RWP was born in Manchester, in the north of England, in the late 1950s, so he is very old. He really liked the north of England, which by 1965 was hip and had three TV channels, and where he went to a coed school. His parents, for reasons best known to themselves, then yanked him away, to Belfast and then Dublin, which had one TV channel that started up at 6 pm with the Angelus (Catholic call to prayer). He also had to go to an all boys school, where he realized he really missed girls. This probably let him focus on schoolwork, though, and at age 19, after he had finished college, he set off for America, where he still resides. He has a bachelors degree in biochemistry and a Ph.D. from Harvard in biophysics, and has lived also in Mainz, Germany, Setauket NY, and Richland WA. He currently divides his time between Nebraska, Rosslyn VA, and Florida.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Why does the US Post Office still exist?

They may have been a time when a nation needed a government run postal service. That time is not today. 90%+ of our communication runs via the internet. Most of us pay nearly all our bills online. Most of us don't trust the Post Office to deliver important documents or merchandise, preferring to entrust them to private vendors. I still have a mailbox, which every day collects an ever dwindling stock of coupons and junk mail, delivered inefficiently by a rural postal carrier from a post office ten miles distant. Nonetheless, the USPS has a monopoly on that receptacle, and can theoretically prosecute any private party that deposits anything in it. It's ludicrous.

Germany, hardly a bastion of wide-eyed libertarianism, privatized its postal service ten years ago. Deutsche Post is doing quite well as a private company. It bought DHL, and its stock price has doubled in the past three years. Why don't we do the same? Brief answer -- labor unions. The USPS has no fewer than four labor unions, which fight any attempt to shut down their overpaid, high-benefit gummint jobs.

The USPS is, of course, going broke, and recently announced a plan to close a large number of rural post offices (including mine), and many mail processing centers. A combination of unions and rural Luddites lobbied for a bailout costing $11 bn, which will be nominally taken from payments to the Federal Retirement system -- but of course, it's all one big pool of Federal money, and this ultimately becomes part of the national debt. To its everlasting disgrace, the Senate voted 62-37 for the comically named 'Postal Reform Bill' (if only). 13 Republicans -- may they be primaried -- voted for it. 4 Democrats voted against it. Even the Postmaster General thinks it's a piece of crap.

Needless to say, the contemptible Don Walton of the LJS exulted over Ben Nelson's vote for the 'bipartisan' piece of legislation, and noted Mike Johanns voted against it.

Take my mail service -- please! I'll happily buy a mailbox in town if you'll simply deduct from my taxes the humungous cost of delivery.

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