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John Smith
09-23-2011, 06:46 PM
We've all heard the Postal Service has money problems. They are not caused by what most of us think.

This is interesting

http://www.statesmanjournal.com/article/20110922/OPINION/109220329/Fact-check-Did-Internet-kill-Postal-Service-

Basically what it says is that in 2006 a bill was passed that drains $5.5 billion a year from the postal service to pay its health care costs for 75 years out.


I've been retired for 11 years, so I haven't been keeping up with this. I can say that for all my years there constant pressure was being applied to turn SOME of the post office over to private industry. Many companies seemed to want the right to deliver first class mail, but only in the more populated areas where it is profitable.

This 2006 bill seems to me another way of stacking the deck against someone (in this case the Postal Service) and then complaing when they don't win the game.

There was a time, and maybe it still is this way, that UPS would take a package for any address in the nation. If it was a rural, low population area, they would mail it.

This bill, I'm told, was sponored or authored by Susan Collins who, I'm also told, has been fighting to keep a small post office branch open. Strange.

When I first went to work at the post office, every piece of mail was faced, cancelled, and sorted by hand. I witnessed the coming of various forms of automation, all of which cut down on the clerk force. Letter carriers have to do their entire route daily whether volume is high or low.

I can also tell you that when we had a Monday holiday that wasn't honored by everyone, it took enormous amounts of overtime to dig out during the week.

According to the info in that link, recent years have had higher volume that most would think. If that's true, I don't believe the mail can be handled and properly delivered over a 5 day delivery week.

bobbys
09-23-2011, 08:06 PM
. My grandfather was a letter carrier in Clifton, started during the depression and was a sub for 8 years till he landed a full time job.

In the 60s bought me plate blocks every month

Mad Scientist
09-24-2011, 07:42 PM
I'm astonished that it takes an act of Congress to eliminate Saturday mail delivery.

Tom

Arizona Bay
09-24-2011, 07:59 PM
I'm astonished that it takes an act of Congress to eliminate Saturday mail delivery.

Tom

Establishing a Postal Service and Post roads is written into the constitution, Article 1 section 8.

I'm amazed that they can under fund it. It's not intened to make money, it's a service of the Gov.
In other words it's a service to the people, provided by the people.

Ian McColgin
09-24-2011, 08:08 PM
Actually, when you consider the duty to serve everywhere and the duty to carry and the price controls, USPS is about twice as cost effective as FedEx or UPS. It was even, as established by our ever so sacred founders, a free service with 100% operating costs covered by our greatgreatwhatever's tax dollars - up to the 1840s when the first US stamp was issued, if I remember right.

Nicholas Scheuer
09-24-2011, 08:19 PM
Tha same people who whine about the Postal Service "not making a profit" are the same people who whine about rail transport not making a profit.

Wonder how much profit the Norwegian Postal Service makes? Wonder how much money we've made waging war in Iraq?

Moby Nick

Arizona Bay
09-24-2011, 08:43 PM
Pretty much the same people that believe that Health Care should be a source of profit.
I don't want Govt. run like a business, I want it run like a Govt., providing for the common good of all the people, and as efficiently as possible

brad9798
09-24-2011, 08:57 PM
The USPS is the greatest, if not one of the greatest, institutions our 'fine' country has ever developed ...

Folks that complain about it have no clue about it ...

That being said- YES--get rid of Saturday delivery. THAT alone will solve a lot of issues ...

B

Ian McColgin
09-24-2011, 10:32 PM
Hank raises a fair point. The numbers are very hard to compare since the law does not require either UPS or FedEx to carry junk mail or even first class mail. Think about it.

Waddie
09-24-2011, 11:25 PM
Actually the USPS does make a profit on most of their business, in fact only one area is the cause of their problems. And if government would treat them fairly they could make a profit on ALL of their business.
Having said that, and being a supporter of the USPS, they are taking steps in the right direction.

New, privately owned post offices are being opened up across the nation. The one opening in Liberty, Missouri is called "Goin' Postal". Catchey.

The existing government owned post offices will now be allowed to sell non USPS items in their branches. About time.

The USPS needs to be able to change with the times in order to become profitable. This is a case where government over-regulation is hurting a fundamentally sound business model.

regards,
Waddie

Ian McColgin
09-25-2011, 07:30 AM
The main point is duty to serve. If we want a mail system that provides cheap service on major routes and leaves poor and rural people with nothing, then we should go private. Otherwise, parcel carriers need to be regulated such that they can make money and compete with each other but not simply cream profit from USPS.

John Smith
09-25-2011, 07:50 AM
Tha same people who whine about the Postal Service "not making a profit" are the same people who whine about rail transport not making a profit.

Wonder how much profit the Norwegian Postal Service makes? Wonder how much money we've made waging war in Iraq?

Moby Nick
The United States POstal Service is, by law, prohibited from making a profit. It has to break even, and postage and fees must cover it's cost. It is the cheapest postal service in the world, and the most efficient.

The mail volume when I left in 2000 prohibited eliminating Saturday delivery. Everyone thinks of the few letters/bills/magazines they get. Until you've seen the pile of mail this all makes at your local delievery office, you cannot imagine the amount of mail your letter carrier delivers on an average day. It is important to note the overtime required to dig out behind a Monday holiday. That holiday made for a 5 day delivery week, and with no cut in mail volume, it could not be delivered over the course of the week without a ton of overtime.

UPS and FED EX don't really do what the post office does. We deliver all the election related mail, all the ads sent out by various stores, as well as magazines, non profit mailings, parcels, etc. in addition to first class mail.

Bill Maher lives in California. His mom in NJ. He has had no problems with sending her letters or her sending him letters, and they've always gotten to their destination within two days.

People who are experts on the postal service are just like the people who don't have kids being experts on how to raise them.

John Smith
09-25-2011, 07:52 AM
How do you figure that??? UPS and Fedex are both very profitable and known to be very well run companies. The post office is the total opposite on both counts.
They are not the same services, and of the three, only the post office is prohibited from making a profit.

John Smith
09-25-2011, 07:55 AM
The USPS is the greatest, if not one of the greatest, institutions our 'fine' country has ever developed ...

Folks that complain about it have no clue about it ...

That being said- YES--get rid of Saturday delivery. THAT alone will solve a lot of issues ...
Having worked in the post office for 32 years, I suspect ending Saturday delivery will cause more problems than it solves.



Byou are basically saying do 48 hours worth of work in 40 hours. If that leads to 6 hours of overtime pay, what have you gained?

John Smith
09-25-2011, 07:57 AM
Hank raises a fair point. The numbers are very hard to compare since the law does not require either UPS or FedEx to carry junk mail or even first class mail. Think about it.

Also, neither of them deliver to every address every day. Let me repeat, when I left in 2000, it was my understanding that UPS mailed through the post office packages going into more rural areas.

ishmael
09-25-2011, 07:57 AM
I'm not hep to the ins and outs of this, poilitical, economic, logistical, but I could sure do with less junk.

I rent a PO box at my town Post Office, and 9/10s of what comes through there is advertising for stuff that not now, not ever, am I going to be interested in.

Would there be a way to return the postal service to delivering just letters and packages?

John Smith
09-25-2011, 08:00 AM
Actually the USPS does make a profit on most of their business, in fact only one area is the cause of their problems. And if government would treat them fairly they could make a profit on ALL of their business.
Having said that, and being a supporter of the USPS, they are taking steps in the right direction.

New, privately owned post offices are being opened up across the nation. The one opening in Liberty, Missouri is called "Goin' Postal". Catchey.

The existing government owned post offices will now be allowed to sell non USPS items in their branches. About time.

The USPS needs to be able to change with the times in order to become profitable. This is a case where government over-regulation is hurting a fundamentally sound business model.

regards,
WaddieMany private business would love to deliver first class mail, but only in selected areas. There are many areas that are very rural and delivering mail to them cannot be done with a profit in mind.

Why does the postal service have to make a profit? What do you gain out of that?

John Smith
09-25-2011, 08:03 AM
I'm not hep to the ins and outs of this, poilitical, economic, logistical, but I could sure do with less junk.

I rent a PO box at my town Post Office, and 9/10s of what comes through there is advertising for stuff that not now, not ever, am I going to be interested in.

Would there be a way to return the postal service to delivering just letters and packages?

First of all, your "junk" is another man's "gold". All of these things generate revenue for the postal service and help keep the price of the mail you'd like it to stick to down.

I am curious as why you'd pay for box so you have to go the the PO to pick up the same mail they'd deliver to your home for free.

John Smith
09-25-2011, 08:10 AM
To lighten things up a bit. Some of the older folks here will remember planes bound for Miami being hijacked to Cuba being a fairly frequent happening. During that time a lady in our lobby asked me if a letter she mails today will be in Miami tomorrow. I responded, "If it doesn't go to Cuba." It took her a minute to realize that the planes hijacked had mail on them.

Sometimes we'd have a wallet that was dumped in a mailbox, and I'd call the person who would come to get it, and we'd ask for ID. LOL...

One night I answered the phone and the person wanted to know what time the movie started at the local theathre.

For those who insist on UPS being the better service, my friend had a business, and he had more breakage of his product shipping UPS than by the postal service.

I personally had a package delivered to me that was not for my address by UPS. I called them, and they said they'd come back and pick it up. I called them three days in a row, and they never came to pick that package up. I delivered that package to the right place.

Tylerdurden
09-25-2011, 08:17 AM
Post office is a good example of the welfare state gone wrong. If one doesn't understand what is constitutionally mandated in comparison to city delivery one doesn't have a clue how to fix it. I suggest you read up on that and browse through Lysander Spooner and his bid to make a system that works.
If you really adventurous read up on the definitions of city delivery and what type of citizen you are to receive it.

John Smith
09-25-2011, 08:27 AM
Actually, the way I read this is that the post office has been breaking even, Congress decided they were going to take $5.5 billion a year from it, and now it has a $5.5 billion shortfall every year.

Tylerdurden
09-25-2011, 08:30 AM
Once again, it's all cosmetic and ignore the structural. Nothing every really gets fixed just patched and passed on for future generations to worry about.

rbgarr
09-25-2011, 11:35 AM
S

The existing government owned post offices will now be allowed to sell non USPS items in their branches. About time.


I was talking to our postmistress about that just yesterday. The local tennis courts and swimming pond are right next to the tiny post office here. Tourists stop in the PO parking lot to take snapshots, enjoy the view and rest for a while. We were talking about setting up picnic tables on the exposed granite ledges and having some kind of snack bar in season. There was one on exactly that spot fifty years ago and locals would love to have it back.

Our postmistress does a bangup job of making the PO as personal as possible. she sends out newsletters in the winter with photos of snowstorms and beautiful dawns and sunsets (she lives next door to the PO) and a lot of summer residents buy stamps from her in bulk for their Christmas mailings, etc. She's profit and community minded. A good soul and that can be what it takes sometimes. Thus our small PO isn't on the slate to be closed while others the same size nearby are.

Waddie
09-25-2011, 01:14 PM
Many private business would love to deliver first class mail, but only in selected areas. There are many areas that are very rural and delivering mail to them cannot be done with a profit in mind.

Why does the postal service have to make a profit? What do you gain out of that?

I think a better question is; Why shouldn't the postal system pay it's way? It's a service that SHOULD be able to break even or turn a small profit if regulated and managed properly. Every government program doesn't have to be a burden on the taxpayer.

regards,
Waddie

Garret
09-25-2011, 03:00 PM
But, but.... The USPS is controlled by Congress - as far as to when & where it delivers. Congress also controls what it can charge. How is that anything like what UPS & FedEx do?

Comparing them is comparing apples & oranges.

Paul Pless
09-25-2011, 03:02 PM
you cannot imagine the amount of mail your letter carrier delivers on an average day. really, its not like we haven't all seen their jeeps. . .

Ian McColgin
09-25-2011, 03:09 PM
As has been pointed out but ignored, the USPS "debt" was caused by a congressional requirement that future retirement costs be fully funded now. No need to argue the merits of that when we note that no other business or government entity labors under that financial burden.

ishmael
09-25-2011, 03:14 PM
Funny the talk about selling non-USPS items, my favorite Post Office of all time was in
Shadyside (name changed to protect the innocent).

Annie, the postmistress, ran a coffee shop in the same place. She was a Dane, and held court there like a minor queen. A combination gossip central and lonely hearts club. LOL.

Paul Pless
09-25-2011, 03:18 PM
As has been pointed out but ignored, the USPS "debt" was caused by a congressional requirement that future retirement costs be fully funded now.Yet another over-reach by organized labor?

Ian McColgin
09-25-2011, 03:26 PM
Oh Paul, why invent such politically provocative anti-liberal questions? You may or may not know that the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 was introduced by House Republicans but passed with little controversy and signed, with a very odd signing statement, by President Bush. Labor had no role.

bobbys
09-25-2011, 03:33 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rg_4z2adv6Q&feature=related

Paul Pless
09-25-2011, 05:05 PM
Congress did.Why did they do this?

pipefitter
09-25-2011, 05:45 PM
Have to admit to being a fan of USPS. Never an incident with them in my life time.

Here we no longer have the jeep trucks. Now they use more of a small van. Some days, I see the postman driving normally from box to box and some days he is really moving faster than what would seem a comfortable pace. His big thing is that of a piece worker. No wasted moves, no backtracking, and just maybe, he won't get caught delivering mail during rush hour, which has to be a complete nightmare, especially around the holiday seasons.

wardd
09-25-2011, 05:51 PM
Have to admit to being a fan of USPS. Never an incident with them in my life time.

Here we no longer have the jeep trucks. Now they use more of a small van. Some days, I see the postman driving normally from box to box and some days he is really moving faster than what would seem a comfortable pace. His big thing is that of a piece worker. No wasted moves, no backtracking, and just maybe, he won't get caught delivering mail during rush hour, which has to be a complete nightmare, especially around the holiday seasons.

or behind a school bus

pipefitter
09-25-2011, 05:59 PM
I don't care if government is small, or big.... what I want is efficient and effective government.

If it was efficient, it would be just as big as it needs to be, and believably so. I am currently working on some local govt infrastructure projects. The amount of inefficiency, just with communications alone, is mind boggling. This shouldn't be like this in the computer age, but instead, it seems to have gotten worse!

brad9798
09-25-2011, 08:11 PM
John Smith ... you are misquoting on this thread ... me, in particular!

John Smith
09-26-2011, 08:05 AM
I think a better question is; Why shouldn't the postal system pay it's way? It's a service that SHOULD be able to break even or turn a small profit if regulated and managed properly. Every government program doesn't have to be a burden on the taxpayer.

regards,
Waddie

The postal service has been paying it's own way since Nixon was president. It's been doing pretty well until the 2006 law was passed siphining $5.5 billion from it every year.

It is a bit of a problem in that it is required to pay its own way, but prohibited from making a profit: that's an interesting tightrope to walk.

Judging by the posts here, I have to ask if any of you have really thought about the logistics of physically transporting and delivering a letter from anywhere in the USA to anywhere in the USA. I often tried to put this into board game form as something to sell, but I could never quite figure out how one would win the game.

We have control, mostly, of where we put postal facitilies. We have no control as to the location of airports or plane schedules.

Let's suppose you to to Disneyland in California, and send a post card back to your family in Irvington NJ. You mail this card in your hotell lobby. The letter carrier picks it up and brings it back to his office. There (used to be sorted in that office) it is put in a large container and shipped to the sectional center where it is faced, cancelled, and sorted. Irvington isn't going to get enough mail to warrant it's own container from this point, so it is put into a container that will send it to a NJ facitility. If there's normally enough volume, it will be in a container labeled for the Newark, NJ processing facility. This container then goes by truck, with a truckful of other containers to the airport. At thge airport the containers are sorted and directed to the apprpriate flights. Most likely there is no direct flight to Newark, NJ, so the mail has to change planes along the way. Once it lands in Newark Airport, the containers are agains sorted so they can be put on the appropriate trucks. There will be trucks bound for different processing facilities for 070-073, 074-075, 076, and so on, these being the first three digits of the zip code.

Once at the processing center, the container is dumped. Where it used to be sorted by hand, it is now dumped into a machine that reads the address and sorts it into the proper town and the proper carrier in delivery sequence. If the machine cannot read it, it goes to hand sort. At any rate, it is now place in containers that are put on a truck and taken directly to the office where Irvington's mail is delivered out of. If your card was among those the machine couldn't read, it goes to the clerk side where the mail is sorted by employees who have learned what carrier gets what address. Once sorted, this mail is then taken to the carrier's desk, where he sorts it further into order for delivery. Carrier then ties it all down and takes it out, via wheeled hamper, to his vehicle. This generally takes three trips, as he also has parcels. Then he does his round and delivers your card.

Montclair has approxmately 55,000 residents. It also has a good number of business. If they all get an average of 5 pieces of mail every day, that's 275,000 pieces of mail going through their local post office. Until you've seen all this mail in one place, you cannot imagine the magnitude of the job.

Some mail goes astray. Most common reason is the wrong zip code in the address. Another common reason is postal meters that run the envelopes through and print the postage on the the envelope. It's not uncommon for the flap of one envelope to have another envelope or two underneath it, so the flap is stuck to the back of the next envelope or two and only the front envelope gets postage, but all two or three are now going to the address on the top envelope, as the machines see this as a single piece of mail.

There were a few pieces of mail that developed a static charge going through the machines and stuck together.

Out of all the mail we processed on any given moring, the whole 250,000 pieces, approximately half was first class. OUt of that 125,000 pieces we might have 500 pieces sent to Montclair by error. Out of those, 490 pieces would be mailr error. The other ten would be apparently from static charge.

Mailer error, which is generally the wrong zip, costs the postal service money. These letters have to be held out and the bar code, which was created by the wrong zip code, must be blacked out carefully and fully by a heavy black marker. Otherwise the machine would continue to read the old bar code and send the mail back where it didn't belong.

John Smith
09-26-2011, 08:08 AM
really, its not like we haven't all seen their jeeps. . .

Interesting you mention the jeeps. When these vehicles were being experimented with for cost analysous, Kaiser made them. We were part of the test. The Kaiser jeeps were economical to run and extremely reliable. Once the test run was complete and it was decided to go ahead and use these vehicles, AMC was building them, and they were absolute garbage. Used a lot of gas and broke down frequently.

John Smith
09-26-2011, 08:12 AM
Organized labor didn't demand that the Post Office come up with $5.5B every year to fund pension obligations 75 years into the future.... Congress did. Fedex and UPS don't have to do that.

The entire point of the Post Office is to perform a task that private corporations cannot, and will not, do: provide letter communications to every citizen, regardless of their location. Ideally, it would fund itself out of the revenues for postage.... not making a profit, but not resulting in a deficit.

However, NO company, private or public, can be efficiently managed when Congress, the majority of whom know NOTHING about post office operations or economics, micromanages the service. This is an example of bad management of a branch of the US government.. by CONGRESS.

I can give a ton of examples of mismanagement by local postmasters, but overall the service, during my years there, was constantly looking for more efficient ways to move and sort mail. When you think of a computer that can read most handwriting and sort the mail directly to the letter carrier in sequence for delivery, it's pretty amazing.

John Smith
09-26-2011, 08:16 AM
Why did they do this?
It goes along with the republican theme: prove government can't do anything even if you have to sabotage it to prove your case.

There are many private companies who want to deliver first class mail, but only into certain areas. If this were allowed, it would lead to many problems. You'd have to remember which company you mailed that letter with. Some would go out of business, simply competing with each other. What happens to the mail they have in their posession when that happens? Does the postal service get it all to deliver for free?

The postal service is not broken or broke.

John Smith
09-26-2011, 08:20 AM
Have to admit to being a fan of USPS. Never an incident with them in my life time.

Here we no longer have the jeep trucks. Now they use more of a small van. Some days, I see the postman driving normally from box to box and some days he is really moving faster than what would seem a comfortable pace. His big thing is that of a piece worker. No wasted moves, no backtracking, and just maybe, he won't get caught delivering mail during rush hour, which has to be a complete nightmare, especially around the holiday seasons.

As I said earlier, the AMC jeeps were a waste. I was among those back then that suggested they just get minivans.

Today I am suggesting that the letter carriers could do very nicely with an all electric plug in, and the postal service would be a large enough customer to make it financcially viable for our American companies to make such vehicles for them. Once these vehicles are being built, pizze delivery, pharmacies, florists, etc. would likely use them.

John Smith
09-26-2011, 08:22 AM
John Smith ... you are misquoting on this thread ... me, in particular!

Example please. If I did so, I apologize. I would like to know, however, exactly what I'm apologizing for.

I generally reply with quote, so I'm not sure how I could misquote.

John Smith
09-26-2011, 04:34 PM
My Grandfather very carefully taught me to print very clearly the mailing address and zip code on letters as this was a pet peeve among postal workers.

Actually, I believe the biggest pet peeve is father's who name their sons after themselves. When young John grows up and starts getting mail, few people address it to "John, Jr." so son and dad both get mail addressed to "John. lastname" One of them moves and puts in a forwarding order. Talk about an Excedrin headache.

I'll give you an example of a managerial dilemma and how the union helped.

We had what we called the "loop" Mail sent to Milburn (zip 07041) would come to Montclair because the sender erroneously put our zip (07042) on the mail. En route the machine would read the zip code and print a bar code on the envelope. Mail comes to our office and we only had a single pigeon hole "Missent" to put it in. At the end of the day the mail was taken out of this pigeon hole and sent back to the processing center. At the processing center the machine read the bar code, and the letter came back to the wrong office again.

I initiated a meeting with management to end this lunacy. The missent mail needed to be collected and all the wrong bar codes blacked out with a marker, and the wrong zip codes blacked out as well. Otherwise the mail keeps coming back where it doesn't belong. His problem was he had no hours alotted for the task, which was truly time consuming, as there was a lot of such mail.

We came to an agreement that this would be first choice for a light duty assignment for any employee injured, regardless of craft. Since there was no "job", it hadn't been assigned to a craft, and we almost always had someone somewhere with some kind of injury or problem, so this was a simple, sit down job that had to be done. We also designated a separate pigeon hole on each case for mail that followed the wrong zip to our office.

One cannot imagine where people get the zip codes they use from. We got mail addressed to places all over the country that came to Montclair, NJ because they put our zip at the end of the address.

John Smith
09-28-2011, 07:04 AM
Finally getting some attention. Please take note that 25% of UPS and FED EX volume IS MAILED



http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/44695160#44695160

John Smith
09-28-2011, 12:38 PM
bump