Only One Michael Moore Was Harmed in the Making of this Column
The United States Post Office has a problem: It's a dinosaur. And I don't mean one of those Jurassic Park-style T-Rexes that can run 30 miles an hour. I mean what we used to think of as dinosaurs -- huge, lumbering beasts that had to live in deep swamps because their legs couldn't support their own weight. USPS owns eleventy-billion trucks and employs eleventy-billion union workers, all to deliver a product nobody wants.
Seriously. Everybody loves getting a letter, but hardly anyone sends them anymore. We have email for that, and we use it a lot more than we ever used paper mail. So how does USPS keep all those employees busy? What do they deliver with all those trucks?
Junk mail. Tons and tons and increasing tons of it. They keep the prices low so the junk mailers will mail more and more junk. Because you've got to keep the workers unionized and the trucks running.
There's a lesson here: Lower your prices and see demand increase. How about them apples?
In my living memory, I've seen the price of a first-class stamp -- the kind you put on one of those letters nobody sends anymore -- rise from eight cents all the way up to 46 cents, with the most recent hike coming just last month. That's keeping almost perfectly with inflation, so it's not like USPS has been ruthlessly jacking up prices. But in the face of decreased demand, they've held prices steady. You and I aren't accorded the same smart marketing provided to bulk coupon distributors. Instead, the USPS seems ruthlessly determined to force us all into becoming the unwitting middle men in a vast landfill-filling conspiracy.
Obviously then, the next logical step is to cut back on services:
With a $16 billion dollar loss and, at one point last year, down to just four days of available cash, there’s no doubt that something has to be done at the United States Postal Service. That forecase came Wednesday, as the USPS announced it would end Saturday mail delivery beginning in August of 2013.
Hey, if maintaining prices didn't help boost demand, maybe providing less service will do the trick. There's just one teensy little problem in this otherwise brilliant scheme -- the Post Office doesn't have the legal authority to stop Saturday deliveries; they need permission from Congress.