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Death once had a near-Sarah Palin experience.

calendar   Thursday - April 02, 2009

Drew, bulk mail, and the Post Office

Instead of replying to each post on Drew’s article “San Francisco Passes “Do Not Mail” Resolution” (especially since Drew decided to not respond to any of my points in his response to my response…) I decided to just write an op-ed.

First, the USPS is losing money. Last year was bad. Each time the gas price goes up 1¢ the USPS shells out another $1 million/day. Unlike our competitors, like FedEx, UPS, etc, the USPS is not allowed to own their own aircraft. Without its own airfleet, the USPS cannot contract for ‘bulk’ fuel. USPS contracts with private airlines to carry mail. Add in gassing up the semi-trucks, and even my own route van, you’ve a huge cost right there.

And, yes Drew, when you and I were children postage was five cents. Gas was also 19¢. And back then, postage was subsidized by the taxpayers. Postage rates haven’t been taxpayer-subsidized since 1983.

There is no reason on earth why the Post Office should essentially underwrite commercial advertising.

The Post Office does not underwrite commercial advertising. The Post Office and its customers negotiate bulk rates, as all businesses do. Bulk rate mail gets discounted in a variety of ways:

Volume discount.
Reduced service. Bulk mail is not forwardable, for instance.
Longer time-frame for delivery. Delivery is not guaranteed within _ days.

Unlike Drew, who seems to,

…think of the trees, etc

I think of trees as a crop. We can always plant trees. In fact, the lumber industry does just that. The lumber industry wants a crop to harvest in the future. Trees are truely a ‘renewable resource’. So attacking bulk business mail on that front is ridiculous. Rather like ‘think of the grass’ each time you mow your lawn.

If you have a problem with receiving bulk mail, it’s probably not the Post Office you have the problem with. It’s the marketers who sell their customer address lists to each other. That’s right, businesses sell your personal info, such as–Name, Address, Phone #, Buying habits–without your permission.

This can be stopped now. No laws necessary. All you have to do is contact the Direct Marketing Association, either by phone (212.768.7277, ext. 1888) or on their website (https://www.dmachoice.org/dma/static/learn_more.jsp).

The fact is, business mail, bulk or otherwise, is important to the economy. The Direct Marketing Association says this:

Why Do Not Mail Bills Are Bad Public Policy

To many consumers and policymakers, Do Not Mail bills may sound like an idea whose time has come. However, learning even a little about advertising mail and direct marketing quickly reveals the many problems that Do Not Mail registries would create.

* Advertising mail is a large and diverse economic engine creating $686 billion of economic activity annually that would be adversely affected by even just one bill becoming law. Businesses both large and small rely on advertising mail to provide consumers with information, announcements and savings opportunities. Additionally, millions of jobs are dependent on advertising mail and direct marketing - from copywriters in ad agencies to rural letter carriers in remote corners of a sparsely populated state.

* Advertising mail provides consumers with a convenient marketplace and an easy connection to local goods and services. As well, it provides significant necessary revenues that help fund the services offered by local post offices.

* Advertising mail often can level the playing field between large and small business. It offers a cost-effective entry into new markets for small businesses looking to introduce themselves to local customers. These businesses would be seriously disadvantaged without access to advertising mail to reach potential customers. Further, advertising mail offers larger businesses, who often bring jobs to small towns and rural areas, a way to reach broader audiences.

* Legislation is not needed to provide consumers with options for removing their names from marketing lists. Consumers have a variety of choices ranging from contacting an individual company, to registering their name with DMAchoice.

Keeping a strong and vital postal system is a great advantage to consumers by maintaining competition in the package delivery market. On-line commerce is reliant on package delivery and a competitive postal system helps keep shipping rates affordable.

Keep in mind that we are currently in a recession, though el presidente Hussein seems hell-bent on causing an actual depression. With that in mind, let us not hamstring businesses from advertising the cheapest way possible.

Or get government out of the private sector entirely and let UPS or somebody else do the job ... faster, and for less.

The Constitution authorizes Congress to ‘establish Post Offices’. Now, I daresay that Congress could do a better job IF they ignored the politics. Example, the Post Office has just eliminated/restructured many of it’s ‘districts’. My district was one that was eliminated. Doesn’t effect me as a ground-pounder, but does effect several mid-upper level management positions. Well and good, until you read the fine print. Seems that those districts that most needed to be eliminated had very strong congressional support for keeping them. Therefore, the inefficient, bloated districts are staying put.

Congress could also repeal the private express statutes. These are the laws that effectively make the Post Office a monopoly. They basically say that, yeah, it’s your mailbox, but the Gov’t owns the space inside it. Therefore nobody but the Gov’t mailman can put mail in your mailbox. These laws date from the 1880’s.

The plus: competition in mail delivery. Better service!? Maybe.
The minus: numerous. From having however many private mailmen walking across your lawn, to, well:

Example. The USPS was experimenting with ‘contracting out’ mail delivery to private companies a couple of years ago. This was in high volume big cities like LA and Miami, FL. The private companies bid for the contracts and the low bid won. So far, so good.

Then the private companies turned around and hired people off the street to do the mail deliveries. These ‘street people’ not only failed to deliver the mail in a timely fashion, many times they didn’t deliver it at all. Several of these ‘temporary hires’ were video-taped dumping the mail. Several have been charged and convicted of identity theft. Several more were illegal aliens. Sometimes they were the same.

It’s easy to bash the Postal Service because who else can you bash? You don’t hear about the FedEx screwups. Why? Because I (the USPS mailman, who’s there every day and knows the people by name) usually flag down the FedEx (or UPS) driver and tell them that ‘Hey, you left a parcel at a vacant house.’ Or ‘Hey, you left a package for a person who moved last month.’

Even more frequent are customers who try to refuse/return a FedEx or UPS parcel to me. I tell them to call whichever company delivered it. If I take it, they’ll have to pay postage. The fact is, Drew, that I, as a mailman, have over 700 deliveries a day, every day. UPS drivers don’t even come close. They just deliver parcels. If they had to go door-to-door each day it would cost them, and therefore you and me, just as much. And UPS charges a premium for Saturday delivery. I don’t know about FedEx.

Now, let me tackle the so-called cheaper e-commerce. Yes, I suppose it is cheaper to receive and pay your bills over the internet. Or is it? The ability to do that involves a large initial capital outlay, and indeed a constant monthly outlay. In otherwords, you have to be able to purchase a computer, and purchase internet access. Just using myself as an example, my initial capital outlay was $1600. This bought an iMac and an inkjet printer. The printer immediately decided to clog up. Sigh.

Now, for internet access I need either a landline phone, which I have at $22/mo, or a cable connection. I don’t have cable because of its humongous cost vs. benefit. So landline it is. Adding broadband to my landline was another $25/mo. Total, just for internet access PER MONTH is $47. See, I’d can the landline since the wife and I have cellphones now. But I can’t if I want internet access.

Now, that’s me, and no doubt the average BMEWS reader. I can afford it. Note that I’ve not even mentioned, until now, ‘the poor’. Can ‘the poor’ afford the initial capital outlay and the monthly internet bill? Without some sort of government subsidy?

The answer is no.

Also, e-commerce presupposes things like electricity being available and relatively cheap.

Availablility: The remnants of Hurricane Ike blew through Dayton last year and caused much damage. Parts of the city were without power for over three weeks. Can’t pay your bills online without power.

Cheap: el presidente Hussein is going to ensure that power is forever out of reach with is Gorbal Warming Cap-&-Trade policies. I daresay that part of Hussein’s goal is to shut down dissent on internet sites like BMEWS by making power too expensive to maintain a blog.

Miscellaneous items:

SwedeBoy mentioned

Stopping Junk Mail is only part of the Problem.

The Local Fishwrap has a “Shopper” hand Delivered.
There is no way to Stop it.
They will not comply with requests to discontinue Delivery.
The Bundle is Dumped on your driveway and Piles up if you are on Vacation.
I view this as a Security Issue as Much as a Waste Issue.
All the Burglars just look for the Piles to know you are Not at Home.

Indeed. This is one of the problems that third-party mailers discovered back in the early 90s. Several magazines like Time, Newsfreak… er… Newsweek, etc, got together to find a cheaper way of delivery. They contracted with private firms, who hired day workers to deliver the goods. I can’t tell you all of the times I remember stepping over a plastic bag with several magazines laying in the middle of driveways and lawns. My guess is that many customers were not enthused either.

I have much the same problem with our newspaper. All I ask is that they get it on the porch. Not on the driveway, not in the flowerbeds, not in the bushes, not on the sidewalk, etc. Yet, at least once a month I have to call up the newspaper and threaten them: “I’m a mailman, how would you like it if I just threw your mail in the yard, driveway, bushes, flowerbeds, sidewalk? All I ask is that you get it on the porch!”

And, at this time of year, don’t forget those phone books that are thrown on your driveway, in your bushes, in your flowerbeds, etc. I’ve several vacant homes that have multiple years of phonebooks on the porch. These same homes have been ransacked for copper piping, used for drug dens, etc.

Peiper, the Forever stamps came out a couple of years ago during a past postage increase. The Forever stamps say Forever on them and have a picture of the Liberty Bell. They are ALWAYS good for the one-ounce First-class letter rate, regardless of the current postage rate. You buy Forever stamps today at 42¢ and a hundred years from now they (theoretically) will still be good for the going rate of $42. grin

My bottom line is this. There are two Constitutional duties of Congress, the Military, and the Post Office. There is massive fraud and waste in both. That is the fault of Congress.

Now, if I were President, the first order of business would be to abolish all government unions…


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Posted by Christopher   United States  on 04/02/2009 at 10:22 AM   
Filed Under: • Big BusinessEconomicsGovernmentPersonalPoliticswork and the workplace •  
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Oh, and here's some kind of visitor flag counter thingy. Hey, all the cool blogs have one, so I should too. The Visitors Online thingy up at the top doesn't count anything, but it looks neat. It had better, since I paid actual money for it.
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