Archive for May, 2012

Our postal system has been the envy of the world for a long time.

I never really knew how amazing that statement was until I visited Africa and someone mentioned that about 70% of mail either goes undelivered or has been violated along the way.  Yikes!

Many years ago I read where the Post Office became “semi-private.”

That is, it was a government agency… but acted like a private corporation.

As such, it was one of the few government agencies to actually make a profit… as I recall, it used to kick out about $1 billion or so every year (when a $1 billion or so was a lot of money!)… of course for the benefits of we taxpayers since it wasn’t actually a private corporation.

I used to use that as a data point why non-government things just ran better.

Over the last few years (decades?), the Post Office seemed to have lost its way.  Once or twice a year we read about how it has turned into a dinosaur… the assumption being it couldn’t keep up with technology trends and has become increasingly irrelevant.

How could this grand experiment — that I pointed to so proudly — gotten so off track?

Turns out, through government interference.

The New York Times has an excellent piece about the state of the Post Office… the article starts off:

     “Well before online bill paying was popular, the Postal Service in 2000 began operating a secure system that would have allowed it to remain the primary conduit for most Americans’ monthly payments.

     But the Internet industry objected, and Congress successfully pressured the Postal Service to abandon it.

     The same pattern has repeated several times over the last decade, with the Postal Service identifying a way to cope with the decline of traditional mail, only to have companies — and ultimately Congress — object.”

So, don’t put the Post Office in a “no win” situation… either let them compete fairly like a private corporation… or stop bitchin’ about what an awful organization they have been forced to become.