction begins online, and there always will be. As a matter of fact, the whole argument that mail volume is down due to the internet and not the economy is highly questionable. Amazon and Netflix alone have added huge volume over the past decade. Things purchased online do not get to your home on a wire." ( http://thegreatrecession.info/blog/2011/12/po... )

With "Virtual Monday" or whatever they called it -- the big online shopping day after "Black Friday," having been a smash success, how do you think all those packages from all those millions of internet services got delivered? A major portion of them went by U.S. Mail, and U.S. Mail is by FAR the cheapest of overnight mail services for those who want to send a package any further than their own zone. Far, FAR cheaper than UPS.

--Knave Dave
Ronald

Long Beach, CA

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#12
Dec 22, 2011
 

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Knave Dave wrote:
If you think the post office only exists to send letters, so it is now obsolete because of the internet, think again:
"Think of what this slower service will do to time-sensitive materials like news publications and mail-order prescriptions to towns too small to have a pharmacy (and soon too small to have a post office) or to those Netflix movies that will now take 2-3 times longer to reach you, meaning you’ll get fewer a month. There are still many transactions that cannot be completed online, even though the transaction begins online, and there always will be. As a matter of fact, the whole argument that mail volume is down due to the internet and not the economy is highly questionable. Amazon and Netflix alone have added huge volume over the past decade. Things purchased online do not get to your home on a wire." ( http://thegreatrecession.info/blog/2011/12/po... )
With "Virtual Monday" or whatever they called it -- the big online shopping day after "Black Friday," having been a smash success, how do you think all those packages from all those millions of internet services got delivered? A major portion of them went by U.S. Mail, and U.S. Mail is by FAR the cheapest of overnight mail services for those who want to send a package any further than their own zone. Far, FAR cheaper than UPS.
--Knave Dave
Knave Dave.

You are right. UPS rates are far higher than those charged by USPS. That is no reason for the Postal Service to be complacent, though.

Until the latter part of the 50s decade, the Post Office had a virtual monopoly on Parcel Post delivery. Who can forget the then ubiquitous olive drab Post Office trucks going to and fro delivering their parcel post to nearly every community?

About that time, a business decision was made by Post Office management to concentrate on letter delivery. Little by little the Post Office divested itself of its parcel post in favor of the then fledgeling United Parcel Service. Rather than accomplishing this through overt actions, the handover of Parcel delivery was accomplished in large part by a failure of the Post Office to compete.

Everyone expressed guffaw, saying that UPS could never provide widespread service because at that time their delivery area was limited to making deliveries in major population centers.

Today, UPS trucks can be seen delivering parcels to the nation's furthest backwaters. In fact UPS has even expanded overseas.

It might be a good idea for the Postal Service to begin thinking of competing. If service cuts continue, letters may go the way of the parcels. This could be true even with the current rate penalty the Government requires non Postal Service carriers of letters to charge.

Ronald

Since: Dec 11

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#14
Feb 13, 2012
 

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Ronald wrote:
It might be a good idea for the Postal Service to begin thinking of competing. If service cuts continue, letters may go the way of the parcels. This could be true even with the current rate penalty the Government requires non Postal Service carriers of letters to charge.
Ronald
I think the US Postal Service is generally doing a great job of competing. They deliver far more things to far more areas at a lower price. It doesn't get much better than that for blowing the doors off your competition. Their problem is that they're hamstrung by congress, whereas none of the other services are. They have to provide flat letter delivery at rates that are not profitable and that no one else can touch. They could still deliver for less than others will touch, if they only raised a stamp five cents; but the postmaster general didn't put in for that much, and congress would never approve it. They always approve one-penny or two-penny increments that constantly keep the post office on the edge. They also created outrageous retirement funding deadlines that no one else has to match. They're trying to kill it so they can part it out to their cronies. Saving it would be the simplest thing on earth: raise the rate of bulk mail. Who wants to receive it anyway?
Ronald

Long Beach, CA

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#15
Feb 13, 2012
 
Knave Dave wrote:
<quoted text>
I think the US Postal Service is generally doing a great job of competing. They deliver far more things to far more areas at a lower price. It doesn't get much better than that for blowing the doors off your competition. Their problem is that they're hamstrung by congress, whereas none of the other services are. They have to provide flat letter delivery at rates that are not profitable and that no one else can touch. They could still deliver for less than others will touch, if they only raised a stamp five cents; but the postmaster general didn't put in for that much, and congress would never approve it. They always approve one-penny or two-penny increments that constantly keep the post office on the edge. They also created outrageous retirement funding deadlines that no one else has to match. They're trying to kill it so they can part it out to their cronies. Saving it would be the simplest thing on earth: raise the rate of bulk mail. Who wants to receive it anyway?
Knave Dave.

Well, I certainly do not know what the answer is. The development of electronic forms of communication has thrown a monkey wrench into the traditional Post Office model. I would like to touch upon a couple of the thoughtful points you made, though.

First, with regard to the Congress hamstringing the Postal Service. It is the Congress that created the postal monopoly. Because the Postal Service's value to the Government is far greater than just the delivery of mail, the Congress continues to protect that monopoly. The postal monopoly favors the Postal Service with economy of scale to deliver letters as well as other mail. No one really knows what is a fair and reasonable price that should be charged for delivering letters, because there are no competitive forces extant by which to compare that price.

Another point you made was that letter postage rates should be increased in the range of about 10% at a time, rather than increasing those rates based on Government caused inflation. The Postal Reorganization Act of 1970 established the right of Postal Service employees to bargain collectively for wages, hours, and conditions of employment. Were a surplus of money available to the Postal Service - temporary though it might be - it would be soon gobbled up at the bargaining table in the form of increased wages and benefits, both by craft workers, and Postal Service management alike.

Another point you made concerns the requirement for the Postal Service to pre-fund certain future retiree obligations such as retiree medical insurance. In view of the fact that the Postal service is downsizing as a result of the supposed declining volume of letter mail, this is a reasonable requirement. It is especially so when one takes into consideration the probable future increase of personnel relegated to the retirement rolls because of downsizing. The only question needs to be answered is where is the Postal Service going to get the money?

One might say that the Postal Service is a political animal *(so to speak)* as much so as it was in the days when the Post Office was a cabinet level Department of the Executive Branch. No matter how much the public relies on electronic forms for communicating, there will always be the need for hard copy delivery of letters and other mail. The Postal Service is a creation of the Congress. Let us hope the Congress comes up with a solution to its current vexing dilemma.

Ronald

Since: Dec 11

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#16
Feb 14, 2012
 
Hi, Ronald.

I cannot agree that congress has created a postal monopoly, as there is nothing barring other delivery services from doing regular daily letters. They simply choose not to compete because they cannot come even close to the rate the post office gives. Of course, neither can the post office because they are losing money on the daily mail as congress requires them to do.

I agree that no one knows what a fair and reasonable cost is for delivering letters because there is no competition. I only disagree that this is a government-established monopoly. While the post office has the scale to do this, no one has seriously attempted any inroads into this arena, and no law bars them from trying. If they could do it for less, they would, in the very least start doing it as UPS first did with packages inside large municipalities, offering people a better daily mail rate for any letters within the municipality. There are no anti-competitive practices being waged against UPS and FedEx in this arena by either the U.S. government or the United States Postal Service.

I don't think there is any way of knowing that an increase in rates would be gobbled up by competitive bargaining by the postal union. I'm all for employees uniting to represent their own interests before their employer. Individually, they are powerless. I am as against anti-competitive practices by unions, however, as I am by employers ... such as when they shut out non-unionized employees or such as gold-bricking.

I am aghast that you think it is reasonable to require ANY institution to fund its retirement 75 years into the future. Present retirees and downsized people will never live anywhere near that long, and no organization in the U.S. has ever had such an enormous and absurd burden placed on it. Moreover, this plan is clearly intended to be destructive. There is no way around seeing that because it requires the 75 years be fully funded within 10 years. I've worked on MANY long-range budgets, but never any that went further out than twenty years and never any that required the twenty-year mark be fully funded in an eight that time. Rather, they require that the all the expenses running out for twenty years be fully funded by the year when the expenses will come due. That's full funding. Requiring that an expense near the end of this new century be fully funded in ten years is absurd. It would be nearly impossible for any organization to meet that. A healthy retirement fund is fully funded well into the future, but only in the sense that its projected income is reasonably based and is enough to cover those expenses as those expenses become due.

How can you argue that it is 1) fair to put a retirement funding plan on the back of the USPS that is more severe than any known plan of any business or government anywhere? 2) that it is justified because the post office has to now lay off employees because you are forcing the situation by forcing them to do bulk mail and regular letters at rates that cannot be profitable, even at the time they are imposed, much less trying to factor in how the unions will respond. They are not prices that match the cost even if the unions do nothing. So, they are KNOWN to fail as a pricing structure.
Ronald

Long Beach, CA

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#17
Feb 14, 2012
 
"Knave Dave"Hi, Ronald.
I cannot agree that congress has created a postal monopoly, as there is nothing barring other delivery services from doing regular daily letters...

*(I have deleted your comments from this point onward only for the purpose of keeping my response within the allowable 4000 character limit)*

Knave Dave.

Well, I am not privy to all the rationales' the Congress uses to require the Postal Service to pre-fund certain retiree benefits, but I suspect it might be in anticipation of the eventual full divestiture of the Postal Service by the Congress, at least "technically" so. Were that to be done, the money to fund those benefits would not be there, and it's likely the taxpayer would be legally liable for the cost. Just a thought.

There seems to be some confusion in the minds of the public as to what the pre-funding of employee benefits entails. It is not the pre-funding of the retirement system. Postal Service employee retirement is a function of the Civil Service Retirement system and the Social Security tax system. If we are to believe what the Government tells us,-*(?)*,- these funds are in good financial condition.

The pre-funding of employee retirement funds entails only those benefits agreed to that are in excess to those provided Government employees. Those benefits were agreed to by Postal Service management at the collective bargaining table. This pre-funding is not the pre-funding of the Postal Service employee retirement system.

The legal authority for Congressional involvement in the delivery of mail is stated in the Constitution. Article 1 Section 8 States:

"...the Congress shall have the power...To establish Post Offices and Post Roads..."

This authority was clarified by Private express Statutes that were enacted during the 19th century. Because of the growing dissatisfaction that was expressed by the business community, the Postal Service implemented a policy of waving those statutes under certain conditions, one of which is the the requirement that a penalty charge floor be imposed by private carriers for the carriage of time sensitive mail.

From time to time one hears of the Postal Service causing legal problems for private carriers who attempt to break the Government monopoly of letter mail. Perhaps the most famous of those was the American Letter Mail Company.

Source: http://goo.gl/erlPI

Source: http://goo.gl/O1ESS

Source: http://goo.gl/ZDZim

Ronald

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